Mar 112013

Gordon Lishgordon lish ©bill hayward

I’ve known bill hayward since 1993 when Gordon Lish had him take my author photo for The Life and Times of Captain N. Gordon depended on bill for a lot of his author photos and also his own jacket photos. And bill has kindly given permission for us to run a selection. The photo above is from bill hayward’s 2000 book of author/artist portraits Bad Behavior, a gorgeous collection, unique in the method bill chose to situation his subjects: he set them up in his studio with a giant roll of white paper and a bucket of black paint and various brushes and charged them to create their own scene. The results were spectacular as you can see from this image of Gordon Lish before the page: a double image, the author, wearing an out-sized Stetson, back and front and shadowed, first examining his own work and then facing the viewer/camera, somewhat diminutive in relation to his hat and his own work. The three portraits below are more conventional, the patrician Lish, the authoritative Lish, craggy and mythic, larger than life and every detail emblematic.

And beneath, Lish’s own words, in full cry, as it were. His introduction to bill hayward’s 1989 collection of images Bill Hayward.


gordon lish ©bill hayward

Gordon Lish photo by Bill Haywardgordon lish ©bill hayward

 Gordon Lish photo by Bill Haywardgordon lish ©bill hayward

Gordon Lish’s Introduction to bill hayward’s 1989 book of images Bill Hayward

Come on, let’s face it, it’s tits and ass, right?

I mean, when it comes to sticking a camera in front of or—heh, heh—in back of: the good old nakedy naked bod, pal, I, for one, would like for you to show me how in Hades you think you are going to beat the rap of—ah, God, who’s kidding who?—of tits and ass, right?

Oh yeah, sure, I suppose you could go get real cute on us and stick your lens up on the ceiling or get it sneaked on down there from up under a floor which you went and made them make for you out of glass—but let’s get serious, okay?

Like, you bet, I, the looker, I, the eye, I, the lens, am—right, right—not ever going to go instantly anyway hunting down there and up there for the tits and ass as, er, well, as sort of let’s say distantly, terrifically, charmingly, discoverable fauna way on out there back behind the quaint but cunningly, dismissible topography of, um, the tops of the shoulders—or, uh, the bottoms of, yeah, the feet.

(Sure, sure, and when were the fucking feet ever like flat, you know?)

Make your fakes.

Meanwhile, we will — didn’t you always just know it, you devil, you? —just keep on checking the text for tits and ass. And, hey—Christ, yes! —for dicks, too.

Oh, but leave us not consider that there is always this other deal you always see—all the oopsie-poopsie bullshit evasions where the camera is going out of its fucking mind in some crazy, vicious song-and-dance aimed at the politics of giving the categories a quick shuffle and of knocking your brains out to punish some poor, helpless, arbitrary annexed zone of us (but, forget it, never really of just us but always only of a Jack La Lane-y species of us) into a dune, or maybe into an abyss, but anyway into a cruel, moronic geography via the pornography of partition, of amputation, of part.

I am talking about the stupid fascism of the fragment, the mute physics of the super-superficient!


So this is the scene, those are the unbridgeable terms, these are the relentless players.

But now enter Bill Hayward. I mean enter Bill Hayward! Infernal machine in hand. Well, whatever he really has in hand—heart? Whereas—agreed, agreed—people are people and here they are, all of them waiting for him—buck-naked.

Not easy, right?

But I said: Enter, goddamnit, Bill Hayward.

Now go ahead, start turning pages—and see for yourself what a fucking artist can do when it comes to doing the unfucking impossible.

Gordon Lish: Introduction to Bill Hayward (Paglia Press, 1989)
bill hayward lives and works in new york city and montana.
bill hayward ©bill hayward

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