Szyzygy's Blog

September 23, 2009

Huis Clos….

Filed under: LitCrit — syzygy @ 4:38 am
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The problem with modern writing is that it is entirely predictable, and that as consumers we are all too wise to its devices and intricacies. In post-Chekhovian drama, if a gun appears in Scene one, you know implicitly that by Act 3 it will have been used on more than one occasion. Unless it’s by someone like Ms LaPlante or Ms Mickery in which you can fairly safely bet that by Scene 2 the whole cast will be lying in a pool of blood on the carpet, and, one has to add, mutilated beyond parental recognition.

Borges put a full and final stop on the short story. For good measure Ray Carver underlined it. Jimmy Joyce and Flann O’Brien terminated the novel with extreme prejudice as a mode of expression with Finnegan’s Wake and At Swim-Two-Birds respectively.

Even nihilism seems futile, and its vapid shrill-voiced niece, post-modernism, even more so. The slow and creeping decrepitude to which literary endeavour has succumbed is now a vacuum whose absoluteness is almost as complete a cultural void as the mindset of the undiscovered Kaspar Hauser.

The roots and the corollaries of this corrosion were neatly pinned by the now disapppeared Jean Baudrillard throughout a lifetime of social, philosophical and cultural analysis and it is no accident that the character Morpheus in the film The Matrix quotes Baudrillard: “Welcome to the desert of the real”. Baudrillard, never one to miss the Russian doll like qualities of the contemporary media machine, pointed out that The Matrix was exactly the sort of film that the Matrix was capable of making.


September 4, 2009

Beyond fantasy…

Filed under: LitCrit — syzygy @ 6:06 pm
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I had, in my earlier years, thought to write an epic fantasy to vie with the works of Tolkien, Lovecraft, Eddison and Dunsany, those incomparable lords of the genre, but, in the middle to end of my life, I find that this task is, if not beyond me, one whose purpose I can no longer clearly define and probably could not defend.

Now I am of the opinion that concision rather than expansion is the optimal road for the writer to travel upon, that and the straight and narrow path of actuality and not of fiction. Too much is and already has been written, and little of it is of any consequence. My models now are not those rambling gothic edifices of my youth, but the clean and elegant stylistics of the likes of Borges, Chandler, and that other American ray of literary quality, Carver. I will put to one side the rationale, the swing from one end of the extreme to its furthermost antipodes, since it requires little explanation if one has already made that quantum jump of realisation, and instead concern myself with some of my thinking on what I ought to be doing as a writer.

Obvious themes and motifs spring to mind, many of them of a mundane and functional nature. At the time of writing this the world banking economy is having what can only be described circumlocutorily as a bad comedown. Iraq, seemingly, is coming to its senses and turning into the poodle state which America wants it to be. Pakistan goes from bad to worse, and Afghanistan is a gaping wound. Europe however has settled into a smug and cosy state of detente not unakin to being comatose. Britain becomes ever more insular albeit with a largely and increasingly un-British society, certainly one which would have been unrecognisable to me in my youth. So there we have a backdrop. Urban Britain in the arse-end of the credit crunch managed by an inept government, staffed by a reluctant and charmless army of mortgage-slave conscripts and, to use that masterpiece weasel-word phrase of yellow-press journalese and politicians, economic migrants, more correctly defined as cheap and compliant economically pressed labour. And we haven’t mentioned the condition of Africa once yet, let alone the perilous state of affairs a propos our two large friends in the east. An uncivil society, Britain, managed by morons and staffed by the unwilling on the brink of World War III. Mervyn Peake would have been hard pressed to have constructed an architecture as perplexingly Byzantine as the current status quo, and Kafka likewise to have invented a set of circumstances as orderly, obvious and stark staring mad. It takes little imagination to see quite how easily this little lot could topple over the precipice.

The reality is perhaps more fantastical than fantasy itself…. And ineffably more disturbing.

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