DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Robert Pinget Fable (1971)

* (restored)

 

‘There were absences in my life which were a comfort, then were a presence that ruined me.’ — Robert Pinget

‘Robert Pinget exhibited in his first works a gratuitous fantasy taking the form of comic parodies and allegories. One finds everything from Ubuesque inventions to shaggy dog stories, the sort of thing that would delight critics bent on liquidating the conventional novel. They have jubilantly hailed Pinget as one who has turned the old novel inside out, destroyed its characters, language, and plot. However that may be, in 1958, with Le Fiston (Monsieur Levert), Pinget definitely joined the ranks of the new novelists. Leaving off his loony antics, he tells the story of a man working every night on a letter to his son. We soon lose all foothold in reality as we enter the troubled universe of this father whose son has gone away. When did he actually leave, when is he coming back, will he ever return? We cannot trust the father’s account, for it is obviously all mixed up, yet it is our only source of information. We try to infer what the facts of the story are but our view is so hampered by the obscurity and confusion of his vision that we give up and just listen with hypnotized attention.

‘Pinget’s work joins the others, particularly Butor’s and Ollier’s, as the account of a futile attempt to capture reality and make sense of experience.

‘In a novel like Ulysses, the prose must slide about slip out of place all the time turn up at the edges you catch your feet in them, because Ulysses is a most deliberate study of the vagaries and peculiar associations of human thought. But M. Pinget’s novel [The Inquisitory] is only a deliberate struggle—maintained with incredible stamina—to ride a one-wheeled bicycle for 399 miles. It is hardly surprising, then, that the total effect is immensely involved, generally unreadable, and appallingly boring.

‘Last summer Robert Pinget took part in the colloquies devoted to the new novel at Cérisy-la Salle. Yet his work differs from that of such authors as Michel Butor and Robbe-Grillet, practitioners of the new-novel technique. Pinget’s way is far more personal. His search consists mainly in discovering the right tone (tonality or voice) of his novels’ narrators. Only after this initial task has been accomplished can he (author-narrator) really be himself and so express the feelings, ideas and atmosphere of his contemporaries and the world in which they live. Pinget is not interested in the symbolism involved or in the psychology of his characters or even in the themes or deeper meanings of their discourses which are never clearly delineated, certainly not in Fable.

‘Pinget’s Fable is his most lyrical work, save for Graal Flibuste (1956). The reader is ushered into a fantasy-filled domain of heteroclite colors, disparate images ranging from sun-drenched delphiniums to heads rotting on the ground. The medley of inner rhythms which emerges from his sentence structure encourages the reader to feel his way or to intuit his path into Pinget’s maze-like volume.

‘In the massive novel L’Inquisitoire (1962) Pinget fuses his work as a dramatist and as a novelist: it is in the form of questions and answers, a long and mysterious examination and cross-examination. Here the Theatre of the Absurd coalesces with the nouveau roman.

‘The French nouveau roman has a pronounced self-destructive urge. It puts the novel on trial, denies its own innocence, exposes the novelist himself as the chief suspect, incriminates him in his inadequate and self-contradictory evidence, and condemns the two of them together to a life sentence of fruitless forced labors.

Passacaille … is a fascinating piece of testimony. One cannot be sure of the events which it is struggling to piece together. All is supposition and hypothesis…. The reader hovers on the fringe of what might have been, or is due to be, an event, but an event which never takes shape to form a reassuring anecdote. At no point does a literary overseer emerge to establish some logic, make links, or provide explanatory commentary.

‘The characters involved are equally nebulous. People appear and disappear as if they had no proper existence…. Characters between whom one cannot see the connection loom into focus and fade away, their role strangely undetermined. Substitutions are made, gratuitously, it seems—at one moment the teacher could be a sorcerer, then the woman with the goats; at one moment it is the postman in the ditch, then the delivery man—and one suspects that these different figures might be one and the same, so much do they overlap and intermingle. A person called Rodolphe becomes Edouard and Edmond, perhaps by an accident of memory, but one wonders in the end if he ever existed, or at least in what form and under what name. The characters are, in fact, curiously “verbal.” One cannot even be sure of the voice that speaks or the pen that writes. Is there a centralizing narrative mind at all and who is performing the literary task?… Characterization becomes a kind of “space to let,” a central vacuum to be tried by anybody. Various persons, some known by name, others unknown, float towards it. But no one fits or seems to find it livable.

‘It has been suggested that the nouveau roman is the detective novel taken seriously. If by “taken seriously” one means not glibly wrapped up in a false but convincing story form, then Passacaille is a kind of detective novel. It has many of the features of the “whodunit,” but with the one outstanding question: what is it, and who is who?

