Monthly Archives: January 2010

Rebekah Explains…Microscopes!

Microscopes look cool.


Microscopes were invented by eye-glass inventors in the Netherlands via a happy combination of spectacles and windmills.

I didn’t add any tulips to the grass under that windmill because tulips were not involved in the invention of microscopes, despite the fact that they were invented in the Netherlands.

There are many kinds of microscopes. The ones most people are familiar with are “optical microscopes.” They are the type that were invented in the Netherlands. They use lenses.

The word “lenses” was derived, according to some internet sources, from the word “lentils.” Ostensibly because they look similar. If we look closer, lenses and lentils are not very similar.

As you can see, lentils and lenses have some things in common, but are not very similar. Internet sources cannot be trusted, clearly.

Two other things that have some things are microscopes and telescopes:

Author Dossier #2: Tim Jones-Yelvington

No. 2 in the Artifice Author Dossiers!

Tim Jones-Yelvington’s piece “My Mother’s Funeral” can be found in Artifice Issue 1


Name: Tim Jones-Yelvington

Code-Name: Gutter Princess Glitter Punk

Alias: Noah Vale

Secret Identity: mild-mannered faggot rockstar

Team Colors: CMYK

Reaction That One Time That He Thought There Was Someone Right Behind Him, But There Wasn’t: Who is to say there wasn’t someone right behind me? And from what position of authority comes this declaration? Someones are not always corporeal, nor are they always ones. Sometimes, they are things. Something in the aether, perhaps, a tickle. My reaction? I ran. I am the sort of person who as often runs toward things as runs away. Philosophically, “the journey” resonates, but in reality, I grow weary with in-betweens. At times, I eschew connective tissue. For instance, when I’m really fucking tired of the block between the bus stop and my office, I run, the quicker to get to work. The quicker to reach that position where someone is indeed “right behind me,” when I will turn, and we will touch. I hope to be unafraid.

Favorite Reptile: When I was a child, Pluto was a planet. So too was the pterodactyl a reptile, and so remains my favorite. Now they call her a bird. Science as knowledge is contingent, cumulative, frequently contested, yet enters our culture as authoritative. Who decides this? Is it solely the media that reduces? For instance: Evolution is contextual, not progressive, but try telling that to the host of a television science fiction series who imagine evolution a straight line between then, now and omnipotence. Remember when Deanna Troi became an amphibian in the bathtub? Once, as a kindergartner, I watched a pterodactyl cross the night sky. We were in the car, my mother was driving us home from work and school. “Mom! Mom!” I called. “Stop the car!” She slammed the brakes, we were nearly in an accident. “It’s a pterodactyl!” She opened the door. Mercifully, she was entertained to see an airplane. On the subject of superpowers, I have invariably elected flight over invisibility, the arguments in favor of invisibility far too rational to sway me.

Summation of Aesthetic Philosophy: See above. Then see below.

Celebrity for Whom He’s Most Often Mistaken: Regarding one celebrity to whom friends have often compared me, I’ve sworn myself to secrecy, having vowed to seduce this celebrity on the page, through the mechanism of fiction. I wouldn’t want to open myself to accusations of autoerotic projection. Still curious? I will give you a hint. He is a favorite of Artifice.

Three Things He’s Pretty Sure He Believes, But Maybe Not 100% Sure: Okra is gross. Meat isn’t always murder, but the meat industry, like the agricultural industry (Mansanto knows where you sleep!), terrifies me. Kevin Spacey is a homosexual misogynist douchebag, and I will never forgive him for not responding to my Twitter requests he spank me, but instead blocking me from following his tweets.

Favorite Kind of Story: I can only name traits: Startlingly honest. Unreliable. Formally innovative. Ethically challenging. Socially relevant, but not in the manner one expects.

Least Favorite Kind of Story: Anything by Charles D’Ambrosio.

