Bogle’s Bricolage

At Fictionaut, writer and inveterate genre/form-maker Ann Bogle started a discussion, as she does, on marginalia and ephemera,  which somehow matches other discussions I’ve had over the past few days with different friends from different countries, in different places, on and off the net.

Over in the Alt Litgossip  corner of the Web I see artists and writers continually whip up a storm in a small glass using a tiny box of tools. A lot of their work strikes me as “ephemeral” in the sense of self-conscious bricolage in which Ann uses the term to describe something artistic rather than accidental. With her history and literati glitz glistering throughout the pieces she adds something else to the mix that makes it even more special and original. I admire the experimental fervor of Ann and others, as in this excerpt from “WπHπAπT 2”, a text that is stupendously modern, bypassing post-modern movement melancholy and leaving it in the dust much like Tao Lin’s “Taipei” bypasses Beckett’s ennui and completes it for 21st century use:

Later I started a movement to define experimental fiction called WπHπAπT, and the two men I invited in an email to join did not reply, and I did not follow up. The blog post I titled WπHπAπT is based on that email and is shielded from view at Ana Verse. It is not a manifesto but asks whether experimental fiction must include territory besides “nonlinear marginalized sex writing,” as described in many reviews online of Biting the Error, reviews that turned out to be perhaps sales-sexy but incomplete in describing the book. WπHπAπT with its pi signs denotes the way the inquiry felt and follows in strategy those inventors in language I estimate highly.

I am very different: when I am experimental, innovative or original it happens rather despite myself; all I ever aspire to do is tell a story in a traditional manner; but how do you walk a straight line when you perceive the horizon itself as bent irretrievably out of shape?

"Monk by the sea", Caspar David Friedrich (1808)

“Monk by the sea”, Caspar David Friedrich (1808)

Dialoguing with Ann feels incestuous. She’s like a younger, wilder sister, only older. She incinerates herself on her own altar. She wears white lace lingerie when she writes. In response to my linking to a few ephemeral texts of my own on this blog like this recent Facebook-WordPress-mash-up, she writes after devouring my word-pieces:

Marcus, I read the texts you link in the passage above and find them all to be good as in edible. We need to be careful, lest we repeat ourselves for free. Jonah Lehrer repeated himself for pay.

I’m not so concerned about repeating myself though I’ve been a spitfire against Lehrer myself in this post. But let’s look at this very article. The process:

Bogle Bricolage diagram

Process diagram created with the web-based Signavio editor.

…using largely the infrastructure that I’ve laid out visually elsewhere. One difference to Lehrer’s example is the transparency and the desire to add to my own thought by rewriting while making the process visible for myself and for others. This can get tedious. It must not go on for too long. Twitter is, in many respects, a more able medium for textual mash-ups. Penny Goring does this well. She tweets things like:

i dreamt i was walking around greenwich with live white tigers draped around me they were happy to be my accessories

I’ve met Penny in London and she’s not exaggerating. Her waist is a wasteland of weirdness but with her words she will grow hair on your tongue. When I turn to Twitter, I poeticize, which is like downsized, chewed up poetry (like here or here).

Echnaton (Amenhopis IV): way ahead of his time.

Echnaton (Amenhopis IV): way ahead of his time.

I accept the need for imitation and repetition. When I alter my ways it is to avoid perishing of being bored with myself. Social media themselves seem to be built more on repetition and endless sharing of minimally different experiences than on originality and creativity. Post anything too creative or too original, anything too many steps ahead of the curve or the herd or the movement… and you will soon be alone on your blog or on your timeline. This makes a lot of evolutionary sense. It also makes Freudian sense. But that’s possibly a new discussion altogether.

How experimental do you feel today? Whatever you’ve got in mind, bogle it & don’t be goring about it.

Sources: Fictionaut, Marginalia (Ephemera); Ann Bogle’s blog, Ana Verse; “WπHπAπT 2” by Ann Bogle; “Taipei” by Tao Lin — reviewed in the guardian & in the NYT; the real, the raw deal is here: Alt Lit GossipPenny Goring has a new book out from Nauseated Drive. And, of course, so do I.

