Nowhere Else To Go

Gary Lutz, “Windows That Lead to More Windows: An Interview With Gary Lutz” by Blake Butler, Vice 5 September 2013

Life is plotproof, muddled, desultory, irreducible to chains of cause and effect. It’s sweaty and rampantly sad. It’s a motion of moments. There’s no line of any kind other than the one that runs from birth to thwarting to death. As a reader, I drop out of a novel or even a short story as soon as I sense that the writer has a scheme and is overarranging things. I’ve had it with the masterminded. That’s just my own prejudice, obviously, but I’m the same way about humor: I don’t want to wait through a setup for the punch line: I want one one-liner after another: I want the upshot, I want everything to feel final from the first, I want the conclusion. I don’t need to know what it took to get there; I only need to know that there’s nowhere else to go. In my fiction, life sweeps over people as they sum themselves up on the fly. There’s no backstory for them to take shelter in. They can’t luxuriate in ancestry and hand-me-down handicaps. They’ve never once felt as if their bodies were earmarked for life. It’s all they can do to just view each other’s ruins and blurt out their aperçus in nothing flat. There’s nothing more to it than the fact that in every moment everything’s over all over again. It’s not as if there were something to be had from life. And there isn’t one thing to lead to another, because there’s only ever just one thing …

A Changelessness That Is Always Changing

“Everything seems to have changed and yet everything is essentially the same. Think of the surface of a fast-flowing gurgling stream, the way a single bubble within the foam breaks as it spins, breaks into tiny drops then joins again to form a tiny current and goes on its way. I watch the drops and try to concentrate on a single one. It’s impossible. There is no drop. Somehow there is only the whole that is at every instant different and yet the same. But the whole does not exist. Nor do the parts. So what is there? There is a changelessness that is always changing. It is beyond grasping..”
László Krasznahorkai, “Interview With László Krasznahorkai” by George Szirtes, The White Review September 2013

A Report From the Front

Here’s Douglas Glover’s great introduction to “Of Literary Bondage” from the August 2013 issue of Numéro Cinq:

We live in a culture at war with itself, and I don’t mean the War on Drugs. I mean the thousand-year war between the rhetoricians and the dialecticians (as McLuhan had it), between the Ciceronian, elaborated style and the plain style of Peter Ramus, between writers who believe in the aesthetic joy of linguistic play over those who think words are just for communication (how dull and, well, Soviet that word can sound). Andrew Gallix offers here a dazzling and provocative note, a report from the front, on literary Modernism and Paul Valéry’s famous sentence “The marquise went out at five” conceived as a critique of the traditional, conventional, realistic, well-made (pick your own epithet) novel, or, really, anything that smacks of the prosiness of prose, of mere communication. Valéry’s line cleaved to the centre of the debate: Would you write a novel or a story or an essay containing a sentence as mundane as “The marquise went out at five” or not? As Gallix points out, the marquise has become a shibboleth in France for a certain kind of traditional (dull) writing. Not so much over here where prose dominates the market place. Something to think about. Andrew Gallix is the brilliant founder of 3:AM Magazine, he teaches at the Sorbonne, he writes for the UK Guardian. It’s a great pleasure to present his work here.

The Realistic Illusion

“All writers believe they are realists. … The discovery of reality will continue only if we abandon outworn forms. … Academic criticism in the West, as in the Communist countries, employs ‘realism’ as if reality were already entirely constituted (whether for good and all, or not) when the writer comes on the scene. Thus it supposes that the latter’s role is limited to ‘explaining’ and to ‘expressing’ the reality of his period. … The style of the novel does not seek to inform, as does the chronicle, the testimony offered in evidence, or the scientific report, it constitutes reality. It never knows what it is seeking, it is ignorant of what it has to say; it is invention, invention of the world and man, constant invention and perpetual interrogation. … I do not translate, I construct. This had been even the old ambition of Flaubert: to make something out of nothing, something that would stand alone, without having to lean on anything external to the work; today this is the ambition of the novel as a whole. …”
Alain Robbe-Grillet, “From Realism to Reality,” Towards a New Novel