Through them, these spectacles, we realize how blind we’ve become & will remain.

January 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

Dear __________,

I disagree very strong, actually. I don’t know why art should have to bring either pleasure or meaning, let alone be selfless. Art, as I see it, in the barest of terms, creates a kind of consciousness. It distributes our senses in ways that we would rarely, if ever, manage through the strictly mundane. Even those rare moments when the mundane does become art, somehow, often by way of someone, this mundane has been recast. Unlike most of my literary & philosophical heroes, however, I don’t think I really believe in the solitary genius puppeetering his or her way above the paragraphs & pages, in full command every step of the way of the failures & successes; nor do I regard the act of creation as his/her abject humiliation or self-emptying. The creator is not so much lost as conceptually redistributed, shuffled and re-dealt for a new hand. There may well be humility involved in this, but nothing so terminal as “selflessness.”

You are the third or fourth person in recent weeks to note my tendency to swing between cynicism & sentiment. A friend wrote me the other day to say, for example: “I’ve no how idea you seem to manage a sort of idealistic timelessness sharing the page with bleak and painful modernity at the same time. . . .” It is, I suppose, quite true. As I’ve gotten older, I just don’t have the emotional energy for unbridled cynicism. But neither do I trade in the industries & activities that are supposed either to create hope or, barring that, provide distraction from this hope’s conspicuous absence. On the contrary, the literature about which I’m idealistic and/or enthusiastic is not fully (or sometimes at all) in the service of hope, and rarely is it a medium of distraction. It is, rather, as I see it, an investment in the very happening of the world. For precisely this reason, it could never be free of hope or despair — or, for that matter, orgasm & boredom. A silly thought, perhaps, that one can achieve all this w/ a nose in a book or eyes strained on tiny fonts sometimes smudged by time, drink & dinner, but no sillier than the more or less “real world” alternatives that are continually set before me.

Samuel Beckett. Yes, as a matter of fact, he is quite important to me. Some authors, however, I simply cannot write about. Not because they are somehow above the fray, or because I cannot do them justice. Few things are so holy or unspeakable. Just ask Yahweh. No, such authors, esp. Beckett, are spectacles — they are the thing beheld, like the sun in the opening sentence of Murphy (“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”) that becomes the means by which we see everything else. Through them, these spectacles, we realize how blind we’ve become & will remain. (Debord was only half-right about the society of the spectacle, but I’m not sure which half.)

Oh, and yes, though I’ve no discernible characters of which to speak or plots to keep, I’m confident I’ve written a few sentences worth keeping. It is perhaps bad form to confess, but I’m not very self-deprecating when it comes to my writing. I accept that it is not for everybody (or, indeed, for most). But, why, selflessness be damned, I enjoy much of it, especially so when I must work to rehabilitate a piece — or, more likely, a piece from a piece. The rest can be rubbished, or published on a blog somewhere. Some are, of course, unworthy of the effort, but we could all use a little wasteful discipline in our life.


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