Saturday, September 13, 2003
My piece Wednesday on H.D., Noveliste, has me thinking about the further question of how form, genre & chance impact our lives. Several things I saw this past week reinforced this mulling-over process. One was an article in The Guardian, which I actually suspect may be an adapted introduction from his book, by Salam Pax. Pax, a Baghdad architecture student, created a personal weblog in English only to discover that it had become one of the most widely read “inside views” of the last days of Saddam & the first days of George & Rummy, a process that turned him, to his considerable discomfort (and undoubtedly much risk), into
· An author
· An “expert” on the Iraqi experience
professes to be neither. But excerpts of his blog can be had now in book form
in the U.K. & Grove Press will release a
The second item is the Perceval Press web site. Perceval is a new small press that recently published a book of René Ricard’s paintings & drawings, and is about to release Land of the Lost Mammoths, a novel of left culture critic Mike Davis. Some interesting & quirky material. Perceval has also published four books, including poetry, painting, collage work & photography, by press founder Viggo Mortensen, whom you may know better as Aragorn/Strider from The Lord of the Rings films.
As someone who
has edited Davis, a brilliant but
exceptionally undisciplined author, the prospect of a novel, a project
completely in keeping with
Mortensen has seen his own public notoriety skyrocket of late. In addition to his career-making role in the Ring trilogy, anyone who saw his turn as the painter boyfriend in A Perfect Murder & realized that those were in fact his paintings will understand Mortensen takes these other genres seriously, however variously he may succeed or not in each. Unlike, say, Jewel or Leonard Nimoy, Mortensen is at least a serious artist whose day job happens to be in film, not unlike Michael Lally or Harry Northrup.
The third is a DVD I saw the other night, Genghis Blues, a 1999 documentary starring two musicians, Paul Pena & Kongar-ol Ondar. If you saw the list of CD stacks I have in my study, you know that one stack focuses on blues & another on world music, with a fair amount of Tuvan throat singing in the latter pile. Genghis Blues is one of the very few places in which these two interests converge.
singing or khoomei is a harmonic singing tradition in
which the performer sings two, sometimes even as many as four, notes at one
time. Different versions of this tradition exist in
Tuva, once the
nation of Tannu
Tuva, is now one of the
Pena’s wife died of renal failure in 1991, the bluesman has lived a pretty
hand-to-mouth existence in
In every one of these instances, questions of social framing can be raised in many different ways:
· Is Salam Pax an architecture student who writes, or vice verse?
· Is Viggo Mortensen an actor, poet, painter, photographer?
· Is Mike Davis a novelist?
· At what level is Paul Pena a Tuvan singer?
artists who have been successful in more than one field, such as
What conclusions might one draw from this? Only that there are no guarantees – what makes an artist successful in one genre may have no bearing whatsoever on another. And there certainly are instances in which artists commit a larger part of their live to an endeavor that, like Hilda Doolittle’s novels, gets far less public recognition than some other form. Gertrude Stein had something like this happen to her when The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, clearly written to be a best seller, recast Stein’s public image dramatically.
come up with even more complicated configurations. Stan Rice, when still an extremely ambitious up-&-coming academic
poet/professor, encouraged his wife Anne to write. The phenomenal
financial success of her vampire novels eliminated any economic need on his
part &, after he left his job at
Friday, September 12, 2003
Labels: Thomas Meyer
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Pieces of the past arise out of
rubble. Which evokes Eliot and
then evokes Suspicion. Ghosts
all of them. Doers of no good.
The past around us is deeper than.
Present events defy us, the past
Has no such scruples. No funeral
processions for him. He died
in agony. The cock under the thumb.
Rest us as corpses
For a funeral (as I live and
First poem for The Nation,
Second poem for Poetry Chicago
Book of Magazine Verse
© 1966 by Robin Blaser
Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Tuesday, September 09, 2003
Monday, September 08, 2003