Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ad Interim

With a remarkably increased iPod memory, I've been busily ripping & rediscovering old favorites: Miles's sublime Sketches of Spain, for instance, every note of which I know, but which I haven't listened through for a half-decade or more; or the effervescent Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet, with its sprightly & sensitive readings of Frank Loesser & Rogers & Hart tunes. And exploring the vast library of things my friend the Grillo pressed on me: astonishing how dated '80s-era Cabaret Voltaire sounds, when it was such an avant-garde rush at the time.
And cooking me up some "creative nonfiction" – as with any "assignment," using the opportunity to get some a few things straight in my own all too cluttered & muddled head. How's "The Strenuous Labor of the Concept" as a title?
We're off to points north for a long weekend to (with luck) see some actual deciduous trees turning red & yellow, & to feel the much-missed bite of autumn nights. In a quandary over what to bring reading-wise. Somehow Hegel seems too heavy for such a jaunt. I've just acquired a copy of Samuel Delany's Phallos, which looks like great fun – a homoerotic Lacanian romp in the form of a pirated internet "summary" of a lost 1960s pornographic novel (posing as an 18th-century or late Victorian production) set in antiquity, shot thru with Delany's characteristic winking footnotes & nail-chewed ugly-but-attractive objects of desire – but I'm afraid I'd finish it on the plane up, & then be left bookless. Perhaps the solution – could it be? – is Emma.


Bradley said...

If you're looking for suggestions for reading materials, MP3 files to fill the bitchin' new iPod, and more information about the debate over what is and what isn't creative nonfiction, I've got some ideas.

First, I would recommend going over to Creative Nonfiction's website and browsing their article archives for some of Lee Gutkind's editor's introductions from the magazine's early issues. It seems like every couple of issues in those early years, he endeavored to provide some type of definition of the term "creative nonfiction."

Whether he was successful or not is still subject to much debate, as you'll note if you go to NonfictioNow 2005's website and download Phillip Lopate's keynote address, wherein he takes issue with a number of Gutkind's ideas and rules for the form. I would suggest putting Lopate's address on your iPod and playing it on the car stereo in order to lead the kids on a sing-along: "'The harvesting of self-contradiction is an intrinsic part of the personal essay form. Often, seeing two examples of an essayist's work allows us to grasp this principle of multiple personae in action.' EVERYBODY NOW!" I don't have kids, and I don't know much about them, but I suspect they love listening to lectures about the personal essay.

And "The Strenuous Labor of the Concept" is a nifty title. I'm really looking forward to this reading.

Alex Davis said...

Why not cut to the chase and take Catullus?

Michael Peverett said...

Despite what Gutkind says in the Issue 1 editorial, such pieces as the following "Meander" are surely a very well-known genre, the old Times third leader, and almost the de facto way in which most human beings thrust in front of a public audience tend to address them: by offering modest entertainment in the form of ingratiating whimsy. I write this kind of stuff too, and sometimes it's good to read. Again pace Gutkind, far from reportage being crucial to such pieces it is really the opposite: no matter how rich the contents of the author's mind they are essentially journalism without reporting, and hence journalism without news. From a genre point of view the interest is mainly sociological, in other words the question of how to read "Meander" is not pressing, the reading is effortless. Whereas when I read the non-narrative prose of Richard Makin's St Leonards the question of how to read is absolutely unavoidable. Now I promise I won't namecheck this again! Well, not for a while, anyhow.

Michael Peverett said...

for "de facto" read "default"...