the second of anything is always a copy of something original but that doesn’t mean it’s better or worse

Portrait of the Literary Agent as a Boy: Bill Clegg in church, 1977.

i like what frank hinton writes on his blog about writing.  i like frank’s honesty. i also like that frank is interested in “urges”, one being frank’s being interested in his urges. i picked a random link from the sidebar—not as random actually. the link was called “Tao Lin is Siddartha“—i always click on links with that name (the first name, not the last) because tao lin fascinates me as a contemporary phenomenon, like a comet. i wonder if anybody said that about dostoevsky or dickens or dickinson at any time; lin’s writing is not actually for me, but i see his cultural influence & i dig it when i see people struggle with their calling and their art & get famous for the struggling itself, though i’m unsure about the spiritual or literary weight (neither measurable) of the results of that struggle. but struggle is never just silly.

hipster icon foucault

the post is an interview about tao lin’s next novel, which is about a siddartha character, who, predictably, is in his twenties. it is hard to write about anyone not your own age, especially when you’re younger and everybody you like or really feel you know, is of that age. i cling to my daughter, who is 10, when i write about 10-year olds because i’ve forgotten my own 10th year, alas. i probably cling somewhere to tao lin and frank hinton when i write about people in their (late) twenties. or perhaps, and this seems most likely, i write not about people at any age but just about people; and the characters themselves determine what age they assume. i like that thought a lot.

i don’t seem to be able to stop myself from commenting these days (and why should i). so here’s my comment on the NY observer article “Tao Lin Gchats About New Agent Bill Clegg and his Siddhartha-Inspired Next Novel“:

i could also be 25 if you want me to. if mr clegg whoever he is wants me to. i dig literary agents. is that how you say it? i’m not from here. i’m also not 25. i didn’t like siddhartha by hesse, the book that henceforth people outside the following of “cult novelist” tao lin will refer to as “siddartha 1”. if i write a book called “the idiot”, will people refer to dostoevsky’s book as “the idiot 1”? will that make me sound like, or write like, dostoevsky? these are the kind of questions that are on my mind on some days, not the very best days of my life, i think.

don’t worry, i’m working on something that’s not sarcastic or meta for this blog, too, an straight account of our trip to paris last week. tourist pictures and memories of gaufres et crepes galore. i’m afraid that i’ve now been infected by a hipster virus that makes me gaze ironically at works of art and look at humanity as a form of entertainment. here’s a counter agent to that disease in the form of a quote by john gardner (“On Writers & Writing“):

«As everyone knows, the whole tendency of modern life and thought is against the absolute. Metaphysics is out, “alternative conceptual systems” are in. Kings are out, pluralism is in. Relativity is all. But however useful relativism may be as a way of running daily life—keeping fascists out of power, keeping tea parties civilised—it has nothing to do with art. Relativism denies those finalities towards which man’s spirit has always groped. To admit that there are no finalities is to put the spirit out of business; to say that finalities are a matter of personal assertion is to make the spirit’s business insignificant.»

and before you leave, while i have your attention, esteemed reader, let me read christopher allen’s bizarre “husk of hare” over at referential magazine to you …


2 thoughts on “the second of anything is always a copy of something original but that doesn’t mean it’s better or worse

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