..or, ‘My Long Lost Uncle, Franz Fanon…’
or better yet: “Prolegomena to a Palimpsest of Graffito Pastiche”
I must confess: while one of my ‘attainable wishes’ (my life-long desire to pitch for the Yankees must finally be labeled “unatainable;” I’m beginning to suspect I might have health problems) is that you, Barbara, pull a KAcker — or a Hendrix — and albeit belatedly, attain the respect and recognition you’ve so long deserved. Also, I’d love to see OLIVER, a tribute to the unbeatable spirit and toughness of one Eric Larsen, rise out of the forthcoming wreckage of Big Publishing for price-fixing as an internationally recognized alternative to to tepid “work-shop” poetry and UGLY BLOATED SELF-INDULGENT AMERICAN NOVELS, not to mention such “hilariously” a-political, inoffensive essays by third-rate schtick scribblers like that guy Sedaris (Oh where have you gone Joan Didion, Hunter Thompson, James Baldwin, Murray Kempton???); but I see no future for myself in “publishing.” I never expected ‘fame’ or ‘money,’ or even a damned cake teaching gig — I was Ph.D.-bound well before I ever heard the term ‘work-shop’ — but I MOST CERTAINLY wanted, even at age 16, three years before I actually started writing seriously, to find my place in the “hierarchy.” Hell, even if I ended up a pinch-hitter/bench-warmer I could have said, as all real pinch-hitter/bench-warmers can, “True, I’m one of the worst of the 700 ball-players in Major League baseball, which places me around 700th place out of the millions of people across the planet to try to master this damned game …”
But no hierarchy, no cannon, no “major leagues.” The legacy Burroughs took from Miller and passed on to KAcker (actually, I think Borges is as relevant to her work as either of them; but he ain’t Americuhn) died with KAcker — love that acronym/name-implostion/
Oddly, writing itself has never been more interesting or important to me. Very oddly. Imagine Nolan Ryan on the mound at the peak of his 100 mph fast-ball powers, throwing heat to his catcher, who had to wear a special extra-padded glove, well on his way to becoming the Strike-Out king of all time. But wait. There’s something wrong. How can he strike anyone out if there’s no one coming up to bat? How can we know whether he’s throwing strikes or balls if there’s no umpire? In fact, there ain’t anyone in the stands, not even a damned beer-and-hotdog vendor. Just Nolan throwing 100-120 pitches a day, every fourth day, to his catcher. Hell, no wonder he’s thrown more “no-hitters” than anyone else in the history of baseball! All you gotta do to pitch a no-hitter in this game is show up…
Blech. Boring and irrelevant. Worse, embarrassing. Like I need to run around begging people to divert time from their important lives to read my life’s work, which they won’t, not even if I give the shit away?
At the risk of repeating myself: Blech!!!
If I could find the “perfect publisher,” it would be a fortune-cookie manufacturer.
Ain’t no accident that, as hard as I tried to follow in the footsteps of the Big Epic Novelists, my favorite writers, the ones who struck me to the core from the get-go, zapped me with that “magnetic pull” are Stein, Nietzsche, Emily Dickensen and Kafka (who spent most of his ti me on parables and paragraph-length “tales”) and to a lesser extent Carver, Wallace Stevens, Keats and Salinger. I remember when I would listen to Laurie Anderson’s brilliant “avant-garde” album, BIG SCIENCE, there was a line at the end of her cyberpunk love song, “Let x = x,” that I’d replay over and over, just for itself, I thought it was so ingenious as what I can only call a “descriptive aphorism: “Your eyes…I can spend my life…just looking into them,” which I later, upon reading FRANNY and ZOOEY, was one of many such lines that somehow coagulated into a pair of novellas. Or those fabulous Carver titles like “So Much Water So Close to Home,” “The End of Something,” “Will You Please Be Quiet, please?” etc. Even the seemingly random sentences that Burroughs and Delillo somehow melded into prose that seemed to have been carved in marble by a laser had the same “pull.”
