Two new true Ray Johnson books

True Professions by Ray Johnson inspired my "True Professor" memoir below

True Professions by Ray Johnson inspired my “True Professor” memoir below

I’ve only seen one Ray Johnson in person, at a gallery in Carmel, and posted about that previously.


I don’t think I knew much about Ray Johnson until I read Accidental Masterpiece by Michael Kimmelman.

Prompting me to post this is semi-spam from siglio press about two new Ray Johnson books. Yes I recently purged a bunch of books and cd’s but how much would it hurt to acquire the occasional art book? Someone said that if I cannot afford to collect art per se, I could collect ephemera, the catalogs of shows or announcement and cards and posters. I do have an art collection, mostly things from emerging artists or peers, or my generation. If someone scours thru all 666 posts of “Plastic Alto” you could get a clue about my tastes.

One book is called “Nothing” and one is called “Not Nothing” or actually “Nothing Nothing” which sounds pretty Ray Johnson to me. And, oddly, or very plastic alto, I am now thinking, on a subdural level, about suicide apropos of Ray Johnson compared to J.D. Salinger (who did not actually kill himself, but did have his alter ego Seymour Glass do so). I am digesting a couple pages at a time, borrowed from the library David Shields “Salinger”. I actually started today’s exercises — war games, in the culture wars, I started to write ear games — with page 387 of such, in chapter called “A Terrible, Terrible Fall” Shane Salerno (the co-author) stating that Salinger got so in to Vedanta, the eastern religion, that it ruined his ability to write. (And that is reducing 696 pages to ten words, not a wise idea — and just now as I thumb clumsily my cracked open to 386-387 book, here at Peet’s near Cubberley, sliding like (on) Alladin’s carpet from the pages, is a postcard about Qbert’s scratch school,(Qbert Skratch University) and a hip looking dude picks it up as it glides to him, and I give him a cosmic elevator pitch about Qbert and he

thumbnail of qbert card selfie

thumbnail of qbert card selfie

says “I don’t get to Daly City much” and that’s his out card to decline the universe’s offer to become “the world’s next great dj”) “You have the right to work, but for the work’s sake only. You have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive in working.” They say that is Bhagavad Gita II, 47-49, although my brief glance at the s-i says it is Krishna. Anyhow, there’s my book within book within book.

And to be clear (clear plastic, like that which covered J.D. Salinger’s otherwise cement bunker, in Claremont, New Hampshire, and to think, or write, that I spent four years about 15 minutes from him, and might have tried to send moonbeams from the College on the Hill to his hilltop enclave), the Ray Johnson pictured above is either still on sale (for a whopping price) in Carmel, or in the hands of someone more courageous or deep-pocketed than yours trulio.

I could also kill a couple hours just following the search-injun clues about Ray Johnson. Maybe doing that would scratch this particular itch, and save me the money for the book. articulated particular, something about Gertrude Morgan in my notes^1.


Wow this thing has 121 reviews on Amazon:

1. “articulated syntactic particularity”, I mean, which is  Elaine Yau, in New Orleans, quoting Hortense Spillers, ostensibly, in an articulated syntactic particularity of her own device, on Sister Gertrude Morgan, in Sally Promey, editor, “Sensational Religion” which GoogleBooks lets me read something like 4 of 6 pages, plus the notes. So that’s a book review or plug within a book review, within a book review or I’m losing track and besides who really counts? (As Krishna would say; plus that reminds me that my neighbor, Terry’s neighbor actually, Marjorie Ford had an exchange in which she asked me of Bhagavad Gita and I answered with something about Pussy Riot, more, as always, below).

About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player, and blogger; he also sang in local choir, fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32 Reads 'Howl' and owns a couple musical instruments he cannot play
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