25 July 2007

david markson : the last novel

david markson, 2007

Nonlinear. Discontinuous. Collage-like. An assemblage.

I do not see why exposition and description are a necessary part of a novel.
Said Ivy Compton-Burnett.

I am quite content to go down to posterity as a scissors and paste man.
Said Joyce.

ronald sukenick, 1975

This novel is based on the Mosaic Law the law of mosaics or how to deal with parts in the absence of wholes.

david markson, 2007

A novel of intellectual reference and allusion, so to speak minus much of the novel.

And thus in which Novelist will say more about himself only when he finds no way to evade doing so, but rarely otherwise.

lance olsen, 2007

Which is to say: both the structuring and the reading of collage fiction often involves an aleatoric component that recalls not only the Cubist work of Braque and Picasso, but also the Dada and Surrealist work of Duchamp and Breton: interest in the found object, the readymade, the chance encounter.

It also recalls Lévi-Strauss’ notion of bricolage, as Gregory L. Ulmer points out, foregrounding concepts of already-extant messages, severing, discontinuity, and heterogeneity.

Ulmer goes on to argue that collage is a form of citation “carried to an extreme …, collage being the ‘limit case’ of citation,” and Derrida reminds us that “every sign, linguistic or non-linguistic … can be cited, put between quotation marks; in so doing it can break with every given context, engendering an infinity of new contexts in a manner which is absolutely illimitable.”

Collage, then, through the very process of cutting up and cutting off opens up and opens out.

By appropriating and quoting out of context, the form releases new and often unexpected contexts, recontextualizations that can surprise the author as well as the reader.

shelley jackson, 2003

In collage, writing is stripped of the pretense of originality, and appears as a practice of mediation, of selection and contextualization, a practice, almost, of reading. In which one can be surprised by what one has to say, in the forced intercourse between texts or the recombinant potential in one text …. Writers court the sideways glances of sentences mostly bent on other things. They solicit bad behavior, collusion, conspiracies. Hypertext just makes explicit what everyone does already. After all, we are all collage artists.

ronald sukenick, 1994

You need to understand that understanding is an interruption. Understanding is always an interruption of which you understand in the form of the cryptic. You need to interrupt yourself.

david markson, 2007

Novelist's personal genre. For all its seeming fragmentation, nonetheless obstinately cross-referential and of cryptic interconnective syntax.

david markson, 2007

Jacques Derrida failed his entrance exams to the École Normal Supérieure. Twice.

lance olsen, 2007

Collage fiction draws attention to the sensuality of the page, the physicality of the book, and therefore draws attention to writing as a post-biological body of text. This point is evinced, for instance, in Steve Tomasula’s novel VAS: An Opera in Flatland, and Shelley Jackson’s web-based hypertext, My Body.

Replete with three-color graphics, foldout pages, wild typographic play, diagrams, doodles, drawings, and disparate citations, the former involves an expansive comic plot about a man named Square living in a (literally) two-dimensional suburban world with his wife, Circle, and their daughter, Oval, and Square’s struggle over whether or not to undergo a vasectomy. But it is the structure of that plot—that is, the body of the text about the text of the body—that makes Tomasula’s collage fiction an unforgettably unique reading experience.

In the latter, the reader chooses which parts of Shelley Jackson’s critifictional autobiography to read by clicking on various parts of her body in a schematic sketch. The sound of lungs inhaling and exhaling in the background provides musical accompaniment to much of the reading experience.

david markson, 2007

Nobody comes. Nobody calls—
Which Novelist after a moment realizes may sound like a line of Beckett's, but is actually something he himself has said in an earlier book.

david markson, 2007

Thinking with someone else's brain.
Schopenhauer called reading.

lance olsen, 2007

Since discovering Wittgenstein's Mistress perhaps a decade ago, I haven't been able to write without writing through Markson.

I wouldn't want it any other way.

Which isn't to say Markson's moves in The Last Novel may not have begun to seem faintly familiar to those who know his last two non-novels.

But, still: what gorgeous, exciting, invigorating moves.

david markson, 2007

My old paintings no longer interest me. I'm much more curious about those I haven't done yet.
Said Picasso, at seventy-nine.


I met up last week with Andy Mingo and Lidia Yuknavitch to record the first episode of a brand-spankin'-new podcast for Chiasmus Press. Here's who and what we pimped/name-dropped/mentioned in ep #01:
Lidia's new novel and her boxing match with Stacey Levine :: Andy's new film, The Iconographer :: Mark Amerika :: Lou Rowan :: Davis Schneiderman :: Carlos Hernandez :: Strippers and donuts in Portland :: 2007 Writers Edge Conference :: Lance Olsen :: Brian Evenson :: Lucy Corin :: Magic Gardens :: Miranda July :: Holly Andres :: Grace Carter :: Andy Blubaugh :: Karl Lind :: Kill Me Tomorrow :: The White Stripes' one-note show :: Prince's "free" album in England :: Lidia tangles with The Oregonian :: Writing as a dying commodity :: How James Frey is a fucking liar :: How Andy loves the Iraq War :: Jean Baudrillard's "The Persian Gulf War and Other Fictions" :: Trevor's stupid conspiracy theories about mainstream publishing :: Noam Chomsky :: Curtis White's "The New Censorship" :: Cindy Sheehan :: How Jon Stewart is totally a bourgeois genius :: How Stephen Colbert is totally a 21st century Jonathan Swift :: Andy's love/hate relationship with the poor :: How Kathy Acker, William Burroughs and Charles Baudelaire are posers :: How the Harry Potter books reinforce Anglocentrism :: Andy's hatred for American film-making :: The possible redemption of Robert Rodriguez :: Hal Hartley :: David Lynch :: Jim Jarmusch :: How Lidia craves schlock :: Trevor's obvious declarations about punk :: How YouTube and blogs are community more than commodity :: How, in declaring that "The Matrix is pure!", Andy gets cut off for at least a week :: How Chiasmus Press is an elitist, hypocritical enterprise worthy of everyone's scorn
You can subscribe to the podcast by copy-pasting this feed into your favorite RSS aggregator or by clicking here if you have iTunes.