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The Exquisite Corpse - 2010

  • Published Date: September 30, 2010
  • Publication Cycle: Daily online

This is an unusual online journal. Its founder and editor, Andrei Codrescu, can be found opining periodically on National Public Radio, and the journal reflects his attitudes and opinions.

The journal was an early online publication, becoming in 1996 after 13 years of printed editions. Now new material is presented online on an ongoing basis, and accompanied by an annual print compilation. There are stories, poetry, book reviews, art, and a number of other features with such titles as “Techne & Psyche,” “Letters & Gossip,” and “Bureaus.”

Under Stories, I particularly enjoyed the strange tale of “Lenin’s Brain” by Yuriy Tarnawsky, about a nondescript fifty-four-year-old man who buys what he believes to be Lenin’s brain in an antique shop, and the peculiar effect this purchase ultimately has upon his perception of himself.

Under Techne & Psyche is a nice little article by Eddie Woods – apparently true – entitled “Perception,” about Joshua Bell the world famous violinist, who played a complex series of Bach pieces for forty-five minutes in the DC Metro Station one January morning in 2007. Nobody recognized him or applauded – they barely listened – but he made thirty-two dollars for the gig.

Under Bureaus is “Problems of Life: Wittgenstein,” by Tom Clark, a series of exquisite photographs accompanied by musings of the great philosopher. An example: “If in life we are surrounded by death, so too in the health of our intellect we are surrounded by madness.”

It must be said that an air of condescension permeates this journal. An interview by a fawning Mark Spitzer with editor Codrescu brings forth the latter’s opinion of the state of creative writing education: “it occurred to me just how boring ‘teaching creative writing’ is these days, and how many unimaginative drones who were themselves ‘taught’ by unimaginative drones are fouling the air in our institutions of so-called ‘higher’ learning.”

Pompous obscurity envelops this poem entitled “Horrors of the Avant Guard: Twenty Years Ago in the Corpse” by Andy Robbins. A snippet: “My flung careful few, steady bells at the pleat ends of the operating skirt our carburettori have draped over the planet, napkin framed around the unformed fontanelle of now, the soon-to-be-cicatricose present, for which, as the price goes up, many will be sacrificed.”

This is a relatively complex website with a lot of interesting and mentally challenging material. The flavor is international, with people from all over the world contributing, and numerous translations. Despite its propensity for self-indulgence, it has a lot going for it, and is a recommended read for fledgling writers.

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Review Posted on October 14, 2010

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