Sometimes the avenues in which one fully exists are just outside the street that holds one’s image and thought down the most. Explain: this blog is a street and I have been on many avenues lately. Having started a new job, one in which I feel not only super excited about but also find to be a constant learning experience, I am now changing the routine and non-routines in my life. Getting up early is not a problem nor is working during the day.
Since moving to New York I’ve found that not working during the days, despite the considerable allure of it, does not make one more productive. We make things when we want to make things and if anything choosing to work during the day makes one separate the energy for the other passions in life and thus look more forward to them. Additionally, and although I was very gratified to teach for a few years, I feel as though for some artists choosing to teach anything close to that in which they are capable of doing (writing, filming, painting, etc) will somehow make them alert as to how they actually do those things, how they make things. I want to say that this is only one view. Indeed, many writers themselves have a very specific idea of how they write and what they write about (many critics as well feel as though knowing what one is doing is essential, a type of realism vs. surrealism argument comes to mind), yet for those who don’t know and don’t want to know it might be best to steer clear of academia. I feel this way and because of this I am entirely content to keep the “art” time almost completely for and to myself. I wish then to take the other forms of my personality, talent, or whatever one calls the things brimming beneath the skin, and bring them into the new job.
I recently finished Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree. In fact, I was sitting on a little fire escape when I finished it and I read the last three pages very slowly and aloud. Not only do I find this to be the best of McCarthy’s novels, although I have yet to read The Orchard Keeper, I think it might be one of the most blisteringly sad and moving novels I’ve ever read. Those familiar with McCarthy know that there is often an audible “goddamn that is amazing” response to a paragraph, in that the construction, which is often like being on a floating device during a wavetide, has complete control of the reader and with jolts and charm and fingertipping enjmabment is unlike anything happening in literature. The character Suttree is composed of all the essential elements of what one can consider the pulse of humanity: survival, constraint, a touch of wisdom, care, compulsion to disappear, dissipating love and fear, everything you can think of. What I find to be the most invigorating aspect of reading Sutree is a sense of timelessness; even though the book takes place in a specific time and place–1951 Tennessee–its characters and conversations occupy a sort of riverside constancy, a wakefulness that nears the descent from a nap, the half-dreaming half-knowing lean of wonder and pain and struggle. It’d be easy to say more about the edging of humanity here but this word is both overused and too bulky to extract details form; unsimply put, Suttree snorkels in the grainy veins of identity and if surrounding ourselves with people alerts us to ourselves as much as our surroundings do. Of course, I am still battling with how to secure a cogent commentary about Suttree. At this point I just want to say that I was knocked down and out about it and I would urge those who want a gritty and often grotesque journey to pick it on up.
Today is Proust’s birthday, not that this really matters but what it makes me think of is “how many people have actually read Proust?” I feel as though his name gets tossed around with the same celebratory uknowingness and misguided lauding as Picasso, in that people just love to say the name, Proust Proust. I myself am to blame as I have not read much Proust and that which I did read was quite honestly not to my liking. I had the same feeling that I did while reading Flaubert–that yes, these sentences are constructed perfectly but where is the impulse? Honestly, I’d just like to have a deep conversation with someone who loves him about this. Certainly part of why I may not have enjoyed it is a small matter of exerting more patience or widening the preference market, yet it might also be about translation. However, it is always argued that nothing is better than reading a writer’s work in their written language but this does not stop the majority of people from loving Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Goerthe, Marquez. English itself, when used to construct a novel, is always a new language. The relevant thing is that we get a piece of it, that it is translated and that we have translators. Again, I am to blame here as I do not have a solid enough grasp of another language to translate writing so I translate my own by purposefully misreading other forms of art through the act of writing. I sure that I can be convinced to read Proust but maybe liking Suttree as much as I did is a reminder that Proust isn’t up my alley, or should I say avenue. Please stop using shoddy metaphors Tyler.
On another note, I started a black and white photography website, as I need to consolidate pictures from over the years. Please check it out here.