‘The writer’s great stumbling blocks are time and words. These are, paradoxically, the two elements that prevent a story from materializing. If one could solve the question of the clock—one could possibly solve everything. At one moment the clock’s hands mark the time, at another some malicious person has moved them round, at another they have disappeared from the clock face completely.

‘Words are no less intractable—they are redundant fragments without an owner or a theme, whirling round to make their own provisional patterns.

‘All the things which make a novel—a story, a character, a time sequence, and a control over words and their progression—are missing from Passacaille. But perhaps, in damning itself as a novel, it resurrects itself as a form of poetry…. Certainly, the great themes of poetry (time and memory, nature and the seasons, solitude and death) seep through the verbal fissures. Little touches of human emotion, all the more poignant because of their spasmodic appearance in a framework of absence and erosion, remind one of Reverdy’s world. Pinget’s technique, which juxtaposes images but states nothing, creates a play of suggestion. Above all, the work has the densely patterned structure of a poem, within which repetitions act as refrains, changes of tempo set up waves of rhythm, and words, no longer subservient to plot or ideas, enjoy the greatest creative autonomy. The prose poem has gained respectability as a “genre.” Passacaille could well be a major development in a poem-novel.

‘[Since Pinget’s] first book, a collection of stories entitled Entre Fantoine et Agapa, Pinget’s fiction has explored an imaginary provincial region between Fantoine and Agapa, a Gallic Yoknapatawpha County—an “absurd suburb of reality,” in Robbe-Grillet’s phrase. Certainly The Inquisitory, which won the Prix des Critiques, abounds with circumstantial information. Thirty pages are devoted to a description, shop by shop, of the main square of the village of Sirancy; the street geography of the town of Agapa is exhaustively examined; eleven pages call the roll of furnishings in the drawing room of a château, which is eventually inventoried from cellar to attic; and an attentive reader with pencil in hand could probably draw, from the various textual indications, a map of the entire region. Now, such feats of particularization demand more patience than passion from writer and reader alike, but the end result is the kind of trustworthiness absent, for different reasons, from both [Robbe-Grillet’s] La Maison de Rendez-Vous and [Genet’s] Miracle of the Rose. The Inquisitory is of the three by far the best novel, if by novel we understand an imitation of reality rather than a spurning of it.

‘Not that Pinget is old-fashioned; he has put himself to school with Robbe-Grillet and Beckett. The novel’s premise is a Beckettian stripped situation: an infinitely garrulous old château servant is being quizzed by an infinitely curious investigator. Both are nameless. Punctuation marks are abjured. A shadowy secretary is in the room, typing up all three hundred and ninety-nine pages of meandering testimony. The object of the investigation—the disappearance of the château secretary—is never clarified. The dialogue, initially full to bursting of visual measurement and quidditas, ebbs into a fatigued exchange, laconic and baffled.

‘All this circumstantiality protests against circumstantiality, both as an adjunct of the novel and as the illusory stuff of life…. The investigator is in a sense the all too ideal reader, asking again and again, “Go on.”… And the answerer … is the aboriginal storyteller, whose enterprise is essentially one of understanding.

‘Pinget’s very avant-garde novel of the absurd incorporates the full French novelistic tradition. Like Proust, he has a curé who dabbles in the etymology of place names; like Balzac, he avidly traces the fortunes of little provincial shops through all the ups and downs that gossip traces. The number of anecdotes, of miniature novels, caught in his nets of description cannot be counted; presumably some are expanded elsewhere in Pinget’s oeuvre…. [By] the novel’s end this district, into which enough historical allusion has been insinuated to render it an analogue of France, serves as a model of the world, with all human possibilities somewhere touched upon…. Pinget’s work … seems not only highly accomplished but thoroughly masculine, quite without the eunuchoid air of distress with which too much modern fiction confronts its bride the world.’ — John Updike

 

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The gang


(l. to r.) The ‘Nouveau Roman’ writers, 1959: Alain Robbe-Grillet, Claude Simon, Claude Mauriac, Jérôme Lindon, Robert Pinget, Samuel Beckett, Nathalie Sarraute, Claude Ollier, and (not pictured)  Margarite Duras.

