The Velvet Rims of Derek Pell's X-Textual "Hod Rod"
‑For Ron Sukenick
Derive, he said.
In order to ease the sense of discomfort reported by some readers during their initial textual encounter with his previous books, Derek Pell has asked me to greet you here in this introductory parlor (as it were), where I will offer a few words about his background and provide some information about the sort of literary "ride" he'll be taking you on in just a moment in X-Texts. Lest there be any misunderstanding, you certainly should not mistake me for one of those zoot-suited literary pimps who hang around in front of establishments spouting the usual blurbabel about the naughty pleasures awaiting you inside this or that text, or how happy this or that writer is going to make you, etc. etc.. Rather, my role is merely that of someone already experienced in "the pleasures of the X-Text" (to paraphrase Barthes) who now can offer you a relaxing Intro-aperitif and who will then escort you directly to "Aphrodite Aviary"the doorway (as it were) to Pell's custom-built "hot rod" that is gassed up and waiting to take you to realms of X-Textual pleasures you never dreamed even existed.
Derek Pell: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Happy Hooker
If by literary "prostitution" one refers to making a living by helping readers "get off," then Derek Pell has been an active member; (so to speak) in good standing of the world's oldest literary profession since the heady days of the late 60s, when he left a brief stint at Chicago's Art Institute and began publishing the first of his scandalous unclassifiable text-and-collage works, which were soon quietly circulating among discriminating readers of magazines and journals. By the late 1970s Pell’s Doktor Bey; books began to appear from commercial houses. These workswhich included his first major meta-pornographic book, Doktor Bey’s Book of Strange Sexbegan to attract for Pell a devoted following among readers whose taste in text ran towards something a little more kinky, transgressive and playful than the kind of linearly organized, missionary-positioned, slam-bam-thank-you-ma'am experiences they endured at home with traditional realism.
The reactionary, sexually repressive Reagan years, however, found mainstream publishers "cleaning up their acts," and Pell, along with many other writers deemed textually "promiscuous" or "literarily incorrect," were rounded-up en masse and told to either get outta town or sanitize their works so that "decent readers" would no longer have to be solicited by "morally and aesthetically reprehensible" authors every time they took a stroll through their neighborhood chain bookstores. For a writer like Pellwhose very essence as a performer had to do with exciting his customers with textual acts that reeked of the very sense of shock, irreverence, and liberating energies now being deordorized by an 80s culture increasingly dominated by a humorless political correctness and safety-fascismthe choice was very obvious: he found alternative ways to textually excite and delight audiences in less publicly visible haunts. That there was some legitimate grounds for certain readers regarding Pell's textuality as being "perverse," "painful" and "disgusting" is undeniable; that others could just as accurately describe their responses as "excruciatingly pleasurable" remains an ongoing vindication of Pell's refusal to revoke his commitment to polymorphous textuality.
Thus began an odyssey of nearly a decade in which Pell found himself mostly plying his trade once more on the pages of the strange underground world of small presses and literary journals. From a personal standpoint these must have been frustrating years indeed for Pell; ironically, however, having to perform for a much smaller but more aesthetically experienced and demanding audience also pushed him to further refine his skills (albeit regressively so) as a writer, visual artist, and satirist.
This regressive refinement; is evident in a number of pieces included in X-Texts for example, "Aphrodite's Aviary,; "The Kama Sutra of Rabelais,; The Nonsexist Sutra of Vatsanaym,; Sox,; Lolita Over the Hill,; The Elements of Style,; Up Fanny Hill,; Tropic of Crater,; Sexlus,; Anais Nin’s Architecture of Desire,; Lady Chatterley’s Loafer; and several pieces that might be termed strip tease; performances. In these works Pell intertextually provides his audience with a glimpse of a series of texts by several of the most venerated and respected authors associated with serious; pornographic representationNabokov, Anais Nin, Henry Miller, Sade, Rabelais, Jean Deberg, Stein, Burroughs, Nicholson Baker, etc. Liberated from the uncomfortable proper; narrative garments which usually cloak pornographic discourse in a deceptive veil of logic, rationality, causality, and rhetorical high seriousness,; they are verbally retrofitted by Pell in garish, outlandish costumes and then pushed out onto the page-stage; there, sternly disciplined; by Pell’s choreographed word-play, they perform a ribald series of naughty and nutty skits that display their charms in a manner that most readers should find both delightfully absurd and perversely sensuous.
At any rate, the blend of aesthetic anarchy, black humor, social commentary, and irreverence found throughout X-Texts confirms for me that Derek Pell is 1.) almost single-handedly keeping satire alive as a serious art form today and 2.) currently the most wickedly funny writer in Americaa country that suddenly seems to have lost its sense of humor.
