ISIDORE ISOU: TREATISE ON VENOM AND ETERNITY
Author/Editor: Isidore Isou and Julian Kabza
Literary Nonfiction. Poetry. Film. Jewish Studies. Edited by Julian Kabza. Translated by Ian Thompson, Anna O’Meara, Julian Kabza, Nadege LeJeune, and Charles Penwarden. Introduction by Adrian Martin. Forward by Frédérique Devaux Yahi. Interview with Isou by Roland Sabatier. Afterword by Erik Bulot.
“Who is Isou? Some may know that he was the founder and leader of a movement in art and thought named Lettrism. Some may know the remarkable film he made a year before he wrote his manifesto, the Treatise on Slime and Eternity, a breakthrough work of feature-length experimentation that was to win fans including Stan Brakhage—Isou himself would coldly remark, many years later, that Jean-Luc Godard and Guy Debord (to name only two luminaries whom he considered his mortal enemies) stole everything from it. Some might have come to the legend of Isou through the fond passage devoted to him in Greil Marcus’ book on the distant origins of punk, Lipstick Traces—a book whose subtitle evokes ‘a secret history of the 20th century.’ In that book, Marcus tells the fine story of his teenage niece stumbling upon the photos on his desk of a young Isou in the late 1940s, and mistaking the artist for a contemporary pop star. And Isou did indeed look the part—especially in a self-portrait which was an example of what the Lettrists called hypergraphics, a work mixing the media of photography, painting, drawing, and Lettrist poetry.” (Adrian Martin)