Kvond, I think I’ve gradually become repulsed by logorrhea — or, more accurately, by graphorrhea, if such a term exists. All this writing; all this reading! For the first time since who knows when I’m about to finish reading a novel all the way to the end. It feels more like a chore than a pleasure, which I regard as symptomatic. My long exercise in screengrabs here, my shorter-lived project of the video blog at Ecliptics, I think constitute for me some sort of escape, or even a cure.
At the same time, I find myself wanting to become more conversational, to the point where I feel like I could talk with people forever. Especially with strangers. Blog discussions in comment boxes? It feels too cumbersome, too slow, without enough access to inflection and tics. But telephones don’t do it for me either. The sheer materiality and presence of the other person is what’s wanting. It’s one of the things I liked best about doing the video interviews: actually sitting there having a face-to-face conversation, even if the camera was eavesdropping and intruding on the scene, replacing candor with spectacle.
But enough of this gabbing, Kvond. I simply MUST finish reading that novel.
Finished. And pretty good too — Remainder by Tom McCarthy. Too many words though, as the cinematic version of Salieri might have said — maybe a hundred pages too long. There’s a good core idea, as in a novella, that McCarthy belabors. Now it’s true that belaboring things, repeating himself, is what the narrator is all about, so there’s a sort of modernistic integrity to the novel. And I do acknowledge that my own current preference for brevity might be getting in the way of my own appreciation, but the material would fit comfortably inside a novella format without feeling the need to spread itself out so much. I don’t know if Charlie Kaufman credited this book, but Synecdoche NY is practically a re-enactment of Remainder.
Erdman, I too liked Synecdoche a lot. It’s curious, though, that Remainder, this novel by McCarthy is built on this same premise of reconstructing places and situations from the main character’s life and then re-enacting them with hired actors. Kaufman gets a lot of credit for being a creative screenwriter, which he is, but I bet he cribbed this idea from McCarthy. A little more than halfway through this interview, Kaufman claims not to have read McCarthy’s book or known anything about it. He says that his own screenplay was written before McCarthy came out, but apparently the book was well-known in London literary circles for years before it finally found a publisher. So I don’t know, maybe the zeitgeist was ready for the idea to appear simultaneously in two different writers’ minds.
To be honest, Dejan, I wasn’t sure when I started Ecliptics whether to put a notice here on Ktismatics or to try cultivating an entirely new local clientele, which was my main intent. I thought maybe a few commenters from the old blog might liven things up a bit on the new one, which did happen. My reasons for starting Ecliptics had more to do with building a local community of writers and filmmakers and so on. I found instead that I was becoming a sort of journalist, and that the readers’ interests focused more on the films and poems than on the subjects of the interviews. And the interviewees didn’t seem to have any interest in interacting with each others’ work. To continue building up Ecliptics would have entailed too much work (finding subjects, arranging liaisons, editing and downloading video, etc.) with not enough benefit. I did learn something about video technology and technique though, and also I did enjoy conducting the interviews.
It almost looks like experimental evidence for Harman’s thesis about the mutual closure of objects. You try to open people up to each other, and find yourself facilitating serial monologues instead.
I do think building networks from scratch is a long and granular process. Little connections and branchings, gradual awakenings as a common stock of words, images, experiences is built. In this sense I wonder if your idea of the project might have been a little too ‘heroic’?
You’re right Carl, I was unable to create a hybrid composite object comprised of me and the various interviewees. I guess I just didn’t generate enough plasm. Sometimes I think of myself as harboring latent heroic tendencies, but maybe that’s my fictional persona talking.
The Ecliptics premise is perhaps better suited for a MySpace intervention, where everyone goes by their real names and it’s easier to assemble N-degrees-of-separation friends-of-friends networks. As it was, my interviewees were better connected than I am.
I might be taking a permanent break, Mikhail, though I hate to make empty threats/promises as I’ve done before. I’d heard rumors that you were retiring too, but your blog seems as active as ever. Maybe you cheered up…
There was a week when I thought I will never blog again, I had some rather unfortunate and devastating event take place, but turns out life’s not that bad after all, as long as I am not yet dead and so on – I suppose after all these years of reading philosophy, it actually somehow helped me cope with real practical issues, so I posted here and there and decided that blog must go on, it gives me an outlet I don’t think I valued it very much, but now I do…
although i would actually say that if an artist could get to the point where he’s doing as close to nothing as possible, then that’s good art. but “poetry makes nothing happen” – i don’t know about that!