Meet the New Web Editor

Paul Albano is Artifice Magazine’s newly minted Web Editor.  The site will now be updated multiple times per week with author interviews, blog postings, whimiscal musings, biting criticisms, useful elucidations, and a little bit of etcetera.  So continue to check back, comment frequently and with inanity, and clear all schedules for the Feb. 27th Issue #1 release party.

Artifice: You tend to be pretty a pretty quiet guy, I’ve noticed.  What are you
thinking about?        

Paul: Well, usually I’m thinking about the color spectrum.  Specifically, its voids and its margins and its terra incognita.  I’d say I have these thoughts during all moments in which I am not speaking.  In fact, as I write this I just invented a new shade of red that can live for three weeks without nourishment and longs for one more memory of its youth.

Artifice: Do you think that’s appropriate, thinking about things like that?

Paul: No, of course not.

Artifice: Do you know any magic tricks?

Paul: Not really.  I mean I can create vacuumed electromagnetic fields that fissure space and time.  But that’s just physics, not magic.

Artifice: People often claim you look like Matt Damon.  Is that fair?  Do you
feel like you have any particular connection to Mr. Damon? 

Paul: I certainly don’t enjoy when it happens (and quite frankly it’s gotten to be a little embarrassing); but I do sport a Boston accent, boyishly smile, sometimes forget who I am, show my work when solving complex math, play rugby, and travel with a friend who happens to resemble Ben Affleck and who I often crack wise with, and another friend who happens to resemble Jude Law and who I occasionally beat to death with an oar.  So…I guess I really can’t say it’s unfair.

But I do feel some connection with Matt Damon.  Like my fate is somehow intertwined with his, though I doubt he feels likewise.

Artifice: What is your favorite dance move, and what do you think this says
about you as a person?      

Paul: My favorite dance move doesn’t really have a name.  It simply involves venturing onto the dance floor, staying within the moment, having fun, and being inhumanly dexterous in both knees so you can bend one leg forward and the other backward and then alternate as you buoyantly hop around and flail your arms in a sort of grotesque Charleston. 

Artifice: If you were to make a short speech introducing yourself as the new Web Editor for Artifice Magazine, what would you say?

Paul: First, I would thank all those gathered for voting for me.  Then I would remind them that though this moment must be one of celebration, it also must be one of reflection, both on how far we’ve come, and the great distance still yet to be covered.  Then I would dim the lights and pace back and forth and reveal that the tuxedo-clad body of a debonair newspaper scion was discovered in the stables earlier today and subsequently someone in this very room is a murderer.  Then I would allow for the possibility that murder might have actually been an accident, and the murderer may in fact be a horse.  Then I would erode that possibility by dramatically intoning that the dead man was poisoned intravenously with the saliva of a noxious Brazilian tree frog.  Then I would conclude my speech by reassuring the audience that the tree frog has been apprehended and currently resides in here (by this time I’d be holding a shoebox with small air holes poked into the top).  Then I would drop the box and wait for it to fall and scream oh my God it’s empty and thank everyone for coming out. 


Not Pop Tarts

Kelly Haramis and Davis Schneiderman (who have a collaborative piece, “Backatcha,” in Issue 1, and are also married, collaboratively) are interviewed by Neil de la Flor (who, with Maureen Seaton and Kristine Snodgrass, has two collaborative pieces in Issue #1).  Davis and Kelly’s New Year’s Resolutions may be found below, as well. 


Neil de la Flor: Did y’all wet your pants when you wrote “Backatcha”? (I did, when I read it.) What possessed you?

Davis Schneiderman: My pants are generally soaking wet at all times. I have a system: Each morning, Kelly lovingly dips my slacks or trousers for the day into an ice bath prepared from cold mountain water frozen in the western Rockies and imported to our humble home by a team of trained Clydesdales.  Then, I apply said pants and remain pleasantly shocked throughout most of the otherwise uneventful day.

Kelly Haramis: Yes. I spilled my extra-large soy chai latte on my lap. We were writing this in a coffee shop when a clown wearing sequined stirrups and “Mork and Mindy”-inspired rainbow suspenders crashed his canary yellow mini cooper into the storefront window.

