Ritual: A Book of Primitive Rites and Events

Jerome Rothenberg

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This collection of event scores and descriptions adapted from a range of ethnographic sources also implicitly functions as an examination of the Happenings movement in an expanded historical and anthropological context. Rothenberg’s translations, along with the restriction of information on his sources in the table of contents, leave ample room for cultural and historical ambiguity, giving each event a strong foothold in the here and now. Ritual stands as a direct predecessor to the author’s profoundly ambitious anthologies of “primitive” poetry.

Originally published by Something Else Press between 1965 and 1967, the Great Bear Pamphlet series was envisioned by founding editor Dick Higgins as a “poor man’s keys to the new art,” or a means of exposing the most vital work of the time to a mass-market audience, and vice versa. The series made uncompromisingly radical work maximally accessible, with slim, chapbook-like publications of a mostly uniform, pared down design. Taken together, the pamphlets constitute a firsthand survey of the sixties avant-garde (Higgins, Barbara Moore, and Emmett Williams all had a hand in the editorial process) that is both sweeping and utterly unique, transmitting a still-vibrant signal of expanded possibility in art, music, and poetry. Presented here in a facsimile edition, the Great Bears epitomize the utopian vision of Higgins and Something Else.

5 x 8 inches
16 pages
Paperback
B&W
Open edition
December 2007