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V. Vale’s RE/Search Newsletter #146, January 2016: Resolutions, Susan Sontag, detective fiction

WELCOME TO V. VALE’s RE/SEARCH NEWSLETTER #146, JANUARY  2015 Add Us to Your Address Book! You are Receiving this Email because You or Someone You know Signed Up. Scroll to the Bottom of this Email to UNSUBSCRIBE. Are you receiving this newsletter (annoyingly) TWICE? PLEASE tell us which address to delete.
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SPECIAL REQUEST: At your local library, please ask the librarian to order all of the RE/SEARCH books!

Podcast updated: RE/Search Conversations, our free podcast, has been relaunched for 2016. Brand new episode, January 2016: Lyle Tuttle discusses a life in tattooingSubscribe to the new feed here, or search for “RE/Search Conversations” in iTunes or your favorite podcast app.


1A: EDITORIAL: New Year’s Resolutions
1B. Intv w/Nancy Kates (director, Susan Sontag film) by Zora Burden
1C. NEW FROM RE/SEARCH: Charles Gatewood pocket book forthcoming! Diane di Prima zine, LSD MUSEUM Mark McCloud ZINE. Penny Rimbaud book. Monte Cazazza Zine (2nd printing!).
1D. Ten Must-Read Aphorism Books (by V. Vale)
2. The Counter Culture Hour: Sat JAN 9, 2015 4:30pm
3. FORTHCOMING EVENTS: Send Us Suggestions!…
4. OUR PAST LIFE: Books we’ve been given, etc.
5. Recommended Links – send us some!
7. Letters from Readers (send some!)
8. Sponsors (Check ’em out! – they make this newsletter possible!)
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1A. New Year’s Resolutions for 2016:

() Catch up on reading books by Werner Herzog,  Alejandro Jodorowsky, John Waters (he has a number of art books out, y’know), David Cronenberg [novel], David Lynch, et al.
() See all the Ryan Gosling films
() See all the Paolo Sorrentino films (besides The Great Beauty and Youth)
() See countries we’ve always wanted to visit, like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland (you can tell we’ve been reading a lot of Nordic Noir)… And, we want to see our old friend Bruno R. in Paris!
() RE/read some favorite fiction from our deep past, like all the Raymond Roussel books. The Invention of Morel. The Peasant of Paris. Against Nature aka Against the Grain.
1B.  Intv w/Nancy Kates (Regarding Susan Sontag film) by Zora Burden (done September 2015)


