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Archive for July 20th, 2009

joan

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Anne Boyer, who writes odali$qued, has a novel coming out soon. It’s called Joan, and I will most certainly purchase it and read it with excitement, especially because she describes it in the following manner:

Joan is a novel of everybody but mostly of a woman named Joan. It is the story of a private life made out of public language. It is probably a female epic, though Joan often knows she is a man.

I started it in Iowa in February of 2006, and I finished it in Kansas in January of 2009. I wanted it to be like Moll Flanders or Robinson Crusoe or Roxanna. I also wanted it to be like Kathy Acker.

[snip]

Once in a comment box Jasper Bernes wrote something about the new epic:

“I’m imagining something that takes the life of the collective as its protagonist, something lateral, relentlessly exteriorizing and objectifying, global, perhaps a bit didactic, documentary perhaps, something that does not assume character or even narrative as the sine qua non of the form”
I think Joan is like that, maybe, except that it is very much a narrative in a pure and ancient sense of narrative in that it begins with birth and ends with death and has life and many ordinary human activities like war, birth, love, and work in between.

Ha! Jasper said that in my comment box, which makes me ridiculously happy in an unusually uncomplicated way. Long live the blogform! Long live the comment box! Let the new infra-interesting aggregate epic come, in verse or prose or both, whoever it is that writes it!

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July 20, 2009 at 10:47 pm

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“you all have the same terrifying and tedious depths”

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JPS getting Flaubert profoundly right in an interview in the New Left Review from 1969:

Yet one cannot say that Flaubert did not have, at the very height of his activity, a comprehension of the most obscure origins of his own history. He once wrote a remarkable sentence: ‘You are doubtless like myself, you all have the same terrifying and tedious depths’—les mêmes profondeurs terribles et ennuyeuses. What could be a better formula for the whole world of psychoanalysis, in which one makes terrifying discoveries, yet which always tediously come to the same thing? His awareness of these depths was not an intellectual one. He later wrote that he often had fulgurating intuitions, akin to a dazzling bolt of lightning in which one simultaneously sees nothing and sees everything. Each time they went out, he tried to retrace the paths revealed to him by this blinding light, stumbling and falling in the subsequent darkness.

Beautiful, this. We all know, have long heard, that the literary novel is bent (historically, commercially, formally) upon encouraging us toward the cultivation of a full technicolor self, a vivid autonomous owness that, of course, is infinitely susceptable to the comeons of international capitalism as it tries to clear its inventories of various consumer products of all stripes. So the literary novel is bad, bad, bad. We know.

But on the other hand, and really this is honestly the only thing that interests me about the form, but it’s a big enough thing as to make for a piechunk of lifeswork, just as soon as the literary novel self-constitutes as a genre, round about 1850, it starts this grand game of diving ever deeper in only to expose the ineluctable externality of what it finds in all the grey knotted stuff. Just per Sartre’s description.

Of course this process can end up as simply a more complex version of the same crisis of bourgeois interiority that it would seem to have set out to resist.  I am flat, I am a cardboard character, there is nothing unique about me, but perhaps, given the arrival of cash or literary work or a pretty woman who truly loves me, then, only then, might I escape the fatal trap of the déjà lu and the déjà veçu etc etc. The panic that comes of a glimpse of the whateverness of the self, the fact that the ownmost is just a particularly tight inflection point of the generalized Gerede that goes around is after all, a yawp that we are long familiar with and that we know leads nowhere. See, for instance, DeLillo’s White Noise or sure anythign by Ian McEwan. But facing up to this danger might also be a risk that one has to take if one would puncture the bubble or illuminate the potentialities of the one-day open city of the self.

Written by adswithoutproducts

July 20, 2009 at 10:16 pm