Richard Kostelanetz



My initial aim was embellishing two familiar structures: a conventional bibliography that isn’t annotated and, second, a writer’s windy recalling of his own books and career. A secondary ambition was another contribution to my continuing interest in alternative autobiographies. By one count, this might be my twenty-first exploration of extended autobiography, all the books (and one film) appreciably different in form and mostly in details. High though this number might initially seem, consider that Rembrandt painted perhaps one hundred self-portraits. One principle informing this decades-long project is that experiments with literary form benefit from a subject familiar to the author. This particular project also reflects my education in very intellectual history.

The only precursor known to me is John Robert Colombo’s Self-Schrift (1999), where the great Canadian writer remembers only his own books. What Colombo and I share, aside from mutual admiration, is the sense, simply, that no colleagues known to us have published so much about which they could say so much. It’s not enough to read what no one else has or to live as no one else does, but the significant writer must produce a body of work so uniquely his that whatever is said about it would be likewise unique. Whereas a conventional writer would shy away for even dreaming about a book unlike any before, we’ve seized the opportunity. That’s one reason why our names appear in literary histories.

At this point my ambition is producing works that will last simply because they are at once both unique and important—even books that traditional publishers would dismiss as “unpublishable” for one trivial reason or another. As no short-sighted book editor would want to publish Annotating My Bibliography, even with the likelihood that it will be remembered long after its initial publication, I seize the opportunity available to the writer in both eBook-publishing and on-demand printing of making books that ought to exist, even if appreciated enormously by only a few readers.

One critical theme here is the possibilities offered by a multitude of outlets, especially for an American writer working in various ways; a second theme is the vicisitudes of publishing. Furthering this theme today, economical (self)publishing epitomizes opportunity, especially to a writer now in the glorious twilight of a career more fortunate than he expected it to be. Furthermore, having overcome so many serious obstacles in the course of his professional life, this writer says what must be said about this and that, fearing little loss if some powerhouse or another is offended. Indeed, given that my name already appears in a variety of history books, such a foolish complaint might be immortalized.

I don’t expect anyone to read AMB word for word, from beginning to end. I hope, instead, that it will be treasured by different people in different ways. Consider dipping in, occasionally swimming forward or back, and then drying out before swimming again. On Amazon Kindle is an earlier version that can be kept in your computer for future reference. Remember that one advantage of an eBook, unlike a printed one, is that it need not be indexed, as the handy “search” function can swiftly locate all appearances of certain names or subjects. Initially, may your reading of this book be as engaging (and perhaps as exhausting) as was the writing (and rewriting) of it.

I considered finding another way of presenting this material other than chronologically by whole years and then alphabetically within genres. Should a cleverer reader discover another superior sequence, please let me hear from you via my eponymous website. Perhaps I’ll publish the alternative. As noted below, I’ve already published the same collection of my critical essays within two different sequences—one in print, the other on Kindle, again exploiting an opportunity made feasible by Internet publishing.

As I worked mostly from memory, I say nothing about many entries in my bibliography. May I invite editors and readers to remind me via my eponymous website about publications I neglected or completely missed? As this text probably contains spelling and transcription mistakes, not only in English but also in my transcriptions from other languages, may I please also welcome corrections?
—Richard Kostelanetz, FarEast BushWick, NY, 2016.



Conversing with Cage. New York, NY: Limelight. 299pp. London: Omnibus, 1989.
[In German, abridged as John Cage im Gespräch (Köln: Dumont, 1989), 238 pp.; in Korean (Ewha Women's University Press, 1996), 447 pp.]
From passages in interviews that Cage gave over the years, I wove an ur-interview. Though academics unable to read carefully frequently say this book was “edited” by me, no such credit appears on the book itself. Any attentive reader getting as far as its second epigraph would understand why not.


Berlin Sche-Einena Jother, 21", as coproducer, codirector & coauthor.
Screened at Anthology Film Archives (N.Y.) and elsewhere. In Hebrew.


Preface to The Coco Gordon Reader (Reggio Emilia, Italy: Pari & Dispari), 2 pp.
[Reprinted in Coco Gordon: Il sogno del tempo (Messina: Padiglioni della fiera, 1990), pp. 80-81.]
I hesitate over invitations to preface art-exhibition catalogs, fearing that the subject wants positive clichés strung together rather than original insights or distinguished style. Well-strung clichés I don't do. I was paid nothing.


