Monthly Archives: May 2008

On Persistence and Irony and Motivation in the Disconnect

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Gentle Readers,

Honestly, I haven’t been particularly motivated to either write or read – or queue up, even, my Netflix, which collect dust on the mantel. Part of this is my indefinite dwindling here in the Disconnect: socially and intellectually, sure, but Economically-with-a-capital-E by all means. And while wallowing is occasionally affixed by “in creative juices,” it really is reserved wholesale for Myspacers and teens and the sometimes-but-rare-Bukowski, and it is certainly not for me. I personally have come to rely on my environment; I mean, I need quiet and I need space and I need distance to stare-off into, I need a notebook that feels substantial and a black-ink pen. Most importantly – I need mornings.

But with finances just about done and through, I instead have been fretting about my part in a business world full of strangers and wrong ideas and cleanshaven folk and a fake-pleasant demeanor. I have been job searching and struggling against an abrasive pride and literary sense of the world where Work is an extension of Who-You-Are and not, instead, a Who-You-Know, particularly because I prefer to not rub elbows and, like I said above, maintain space. So I have been, too, weathering down my graduate-school portfolio and the paperwork application (very gradschool-like) to Air Force Officer Training School – and I haven’t been writing or reading.

But Writers Digest Saturday mailed me its previous issue I failed to receive in moving, and I was stricken to read on page eighteen that “[David J. Schwartz] is shopping his next novel, Goblin Market (named after the Christina Rossetti poem of the same title), which Schwartz calls ‘a punk-rock-meets-fairy novel.'” That’s my idea you goddamn geek. I seethe. Although mine is a youth-oriented scary long-poem about the human textile market (what Rossetti’s Goblin Market would have become by the twenty-first century) and, except for the word “fairy,” shares nothing with Schwartz’s (which I am sure will be a great read), I am put off. In all fairness, this really is only a matter of what I meant to call it (and Rossetti beat me to it by a hundred years) – but still.

The irony is that the headline of the article is “The Power of Persistence” (Writers Digest June 2008 ) and is about the six-year toil in Schwartz’s novel-making, about overcoming block and churning sweat in writing, which comes after a sickly two weeks of my Not-Writing that seems to be a poignant jab supplemented with a response to an inquiry I had made concerning the county public library’s need for a new children’s lib. tech (I type with crossed fingers!), going

 Michael,

If you are not a resident of Bradford County, you are not familiar with this, but Bradford County (the government of) has a really bad reputation for “it’s not what you know, but who you know” hiring.
 
Some of this is valid because the constitutional officers, the Clerk of Court, the Sheriff, the Supervisor of Elections, the Property Appraiser, the Tax Collector, etc, can hire (and fire) anyone they want to under different rules from the ones the County Commission has to follow.
 
However, over the years I have felt it best to have no contact with applicants until the job notice closes and I see the applications. As a result, I feel that the library is not tainted with the same brush the rest of the county is.
 
So, you will not hear from me again until after the job notice closes. I hope you understand.

 And this is Irony. At once refreshing and disconcerting, it is a welcome reprimand when all I’ve heard since coming to the Disconnect is “here, it is all politics, kid,” but somehow (seemingly) levied fatewise.

It is all persistence and babble, timeline and deadline: work is work and writing is Work – and it should be; the process it burns the fat off your soul,  but I begin to mistake the six months of it for something flesh eating.

Oops! Writing: Blunders in Horror-Fiction

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Quit it, goddangit.

I was just until midway quite taken with Paul Melniczek’s “A Particular Haunting,” which appeared in the Spring 2008 issue of Space and Time Magazine (pp. 9-13); his was corporate bondage in the metaphysically literal sense, part of a soul-sucking jobmarket (here-here) substituting coin for individuality and thought. Melniczek’s writing is sharp and authentic; it sounds good aloud – crisp. His language is as dark as a muted suit, and inbetween the lines you can see fluorescent ceiling-lights and smell dry-wall and new carpet. But then he wrote “… I wondered if it could have been something more sinister, possibly of a supernatural persuasion”

– well, duh. Let alone that this is genre horror, the ‘revelation’ is stilted and unnecessary, unnatural. You hear the old adage trumpeting Show-don’t-Tell (and I’m not completely convinced you have to do either), but on some literarily moral level this violates something cardinal. To be spooked in the dark is an instinctual, threatening, irrational scare that doesn’t warrant analysis. It is a lump in the throat, a tepid backward step, and a stillness: the air is electric quiet; you hear the whir of the building precisely because you have quit breathing.

The key to fantasy is the suspension of disbelief – not to sound Coleridgean – but it requires in the world a sense of reality, a literary impressionism, and no more the stale pre-Victorian fairystory detailing worlds so dated they could never be our own. Real and unreal blur by an extension of reason, these days; on the quantum level, physics do not apply, and spacetime is dimpled and tangible. Mythstuff now must appeal to this ambiguity, to adopt a Conradspeak that is sense- and science-oriented in order to nostalgically grope at belief in magic. Narratively acknowledging  “gosh, how supernatural!” only undercuts it, a blunder that ensures the reader won’t identify, and can only skim-on aware of the story as such, unable to get lost in the yarn.

Juno Adds a Little Flare to Jane Eyre – and Rochester (Get It?)

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Lo and behold, the BBC recently opted to adapt another Jane Eyre – with Ellen Page, this time, as murky Jane. I saw Juno over the winter and, for at least an hour, I was completely smitten. What a bright, wonderful, multifaceted, colorful, sly, smile-on-your-face movie; I was taken and head-over-heels in love with Miss Ellen for the duration of a beer and a bowl of cereal, and for probably a little in the morning inbetween my waking and plaque-attack.

It is no secret that I harbor a bone-deep animosity for the Brontes, and especially Jane Eyre. I find it takes itself a little too seriously and is soap-operatically bogged by the weight of its own smug: of course, it must rain all the time; the love interest is tall and dark like the shadow of his past; all is despondent and dead – save an inheritance at about £20,000 because her pap bit the dust. Sure, there is a lot worth discussing in some highbrow, beatnik, all-in-black-and-thick-rimmed-glassed English-4400 course over an inordinately expensive coffee, but I never understood why one might read it voluntarily.

Bronte’s 1847 novel tells the love story of a governess and her master, Edward Rochester, with Gothic flourishes. It’s among the most-filmed English novels of all time, with well over a dozen productions reaching the big and small screens, including BBC-produced miniseries in 1973 and 2006. Among the actresses to play the title character over the years are Joan Fontaine, Susannah York and Charlotte Gainsbourg. [Steven Zeitchik]