Taking Back Literature – Can Authors, Publishers, and Booksellers Mobilize Against the Corporatocracy’s Hostile Takeover of the Industry?

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Denver, Colorado

Sunday, July 23

7-9:30 p.m.

The Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop

Lighthouse Writers Workshop, 1515 Race St. Denver, CO 80206

Donations appreciated.

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With novelist Nick Arvin, nonfiction author Tad DeLay, poet and Counterpath publisher Julie Carr, Conundrum Press publisher Caleb Seeling, and BookBar owner Nicole Sullivan

We are all writers now. Whether through traditional industry publishing or self-publishing, in print or online, we can push new ideas and literature to interested readers. Unfortunately, the current situation is dire for authors, publishers, and booksellers; the reading public suffers along with them.

Though over a million new books are published each year, only one percent land in a brick-and-mortar bookstore. Eighty percent of books sell less than one hundred copies per year. A book can reach the New York Times bestseller list without earning enough in royalties to push the author above the poverty line. Amazon promised and delivered unprecedented global access to audiences while independent bookstores and booksellers suffered the consequences, and one in four Americans read no books at all.

What happens when the public only searches online for a precise book and never again accidentally stumbles upon a surprising gem while perusing the shelves? How can we work together when algorithms direct us to our next purchase? How do authors feel when the quality of their work bears no relation to whether they earn a living wage?

With a panel representing authors, independent publishers, and booksellers, we invite you to join us in a conversation on collaboration in this pivotal moment in print culture.

“Crisis Cafe” Is Coming In August

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If you’ve been to either of our first two “critical community conversations” you’ve heard quite a bit about “critical theory.” But just what does that term mean, exactly?

Perhaps you’d like to further pursue your curiosity by participating in a serious reading group–one that will explore key critical theory texts and “big ideas” that directly affect our contemporary lives. If so, please join us in August for the first of our monthly reading cohorts, which we’re calling the “Crisis Cafe.”

With the launch of the Crisis Cafe, we’re hoping to promote the “cafe culture” that’s so easily lost in digital America: face-to-face encounters in real–not virtual–space. We’ll meet at a local cafe, where we’ll talk, listen, and learn together over a cup of coffee or a cold brew.

Be sure to watch this space for details about date and location. But in the meantime, you may want to take a look at our first Crisis Cafe reading: a critical theory founding text by Max Horkheimer.

Here’s one of many links to the essay in PDF format or to pursue reading the entire collection of Horkheimer articles.

See you in Denver in August!

The Arts In Action – Making Music, Painting, And Poetry A Force Of Change Once More

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Vienna, Austria 

Friday, June 30

7:00-10:00 pm

Donauhof, Engerthstraße 141, 1020 Wien

Donation

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In the 1950s, American art critic Harold Rosenberg wrote that “art must have the will to change the world”—and discerned that very passion and drive in postwar avant-garde movements in painting, poetry, and music.

In our commercial age, art has increasingly degenerated into a global commodity rather than an agent of genuine change. So how do we revive the arts as radical, boundary-breaking, world-transforming forms of creative engagement Rosenberg envisioned more than half a century ago?

Come join us for an evening of performance, encounter, and conversation with both Austrian and American painters, poets, and musicians in our quest to create something radically new in the tradition of Rosenberg’s “actional” art.  How does art inform social and political action, and vice-versa?

The event is a benefit for the Donauhhof Coffee House/ Event and Co-Working Space in Vienna’s Second District.

Kickoff CRI Event Has Packed House

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The kickoff event for CRI (entitled “Something’s Happening Here: The Summer of Love and the Birth of the Counterculture”) at the Deer Pile in Denver yesterday afternoon was awesome. The room was full, and we had almost three hours of lively, focused, energizing, and at times brilliant conversation about the meaning of the Sixties both for historians and for those of us today. As the old saying goes, “a good time was had by all.”

A variety of perspectives were offered by different contemporary observers and veterans of the Sixties, including writer and publisher Josiah Hess, Sixties cultural historian Roger Green, Denver photographer Richard Peterson, and University of Denver professors Christina Foust and Carl Raschke as well as Colorado college instructor Jan Briel.

Join us for our next event on May 20 at the Lighthouse in Denver (http://crisis-cafe.com/the-midrashic-unconscious-unearthin…/). You don’t want to miss it!

The Midrashic Unconscious – Unearthing The Jewish Literary Voice Through Critical Theory

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Denver, Colorado

Saturday, May 20

7-9 pm

Lighthouse Writers Workshop, 1515 Race St. Denver, CO 80206

RSVP.  Donations appreciated.

