Occult Criticism, Neologisms, Poetic Misreading, Entropic Art…
Date: Friday, May 31
Time: 7:00 PM
(Note: Observatory runs on your donations)
Organized by Rachael M. Wilson, Ada Smailbegovic, and Daniel C. Remein for the Organism for Poetic Research (OPR)
Presented by Wythe Marschall
Readings and Performances by:
- Jeff T. Johnson & Andrew Klobucar
- Tim Terhaar
- Claire Donato
- Alan Sondheim & Ed Schneider
- & more
The Organism for Poetic Research performs exactly what its names says it does. Propelled by poesis (making) as its investigative method, the OPR instigates events that open a field of relations between the natural sciences, artistic practices, and research in the humanities. The OPR appropriates and refashions diverse modes and objects of inquiry as instruments in a series of specific provocations (i.e. “The Skin of Space,” the “Ravanastron,” and the forthcoming “Sci-Pulp Poetics”). The OPR produces events and object-forums with the aim of enlivening our shared physical, affective, aesthetic, and intellectual environment.
The OPR publication PELT constitutes the Organism’s epidermal organ, its interface with the world. The second issue of issue of PELT, titled “Ravanastron,” investigates and heralds an improper object-concept—a sheer potentiality which presents open-ended possibilities for realization.
The Ravanastron flies!
Claire Donato is the author of the novel, Burial, from Tarpaulin Sky Press, and the poetry chapbook, Someone Else’s Body, from Cannibal Books. Her fiction, poetry, and lyric essays have appeared or are forthcoming in the Boston Review, Encyclopedia, Evening Will Come, LIT, Octopus, and 1913: a journal of forms.
Jeff T. Johnson holds a digital residency at The Organism for Poetic Research. He lives in Brooklyn, is Editor in Chief at LIT, and edits Dewclaw. For information about recent projects, visit jefftjohnson.wordpress.com.
Andrew Klobucar, Professor of English at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, is a literary theorist and teacher, specializing in internet research, electronic writing, semantic technologies and Web 3.0.
Alan Sondheim is a Brooklyn-based new media artist, musician, writer, and performer. He’s concerned with issues of virtuality, and the stake that the real world has in the virtual. He has worked with his partner, Azure Carter, the performer/choreographer Foofwa d’Imobilite, and many others, including the sax players Ed Schneider and Chris Diasparra.
Sondheim examines the grounds of the virtual, the way that the virtual inhabits the real body. He performs in virtual, real, and cross-over worlds; his virtual work is known for its highly complex and mobile architectures. He has used altered motion-capture technology extensively for examining and creating new lexicons of behavior, as well as studying issues of death, extinction, and suffering among humans and other organisms.
Tim Terhaar‘s poetry has appeared in The Capilano Review and PELT. Critical writing has been published by Tiny Mix Tapes and The Journal for Critical Animal Studies. His video Shed No Light played at Wild Project as part of a Conveyor Magazine film program.
Photograph made of Dr. Bindelof via his instructions
Date: Tuesday, May 21
Time: 8 pm
Presented by: Shannon Taggart & Liminal Analytics
Introduction by: Christopher Libertino
“My name was Dr. Bindelof…Will you be the disciples of a dead man?”
The Spirit of Dr. Bindelof focuses on one little known episode of physical mediumship, Gilbert Roller’s utterly charming and disarming autobiographical account of a group of teenagers who experimented with seance phenomena and contacted an alleged spirit named “Dr. Bindelof.” Author Rosemarie Pilkington will present the details of the Bindelof case using personal accounts along with photographs and artifacts created during the Bindelof sessions. There will be a brief overview of extraordinary physical mediums and the feats they perform, placing the Bindelof case within this wider framework.
Rosemarie Pilkington, a writer, musician, and educator has a Ph.D. in psychology (consciousness studies) from Saybrook Institute. In addition to The Spirit of Dr. Bindelof, she recently compiled and edited Men and Women of Parapsychology: Personal Reflections Vol II, a follow up to the popular anthology Men and Women of Parapsychology: Personal Reflections Vol I.
