Friday, August 22, 2008


Today I'm getting a strange paranoid sensation. It might have something to do with the death, five years ago, in the apartment where I now live. It might, also, have to do with Susan Sontag's hauntingly simple Preface to WRITING DEGREE ZERO, or it might have something to do with my diet: very little veggies.

The cause was cancer. The bartender at Mexican Restaurant down the street says the body sat in the apartment for weeks until it was disposed of. Wait for relatives or kin. No record of this incident can be found in New York State databases. No complaints have been filed. Negligence? He had a pet snake; reportedly died too. How long was the snake forced without food? How to make an animal outlive its owner only to succumb?

Sontag is off the mark. History doesn't give newer faces to writers -- you're born with your face -- but more chances at masking. We choose which to use and when, and this choice architecture doesn't exist in the world of literary creation alone. Barthes' "later periods" cannot be judged as demonstrating a more mature position vis-a-vis style and form than his previous work because his previous writing remains accessible/accessory to him. He uses the tool that applies to the scenario. Because there is some going back. The masks are different, the tools diverge, and each flag varies. I raise a flag for flarf, I raise a flag for quietude, I raise a flag for form. Form party. Neither represents an unflinching fact, an organic potion summarizing where I am as a writer, but rather causes me to rethink my afore-focused intention, an assertion, a nod toward a certain moment of reaction or statement. A progression of an artform isn't chronological once time passes, because memory negates historical linear time lines. You don't say we don't go back once ahead. Rumination is every which way, back and forth, splayed like the legs of a jack. I can go back to writing love songs at any time. Love songs are predatorial entries for some into poetry, writing, and song.
Intentional reversion to previous modes from our present viewpoint adds focus and accrual of furnishings, but maturity? So my paranoia comes from the recidivism of these reversions, and what to do with we're going over the same tracks. Nietzsche?

And so, Sontag would be correct if she noted our view of historical experiences, and how this experience is entrenched in a commodity system: (for example) Gabriel García Márquez must write the "Márquez" in order to sell. He cannot mature and he cannot expand over the recognizable Márquez. What lines are recognizably Márquez are the exact copies of Márquez 1968, Soledad, Márquez, Cólera, etc. His own fiction is locked.

Outside of this system, others try to be "good," write "well," do well what we do, etc. There are attempts toward failure and toward boredom. These latter forces are more recognizable as being "experimental" inasmuch as they are uncertain enemies of commodity at best accomplices in a system in which some works must inherently find themselves on top (see, for example, Amazon Sales Rank).[It should also be noted that Márquez has never been formally experimental, and after Soledad, he hasn't been experimental at all.]

So, should "Gabo" Márquez experiment, the need to succeed would prove a challenge, but since he wouldn't actively seek failure ("engaged" literature wouldn't actively seek failure), he nor his work can be challenged.

PS. I'm not sure about this idea now that I type it out, I'm going to have to sleep on it...need greens.

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