Monday, August 15, 2016

WAITING FOR A SILENCE

AS I WROTE EARLIER TODAY ON FACEBOOK: TODAY, ST. PATRICK'S DAY another day in Dublin is officially published by the University of Notre Dame Press. 50 years ago today, on the Feast of the Assumption as my sister Mary Ann McGonigle reminded me, I broke my knee during the Peace Corps training at Occidental College to go to Turkey to teach English. My life really changed back then. Later today on the blog abcofreading.blogspot.com I will try to tease out the connections between today then and now shadowed as today is by knowing that the woman who went to Turkey a few weeks from today 50 years ago and who was probably the best volunteer in the project is dying in a hospice uptown from where I am sitting on East First Street in Manhattan.

As I was writing these lines I felt very important, very much in the present moment and filled with whatever it is that allows me to sum up the world in a few sentences with my own individual experiences at the center of that place.
The reality is quite different as beyond a few people no one in the billions of inhabitants are aware of these two moments.
The publication of ST. PATRICK’S DAY another day in Dublin has gone un-mentioned in the usual organs of review: Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal and Kirkus. This is not unusual as the book has been published by a university press and as such is a bit away from the something or other…  the press has done what it can: copies have been sent to a list of suggested possible reviewers, been sent to the usual newspapers but it is likely these copies  are on its way to The Strand Book Store or an equivalent where it will be sold to that shop for few pennies on the dollar…
An August 15 book is simply old news to the newspapers and as such has a SELL BY stamp as prominent as the A in The Scarlet Letter.  The remaining two weeks of August will confirm my supposition or…
It is probably no accident that these lines are beginning to echo the man in Krapp’s Last Tape.
Additionally at the moment there has been no definite news from any of the individuals or magazines as to what may result… but according to the publicity person three small journals have expressed some interest in seeing copies of the book  but now most of these journals have large digital adjunct to the printed version and I am agnostic as to what it means to be published digitally… being “dated” as I am:  it is print I crave… but how old-fashion of me!  A relic
OF COURSE I am echoing the Pascalian fearful silences of the empty spaces.  But more immediately  I am echoing the narrator who is often confused with the author in George Garett’s POISON PEN where in talking about the job of a creative writing professor is to prepare students for bad reviews but for what is more likely: the Silence.
However in this writing  I am now in the afternoon and in a few hours I will be on the playing field opposite the swimming pool at Occidental College.  The Turkish languge classes have finished for the day …maybe there was a lecture on Turkish history …it is possible I looked at a page in the ARTUAD ANTHOLOGY  which City Lights had published and which I bought at the suggestion of Jim Kari who had heard about it as UCLA and who lived down the hall in the dorm and came from Hermosa Beach …duplicating that moment I opened the book and these lines:  THERE’S AN ANGUISH  There’s an acid and turbid anguish---powerful as a knife---whose quartering is as heavy as earth….(my eye skipped down to the bottom of the page):  It consumes only what belongs to it, it is born of if its own asphyxiation.
I don’t think I would have looked again at LIFE AGAINST DEATH…remember that?  by Norman O. Brown…  an attempt against the living death then being sold in America at the moment and of course it was very very popular and now forgotten…  the Artaud lead me many years later to David Rattray who had translated some of the Artaud texts and who helped a piece of my writing FORGET THE FUTURE into BOMB… http://bombmagazine.org/article/1375/an-ending.
Of course for the sake of “my” book I hope this credit will allow BOMB to note ST PATRICK’S DAY another day in Dublin arrival though I will believe it when I see it. Mention of Artaud and how long ago was their publishing:  an ancient, I do believe!
TO CUT TO… I am sitting on the edge of the pool with my leg in the water… I must have fainted for a moment when someone stepped on my foot to block my passing  the ball on the soccer field and now  it hurts and hurts and that night it will swell up and a day later there will be surgery and recovery in Northern Wisconsin where my parents are living in exile from New York… at the end of October I will go to Dublin and in the spring I will visit those from the Peace Corps who are now teaching in Istanbul, Ankara, Bafra, Eskisehir and I will look for them again in the fall after having been in Bulgaria though some will have been thrown out Turkey for drugs and I will go back to Sofia and marry Lilia and eventually she and I will return to Dublin where I will continues to see the surgeon about my knee now mostly healed .and have to go over to London, to the American airbase at Ruislip to get a physical for the draft. A Scottish boy is also waiting for his physical and hoping he will not be rejected, as he so wants to leave Scotland…
The Peace Corps volunteer I saw in Eskisehir is now dying in a hospice where the pain is  controlled, mostly, as she told me last.
If I remember correctly, Artaud went mad on one of his voyages to/from Mexico and was taken off the ship to be institutionalized in Ireland for a while. 