Zora Burden: What inspired and motivated you to make the Regarding Susan Sontag documentary? 
Nancy Kates: I was saddened by Sontag’s death at the end of 2004. This was about 6 months after my father died, so I was also partly thinking about him. I felt like an important voice had gone out of the world, and that we were going to need her in the future. Then I decided to make a film about her; the whole project was a little bit elegiac.
ZB: What did Susan mean to you personally? 
NK: That’s a hard question to answer. When I was in college, it was kind of the height of her fame. I didn’t really know much about her but I looked up to her as a figure… a smart woman who was Jewish. I didn’t actually know she was gay (or if I were gay) but there was some kind of connection I felt which a lot of young women felt at that time (the early 80s).
In some ways the film is me as a middle-aged person looking back on the person I was when I was twenty. It was very exciting to discover people like Susan Sontag because it was new to me that there were these women who were smart and doing great things in the arts… and writing. A lot of the people we read at school were men; there weren’t that many women role models for artists-intellectuals.
I think there are more now. Education was probably a little bit behind; while there are plenty of women artists, they weren’t necessarily being discussed or promoted in educational circles. Even today, probably people learn more about male artists and thinkers.
ZB: When you were first introduced to Susan Sontag, was this through a class? Was it on an educational level, or more casual?
NK: It was casual. If you were a smart young woman at that time, you probably had some exposure to her, but I don’t remember anyone telling me, “You should read Susan Sontag.” I was a voracious reader, so maybe I learned about her in the New Yorker? I was in college from 1980–1984; when the Susan Sontag Reader came out (1982) I immediately bought a copy—she was that iconic. I still have the book, but it managed to break into two pieces during the making of the film—we had to tape it back together! [laughs]
ZB: Now that she’s passed away, do you think her work is more part of the academic curriculum?
NK: Yes. People will often read On Photography in class but she wasn’t really writing for an academic audience. At times she had disdain for intellectuals who worked in the academy; I think people were intimidated by her. Sometimes she taught in “Women’s Studies” and certainly Art or Photography departments. She was this odd figure that was more in the popular media than in academia.
She is complicated because she has such a wide range of interests. (Maybe she isn’t taught more because she’s so complicated.) I think the film will be a real introduction to her. Men and women seem to have a different response to the movie; I think men respect Susan Sontag, but don’t see her as this heroic figure or model for their own lives as women do—she’s heroic if you’re a woman, and an outlier figure if you’re a man.
Sontag wanted to be outside of being limited to being known as a woman. She has often been referred to as “the smartest woman in America” or “the smartest woman intellectual in America” but she thought that was a way of putting her down. (I’m happy to be known as a female artist myself, though!)
ZB: I do think it’s important to put an emphasis on female accomplishments, because there aren’t enough role models out there—
NK: One thing I was aware of in making the film is that Sontag had been in the closet. But she was in the closet because she felt she would be dismissed if she were known to be gay or queer. (I mean she wasn’t entirely lesbian; she was bisexual.) And Susan Sontag was too heavy a hitter to dismiss.
In general, we don’t take lesbians in America very seriously. I mean, there’s Judith Butler, but there aren’t a ton of others, and that’s really sad. One’s sexual orientation has nothing to do with one’s intelligence. But certain people make ridiculous assumptions.
ZB: Being bisexual, it’s easier to identify with both masculine and feminine qualities in oneself and others. Do you think she identified more with her male peers than female, even with a lack of female peers? 
NK: This is a very tricky area. I don’t want to speak for Susan Sontag. She certainly didn’t think of herself as second to anyone… and didn’t want to be dismissed as secondary because she was female. A lot of her heroes were male writers, but not all of them. She loved all sorts of writers, from Tolstoy to Shakespeare to Henry James. To answer this question, I would just defer people to read her work.
ZB: When you approached the film, did you want to focus more on her personal life or her work? 
NK: Some people think we focused too much on her personal life, but there’s tons of her work in the movie, if you look at the running time of the film.
ZB: How was the film funded when initially getting it off the ground?  
NK: I wrote a lot of grant applications! We had some private funders, but mostly got grant money from the National Endowments of the Humanities, National Endowments of the Arts, the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund—you can look at our list of funders online. It’s hard to raise money for documentaries, but we were successful partly because HBO got involved. It took a long time to raise the money.
ZB: How do you feel Susan Sontag would best want to be defined or remembered? As a social analyst and critic, a controversial journalist, a human rights advocate, someone whose investigative work inspires discussion and critical thinking?
NK: Well, that’s the kind of question I’d want you to ask yourself after you’ve seen the film! If we were doing a Question & Answer after the film and you asked that question from the audience, I’d say, “Well, what do you think?” She wanted to be remembered as a great writer. I think the tragedy is that she wasn’t a great writer, but she was an interesting writer.
ZB: Did you view Susan differently after talking to her family, peers, and conducting more research for the film? 
NK: Well, you go through different stages as a biographer. I initially really looked up to her. Then I got really tired of her. Then I got completely fed up with her, and at one time I didn’t think much of her. Then I finally became compassionate about her, because she was a troubled human being like the rest of us. She didn’t want to be perceived that way… but that’s the truth: we all need to treat each other with compassion.
I think she was narcissistically wounded. She could be really nasty to people because she wanted all this attention and acclaim, and was afraid of being perceived as “weak.” I think I got frustrated by her decision to stay in the closet—which is understandable because she was so afraid… she felt like she had too much to lose. But I try to keep my opinions out of the films that I make; that’s not what they’re about.
ZB: Do you think that Susan ever felt that her beauty / attractiveness conflicted with her desire to be respected as an intellectual? How did she combine her sexuality with being so cerebral?  
NK: I think she enjoyed the attention she got for her looks. It’s unusual for someone who is as smart as she was, to be as good-looking as she was. I think she enjoyed messing with people’s minds by being both… but I don’t think she saw a conflict. I think she just wanted to make sure nobody treated her like a bimbo, because she certainly wasn’t one. That may have contributed to her being so fierce.
ZB: While making the film, did you learn more about her creative process? Did she thrive in chaos, or was she one of those writers who prefer solitude?
NK: Well, I think it varied over time. She did write by herself, but a lot of people helped her edit her work. There were times when she worked collaboratively, but she would be the only person who got credit for that collaboration. She said she would write essays on the typewriter, but could only write fiction longhand. She could write fiction sitting up in bed, which she couldn’t do for an essay… there was something more sexy about fiction that she could write in a more lounge-y kind of situation.
ZB: How do you feel she understood the world best: as an observer, or through engaging—like in debate or being on the front line? 
NK: I don’t think she would like that question! She would say she does it all—that is part of being a full human being.
ZB: Which partners do you feel inspired her the most? Who really encouraged her to flourish as an artist or writer?
NK: She went through different periods; she was kind of quixotic. As a child she wrote about dance. When she was with Nicole Stephane she made films. She pursued different things at different times in her life. She had incredible enthusiasm for all the things that she did.
ZB: In this Age of the Internet and Disinformation, how did she feel about communication and dialogue through technology?  
NK: She did eventually use email, but I can’t speak for her on that.
ZB: Was it emotionally difficult to speak to her family?
NK: Well, the only family member I spoke to was her sister, who had not been interviewed very often and certainly not on camera. I think it was actually kind of healing for her as well.
ZB: Was there any feedback from audiences that you’d like to mention?
NK: I think people really appreciated the way the film looked—the artistry of the film that I worked really hard to create. It’s not like other documentaries. We tried to make it compelling—something she deserved as someone who was obsessed with beauty.
ZB: I’ve seen the film and it is really gorgeous, very powerful and intimate. You can tell how much care you put into the film. There is an equal focus on the aesthetic as well as the informative. [end]

