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Cover art: Christine Shan Shan Hou, dream triptych (detail), 2021. Collage on paper.


Black Square Editions (October 15, 2022)

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Language is a dangerous, burning, woods. “What’s at stake is thus far what survives the inferno.” And in those hot thickets, The Animal of Existence by Jared Daniel Fagen is itself a complex animal—crouching, questioning, restless, at times stalking the edges of consciousness, at times wild of mouth, with an electric, charged bite. It offers a series of poetic prose texts, hybrid in their inventive logics of narrative and syntax, each piece carrying distinct music and texture. “I am walled and rung alive by your love, your love annihilated me from the territory of circumferences, of your retina.” This book powerfully wrangles alienation and identity, as well as grief, hard feelings, and “the mourning dusk of us.” The angles are vividly torqued, and they touch the delicate nerves. “Say I a wound instead.”

—Sawako Nakayasu, author of Pink Waves

How does one draw lingual heat from the timeless dark in which perception rests? By preparing one’s self for alteration as a sign-in-oneself. Only poets know what I mean. For everyone else, we’ll say that “to crave contact ridicules the tundra within.” The other issue is one of exchanging gods for visions in katabasis: in the midnight of the consciousness of the “face returning, featureless, not belonging in the throngs or torrent, but the throes,” exists an animal preserved by the torture of its persistent reification, the words it (with)holds panic to restore the significance of this ultimate nothingness, yet when they do not, cannot, when it does not, when the end is found to be endless, the Creative Silence drags up its sea of possibilities and sews it to the night, with image as the debt of the animal’s awareness, revolving toward the miraculous, the moment clouded by “apostrophe, molten,” cognitive with dizziness from the temporary light that slides over us by day. In these epistemological bulletins, Fagen drives “the heirloom of abhorrence,” or the apple of articulate injury, from “hallucination” and “secludedness, riposting the iris,” and so on and so forth. “How much time has passed?”

—Carlos Lara, author of Like Bismuth When I Enter

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