Selections from Some David Wojnarowicz Journals at Triple Canopy

A friend put me one to Triple Canopy, a relatively new multimedia magazine.  Unlike most of the others of its kind, this one appears deeply innovative.  For one it is a horizontal magazine, meant, I guess, for tablets or iPads.  Its content reminds me somewhat of Cabinet magazine: erudition of the obscure variety.  Oh, and the articles are released periodically, instead of all at once. So far I’ve read one about the estate of Mark Rothko, another collection of artifacts from Joe Holiday, and a poem with (charts and audio) by Ish Klein’ like “on the subject of an icebreak.”  All of them I had to re-read, doing something that would fall between clarification and enjoyment.

They’re currently publishing their literary issue, Counterfactuals bit by bit.  It’s been pretty dope for the most part, but this article ¨Years Ago Before the Nation Went Bankrupt¨ on/by David Wojnarowicz takes the cake for me.

In looking through this artists’ journal, as the site allows you to, I couldn’t help but think how much more interesting it is a work of literature than as art.  As a work of art, take away the conceptual projects – i.e, The Water Journals based on interviews with strangers on the street – and it isn’t all that unique.  It´s like a photographer´s sketchbook.  I’ve seen plenty that remind me of this one.  However, as a work of literature, it is really, um, spellbinding.  Simply given David Wojnarowicz’s use of himself as subject, object, and artist, charges his words with a kind of edgy urgency.

Most of the entries are about his sexual experiences, written in what feels like something that could be spontaneous, but in being so, is nearly perfect.  Lists, or notes, are also published.  They could easily be poetry, if we want to call them that.  And as such they are quite good, often surprising.

thru siberia (sheep meadow in winter)

Central park fish kills all our tropical fish.

Plan heists of star of India/Hope
(cursed)                        (midnight swim in ocean: manta ray)
FLORIDA: scorpions/rattler etc.
almost killed self in motel bathroom.

IT TAKES A THIEF. practiced shoplifting
hollow books etc.

Stabbed Steven: lizard tail in police

central park fish killed all our tropical fish

– Walk thru Siberia (sheep meadow central
park to mus. Nat hist.

– planning heists of Star of India
also cursed jewel HOPE DIAMOND

– Florida almost killed self in motel bathroom

– It takes a thief                        practicing thieving
hollow books etc.
– Stabbed Steve            – lizard tail in hand in police station            midnight swim manta ray
– FIRST DEMO 5th AVE ANTI-VIETNAM guy with burned doll
– later falling apart                                                                        construction workers
– hanging by fingertips from roof                                                beat up people
– TIMES SQUARE                                                                        AUGUSTA GEORGIA
– Angela Davis print in Battle Acts                                                KING
– first ‘girl’ scene in balcony                                                            ASSASSINATED
– mafia guy with gun                                                                        MALCOM X
– mark disparaged [?] in high school                                                ETC.
John: trailer set on fire                                                |
ride up side            brother who died sniffing                                    couldn’t go
of skyscraper            others do poison                                                to
others sniffing                                                                                    HAREM
during work
– men in Times Square try to murder me

Huberts museum            presidents on pins

– stole all turtles from woolworths let go in Central PARK
– Stole alligator from Macys pet shop
– Salvation army major “we dont help people like you.”
– didn’t run away/thought Long Island
was between NYC + California

And it continues.  There’s just enough here to put together more or less what’s going on.  Was this from an interview with a crazy person?  Or is this entirely made up?  Or is this another project?

Meanwhile, my obsession with the downtown scene in New York in the 70s and 80s continues.  It’s sort of like the Benny Profane in Thomas Pynchon’s V. retracing the steps of his father.  (Speaking of which, I haven’t read that novel in a while; think I’m due.)  Of course, my parents weren´t Patti Smith, although we did know one of her kids, Jackson for a while.  (I think someone ended up with his bass amp.)

According to the article, the Brooklyn Museum is going to host an exhibition of Wojnarowicj’s work.  Looking forward to checking that out in December.

Triple Canopy might make me break down and get a Tablet PC of some kind.  No, probably not.  I don’t have that kind of money, but it will at least make me want to buy one more than I wanted to before.  Still, can’t get around the fact that walking around the street or anywhere outdoors for that matter is begging to get jacked.

There are other pieces here worth thinking about, writing about.  More on them some other time.

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