Mr. Tom Clark glosses Pulp Noir – a valuable roadmap for the MinXus-Lynxus aesthetic

This past week, Mr. Bob Ray’s (North Carolina) wonderfully distressed motel postcard ignited a reverie concerning the litterary influences that inform the Mink Ranch. We forayed briefly into pulp fiction, especially of the 1930s & 40s, including Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, and James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings twice in particular. Now we wish we had woven in Mr. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan.

Speaking of which, perhaps it has to do with some energy particle confluence of cosmic debris resulting from St. Patrick’s Day, our favourite contemporary poet (and did we mention he authored THE Charles Olson biography?) – none other than Mr. Tom Clark – has posted a stunning blog entry about James M. Cain with text excerpts, spectacular photos and, even if by implication, thoughtful insights.

Some day we will have the vast research staff Mr. Clark must surely have at his disposal in order to conduct that level of research.

Empire of Skin

Here at the mink ranch, we have been reading Tom Clark’s books since, well, since he first shared with us “How I broke in” not skipping a “Beat” through the Naropa poetry wars, the Olson and Dorn biographies, the sea-change of Paradise Resisted, etc. etc.

Of particular relevance to the Mink Ranch, though, is Empire of Skin – his epic chronicle of, believe it or not, the fur trade in the American West.

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tom clark
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 14:01:14

    What a pleasant surprise today when I cleared away the cobwebs from the coffin, peeked up and saw this!

    (My vast research staff, swimming about in the Petri dish in hopes of someday being born, would doubtless be happy too…)


  2. minkrancher
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 15:47:20

    Tom, it’s a real honour to have you pay a visit, marginal & suspect as our roadside attraction is.

    I first heard you read at “Just Buffalo” circa 1980-81 then further encouraged by Jack Clarke & was thus set on the road to now being a devoted, lifelong reader of your books.

    Thanks for all your efforts with “Beyond the Pale” – the news that stays news from TC &, frankly, the only news on a variety of subjects I can trust & believe.

    PS – Also thanks for your visual=textual work; some dare call it visual poetry


  3. Dark wall
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 22:42:27

    Imagine that, Rancher. Mr. Tom Clark himself. This is better even than the day CrackerJack Kid drawed my pitur.


  4. minkrancher
    Mar 18, 2013 @ 22:46:15

    Enjoy it, Dw. This might just be the one shining moment of MinXus-Lynxus.


  5. tom clark
    Mar 31, 2013 @ 10:40:24

    Many different conclusions may be drawed from one pitur, and it is this bewildering diversity of interpretation that spurs the old nag on, into the muddy slough, blinders askew, harness tipped cock-eyed so as to penetrate the nostril directly into the cranial noodleroni.

    Which is another way of saying, thank you.

    All yew hon’able ranchers (even if it’s only the singular yew there, plus le plaisir) are hereby invited to a Deviant Easter Egg Hunt on the Dark Ruin Lawn.

    Shine on, crazy rhinestone!


  6. minkrancher
    Mar 31, 2013 @ 12:18:50

    Tom, Happy Easter and thanks for the invite (as if we are not already daily readers of “Beyond the Pale”). Some of us, students of the Curriculum of the Soul, have followed unusual paths. But we’re still here.

    You do raise a subject always pertinent to the Tenderfoots & drifters who visit our hard scrabble-high concept enterprise. The intent was never to deceive or confuse; it just happened this way. I guess it’s a game outside of the game, referencing some of your recent insightful writing.

    All the mail is real & comes via the international mail-art network (aka the Eternal Network). There’s a hint of Mr. Dorn’s Gunslinger for sure. It would be an elaborate hoax indeed to make that art and mail it to ourselves. Some of those folks use their real identities and some have adopted monikers.

    Rancher (me) and Empress Marie (our Tokyo Rose, “an innocent country girl from Alsace fallen in with very bad company”) are the mainstays and two real people. Regulars like Miss Becca, Fike, Kerri A. Rose Con Pollo, Dustin de Wind & Miss Carina are all real people. Ed Baker would fit in well.

    That leaves Dark wall. A “construct” for sure; just don’t tell him. There’s a Neoist behind every tree.


