Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sometimes you dream about the paths of destiny, and speculate, to no purpose

Every tragedy could really start with the words: "Nothing would have happened, had it not been that..." 
(Had he not got caught in the machine by the tip of his clothing?) 
But surely that is a one-sided view of tragedy, to think of it merely as showing that an encounter can decide one's whole life.
 Ludwig Wittgenstein, from Vermischte Bemerkungen, translated as Culture and Value by Peter Winch

The Dark Side of the Moon

Well, you never achieve everything you wanted to. It's the simple act of writing. You begin with a platonic ideal that is a shimmering tower carved out of pure diamond, that is this perfect thing that stands there unfouled by gravity and the weather. And, then, the thing that you build is this thing that you have to build out of whatever is at hand and you use empty sushi boxes and chairs and get friends to hold it up and try to make it look like it's standing. And at the end of it, people look at it and they say, "It's amazing." And you say, "Yes, but if only I could have done the thing that is in my head."
Gaiman, when asked if he felt he'd achieved everything he wanted to with The Sandman. (Hanging out with the Dream King, p. 20)
I don't know many people who speak in perfect prose, but Neil's one of them.

—Dave McKean in an interview (Hanging out with the Dream King, p. 6-7)

What does that mean, to 'speak in perfect prose'? That it sounds, to the rest of us, like something worked out on the page and subsequently revised, I suppose. This is perhaps why interviews will Gaiman go so well: people read the author's person as they'd hoped to find him from his texts. 

Yesterday I read the Bouchard/Simon translation of Foucault's What Is an Author? Unsurprisingly, it's very, very good. My work has become ruled by the author-function as a point of obsession: applied to Gaiman, we call this celebrity; applied to Shakespeare, we call this scholarship.
The third point concerning this 'author-function' is that it is not formed spontaneously through the simple attribution of a discourse to an individual. It results from a complex operation whose purpose is to construct the rational entity we call an author. Undoubtedly, this construction is assigned a 'realistic' dimension as we speak of an individual's 'profundity' or 'creative' power, his intentions or the original inspiration manifested in writing. Nevertheless, these aspect of an individual, which we designate as an author... are projections, in terms always more or less psychological, of our way of handling texts: in the comparisons we make, the traits we extract as pertinent, the continuities we assign, or the exclusions we practice.
When we read The Sandman for pleasure, we rely on our ability to address Gaiman's authorship as an entity in flux. Fans beg for backstory, annotated editions*, preliminary sketches. We interview him, over and over, we follow the blog and lose our knickers when the prequel is announced. Why? I like to think of it as a response to the world the text evokes, a kind of moving literary shadow. It's the reason we send up probes to take pictures of the dark side of the moon, the way we crouch down and peer into the backs of drawers when looking something, even though our hands have already come up empty. We want to confirm our suspicions, we want the intangible real. Realized.

But we can't have that with Will. Not until, as I have often fantasized, we dig up his grave and find The Long Lost Journals or recover Cardenio will we have 'new' academic flesh to sink our teeth into. What changes is the conversation--Shakespeare stays the same, but 'Shakespeare' evolves.

*A word on The Annotated Sandman v.1: yes, it is that good, except that The Sandman Chronology the editor uses is of variable quality.

Monday, September 24, 2012

we can't all be superheroes, I suppose

a gem by Charles Vess, which I found here.

because of boys in books

Gaiman, climbing a drainpipe, aged seven. 

"When I was seven I used to climb down drainpipes, because boys in books climbed down drainpipes."

Monday, September 17, 2012

listen how calmly I can tell you the whole story

I've lately been obsessed with the work of the musician Saltillo. Brooding and motif-eerie, his albums Monocyte (2012), Ganglion (2006), and Monocyte: Lapis Coil are thick with text—though not primarily used lyrically, but sonically, which is the real kicker. 

Saltillo really has an ear for the connotative meaning in a word, or, if you prefer, what the sound evokes in the mind of a listener. When I was first sent the link to A Hair on the Head of John the Baptist, I heard a  Danish prince different from he who had plagued my speech and work for the last three years. 

Now that's what I call mimetic magic.

It's obvious Shakespeare—and not just Hamlet—possesses Saltillo. There are several blogs which have attempted to identify/enumerate all of his text sources, but I encourage you to stay away from them until you've listened to each album half a dozen times or so (it's easy to do). Some other favorites of mine include his Blood and Milk, which anyone familiar with 19th-century American lit will enjoy, I Hate You, which is mob-mentality at its most literary,  To Kill a King, a Medea-riff, Forced Vision, which I believe to be almost entirely of his own authorship, Gatekeepers, and A Necessary End.

I should point out that not only does Saltillo understand text as music, but music as music: he plays cello, viola, violin, bass, guitar, drums—

oh, and he illustrates comics. Not bad for a temporary conglomeration of atoms.

Enter menton3, "Saltillo's" visual alter-ego. The above is a favorite Wolverine of mine, but he has also worked on the Silent Hill franchise as well as other usual suspects:

Here we have Arkham the Unnamable from his work on the illustrated volume of eight of H.P. Lovecraft's essays entitled Horror Out of Arkham. But let's be honest: I would be remiss to leave unrecalled the contemporary Arkham connotation, and remiss too in ignoring the filial likeness to the Morrison/McKean Arkham lying on my floor. 

The obsessively exact analyst inside me shrinks at the next assumption: menton3 has partaken of the same inspirational pool as McKean, and in their reciprocally haunted, inexactable line the likeness is proved. The academic writer in me is afraid to say this, but here I will indulge

And truth be told, show me a path leading me to Bruce Wayne two steps from The Bard and I will take it. I will take it every time...