Popular Entertainment by Philip Corner—A Great Bear Pamphlet
This collection of musical works is as visually and poetically striking as any of the Great Bears, with the individual pieces flowing together in a sprawling collage. Corner’s Popular Entertainments incorporate pop music as a raw material and a motor, an ever- changing sound source with an aura of heightened energy: pulsating rhythms, dancing, and the frenzy of teenage fans. The spectacular, molten immediacy of the work—which prioritizes intense experiences of listening via overlapping sound and powerful amplification—comes across in Corner’s restlessly idiosyncratic language and graphic sensibility.
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.