ads without products

chance encounters

with 17 comments

Think I just, whilst having my 30th cigarette of the day down below my office *, broke the back of the last and hardest part of my book-in-revision. In mind if not yet on paper. It’s an analysis of one of my favorite scenes in literature, and just happens to be a scene about masturbation.  What’s there is based on an ancient piece I wrote, my first good publication, and I just now, ten years later and in an instant figured out how to make it fit properly.

Making it fit properly, by the way, involves an interesting expansion upon the text that gave this blog its name. **

How about a little help, though, to get me rolling. Scenes from modern literature – preferably say 1850 – 1940 – that feature signficant chance encounters. Baudelaire’s “A une passante,” Bouvard and Pécuchet on their parkbench, Leonard Bast and his umbrella and the Schlegel girls in Howards End, Peter Walsh seeing Septimus and Rezia on the parkbench in Regent’s Park (ah Regent’s Park) in Dalloway.

Now your turn, go on….

* I’ve been working too much (12 hour days, eight days in a row, in my office) and smoking too much while I do. Yesterday, a colleague knocked to chat, entered, and said in a knowing tone: ADS! You’ve been smoking in your office during reading week! I responded that it was just my disgustingly nicotine-inundated jacket hanging on the door. Embarrassing. Today I wore the only other light jacket I own, a sporty Adidas windbreaker, that just looks wrong in an academic setting and has been drawing wtf? stares from everyone all day. But I can’t worry about these things! I have a book to finish!

** UPDATE: Ha! I’d forgotten that I sneak my blogname into this chapter. Just came across this:

In the section of The Coming Community entitled “Without Classes,” Georgio Agamben, compares the life of “single planetary bourgeoisie,” who have inherited the world in the wake of the rise of capitalist modernity and the arrival of secular nihilism, to an ad without products. With the dissolution of diversity, social identity, and meaning, they are brought face to face with the “phantasmagorical vacuousness” of inauthenticity without end:

[T]he absurdity of individual existence, inherited from the subbase of nihilism, has become in the meantime so senseless that it has lost all pathos and been transformed, brought out into the open, into an everyday exhibition: Nothing resembles the life of this new humanity more than advertising footage from which every trace of the advertised product has been wiped out. The contradiction of the petty bourgeois, however, is obstinately trying, against all odds, to make their own an identity that has become in reality absolutely improper and insignificant to them. Shame and arrogance, conformity and marginality remain thus the poles of all their emotional registers. (62-3)

Just as Agamben’s post-historical actors go through the motion of acting out the ad, whistfully staring at the car in the garage (except there’s no car), ravenously devouring the entrée (except there’s no food on the plate), going to see the latest Hollywood blockbuster (except there’s nothing on the screen)…

…and then back to the lit text at hand. How tricky am I!

Written by adswithoutproducts

November 13, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Posted in fiction, joyce, modernism

17 Responses

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  1. –The girl must have been 14 or 15, or maybe 17, or perhaps 13–one or the other, I can never tell. That’s what I told the magistrates court anyway. In the neardeserted park at a distance behind I watched the back of her laindown bikiniclad form as she read what I guessed to be the climax of a romantic novel in an evening light that made her bronzed exposed skin glow with the pristine majesty of a Mediterranean beauty carved into marble by precise loving hands. The eloquence of the scene inspired me for several minutes, as she eagerly turned pages, little knowing of my unholy presence. What are you doing you dirty fucker?! Suddenly she was up, quickstepping towards me in my compromised state, cellphone hanging from a wrist. She pointed the phone at me accusingly, pressing a button. I’m putting you up on the internet you filthy bastard. She stomped away like a philosophy lecturer deep in abstract thought, crossly packing her book and her phone and her bottle of mineral water into her bag. Fucking tossing wanker!


    November 14, 2009 at 8:47 am

  2. Uh…interesting last post.
    Anyway, I tried to email you at adswithoutproducts and gmail said unknown address, just to let you know.
    By the way, like enjoy your writing, even if you are probably a po-mo.


    Ed Beaugard

    November 14, 2009 at 8:18 pm

  3. Oh dear, I meant to write:

    I enjoy your writing, even if blah, blah…

    Ed Beaugard

    November 14, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    • Thanks Ed.

      Hmmm the email address is working – it just brought me the notification of your comment. Are you sure you typed it in right?

      I wonder what it would mean for me to be a po-mo. I’m pretty much just mo in most senses I think!


      November 14, 2009 at 8:22 pm

      • Hi,

        Okay, I must have done something wrong, but I copied the address from the upper-right corner of your home web page. The mysteries of the Internet!
        Po-mo is just a playful, transgressive way of saying post-modernist. Anyway, write on!

        Ed Beaugard

        Ed Beaugard

        November 15, 2009 at 10:47 pm

  4. Ads is playing the part
    of a prepostmodern

    Who has a chance
    encounter with a

    Who teaches him for seven
    years about der logic
    of patience.


    November 15, 2009 at 1:17 pm

  5. I appoint you, David, poet laureate of my life.

    That one is really not bad.


    November 15, 2009 at 1:19 pm

  6. O frabjous day indeed! It has always been my ambition to do something that ‘is really not bad.’


    November 15, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    • ok. you’re right. it was the best poem i have ever read. I’m not sure why I have such trouble expressing my emotions, my great and real feelings to you David.


      November 15, 2009 at 1:27 pm

  7. That’s the spirit old man!

    Other than Bloom’s encounter with Gerty MacDowell in Ulysses, I suppose another Joycean incident to mention is in Finnegans Wake when Earwicker meets a “cad with a pipe” in a park. I can’t expand on the thought since I don’t really know anything about it myself from “reading the book,” though secondary sources say that it was based on an incident that happened to Joyce’s father. There is of course the well-known encounter that happened to Joyce just before Ulysses was published, where a stranger walked by him in a park in Paris and said in Latin You are an abominable writer, which understandably caused Joyce some distress.


    November 15, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    • You just made me think of an obvious extra-literary one, Beckett and the “Je ne sais pas, Monsieur. Je m’excuse.” But I can’t put that in.

      Those are good, David. Although Joyce ones are less helpful given what I’m up to argumentatively…


      November 15, 2009 at 4:45 pm

  8. The Beckett knife/pimp encounter is a disturbing example for sure!

    One thing I thought you might be on about concerning an ‘advertisement without a product’ was how Bloom thinks that Gerty is exhibiting herself to him, when he is really just imagining that she is doing so (as Joyce told Budgen), so the supposed advertisement of her feminine charms has no material basis, with no ‘product’ being offered in reality.


    November 15, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    • It’s sort of like that yes but also structurally about the sort of non-encounter, non-event that this anti-climactic chapter represents in the book. But yes you’re on the right track.


      November 15, 2009 at 5:19 pm

  9. Sounds great. I was hoping to blow the cover of the entire thesis of the book there! Maybe next time.


    November 15, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    • Well… I’ve written a paper on what you were talking about. I hope to blow the cover of the entire thesis of the book by like publishing it. That’s just what I would like to do.


      November 15, 2009 at 5:30 pm

  10. Publish in Paris! then perish
    Amongst a thousand tomes
    Concerning the neological diamorphisms of post-Sartrean neotic transcendentalism.


    November 15, 2009 at 5:41 pm

  11. I think I was wrong about Joyce telling Frank Budgen about it all being in Bloom’s head, it was actually told to Arthur Power now I search about it.


    November 15, 2009 at 7:36 pm

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