Monday, October 22, 2007

Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books

I am incredibly jealous of Marcel Benabou's title, but the book itself I found flat and kind of empty. And maybe that's postmodernism, contemporary writing, poststructuralist takes on literature, and/or Frenchness all in a nutshell.
I am constantly subject to this conflict--more than conflict, internal antagonism, rivenness--between my two modes. Benabou really writes about intellectual activities in critical terms, and after a lot of interesting, self-reflecting turns of thought, writes exclusively about reason, critical analyses. But to me it seems like this is intellectualization, rationalization, avoidance of issues that are psychological and in fact founded in unreason rather than reason. It is something of a cliche to point out that artists and critics can spin out a lovely surface and even claim that there is nothing but surface, theorize endlessly about the death of the metaphor of depth, precisely in order to avoid the fact that depth is invoked merely as a metaphor for something that is empirically real (if anyway we actually try to account for human behavior) and that it is that something really real that one theorizes in order to avoid. (If I could show that Freud's notion of an "unconscious" is ultimately flawed and unsatisfying, that is not to say that reflecting upon childhood, family dynamics, and personal symbolism becomes useless.)
Because I can write well--not in a note on a blog, to be sure, but elsewhere, when I refine phrases and get interested in patterns of metaphor--I've always felt stuck between the pursuit of artifice as a means to "get at something"--to find that playing with the language makes something pretty or sublime that reveals ideas I didn't know I had (on the one hand) and (on the other) blurting out an almost-spontaneous rant that turns out to articulate just where I'm standing, or what I'm feeling, about something that's really important to me. (I'm thinking of "I stopped writing poetry" and "No Title" especially; there's a lot of irony and adopting of characters in them but they're basically improvs that allowed a lot of stuff to come out, as opposed to "poems" I made by starting with and fooling with language.)
I don't feel like I have to come down on one side of this, cause I've sort of embraced my schizoid position generally, but my heart seems to be with the rants, and perhaps more importantly, they seem to energize me and get me working, and after all, I might be saying that when my mind and my heart seem to be in conflict, yes, it's very nice to integrate the two, but if I have to choose I'd go with the heart, and after all, even my reason tells me to be mistrustful of reason if my heart does not.

Stories I have notes for and haven't written-
The Juniper Tree
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man
Further Researches of Dr. Praetorius
Old Man (Little Acorn)
Brian's Dream
I Will Hold You
Come As You Are

Also: Jonah
That's a lot to be backed up on.


sloth said...

hella, you are definitely not me and I am not you, but we seem to be in parallel universes or dimensions or something. Envelope beats slice?

2¢ cheap advice:
ambivalence becalms... i hope you will write the 9 stories, or 5, or 3. Titles are a tease.

Paul R said...

Great post, Bernard. I wish I had something "deeper" to say, but, well, great post. Makes me miss talking to you all the more.