Illustrated lecture and Book Release Party with Tom Baione of New York’s American Museum of Natural History
Date: Thursday, Jan 10
Time: 8:00 PM
Presented by Morbid Anatomy
*** Copies of the book will be available for sale and signing
Most people are well acquainted with the front-stage wonders of New York’s American Museum of Natural History–the world class habitat group dioramas, the highly stylized hall of biodiversity, the epic dinosaur skeletons; what is less well known is the equally astounding back-stage collection, which includes an world-renowned collection of exquisite, rare, and beautifully illustrated books on the natural sciences held by museum’s research library. The new book Natural Histories: Extraordinary
Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library
, edited by AMNH’s Tom Baione, brings these hidden works to the fore, showcasing forty extraordinary works created between the 16th and 20th centuries, covering all seven continents, and spanning such diverse scientific fields as anthropology, astronomy, earth science,
paleontology, and zoology. The book also features essays about each work by Museum curators, scientists, and librarians, as well as forty extraordinary, suitable-for-framing art prints of images from the book.
In tonight’s highly illustrated lecture, join American Museum of Natural History’s Boeschenstein Director of
Library Services and volume editor Tom Baione for a look inside the Natural Histories… and a virtual trip behind the scenes of the Library’s Rare Book Room. Attendees will also have the opportunity to purchase–and have signed!–their own copy of this gorgeous new volume.
Tom Baione, a Brooklyn native, started working in the Museum’s Library in 1995
after attending Pratt Institute’s School of Library and Information
Science. After years in the Library’s Special Collections and Reference
Services units, Tom became the Library’s Director in 2010. He is an active
member of New York’s Grolier Club and lives in midtown with his high
school sweetheart. The Museum was his favorite childhood destination and he still reports a thrill upon entering the museum each day.
POSTPONED – Due to unforeseen circumstances
“Athanasius Kircher: The Greatest Polymath Who Ever Lived? An evening with Lawrence Weschler, Joshua Foer, and John Glassie”
Tuesday, Dec 4th, 7:30pm
Athanasius Kircher was a seventeenth-century German Jesuit scholar whose interests knew no bounds. From optics to music to magnetism to medicine, he offered up inventions and theories for everything, and they made him famous across Europe. Holy Roman Emperors were his patrons, popes were his friends, and in his spare time he collaborated with the Baroque master Bernini.
This lecture, occasioned by John Glassie’s new book A Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change, will take on Kircher’s place as one of history’s most unforgettable figures.
Joshua Foer is a science journalist and the author of the international best-seller Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything. He is the erstwhile head of the Athanasius Kircher Society. He is also the co-founder of the design competition Sukkah City, and the Atlas Obscura, an online guide to the world’s wonders and curiosities. www.joshuafoer.com
Lawrence Weschler was a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine for twenty years, and is the author of over a dozen books, most recently Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative. Others include Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder for which he was a finalist for both the Pulitzer and National Book Critics Circle Award, and Everything that Rises; A Book of Convergences for which he received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism in 2007. He also directs the New York Institute for the Humanities. www.lawrenceweschler.com
John Glassie is the author of A Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change, a biography of the 17th century polymath Athanasius Kircher. A former contributing editor to The New York Times Magazine, has written for The Believer, McSweeney’s, The New York Times, Salon, Wired, and other publications. He is the author of the photo book Bicycles Locked to Poles and lives in Brooklyn, New York. www.johnglassie.com
Susannah Cahalan, Photo by Shannon Taggart for Reader’s Digest
Date: Thursday, November 29th
Presented by: Shannon Taggart
Susannah Cahalan woke up one day in a strange hospital room, strapped to a bed and unable to move or speak. Her medical records—from a month-long hospital stay of which she has no memory—showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy twenty-four year old. Her memoir Brain on Fire chronicles the swift path of her illness and the last-minute intervention that saved her from a lifetime of institutions, or death. Susannah was diagnosed with a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which her body was attacking her brain, an illness now thought to be the cause of “demonic possessions” throughout history.Join us for a conversation between Susannah and Carl Schoonover, a neuroscience graduate student who is amazed at how she was able to heal from this ordeal. Together they will discuss the science behind Susannah’s experience and then take questions from the audience.
is a news reporter at the New York Post, and her award-winning work has also been featured in The New York Times. She lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Carl Schoonover is a Neurobiology and Behavior PhD candidate at Columbia, the author of Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century
, and a co-founder of NeuWrite
, a New York-based collaborative writing group of scientists and writers.
