The Science of Things Familiar (Paperback)

By Johnny Damm, Lynne Desilva-Johnson (Editor), Lynne Desilva-Johnson (Designed by)

Operating System, 9781946031037, 208pp.

Publication Date: February 14, 2017

Advertisement

Description

"Johnny Damm's Science of Things Familiar diagrams the ways we move toward and away from one another, exploring relationship through the failures and disjuncts that reveal it. In annotated illustrations taken out of their original context, in comics stripped of their narrative content, and in cinematic essays whose parts are sutured where they've been spliced, these pieces take apart the familiar to see what makes it tick. Troubling our assumptions about the workings of nonfiction, they reveal themselves as highly constructed, interweaving the personal and historical just as the book's "rat-a-tat" refrain rings out both drumbeat and gunfire. If we catch ourselves dancing, we've missed the point. Witty and serious, critical and compassionate, Damm invents a new visual poetics in which what we see and hear do not sync up. This is his way of waking us up with a "BLAM " and "WHOOSH " to the history of appropriation and conquest underlying America's popular forms. Nothing here is familiar, even as we recognize parts of the whole." - Amaranth Borsuk

"Johnny Damm's 'Science of Things Familiar' mashes up Classics Illustrated, vintage diagrams, and film director bios to create an unlikely fusion that is a oblique yet often poignant autobiography as well as an essay on the way that we transform culture as much as it transforms us."
- Matt Madden, author of 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style

"'Science of Things Familiar' captures "freeze-frames" from the history of comic books, crime films, and blues music, all from the middle of the darkest century. Johnny Damm accents the pulpish poetics in both the visual poetry and the phonic milieu, experienced by the masses in each cheap genre made on the fly for everyone. " --Christian B k

Herman Melville performing jumping jacks. An experimental Brazilian filmmaker making British propaganda films. A legendary delta bluesman who prefers to play the pop hits of the day. In Science of Things Familiar, Johnny Damm sifts through cultural detritus to disturb the sleeping past.

In an uncategorizable mix of image and text, Science of Things Familiar scavenges from 50's pulp comics, 19th century scientific diagrams, film noir shooting scripts, and more. Damm introduces the reader to an American landscape of bastard blendings, where the familiar swiftly gives way to the uncanny.



About the Author

Johnny Damm is the author of Science of Things Familiar (The Operating System, 2017) and three chapbooks including Your Favorite Song (Essay Press, 2016), and The Domestic World: A Practical Guide (Little Red Leaves, forthcoming). His work has appeared in Poetry, Denver Quarterly, the Rumpus, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. He is editor-in-chief of A Bad Penny Review and Opo Books & Objects.


Praise For The Science of Things Familiar

"To say [Damm] has created a fusion of poetry, art, storytelling, and pulp comics doesn’t seem to do the work justice, principally because it’s a great deal more sophisticated and delightfully bizarre than that. There’s really no way to describe the experience of reading this book as it juxtaposes and repurposes textbook diagrams, prose poetry, and comics panel sequences while opining on the imagined comings and goings of literary giants, failed mid-20th-century filmmakers, and the history of the blues. Damm’s ideal reader is an open-minded culture junkie and fan of poetry, high art, and comics, someone with a penchant for everything from Dada to Derrida." -Publisher's Weekly, Starred Review

"Johnny Damm's SCIENCE OF THINGS FAMILIAR diagrams the ways we move toward and away from one another, exploring relationship through the failures and disjuncts that reveal it. In annotated illustrations taken out of their original context, in comics stripped of their narrative content, and in cinematic essays whose parts are sutured where they've been spliced, these pieces take apart the familiar to see what makes it tick. Troubling our assumptions about the workings of nonfiction, they reveal themselves as highly constructed, interweaving the personal and historical just as the book's "rat-a-tat" refrain rings out both drumbeat and gunfire. If we catch ourselves dancing, we've missed the point. Witty and serious, critical and compassionate, Damm invents a new visual poetics in which what we see and hear do not sync up. This is his way of waking us up with a "BLAM!" and "WHOOSH!" to the history of appropriation and conquest underlying America's popular forms. Nothing here is familiar, even as we recognize parts of the whole."—Amaranth Borsuk

"Johnny Damm's SCIENCE OF THINGS FAMILIAR mashes up Classics Illustrated, vintage diagrams, and film director bios to create an unlikely fusion that is a oblique yet often poignant autobiography as well as an essay on the way that we transform culture as much as it transforms us."—Matt Madden

"SCIENCE OF THINGS FAMILIAR captures 'freeze-frames' from the history of comic books, crime films, and blues music, all from the middle of the darkest century. Johnny Damm accents the pulpish poetics in both the visual poetry and the phonic milieu, experienced by the masses in each cheap genre made on the fly for everyone. "—Christian Bök
Advertisement