1C. We need YOU to order books direct from us to help us keep going! (

() Order in advance the new RE/Search pocketbook on CHARLES GATEWOOD, a pioneer of avant-garde photography. This biography includes an essay by Julia Helaine. Our intern Meg de Recat helped copy-edit.

() On we just put up a new piano improv by V. Vale, “Song for Esther”: “Old-Timey tune.”

() We just made 8 copies of a zine on Diane di Prima (with a xerox of a drawing by Kersey Barrett-Tormey) and they are $10 each plus $5 shipping or $10 overseas shipping. Just PayPal $15 or $20 to: – be sure to include your address!

() We made a zine on LSD MUSEUM’s Mark McCloud. We only made 20 copies and they are $20 each (includes blotter acid print) plus $5 shipping or $10 overseas shipping. Just PayPal $25 or $30 to: – be sure to include your address! Only (2) left.

() We offer a 2nd printing of the 64-page MONTE CAZAZZA zine. Price just $12 (plus $5 shipping; just PayPal $17 to: Monte Cazazza is one of the big mysteries in the RE/Search canon, and we think it is a miracle he has survived to this day, integrity more-or-less intact! NOTE: Overseas orders $10 SHIPPING (total $22). CALIF residents add 8.75% tax ($2.19 tax, total $19.19).

() We offer a 2nd printing of the McKenzie Wark zine with handmade silkscreen suitable for framing. $20 plus $5 shipping or $10 overseas shipping. Just PayPal $25 or $30 to: – be sure to include your address!

() Four V. VALE PIANO IMPROVISATIONS available for listening on bandcamp NOW. One features amazing guitarist Will Rogers!

() FINALLY: a few advance proofs of the newest RE/Search Pocketbook are in stock: Charles Gatewood! Hot off the press. Includes photos of W.S. Burroughs plus other photos of POI (People of Interest).

() PENNY RIMBAUD. CRASS proto-Punk co-founder (with Gee Vaucher), performer-philosopher-poet-writer-bread-maker, Penny has a lot to say about how to navigate through our increasingly-confusing media-sedated and pharmaceutical-sedated world. $14.99 plus $5 ship ($10 overseas). NOTE: We also have other RE/Search Pocketbooks: ED HARDY, Lydia Lunch, Henry Rollins each $14.99 plus $5 ship, etc.

() Volume 4 of our “Punk and Tech” series is “Screw the System” (with a great essay on J.G. Ballard by Jack Sargeant), 300 copies. $30 plus $5 shipping or $25 shipping overseas; PayPal the amount to:

() One of our “Punk and Tech” volumes is DATING A.I. by a Russian genius (under a pseudonym). It’s the funniest (yet “scientific”) guide to A.I.