ND: Are non sequiturs magic and do you think Morga [the protagonist of “Backatcha”] could be a magician and the answer to love?

Davis: Non sequiturs are magic in the same way that–look, a series of agrammatical clauses have adjusted the vertical hold that Morga uses to work her Arthurian charms. Yes, she is also Morgan le Fay, Morgane, Morgaine, and Morgana and–look, it’s like this, see. Magic is a combination of natural forces and human coincidental occurrences correlated together at the point of mystery. A distant hand, lifted? An unseen consciousness manipulating events? Unlikely–rather, the ordering of the semantic system produces real human affect by manipulating consciousness through the arrangement of the physical world. Words on the page, a la Beckett, are words in the world as the cold incantation of the sun on its last day, before all is darkness, save for the punctuated breath of the dying cyborg moment.

Kelly: Non sequiturs are like the answers in my Magic 8-Ball. Morga deemed herself a magician after she encased her feet in a block of ice and stood in Times Square for 60 seconds. As for love, she’s yet to date a supermodel. 

ND: Who came up with the name Timmy “Douchebag” Ceebass, and why?

Kelly: Me. Three ex-boyfriends rolled into one. No, just three dudes from my improv class. Yes, one we really called Douchebag.

ND: Where do you collaborate? And, what are the rules?

Davis: In the bedroom, and there are no rules. Only safe words/phrases: “prestidigitation,” “prime meridian,” “robot from the future.”  

Kelly: In elevators and airplane bathrooms. Rules? What rules?

ND: Gross! Is collaboration the origin of goosebumps? 

Davis: Goose bumps, also called goose flesh, goose pimples, chill bumps, or the medical term cutis anserina, are the bumps on a person’s skin at the base of body hairs which may involuntarily develop when a person is cold or experiences strong emotions such as fear or awe. The reflex of producing goose bumps is known as horripilation, piloerection, or the pilomotor reflex. It occurs not only in humans but also in many other mammals; a prominent example are porcupines which raise their quills when threatened, or sea otters when they encounter sharks or other predators.

Kelly: No, but it may inspire another creepy children’s series.

ND: Are you ever afraid your children will read this and think, “Hot damn, these kids are nutz!”?

Davis: The two children, Athena, 3, and Kallista, 2, are already literary sophisticates. We retell the story of Gogol’s “The Nose” to them and they have developed a complex cosmology of their friends and relatives losing noses and having said noses reassemble on the wrong faces. Athena, particularly, rejects any story where the correct nose reattaches itself to the proper face, and prefers tales that end in a type of narrative deconstruction, where, as she says, “Daddy, I don’t want any noses to come back. No noses.” Kallista spends a good portion of each day pretending she is Alice (in Wonderland) and so considers me to be the White Rabbit or other characters as called for by the particular situation.

Kelly: We’re planning to bury all collaborations in a time capsule that Athena and Kallista won’t be able to open until they learn to tie their shoes, wash the dishes and grow money on trees.

ND: Who’s on top?

Davis: Kelly, right now.

Kelly: Can’t answer now…

ND: Oops. Wasn’t expecting that! Are pop-tarts 1) tarts, 2) pop art, or 3) steak tartar?

Davis: Long time vegetarian and healthy eater. No pop tarts. 

Kelly: Apple tarts, popcorn and vegan steak tartar.

ND: Finish this off: Artifice (the journal and the aesthetic) is—?

Davis: Amazing, because they published my first collaboration with Kelly, which is a fun build-up to the release of my novel Drain in June 2010.

Kelly: Amazing because they published my first piece of fiction.

Resolutions: Davis

“Superman should resolve never to use his special reverse-time power
that he busts out in Superman: The Movie because I am tired of meeting
him in the past:

“I wish I had resolved to destroy my weather machine before its
corruption by North Korean spybots caused Al Gore to believe in global
warming. Sucker.”

