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The Pain Journal (Semiotext(e) / Native Agents) [Paperback]

Bob Flanagan
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Mar 2001 Semiotext(e) / Native Agents
Los Angeles writer and artist Bob Flanagan created performances with Sheree Rose that shocked and inspired audiences. He combined text, video, and live performance to create a highly personal but universal exploration of childhood, sex, illness, and mortality. The Pain Journal, Flanagan's last finished work, is an extraordinary chronicle of the final year of his life before his death from cystic fibrosis at the age of forty-three.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (2 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584350024
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584350026
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 11.3 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 649,570 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Format:Paperback
Such a great book! Really gets into the nitty gritty emotions of Flanagan, and is ever so beautiful to read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars death of bob flanagan superdiarist 29 Mar 2010
By monica
Format:Paperback
At the age of 42, Bob Flanagan began to keep a journal. He had cystic fibrosis and the journal was kept during the last full year of his life.

This book is a powerful one mostly, I think, because Flanagan is so thoroughly down-to-earth. I don't think the word 'journey' is used, but if it is it's certainly not used metaphorically. There is no mention of dealing with stages of acceptance, no attempt to find a bright side of dying, no waffling about 'spirituality', no suggestion that death is ennobling or in some way uplifting. Instead, Flanagan complains of his wife's snoring and makes mention of what he's been watching on telly. He wonders if his friends are abandoning him and worries over ordinary misunderstandings in his family. And perhaps this is a disquieting aspect of the book: Death may be just as near when one's watching daytime telly or taking out the rubbish as it is when one's doing the good deeds or thinking the great thoughts that are the stuff of stock tributes to the dead.

The descriptions of his decline, especially those of pain, are striking and nearly harrowing. Imagine putting a plastic bag over your head, he writes at one point, and every now and again violently banging your head on a table and then gouging your thumbs into your eyeballs. But here too, there's no pretense of somehow finding a meaning or a purpose in the suffering; here too, the descriptive is at least as effective as the introspective would have been.

A short book, a worthwhile one, and a book richer for Flanagan's acute sense of humour.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The final words and journey of Bob Flanagan 30 Aug 2001
By Rae Schwarz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Bob Flanagan spent his entire life dying: he was born with cystic fibrosis in 1952. Most individuals with this disease of the lungs don't make it out of childhood, but with a combination of strength, humor and a bit of S&M, Flanagan survived to be 43, almost unheard of even in this medical age. This book is literally a diary he kept during the last year of his life. Best known as the subject of "Bob Flanagan: Supermasochist", there isn't much kink or S/M in this. This is a man dealing with mortality, reviewing his past life, trying to accomplish all he has set out for himself before he is gone. At that same time that this journal was being written, a documentary was being made, which would eventually be called "Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan" and it won the Sundance Special Grand Prize in 1997. This journal is an excellent companion to the film, and a final view of the man in his own words.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bob Flanagan's Death Bardo (from Ahadada Books) 4 May 2008
By M. Hori - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I met Sheree Rose last December at the Ahadada reading at Beyond Baroque. She was slightly buzzed, I suspect, and talked about Bob as if I knew--or should have known--all about him. "They treated us like gods in Japan," she said. "Oh really?" I said and smiled. Now I understand Sheree's logic, I think. Beyond Baroque used to be pretty much run by Bob Flanagan, and on top of that, Bob was the incredible fellow who had Cystic Fibrosis and lived to the ripe old age of 42, and on top of that he was the fellow who writhed on screen in the cult movie "Sick" while being punished in various fashions by Sheree.

I found Bob's site on the Internet and decided to pick up The Pain Journal and give it a read. This is a remarkable document because it takes us inside the head of a bright, articulate individual as he staggers, crawls, and sometimes even sprints (in spirit) toward the Great Unknown. Mostly we get to see what a bore dying is. Bob complains about everything, including complaining too much. Nothing is quite right, nothing suits him. Sheree snores too much, the meds aren't working, his mother doesn't seem to care, or maybe cares too much. Television doesn't interest him, though he watches long hours of it, unable to sleep. Still and all, we have to admire the guts Bob had to continue writing and doing what he did until almost the end. He had that much hope that he continued on. Some parts remind me a bit of Tolstoy's Kreutzer Sonata with the all-knowing Mind of Tolstoy ripped away leaving behind a sky denuded of metaphysics and strangely backlit by the steady-state half-life of greater L.A.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and sad 16 May 2014
By elle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book for a term paper, so I cannot say that book is one that I would have read otherwise. However, it was very informative on an emotional level. Tom Flanagan survived cystic fibrosis for twice as long as his sister who also had the disease. I am certain that his outlook about self-inflicted pain to combat the uncontrollable pain from his disease is what helped him live as long as he did. This book is an intimate look into the thoughts and feelings of a man who was aware, daily, that his own body was going to kill him. Like the summary title says: informative and sad.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars death of bob flanagan superdiarist 3 Jan 2013
By monica - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
3 1/2 stars.

At the age of 42, Bob Flanagan began to keep a journal. He had cystic fibrosis and the journal was kept during the last full year of his life.

This book is a powerful one mostly, I think, because Flanagan is so thoroughly down-to-earth. I don't think the word 'journey' is used, but if it is it's certainly not used metaphorically. There is no mention of dealing with stages of acceptance, no attempt to find a bright side of dying, no waffling about 'spirituality', no suggestion that death is ennobling or in some way uplifting. Instead, Flanagan complains of his wife's snoring and makes mention of what he's been watching on telly. He wonders if his friends are abandoning him and worries over ordinary misunderstandings in his family. And perhaps this is a disquieting aspect of the book: Death may be just as near when one's watching daytime telly or taking out the rubbish as it is when one's doing the good deeds or thinking the great thoughts that are the stuff of stock tributes to the dead.

The descriptions of his decline, especially those of pain, are striking and nearly harrowing. Imagine putting a plastic bag over your head, he writes at one point, and every now and again violently banging your head on a table and then gouging your thumbs into your eyeballs. But here too, there's no pretense of somehow finding a meaning or a purpose in the suffering; here too, the descriptive is at least as effective as the introspective would have been.

A short book, a worthwhile one, and a book richer for Flanagan's acute sense of humour
5.0 out of 5 stars good book 12 Sep 2009
By David Rolnick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I am a huge bob flanagan fan so i was looking forward to getting this book. It is very good indeed. And it arrived to me quickly and in perfect shape.
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