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“Critical theory”—a broad intellectual movement dating back to 1920s Europe—profoundly helped shape the last generation’s progressive thought. What Frederic Jameson termed the “political unconscious” is now staging a major comeback amidst our current cultural climate.  And we desperately need quality literary voices to join the conversation.

Max Horkheimer, a founder of the critical theory movement, once said that such theory is a multi-faceted thought enterprise which seeks “”to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them,” including both their thinking and means of communication.

But what many avid proponents overlook (in what’s now called “new critical theory”) is the movement’s distinctively Jewish origins, and its unmistakable Jewish voice.  The founders of the movement aimed not only to foster prophetic conversational critiques of culture, politics, and society, but also to radicalize and reshape our understanding of arts, literature, and media.

Literary writers today—particularly those with Jewish concerns—possess the unique potential to unearth the “critical voice” that can both stir imagination and transform our everyday grasp of reality.

We invite you to join this evening conversation with DU Center for Judaic Studies professor  Adam Rovner, novelist and literature instructor Rebecca Berg, and poet/hybrid forms writer Adam Fagin as we discuss critical theory, its unique Jewish voice, and its intersection with these writers’ current literary work.

Together, we’ll explore how critical theory can both enhance and reveal the “midrashic unconscious” of our present-day culture and literature.

“Something’s Happening Here” – The Summer of Love and the Birth of the Counterculture Commemorated 50 Years Later

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Denver, Colorado

Sunday, April 30

3:30-6:30 pm

The Deer Pile, 206 E. 13th Ave. Denver, CO 80203

RSVP.  Donations welcome.  

50  years ago this spring a collection of about 25 motley personalities representing different facets and community interests of the thriving Bohemian culture in San Francisco came together and formed what came to be known rather tendentiously as The Council for the Summer of Love.

The result was a gigantic “happening”, as they called it in those days, which went on until September.   Young people with long hair and funky dress gathered en masse in the Bay City’s Golden Gate Park on Sunday afternoons.  Some went naked and made love in public.  A whole new sound of rock music, pioneered by the SF-based group The Jefferson Airplane, splashed onto the scene.  Drugs, especially the mind-altering substance known as LSD or “acid”, was suddenly everywhere.  “Flower power” was the new watchword, as massive anti-Vietnam War protests now began to escalate.  The number one hit song that spring was “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” sung by Scott McKenzie.  The Sixties Counterculture was born.

Come join writer and publisher Josiah Hess, Sixties cultural historian Roger Green, Denver photographer Richard Peterson, and University of Denver professors Christina Foust and Carl Raschke for an evening of reminiscence and rediscovery of this iconic episode in our history as well as a conversation about its enduring significance for both self-reflection and activism in these tense and uncertain times.  Peterson and Raschke were actually there when it happened.

This is the kickoff event for CRI Hub.

Why CRI Hub?

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We are at a pivotal moment of crisis.

Amidst so many tremors in the democratic fault lines—our flailing neoliberal management, the rise of populism and protest, the permeation of social media into our every waking moment. . .

. . .as well as the specter of terrorism sparring with the desire for pluralism, our awakening to privilege and our sins of racism and heteropatriarchy, the universalization of debt, and the assault on education—we seek alternatives.

What we are seeing in the early 21st century is not unlike the cultural shocks and reverberating aftershocks of the 1960s; today the protest term “resistance” is empowering as it is meandering, mutable as it is noble, and it is ultimately ripe with both potential and stagnation.

We are pursuing alternatives, but if our cause is not to return empty, we seek to engage the scholar and the protester, the artist and the laborer, and, in short, all who ask: why shouldn’t we change our situation?

Our project is for the open public, and we aim not to simply raise awareness but to energize consciousness.

CRI Hub engages the public through a variety of events, workshops, lectures, courses, and debates. Our goal is to enhance critical thinking, propose viable alternatives, and to mobilize artists.

We seek to charge ourselves and our community with the profound responsibilities presented us at this crucial moment of crisis in American history.

As battle lines between revanchist reaction and coordinated insurrection become louder every day, we see the risk for confirmation biases and pseudo-revolutionary idealism

We seek to change that, and through creativity, reading, dialogue, and debate, we intend to catalyze public consciousness.

Tad DeLay received his PhD in philosophy of religion from the Claremont Graduate University. He holds master’s degrees in both philosophy and theology, and he is the author of God Is Unconscious: Psychoanalysis & Theology (Wipf & Stock, 2015).