 

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Further

Robert Pinget Website
Robert Pinget @ Red Dust Books
Robert Pinget @ Les Editions de Minuit
‘Reading Robert Pinget’
‘Fable’ @ goodreads
‘Pinget’s Fable, récit: An Allegory in the Style of the New, New Novel’
‘Fable’ reviewed @ International Fiction Review’
from Robert Pinget’s journals
‘Using a computer-generated concordance to analyze and document stylistic devices in Robert Pinget’s fable’
‘As I read Robert Pinget …’
‘L’autoréflexion critique de Robert Pinget et de ses personnages-écrivains’
‘La problématique bibliothèque de Robert Pinget’
‘L’ambivalence de Robert Pinget’
‘L’Hypothèse de Robert Pinget ou la littérature émet des doutes’
Buy ‘Fable’

 

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Extras


Interview de Robert PINGET


Autour de Pinget


Interview de Robert PINGET

 

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Fans

“One of the most important novelists of the last ten years.” — Samuel Beckett

“If we can imagine a Faulkner who began with the combative intellectual playfulness of Queneau or Jarry‚ or a Sound and the Fury that ends with everyone dissolved in Benjy’s idiocy‚ we start to taste Pinget.” — John Updike‚ The New Yorker

“Brilliant and obsessive, a splendid performance by a writer insufficiently well-known in this country.” — Donald Barthelme

“It can and should be claimed for Pinget that he has produced a sequence of some twenty books over the past three decades‚ all of which observe the kind of stringent laws of discourse and development that we associate with the Beckett oeuvre. . . . But the comparison with Beckett should not be allowed to mask the fact that this is a wholly original and distinctive achievement.” — Stephen Bann, London Review of Books

“Robert Pinget responds to language as though he lived in it. He has an unprecedented way of isolating segments of unreliable information into compact masses of fugitive meaning.” — Dan Graham

 

_________
from Pinget Queer
by David Ruffel

 

This article proposes a rereading of Robert Pinget’s work as seen through the prism of his homosexuality, a proposal that will sound at once both obvious and surprising.

For readers of Pinget it will indeed be obvious. One might, of course, hypothesize the existence of radical “hetero-readers” who have yet to discover the sexuality of books that they nonetheless know inside out. For such readers, then, let us mention by way of introduction the explicit nature of homoeroticism in Fable (1971)1 and Passacaille (1969), the play of transvestism and transsexualism in Baga (1958) and Architruc (1961), and the aristocratic homosexuality of the “gentlemen” in L’Inquisitoire (1962), as well as the more or less explicit homosexuality of all the “masters” and writer characters that the work evokes, the sexualization of the figure of the young boy and the social obsession with pedophilia in a work such as Le Libera (1968), and finally, the question that becomes central in Robert Pinget’s late work, namely that of overcoming his own death, through the fantasized and initiatory transmission from uncle to nephew and from master to young man. For gay and lesbian readers, Robert Pinget’s work is naturally inscribed in the corpus of homosexual literature. For Dennis Cooper, for example, “Pinget was the only gay member of the Nouveau Roman. Pinget was very significant for my work, and his 1971 novel Fable ranks high in my list of top ten favorite novels.” The connection between Pinget and Cooper (and, of course, Tony Duvert) is moreover explicit on many levels, and one might mention, among other things, that Robert Pinget was a reader of William S. Burroughs’s novels.

This article’s proposed reading is nonetheless surprising when formulated in the field of academic (and journalistic) criticism, since Robert Pinget’s work has barely once been read in this way in the sixty years of its existence and reception. Major academic historians such as Madeleine Renouard and Jean-Claude Lieber have made allusions to the homosexuality of individual characters and isolated passages, while the English researcher John Phillips has analyzed the “displaced eroticism” of Fable (1971), but that is about as far as it goes. The relative neglect of Robert Pinget’s work in the last fifteen years has meant that, to the best of my knowledge, it has slipped through the cracks of any rereading by Anglo-American queer or gay studies. Instead, the 1990s and 2000s saw a wealth of metaphysical and religious material being written about his work. As a result, Robert Pinget’s texts have remained “in the closet” for sixty years.

This article intends to bring them out, but before doing so, let us first examine the reasons for this silence. This strange situation is due, first and foremost, to academic criticism, particularly in France but in other countries as well, in which it is more a question of silence than of ignorance. As Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has shown, the order of the “closet” that defines the conditions of homosexuality in the twentieth century does not consist in completely hiding one’s homosexuality or in remaining entirely ignorant of that of others. Rather, it introduces uncertainty “in the relations of the known and the unknown, the explicit and the inexplicit,” or in this case, between that which one knows but does not want to know, that which one does not want to know and does not say, and that which one says without really saying it. Thus, Robert Pinget’s critics knew of his homosexuality without knowing it, read it in his texts without reading it, and did not know how nor wish to tap into it. This disinterest brings us back to the theoretical context of the 1960s and 1970s and to the context of poststructuralism and textualism that eschewed any references to the author, as well as a (French) universalism that was wary of any differentialism.

