Harold Jaffe's nonfictions emerge from the underside. Their subjects are the "unseen, unheard, unwired, unwitnessed" in our society. They exist in the space inhabited by the caught breath, in that split instant when the mind tries to choose between fight or flight. Consider them testimonials to life in the pre-Apocalypse.
This page features Harold Jaffe's nonfictions, including essays published elsewhere. To read more about his fictions and docufictions, follow the links on this page.
Purchase any book by Harold Jaffe thru the link. (Purchasing from this website defrays the site's expenses.) To purchase an autographed copy from the author, email Harold Jaffe.
Revolutionary Brain: Essays & Quasi Essays (Guide Dog Books, 2012)
In this timely collection of essays and "quasi-essays," acclaimed novelist and critic Harold Jaffe explores the maddening chord changes of millennial culture. Gesturing, in a philosophical shorthand, toward a kind of pop Armageddon, Revolutionary Brain is at once thesis, allegory, and surreal comedy, demonstrating just how far we, and the natural world we have debauched, have fallen. Obsessed with technology, we are incapable of reconstructing ourselves. By way of Jaffe's elegant prose and perfect pitch, our collective disability is laid bare at the 11th hour. Revolutionary Brain is a powerful cry for a brave new aesthetics that turns towards, not away, from our tormented globe.
Harold Jaffe is the author of 20 volumes of fiction, "docufiction," novels and essays. His writings have been anthologized widely, translated into numerous languages, and the recipient of many awards. Jaffe is editor-in-chief of Fiction International.
I was transfixed in this volume by Jaffe's incisive blows to the hypocrisy of flag waving, nation building, and the lethal intent by our leaders who stride the globe in bloody boots commanding the 99 percent to obey the law and get to work in the marketplace of nightmarish dreams. Jaffe has missed absolutely nothing in delineating our expiring Kultur. Brilliant. Regina Krummel: Editor: Prison Poetry by Shackled Women: The Gates Clang Shut
The bravura essays in Harold Jaffe's collection, Revolutionary Brain, challenge the conscience and consciousness of its readers. This witty and explosive book is an indictment of injustice and spurious morality and a call to art and enlightened activism as healing alternatives. Jonathan Baumbach, author of YOU or The Invention of Memory
Brainy and groovy, thoughtful and post-literary, these essays on contemporary media madness are Jaffe at his best: poignant, inventive, right between the eyes of corporate culture. Eloy Fernández Porta, Author: Emocionese asi
Beyond the Techno-Cave: A Guerrilla Writer's Guide to Post-Millennial Culture (Starcherone Books, 2007)
Now sold by Starcherone Books, Harold Jaffe's collection of fourteen essays and docufictions range from searing indictments of the hypocrises of American power to reflections on art and technology in America, travel in Asia, and madness as a revolutionary act.
Many of Jaffe's texts read like formally innovative narratives; others function like conceptual art, releasing meanings in the mind long after. Everywhere evident is Jaffe's broad erudition, social commitment, and energised, elegant writing.
At a time when most American writers steer clear of direct political statement, Beyond the Techno-Cave declares, "Art is not an unmoved mover; it is, one way or another, a reflection of and response to contemporary culture and it employs the techniques and references at hand."
Read these sample texts from Beyond the Techno-Cave:
"We see then that Harold Jaffe's latest collection embraces both the practice and theory of engaged writing with great formal range and élan, and a critical rigor and directness that reinforce previous observations of the depth of feeling of Jaffe's own commitment."
"Harold Jaffe, in his latest book Beyond the Techno-Cave, expands his critical commentary to include artist's role in an anesthetized society and does so in style that has a rich, evocative clarity. The writing, purposefully lacking of fashionable literary pyrotechnics, makes up by employing a very particular rhythm, language and provocative narrative. Fourteen brutally honest texts, full of acute observations and calculated speculations, transmit Mr. Jaffe's own brand of social anthropology."
"At times Beyond the Techno-Cave reads like a weblog, but not just any blog -- the one golden blog among heaps of blog dross, that keeps the reader paging through entries all night long."
-- Reader's Bookwatch
"Beyond the Techno-Cave is a work of non-fiction. Yet it is a work of such range and erudition that it defies simple categories. Much like a good visual artist -- Rauschenberg's Combines come to mind -- Jaffe makes juxtapositions jump to life. The resistance of the very public Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the life of the very private Alberto Giacometti are not obvious connections; Jaffe makes them seamless."
"We sit at our desks, faces bathed by the light of our screens, trying to make sense of the world through discourse. Yet our thoughts, our words are structured by the virtual mediations that we employ/that deploy us. We are subjects complicit in our own domination."
"Paradoxically, art produced rapidly under crisis conditions will sometimes have more lasting power and even esthetic appeal than the painstakingly created seemingly disinterested art that most people identify as quintessential. Crisis art has an energy and focus which more than compensate for its relative lack of refinement."
"The dissident prison narrative is variously inscribed, moving outward from the flesh and blood body. It starts with a stylized look: pumped-up from weight-lifting and thousands of pushups and situps, and 'illustrated' by self-administered tattoos which are coded according to ideology or gang affiliation. The hyper-muscular, tattooed inmate carries himself in a particular fashion depending whether he is black, white, Latino, or Asian. The 'narrative'; is further elaborated by the physical segregation inside the institution: white racists, black nationalists, Latinos, identifiable homosexuals, each occupying its own turf, the incorrigibles in solitary. Each of these sectors has its own discourse, its vernacular. If the foregoing qualifies as narrative, it is virtually unread, unwitnessed. But so is Finnegan's Wake."
"Bikers, skinheads, rock groups, hyper-patriots, and miscellaneous riffraff have all downloaded the Nazi 'lifestyle' to excellent effect; if 'excellent' signifies 'insolent.' But aside from their first-rate vodka (before Chernobyl radiated their grain) few or no nostalgia buffs have consciously accessed the Soviets. It comes down to this: the American consumer is programmed to condemn drab Soviet communism plain and simple. But the American consumer is programmed to condemn the Nazi even as s/he consumes the Nazi; like fast food that is fatty, caloric, and richly spiced, but ubiquitous and--once your palate is corrupted--tastes so darn good."
"If the dissenting American artist wants something of her work to be felt, she must educate herself about contemporary culture, technology, ideology, and media (all of which are largely synonymous). Then, in the spirit of a guerrilla, find a seam, plant a mine, slip away. These seams are the rents, or fault lines, in the web of interlocking ideology which prevents us from being ourselves."