Epic literature has always interested you very much, hasn’t it?
Always, yes. For example, there are many people who go to the cinema and cry. That has always happened: It has happened to me also. But I have never cried over sob stuff, or the pathetic episodes. But, for example, when I saw the first gangster films of Joseph von Sternberg, I remember that when there was anything epic about them—I mean Chicago gangsters dying bravely—well, I felt that my eyes were full of tears. I have felt epic poetry far more than lyric or elegy. I always felt that. Now that may be, perhaps, because I come from military stock. My grandfather, Colonel Francisco Borges Lafinur, fought in the border warfare with the Indians, and he died in a revolution; my great-grandfather, Colonel Suárez, led a Peruvian cavalry charge in one of the last great battles against the Spaniards; another great-great-uncle of mine led the vanguard of San Martin’s army—that kind of thing. And I had, well, one of my great-great-grandmothers was a sister of Rosas—I’m not especially proud of that relationship because I think of Rosas as being a kind of Perón in his day; but still all those things link me with Argentine history and also with the idea of a man’s having to be brave, no?
But the characters you pick as your epic heroes—the gangster, for example—are not usually thought of as epic, are they? Yet you seem to find the epic there?
I think there is a kind of, perhaps, of low epic in him—no?
—an interview with Jorge Luis Borges
—posted 3 days ago
Well that took longer than was hoped.
The first draft of no. 25, “ – two sweetest passions – ”, clocks in at 18,300 words, and took 83 days to write, if we don’t count the abortive first stab back in (checks calendar) December, yikes. If we don’t count that (and we aren’t), that’s averaging 220 words a day, and again the ouch. I’ll need to bring in no. 26 at about twice that rate of speed if I want to also have no. 27 drafted by the time we kick things off in June.
Still, it’s doable. And there’d be five in the pocket by the time we launch. I could be releasing a chapter a month into October!
—Sorry. I like laying it all out like that. Logistics, you know.
The problem, or part of the problem, was with this one scene, one of those where five or six different emotional vectors crash into an epiphany, but instead of cohering they were clanging, taking entirely too much time and too many words to lay themselves out in sentences that kept having to be unravelled and reknotted, so. What’s there in the draft is at least the shape of something to come, I suppose, but it’s weak and it’s tender and it makes me wince when I poke it. So I don’t; so I let it lie fallow a bit, while I press on to figuring out the broad strokes of what happens next, and then on after that.
(And it’s really all my fault: of course it is, but: the unrelenting drive to tell it slant. —I mean, if you come right out and just say what’s going on, and why, you might as well just write a cover blurb. —But there’s slant, and there’s staggering from lamppost to lamppost, and I’ve ellipticated about all this before.)
At least I know the opening line of no. 26: “There’s two ways this can go.”
—Which is a lie, but hey.
—posted 40 days ago
Writing a novel, then, isn’t the expression we should use to sum up the intention preceding a spokesperson’s or post-exotic author’s work. Because it’s more, for him, composing a book that brings together several writing processes—quasi-novelistic, para-novelistic, poetic, sometimes theatrical, specifically post-exotic—with the goal of publicly producing a work that can be read like a novel, which is to say continuously, with a unifying thread, images, characters, and voices that structure and approach a story. Without theorizing here, the goal of every post-exotic author is certainly to give the public a way into, and certainly a stay within the novelistic domains barely or not yet explored by official literature. One concern of these authors is to diminish as much as possible the discomfort their readers might encounter as they enter unknown lands. The spokespeople, our spokespeople, who bring together the often disparate components of our writing community’s multiple voices, try to emphasize in this way the novelistic dynamic. With these fragments, these images in narracts, these Shaggås, these haikus, these rantings, these dream-tales, they create works that resemble novels, they make novels. For them, the idea of the novel is associated with the impressions they have made of those who will receive their stories: prisoners, at first, attentive and infrequent listeners, within these walls; then, second, a large public of bookstore readers, outside these walls. Sympathizing or not, these readers demand something particular of the book they’ve gotten hold of: specifically, I think they’re preparing for a dive. They hope to immerse themselves, beyond their world, within another world, and for that immersion to be enjoyable—or even just possible—and they need friends and travel companions to guide them in their crossings, characters. They’re waiting for a dialogue, both conscious and not, between their memories and those which propel the book, between their memories and our own. They hope that a distinct narrative thread will ensure the narrative’s continuity. Whether this continuity obeys a linear or oscillating or circular sequence doesn’t matter: in just about every post-exotic work, this continuity begins on the first page and goes straight to the last. Above all, post-exotic authors never go into creating things that can’t be experienced. Gratuitous literary experiences have always bored them as readers. Which is why they care that their books’ contents amount to the ingredients of novelistic cohesion, and why they pay attention to images, stories, dramatic arcs, and this forward march to the end. Ultimately, all post-exotic authors are attached to the form commonly known as the novel. Since time immemorial they have harbored affections for this form and, even if they knowingly introduce variants, if they modify its architecture, they genuinely believe that they are enriching it rather than pushing it around, disfiguring it, or betraying it.