[EDITOR'S 'DETOURNEMENT': Autonomedia's Editors in consultation with Derek Pell and Norman Conquest have concluded that Prof. McCaffery's obsessive reliance on "hot rod’s," member’s,; droopy nub’s,; and other phallocentric motifsnot to mention the imagery relating to sexual perversion, rape, date-rape, and of course the central writer-as-prostitute; tropehas already grown wearisome, offensive, and counterproductive to introducing X-Texts within the kind of serious moral and aesthetic context it deserves. Moreover, it gets worse! the final section of LM's introductionMy Blind Date (Rape) with Derek Pell: A Personal Detournement; actually raises the ante of offensiveness to such a degree that we've decided to foldthus sparing readers the necessity of LM displaying his cards (so to speak). Unfortunately, contractual obligations make it impossible for us to delete LM's conclusion entirely, but we have been able to copy-edit his conclusion so that most of the offensive material is removed (or no longer recogniziable). This textual operation insures that LM's personal detournement; functions in the spirit that Debord originally intended itviz., LM's earlier citation: the reuse of pre-existing artistic elements in a new ensemble." While LM is busy being "deriven" out of town, we strongly urge that our readers take their own detournement; at this point by going directly to the first page of "Aphrodite’s Aviary; which opens Pell’s X-Texts.
But to show we haven't lost our sense of humor (this should be obviousafter all, we invited Prof. LM to write this introduction!), we'd like to concludeand in the same spirit of egregiously bad puns and adolescent word play that LM so obviously relates to (a "professional interest," we're sure)by saying to LM that we hope that giving you "the hook" instead of the hooker you so obviously were hoping for, isn't too disappointing. Better luck next time?]
My Blind Date (RAPE) with Pell: A Personal "Detournement"
I'm sure readers have all x-perienced a "blind date" (as it ) with a xt you've never met before. I fondly recall
ack in high school, loss of my own textual virginity back seat of a car when I came across:
Samsa awoke from uneasy dreams, he was startled to discover that he
who could resist a "cum-on" ? Somewhat later, my second xteual seduc when I came across ollowing:
member that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice Gabriel G
Actually, in the case of Pell first textual encoun not blind ate; but could more accurately be described as a "blind date rape" since
hand, not painful at all, "lubricated" (as it were) by the arxian lit-crit "jelly" that Pell used to insert for me has turned into a life-long love affair. ondly recall responding
sweet caress of Pell's opening lines I found myself word-drunk, head-over eels, eager to follow this seductive trail of words to ( earlier asterpieces as and "Foucaul- xt" (!)
At by the mid-80s grown bored with the pick-up-opening-lines and other aesthetic come-ons that unscrupulous use to in between the "sheets" of their books. Oh, occasionally I'd hoping to x-perience the once-familiar delicious swelling in my imagination's groin x-ample, I was accosted one evening SF-in-go-go-boots! yberpunk assic:
above the port was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel
Regrettably, a case of premature ejaculati than a fully satisfying literary orgasm "virtual sensations" reported by amputees whereas your real dick into some hospital garbage pail awaiting incineration!
short, my literary antenna worn down to a roopy nub
a happy ending, however
oon in 1986 prepared to
tack of manuscripts Fiction International
stack of unap tizing ms's
"body" of the xt
by the innocuous-looking brown envelope
. Mysteriously I found my
stirring once more had
already been "undressed" by my co-editor, Harold Jaffe (we frequently
already beating fast as my eyes ran over the page
opening line seemed almost to ump out coyly
staring up cu-hither look best
Eeve today I can ill quote verbatim:
"(Con't from pg. 187)"
sheer bliss rest of that first brief tex-tual tryst with Pell's "The Topsy-Turvy World of Edward Hooker," vous giggles covorting delightfully ell's inflamed rhetoric, the shadows deepened in my office outer garments of "Topsy" fell away its sensuous semiological "undergar (a voluptuous Marxian anal turned "upsidedown" by capitalism) troublesome ruth is I never how to nap a bra), but
trollable shrieks of as Pell (proof that reports of the "death of the author" greatly x-aggerated) "whipped" me into , as it were). During the second go-round my mouth unerringly found its way to the xt's wondrously formed epigraph I had initially failed to notice. Finally (thi after the janitor's departure, only the sounds of tented sighs.
