secretaries in the 1960s (1)

“To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write.”

We’ve opened submissions. The guidelines are here. To summarise: we’re looking for your best work, for writing that resists definition for stories and poems that strain against classification.

A Kind of Blue


‘Suppose I was to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color.’ – Maggie Nelson

‘A good painter needs only three colours: black, white, and red,’ Titian said. Blacks (‘nothing is black—really nothing’): master of ‘the aesthetics of negation’ Ad Reinhardt’s ‘ultimate paintings’ (consider point six1 in Reinhardt’s 12 Rules for Pure Art); Anish Kapoor’s acquisition of Vantablack, the ‘blackest black’ pigment (‘it’s blacker than anything you can imagine,’ says Kapoor, ‘so black you almost can’t see it’); Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son; Malevich’s Black Square. Fierce and definite whites: Malevich’s White on White; Rauschenberg’s Erased De Kooning; Rauschenberg’s White Paintings which in turn inspired John Cage’s 4’33” (‘I have nothing to say and I am saying it, and that is poetry’). The elusive red, its effect, according to Goethe, ‘as peculiar as its nature.’ Witness Matisse’s Harmony in Red; Félix Vallaton’s La Chambre Rouge; Otto Dix’s Portrait of the Journalist Sylvia Von Harden; Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

And yet, it is not black, nor white, nor red, but a pure ultramarine that dazzles in Titian’s painting for the camerino d’alabastro, a god tumbling from his chariot and promising her the stars (‘Who besides me knows what Ariadne is!’)? ‘It is Giotto who first let sky into paintings,’ Anne Carson tells us, but it is experimental artist Yves Klein who, for all his influence on conceptual and performance art and love of unpredictable techniques and use of (anti)materials to create art, sat under an ultramarine sky on a beach in Nice in 1947 and decided on a shade of blue2 that would eradicate the division of heaven and earth. ‘The blue sky is my first artwork.’

Falsing (After Marconi)


‘Henceforth, every form of writing will consist of an operation of decoding, of contamination, and of sense perversion. All this because all language is essentially mystification, and everything is fiction.’ – Brion Gysin

‘So much of the very best literature opens up illicit frequencies so that meaning can travel along channels other than the obvious or rational. The Tintin books are full of these frequencies, these channels; they even dramatise their setting up, hunting down, rumbling and relocating.’ – Tom McCarthy

At Christmas three years ago, I was given a postcard reproduction of the shipping forecast map. Seeing the charts (Fastnet, Cromarty, Biscay, Dogger, Malin…) triggered not only the calming memory of listening to the nightly broadcasts, adrift as I was in an alien city, but an associative recollection, one from much further back: the times I used to steal into my great-grandmother’s front room and play with her radiogram. The display named cities, both familiar (Belfast, Cork, London) and enticing (Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, Reykjavik, Moscow, Prague, Trieste), and I would turn the dial and instantly be transported elsewhere. I didn’t—couldn’t—understand what was being said, but these mysterious, almost poetic cyphers1 were simply mesmerising to my younger self.

Thinking of the radio and otherworldly broadcasts, I remember the first time I heard numbers stations, not first-hand but mediated through recordings, sampled on music albums: first, on Stereolab’s Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements, then on Pere Ubu’s Story of My Life. Numbers stations were at their apex at the height of the Cold War, and were assumed to be broadcasts sending coded messages across long distances.2 Often starting with a disconcerting melody, or the sound of several Morse beeps, these transmissions were followed by the unnerving sound of a voice counting or reciting letters in other languages, and usually looped on repetitive play. It was purely one-way traffic—the transmitters sent numbers to the recipient over shortwave, the receiver did not reply, but deciphered these texts using ‘one-time pads.’ The Conet Project gathered the (now mostly extinct) broadcasts together in 2004: ‘Swedish Rhapsody,’ and ‘The Lincolnshire Poacher,’ and so on, named for the jingles used.

Je est un autre


1.1 After a bout of septicemia in 1938, Jorge Luis Borges was afraid his mental integrity had been compromised, that he might never write poetry or essays again. This fear was the genesis of Borges’ first short story, ‘Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote,’ a story born of the identity crisis of Borges’ delirium.

1.2 ‘[Pierre Menard] did not want to compose another Quixote—which is easy—but the Quixote itself. Needless to say, he never contemplated a mechanical transcription of the original; he did not propose to copy it. His admirable intention was to produce a few pages which would coincide—word for word and line for line—with those of Miguel de Cervantes.’

The line is a fuse*


gorse is intended as a print object (we have strong views on this: see a 2016 interview with our editors at 3:AM Magazine, specifically, why print?). However, as we wait for our printers to re-open (to publish issue 11 of the journal), we thought we’d share the Editorials from past issues (now, mostly, out-of-print).

Vol. I (gorse nos 1-4)
1/ Where the Dead Voices Gather, gorse no. 1, January 2014
2/ We Go This Way, gorse no. 2, September 2014
3/ Whale in the Moon When It’s Clear, gorse no. 3, March 2015
4/ Wonder is Really Nothing, gorse no. 4, September 2015

Vol. II (gorse nos 5-10)
5/ The Geometry Blinked Ruin Unimaginable, gorse no. 5, March 2016
6/ Je est un autre, gorse no. 6, August 2016
7/ Falsing (After Marconi), gorse no. 7, December 2016
8/ Ex Corpore: A Study for Five Figures, gorse no. 8, March 2017 [Note: gorse no. 8 was printed without an editorial to allow the body of work to speak for itself. The editorial was accessible only on the website. For that reason, no PDF exists]
9/ A Kind if Blue, gorse no. 9, October 2017
10/ Editorial, or, why a bag of rubbish is not just a load of garbage** [PDF], gorse no. 10, September 2018

*From Mayakovsky’s Conversation with a Tax Collector about Poetry
** Christodoulos Makris’ Editorial for g10 is presented as it was designed, as a fold-out information sheet similar to those found in medicine boxes