Mailer, who for purposes of this lavish photo essay on graffiti has transformed himself into A.I. (The Aesthetic...

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THE FAITH OF GRAFFITI

Mailer, who for purposes of this lavish photo essay on graffiti has transformed himself into A.I. (The Aesthetic Investigator), relentlessly pursues the presumed deeper/higher meanings of the calligraphy on the metallic moving subway walls of New York. He comes close when he calls it ""the excrescence of an excrescence,"" ghetto foliage, ""a plant growth of names"" in brilliant color, the assault of a tropical peoples against the iron-gray and dull brown environment of steel and concrete. But Mailer, being Mailer cannot stop there: he must seek connections to the figures of Paleolithic caves and affinities to the avant avant-garde beyond de Kooning and Stuart Davis and Rauschenberg. Invoking the gods and demons of our primeval and super-modern collective unconscious he swims clumsily through the tangled seaweeds of his own inchoate thoughts. The quick, spontaneous grace of the graffiti attracts him. He sinks like a stone. Those bright squiggles and Arabesque names cannot bear the oppressive weight of Mailer at his most portentous. The splendid color photos of the billboards and ""A"" trains adorned and defaced by New York street urchins are joyous and assertive. Much more fun than Mailer's murky, ponderous text.

Pub Date: May 8, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1974