1D:  Sort-of Top 10 Detective Novels (by V. Vale):

1. Henning Mankell: The Man from Beijing
2. Arthur Upfield: Death of a Lake (actually, we like all 35 of the “Bony” books by Upfield)
3. Jo Nesbo: The Bat (Australian mythology!)
4. Raymond Chandler: The Lady in the Lake
5. Lee Child: Make Me (actually, we like all the Jack Reacher books)
6. Andrea Camilleri: Angelica’s Smile (actually, we like all…)
7. Michael Connelly: The Burning Room
8. Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo: The Terrorists
9. Georges Simenon: Inspector Maigret and the Dead Girl (actually, we…)
10. Robert Crais: Suspect (a dog’s point of view)
2. Counter Culture Hour – Sat JAN 9, 2015 4:30pm Pacific Time Watch for it this month as Channel 29 re-airs our shows frequently.The Counter Culture Hour (aka RE/SEARCH TV) is also simulcast ON-LINE as well as on cable access San Francisco Channel 29 — 4:30pm Pacific Time, now EVERY Saturday! – see this link at broadcast time: You need a fairly decent internet connection and computer to “get it.” USA west coast: 4:30 PM Sat JAN 9, 2016 USA; east coast: 7:30 PM Sat JAN 9, 2016. Tokyo: 8:30 AM Sunday, JAN 10, 2016 If you cannot get this online email us at See RE/Search channel on youtube: “researchpubs”

3. FORTHCOMING EVENTS (San Francisco unless Otherwise Noted)

() $ – our favorite local Grand Guignol Theatre Company at the Hypnodrome – support live local theatre!

() Support the Roxie Theater: great programming EVERY NIGHT (our opinion). Thur nites at the Castro Theater feature NOIR films (our favorite) programmed by The Roxie.

() S.F. EVENTS to Check Out Regularly: Long Now Foundation. Goethe Institute. The List (Punk Rock). Dorkbot. Bottom of the Hill. INdependent. Thee Parkside. The Chapel. Brick & Mortar. Terminal:

() $ Tu,Wed,Th Dec 29,30,31: Patti Smith & Band at The Fillmore, SF
() $ Jan 8,9 THE ROXIE Theater, SF: ENTERTAINMENT premieres: film by director Rick Alverson, starring Gregg Turkington, and Executive Produced by Henry S. Rosenthal (CRIME drummer, et al). Performing live after each of the screenings will be the star of the film, Gregg Turkington in his on-stage persona Neil Hamburger! Plus… Secret Chiefs 3 performing live! So come see the movie that Rolling Stone calls “the cringe-comedy of the year!”
() $ Sat Jan 9, 730pm Our pal Joe Cunningham plays the whole “Muswell Hillbillies” album by The Kinkgs with J. Raoul Brody and Christopher Gray. 65 Capp St, SF.

() **EUROPE TOUR**  Jan 2-12 Savage Republic plays France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Italy, ferry

() $ Jan 30, Killing Joke at The Fillmore, SF (4 original members). CANCELLED! 🙁
() $ Jan 30, 8pm, Warfield: Shatner’s World – Live Onstage

() FREE? Wed Nov 3-Sat Nov 12, 2016 Dada World Fair 2016 at City Lights Bookstore (Plan ahead to come to San Francisco!)

4. OUR PAST LIFEWhat We’ve Received, Liked, Experienced:

() The most Visually Beautiful Book of 2015! (Also, crammed full of ideas and philosophical provocations.) New JG Ballardiana Book! “DEEP ENDS 2015, Rick McGrath’s 300-page, copiously illustrated in COLOR & B&W, new anthology of criticism, history, interviews, etc., about J. G. Ballard, is now available on eBay…” (said David Pringle). Ana Barrado photos! Google to find?
() James Dickinson sent us his gorgeous color small book, The Psycho-Pathologies of MODERNITY: J.G. Ballard’s Auto (dys)topias. An exercise in “Quotation”. He wrote: “Greetings Vale! Please find Psychopathologies. RivetHead Productions is entirely a vanity undertaking which allows me to ‘create’ things separate from my ‘academic’ work. The address for inquiries is: 744 South Street, PMB 65, Philadelphia PA 19147.” We highly recommend you send him a twenty-dollar bill for a truly rare, stimulating, amusing, gorgeous small-work-of-art.
() NEW BOOK! “Jack Sargeant‘s Flesh and Excess: On Underground Film, an obsessive examination of the visceral in underground film, punctuated with dissident Surrealism, Beat culture, wounds, riots and butoh, and much more. “Quote TK”—Ron Athey.
Flesh and Excess is a work of passionate scholarship. More than a history of transgressive cinema, Sargent examines the persistence of underground art across generations, and the particular appeal of cinema that enfolds physical pleasures and horrors. It’s a clear-eyed and fascinating book.” —Chris Kraus [Semiotexte, L.A.]