“I resolve to absolve, circumvolve, convolve, devolve, disinvolve,
dissolve, evolve, exolve, intervolve, involve, persolve, preresolve,
redissolve, reinvolve, revolve and finally solve my inability to
really get my whites to sparkle”

Resolutions: Kelly

I need to remember to record MTV’s “Jersey Shore”; get hired as a Fox
News contributor; and learn how to time travel.

Author Dossier #1: Ori Fienberg

No 1 in our series of Artifice Author Dossiers.  Collect them all!  Impress your friends!

Ori Fienberg, whose pieces “The Collectors” and “The Strong Man” appear in Artifice Issue 1, spends his days as a mild-mannered Writing Center Coordinator for WriteBoston.  At night, he makes the forces of evil quake.

Name: Mr. Omnilogist

Superpower: The ability to explain anything

Weapon of Choice: The sharp mnemonic device which he twirls between his fingers

Animal Sidekick:  Mr. Who, escaped from a government testing facility; this owl never forgets a name or a face

Sworn to Defeat: The Illiterati and people who misuse the word “irony”

Lair: A study carrel at your local library

Known Weaknesses: expensive cheese, “Oranges” by Gary Soto, “Why I Am Not a Painter” by Frank O’Hara, books about treasure hunts

Alter-Ego: Mild-mannered Writing Center Coordinator Ori Fienberg

A funny story about yesterday…

If you have been considering subscribing to Artifice, or considering making a (tax-deductible!) donation, let me tell you why now is a good time.

Yesterday I was at a lunch meeting in Lincoln Park (I work at this nonprofit, here in Chicago) and my wallet was stolen out of my coat pocket. My coat was draped over the back of my chair. The thief (thieves) were big spenders, and by the time I realized my wallet was gone and put a hold on my debit card, my credit card, and the Artifice Magazine business account card, they’d already managed to spend about $2,500.Here’s what the thieves bought with Artifice money:

  • $239.99 at Gap
  • $492.72 at Express
  • $397.90 at Banana Republic
  • $452.13 at Old Navy

Now I want to make it clear that Artifice will be getting our money back. It’s going to take about two weeks, but our affidavits have already cleared. But in the meantime, we’re out $1582.74.

Which is a problem. Artifice Issue #1 is at the printer. We’ve paid our deposit, but we need to pay the other half of the cost of the issue before they’ll give the copies to us. Our plan has been to release on February 1, which means we’ve been hoping to get review copies and contributors copies out in mid-January. In order to stay on schedule, we need to pay the printer by early next week. And in order to pay, we need about $600 more than what we currently have in the bank.

See my problem here? It’s not that we lost all the money, but rather that we won’t have it when we need it. Which is why I’m asking only the people who were already planning to subscribe or donate to do so. By putting the money in the bank now rather than later, you’ll keep us on schedule for our release. Which would mean a lot. You can donate or subscribe here.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support, and thanks for being awesome. Thank you.


The One about Resolutions

Elisa Gabbert and Kathleen Rooney (who have two collaborative pieces in Issue #1) are interviewed by Neil de la Flor (who, with Maureen Seaton and Kristine Snodgrass, has two collaborative pieces in Issue #1).

Neil de la Flor:
What are the rules of the game when you collaborate? Or, is it total anarchy?  

Kathleen Rooney: The first rule about collaboration club is you do not talk about collaboration club. No, wait. That’s something else. Actually, rules are pretty central to our game. EG and I typically pick at least one rule or constraint to guide our composition, which we do exclusively through email, never in person. In our going-on-four years of collaboration, these constraints have included everything from traditional forms like (or at least closely approximating) sonnets and ghazals to Oulipian forms like beautiful outlaws to forms of our own devising. For example, we wrote our resolutions as Mad Libs where one of us would write a line with several blanks and the other would fill it in.  

NDLF: Is collaboration the end of the world as we know it or an end in itself?  

Elisa Gabbert: Isn’t the end of the world an end in itself? All poetry is a collaborative process. Some may look at it as an end in itself, like dancing. Others may see it more like war, wherein the outcome has a marked effect on whether or not one regrets getting involved. I tend to fall in the latter category. War too is collaborative.  

