Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Veiled Truths

The point of personal experience is something we assign later, when memory arranges the particulars in some fine fashion that makes the data resonate like some kind of grand or sad music that needs it's expression in talk, a phone call, poem , novel, blues guitar.

Since experience is the hardest thing to convey --it is not an argument I'm making, it's a tightly knotted cluster of feelings and emotions linked to a sequence of events that I have need to relate to you, to bring you into (in a manner of seduction, dropping the suspenders of disbelief)-- I generally favor any writer to use any and all materials available and appropiate. At best, we see an outline of the truth, a blurred reconstruction, and it's here we , as readears, need to give our trust to the writer to take us through an implied but imaginatively plausible world. Mastery makes us forget the lines we're reading, the very words we're taking in. Good writing , whatever it's style, origins or intent, quite literally pulses , and is that shape, the "truth" we want to pull the veil from.

Are artists creating wonderful veils, or 'pulling' at some pre-existing veils? Important distinction, wouldn't you say? The idea of the metaphor is metaphorical, and since the 'truth' it's protecting is metaphorial , or at least figurative in some way, it seems like a dead issue. There are the same thing, though we can say are seperate units of the same perceptual operation. What's useful is to consider the process 'through' the veils, or, in conventional literary lit speak, the arrangement, tone, and orchestration of the narrative events that lead a reader finally to the last chapter, the last page and he last sentence, where one arrives at the author's sense of an ending, and their implications of whether the tale really does "end" there, done with, having served its purpose of illustrating a 'given' moral lesson based on a nominally 'realistic' event, or whether the lives of the characters go on, after the last page, changed after an arduous narrative, braced for an unknown future.

Nicholson Baker's Mezzanine is a (fairly strange and light) novel that recounts a trip up an escalator in a department store.
Strange, but thats' the general reeling I get from the Baker work I've read, U and I, Mezzanine, Vox : aimless wandering around a subject, speculation for its own sake, a kind of dithering response to extrinsically urgent circumstances,something very much like going up and down an elevator. This is the writing of distraction, and its a body of work that is compellingly shallow in its aim, a window display. Baker's goal seems to be the making of a narrative continuum from the slimmest of materials, intense and close inspections on as few particulars as possible in order to produce clausterphobic, breathless results; this might the fiction to contemplate if one wants to imagine being bound, gagged and locked in a closet. The world is too small, too close,too in-your face , not friendly, not useful, not anything you want to interact with. I think of a maximal rendering of minimal components.Very post-modern, I'd say, but it's disturbing to think that men and women who are nominally good writers can fill up pages and bandwidth with a tweaked yammering that exists only to avoid the ideas they begin with in the subject line. This is very much like Becketts' novels, Malloy, Malone, The Lost Ones, More Pricks than Kicks, and here we have the link with the Late Modernism that had the creator (author) and subject (novel) rising , in their unperishable need to produce, from the noisy clash and clutter of an aesthetic philosophy that demanded new ways of putting the world together, of making the world non-liner and multi-valent, sufficiently prepared to be remade with technology and criteria.

The Beckett/Baker writer seems to face the endless variations they may take for a narrative, and instead defer the decision about which one to take and what sort of fictional ethos to manufacture.The deferral is the subject itself, the eye-averting technique that wills itself to be endlessly about the undecidability of how the reality should be written into being. This is a sub-stratum in the thinking of writers, the avoidance of death through the refusal of becoming engagement of any process of decision making that would definition to a sphere of activity that must then be engaged, acted within.