(cont.)

 

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Book

Robert Pinget Fable
Red Dust

‘Pinget’s novels (The Libera Me Domine, Passacaglia) have a sometimes unreadable density and a difficult illogic to them: they are unclassifiable and not about anything in particular (“”The initiate finds himself in the age of passion and lacking any sense of discrimination””). But in this slender–61 pages–book, and in Pinget’s others, a certain authority operates throughout, an authority that slowly reveals itself as unquestionable. At first, the “”fable”” here is totally befuddling. A village (when? where?) appears to have been overrun and decimated by a catastrophe; what remains is occasionally depredated by a cannibal band. A lone traveler, Maille (sometimes he’s called Miette), sleeps at night in the hay of a barn and by day investigates the scene. Flares, sudden and fantastic ones without warning, break out within the prose: bitter denunciation, blasphemy, fatalism, copulating angels, a gypsy, a “”sedentary man,”” a slovenly and licentious poetess-witch, a circumcised Jesus. The words “”I never loved you”” ring out repeatedly and dolorously–God’s? The “”fable”” begins to seem half a suggestion that we truly occupy only our humiliation–and half a parable about a “”blind Narcissus”” (the artist? Jesus?) who is “”tempted”” by the Bible: “”Suddenly he stops seeing everything as consecurive, painfully linked together until its relentless end, and begins to see it as a suspended event, open dwelling-places where he can go from one to the other, he finds himself in each one, his place will not be taken from him by the tribulations to come, the accidental no longer triumphs.”” These might be taken as a good set of instructions on how to read this book, with its succeeding yet independent metaphors. But, whatever the work may mean, when the traveler Mallle returns to Pinget’s central location–the country village of Fantoine, where all stories, legible or not, dead or alive, are known and accepted–the touch is one of gentle fatalism. . . and very moving. Extremely difficult work, but quite haunting and provocative.’ — Kirkus Reviews

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Excerpt

Looking for somewhere to spend the night he stopped at an abandoned barn, went in, made a hole in the hay and fell asleep in it, his knapsack under his head.

But someone had seen him in the moonlight, a belated traveler.

There are times of initial despair which alternate with others when the soul is liberated but little by little the alternation stops and that’s when the head begins to rot.

Did he think about it before he fell asleep or did he only count the beams in the roof.

And that other belated person.

The town had evaporated as a result of a cataclysm, nothing was left but the dross.

The people were camping in little groups in the ruins or making their way into the fields.

This future to be dissolved.

A man called Miaille or whatever but the time isn’t ripe.

Poppies in the morning were reddening in the oats.

So the night is over.

He goes off to the blazing meadow and he says poppies for the children, fading nosegays, far away years, far away and pleasant.

He takes some cheese out of his knapsack and a bottle of wine.

Naked men with leather belts come out of the river and make their way towards the corpse lying on the bank. They carve it up with the knives hanging from their belts and start to devour it. Their leader has reserved the phallus for himself and he makes short work of it before starting on the groin.

Or those clusters of delphiniums when June starts yellowing in the fields.

A little kitchen garden full of aromatic herbs.

It seems he didn’t go straight to sleep, but counted the beams in the roof, attaching the day’s images to them, the poppies, the naked men, the ruins of the town.

The corpse on the river bank was that of a boy with white skin and blue hair, as beautiful as ivory and ultramarine.

But the men attacked it again, carved it up again, devoured it all but its head which they hung from the leader’s saddle. They went off at a gallop.

And he saw the people coming up behind and all the golden landscape, his beard was covered with poppies, his eyes were open.

It was the images of the night that made his head heavy now, all the pleasant years, far away and pleasant, like a ton of vomited sugar or a stinking defecation.

The past to be dissolved likewise.

Little by little the alternation stops.

Very little landscape, some yellow on the plain, a few trees, the time is still not ripe.

This present which made him speak, not to know any more what it’s composed of.

I can see that rotting, bleeding head attached to the saddle.

And always the groups of exiles picnicking, tins of food, greasy papers, pallid faces, they go off then stop then go off again.

The town still smoking.

A house that was ours he said and here I am among the exiles eating dry bread and weeping endlessly from one stop to another, from one night to another, untl the day when this possession will be no more than a photo in my pocket between my passport and a postcard.

And no longer see.

And only just hear.

Just a muffled, inarticulate lament, perceive it piecemeal then lose it then pick up its harmonics again on the threadbare old string of the instrument eviscerated by the barbarians.