I thought of Artaud years later when in Rodez to take the train for Paris after visiting Hannah Green and John Wesley in Conques… but all of that is for another time …now there is the waiting for the silence

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

HOW TO MAKE ART or WRITE…


From an unpublished manuscript by David Jones, “Teach the pupil that first you make one mark on the paper.  Then you make another.  And the significance of these two marks is the relationship between them--- which is a third, invisible mark.”

                        -88-
If I was editing a book section for this week I would start with a memorial notice for Peter Esterhazy by sending you to a long review in which I discussed many of PE’s novels when such reviews were possible in big city newspapers in the US—but of course no longer: http://articles.latimes.com/1998/jun/07/books/bk-57301
And the Los Angeles Times even let me go on again with Esterhazy:
http://articles.latimes.com/2004/mar/14/books/bk-mcgonigle14
I would skip to a line in the most recent  Patrick Modiano  novel LITTLE JEWEL (Yale University Press) to be translated,   “He was still speaking to me of about Persian of the plains. It was like Finnish, he said. It was also a pleasant language to listen to.  You could hear the rustle of wind in the grasses and the murmur of waterfalls.”
       Modiano like Claude Simon is fortunate to have only had one publisher in France, but then both are French and at one time they did things differently there… both writers, so unlike in many ways, live in the constant  confusion of past-present-future…all of their books form a whole as did Kerouac come to think of it…  and while both Modiano and Simon have Nobel prizes in their cases these prizes mean nothing, really--- the prize has allowed more of Modiano to appear in English… for Claude Simon  his Nobel was met by derision in the US summed up by Isaac Singer asking, is Claude a man or a woman… and not joking, sad to say…
The lines I have quoted from Modiano’s novel concerns itself with a woman who has met a man who knows 25 languages… and she has been looking for her mother who years before just disappeared as people tend to do in Modiano’s novels and as they disappear in our own lives… why even tell you more… those sentences tell you, here is a very very good writer and no more need to be said.  
All of Modiano’s novels---how I like the repetition of his books--- are always about looking, looking and wanting to know…
They are remarkable as is Simon in that they mirror my own and how like Thomas Bernhard I hate plotted stories…! Those machines carving the world into beginning middle and end with characters introduced, developed, inter-acting and complications thrown in their way and then THE END

-24-
I was thinking of Bernhard because Laura Lindgren sent me her translation--- that word does not do justice to the beauty of the actual book itself THREE DAYS  (Blast Books)  because I had met her and Ken Swezey in the ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES on Second Street a long time ago where we were all watching THREE DAYS a documentary made by a German showing and recording  Thomas Bernhard sitting on a park bench on three days and talking, just talking.  Lindgren has made a beautifully designed book composed of artfully arranged stills from the movie, nicely printed and with a generous use of blank space to allow the reader to experience the actual said words of Bernhard, as is proper: the words of Bernhard, and it is only because of the words of Bernhard that we go to him…

 I am hardly a cheery author, no storyteller; I basically detest stories.  I am a story destroyer, I am a typical story destroyer. In my work, at the first sign of a story taking form, or if I catch sight of even a trace of a story, rising somewhere in the distance behind a mound of prose, I shoot it down.

-43-
And I would go on and ask someone to read DISPATCHES FROM MOMENTS OF CALM  by Alexander Kluge and Gerhard Richter (Seagull Books)  which is a collaboration between the writer and artist that begins in a new year’s meeting at  Hotel Waldhaus in Sils-Marie…of course the reader and viewer recognize the place and its association with Nietzsche… the nervous words of Kluge moving so easily from Gemany to Lebanon and many other places echo the complexity of Richter who in so many ways is the only painter one can compare to Warhol--- but let me not explain that--- except I am thinking of two shows of Richter I have seen: the retrospective at the Tate years ago and another of the unveiling at MOMA of the complete series of paintings that came out of the violent deaths of Baader and Meinhof, October 18, 1977.
-7-
And I would ask for words on the interview book with  MARGUERITE DURAS  SUSPENDED PASSION by Leopoldina Pallotta delle Torre (SEAULL BOOKS)  and here is an answer to the question And how do you read?
“I read at night, until three or four in the morning.  The darkness around you adds greatly to the absolute passion that developes between you and the book.  Don’t you find hat? In a way daylight dissipates the intensity.”

