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?
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:
…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).
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 Gossip. Penny Goring has a new book out from Nauseated Drive. And, of course, so do I.