Lament, lament again, the poppies are fading and the photo is yellowing in his pocket, it was put there yesterday, centuries of avalanches, of clashes, of mortal wounds.

This Miaille 1 or whatever his name is who found himself alone in the barn which he later recognized, he found his way back there by instinct, he weeps until morning and then until the following night, he can’t bring himself to leave the place, an old conformist, time has done its work, made into the past what even yesterday was still the unique present.

He went the rounds of the barn again, and the stable and the farm buildings, still carrying his knapsack for fear that the other man, the moonlight observer, might come and take it from him.

It contains neither wine nor cheese but letters, letters, diary notes, laundry bills, eating-house bills, notes written in haste, goes the rounds of the farm buildings, pulls up a nettle here, replaces a stone there, mortal wound, the merciless sun dissolves all that remained of a tenderness in which no one recognizes himself any more.

A little kitchen garden full of aromatic herbs.

When June starts yellowing in the fields, the delphiniums, unless they are his tears, turn blue, the sky is reflected in them.

When June brought the table back under the arbor, the midday and evening aperitif, old conformist, yesterday’s old tenderness in which neither furtive kisses nor hours spent by the fireside recognize themselves any more.

And why is it that that town, those ruins, why is it that those exiles in the fields who speak another tongue, only perceive it piecemeal — never spoken that language — why is it that they come back like someone else’s obsession, that of the man in the moonlight or of the person who is absent.

There were absences in my life which were a comfort he said, then there was a presence that ruined me.

Still going the rounds of the farm buildings, he pulls up a nettle here, replaces a stone there, when all of a sudden everything crumbles and the voice comes to him out of the ruins, he recognizes its timbre and its harmonics on that threadbare old string of the eviscerated instrument, he runs, it was a mirage, the sun was setting just as he was waking out of a nightmare, step by step going the rounds of the kitchen garden, the aromatic herbs of death, there is no possible time any more.

A blue cluster in which the phallus flowered, a white and pink rod, balls the color of Virginia tobacco.

One single mouthful the leader made of it before starting on the groin where the flesh is so tender, blood was dripping down his hairy chest and down his stomach.

These sorts of public images.

To get a taste of other secrets as bitter as gall in the shadow of the years to be dissolved, this death accompanied by the aromatic herbs of the little garden overrun and invaded by the image and then by its own shadow and then by the never-ending darkness, the delphiniums and the corpse merge into a single faded sheaf that you can only just make out in the moonlight.

Then he lay down in the grass, he tried to go to sleep but the oppressively hot sun made him get up again and sit down under the nearby elm tree, he could see two people dressed in white robes walking along the road, one had his arm round the other’s shoulder, he believed he could hear them composing a difficult letter, first learning it by heart, the one correcting the other, the other inspiring the one, and with a common voice repeating the phrase dragged up out of the fathomless depths of their consciousnesses, they disappeared into the wood.

Where the only thing that might happen would be an attack by savages but an attack so thoroughly confused with the agonies of the nightmare that the recipient, the reader purified by the lost years, would grasp nothing of it but a vague grief transcribed in puerile terms, no symbols and even fewer reminiscences.

From his knapsack he once again extracts the so-called fatal letter and in rereading it discovers nothing but an adventure transcribed in the wretched, vulgar wording of a popular almanac, some charlatan must have dictated it, some rupture in time must have appropriated it and concealed it in the depths of its crevice like a secret that has no connection with the intangible peace that is his own and was such in his immemorial future.

Likewise to be dissolved.

To be dissolved and sown in the surrounding fields like the ashes of a Narcissus in one of those naive prints, a caricature for the use of concierges, those females who guard nothing but the imaginary.

The voice in the ruins, then, was double, dictating the letter that was in love with itself, reverberating over and beyond the herb garden on to the road like the steps of the people walking along it which simulate a language, such effrontery, but what’s impossible about it in the circumstances in which only the person weeping in the grass turns over in his memory the poisoned phrase.

Two figures in white robes, their long hair plaited with oats and cornflowers, they went into the wood for their evening copulation, long ecstasy repeated until morning when their genitals separated in the dew.

Come out of the wood as the sun is crossing the clearing and shake themselves in the poppies and then lick each other, their morning ablutions, then from the hollow of a tree pull out some honeycomb, their first meal.

But another atmosphere, that of a tormented conscience which only accepts controlled images, distorted in the direction of possible salvation, an old chimera when candor used to triumph on Easter mornings, the initiate finds himself back in the age of passions and lacking any sense of
discrimination.

