Paul Zukofsky is a small minded little jerk

28 10 2009

"A" By Louis Zukofsky

Ok. So, I’m a mellow kinda guy. I don’t get worked up very often, and when I do it’s usually because I’ve had far too little sleep, far too much coffee, and some ass-hat has just sat behind me on a peak-hour bus making loud conversations on his cell phone about how ‘Jonno, nah mate, Jonno. No, Jonno!!, no, not Mark, it’s Jonno. Yeah mate, nah, I’m on a BUS!!’ Put the goddam’ phone down you retarded douche-canoe! *pant pant*


 My zen-like calm was punctured yesterday after the Poetry Foundation’s blog, Harriet pointed out , to the internet at large, a document written by Paul Zukofsky about his father’s work.

 PZ is the son of Louis Zukosky, the Objectivist poet. Louis is now sadly departed (1904-1978) and his copyright falls to his son, who has been making noises about copyright that Kenneth Goldsmith of the Harriet blog rightly describes as ‘draconian’.

All Louis and Celia Zukofsky is still copyright, and will remain so for many many years. I own all of these copyrights, and they are my property, and I insist upon deriving income from that property. For those of you convinced that LZ would find my stance abhorrent, the truth is that he kept all copyrights (initially in his name) as he had the rather absurd idea that said copyrights would be sufficient to allow for the economic survival of my mother, and their son. My stance is congruent with that hope.

Draconian and anachronistic? Yes, but this initial stance is, well, fair enough. He owns the estate, so he should get paid for it. Don’t steal copyrighted books, buy books legitimately. Paul Zukofsky’s attitude goes far beyond this, however, into something much more insidious, and, well, see for yourself:

Despite what you may have been told, you may not use LZ’s words as you see fit, as if you owned them, while you hide behind the rubric of “fair use”. “Fair use” is a very-broadly defined doctrine, of which I take a very narrow interpretation, and I expect my views to be respected. We can therefore either more or less amicably work out the fees that I demand; you can remove all quotation; or we can turn the matter over to lawyers, this last solution being the worst of the three, but one which I will use if I need to enforce my rights.

1– people who want to do their dissertation on LZ, or want to quote from him in their diss., must, if only as a common courtesy, inform me of their desire to use this material, and obtain my permission to do so. If you do that, and if I agree, the permission will be only for the purposes of the diss. and there will be no charge for limited use within the diss. You will not be allowed to distribute the diss. publicly. Distribution via on-line publication is not allowed. I urge you to keep quotation to a minimum, as the more quotation, the less likely I am to grant permission.

Paul Zukofsky is a small minded little douche-canoe who can kiss my postgraduate arse.

I can perhaps understand your misguided interest in literature, music, art, etc. I would be suspicious of your interest in Louis Zukofsky, but might eventually accept it. I can applaud your desire to obtain a job, any job, although why in your chosen so-called profession is quite beyond me; but one line you may not cross i.e. never never ever tell me that your work is to be valued by me because it promotes my father. Doing that will earn my life-long permanent enmity. Your self-interest(s) I may understand, perhaps even agree with; but beyond that, in the words of e.e.cummings quoting Olaf: “there is some s I will not eat”.


Paul Zukofsky is a Douche-Canoe

Paul Zukofks holds academia in obvious contempt. It’s a little boggling. I would be tempted to imagine that this is a hoax, some sort of satire. Hopefully this is the case, because otherwise PZ seeks to hold academic enquiry up for at least the duration of his own life. It is only by understanding the innovations of the past that we can forge the new culture of the future. I don’t care about promoting Louis Zukofsky. I DO care bout understanding him, but Paul ‘douche-canoe’ Zukofsky wants to throw a roadblock up to academic enquiry for the purpose of squeezing every last bloody penny out of his father’s corpse that he can. It’s sickening, if true.

 As the Harriet blog reported, the ‘digerati’ have already responded by putting Louis Zukofsky’s famous long work “A” online in full PDF format to be downloaded as a deliberate ‘screw you’ to PZ. I don’t agree, I’m not going to link to the file. I think you SHOULD go ahead and buy the work of the important poets. Poetry is hard enough to create a market for as it is, we need to maintain the viability of hardcopy publication for poetry. But if you get the chance to make a rude gesture at Paul Zukofsky any time, do it. It’ll feel SOOOOO good.




Super Freaky Dust Dawn of the Apocolypse

23 09 2009

So this morning I wake up and wander into the kitchen, not really doing much, and then I wander into the bathroom ‘cos it’s 6.30 and I have to get ready to go to work and IT”S THE FREAKING APOCALYPSE Y’ALL!!

 My first thought was, ah, shit, it’s the rapture. And then I thought, good, that’s a few less Christians around, everybody gets what they want. But then I thought, no, probably NOT the rapture. I’m pretty sure that Atheists get kicked in the throat by Jesus or something during the rapture, lets not leap to any conclusions. Especially not conclusions that involve throat kicking.

