Affront the idea of narrative or affront the idea of people, never both. If you affront one of those systems of belief (that story is possible, central & worthwhile, & that character is fixed enough to generate “motive” & not the constantly shifting product of relations at another level) the commentariat will simply assume you’re incompetent or mad. But affront both & they’re up on the roof in an instant, wearing some kind of old sleepwear, ringing the bell & warning this little Texas town, “Wrong! Oh! Wrong!” while you try to sneak away like a fake Mexican wrestler on a stolen horse in the night, someone who has unsuccessfully bet against himself & the system he once loved etc etc.

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9 responses to “wrong

  1. Paul McAuley

    As long as you’re a fake Mexican wrestler wearing a fake mask it’s not so bad. There’s always another town. Bob Dylan made a career out of it.

  2. Oh, Brother Ass — is it so hard? Recollect: ‘Why the Curate Slipped’ would be a good title. Quick, they are waiting, those hypnagogic figures among the London minarets, the muezzin of the trade. ‘Does Curate get girl as well as stipend, or only stipend? Read the next thousand pages and find out!’

  3. Sipping kerosine in my Thatcher jimjams jes laughin’ at y’all.

  4. I was under the impression that you were doing both….having a ping-pong game with yourself within your books: story-idea-story-idea—to get to that magic lift point in between where gravity falls away

  5. uzwi

    Hi Mia. I like story when it’s oblique to events presented, or when it emerges from an incompletely described ground. But I hate it when it’s tied by rigid causality to “motives” supplied by some faked-up idea of what “character” is. I see all that as false, tautologous, circular. Also desperate. People are desperate to believe that personality gives rise to action, rather than emerging from actions; also desperate for the comfort & importance of being at the centre of some completing structure, which we so evidently aren’t. But you’ve heard all this before…

  6. sometimes I think we have apposite brains that somehow end up on the same ledge having a conversation
    I’m certainly with you on the desperation angle, and although I can run with a straight narrative I quite like to be messed with when it comes to art. Its a hard place to stand, though. My approach is to be as seductive (read: beauty) as possible while trying to do something I’ve never done before which almost always results in some sort of awkwardness…not necessarily in technique (sometimes) but in how the image is delivered and/or received. I think this is not too unlike what you are talking about—except I suck at this kind of articulation.
    …and I could bring up karma–but I’ll resist!

  7. Terrific place to start — Mike, you mention the response & rejection of “commentariat” & its automatic assumptions of madness & incompetence — I recall all the times 1957-2012 that critics shoved the Quartet to the wall for its characters somehow “not developing” or “sounding the same” (Dear Critic: do indulge us & try to read the books more closely: perhaps the author suffers from painful psoriatic outbreaks of doubt about “the true authenticity of people” & seeking relief he chooses not to perpetuate this fiction?) or that the prose is “overwritten” (Stop Presses: Caliban wants to tell us all how his shoe size is the new & only manufacturer’s standard) or that the work is “not quite a Masterpiece” (here old D’s laughter intensifies & then just as suddenly trails off: they really aren’t listening, are they?) — for those who take the time & cultivate some humility, those four books really do prompt a good deal of laughter & a few important questions — “now why is *that* what we desire? why do we expect that same thing (and that same thing only), and never ever *this* thing?” — the difficulties of language & discontinuous character & narrative also shape the erotic & political plot-lines — yes, the Quartet will give its reader a dress-tie tied immaculately around his John Thomas & Ron the Parrot crisply farting between verses of the Kalima & the estimable Sabina bobbing drunkenly on the arms of Da Capo’s old father & his manservant Kelly — all those it will give, but never that “consummation devoutly to be wished” — yet the critics must need presume that their game is to complain that this book is not at all like “the book it really should have been” — that has always puzzled me, but then perhaps it should not

  8. Max

    This is all true, especially the Mexican wrestler quip. But its gotten me thinking: As far as generalizations are correct, if you affront any system of belief thoroughly enough someone somewhere will call you mad and throw figurative (?) faeces at you like a monkey from a rival troop.