This obscure navigation between senses and reason which so far as we are concerned is no more than unadmitted duty, a rigidity that is even more unpracticed than it is sterile.

A blackbird whistled three notes.

There would be no more elm trees or farm buildings, there would be nothing but a room in the town smoking under its ruins, spared by a miracle in reverse, a deceptive refuge, a charnel house, death had been there from the first day and had gone unnoticed thanks to the neighboring premises not yet affected by the cataclysm, a sort of routine that aped life had become established.

It has to be accepted as it is, now, death in the midst of the ruins, going the fantastic rounds of a cemetery in which the only things that move are chimeras, the picnickers are sitting on the graves having their snacks before moving on to the next cemetery, that’s the way they go about in the country that was once theirs, leaving behind them here and there those who can no longer follow, they get put under a slab with a flower in their hands, they’ve earned their rest.

The confused mass of possibilities before he yielded to what had to emerge, but what it was he didn’t know, even though he had a presentiment of something serious’he could no more than barely calculate its weight, tons of tears and vomit, maybe some connection with the destruction of the town and the hastily-erected cemeteries as if from the very first day, that of its foundation, this city had not been menaced, madness to have built it within reach of the lava but the good weather had caused irresponsibility to triumph, years of sun and unruly and somewhat affected joy, they’d got the better of reason.

Looking for somewhere to spend the night he stopped at an abandoned barn, went in and suddenly in spite of the darkness recognized a certain layout, unchanged proportions which made him rediscover the echo of his steps on the mud floor then in the hay where he made a hole not to sleep in, sleep forsakes unhappiness, but to think about those lost years.

As for the belated traveler he was none other than that Miaille of bygone years, with blue eyes and blond beard, years of waiting, years of nothingness.

Watched himself stumbling in the darkness, soul adrift, hole in the hay like the lowest stable lad, he recognizes the echo of his footsteps on the mud floor.

As for the belated traveler he was none other than a foreigner, they’d commented on his accent at the bistro, from then on kept out of the way and prowled about at night in the moonlight.

That hope to be dissolved.