Date: Saturday, November 10
Time: 7:00 PM
Drinks: FREE with a purchase of Whatever Used to Grow Around Here ($15)
Presented by The Crumpled Press and the Hollow Earth Society
Whatever Used to Grow Around Here by Lauren Belski is a collection of nine short stories that consider the experiences that resonate in the lives of American youth who strive to live meaningfully during times threatening to negate and dissolve.
These stories come to light against an America littered with disconcerting history and an ecology fettered to its eroding future. They bring back the tensions, desires, anxieties, liberties and passions that are our very undoing; but Belski gives us hope in the end as she confirms and explores our human connections. In their places, pieces and moments, these stories are everybody’s to remember.
Be they about a disgruntled poet stuck in a traffic jam out in the middle of nowhere, or a state-champion cross-country runner who decides at a moment’s notice to book it out of town, Lauren Belski’s stories draw the reader into their protagonists’ identities through prose that moves to the patterns of contemporary speech and plots that linger in definitive moments of love and self-discovery. This creates a reading experience that is as open to analysis as it is refreshingly uncontrived. Belski is not afraid of writing in whatever mode her story calls for, and the result is a fiction of unmitigated immediacy and profound honesty.
From “Fat Man’s Coat”
“Oh please,” I told him. “I won’t be able to feel anything through that fat man’s coat.”
“This coat?!” he asked, astonished, as if the coat could hear and was offended. “This coat can’t contain me!”
His declaration echoed down the empty street. By far, he was the strongest man on the block.
“Come on!” he said, waving me forward then settling back into a He-Man pose.
“Fine,” I said, “But I’m not going to feel anything.”
I took a step toward him, taking my hands out of my pockets and patting them up and down his sandpapery sleeves like an airport security guard, every now and again pressing up against a solid form of life: a bicep, the tendons of a shoulder. Then I got a little bolder.
Lauren Belski‘s work has been published or is forthcoming in StoryQuarterly, Matter Journal, The Trout Family Almanac, and other delightful places. A former New York City Teaching Fellow and AmeriCorps Volunteer on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, she is now an instructor of English at Brooklyn College where she earned her MFA. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, Brian Russ.
The Crumpled Press was established in 2005. Our books are all hand sewn We publish original work by new authors and provide a space for established writers to say something new. We aim to create an audience for good writing instead of packaging writing for a target audience. We perish to publish.
Illustrated Lecture and book signing with Mark Pilkington, author of Mirage Men: An Adventure into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs
Date: Tuesday, November 13
Produced by Morbid Anatomy
In his book Mirage Men: An Adventure into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs, author Mark Pilkington details his experiences in the UFO community, and his discoveries of the ways in which military and intelligence operators have shaped and exploited beliefs in UFOs, ghosts, monsters, vampires, and elements from folklore and conspiracy theory to create an armory of supernatural weapons of mass deception, capable of manipulating consciousness on a grand scale. He traces the inspiration for these toys, tools and techniques to a range of sources which include fiction, cinema, stage magic, advertising and occultism, and uncovers the ways in which they have–for many of its intended and unintended targets–altered their very perception and understanding of the world around us.
Copies of his book Mirage Men: An Adventure into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs will be available for sale and signing.
Mark Pilkington is the author of two books - Mirage Men: An Adventure into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs and Far Out: 101 Strange Tales from Science’s Outer Edge and has written for Fortean Times, the Guardian, Sight & Sound, The Wire, Frieze, The Anomalist and a host of other magazines and journals. Mark also runs Strange Attractor Press, editing and publishing its occasional Journal, and organising events and exhibitions.
