1) The first thing that blew me away when I returned home from Brooklyn and greedily opened my Boo (which was waiting for me along side biographies of Shakespeare and Jonson) was the sheer Whitmanesque charisma and scintillation of it all: the big-heated spirit, the boundless energy , the Joie-De-Vivre. And yet, also, I was amazed by a stealthy and shrewd persona. A veritable host of personas! But, all in all, loveable. Absolutely loveable.
I had to rub my eyes once or twice, I admit, and scratch my ass, pensively, and then return to the bounties of the book to see if it was all for real. I mean, how could it be ?? … But, Yes! Yes! Yes! … Look, for example, at how Whitman’s “I lean and loaf at my ease” translates, and upgrades even, so seamlessly, to Boo’s elegant and contemporary “I like to lounge around the house.”
And, delightfully, also, there is something tremendously naughty in the way Boo enchants us with his insouciance. His lazy wisdom. His casual control of self and universe. It is indeed impressive. And quite enchanting. Intoxicating. And heady…..Yes, folks hungry for the “real deal”, Boo is here. And he is a game changer. One for the cannon. Or one, really, round which the cannon rebuilds and redefines itself.
2) The most important question the serious student or master of literature must ask when measuring a candidate up against Walt Whitman, the Titan and father of American Literature, is “Does the subject contains multitudes??”
And indeed Boo proves over and over to be multitudinous READ MORE >
May 15th, 2014 / 9:00 am
The two best things I read online today are this essay on mushrooms by Daniel Nester and this paper from Hypermedia Joyce Studies that examines the connections between Finnegan’s Wake and Electronic Voice Phenomena.
I haven’t read Sheila Heti or Ben Lerner’s recent novels, the impetuses for Blake Butler’s recent, anti-realism-themed Vice article, but I’d like to respond to Blake’s finely-written itemized essay, because I, personally, continue to desire novels written by humans, which relate, slipperily or not, to human reality—subjective, strange and ephemeral as it is–novels which deal with such humdrums as sex, boredom, relationships, Gchat, longing, and, beneath all, death. I want a morbid realism.
I agree with Blake that a reality show like The Hills and social media such as Facebook create stories by virtue of humans doing simply anything. The documenting, sharing, and promoting of mundane everyday human life is more prevalent and relentless than ever before. In this environment, literature (and movies) about humans (most controversially, about privileged, white, hetero humans) that presents everyday drank-beers-at-my-friend’s-apartment life, wallows in self-pitying romantic angst, and doggy paddles po-faced through mighty rivers of deeply profound ennui can potentially seem annoying, or boring, or shittastical.
What kind of sandwiches do you like to eat? What kind of sandwiches do you like to make? Have you ever enjoyed a sandwich made by a stranger and attempted to make a copy of your own in private? Have you ever stolen a sandwich? Have you ever stolen food? Have you ever stolen anything that was quite expensive? Have you ever committed a felony? Are you a criminal? What is the most exotic animal you’ve ever ridden? Are you interested in ambergris? What is the longest you’ve ever gone without eating? Do you read anything that makes you think it is possible to interact with humans in consistently positive ways? Have you ever had sex on a plane? Have you ever seen anything no reasonable person would believe? What’s the best way to kill an hour? What is your favorite color? Do you know anybody named Fanny who is under 40 and isn’t British? Ever been inside a pyramid? How long have you gone without showering? Ever met a venerator of Satan? What do you think about globalization and the internet? What can you tell me about the “dark web?” How about that line from Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… that mentions a “27-inch Zenith” which has in the interim become a respectably-but-not-shockingly-large TV size? Do you think you’d be one of the people refusing to administer shocks to someone with a heart condition if ordered to do so by an authority figure? Have you ever been really, really star-struck? Has anyone you’ve told about being star-struck appeared bored by your experience? Have you ever had intercourse on [a] psychedelic substance[s] and thought you were inside an octopus or that you were an actual octopus? What do you think about the narrative possibilities of a series of questions? Have you ever owned an Erector Set? If someone hasn’t read P.P. is s/he also allowed to construct a series of questions in book form and plaster excerpts in public places and make vimeo videos with celebrities and porn stars reading from the series and still love J.J. for implanting the image of an arm inserted elbowdeep in a male vulva in his/her mind and for coining (among xxxxxxx) pronouns “shis” and “hrim?” What’s your sign, birl? Have you ever been dangerously close to murdering someone? Maiming? Do you take the national security of the United States of America seriously? Would you take a bite out of a human heart (and not even necessarily swallow) for $3,500 (or for nothing if you must) if a donor had stipulated in THEIR will that THEY would donate $3,500,000 to all cancers if someone did the heart biting thing and took money for it.com? Do you ever slip into certain modes of thinking/speaking based on your level of ______? Does heavy whipping cream always sound erotic to you? Ever listen to “I Like It Rough” on repeat while beating yourself in the face with a velveteen hammer just to “see what happens?” EP UPI RBRT make coffee at night then put it in cup and place the cup somewhere so it can cool off and not “attract attention” then after it has cooled off place the cup next to your bed so it will be there when you wake up because if you wake up without the cup there you might not be able to get up and make coffee and you also like the shudder induced by the cold bitterness? Have you ever seen your name on a blimp/”met” Jason Schwartzman? Do you think I spelled it correctly without looking it up? Do you know what an SP-1200 is? What is the most notable song (and only one I can think of right now) referencing the SP-1200? Wanna go inside a pyramid?
Does anyone write disses like this anymore?
The literary convention of the time is so artificial… that, naturally, the feeble are tempted to outrage, and the strong are led to destroy the very foundations and rules of literary society. Signs of this are everywhere apparent. Grammar is violated; syntax disintegrated; as a boy staying with an aunt for the week-end rolls in the geranium bed out of sheer desperation as the solemnities of the sabbath wear on. The more adult writer do not, of course, indulge in such wanton exhibitions of spleen. Their sincerity is desperate, and their courage tremendous; it is only that they do not know which to use, a fork or their fingers. Thus, if you read Mr. Joyce and Mr. Eliot you will be struck by the indecency of the one, and the obscurity of the other. Mr. Joyce’s indecency in Ulysses seems to me the conscious and calculated indecency of a desperate man who feels that in order to breathe he must break the windows. At moments, when the window is broken, he is magnificent. But what a waste of energy! And, after all, how dull indecency is, when it is not the overflowing of a superabundant energy or savagery, but the determined and public-spirited act of a man who needs fresh air! Again, with the obscurity of Mr. Eliot. I think that Mr. Eliot has written some of the loveliest single lines in modern poetry. But how intolerant he is of the old usages and politeness of society – respect for the weak, consideration for the dull! As I sun myself upon the intense and ravishing beauty of one of his lines, and reflect that I must make a dizzy and dangerous leap to the next, and so on from line to line, like an acrobat flying precariously from bar to bar, I cry out, I confess, for the old decorums, and envy the indolence of my ancestors who, instead of spinning madly through mid-air, dreamt quietly in the shade with a book. -Virginia Woolf, “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown”
Check out James Joyce’s raunchy love letters [thanks to LL].
e.g. “I am happy now, because my little whore tells me she wants me to roger her arseways and wants me to fuck her mouth and wants to unbutton me and pull out my mickey and suck it off like a teat. More and dirtier than this she wants to do, my little naked fucker, my naughty wriggling little frigger, my sweet dirty little farter.”