 My next thought was, shit, nuclear war? The reason this wasn’t my first thought was because I have reasonably good hearing and I believe that a nuclear explosion is something a reasonably attentive person would notice. So I filed nuclear apocalypse under ‘unlikely’. The truth, it turns out, is even cooler.


This image was totally stolen from the ABC, if anyone from the ABC is reading this I will absolutely take it down if you want me to. There are better pictures on the ABC online article anyway, everybody should just go there.

This image was totally stolen from the ABC, if anyone from the ABC is reading this I will absolutely take it down if you want me to. There are better pictures on the ABC online article anyway, everybody should just go there.

 Right now I’m sitting at my desk at work, coughing up handfuls of airborne silt and trying not to devolve into religious terror. I think I’ll be ok.

 Red sky though… the shepherds are fucked.


More from our modern JFK

12 08 2009

Since I wrote on Justin F. Kern’s photography over the weekend, the man himself responded with a small collection that shows just how the potential that I had eagerly anticipated in his increasingly sophisticated work is being realised. I had ask to see even more facets of our environment, and progressively complex ways of representing them. For the first time in this collection, sensuality genuinely bursts forth from his peach-coloured waves. Their hard, yet warm polymer surface offsets the organic tactility of his bark and tree trunks. Though they both focus on a curved surface, they juxtapose natural growth to man-made development, the adamantine and unyeilding to the brittle and crumbling, and two entirely different concepts of layering – one about decay (the revelation of new layers beneath dying others) and the other about intended revelation (where the creator only ‘lifts the skirts’ on the creation as much as s/he is willing to). The rainbow effect of lighting as it bursts through the spectrum of trees is breathtaking as it unifies some of these opposing elements. In this image, domesticated nature and artificial light come together to highlight the beauty of both human and natural forms of creation. Finally, the sailboat, so perfectly framed by it’s view from the jetty, is merely a destination at the end of the eye’s delightful meandering through an appreciation of the surfaces that have lead it there.

Bravo JFK! These are stunning.

I think it’s soon time for an exhibition.

The Atheist Bus Ads Controversy

7 08 2009

I’m hesitant to bring up topics of religion here, if only because questions of belief are so contentious and amorphous that it’s impossible to say anything without bothering some devoted sect or social group. However a recent occurrence has provoked my interest because it allows me to talk about my current obsession, the nature of offensiveness and public controversy.

 Over at the terrifyingly popular Pharyngula blog, PZ Myers has commented on a story involving a local atheist group. The group Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers paid to have the following ad displayed on the side of some public buses.

Atheist bus ad - image stolen from the Pharyngula blog

Atheist bus ad - image stolen from the Pharyngula blog

  According to an article run in The Iowa Independent: “Gov. Chet Culver said he was “disturbed” by the ads.” Apparently the complaints started as soon as the ads were first displayed publically. Which means that people would have had to take immediate offense to the message.

 Now, apart from atheists being America’s number one hated legal social group*, I wonder where the offensiveness of the ads lies. The message itself isn’t an aggressive one. It isn’t even overtly promoting non-belief in god. For an answer we have to look at the meanings of the word ‘offense’.

 Offense, in one sense, is an attack. One ‘goes on the offense’ or ‘plays offense’ in a game. An ‘Offense’ is also a crime, or a transgression of a social or legal boundary. One ‘commits and offense’ or ‘displays offensive behaviour’.

 The understanding of people ‘taking offense’ to something like these atheist bus ads, then, is that the people who take offense feel like some social boundary or moral code is under attack by the statements/actions of another.

 But these ads weren’t’ attacking anyone. ‘Don’t believe in a god? You’re not alone.’ The ad is aimed at people who already are on the doubting side of the fence. Where I think the notion of offensiveness comes from is that some people equate the acceptance of atheism as a legitimate alternative to an attack on the legitimacy of their religious views.

 For a more vitriolic commentary I suggest reading PZ Myers’ comments on the subject. He, as ever, is eloquent in his outrage.


 * i.e. apart from terrorists, pedophiles, and mass murderers.

The Sydney Peace Prize

4 08 2009
John Pilger

John Pilger

Before yesterday I didn’t know that Sydney had its own ‘Peace Prize’. It seems a bit odd, a bit like Paris having its own ‘orbital hygiene mechanics’ prize; not totally out of the question, but somehow not quite what one associates with the image of the city. The Sydney Peace Prize. Well, why not? There have been no major wars here, or even minor ones. There have been no civil uprisings, military coups, or bombings. Except for an undercurrent of barely concealed racial tension Sydney is just about as peaceful as you could hope for. Who better to be giving out a peace prize than a city described by Clive James of having the air of a population permanently on holiday? There is a contention to be made, perhaps, that a nation like France, or Spain, or such, might be better suited to the distribution of accolades for peace. This is on the basis that a long and bloody history of civil and international conflicts really gives a nation an understanding of the value of peace. But I say phooey to them. Let the prizes come from a country that has rarely seen the need for an alternative.

