In 1959, when I decided to produce a small magazine, I sent out a note (prodrome) about the magazine’s content and format to a number of poets and poet-friends. I said that SET would be photo-offset, appear irregularly. As to intent and content I wrote: “SET will be about the poetic exploration of the swarming possibilities occult and/or unused in American life, urban and local, here & especially now, at this moment of the Aeon, i.e. the Vulgar Advent.”
“The gates of memory and intuition, history and magic, open from a ‘windowless’ monad into Time,” I wrote to Kenward Elmslie, amplifying a sentence in my prodromic statement, “Thus its (i.e. SET’s) character will be dual historical & magical, the emphasized characters of Time.” (The last phrase delighted Robert Duncan.)
“In this time-moment poetry and science meet. Hence the manifesto states that SET is interested in material ‘relevant to the poetic-scientific study of American experience and nature…’” but “As I wrote to Frank O’Hara, ‘I don’t want SET to be polemick abt Amerika…will be more James Dean & Andrew Jackson Davis than Marcel Marceau or the Sar Peladan…’” I also wrote Frank, “Certainly I want neither the ‘monumental’ nor the ‘study’…the ‘study’: the nature-morte ou vivante of the Misses Moore, Bishop, Wilbur, etc.”
[the datedness of this now entertains me (1997)]
Around 1959 I wrote the poet Steve Jonas that the name of the proposed magazine come on like or in the places of its play, as:
(1) jazz (wch most readers will probably read primary)
(4) “theory of Sets” in mathesis
(5) (tennis, for those who like it)
(6) the God — by the Chenoboskion gnostics identified w/ the Biblical Seth
— and and and
Shem Melchizedek Christ / Antichrist Saturn Typhon Mercury Dionysius (sacred ass) Capricorn
“Enough ! or Too much” (Blake).
— Gerrit Lansing, “Statement: how SET was conceived,” Gloucester, Massachusetts, 1997, at the Equinox of Fall.