  7. Trackback: MinXus Mail Bag: A salute to pulp fiction from Theresa Williams (Bowling Green, Ohio, USA) | MinXus-Lynxus
  8. tom clark
    Apr 10, 2013 @ 11:13:07

    De Villo,

    I am the original ingenue. I believe everything, trust everyone, and have never for a moment been tempted to be so unmannerly as to doubt the full-blown hyper-reality of the MinXus Lynxus aesthetic and all its brilliant participants and fellow travelers. For me this neXus represents the last great dark hope of the rapidly unweaving net. Indeed, one near and dear has been urging me for some time now to get up the nerve to send you a postcard containing mail art.

    And that may well happen someday, should I unexpectedly live so long and as soon as I am able to dig up the 46 cents for postage under a four leaf clover unearthed from beneath the broken pavement of this dead unreal city, a post office that hasn’t yet closed down, and a trustworthy guide to prop me up en route.

    Meanwhile, yours in gratitude, faith & c.


  9. minkrancher
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 00:10:56

    Tom, I appreciate the affirmation. Coming from you it means a great deal to me. I am glad I have the opportunity to communicate with you now. I would imagine we missed crossing paths narrowly back along the dusty trail in Boulder of Berkeley. It’s a regret.

    Some days I think I would be serving the cause better if I kept chipping away at the academic journals or commiting myself to political activism of some kind. The network – this thing that’s been going on for decades – seems to me also an authentic alternative or counter-culture where everyone is a participant in shaping it and there are no gatekeepers or institutions. It’s a rag-tag, do-it-yourself, undisciplined army admittedly. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

    I got into the NYC mail-art network just at that time when I was studying with our mutual friend Professor “Bob” at SUNY. I’d pass along some concrete poetry & avant writing to him now & then & he was always interested. If he wasn’t interested in something, he let you know. He must have known who Ray Johnson was but never brought that up & I never had the sense to ask.

    Take care

    PS – I think the Empress has taken to her fainting couch over that blog


  10. tom clark
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 08:46:17

    De Villo, as far as I am concerned this small neXus-node army to which you allude — a community of relatively disinterested and mutually supportive serious (and not-so-serious) artists of vision — while it may represent (thank heavens for a bit of mercy) no “competitive threat” to the academic and mainstream establishments (including, especially, the oppressive Pomo Mainstream Division of the Administered and Managed Art World) — seems perhaps the one valuable creative made-by-living-bodies contribution to the memory of a dying species currently being made.

    I was living at 14th & B in NYC in 1967-1968, and saw Ray J now and again, dug his beautifully noninterfering and intelligent presence, and was fortunate enough to receive a number of packages of revelation from him in the mail. Of course that’s all lost now… like everything else that might have been worth saving. But the years are always picking away at the remains anyway, perhaps it’s always going to be just a choice of vultures.

    I got out of town at approximately the same time Ray did, and perhaps for approximately similar reasons.

    Have had occasion to remember him more than once e’er since we lurched round the corner into this year with that wicked nemesis-number 13 in it.

    Still appreciate John Cale’s dead-on compact history of the period of which I spoke above:

    Hey Ray (“1968… and it’s all over”)

    As to Marie, what is there to say. This is the form in which genius manifests itself, in any epoch. Whether upright leaning or reclining.


  11. minxuslynxus
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 09:10:35

    Oh I need way more than one fainting couch over that blog….
    Also, how does one send a postcard to Tom Clark? It is something I would love to do.


  12. minkrancher
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 09:36:52

    Empress, I’m glad to see you have recovered and are reporting for duty. Tom himself can decide how awash in postcards & bags of people’s cryptic trash & items of clothing he wishes to be. But as I veteran, sitting here up to my neck in amazing things to blog, I must caution an online address will guarantee the postal authorities never look at you the same way again. There are backstage networks too.

    Tom, I could easily turn this into a conference on desembodied poetics.

    “Pomo” would be the revelation & horror of my existence. We know Professor “Bob” & the O-Man unleashed the concept, which quickly mutated in a direction no one had anticipated. My own arcane pursuits to crack the code of the great Maximus & understand pomo led me to seek out those who might shed some light upon it: Al Glover, Jack Clarke, Professor “Bob” himself, and, just as a freak of history, the noted Ambassador from Venus. That iteration of pomo had promise.

