Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moral Kombat

Keerist. This makes you wonder why anyone ever trusts a damn thing writers say. Poor form to publicly argue with your own work. While being pissed off and dissatisfied with whatever obsession drove you to write something in the past, one tends to look like a idiot if you become wrathful at the mere suggestion that a novel about burning books might be distantly linked to censorship. (Though I suppose arguing with the textual equivalent of your imaginary friend is preferable to actually beating the hell out of your critics... to prove... what, exactly?) Then there are those writers who seem to deliberately piss off the people who venerated them. I suppose that’s one way of solving the problem of the demands of the audience. But don’t all those arguments play much better on the page than in performance art press releases, open letters to your ex-lover’s cat, and David Blaine-style feats of conspicuous but mute suffering, and naked aggression in the guise of philosophy or sociology? Kind of makes me sad to think of all that psychic energy poured fruitlessly out onto the airwaves and newsprint, being sopped up like water splashed onto dry ground. Especially when such interrogations could be generating stuff like Italo Calvino’s ultimate perpetual textual motion machine, If on a winter’s night a traveler (the best example of reader surveillance anywhere), or the cross-referenced lunacy of Milroad Pavic’s The Dictionary of the Khazars. All I can say is that J.D. Salinger better be making Hunter S. Thompson look like Mother Theresa inside that silent compound.

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