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Monthly Archives: March 2014

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Okay, so, I’m checking out Henry Miller who I never read, but had seen pictures of him with naked women and stuff, and I was fine with that, but would like to know how he wrote. I did see the movie, but never got around to reading the book Tropic of This or That, or if I did, I don’t remember cause I sometimes forget what I have read. The guy is a whirl wind of sentence making, by the way, getting down to the nitty gritty parts of every single sole or soulless cell on the planet that has ever had the nerve to breath the same air as he, and he’s not too pleased with himself either. Basically everything stinks and god too. I love it. Anyway, I’m checking out his second book ‘Black Spring’. In there- is a line-

‘… like Kurtz, you sail up the river and go mad…”

What??? What??? That’s Apocalypse Now. Everybody knows who Kurtz is. But that’s impossible. I’m missing some key aspect of fictional knowledge. I know it right away (not surprised). ‘Black Spring’ was written in the 1936’s, so, who the hell is Kurtz?

Kurtz (Heart of Darkness) 1899!!! By Joseph Conrad. Yes!- that’s the character and the name of the book. In it, well, “…over the course of his stay in Africa, Kurtz becomes corrupted. He induces the natives to worship him, setting up rituals and venerations worthy of a tyrant. By the time Marlow, the protagonist, sees Kurtz, he is ill with “jungle fever” and almost dead. Marlow seizes Kurtz and endeavors to take him back down the river in his steamboat. Kurtz dies on the boat with the last words, “The horror! The horror!””

Oooooohhhhh. I get it, and yes, Apocalypse Now was based on this book ‘Heart of Darkness’ from 1899. I thought it was just about Vietnam. Which it is, but you know what I mean.

Apparently a lot of people loved this book and it has made its way into the collective conscious of fictional knowledge or whatever it is really called.

So much to read. Ever read ‘Heart of Darkness? Wanna trade for some dirty pictures of Miller? (Google)

 

Joseph Conrad was a widely influential writer. He is considered part of the modernist literary style. This was a movement driven by the desire to overturn traditional expression and bring it up to the present.

If you can’t picture this in literature, and it is understandable, as few of us read many novels from the 1800’s (maybe two or three books) then think of it in a graphic sense, and look at the painters of the time. Start with just before the Impressionists and work your way forward. Big change. Right?

Anyway, Joseph Conrad’s narrative style and anti-heroic characters supposedly influenced such writers D. H. Lawrence, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, William S. Burroughs, Joseph Heller, Italo Calvino, Hunter S. Thompson, and Salman Rushdie. Many more, but I only listed the ones I’ve read.

So, L- What else you got?

I’m glad you asked.

After talking about this, someone pointed me to ‘The Time of the Assassins: A Study of Rimbaud’ by Miller. My friend said, “I’ve always admired its opening sharp-eyed description of what a prickly, unstable son of a bitch poor Artie (Rimbaud) could be. That was a smooth move to scrape off the devotees.”

Now it’s time to read and learn about this kid, Rimbaud, how he overturned the world at 17, and of course, more Miller and Conrad.

I always read what smart people suggest. The list keeps getting longer.

 

Note: Heart of Darkness-1899, is available for free as an ebook.

 

LD-NYC-2014

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L and the Invisible Poet debate the term ‘fictional knowledge’ and its use in a blog- (which, L may or may not write, but let’s hope he gets distracted).

The Invisible Poet begins-

“Why, L? Why? Why not say trope or literary elements or rhetoric or any other term that narrows the definition of what is really going on?”

“Good question, and my answer is, because.”

“Because? What kind of argument is that? You are going to throw out thousands of years of analysis, studies going back to the writings of Aristotle discussing logos, pathos, and ethos, the five canons, the three ancient arts of discourse, and just answer, ‘because’?”

“Yeah, uhmmm, I don’t really know what that means.”

“It means, L, that you have a lot of work to do and aren’t taking the time or respecting the groundwork of the institutions that have laid the road before us in which we should deliberate.”

“Yes, I know, I’m a bad person.”

“A bad person? A BAD PERSON?!?”

L took pause for a moment, then says, “Let me ask you something. Haaavvvve yooouuu read-my-book, ‘The Report On Dr. Chiharu Matsui and The Robot Army?”

