San Francisco

Terry Allen

Gallery Paule Anglim

After a lost war, as an imperial poet had it, one should write only comedies. Of the Vietnam “adventure,” however, the multiple dislocations, both public and private, have left next to nothing of what comedy most requires: a consensus about what’s really funny, or even bearable, if the residual facts of defeat are taken into account. So, whenever possible, we don’t much take them into account, or, if we do, our tally is a cumulative void framed by afterthoughts that fail to resolve, never click, but weigh in with an insistence like that of meaning, except that they are dumb throughout. As historical voids go, “Vietnam” signifies only the latest, the most salient—a special case, perhaps, in the wide swath it has cut through the collective soul, as well as in the stunning cheapness of its ironies.

The constructions and drawings in the latest installment of Terry Allen’s “Youth in Asia” series,

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