But now you, shy readers, who are preparing loss of virginity with Pell, let me ass you
not to be dreaded or asha
of but a badge of honor proudly
won't insult Pell or my readers by
reverse alchemical proc whereby the gold of verbal magic is turned into the shit of dull, jar -laden paraphrase. But I ill, however, supply you with analy that you can apply (male readers who may applicator luded in my arks garding Pell's Foucaul- xt")
Bu upon loser spection, "(Con't from p. 187)" is actually a kind of "haiku"
"x- xts" in the back seat hot rod" meta I invoked earlier than a car meta hor! what Roland Barthes would term "the rain of Pell's voice," include:
x-tuality that less satiric than satyric
"joking" (if I may be per Dr. Johnson's formulation) with violence horically here, not literally, of course) Pell's anal of Hopper's upsidedown image
retrofitting of x-hausted
rhehetorical context; the metafictional and metavisu
implic to a prior
text (the mysterious absence luded to by "p. 187";
missing-text motif is art of a larger pattern
aesthetics of sappearance and erasure that Pell's "stealth"
program species of meta-inter
x-tuality! Pell’s kable ear for mimickry,
"Con't" rather than "continued," for x-ample
forced to comply actually increases x-tual x-citement.
First, turn to rodite's Aviary" but read only the first sentence. Once you have regained your compos , retu diately (no diddling!) to await further instructions. Don't worry, I'll still
having a moke. Ready? GO. . . .
You've returned? So soon? And I see you're
arrassed. Well, don't beplenty of other first-time Pe
have soiled their breeches after
hit the x-tual beaches of earlier
driver is now laughing idiotically as
un x-pectedly veering off
Driver, where are you taking us?
Where indeed? But before we each the limax, I have three final sugestions ( commands" apolo bull's pizzle again!but thank me later).
FIRST: Remove but slowly, so I lip on the furlined condo by Perll's alter -ego, mon Conq . ho cares? all hang out! but member, despite Pell knows this semiological terrain back of his hand (if his lap!)
SECOND: Go ahead deep slug of that beer. "X-tasy" or quaaludes but arrogant stupidity of the vernment makes achieving Rimbaud's tematic derangement of the senses" quite impossible.
FINALLY (all "yoking" aside), naked, yes but mon sense dic ever else you do, buckle up!
Debord, Guy. "Detournement as Negation and Prelude." Situationist International Anthology, trans. Ken Knabb. Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981.
Guy Debord. "Theory of Derive." Situationist International Anthology, trans. Ken Knabb. Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981.
 A somewhat different version of this forward appeared in Derek Pell, X-Texts (NY: Semiotexte, 1994)
Derive and detournement are terms used by Guy Debord and the French Situationists to describe methods that allow people to experience trips through familiar territories (i.e., places both literal and artistic) in new, liberating ways (for example: consider the ways that Chinese students were able to temporarily transform the "meanings" associated with Tiananmen Square in the Spring of 1989). Debord defines derive as "a technique of transient passage through varied ambiance's . . . [a] playful-constructive behavior and awareness of psycho-geographical effects" in which persons "drop their usual motives for movement and action . . . and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there" ("Theory of Derive," 50). Detournement is described as "the reuse of pre-existing artistic elements in a new ensemble," directed at negating the previous organization of expression, from which position the "detournement bloc" can itself be made available for reuse in other arrangements to "express the search for a vaster construction" ("Detournement as Negation and Prelude," 55). I would argue that these two principles can be usefully applied to Derek Pell's central aesthetic strategies; further, the fact that they can be punningly employed in my own sex/car/ "hot rod" conceiti..e., Pell's X-Texts operating as a kind of "pink Cadillac" which "derives" and "detournes" readers on an exhilarating literary journey past familiar literary terrain (i.e., pornography) that normally produces a very narrow range of response and awareness (i.e., sexual excitement)is meant to demonstrate the kinds of options that consciously applying Pell's use of puns, coincidence, mistranslation and other accidental associations that are everywhere evident in his X-Texts. However, I should immediately point out that despite the extended motif employed here of Pell-as-literary-prostitute or Pell-as-chauffeur-of-a-travelling-bordello, his "deriving" performance in X-Texts is really a species of 'meta-pornography" whose primary aim is not to arouse but to examine (and in many cases, mock) the usual rhetorical devices associated with pornography.
Readers have surely noticed that the introductory cocktails served at most textual establishments are typically bland concoctions made from pedestrian ingredients and preparation-methods. For readers thirsting for something to provide an alternative to parched lips and grotesquely swollen, purple tongues, I recommend the following recipe: mix two parts critical overview to one part authorial background, blending until discourse seems settled, then flavor with relevant personal asides, ironic parodies of the usual critical jargon, and vivid metaphorical analogies to taste. Salud!