“Seriously, L? Why would you ask me such a thing? Literature is a serious subject and at its core is a struggle that humans have tried, some dying for the very words that they dared lay down, just to define our existence of what it is to be.”

“Yes, a lot of people die in my short story.”

“I don’t think you get it, L.”

“Maybe you don’t get it. What you are really upset about is the precipice upon which we are standing. You know, ‘precipice’, a word that has been beaten to death as a metaphor. But it means, a very steep rock face or cliff, typically a tall one. Ya see, there have been times in history that some people actually witness the change of the decline of what has been known, and have front row seats. It may have been the last ice age 10,000 years ago, or the droughts that turned ancient Egypt’s fertile lands to deserts, or one of the many wars that plummeted lands where generations of young were raised with nothing but peace. Through it all though, there have been people like you who produce art. Art, good art, it may be, in the end, the only thing that ever had any real value. It is certainly the only thing that we can be remembered by as a whole people, if we are to be remembered as more than just warriors. Museums and great libraries, are in a way, shrines to those few who could do what is possible. Showing us at our best. You do that. Not me.”

“Yes, what is the point, L?”

“I’m leading us over the cliff. Someone has to.”

“What? Think of the children?”

“Yes, well, I told you. I’m a bad person.”

“You are doing the work of the devil.”

“No, the devil brought us knowledge. I wish I were smart enough to do the work of the devil. More likely, I’m doing the work of god and spreading ignorance. Honestly though, it is neither. And besides, it is also the work of these institutions of which you speak that have partially obscured the lines of good and evil, the devil and god, and the argument within. Now if you all can’t get together on that, why should I respect the rest? Besides, I just like to write and share, not only my creativity, but also what I discovered, so I’m going with the term, ‘fictional knowledge’.”

“Straw man argument, L.”

“I know. I’m a bad person.”

LD- 2014- NYC

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What is fictional knowledge? It is the silver bullet that we all know kills the werewolf. It is the cross that wards off the vampire, the coffin that it sleeps in, the sun and the stake that will end its existence. It is the vast wealth of the made up world, and the made up world has rules. It is what has been said before. It is the building blocks which great novels climb and break through.

Fictional knowledge is the past. The collective conscious of all that has been portrayed, right after you read that little clause at the top where the writer starts off with denial. That all characters, events, and places are of the imagination, and any association with those living or dead is but pure coincidence. Perhaps even further, the writer might state, that the opinions expressed are not necessarily the views of the author.

I always loved it when people take the time to embellish this little clause. I read every one of them just to see if they do.

Why is it important, this thing I’m calling fictional knowledge?

It is important to the writer, because no one wants to say what has already been said. That could be embarrassing, or worse, mundane.

It is important to the reader because a fresh perspective is always enlightening, exciting. To take what has been written, knowing the reader has certain expectations in the fictional world that has been built upon, and surprising them with a new twist on an old dance.

It is important to the art because art always needs to grow. That is its very nature. To grow, we need a solid understanding of the base. A solid base can also lead to, what I loosely associate, and hesitantly call, eeekkk, – ‘Good Taste’.

Other reasons will be discussed in future pieces. The reason it is of interest to me, it is part of the path of discovery.

There is a road that many have traveled in reading books, and much of what I say will be obvious, as that signpost has already been past. Good for you, and please, share. It happens every generation. Here, I hope to tap into your vast wealth of knowledge and perhaps you can guide the way. To be humble about what one knows, and what one doesn’t, is truly a gift. I believe I am humble and only want to learn, so I easily admit, I know far from anything (note: not everything, anything). If it gives you a feeling of superiority that you know something that another does not, then you have received the wrong message from life. Knowledge should never be confused with intelligence. And superiority’s ugly brother is low self-esteem.

Now, If you feel glad that someone has just entered the path of discovery, and are overjoyed, jumping up and down, saying, ‘YES! YES! I KNOW! Isn’t that great?!?’- then, I am your friend forever.

Last, if you should learn something, please don’t blame me. I am only the messenger.

So much to read. So little time.

Then there is the writing, of course. We all do it. And the writing, mine, as well as others, I hope to share, too.

LD- NYC- 2014