Which strikes me as the perfect answer to those really stupid articles about “beach reads”, “summer reads” all invitations to mindlessness… whenever I see someone reading a book at the beach I know that is a person I would never want to talk with… newspapers and “quality magazines” are perfect beach readings…
-39-
But how I dislike the idea that a book review in a newspaper is just really as was patiently explained to me a number of times by book section editors as really being only a report of books being published,,. you are writing a book review you are not doing criticism whatever that is... and no newspaper person does criticism and remember of course that books of criticism are the first to be discarded when book collections are being narrowed down along with the biogrpahies of writers and…
-22-
I think I would want people to maybe read about a book by Ernesto Sabato  THE ANGEL OF DARKNESS… so a leap to Argentina and how did Sabato become lost in the shuffle?
                                     -57-
But there should also be books from the past to go against the idea that only the new matters…the Poundian:  news that stays news… making it new is reminding of what was/is… so SAUL’S BOOK by Paul T. Rogers, celebrated for how many times it was turned down by the so-called real publishers and then taken up as the EDITORS’ BOOK AWARD given by Pushcart Press…
The world of homosexuals on the make and I am not talking about two Dads renting a womb to have twins… obviously inspired by both CITY OF NIGHT and LAST EXIT TO BROOKLYN, still holds its own and is stillcontroversial as it once was as the repression ever continues about the actual lives as in the novel:  A guy finds a guy in the bathroom of the Port Authority bus station:
….”and let him blow me for a couple of minutes until my dick finally gets hard which is when I pump back and forth like I was cumming and put it out and wipe it off fast  with some shit paper, zip myself back up and tip.  When I close the door he’s still sitting there with his dick in his hand, smiling like something really tremendous happened.  I bet he thinks I came.  Most people don’t know it but guys can fake cumming just like hooers do. All you got to do is while the guy is blowing you, you bring up a little phlegm, pull your dick out of his mouth fast and grab ahold of it and while you’re grabbing it you put the phlegm from your onto your dick head.  The phlegm looks like cum.  I guess it must taste like cum too cause I never had no complaint about it.

When you look up what happened to Rogers, the perfect literary career: only one  book and he was murdered according to the bio in Wikipedia:

On September 22, 1984, Rogers was found dead in his apartment by the superintendent of his apartment building. Two days later on September 24, charges of murder conspiracy and robbery were laid against Christopher Rogers, the author's adopted son, and Nicholas Ondrizek, a drifter who had been staying with them. The pair reportedly beat him to death with a wooden plank, and then stole his wallet and bank card. He was 48 years old at the time of his death, and according to his editor was gravely ill with cancer.
The two pleaded guilty to the charges on October 9, 1985.



Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A FITTING FOR THE SHROUD


Preface:  HERE EXACTLY IS WHY 95% of what passes for good writing in the United States is simply impersonal fake something or other: "The Philosophical prison we all carry within us has unleashed an assault onto our memories, decreeing unto them the fiction of chronology. And yet they continue, obstinately, to be our only freedom."--Juan Jose Saer from THE ONE BEFORE (Open Letter books)
                               -76-
Start of summer.  (21 June)…though it is now 26 July when there are no longer any children in the house, when one is no longer a child such a moment no longer matters…on Long Island if one is a city person  the summer begins with Memorial Day as that is when summer rentals begin running until Labor Day…
But but
My wife’s mother grows sad always as the day reaches its greatest length as her father was arrested on that day in 1941 by the Russians in Estonia to be sent to the Gulag where he would be murdered… so for her daughter Anna the start of summer was always shadowed by this both spoken and unspoken fact and while it has dimmed for me over the years I am aware that the summer brought the fact of my sister getting polio back in 1950 and I not getting polio… on a summer day when we came back from the beach near the house on Furman Lane in Patchogue…
-63-
At the moment I am engaged in the melancholy business of packing up my books and papers in the house in New Jersey in the getting ready to move as Anna is selling the house she was born into it… there are a surfeit of these essays some well known, by Walter Benjamin for instance and while we also continue to live in the city--- where another collection of books has been established--- but to the vast majority of the population such a concern is so esoteric as to be almost inconceivable… packing the books?  What books? Most would simply say.  What is the big deal?...  Or increasingly you just find shopping bags with books on the sidewalk that have been discarded when people move or when people decide to tidy up their lives, in other words live in the prison of the current moment.
                                    -12-
But being of a certain age books have filled up my life and I have been surrounded by books as living in New York City books are very cheap indeed and easily collected… in spite of access to libraries both academic and public… and then there is the writing of books… Edward Dahlberg always maintained that before he ventured a line of his own he had to look at a…I forget the word he used… but his hand would sweep about the shelved books in their many cases… and I have always known that when the French writer Lamartine went to the Balkans he traveled with a library in excess of 500 books… of course that is now easily possible with the various electronic devises at one’s disposal…but for a person of my age, the electronic does not have the authority of the word printed on the page… but this is now probably a quaint idea in the light of the current political warfare both foreign and domestic which is primarily via electronic devices…for  better or worse…
So that a writing like this---ironically to be read on an electronic device and being composed on an electronic device though I can imagine it only as a small stone on a highway which will only be of consequence if by some accident it is propelled by another vehicle’s wheel into hitting the windshield of the car which I am driving and the driver’s reaction: what bad luck.
                                             -32-
In the moving I moved the three books of BillHolm which I have:  COMING HOME CRAZY--- based on a time teaching English in China--- THE HEART CAN BE FILLED ANYWHERE ON EARTH and THE DEAD GET BY WITH EVERYTHING. 
According to a search Holm is now dead… so is there any reason to hold on to his books, to read his books, has he marked the culture of the Unites States…  some of the books are still in print and others have moved to two cents plus postage.  I had been interested in his work because of my own GOING TO PATCHOGUE  and I guess we both have read Thomas Wolfe and in particular William Carlos Williams’s PATERSON….the power of the local  and Holms has an essay “Iceland”  which concerns itself with his always identifying himself as Icelandic and that is another reason I was interested in him as Iceland was the first foreign country I had visited and the first foreign woman I ever talked to was Icelandic, Silja Adalsteinsdottir… but for Holm being Icelandic because of his Icelandic grandparent gave him a way to avoid being part of the United Sates,  avoid being an ordinary American, whatever that might mean…
Yet, Holm did not write an essential book… maybe in Minnesota his book exists but beyond these paragraphs I am writing… will he ever be taken up?
Of course none of this matters to him, now, dead. 
                                    -31-
And the same for another book long cared for perimeters a book of poetry by Charles Levendosky which came out from Wesleyan in that distinctive series they had back then which also gave me James Dickey’s Drowning With Others which I see was autographed by Dickey in February,1964 but it is the Levendosky book that concerns me as he tries within the space of a thin book the whole of the United States.  One might compare it to Michel Butor’s MOBILE which also tried to do the same…  but Butor was doing prose while Levendosky was doing poetry as in these lines from near Yuma:  he always talked about/the dunes as if they were/naked pregnant women/called those wind ripples/stretch marks/they have been waiting a long time/to birth/unless the reptiles are theirs.
         Amazon provided what came after and it is mere verse, and Levendosky is dead according to the internet except for me for this book which will never be reprinted…
                           -31a-
But I shall save both the Holms and the Levendosky books, though I doubt I will consult them as I do Hannah Green’s THE DEAD OF THE HOUSE because they do not possess what she calls vision, a vague word to be sure but let me be accurate:  I got the idea from life, but I have proceeded from vision.  And in that I link her with Celine, Proust, Faulkner, Joyce, Beckett, Onetti, Saer, Gombrowicz, Kertesz, Nadas… those writers I constantly go back to:  Glenway Wescott, Julian Green, Claude Simon, Thomas Bernhard…
I will not make a listing of the characteristics of that vision,  A reader who has read these authors knows what I am writing about and if I included the poets: Eliot, Pound, David Jones, Lorine Neidecker would this vision be clearer… and possibly adding Thomas Kinsella, and Georgy Ivanov…
But so many others and that is why one must have a library. 
And for thinking I go to Cioran, to Shestov, to Valery, to Unamuno, to Ernst Junger.
Is there a difference between vision and thinking?...
Probably not though these two words are the twin touchstone one  hauls out when a new book…
Which allows for should this be the summer of Juan Carlos Onetti--- he of A BRIEF LIFE is there anyone worth the time of a summer of course he is for the few as nothing is positive, nothing is exhilarating, nothing is enlightening, all of his work is imaginative in all the ways of shutting down the possibility of changing the looking at the world with anything but a turning aside not out disgust but out of recounting with a knowing that it can only get worse… even with the last sentence read we know that the next will re-iterate what you  have read  the pleasures of insistence, the sole virtue of genius … 

