Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Not much going on here.

Writing is such an elusive process. Today, I haven't really done anything, (well, yesterday, that is) by which I mean I haven't typed anything out, or written in my notebook(s), but I have still been mulling and mulling over ideas and issues. Does that count?

Also, today I read the Telemachy from Ulysses—that is, the first three episodes that constitute that constitute book I—partially for inspiration, partially just to read something really good. I feel I have been reading a lot of crap lately, and a lot of the time I can't actually tell what's good and what's crap. And what I mean by crap, I don't mean books or stories that are objectively good, I am referring more to the quality of the prose. What what I mean by "can't actually tell what's good and what's crap," I don't just mean that I can really tell what people out there in the world consider good writing and what they consider bad—although that too is a problem I have—I mean that I often feel like I don't know if the writers that are considered to have "good" prose, that is the people who unquestionably qualify as literary fiction, even qualify. I recently read some comments online bashing David Foster Wallace as being a know-it-all twit when it comes to language, which I enjoyed for the shadenfruede, and he is usually considered one of those "literary," types. I mean, are the literary types even that good. I mean, I like my Thomas Pynchon, but even there I see the tendency to disappear up his own asshole. And what's it say that my favorite book of his is the really really short one he dismissed as lightweight? Joyce is really the only writer that I can really think of as objectively good. Despite being hard to understand, that's usually due to the level of complexity behind the ideas he is trying to get across, and he always plays fair. He never ties to be wordy just to be wordy; when a simple word will do, he uses it, a habit that a lot of postmodern lit types seem to avoid. It's only when dealing with very specific concepts, like the "ineluctable modality of the visible," that he breaks out the truly strange words. The rest of the time he is just being very specific, and that makes me feel like I can trust him, in a way I often don't feel I can trust Pynchon, and that makes me feel complete disinterest when I read any sentence by Wallace.

By the way, Joyce takes the prize for my favorite use of Carlin's Fourth Dirty Word, as well as the neatest description I have ever heard of the Middle East, when he has Leo Bloom describe the latter as the "grey sunken cunt of the world." Think about that one.