—posted 50 days ago
The myth is that some transient guy painted these things, but you see him in this picture, and he’s a very proud-looking man. He’s holding a stop sign. It’s like his ghost came back to save the columns.
—posted 94 days ago
The Warren Report lays down certain essential characteristics of the clandestine genres. The first is hyperbolic length. Simply put, the literary output of the national security apparatus is not made for reading. This isn’t a straightforward question of classification; the brute fact of a 15-volume report denies access, classified or no. This is true of the mammoth pile of Pentagon Papers and true too of the 6,000-page Senate report on CIA interrogations, of which only the 600-page executive summary has been made public. A telling anecdote: there are exactly 11 words on one page of the Pentagon Papers that were slated for redaction but which the black pen accidentally overlooked. Are they any less secret for it? Hardly. Length obscures, dissolving guesses, facts, and half-truths into a murky stew.
—posted 124 days ago
So dull and grey and gloomy it’s almost March outside, which is good? I need to start shooting new covers. Which is worth mentioning, perhaps, but not yet itemizing, as there’s nothing as yet to show for it. But! In more substantial news:
Imprimis, the Patronage: I’ve started a Patreon! Go, take a look, pledge if you’re so moved, share the word if you can. —Thanks to some remarkable generosity, I’ve already met the first goal, which means I’ve (finally) updated the software managing things under the hood hereabouts. There may be some hiccups and short-circuits in days to come, as I re-work an organization system designed for a handful of chapbooks into something at once beefy and nimble, that can handle chapbooks, volumes, and seasons, and still give five cents change after turning on a dime. —Take note: if we do manage to reach a level of two hundred and fifty dollars a month, I’m gonna have to figure out how to make audiobooks.
Item. the Personal Appearance: Next weekend (23rd – 25th January) is WizardWorld Portland, or the Portland Comic Convention, or whatever it is we’re supposed to’ve ended up calling it? —The Spouse is a guest of the show, which means I’ll be tagging along, and since prose serials have at least as much to do with comics as Karl Urban, I’ll bring some chapbooks and paperbacks and badges along with me. No details as yet as to the specific location; if you’re lost, look for roses being flung into the air by a six-year-old.
Item. Karl Urban: The somewhat snarky aside in the above is in no way intended as any affront to Mr. Urban, whose career has been a delight ever since his early days as Julius Cæsar and Cupid, and also I quite liked that Judge Dredd movie.
Item. Progress: Having stalled briefly in the middle of drafting no. 25, I did what I do when that happens: went back and started revising. No. 23 is now finalized, and no. 24 almost cut down to size, and I know better what happens next, in nos. 25 & 26. We’re still on track to have four done, if not five, by the time the season premieres in June.
Item. Premiere: Oh, yes: in case I hadn’t mentioned. Free online serialization of season two, Spring into Summer, begins Monday, June 22nd, with the premiere of no. 23, “ – the thin ice – ”. If, however, you find it difficult to contemplate so long a delay—
Item. Perquisites: —I am compelled to reiterate the Patreon, mentioned above: pledges at certain levels, you’ll note, receive electronic or even paper copies of chapbooks as they’re completed, months (or, sometimes, weeks, or, yes, days) before they’re released online. —Never pose a problem for which you cannot then offer a solution, as they say.
And so! But yet. Covers. Hmm.
—posted 127 days ago
In books of Hidden Writing, the textual subtopia consists of plots, narrations and autonomous author-drones populating the ()hole complex of Hidden Writing. Such a subsurface life can not be reduced to ramified plot layers or buried messages (θησαυρός, thesauri) which would be the rewards of deep reading. So-called hermeneutic rigor follows the logic of textual stratification, and can be achieved by hermeneutical tools corresponding to the layering order of its text. But the subsurface life of Hidden Writing is not the object of layers and interpretation; it can only be exhumed by distorting the structure of the book or the surface plot. Exhumation includes a process of concrete crypting and decrypting, rewording, bastardization and a changing of the book. To interact with Hidden Writings, one must persistently continue and contribute to the writing process of the book. In Hidden Writings the act of reading and writing is conducted through those plot holes rejected by most interpreters as misleading obscurities. For hermeneutical explorations, plot holes are tricks, they are ill-timed and ill-space coördinates within the text—leak holes which must be plugged. But doesn’t blocking the leak shift the pressure to another region, forcing out another hole? Theology is in general constantly obsessed with plugging holes, covering cracks and fissures in reasoning of and about the Divine. Thus, it forms lacunæ of imperfection by which the corpus of theology can always be mobilized against itself, turning against itself and biting back its body. To do rigorous theology is to perforate the Divine’s corpus with heresies.
—posted 136 days ago
S: When’s opening night?
All: July third.