America's Game (N.Y.: RK Editions), 60".
This electro-acoustic composition of and about the sound of baseball remains a favorite to which I later added an imaginative video accompaniment based only on the iconic image of a baseball that was manipulated in various expressive ways.

Carnival of the Animals/Karneval der Tiere (N.Y.; RK Editions), 14:03" x 4.
Introduced to audio sampling technology then new at the time, which permitted me to tape short units, I recorded comic names for animals first in English, later in German. Once these speech samples were connected to notes on a keyboard, I could compose audiotapes in which they could be heard in ways impossible in live time.

Onomatopoeia (N.Y.: RK Editions), 10:42" x 2.
Also with the sampling technology, I made an audiotape exclusively of English words whose sound represents their definition.


Orson Welles: Vom Hörspiel zum Film, 60" (Köln, BRD: Westdeutscher Rundfunk), as author.
In this feature for the flagship German radio station, I suggested that not only was he a first-rank radio artist, as is commonly known, but, uncommonly, that his early films succeeded because they were based upon soundtracks that were produced before he shot pictures.


"Activities of Richard Kostelanetz," +/o, 50 (June 1988), p. 35.
[Reprinted, updated, "Chronology of Principal Activities of Richard Kostelanetz," Geiger, 10 (1996), 1 p.]
I like to make uniquely formed documents about my unique career, though I suppose in their form alone they implicitly reflect my boasting about doing what no one else has done or perhaps would want to do. Why nobody plagiarizes me is an interesting question I’ll leave for future critics.

"Anarchy in the USA," The Boston Phoenix (30 September 1988), p. 7.
[Reprinted as "The Politics of John Cage," The Journal of Art, I/5 (May 1989), p. 18; revised as "Anarchist Art: The Example of John Cage," City Lights Review, 4 (1990), pp. 120-23; "The Anarchist Art of John Cage (1912-92)," Anarchist Studies, 1 (1993), pp. 47-50; "Anarchist Art: The Example of John Cage," in Howard Ehrlich, ed., Reinventing Anarchy, Again (San Francisco & Edinburgh: AK Press, 1996), pp. 293-96; “The Anarchist Art of John Cage,” Toward Secession (2008), pp. 274-277.]
This appreciates the whole of Cage’s art as being anarchist in its forms, thus exemplifying, not through sloganeering but through art’s structures, the attractive model of individuals functioning without chiefs.

Contribution to "A Symposium on Contemporary American Fiction," Michigan Quarterly Review, XXVII/1 (Winter 1988), pp. 83-85.
[Reprinted in Nicholas Delbanco & Laurence Goldstein, eds., Writers and Their Craft (Detroit, MI: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1991), pp. 165-67; as “Changing Tastes of Fiction,” Autobiographies at 50 (2007), pp.125.]
Never again would I recommend so many books of recent fiction, which I stopped reading sometime later.

Contribution to "Ten Years: Where From, Where to?" American Book Review, X/1 (March-April 1988), pp. 2-3.
For many years I was a fixture in its pages; but once both Rochelle Ratner and Ron Sukenick passed, I wasn’t.

"Conversing with Cage," Chicago Review, XXVI/2 (Autumn 1988), pp. 37-51.
[Reprinted, Conversing with Cage (1988).]

"[On] Epiphanies," Poetry East, 25 (Spring 1988), pp. 124-25.
Often my prefaces could stand alone, even if only about my fiction, in a magazine ostensibly about poetry.

"A Generation of Panderers," Art & Artists, XVII/1 (Jan.-Feb. 1988), p. 3, 10.
[Reprinted, Crimes of Culture (1995), pp. 222-223.] “Applicants solicitously offering to provide means of satisfying the ambitions and vices of others.”

"John Cage on his Successors: An Ur-Conversation," Rampike, special issue (1988), pp. 30-33.
[Reprinted as “Successors,” Conversing with Cage (1988), pp. 199-206.]
This Canadian journal has listed me as a contributing editor for decades, though publishing me only occasionally.

"John Cage's First Opera, Written by the Numbers," New York Times, Sunday Arts & Leisure (10 July 1988), pp. 25, 30.
[Reprinted as "Estreia a opera de John Cage," O Globo (14 July 1988); expanded and updated as "John Cage, 75, Writes First 'Great American' Opera," Northwest Review, XXVII/2 (1989), pp. 127-36; On Innovative Music(ian)s (1989), pp. 67-76.]
This previewed a great performance, exemplifying Cage at his very best.