        To be continued at some future… or in the past

Friday, July 1, 2016

HATS AND ATOMIC TESTING in the working life of JOHN WESLEY

for now a few years I have been writing a novel or a book  that as is said revolves around an actual--whatever that might be-- artist: JOHN WESLEY, not to be confused with the founder of Methodism ...  in this section hats are talked about and their connection to atomic testing in Western deserts...  
(another prepared slide appeared in a recent NOTRE DAME REVIEW                              
     A FAR AWAY PLACE
                                                      ***
         Wesley has talked of discovering his dead father and the hat on the hook near the door not to be put on his head ever again and Jack never wore a hat as far as I know… a lifetime summed up in one article… that is how we thought  back then I am telling Jack, I think it was an old Esquire magazine where there was an article how to be successful in college and one of the key points was to put something on the wall and not explain it--- like a dented Maserati hubcap--- but you were allowed to hint as to the nature of the article, the associations of the article with some intimate activity or display of such activity while the weight of these words seem to drive us into a hole, for a moment or three, Jack is saying, as a way to wake the dead from their graves--- but I am not thinking of zombie movies as I never believed in them and maybe you can’t believe in them in Southern California since creatures coming out of the desert seem to have more authenticity and we tried not to think that the atom bomb tests were going off closer than anyone dare think about, always avoiding looking at maps of the western part of the United States as they made it all too clear how close these tests were in Nevada or New Mexico... this was before people went to Las Vegas though they went to Reno for a divorce so Reno didn’t seem to be in Nevada but I knew it was in Nevada and I knew what was going on there… those creatures came out of the desert and we had plenty of desert in California… when I came to New York people talked about getting under your school desk during those air-raid drills as they were called and I guess we worried about Japs as we called them during the war coming into America by way of the ocean but the atom bomb was much closer and then it wasn’t close anymore once I was in New York City and being in France took the atom bomb even further away, if I can say something like that, though the French man who told me the joke about why Chinese people have those narrow eyes was always telling Hannah the weather had changed because of the tests the Americans and Russians had been making with their atom bombs… I don’t think anyone worries about atom bomb tests anymore.
         There is a pause, Jack drinks from the glass of water and is saying, maybe hats went away when people no longer worried about atomic tests… hats were always some sort or protection from as they say the elements and people were always hearing about atomic elements but then people are no longer hearing about atomic elements so hats just went away I guess to be replaced by all the bad stuff people put into their stomachs and how they are supposed to avoid this or that but what I don’t understand: why do people seem to get fatter and fatter when there’s all this talk about the junk you eat and junk inside even the food that is not junk?
                             PART ELEVEN

THE TRADITIONAL NOVEL                                          WHILE EXPECTING                                                        CONSISTENCY AND ORDER IS                                  SOMETIMES AS IT WERE                                             INVADED BY AN ILLUSIVE                                        SECTION THAT IS SKIPPED BY                                 THE NODDING EDITORIAL EYE                                 AND PEN.

         The room behind the room where Wesley sits in his chair is the scene of the food preparation.  He is not provided a menu with pencil to check off his desires.  He is presented with bowls and expected to empty them.  The food seems to be prepared in such a way that either a fork or a  spoon are the only eating instruments Wesley needs when moving the food from bowl to mouth.  Gradually the spoon is likely to come to be the sole instrument of movement and the observer should not be jumping ahead of the inevitable narrative.