Thursday, August 23, 2018


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I took a class with  writer Harold Jaffe ( Mourning Crazy Horse (1982) Beasts (1986) Madonna and Other Spectacles (1988) Eros Anti-Eros (1990) Straight Razor (1995) Sex for the Millennium (1999)[at San Diego State University in early 80s, and he was, as you can expect, a gracious and keen instructor in how to write short, edgy fiction. He has that thing called "flow" in hip-hop culture, a propensity to sling words about things and to expand the line of associations to where the minor grievance or the incidental injustice because of a head-spinning indictment of acquiescing to the consumer culture. Which means that everything gets talked about, or more correctly, everything gets mentioned. Jaffe distrusts longer narrative form, he prefers the punchiness of the headline, the roiling disgust of the rant, the inspired tirade of a person suddenly aware of the truth in one catastrophic revelation.  He is not someone who believes readers and artists and assorted and sordid intellectuals can make this a better world because the shrieking tones he parlays speak blunt truths. Jaffe, I believe, thinks we're much too late for that; the truth overwhelms us, finally, it flattens us, it makes us aware that we are mere grist, both material and the resulting slag, sluice and dross. The cynicism runs deep in Jaffe's fictions concerning the fictions we have been telling ourselves. This is Baudrillard's world where resistance is merely another corporate logo, priced accordingly. We are all King Lear, stripping our clothes off in the rain, gone mad with the revelation, doomed to see nothing that matters come of our deluded narratives.

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