…AND I REALISED THERE WERE STILL POSSIBILITIES

Sed realistas, exigid lo imposible.

Tomemos en serio la revolución, pero no nos tomamos en serio a nosotros mismos.

Millonarios de todos los países, uníos, el viento cambia.

Todo comienza en la mística y termina en política.

(inscripciones en los muros de Francia, “El Corno Emplumado”, octubre 1968)

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=10689794&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
El Corno Emplumado – a story from the sixties from Anne Mette W. Nielsen on Vimeo.

THE SCHOOL OF AMERICAN WHIMSY, A MANIFESTO: DISCUSS

The deepest purpose of reading and writing fiction is to sustain a sense of connectedness; to resist existential loneliness; and so a novel deserves a reader’s attention only as long as the author sustains the reader’s trust.

 – Jonathan Franzen, “William Gaddis: Mr Difficult”

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO…?

The thing that has made the glory of English literature is description simple concentrated description not of what happened nor what is thought or what is dreamed but what exists and so makes the life the island life the daily island life. It is natural that an island life should be that. What could interest an island as much as the daily the completely daily island life. And in the descriptions the daily, the hourly descriptions of this island life as it exists and it does exist it does really exist English literature has gone on and one from Chaucer until now. It does not go on so well now for several reasons, in the first place they are not so interested in their island life because in short they are not so interested. And in the next place because it is not so much an island life.

Gertrude Stein, “What is English Literature”

VETERANS OF DISORDER

Advertiser’s Announcement #1: Homage to Claire Churchill, (1967)
 
 Advertiser’s Announcement #2: The Angle Between Two Walls, (1967)
 
Advertiser’s Advertisement #3: A Neural Interval, (1968)

Advertiser’s Announcement #4: A Placental Insufficiency, (1970)
Advertiser’s Announcement #5: Venus Smiles, (1970)
Ordering back copies of Ambit magazine from a draughty warehouse in Cambridgeshire. Have officially joined Sealed Knot of earlier, better wars.
 
(J.G. Ballard’s Advertiser’s Announcements, Ambit magazine, 1967 – 1970, via Ballardian)

Most of the ‘art’ we hear about today is fashion driven by commerce. Money is just a means of exchange, a means of keeping a roof over your head and all that, but to pursue wealth for its own sake is decadent. I agree with Samuel Beckett that one has to teach oneself not to want things. One wants many things for no better reason than that advertisers train us to want them.

– John Calder being sane and heartening, from Textualities.

THE HAVE-NOTS, AS IT TURNED OUT, MAINLY ASPIRED TO HAVING

It was not until we had passed Diamond Head and were coming in low over the reef for landing at Honolulu, however, that I realized what I most disliked about this incident: I disliked it because it had the aspect of a short story, one of those “little epiphany” stories in which the main character glimpses a crisis in a stranger’s life and is moved to see his or her own life in a new light. I was not going to Honolulu because I wanted to see life reduced to a short story. I was going to Honolulu because I wanted to see life expanded to a novel, and I still do.

– Joan Didion, In The Islands

Oh, Joan. Your politics are sour and your frailty aggressive, but as stylist of deep, insurmountable catatonia, you can’t be matched.

ANACHRONISMS, SLIGHT RETURN

Let’s go backwards. Backwards in time, all the way to the beginning. Back to a country that neither of us would recognize, probably. Britain, 1973.
-Was it really that different, do you think?
– Completely different. Just think of it! A world without mobiles or videos or Playstations or even faxes. A world that had never heard of Princess Diana or Tony Blair, never thought for a moment of going to war in Kosovo or Afganistan. There were only three television channels in those days, Patrick! Three! And the unions were so powerful that, if they wanted to, they could close one of them down for a whole night. Sometimes people even had to do without electricity. Imagine!

– Jonathan Coe, The Rotters Club

At the moment, I’m making a concerted – if slightly reluctant – effort to bring my reading up to date. Indeed, if you glanced at the stacks of books currently gathering dust in storage back in the UK (ie. toppling precariously off my Dad’s ad hoc book shelves) you might be forgiven for thinking that the novel ceased existing some time around 1978 (which it didn’t, did it? Might as well have done, though. Arf arf. A little “situation of the novel” humour for you there. Jeez.)

Anyway, after a happy couple of days counting the erections in The Line of Beauty, I’m now onto Jonathan Coe’s The Rotter’s Club. I’m, oh, about 50 pages in, so not much cohesive to report at present, except this: Now, I’ve long held that English culture seems to develop unevenly around a series of time-lags, that there are certain manifestations or practices that persist, long past their appropriate chronology. However, it’s pretty disconcerting to find that Coe’s mid-seventies Birmingham, with its homemade light ale, Big School, prefabs and Black Forest gateau, meshes so easily with the 1990s Hull of my childhood.