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, My pleasure, of course. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi, Dóra! Happy the post sat well with you. It feels good to work on ‘Them’ again. I’m glad Ishmael recast the piece for the most part, meaning we have to work hard to teach the new guys, because it would be really boring if we were just polishing up the same old piece again. Zac gets here on Thursday night. Uh, someone at the venue where we’re doing ‘Them’ found this place for me. I guess it’s the apartment of a performer whom they know. I’m sort of resigned to the place now, so it’s not a huge drag anymore or anything. It’s just really not ideal, basically. But I’ll survive. Gosh, I can’t imagine she wouldn’t be into it. I mean, really, why wouldn’t she? But I hope she gives you an enthusiastic yes. Hm. Yes, it sounds like the city needs just one ambitious cool entrepreneur person to arrange a weekly drag night at a club there or something. It seems like if there was just a place to do it and to be, a headquarters kind of place, all sorts of interesting and interested people would come ‘out of the woodwork’, as they say. Thanks for responding to my Budapest question. I realised from watching those shows that I know almost nothing about the city, and now at least I know what it looks like and some beginner knowledge. Cool that you found that promising writer. How is the book? Yeah, I’ll be not doing the p.s. from the 15th through the 21st, and then I’ll be back. See you soon! I hope everything is great for you this week! ** H, Hi. Okay, good to know. I’ll get back to you and we’ll sort it after things settle, like I said. Enjoy this fair city. ** Paul Curran, Paul! I love your piece in XRAY. Man, it’s been way, way too long since getting to read new work by you. It’s fucking great! Everyone, This is a super big treat in that the amazing writer (and d.l.) Paul Curran, author of the novel ‘Left Hand’, which is an imperative read if you haven’t, has a new short fiction work up at the mighty lit site/zine XRAY, and it’s a rare thing to get new work from Paul. So I say definitely go over there and read it. Your better half will thank me. ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. Oh, I know how that is, the connection with someone, an artist, a figure whom you don’t physically know. I’m kind of broken up about the death of Danny Kirwan, who died the day after Bourdain, I think. He was a member and major force in Fleetwood Mac before the Stevie Nicks version. I loved his stuff, and he was my first serious rock star crush when I was teenager. And, coincidentally, one of his FM songs plays a part in Zac’s and my next film. So, yeah. Man, I hope the headache has turned to dust by now. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Interesting about the Facebook music group. I don’t even know Anthony Fantano is, but I’ll go find out. Well, you know I’m going to encourage you to make that faux-illuminati video. ** Kewiton, Hey there. Yeah, we’re curious to see how scary it’ll be right now. There’s def. concern that the dead animal thing is going to get some yelling from the hair-triggered set, but we’ll see. New town sounds like a must. Still looking for the window to read your story, but I think today I can, I think. ** Nik, Hey, Nik! It’s quite interesting work, def. worth investigating and knowing about at the very least. The character fore-fronting in the TV thing isn’t such an issue. I mean there are fore-fronted characters in Zac’s and films. It’s the necessary plot stuff and pay-off expectations that’s the tricky thing because, you know, neither Zac nor Gisele nor I are very interested at all in creating clean, conventional narrative lines. It’s all kind of a mystery until we hear back from ARTE and find just how regular they want the series to be. Should be any day now, gulp. ‘Them’ is gradually becoming what it needs to be. I feel pretty confident that it’s going to work. The trip is nice. It’s nice being based in the East Village. It reminds me when I used to live here in the East Village. Take care, bud. ** JM, Hey. I’ll go read your thing even though I haven’t seen the movie yet, although I intend to. Everyone, Curious about ‘Hereditary’ and/or what others think about it? Well, the very smart JM has weighed in on it, declaring that it ‘both sucks and is an instant classic’, and you can read the rest of what he thinks right here. Thanks, pal. ** Bill, Hi. NYC’s all right. Berlin sounds all right. High five. Oh, I forget if you already know this, but ‘Crowd’ is playing in Berlin starting tomorrow for three nights at Volksbühne if you’re interested. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Well, the DCA would have to be run by morons not to carry the book, and it doesn’t seem like they are. Still, good luck if needed. ** Kier, Kier, the mighty Kier! Your comment did show up. There’s some issue with people not being able to see that their comments have registered, I don’t know why. Fucked up. NYC has been pretty friendly. The apartment … it’s like I got accidentally locked overnight inside a tiny, extremely over-stuffed outsider art museum that’s not made for hosting overnight guests. Awesome about the studio space and the stipend, whoa, so great! Smarty pants school higher ups, that’s for sure. I don’t know about textile shops in Paris, but I can surely find out. I think even Zac or Gisele might have awareness of that. I will. Oh, god, I’m so sorry about your broken friendship. That’s so hard, but, yeah, I understand, or I think I do. I’ve ended friendships and love relationships for that reason, and it’s just so sad. Hugs, pal. How great if you can get the top surgery so soon. Is the body recovery aspect not so bad or lengthy, I hope? Yes, Paris! I/we are very excited for you to appear in that tunnel end’s light too, you can bet! The new piece you’re working on is very exciting! You’re so killing it, maestro! Big, big love from me! ** Okay. I decided to restore this formerly dead post about one of my very, very, very favorite novels of all time. Obviously, I recommend that you give it a shot, if you don’t know it. See you tomorrow.

9 Comments

  1. Wow, first comment of the day? Awesome.
    You’ve had a string of big hits here recently–well, as always–with filmmakers and writers and all that I either am very into or now intend to be. Pinget, of course, one of those folks like Blanchot that we are both very awed by. I am probably way too lazy a reader and viewer to always follow you in all texts and films; and then there are folks like Luther Price–whom I probably learned about from the first posting about him, whenever–that I am blown up to know about, and am glad exists, and having seen some of the works once–I mean, it’s a great thing that “Sodom” exists–I don’t think I’m gonna view them again. I had a therapist once that said I might consider accepting that I’m driven by a pursuit of pleasure and I don’t need to take on projects that I think are good for me but that I don’t experience as fun. And that includes “difficult” work–though of course, people encounter different difficulties in different things, as I’m sure the folks who walked out of “Police, Adjective” when I saw it, or the guy who left in the middle of a date when I took him to see some Godard movie, or the students I assigned “To the Lighthouse” to in my first year teaching, would all agree. And jeez, the music I listen to–when I’m not listening to Broadway show tunes, of course.
    The highlight this week was Michael Lally was in town for a reading for his selected poems (more or less), with Terence Winch, so we had kind of a Mass Transit reunion. He has mellowed a LOT; I can’t help feeling that a brain operation, it must be ten years back now, burned away a lot of his rough edges. There has been a lot recently to remind me of the fairly distant past. How strange it is sometimes to be talking with a much younger friend and recall that I’ve known this person for 40 years and that person for 30. (You for coming up on 40, I think. Should I even be saying that?)
    So I’ve been way too busy with some stuff I picked up to make a little money. But I popped in to say I’m going to be in New York and at the last performance of THEM. But I think you’ll already have left? Misa seemed to think you might still be in town though. Eric Sneathen from the Berkeley conference will be in the city and i hope coming to the show with me.
    This week I head to a dreaming conference in Scottsdale AZ, where I’ll co-run a dream group every morning, something I haven’t done in a while. That’s why I couldn’t get to NYC earlier. It’ll be hot and I do not love the desert but I will get to see Taliesin West and some Indian sites, so . . . that’s good.
    I hope you are well and happy, as I always hope you are well and happy, and you mostly seem to be. xo

