February 26, 2011
Along one of the main rivers of the country severed heads rotting on the end of poles could be seen for 40 miles. The uprising of an enslaved people was savagly put down. The year was 1811. The country was The United States of America.
February 24, 2011
February 23, 2011
I was reading a review of a Joyce Carol Oates memoir. It was a memoir that was concerned with the death of her husband. I remember the couple from college. (University of Windsor ) She was a odd looking duck. Frail, dressed up (it seemed like she was always going to some event), rather unattractive as I recall, paranoid. (There were many tales about her fear of students. In one story she was sent a pizza by an admiring student. She had the pizza sent down to the chemistry lab and tested for poison.). Ms. Oates never, as I recall, participated in any anti-war demonstrations. When the theology department was occupied over the issue of a professor’s dismissal without cause, she was no where in sight. A friend of mine took a course with her and loved it. I thought that I might take her couse the next semester even though I was majoring in philosophy not English at the time. I read her book “Them” that won the National Book Award. I don’t know what I expected. As I recall, I found the writing boring and the story uninteresting. I probably wasn’t very fair in my assessment. I just couldn’t get over the feeling that a white woman in her early 30’s, a professor at a Canadian university, would have no idea what it was like to live in Detroit as a black person surrounded by drugs, the police, and violence. I thought she was a dilettante of life. (I understand she wrote a book about Marilyn Monroe. That interests me.) Oates reminds me of a professional boxer who has known nothing but the ring, still fighting shadows long after her career is over.
February 20, 2011
I was reading a review of a book on J.D. Salinger. And his horrific experiences in World War 2. I couldn’t help compare his experiences with my own father’s and with Kurt Vonnegut. Both my dad and Salinger were silent about those experiences. Salinger experienced some kind of post traumatic disorder. Vonnegut on the other hand decided to talk about his experiences. His most well known novel Slaughterhouse Five is about his experiences as a prisoner of war in Dresden during the bombing. Ironically both Vonnegut and Salinger fought in the Battle of the Bulge. When I first read Catcher in the Rye, I loved it. I remember reading other stories by Salinger and feeling disappointed. In my youthful exuburance I classified Catcher as a masterpiece. I know longer hold that view. I’m not sure that Salinger isn’t more of a social icon than a great writer. Unless a great book is sitting in a drawer somewhere, I think Vonnegut’s work will be assessed as more interesting.
February 19, 2011
Is the story of human kind a story about 20 year olds? Even when rulers (for example) get to an older age, the vision of the world seems to have fossilized somewhere in their early 20s. Their ideas, ambitions, jealousies etc. are all from their youth. They almost never change. Most artists do their best work in their 20s or their later work is the fruit of their youthful experiences. And now people are living longer. Life experiences are being delayed. At least in the west. (It would seem that in other parts of the world, their times are still being dominated by young people.) Will this aging population change the perceptions of the world, of life itself? Will wisdom rule over passion?
February 16, 2011
Over the years I have published several books, reviews, plays, etc. Some have been reviewed very favourably. Some ignored. But I have never made money. And in some ways money is the final scale of success in the arts. If a person is willing to pay out cash to read or look at something you have created than it is high praise. I would much rather be a financially profitable artist than a well-reviewed one. For years the highest paid authors in Canada (so I am told) have been the writers of romance books. No one takes them seriously as literature but those who do write them and make a good living at it are to be commended. Most of the time they write under pseudonyms. So vanity isn’t involved. I suppose they write for money and the joy of writing. Perhaps they are the country’s greatest writers. Perhaps the great Canadian novel is about a tryst between Brad, Leanna, and Doris. Who’s the judge?
February 13, 2011
February 11, 2011
Its one of those days when I’ve got nothing in my head. No wind in the sails. No lead in the pencil. No angst. No anger. The question I’m asking myself right now is why I’m bothering to write this. Well, its like this. I get questions about writer’s block from young writers. What they should know is that it will pass. Do something else. Which is what I’m going to do.
February 7, 2011
One need not be a sports fan to find events like the Superbowl interesting. Critics like to equal them to the forum in ancient Rome. I disagree. It is more like a fairy tale. ‘The play is the thing’. And it is always interesting to see what captivates large numbers of people. Especially if it isn’t a war. The Superbowl is only second to Christmas in importance in the American psyche. There is something in human nature (comfort, safety) that needs/craves a fantasy.