Enter at Your Own Risk: The Dangerous Art of Dennis Cooper

Enter at Your Own Risk: The Dangerous Art of Dennis Cooper

Enter at Your Own Risk: The Dangerous Art of Dennis Cooper

Enter at Your Own Risk: The Dangerous Art of Dennis Cooper

Synopsis

Dennis Cooper has been both praised and censured as the most controversial writer working today for his creation of a searing, outlaw textuality that charts psychosexual terrain uncensored by desire police. This volume is the first to explore Cooper's significance as a pioneering literary artist who illuminates the hidden or repressed extremities of the fin de millennium American zeitgeist. Leora Lev has assembled a roster of internationally acclaimed scholars, fiction writers, filmmakers, and artists who conjure a provocative encounter between Cooper's fiction, European transgressive literature and philosophy (e.g., Sade, Rimbaud, Bataille, Bresson), and American psychocultural topographies.

Excerpt

Leora Lev

DENNIS COOPER, A WRITER AT THE FOREFRONT OF TWENTIETH- AND twenty-first century American letters, is a latter-day visionary whose literary art defies pigeonholing within any recognizable category. Because it flickers disturbing light onto the darkest nights of human souls, illuminating the visceral cravings and obsessions that erupt when the psychosexual desire police go on break, this fiction has been deemed, at various moments, the most controversial of any being written today. Cooper’s work is nourished by European, and especially French, avant-garde and/or underground literature and film (e.g., the Marquis de Sade, Lautréamont, Rimbaud, Genet, Bataille, and Robert Bresson), but also an urban, pop cultural, fin de siècle postmodernism. French philosophies of desire and piercingly urgent ontoepistemological queries concerning the labyrinthine connections between identity, art, death, and passion are interwoven with references to splatterpunk films, metal bands, The Simpsons, and Disneyland. The prose thus meshes the purest of poetic distillations with the minimalist vernacular of contemporary teenagers, creating an interplay of lyricism and queer slacker inarticulacy as a stunning representation of these youths’ turbulent worlds from their own vexed interiority.

Further, while a prime concern of Cooper’s is limit experience, what the French surrealists called jusqu’auboutisme (all the way to the ended-ness), the jagged, nerve-end desire that pulses through his writing shares nothing with the nihilistic gore that characterizes trendy alterna-fiction with which he has been associated. Cooper’s discourses of eroticism and violence, with their evocation of bodily orifices, fluids, and spasms, are a conduit for profound questions about the relation between death, desire, language, and alterity, and the nature of abjection and epiphany. His poetry and fiction are populated by fragile, drug-abusing boys, predatory older men, artistic, delusional high school teens, desperate street punks, queer slackers . . .

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