    My own minor footnotes in history include “Crude Menchanical Access or Crude Personism: A Chronicle of one San Francisco Bay Area Poetry War,” which involved an on-site visit to a location where a particular kind of virulence was spreading. Indeed, my own “poetry beat” included Tom’s perspective on a fictional character named Barry So-Watten. Twas then I realized Tom Clark’s sensibilities matched most closely my own. My “Decline of American Postmodernism” essay that followed marked the end of any hope I had in an academic-literary career. I wouldn’t have pursued it anyway. The reality of the endless “poetry wars” led me to choose a far more hospitable place undergound.

    But “Don’t look back” as someone said.

    And it is a pleasure indeed to share a bit of dialog with two people I admire and enjoy.


  13. tom clark
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 11:06:58

    The end of an academic-literary career may be seen to be the end of everything… or the beginning of a life.

    An odd and little-known fact, though RC installed him in place (lesson here: never trust your voracious successors not to consume you once they are able and empowered to do so, as though you represented the Freudian dad), the installer very soon came to distrust the chosen object of installation, selected out of a poor impulse in the first place — for a sense of weakness is always a poor replacement for a sense of respect (another lesson: if you want your halo to remain intact, keep it dusted and polished for as long as you can… and then dispose of it… for no canon-preservation structure has ever yet been known for its mercies).


  14. minkrancher
    Apr 11, 2013 @ 18:13:44

    I never really escaped (until recently). I became a speech writer for college & university presidents, mostly smoothing feathers of the corporate execs & hedge fund hustlers on the trustee boards that oversee our great institutions of higher learning. When those lovely folks sank the global economy in ’08 I couldn’t face myself any more. True story.

    “It has all come back today” for sure.

    You explain something I never fully understood. When it came to the famous duo, RC was always less than enthusiastic or maybe more accurately conveyed a total lack of interest in the subject. I bet most students from my era would concur. It was noticeable.The classes & reading lists were good, so it was no big deal. The hardcore O-Boaters gravitated toward Jack, and there was no problem in participating in both. With Jack, and he was on my orals committee so I spent a lot of time with him, frankly, as that sort of Masonic circle went through it’s long, slow unravelling, I sensed there was this expectation that someone was going to or needed to step in & keep it afloat. No one did, for whatever reason.


  15. tom clark
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 07:53:27

    Sorry about the crypticism. Always preferable to “play the ball and not the man”, as the saying goes. But as you know, oft times the ball bounces funny… some obscure law of physics, there, possibly.

    Anyhow, to attempt (belatedly) to be a bit more clear: in my experience Jack was never anything less than a miracle of generosity, bless his memory; and CO (appropriately, given the Secret of the Golden Chrysanthemum, talking of obscurities and crypticisms) was of course never anything but Himself. (Indeed Jack was convinced He had sprung of another race, possibly extra terrestrial in origin… a touching hyper-loyalty!)

    If there was a submerged sense of rivalry among the Old Masters, that’s just humanity and history for you — someone always ends up wearing better shoes, and no one else ever gets to walk a mile in them.

    But really the intent (doubtless errant, that’s down to humanity again) was not to speak of persons, but of administrative dynamics, corporate orders of succession, dot-connecting, albinistic peacock-feathers, and Office Furniture — the “Gray Chair” in specific, that perhaps most colourless of Administered Thrones since the one in which the King of Portugal ensconced his embalmed wife.

    Still which crumb beneath the carpet is qualified to talk of the Great Powers??

    It’s been suggested the term “weakness” (see above) was a poor choice. “Susceptibility to flattery”, would that be more accurate? Is anyone immune in that regard?

    No hardcore boats still afloat out here in the back-eddies of Sepia Pond in any case, just trying to keep the nose above water level and the wig-bubbles popping up at approximately regular intervals.

    And here it is, tomorrow already, a small surprise every time.


  16. minkrancher
    Apr 13, 2013 @ 18:02:24

    Thanks, just wanted to be sure you knew I read the response – a great privilege to pick your brain on things I’ve tried to make some coherence out of for many years.

    The last time I saw RC was at Naropa in the ’80s. Last words:

    RC: “Still pushing, Bill?”

    Yeah Bob. Still pushing.


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