  2. I think the problem with the faux-Illuminati video is that I’d be covering territory I plan to address in ID again, and also Comedy Central has a half hour program on every Monday-Thursday called THE OPPOSITION WITH JORDAN KLEPPER with a host who copies Stephen Colbert’s original act except that instead of parodying Bill O’Reilly he’s pretending to be a far right conspiracy theorist obviously inspired by Alex Jones. (My favorite moment on the show had one of its correspondents confront Jones himself in public and accuse him of clearly being a CIA “face flag” impostor; wow, did that get meta!) I’m afraid my video would look like an audition to write for that show.

    I was really moved by Maurice Pialat’s death and, more predictably, Kurt Cobain’s suicide. When my mom responded to my sadness by saying “He was on drugs,” it was hard to refrain from saying something very angry in return.

  3. Fleetwood Mac!

    Bourdain’s passing deeply sad but the last death to truly move me was Patrice Chereau’s.

  4. Bernard, It’s gonna be a party!

    Dennis, Yes, I saw the news about Kirwan. I’m not familiar with his work, but I saw the outpouring of love, particularly on FB.

    My mom still says she’ll never forget my face when she told me River Phoenix had died. It takes a lot to leave my mom with a lasting impression.

    The headache, I believe, is dust. Made it through today A-okay. Thanks for the good vibes.

    Now I have to check on THEM performances and get my shit in order.

    Btw, I’ve read Fable. Because you posted about it. 😀

  5. This podcast, presented by Film Comment, features three queer film critics talking about various issues about queerness, film and criticism for 76 minutes, and I don’t expect everyone here to find that fascinating, but I found it very interesting: https://www.filmcomment.com/blog/film-comment-podcast-queer-criticism/

  6. Hey D,

    Oh, killer, it’s Fable day! This is totally one of my favorite books I’ve discovered through your blog, thanks for restoring the post. I’ve searched around a lot for online content about this book, the author, etc., and fond little to nothing (that isn’t in French). Everything surrounding this book is just as elusive as when I first read it, in that way.
    Glad you’re liking the East Village excursion. It’s cool that it sort of feels like how it used to be when you were living there, I always hear friends who spent the 80’s/90’s in NYC complaining about how it’s not the same. I’ve always found it super annoying when older artists / ex-artists get that way, you see it rub off on certain younger generations and it just becomes this boring sentimental scene. I got my tickets to the opening of ‘them’ today, I’m really excited to watch the performance.
    I started sending out some of the stories I’ve been obsessing over for the last few months, so fingers crossed I can share some ‘public’ work with you in the next few weeks. Nerve-wracking, but also gratifying just to get it out there and read by someone other than my small group of trust-worthy friends haha.
    Hope rehearsals keep going well, and I’m crossing my fingers for you that everything with ARTE goes more or less ideally.

  7. god robert pinget is unreal, right!!! THE BLESSED NIGHT OFF BEFORE A SEASON OPENS. perfect. i’ve been thinking about Hereditary all day since yesterday and will go again early next week to parse out some more thoughts. messy movie but one of the best i’ve seen in a long time in the sense that it plays itself as a foil to itself. so strange. sorry, i talked about it exclusively yesterday so i’ll move on…. though i’m not sure what there really is to update. if only NYC was an international space, or, more international than it already is…. things sound like they are going well for you, though.

  8. Paul, what a lovely new piece. Isn’t this (at least) a reference to an earlier text?

    “One day the tide might bring you something clean that slipped off the edge of a boat.”

    Dennis, I was enjoying Pinget’s understated, slippery prose, thinking it might be something I can use in a piece. Then it turns out I’ve read Fable. I guess I should revisit soon.

    Omar and I (and another friend) have tickets for Crowd on Thursday. We’re very excited, though Omar is a little concerned that we’re too far forward in the 2nd row. I’m sure there won’t be another water squirted into the audience.

    Bill

  9. Dennis, I love this day and the excerpt. Wonderful!

    And, Wow, thanks so much for the link and words. It’s super helpful to get the encouragement to dig in harder and get this J-novel done.

    I hope New York goes well!

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