David Rattray

David Rattray (1946–1993) was a poet, translator and scholar, fluent in most Western languages, Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek. He translated the works of Antonin Artaud, René Crevel, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte, among others.

  • How I Became One of the Invisible, New Edition

    How I Became One of the Invisible, New Edition

    David Rattray and Chris Kraus

    The only collection of Rattray's prose: essays that offer a kind of secret history and guidebook to a poetic and mystical tradition.

    In order to become one of the invisible, it is necessary to throw oneself into the arms of God... Some of us stayed for weeks, some for months, some forever.—from How I Became One of the Invisible

    Since its first publication in 1992, David Rattray's How I Became One of the Invisible has functioned as a kind of secret history and guidebook to a poetic and mystical tradition running through Western civilization from Pythagoras to In Nomine music to Hölderlin and Antonin Artaud. Rattray not only excavated this tradition, he embodied and lived it. He studied at Harvard and the Sorbonne but remained a poet, outside the academy. His stories “Van” and “The Angel” chronicle his travels in southern Mexico with his friend, the poet Van Buskirk, and his adventures after graduating from Dartmouth in the mid-1950s. Eclipsed by the more mediagenic Beat writers during his lifetime, Rattray has become a powerful influence on contemporary artists and writers.

    Living in Paris, Rattray became the first English translator of Antonin Artaud, and he understood Artaud's incisive scholarship and technological prophecies as few others would. As he writes of his translations in How I Became One of the Invisible, “You have to identify with the man or the woman. If you don't, then you shouldn't be translating it. Why would you translate something that you didn't think had an important message for other people? I translated Artaud because I wanted to turn my friends on and pass a message that had relevance to our lives. Not to get a grant, or be hired by an English department.”

    Compiled in the months before his untimely death at age 57, How I Became One of the Invisible is the only volume of Rattray's prose. This new edition, edited by Robert Dewhurst, includes five additional pieces, two of them previously unpublished.

    • Paperback $17.95 £13.99
  • How I Became One of the Invisible

    How I Became One of the Invisible

    David Rattray

    This collection of stories and essays reveals the erudite as well as the adventurous side of David Rattray, whose writing lies at the conjunction of travel and wisdom, where the spiritual informs the sinful.

    Put together by Chris Kraus just before David Rattray's sudden death and published in 1992, How I Became One of the Invisible has since circulated as a secret history and guide book to the mystical-poetic-outlaw tradition that runs throughout Western civilization from Pythagoras to the prophetic polyphony of 16th century In Nomine music, to the gang of marijuana harvesters and car thieves of East St. Louis, 1961, who become Rattray's friends.

    Trained at Harvard and the Sorbonne, Rattray was a poet, translator and scholar, fluent in most Western languages, Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek. Living in Paris during the 1950s, Rattray re-traced the steps of Antonin Artaud and became one of Artaud's first and best American translators. Published by City Lights Books in 1963, Rattray's Artaud translations burned through the aura of transgressive chic that surrounded the poet to reveal the core of his incisive scholarship, technological prophecies, and visionary rage. As Rattray later said of translating Artaud, "You have to identify with the man or the woman. You have to identify with that person and their work. If you don't then you shouldn't be translating it. Why would you translate something that you didn't think had an important message for other people? I wanted to translate Artaud because I wanted to turn my friends on and pass on a message that had relevance to our lives. That's why I was doing it. Not to get a grant, or be hired by an English department..."

    What Rattray did for Artaud, he went on to do for Friedrich Holderlin, Rene Crevel, and the In Nomine music of John Bull, becoming a concert-level pianist to better understand the logic of baroque. He was, as Betsey Sussler wrote in Bomb after his death in 1993, "the most generous of writers."

    • Paperback $13.95 £9.95

Contributor

  • Hatred of Capitalism

    Hatred of Capitalism

    A Semiotext(e) Reader

    Chris Kraus and Sylvère Lotringer

    Jean Baudrillard meets Cookie Mueller in this gathering of French theory and new American fiction.

    Compiled in 2001 to commemorate the passing of an era, Hatred of Capitalism brings together highlights of Semiotext(e)'s most beloved and prescient works. Semiotext(e)'s three-decade history mirrors the history of American thought. Founded by French theorist and critic Sylvere Lotringer as a scholarly journal in 1974, Semiotext(e) quickly took on the mission of melding French theory with the American art world and punk underground. Its Foreign Agents, Native Agents, Active Agents and Double Agents imprints have brought together thinkers and writers as diverse as Gilles Deleuze, Assata Shakur, Bob Flanagan, Paul Virillio, Kate Millet, Jean Baudrillard, Michelle Tea, William S. Burroughs, Eileen Myles, Ulrike Meinhof, and Fanny Howe. In Hatred of Capitalism, editors Kraus and Lotringer bring these people together in the same volume for the first time.

    • Paperback $19.95 £14.99