Date: Saturday, October 27
Presented by: Shannon Taggart
Astronomers, religious leaders, and members of the lay public had speculated about the possibility of life on other planets for hundreds of years before the first “proof” appeared, in May 1905, in the first successful photographs of Mars. Newspapers and magazines swiftly published reproductions of the photographs, made by the amateur planetary astronomer and wealthy businessman Percival Lowell, with accompanying descriptions of the “canals” of Mars and its imagined inhabitants. This illustrated talk shows how the intersection of science with new forms of observation and journalistic image display in the late 19th and early 20th century galvanized public interest in Mars, and how “Mars Mania” intersected and interacted with key trends and figures in art, journalism, spiritualism, astronomy, evolutionary science, and politics during a period that, noted the British writer H.G. Wells, was fascinated by the idea that “There are certain features in which [Martians] are likely to resemble us.”
Jennifer Tucker is a historian of science and technology specializing in the study of visual representation, gender, science, and popular knowledge in Victorian England. She is the author of Nature Exposed: Photography as Eyewitness in Victorian Science (2006) and editor of a special issue of History and Theory on “Photography and Historical Interpretation, “ as well as articles about the visual representation of science and technology in Victorian England. She is finishing a book about the photos and other visual representations that circulated across the wide social spectrum of Victorian society during the most famous legal case of imposture in modern Britain.
Model from The Monroe Moosnick Medical and Science Museum, Transylvania University in Lexington, KY; by Merkin J. Pus-Tart, Kingdom of Fife blog.
An Illustrated Lecture and Book Signing with Richard Faulk, with Music and Cocktails by Friese Undine
Date: **** Thursday, October 11 (NOTE DATE CHANGE)
Produced by Morbid Anatomy
*** Copies of Gross America will be available for sale and signing
Don’t judge a book by its cover. And don’t judge this collection of American oddities solely by their gross exterior. With wit and insight backed up by meticulous research, Gross America, the debut book by genial polymath Richard Faulk, takes you places you thought you never wanted to see, to unearth stories you’d never imagined.
What is Gross America?
Gross America is toothsome concoction of science and nature trivia, served with a side of sagacity and wit, and delivered in an irresistibly putrescent bundle.
No, really: What is Gross America?
Ok, it’s a travel guide to the grossest sites our 50 states have to offer. Sniff out the chemical secrets of the celebrated “sperm tree” of Los Angeles; gaze into the innards of North America’s sole surviving anatomical Venus; thumb the pages of a prison memoir bound in the memoirist’s own skin; or sneak a peek into the chamber pot used by the real-life Uncle Sam.
And those are just a fraction of the potential verb-object parings made possible by this nasty little book.
On top of being a sheer joy to read (he wrote modestly), Gross America offers an introduction to the wild nature of our 50 states and a window into some of the more perplexing moments of science, past and present. It will answer questions you might never have realized you had, and change the way you think about things you never wanted to think about in the first place.
You may never look at toxic waste the same way again.
Why should I come to the release party?
Well, at the very least, you’ll probably get drunk. There will be music, too. There will also be a discussion, and you will be able to ask the author impertinent questions about his book, and you will become intrigued enough to buy it. Which you will also be able to do.
RICHARD FAULK is a writer, editor, and Observatory habitué. A onetime time-travel columnist and occasional education reporter, he has also written about Vikings for Australian tweens, covered academic conferences for Columbia University, and celebrated the films of Pam Grier in Penthouse. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he thinks deeply about trivial matters.
An Illustrated Lecture and Book Signing with J.W. Ocker
Date: Monday, January 14
Produced by Morbid Anatomy
*** Copies of The New York Grimpendium will be available for sale and signing
J.W. Ocker spent a year traveling around New York, visiting some 250 death-related sites and artifacts in the state. A brain collection. A ship graveyard. An abandoned spiritualist mecca. And yes, even The Morbid Anatomy Library. For this presentation, he will be showing pictures and recounting some of the stories from from the darkest corners of the state.
J.W. Ocker grew up in Maryland and currently lives in New Hampshire. He is the author of The New England Grimpendium, for which he won the Lowell Thomas Award for travel writing, and the recently released The New York Grimpendium. He writes about his travels to strange sites around the country at his site OddThingsIveSeen.com.