Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

"happiness is a fat concept and i refuse to be involved."

It is so very difficult to make maudlin compelling. No, scratch that. It's impossible to make maudlin compelling, because part of the definition of maudlin is something like uncompelling.

Start over. It is so very difficult to translate one's own pain, hardship, mounting struggles, confusion and grief, one's dysfunction (if it's possible to use that word without the insulting connotations, otherwise substitute, um, maybe dark idiosyncracy), into compelling reading. There are innumerable mediocrities who hold readers' attention by offering something of what the reader wants, and in the United States, the average readers wants comfort, escape, happy endings. Only the great captivate us with their misery.

Yes, misery. Sylvia Plath, for example. Robert Lowell, once in a while (but not always). Jim Carroll, perhaps.

These artists -- and the above is a very limited list, though I hold that those artists with the ability discussed constitute a small minority, and those who miss by even a little tend to be pretty intolerable -- succeed not by making their misery bearable for the reader, but rather by finding in misery some dark celebration, a ritual expurgation in which the reader is invited to share, a purging of bile and those aspects of a life undigestible . . .

This is not merely the province of the prominent writers aforementioned. And, care of Tony, I've been reading an interesting one for some time. Flagrant Disregard, who writes brilliantly from "A Town Called Stanley," and I gather is a rather prominent model whose face most of us would recognize (with the usual caveat about either it's true or s/he's a brilliant fictionalist, which is all the same to me, although in the latter case I would lose the burning curiosity as to which improbably proportioned model this is day-trading, writing like a pro, seeing a shrink four times a week for various disorders, and flying all over the world on various sojourns and assignments), is enigmatic, often sparsely (occasionally brutishly) lyrical, spontaneous and innovative, and in the aggregate unrelentingly intriguing.

Already in the above parenthetical I've given away more than I intended to. In lieu of my writing, which pales by comparison in any event, today visit Flagrant (browse around until something catches your eye; you can enter this site in medias res and move along fine, because her ongoing story is more mosaic than scroll) and tell me what you think.


Post a Comment

<< Home

eXTReMe Tracker