Among Pell’s earlier meta-smut pieces which anticipate X-Texts’ irreverent, satiric treatments of pornographic representations are "Naked Postcard" ([poem]Frock Purge, 1969one of his earliest publications), "Peeping Toms" ([photograph] New York Times Magazine), "The History of Sex #23" (Newrite, 1981)"The Joy of Celibacy" (Playboy, 1986), "S.O.A.P.: An Informal History of the Society of Artistic Pornographers" (1980), "Tropic of Crater" (Ins and Outs, Amsterdam, 1980), and ""The Erotic Adventures of Zippy McCode" (The Best of Screw, 1982) . Also of interest is Pell's seminal essay, "Remembrance of Bookshop Orgies" (Kick Ass, 1969). A selected bibliography of Pell's works will appear in Larry McCaffery, Strings in the Tragic Distance: Interviews with Radically Innovative Fiction Writers of the 90s (University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming, 1994)).
These included Doktor Bey's Suicide Guidebook (1977), The Book of Morbid Curiosities ( 1978), Doktor Bey's Bedside Bug Book. (1978), Doktor Bey's Book of Brats (1979), and Doktor Bey's Book of the Dead (1981), as well as Pell's first book-length work treatment of pornography, Doktor Bey's Handbook of Strange Sex (Avon, 1978). All the Bey books, as well as Pell's first non-commercially published book (Assassination Rhapsody , Semiotext[e], 1986), use the same deconstructive aesthetic principles of intertextuality, appropriation, "derive," and "detournement" found in X-Texts (the elaborately conceived "Doktor Bey" pseudonym also anticipates other disguises and alter ego'smost notably Norman Conquestadopted by Pell in part to mock the notion of authorial originality). It should be stressed that these aesthetic strategies have more than mere parodic intent; rather the silliness, lunacy, surrealism, and parodic impulses found in Pell's best works are aspects of a fiercely moralistic, darkly humorous, and ultimately deeply pessimistic personal visiona gaze (often an exaggerated version of the "male gaze") that unmasks a wide range of social and literary hypocrisies and pretensions. In the interests of good taste, I will leave it to the reader to imagine the obvious metaphors of sexual perversionvoyeurism and exhibitionism, sado-masochism, etc., etc.that could be appropriately developed at this point.
I.e., "Refinement" not in the usual sense of "sophistication" and "maturity" (features which Pell, like Rimabud, the dadaists and surrealists, and his chief avatar, Alfred Jarry, was highly skeptical of) but more in the nature of regressive refinementsas in making his works less mature, more aggressively childlike in their rejection of traditional notions of "authority" and "seriousness," more openly irrational and playful.
Since it appears that I am about to be "deriven" into silence by Pell, his big shot buddy NOr-MAN CUNT-QUEST, and the other members of the Auto-NO-MEDIA Censorship Gang, I want to alert the readers to 1.) IGNORE the AutonoMIDIOTS hypocritical gesture of allowing me to speak my piece (rightbut only if spoken down HERE in a tiny font size, at the bottom of some easily overlooked footnote!); this is a painfully obvious attempt to use my own words as a semiotic smokescreen to cover their own getaway (note their recommendation that you leave the scene of their crime). 2.) In these last (compressed) moments before my brief textual candle is "snuffed out" (or "copy-edited," as these mental MIDGITIOTS euphemistically described it) so that I will no longer be able to strut and fret my poor hour upon the page (diminished in size though it is), let me point out to DREK PILL and his Big Shitiot friends that by giving me the hook they have unwittingly turned themselves into happy hookers!! 3.) Finally, a plea to those readers who have followed me down here towards (the nearly invisible) period that will mark my official extinction at the hands of those who would silence the the voice of resistance, please PROTEST this outrageous behavior by joining me on my blind date-rape with [Okay, Macyou're history. The Ed's]
 rest of public safety, I "safe sex" totally incompatible alternative, put one of Norman Conquest's fur-lined condom's on your "pipe" ( "in" ipe ill quit a urprise!!!) and your own risk!
Derek Pell, "The Topsy-Turvy World of Edward Hopper," Fiction International 17:1 (Spring 1987): 60-1.
 Printer, I see the typo in my citation of the painter, but un tances, let it erect monument to
 hung Matisse upside-down for forty-seven days before they discovered their mistake." I mention my subsequent failure to notice pants down around my when
janitor's arrival followed by an embarrassed flurry of tugging's and explanations on my part
a sly wink on his.
9 reasonably sure that Phil Spector had nothing to do with