8 thoughts on “Bogle’s Bricolage

    • Without exaggeration I can say: flowcharts are my life. Or at least a large part of it… as far as the coffee is concerned, I’m going back and forth: sometimes I believe in its antioxidants and its anti-diabetes abilities, and other times I blame myself for my caffeine addiction. I suppose it’s like any other bride: pain and pleasure both!

    • I posted WπHπAπT on November 3, 2008 on _Ana Verse_; I reposted it on September 24, 2012 as WπHπAπT 1.

      I posted WπHπAπT 2 on October 1, 2012.

      I restored both entries to _Ana Verse_, with thanks to Blogger for its program. WπHπAπT 2, long form (20 pp. in Google Chrome print preview)—with my and some others’ notes in the comments sidebar on Fictionaut—is for now reserved. Message me in case you wish to read it.

      Um, re: Tao Lin. I might have been able to sustain reading _Taipei_, despite my disability (acquired) in reading novels, except I hesitated. Now WπHπAπT? I just commented aloud to myself, “Do they sexually abuse in Germany?” “I don’t know,” I answered. “There were girls in West Germany who were not as sex fiend in adolescence nor even sexually healthy-normal who might have been abused,” I added. “Here as well,” I concurred. Here, I’ll add, not aloud, abused girls grow fat or too thin and after having babies remain very fat or even very thin, or so I hear from the babies’ dads. The girls (as many women prefer to be called among themselves) or ladies (as they may wish to be called en masse) report ever having been sexually abused to intimate men in their lives rather than to one another, as I tend to have noticed. I feel that women tend not to report abuse if it may seem to exempt them from further participation in sexuality, and that that is not their true aim in seeking understanding. It has been the goal of many therapists and clinical specialists and subspecialists not to restore women and growing girls to full enjoyment of their sexuality. It has been a practice to suggest that their sexuality is off the table, as if sexuality were a sport or art form reserved for the never abused, as if other women and girls had the misfortune of being benched athletes or ballerinas retired after childhood. I’ll leave the subject of boys and men to boys and men for the purpose of this comment box.

      Marcus, will you let me know how to italicize in a template such as this one?—if you know. Thank you. ~AMB

      • I’m with you on Taipei and the other issues you touch upon. I would like to get access to that other text. Italicization via HTML goes like this: include any text in tags —


      • My daughter is just reading Turgenev (“First Love”) for school. She says she is not motivated to finish it. Me: why? She: I already know it’s not going to work out. She does not take to tragedy, and I cannot help because I cannot remember the ending. Will have to re-read it!

  1. I think repetition also depends on the communication. Some people, they repeat themselves deliberately because they want to be heard. (Ie. flooding a channel with a message, propaganda style.) Some people repeat themselves because they don’t have very much to say and so keep saying the same things. (Both in conversation and in literature.) Some people repeat themselves consciously from laziness, and I suspect Lehrer is one of those. Others repeat themselves as a form of revision. (I think here of Raymond Chandler and the published shorter work he ultimately cannibalized for his novels.)

    There is this fetish around originality, always being unique (just like every other goddamn snowflake). If you’re going to be a promiscuous writer and slather words all over the public sphere, repetition–of ideas, a turn of phrase, a c-n-p from one platform to another–will happen. I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of; it just means we’re iterations of ourselves.

    Or something.

    • I really like your rapid analysis of the modes of repetition! myself, I have repeated myself for all of these these reasons at different times in my life, and then some. I suppose one difference between Bogle as an artful repeater and, say, Lehrer as a plagiarizer is the intent and the transparency provided for the read What you call a “fetish around originality, always being unique (just like every other goddamn snowflake)” is perhaps a non-trivial function of the paradox of creation which is exacerbated by the fact that so many of us now are so much more aware of others creating. A similar starting point perhaps as Iyer’s essay discussed at Fictionaut—except that I do get to totally different conclusions. Rather than give up being original I think originality is as infinite as the universe itself. Or if it isn’t truly infinite it comes very close to it and I take heart from that possibility. Also there is Sacks’ statement from his recent book “Hallucinations” — «“Memory is dialogic and arises not only from direct experience but from the intercourse of many minds.”» Which might mean that originality is still possible but not as trivial as we used to think when we thought of Michelangelo or Shakespeare as eccentrics while in fact there were perhaps having more “intercourse” than anyone else…

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