20090128

Adam Robinson


My Point of View

The Beauty of the Husband is an exegetical exege-poetic take on Keats’ notion that beauty is truth. My story, this one, is also an inquiry about literature, but the literature in question is unspecified.

Another difference is that Anne Carson’s so-called “tangos” are a work of so-called “fiction.”

Whereas I’m writing about myself, and here I have the fake name “Adam Robison.” It’s disenchantingly meta, I’m afraid. It’s like I’m Søren Kierkegaard for crying out loud. He wrote with numerous pseudonyms (Johannes Climacus for one, Anti-Climacus for another) and then edited them under his own name. In this way, Fear and Trembling is written by Johannes de Silentio.

Johannes the Seducer, too. Meantime, Adam Robinson is editing my book. To speak of a letter, the distinction is meted out to the nth degree.

Sometimes these experiments fail. Like, take for instance Vonnegut’s novel, Hocus Pocus. It’s broken down into sections in the same way that the narrator wrote it when he was in jail (if memory serves); onto napkins and matchbooks and the margins of other documents and so on. But c’mon, that’s a game you can see right through.

Who should care how something was composed, on what paper? “No ideas but in things,” is what I always say.

That I, Adam Robison, can parenthesize “if memory serves” suggests otherwise. In fact, that I can subject Vonnegut’s text to my own memory really bolsters Roland Barthes’ contention that “the birth of the reader must be requited by the death of the author.” After all, who’s alive and who isn’t, after all after all.

Own, ownership, property, propriety, proper. I thought I would distribute this in envelopes.

I mean, plus, it would be a simple matter to reread the beginning of Hocus Pocus for verification purposes. This is something I could do on the john.

Anti-Climacus, who “wrote” The Sickness Unto Death, said that “to defend something is to discredit it.” And from Francis Bacon–the philosopher, not the freaked-out painter–I got it that “Knowledge is Power.”

And from Noam Chomsky I got it that if it’s power, I don’t want it. Let’s work it out with Foucault, who (Ladies and Gentlemen) gave us the author function, which basically says that the author is less than the idea she puts forth into the metanarrative.

Which is a good thing for Anne Carson, who wrote Decreation, which makes no sense at all, unless you’re into hanging laundry.

Noam Chomsky gave us this sentence, which I love: Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

I can’t remember why Decreation would make sense if you enjoy hanging up laundry. I could check.

Isn’t there a whole corpus of literature that is “found” somewhere? Like, Frankenstein was framed in a letter. Famous authors are often people who discover mysterious manuscripts in dusty attics. An “author” named “Donald Westlake” wrote a “story” called “No Story,” in which several “authors” “write” how they discovered what they’re about to relate, but in the end they relate nothing.

It telescopes.

In one story, John Barth opens quotes and inside those quotes more quotes and inside those quotes more quotes, and so on and so on. Really, and so on. Some lines are just quotation marks, and as the reader you’re expected to, I guess, just count them. It’s like standing between two mirrors, but what’s getting reflected? A boring-ass story by John Barth.

I could have deleted “exegetical,” obviously, and left simply “exege-poetical,” but I’m big into the trace of literature. What was where, before? I’d like to just take a minute here and thank Anne Carson for going before me, making criticism a neat way to tell a story in case one is interested.

Like, Susan Sontag was totally Against Interpretation. That’s a perspective I can get behind, because when one understands “ ” something, then one,
               Stands
               Under
something, like for protection, for Power. What art is not: powerful.

I’m not sure I have the best understanding of power. That’s on purpose. Adam Robison purposefully did poorly in college so he would not know all sorts of things, so he would not be put into a position of power. Ah, intelligence.

But power, I mean, what the fuck? Here’s where power gets you: deeply in debt to China.

So what’s the story, Anne Carson? I mean, what’s my story? I’m riding my bike home with a video camera strapped to the handlebars, through the glittering downtown into the crumbling neighborhoods of Baltimore’s east side.

What about the relationship between “author” and “authority?”

Not on index cards: this story. On index cards: a draft of Vanishing Point by David Markson. Not on index cards, Vanishing Point by David Markson. On the back of a receipt from the veterinary: “Can literature make you go, ‘Whoa, how did the “author” do that?’?”

If the reader is not meant to understand, how can the writer? I really wanted to embed that with some other line. Also: I Am the Cheese. And how The Cheese Monkeys managed to fit text onto the edge of the page, literally. Paper being an experiment in form.

I can go on all day. The Navidson Report, please! I mean, we collect chunks of knowledge like little bits of power. We want people to say, “I also care a great deal for the work of David Lynch.” I select my references carefully and make careful alliances. I do this in an attempt to gain more power. (Cf. Matthew Modine’s helmet: “Born To Kill” juxtaposed with a peace sign: “Something about the duality of man, Sir!” Me, I reject something in an effort to achieve it more fully.)

Story? This is just an annotated bibliography.

Quentin Compson’s story dilapidates until his chapter breaks off suddenly. That’s Quentin’s suicide, and suddenly Faulkner has etched out a plot. Until then, someone simply climbed a peach tree and looked in a window.

Like Joan Didion’s dead husband alive standing in a pool, re-reading Sophie’s Choice “to figure out how it works.” What literature has made you go, “Whoa?” When David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear.

When Kurt Vonnegut disclaimed on the publisher’s page of Cat’s Cradle: All persons alive or dead are purely coincidental (paraphrase).

When Beckett wrote in Molloy, “. . . you would do better, at least no worse, to obliterate texts than to blacken margins, to fill in the holes of words till all is black and flat and the whole ghastly business looks like what it is, senseless, speechless, issueless . . .”

When Henry Miller responded, “You are the sieve through which my anarchy strains, resolves itself into words. Behind the word is chaos. Each word a strip, a bar, but there are not and never will be enough bars to make the mesh.”

Moravagine I did not get.

When Hélène Cixous made the point that literature should be unreadable. That literature exists to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Anne Carson, once I began a story with a page blank but the words, “This am a painting.” Failure; it even sounds ugly.

When Heidegger asked, “Why is there being at all? Why not far rather nothing?”

In Baltimore, Adam Robison is riding his bike home from work and he marvels.



Adam Robinson is the founder of Publishing Genius Press and IsReads, the outdoor journal. His book of poems, Adam Robison, will be published by Narrow House in the spring of 2009.

 
 
 
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4 Comments:

Blogger ken baumann said...

This is great.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Luca Dipierro said...

Grande Adam. I filmed Adam Robinson once, and it was great, and I expect reading him to be even better.

6:31 AM  
Blogger Michael Kimball said...

Adam Robison is brilliant. Adam Robinson, too.

6:33 AM  
Blogger daniel trask said...

Very nice.

8:51 AM  

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