5. LINKS (Send Us Some!)

() Tom Hiddleston reads a section of Search & Destroy #10’s interview with JG Ballard—1978 – prophetic!!) which I commissioned.  Note that Search&Destroy#10 is STILL available from me for $20 — please order it, see it for yourself, own an “original” S&D, and support RE/Search’s continuance—all at the same time!

() fast-forward to find the V. Vale “spoken words” on this Punk Rock “panel”:
() Francisco Mattos’s Online Studio:

“Hi Vale – Have you seen the above article which quotes you in it?” – V in London

() from John Rogers:

() “V. Vale is the founder of publisher RE/Search and creator of the seminal 20th-century body modification text Modern Primitives. The fringe amateur historian, known for covering the re-emergence of body art within Western society, said it appeared as if Brenyak had a promising career ahead of himself. “I don’t want to say anything too exaggerated, but he seems to be seeking to expand the palette, scope, directionality, and visual vocabulary of what can be done to a body.”—
() “One publishes to find comrades!”—Andre Breton
() “You have a voice—and you should use it. Speak up in class when you have an idea. Speak up when you see an injustice! Tell the hard truths that other people are too afraid to tell.”—Michelle Obama, “Advice to Girls”


() “Vale, Here’s the link for the Letterform. It’s a bit on the academic side of things but there is a ton of amazing material. I posted some photos on Facebook.
Grace is the current main coordinator at MRR, a VERY smart 26 year old dynamo. The interview was an effortless 90 minutes so I have a lot of transcribing to do. Surely you know that work very well. I kind of enjoy it. Best, Marc Fischer
() “I’m reading two Jacques Ellul books: Anarchy and Christianity, and The

Meaning of the City (spoiler: the city insofar as it is an Anarchic one, is the only hope for Christianity/Western Civilization). —Marc P.

() “Vale, check this out – not so helpful to the feline in nightime hunting, but who cares — hipsters’ greed is not the feline’s need…—Monte C”
() “from Mike T: L.A. Deathrock & Turkish Goth: christ vs warhol with altar de fey at night light, 12 dec, same night as rykardaparasol. this song is from their 2010 debut:
she past away (Turkey) with in letter form at brick and mortar, 6 feb. here’s title track from their debut from a few years ago: “

() “Hi Friends – Blue Sky Gallery in Portland OR has just published a catalog of my tear up photos – FamilyTree, AgeMaps, and Couples. If you are interested in purchasing a copy you can find it through this link: When I just looked it was near the bottom—Bobby Neel Adams”

() Hi Vale, here’s an e-book my agent put up. She’s in England. The exploding memoir
() “Good people, big love to brother Lemmy [Motorhead, RIP 12/28/2015], shared his bottle of turkey w/me when I was mixing my first opera, very kind man, truly. Missing him, Watt”
8.  **SPONSORS** (Without them you would NOT be receiving this newsletter – Please go to their websites!) Here, a personal thanks to our pal Dave S. And this newsletter would not exist without Andrew B. and Emily.
If you would like to subscribe, we ask for a 6-month minimum of $72. (But, we will take sponsorships @$12/month!)1. BEYOND BAROQUE: Only bookstore in L.A. with a complete stock of RE/SEARCH BOOKS! Please patronize them… (Also, some RE/Search titles at The Pop-Hop in L.A.; thanks, Rhea Tepp!)
2. Kevin O’Malley+Christie Dames, the High-Heeled Anarchist: TechTalk/Studio: + Commonwealth Club, San Francisco. (x4/31/16)
3. $0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0$0V. Vale’s RE/Search Newsletter is cordially sponsored by “Beyond the Beyond.” @bruces
Information Wants To Be Free WE MEAN IT MAN!

4. Beverly Potter sent us her newest ultra-fun memoir, Animal House On Acid which includes tales of Punk Rock in Berkeley, specifically the Barrington Hall co-op. Order from: (x7/31/16)
5. THANK YOU, TIJANNA Eaton (x02-28-16)!

6. Reid Mukai (Cascadia Vape) wants you to know e-cigs and vaping aren’t just about nicotine. He carries vape pens for dry herb/oil concentrates and e-liquids containing CBD and Kava. To learn more, visit (x05/31/16)
() Flesh and Excess by Jack Sargeant (new book) (x05/31/16)
JANUARY 2016 RE/Search eNewsletter #146 written by V. Vale & other contributors. RE/Search website poweredby  Add us (““) to Your Address Book

Physical Address since May 1979: RE/SEARCH | 20 Romolo #B | San Francisco CA 94133-4041 | 415.362.1465 | |  facebook: “RE/Search Fan Page”    twitter: @valeRESearch

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