"The Kurfürstendamm," New York Times, The Sophisticated Traveler (13 March 1988), pp. 63, 77-78.
[Reprinted as “Berlin’s Main Drag: The Ku’damm,” Home & Away (2006, 2011).]
With this appreciation of West Berlin’s main drag, I had contributed to several Sunday sections—not only ST but Travel, Arts & Leisure, Book Review, Magazine. Later texts of mine would appear in Sunday Real Estate and Metropolitan. Were anybody keeping such score, this might represent a unique record.

"Late 60s Experimental Fiction," Northwest Review, XXVI/1 (1988), pp. 125-31.
This was my last critical survey of innovative American fiction. A quarter century before, I noted that after a literary critic turns forty-five he’s no longer acute about identifying new excellence. Then forty-eight, I acknowledged this truth.

"Literary Video [revised, updated]," The Kindred Spirit, # 16, VII/2 (Summer 1988), p. 13.
[Reprinted, Visible Language, XXIX/2 (1995), pp. 198 203.]
The latter magazine, an academic journal essentially about typography and book design, occasionally acknowledges my writing about peripheral publishing activities.

"Multitracks," Noospaper, 6 (1988), 5pp.

"Polyartist [Mauricio Kagel]," Opera News, LIII/3 (September 1988), pp. 28-30.
[Reprinted as “Mauricio Kagel (1988),” On Innovative Music(ian)s (1989), pp. 119-126.]
A fluent portrait of a tough subject, especially for an American writer interviewing this Argentinean-German-Jewish composer in Sweden; for though Mauricio had a brother long resident in New York, he never had here the kind of success awarded him in Europe. Someone other than myself should explore the question of why not? Some previously hidden truth might emerge.

"Radio in America and Europe," Exquisite Corpse, VI/5-10, pp. 13-14.
[Reprinted, enlarged, as "Seven Stories About Radio in America and Europe," Art & Artists, XVIII/3 (June-July 1989), pp. 8-9, 15; “Eight Talks about Working in Radio here and Abroad,” Radio Writings (1995), pp. 163-182.]
Comparative anecdotes illustrating cultural truths.

"Speakeasy," New Art Examiner, XV/10 (June 1988), pp. 13-14.

"Two Ways of Polyartistry," in Miekel And & Elizabeth Was, eds., The Acts the Shelflife (Xexoxial Editions, 1988), 4 pp.


American Book Review: Amy Baker Sandback's Looking Critically: 21 Years of Artforum (March-April 1988)
[reprinted, Art & Artists (August-September 1988)]; Russell Jacoby's The Last Intellectuals? (July-August 1988) [reprinted, Crimes of Culture (1995), pp. 120-124].
In the former I made the unusual suggestion that the editorial content of this venerable art magazine was aimed particularly not at artists or collectors, as outsiders might think, but at students in art schools where Artforum provided some things to talk about. Meanwhile, the targets for its ads were less collectors than provincial art dealers. I would frequently return over the years since to the problems with Jacoby’s book.

The Centennial Review: Larry McCaffery's Postmodern Fiction (Winter 1988).
[Reprinted, Person of Letters in the Contemporary World (2012).]
Few writers have sufficient courage to review critically a book in which their work is featured, but I had some issues to discuss. Initially personable, Larry routinely disappointed and so was forever apologizing for himself.

New Art Examiner: Rainer Crone's Andy Warhol: A Picture Show by the Artist (Summer 1988).

New Art Examiner:John Cage's Europera (December 1988).
[Reprinted, Thirty Years of Critical Engagements with John Cage (1997), pp. 100-105.]


"Excelsior," "Milestones in a Life," American Contemporary Headcheese (Niagara Falls, NY: Slipstream, 1988), 5"


"Dope-Numskull-Moron-Ignoramus-Dunce-Idiot-Chump-Plodder," New York Quarterly, 35 (Spring 1988), p. 80.

"Escape, Exhilarate, Ennoble, Praise, etc.," with excerpt from "Notes on Duets, Trios & Choruses," Black River Review, 4 (1988), pp. 32-33.

"Fun, Yes," Novy zivot, II/40 (Februar 1988), p. 132.

"Lute-Chords-Song-Melody-Strings-Harmony-Pauses-Charm," New York Quarterly, 36 (Summer 1988), p. 68.
Eight-word poems at the edges of two adjacent rectangles complimented the four-word poems similarly spaced.