D: We got fireworks, the stroke of midnight, the whole shebang.
S: But we’re going in now? It’s already open!
R: Nah, it’s a soft opening. To test the place, before the grand opening.
L: It’s kinda like an out-of-town preview, only it’s in town.
S: Soft opening, grand opening—when they opened the Flamingo, one day it was closed, the next day it was open! End of story. —I know, I was there.
D: Well, it’s different now.
S: So when is opening night?
—posted 136 days ago
So! Yesterday I finally wrote the last three paragraphs of no. 24, hurrah. It is just over eighteen thousand words long, which means there will have to be some cutting, but I’m not thinking about that right now. I’ve got another fifteen thousand-plus to write by January 3rd if I want to get back on schedule, and I’m still not sure what’s going to happen in the second act, much less the third, and I’m wondering if I should maybe do something to map out the middle ground to make sure I’ve got enough story but also enough room, like work up some fronts and countdown clocks, à la Apocalypse World?
While I’m over here—oh, let’s not call it procrastinating—I could maybe do something nice for you, like, I dunno, reveal the titles of the next few fits—
—with, mind, the understanding that such things are even now subject to change. On a whim, even.
A note about the (most likely) title for no. 25, this one I should start typing on here any minute. —It comes from a Nabokov quote you’ll find littered all over the web:
Literature and butterflies are the two sweetest passions known to man.
—which always seemed a little, well, on the nose? For him? —So I went a-googling, to find the source, and thus whatever mitigating context, but that’s a little hard to do, what with the shorn quote itself being pasted up on every Tumblr and Pinterest and LiveJournal etc. etc. etc. Perseverance was called for, and eventually delivered. —A footnote ascribes the quote to an interview conducted in July, 1962, by Peter Duval-Smith and Christopher Burstall for the BBC, but the video isn’t on YouTube (that I can find), nor the printed transcript that appeared in the Listener; the only trace of it is Nabokov’s own transcript, which he reconstructed to weed out the inaccuracies he felt littered what had been printed by the BBC—and this famous quote? Appears nowhere in Nabokov’s version. —There is a passage it might’ve adorned:
You’re a professional lepidopterist?
Yes, I’m interested in the classification, variation, evolution, structure, distribution, habits, of lepidoptera: this sounds very grand, but actually I’m an expert in only a very small group of butterflies. I have contributed several works on butterflies to the various scientific journals—but I want to repeat that my interest in butterflies is exclusively scientific.
Is there any connection with your writing?
There is in a general way, because I think that in a work of art there is a kind of merging between the two things, between the precision of poetry and the excitement of pure science.
—but really, it would only have been so much sugar. “The precision of poetry and the excitement of pure science” is much better—but “two sweetest passions” fits more neatly in the space allotted.
—posted 169 days ago
So! I’ve finished the first pass at no. 23. I think it’s going to be called “ – the thin ice – ” but I’m not sure so don’t quote me on that. I’m not sure about a lot about it, actually. I mean I know it’s 16,036 words long, which isn’t the longest an installment’s been, but there’s still a couple of scenes to squeeze in but also some extraneous bits to trim or even cut away and also there’s the rearranging that needs to be done but I’ve written the last word of the last scene and already opened up the notecards for no. 24, which I don’t even know what it’s going to be called, but here’s where the scene between Becker and Pyrocles will go, and there the one with Jo and Luys, and all the bits to introduce Moody, if that really ends up being his name—
Ordinarily this isn’t how it works. Ordinarily what would’ve happened is by this point maybe half of it would already have been posted and then things would’ve gone dark for a week or two or a month or two as I tried to make the rest of it end up where it now needs to go given where it’s already been.
But this isn’t so much ordinarily anymore, or rather a new ordinarily is being assembled somewhere in the back of my brain without my direct input or awareness mind not that I’m in any way nervous about that fact why would you even think such a thing and maybe I can fit a Guthrie bit in, too? In the scene at Pioneer Square? Maybe?
Sorry. —So! While (ordinarily) you would’ve been seeing bits of no. 23, which may or may not end up being called “ – the thin ice – ”, by now, well, now, in what seems to be the new ordinarily, you won’t. You wouldn’t. You haven’t. —The second movement is where things take a turn, get contemplative, ruminative, when the shadows gather and deepen; usually scored at an adagio tempo, about 60 to 72 beats per minute. —I’m taking my time, is, I think, the takeaway here, uncertain, tentative, feeling my way through the negative space left by the clarion call of the first movement’s fanfare (allegro, 120 to 168 beats per minute. Roughly).
But the good news is that on or about the end of November I should be finishing the first pass of no. 24, assuming I keep on track, and figuring out the first inklings of the structure of no. 25. The plan—always keeping in mind what becomes of plans—is to have five or six rough numbers stacked up, ready to polish and release on something approaching a reliable schedule, starting in June or so of next year.
So. Something to look forward to? —Anyway. —One down; ten to go.
—posted 220 days ago