It took me twenty years of condensing 40-80 page stories into the few lines, maybe paragraphs that ended up in TOPIARY. And I lied about “the Linux/Unix Operating System giving me the idea for a ‘modular novel’ (I HATE when people call TOPIARY a ‘novel;’ it ain’t). Really it was the sudden, out-of-the-blue realisation that the entire “narrative” portion of MOBY DICK (you know, the story that they made the movies and cartoons and abridged versions out of?) was only about 40 pages long — around the same length as the “Plantman” narrative. The rest of that 700 page “Plymouth Rock” of American lit was a bunch of short, “modular” pieces — i.e. they could have stood alone or in a larger text — was just a bunch of stuff about ALL OF LIFE ON EARTH, taking the sea metaphor into account. No wonder, as some college professor once pointed out to me, it was called MOBY DICK, or THE WHALE. It wasn’t the size that made it such — I mean, what can compare with CLARISSA? — but the “DNA.” He created a fucking whale outta sentences. No wonder Charles Olson, who hated novels, spent his years at Harvard grad writing the first serious exegesis. Chop up Melville’s prose with “line-breaks” and you’ve got MAXIMUS.
So, alas, it’s “good-bye” to Literature…and HELLO TO GRAFFIT (and the eventual mega-million dollar deal with the Fortune Cookie or Greeting Card company of my choice)I!
Hell, why settle for a dozen readers of a book that is really an amalgamation of graffito in disguise, when I can “reach” an audience of thousands painting a few sentences on a bridge? I mean, until I’m “discovered” by ACME & WANG Fortune Cookies, LLP?
Also, those ILL-literati who accused Borges and KAcker of “plagiarism,” failing to see that they were literally melding the acts of reading and writing (as Frank O’Hara said, “Writing is just an intense form of reading”) are gonna be filing so many copy-right infringement lawsuits that The Big Schools will have to start offering scholarships and Bar Exam cheat-sheets to keep up with the demand for sheisters.
Linux/Unix; programming; French, Italian, Spanish (Eschelmann’s translation of Vallejo also includes the Spanish on the facing pages), German, Yiddish, Gaelic; cartoons, the “Wiki-pedia” (though I’d prefer the good ol’ Encyclopedia Brittanica, keeping my computer time to email and studying and STEALING FROM programming manuals (though, in truth, most of the great ones are “Copy-lefted” according to the GNU/Free Software Foundation guidelines and are free for all to use so long as they give credit to the original source — which means every “Fortune Cookie”/Graffito will be laden with footnotes and citations); not to mention those “modern myths” created by LISP, Smalltalk and other code: computer programs themselves. I have about fifteen text-editors and word-processors on my Linux machine, not to mention out-lining tools, “mind-mapping” idea-storm tools, odd and sundry data-base type applications…
I vow to abscond with every verbal, glyphic and/or graphic concept that isn’t digitally “nailed” to Bill Gates’ Post-it board and splatter it in paint all the fuck over Manhattan.
To quote the lines of that old Negro spiritual, to paraphrase MLK, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I am free at last!
Gadzooks. The time. I must have pulled another all-nighter. I’m due at the Hospital to dumbfound the Healthcare Professionals with the odd reality that the lympho-mania that was supposed to give me 6-12 months to “get my affairs in order” and the Chemo that was chosen as a “last resort” cause it’s really supposed to kill me outright, have had significantly less effect upon my person — or my future as a prolific progenitor of graffito-pastiche — than the so-called “common cold.”
Idiots. It’s the fucking PREDNISONE! It’s literally part of my metabolism. True, I’m crazed during the four days a week I’m amped on 60mg, but like I said, what acid is, or was, to some people, prednisone is to me. After I come down from whereever raging, violent realm of human be it takes me to, I’m always left with all sorts of conceptual toys to play with…
The spleen was different. That was an overgrown physical thing crammed full of tumors. But Cancer? Chemo? Prednisone can kick both their asses simultaneously any day of the week. A whole lot cheaper than the “Strange Brew,” too…
Oh shit. Forgot. One last tid-bit before my date with Uncle Chemo and Dr. Blood: I forgot about Charles M. Schulz. A life-time of wisdom/humor/theology/social-critticism in four cartoon-bubbles dense with aphorism — eight on Sundays. Ever notice that the Peanuts characters never really move much, except for facial expressions? Schulz coulda had the same aesthetic effect if he’d kept the words intact and replaced Charlie Brown and the other Peanuts “characters” with dark, shapeless, Rorschach blots of goo…