"More Portraits from Memory," Lips, 14 (1988), pp. 46-48.
This was the first appearance of a highly autobiographical text that I would withdraw from editorial circulation for twenty-five years.

"Partitions: Ultramodern, Totalitarian, Martinet, Innovate, Candidate, Misinformation, Hearken, Ashamed," Lost & Found Times, 23 (August 1988), 1 p.

"Partitions: Fundamentalist, Fortunate, Misinformation, Intoxicant, Anarchist, History, Father," Painted Bride Quarterly, 32/33 (1988), 102-03.
This Philadelphia literary magazine had different proprietors over the years that it has published me. Some have published me; others, not.

"Partitions: Protestant, Antithesis, Transcendental, Mandrill, Inorganic, Antidepressant," Poets On, XII/2 (Summer 1988).

"Partitions: Titillate, Richard, Therein, Roseate, Reverberate, Transcendental, Totalitarian, Reinvestigate, Rampart, Toreador, Theatre, Reincarnation," +R, 1 (Spring 1988), p. 8.

From Duets, Trios & Choruses, Puerto del Sol (25th Anniversary Issue 1988), pp. 174-78.


"Epiphanies” [another selection], Alternative, 5-6 (1988), 65 pp.

"Epiphanies” [another selection], Pinchpenny, VIII/4 (1988), pp. 10-11.

"Epiphanies [another selection]," Panoply, 2/1 (Winter/Spring 1988), p. 44.

"Epiphanies [another selection]," Rhododendron (Summer 1988), pp. 3-10.

"Epiphanies (1988)," Albany Review, II/8 (September 1988), pp. 14-15.

"From Epiphanies," Notus new writing, III/1 (Spring 1988), p. 86.
[All the above were Reprinted in Epiphanies, 2 vols. (2012).]
I wish I could say that one or another of these selections from the huge Epiphanies manuscript were editorially sharper than the others, but I’d rather not. My assumption with the invitation to select is that every selection reflects its editor’s highest intelligence.

"Life with Ezra Buckley [with Brendan Donegan]," The Voice of Zewam (1988), pp. 15-16.
I have neither record nor recollection of what this was. My assumption that not for nothing would I have recorded it.

"1-2-3 Word Fictions," Asylum, IV/2 (1988), pp. 4-12.
Greg Boyd edited and designed an imaginative magazine and book imprint until he sold them both to someone else, perhaps two decades later. Blame his defection on the “culture wars,” which are not between lefties and righties, as commonly portrayed, but between mediocrity and excellence. One measure of a culture is how often the latter wins.

"Openings," Bad Henry, 2 (1988), pp. 8-12.
[Reprinted in Openings Short Fictions (2012).]

"Openings (1990)," Sub Rosa, 27 (October 1988), pp. 7-9.
[Reprinted in Openings Short Fictions (2012).]

"Strike." "Salivate." "Liberation." "Intrigue." "Initiation." "Languish." "Eviscerate." "Dish." "Extravagance." "Reawaken." Giants Play Well in the Drizzle, 21 (December 1988), 6 pp.
In newsletter format, this was published by Martha and Basil King, long married, who raised daughters and, wonder of wonders, survived independently for decades.

"Two-Word and Three-Word Stories," Score Sheet Eight (1988), 2 pp.
These represent yet another departure within my fiction.


"Revampings," Pembroke Magazine, 20 (1988), pp. 139-43.
An early example of my experimental prose in which the words of a familiar text were scrambled to a degree that was intrinsically interesting while acknowledging its source.

"Sacred Hebrew Texts," Noospapers, 6 (1988), 2 pp.


"Parallel Intervals," "1024," Pembroke Magazine, 20 (1988), pp. 137-38.


"Epiphanies (for Radio)," Central Park, 13 (Spring 1988), pp. 119-24.
This probably represents the first publication of a radio text of mine in an American literary magazine. It prompted me to think about proposing an anthology of American radio plays, but it never found a publisher. Indeed, so uninterested are both American book publishers and American cultural funders in radio that I predict such an anthology, even of the very best examples, would never happen in this country. That’s NEVER!


The Video Medium: 1988, Geoffrey Taber Gallery, Columbus, OH (16-23 Jan.).

Concrete Poetry, Franklin Furnace, New York, NY (16 September-29 October)

Suoni Dalle Città Del Mondo, Festival Arte Elettronica, Carmerino, Italy, 22-28 settembre 1988

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