 At this point the thinking person might put up their hand and say, ‘wait a minute,’ and they would be right. Sydney bears a darker legacy than that: the Unacknowledged War that came to the country when, in 17xx, the endeavour dropped anchor and started the process of colonisation. A war was fought, acknowledged or not, and involved the trading of land for lives as much as any named war. The failure to acknowledge the reality of the conflict has been seen by many, like writer Peter Cary in his book 20 Days in Sydney, as one of the country’s greatest failings.

 It makes me wonder where a country, or city, gains the right to make awards for peace. I don’t think that there’s a way to earn it. Neither lengthy suffering nor enduring political stability seems to confer the right. Indeed, it would seem as hypocritical for Switzerland to award a peace prize as it would seem, perhaps, self serving for modern Berlin to award one too. I don’t think it’s possible to qualify for the right, but if Sydney’s dark heart motivates it to foster the pursuit of peace in the world… then good. We should encourage it.

 In that vein the winner of the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize is John Pilger. Pilger is an Australian journalist, film-maker and author. The Jury citation for the prize awarded it to Pilger “for courage as a foreign and war correspondent in enabling the voices of the powerless to be heard. For commitment to peace with justice by exposing and holding governments to account for human rights abuses and for fearless challenges to censorship in any form.”

 Previous awardees include “Nobel recipients Professor Muhammad Yunus and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as well as former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Indian author and human rights campaigner Arundhati Roy and, last year, the Aboriginal leader and ‘father of reconciliation’ Patrick Dodson.”


 University of Sydney press release: Here.

Article from Pigler’s website: Here.

Image taken from: Here.

Australian ebooks starting to Crawl

22 06 2009
Stanza the Iphone ebook application

Stanza the Iphone ebook application

At the annual Australian Booksellers Association conference this weekend there was almost a venomous hiss against the name of electronic books, online sellers, and the technologies of reading that are emerging with such force in the US and UK.

Oh how conservative we are. But the tide of opinion seems to be slowly turning, as (it is no surprise) education increases on the subject. David Taylor, of Lightening Source, spoke about the latest technologies in print on demand. A sister company of the enormous US book distributor, Ingram, Lightening Source is now able to receive a single book order (from the customer) and have it printed, bound and returned to the seller within four hours. Gone are the days of fortune-telling print runs, inevitably ending in either a full warehouse of unsaleable stock or sold out titles with impatient customers demanding why several weeks are required to produce a book they have already seen in someone else’s hands.

This kind of technology goes hand in hand with the wave of ebooks, ereaders and smartphone reading technology that have, as yet, only reached our shores in a very limited way. Neelan Choksi, COO at Lexcycle, also spoke about how his team of three developed the Stanza application for the iphone which allows ebooks to be searched, bought, downloaded and read all from the comfort of that smart-little-phone screen. The implications of this application are revolutionary in the publishing world, for the first time providing the consumer with more control over the layout, font size, colour and – yes – even the preferred cover for their own personal version of the book. As the Kindle, Sony ereader, and host of other upcoming other ereader and smartphone technologies battle it out for the number one spot in this market one cannot help but realise that print publishing as we have known it in the 20th Century is going the way of cassette tapes and vinyls.

The most important lesson from all of this is that ebooks and a new method of print publishing have a future together, hand in hand. There are select titles that we will still want in print, Choksi gave the example of Obama’s book, which customers preferred to have on the physical bookshelf to mark an historical occasion. But the results of this changing industry will save a lot of time, money and paper.

It will also mean many more books that were previously not published can now go online into an ebook and be printed in only one or two copies for the people who want it. Those who claim that this denigrates the ‘culture’ of literature do so from a pedestal that upholds the publishers as an authority on what is ‘good’ writing. But at the end of the day a publisher wants to sell books, and who is to say that their guessing game of ‘what the people want’ is any better indicator of ‘good culture’ than if the consumer is allowed to decide for themselves what they want to see published and printed. If the claim is that publishers maintain a standard of grammar, spelling, literacy etc etc – a general style guide to language – which will be lost in this brave new world, than the answer might be that language, as much as any culture, is a growing organism. Hell, if Shakespeare needed a word, he made one up – if the method is good enough for him, why not us? It is an ethos that embraces many forms of language, for instance the globally diverse uses of English, and brings genuine democracy.

To the traditional booksellers and publishers (especially in Australia) do not be afraid – rumours of the book’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Stories will never die, our desire for new stories will never die, but our mode of receiving them, and expectations of them will change. And dammit, this is exciting!