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Imp: The Poetry of Benjamin DeCasseres Paperback – November 7, 2013
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The influence of Nietzsche and his style has a well-earned but often tiresome legacy; everyone seems to love Nietzsche, but out of all the writers I know of who were strongly influenced by his work, there are two who I think took up his ideas most explicitly with true skill. One of these is Mr. DeCasseres, whose sheer wit and exquisite genius could not help but win me over; his knowledge of often obscure vocabulary, mythology, and history are put to good use in his work, which just oozes opulence and grandeur. His other work that has also been published by Underworld Amusements - Anathema! Litanies of Negation - exemplifies his style best in my opinion with its increasingly hyperbolic, soaring feats of Dionysian splendor and arrogance. In my humble opinion, it is among the finest representations of the timeless human spirit - in that instance, its unmatched arrogance, which DeCasseres and Nietzsche both knew to be far from a bad thing.
As far as Imp goes: DeCasseres' style is still here, albeit oftentimes more narrowed. If Anathema! is a fable of mankind's arrogance, Imp is the collected moments of an individual's repeated attempts at ascension to godhood. Here we see more of the poet rather than his philosophy, with none of his grand style removed. Of course, being the very ruminative writer he is, Imp certainly is not without its share of contemplative and more general pieces (the Minutes collection in particular is an excellent example of melding the universal scope of philosophy with the highly concrete and ephemeral scope of poetry - an ancient art that DeCasseres does all too well).
Some may dismiss DeCasseres for being too Nietzschean, even unoriginally so, and in a sense I can see that criticism; as I've said, the tendency to imitate Nietzsche and the spirit of his philosophy is something far too many people do and that most do poorly. I consider DeCasseres to be an example of Nietzsche's philosophy instantiated in a man who lives by his ideas - him along with E.M. Cioran, the other author who I think takes a lot out of Nietzsche while still providing his own unique, lived interpretation of him. Some may also dismiss DeCasseres for his preoccupation with unnecessarily fancy diction and syntax; to that, I say that if you don't like a writer who can dish out classical-styled poetry with the level of skill that DeCasseres does while still doing something unique with it rather than simply writing generic nostalgia poetry, you simply don't like poetry.
On the author's merits alone, I could give this edition of his works the highest praise simply for being released when DeCasseres is relatively unknown; however, the edition itself is also an extremely high quality paperback. The material used for the pages and the cover all feel great and fittingly luxurious for the work contained, and the original cover art is just awesome. Really, Underworld Amusements went out of their way with this.
Since I've already probably gushed enough about DeCasseres' work, the final word I'll give on it is to definitely check it out if you happen to enjoy philosophy in the vein of Nietzsche, if you are an anarchist who enjoys work by anarchists, or if you are a fan of classically-styled poetry. If you are into philosophy or poetry, in fact, I think it is reasonable to bet that you'll enjoy reading this obscure author; if you are into philosophy and poetry, you may just find a new favorite.
Beatific, blasphemous, jolting, vast, and primal are a few adjectives that could describe the poetry penned by the late obscure iconoclast and writer Benjamin DeCasseres. His work won over the likes of companions such as Jack London and the "Bard of Baltimore" himself, H.L Mencken, as well as garnering praise from the New York Times. This book contains work culled from a small number of periodicals ranging from the mainstream to the unknown, all of which have long vanished from print and have been delegated to dust-ridden, lightless archives. Kevin Slaughter, creator of the publishing venture/online retailer, Underworld Amusements, has done an outstanding job of putting forth the countless hours of manpower and internet scouring to comb through what little there is to be read about the man and collecting these dark, decadent, powerful pieces to give fresh life to. One can examine the artwork, handle the book and upon giving the covers and paper used between a thoughtful touch realize that a professional craftsmanship was applied, a fellow connoisseur who equally values quality versus cheap lamination and shoddy binding that is common with mass market releases printed on demand. This isn't half-baked, nihilistic whining from Bukowski or pathetic ponderings produced by that guy you all know who whines about "the man" and how the local organic produce isn't up to par. The diatribes contained within IMP roar forth with all the command of a man who has not only seen the end of the world but has held it in the palm of his hand with a warm smile. The unflinching curses and spells of an Epicure peering down upon modern civilization, sneering confidently and knowing all of their secrets and desires. There is a primordial tapestry that holds all of the works together in this book as the gods are cursed, fragile idealism and faith shattered and trampled, and the the shadowy corridors of the human condition brought forth for the bold reader to see that may very well mirror some of their own unspoken observations. If one loves their Nietzsche, then this book will prove to well worth the reasonable admission price.
For those stumbling upon this author by chance or opportunity, do yourself a favor and do some cursory research into him and if it sits with your digestion, go over to Underworld Amusements and spend some of your hard-earned money. For Epicureans darkly, enjoy with a glass of your favorite spirits and some incense or a lit candle