NDLF: What kind of kitten was used in your poem “The One About Violence” and does he know?  

EG: A Siberian, like this guy. He knows everything. Don’t fall for that innocence crap. 

KR: That’s the kind that was used, but no kittens were harmed in the making of this poem.  

NDLF: In your opinion, will CCTV ruin reality television?  

KR: No, but only because YouTube ruined it first.  

NDLF: Final question: If you could be an extinct animal, which one would you be and why?  

EG: Who the hell would want to be an extinct animal? I’d rather be a kitten. That said, I identify somewhat with the Antarctic wolf. And the white-footed rabbit-rat, which was kitten-sized. The Sydney natives called it “rabbit-biscuit.” 

KR: A unicorn. Because some people think it is extinct, whereas others think it is imaginary. But if I had to pick a “real” extinct animal, probably the Caspian Tiger, gone forever since 1970. It would also be a good cat to include in a poem—very majestic, very violent.  

Eisa Gabbert’s and Kathleen Rooney’s New Year’s Resolutions:  

I resolve not to become apoplectic about minutia unless it’s truly borderline not-minute.

I resolve to take better care of my houseplants, because maintaining a fragile connection with nature is important.
I resolve to clean out the backyard every two weeks even if it looks like the animals are having a garden party.

I resolve to be less vain about seeming too vain; vanity is the ambitious woman’s best offense. 

I resolve to resolve the story, or at least to end it.


This Is Not Exactly a New Year’s Resolution

Still, it’s in the spirit of the thing.

Our first issue is coming out in a little over a month.  So we thought that now would be a good time to explain exactly what we think we’re doing, starting a literary magazine.

Why do we need a thousand literary magazines and journals looking for “the best of new and established writers,” as so many journals claim to do?  In what sense is it even possible for each of a thousand literary journals to showcase the best of new and established writers?

The fact is that every editor has some aesthetic commitment, and every journal has, or should have, a project.  These two things don’t have to be the same; not every journal’s project is to push a certain aesthetic.  But the journals and magazines we love, or passionately hate, or at any rate feel something for are those that take a stance, that make a claim.  Those that say, implicitly or explicitly, “I’m interested in x, but not y.”  Some journals do this by genre, and these journals tend to be the most explicit in asking for what they want.  Other journals do this by tone, and these journals, even if they clearly have a certain aesthetic, often still ask for the best of new and established, etc.

We’re saying, why not be explicit?  Why not take a stance?

We want to explore, and hopefully to further, a certain aesthetic tradition.  Specifically, we’re interested in finding the descendents of Acker, Ashbery, Barth, and Barthelme, et al.  Work descended from or influenced by that literary moment that (like it or not) has come to be called, occasionally with a sneer, “postmodernism.”  Work that’s “aware of its own artifice,” work that engages in metafiction, pastiche, cut-ups, collage, formalism, fabulism, etc, etc.  Which is to say, all of those things that prose or poetry can do when they’re not ignoring the essential made-upped-ness of prose and poetry.

We believe we’re coming to the end of the generation raised on Carver’s “No tricks.”  We’re done with “No tricks.”  We want to see what comes next.  Which is to say: we want tricks.  Not cheap tricks.  Deeply moving, deeply felt tricks.  Committed tricks.  Compelling tricks. 

We are not interested in manifestos or schools or anything that might ossify into some dogma of what does and doesn’t count within the Artifice aesthetic.  Part of the reason why we’re interested in the aesthetic tradition we are is that we believe it is still changing, still developing, still vigorous and exciting.  If we ever reach the point where we can pick work by rote, or where readers aren’t surprised by the appearance of some piece or another in Artifice, that’s the day we close the shop.

But we don’t think this is the final word on all of this.  Hell, we’d love for this to become a discussion, either here in the comments, or elsewhere.  And we do plan to write more about all this in the future.

Now go enjoy 2010.