i have finished reading this book but i don't want to take it off my currently-reading shelf. it's one of those books that when you finish, it's stilli have finished reading this book but i don't want to take it off my currently-reading shelf. it's one of those books that when you finish, it's still not finished with you. more than any other book i've read, it is about process. it contains photocopies of CAConrad's notes, the germs of exercises he poses for finding new ways into poetry. the base matter has always been there, but Conrad draws new maps to access them. he shows us what the poetry landscape looked like when he was there but that doesn't mean it will look the same for you. and he does expect you to take part. it's interactive. there is a need for poetry in an aching and cruel world full of war and pain. he wants everyone to join him and he teaches us how to make our own way into poetry, not pedagogically, but by example. if you are lucky enough to begin this book, you will never finish it. it is ongoing and will live inside of you like something refreshing and inspiring, constantly renewing hope that war and pain are only one aspect to a life full of wonder and discovery....more
these stories come from some pure voice of pain and transformation. i can hear them in scott's voice, his southern accent and lilting way of talking athese stories come from some pure voice of pain and transformation. i can hear them in scott's voice, his southern accent and lilting way of talking as he walks around the room, sometimes speeding through the dialogue and sometimes taking you s l o w s l o w through the words so that you feel them and you feel them. i just wish this collection would have been longer so that it would go on and on....more
if i could give this book more than five stars, i would. let the star on the cover stand for the next level of rating. it is small and precious and iif i could give this book more than five stars, i would. let the star on the cover stand for the next level of rating. it is small and precious and i just stumbled upon it. ...more
lately i'd been craving ultra-modern writing. i wanted to read writing that was so fresh i had to look over the author's shoulder as she wrote it. i wlately i'd been craving ultra-modern writing. i wanted to read writing that was so fresh i had to look over the author's shoulder as she wrote it. i wanted something new and cutting-edge and never seen before so that it would shock me out of my post-modern despair. so it may be ironic that the book that found me was Daniel Mills' Revenants, a story that takes place in 17th century new england. this isn't a pride and prejudice meets zombies mash-up of terror and nostalgia. this is the real thing. the past literally coming back to haunt us. this is a story about personal sin and collective transgressions, a story that casts its eye forwards upon us as well as back to where we have come from. it's probably the best book i've read all year....more
i had this thought as i was reading these stories, and i don't know if it is true or not or some third thing. i'm curious what other people might thini had this thought as i was reading these stories, and i don't know if it is true or not or some third thing. i'm curious what other people might think in relation to these stories.
hypothesis: it is possible to write from weakness but not from strength. eg: a rape victim can cut off any man's dick but a man cannot confess to kissing his sleeping neice. counterexample: The Woodsman
this was something i was thinking about while reading these stories and never coming to any kind of firm conclusion, which is what i love about good writing and xTx's stories, and these two things are the same thing....more
(All quotes are from stories in this book unless otherwise noted.)
“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then(All quotes are from stories in this book unless otherwise noted.)
“If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I’m neurotic as hell.” Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar
In John Haskell’s first book, I Am Not Jackson Pollock, he presents various characters from movies, the actors thereof, and other actual people and their attempt at mitigating the opposing forces upon their lives.
It is called a collection of stories, but the book can be read as one long essay with nine parts, each part having interwoven facets. So the whole can be seen as a weaving of lives, an attempt to synthesize the fractured psyches of people tearing themselves apart.
Of Jackson Pollock, Haskell writes: “Two opposing impulses dominated his life: the desire to reach out into the world and touch some thing, and the desire to keep that thing away.” (“Dream of a Clean Slate”)
“The greatest enemy of art and of suicide is the world’s indifference, though, in another sense, this is precisely what drives a person towards both.” (“Suicide Watch” by Quentin S. Crisp) Jackson Pollock didn’t commit suicide in the traditional sense, but he did kill himself. He drove himself into a tree. He wanted both art and death and he achieved both.
“The heaviness comes when she thinks of doing something, of acting on the world, because having an effect on the world is impossible, or seems impossible.” (“Capucine”) Capucine ended up jumping out of her window to her death. She wanted to change something about the world’s indifference, but she couldn’t.
So instead of trying to affect the world, to risk rubbing up against what Glenn Gould might call the “contaminating world,” a world that he both hides from and wants, what does one do? “He keeps his own desires in, or down, or away from the world, preferring to want what someone else wants him to want.” (“Crimes at Midnight”)
But what is it that John Haskell wants?
“[Joseph Cotton in The Third Man] would like to be as strong and vital and passionate as Harry Lime,” (“Crimes at Midnight”) but his imitation of Harry Lime can not distinguish his positive traits from his negative ones. John Haskell wants to be as vital and passionate as Jackson Pollock, but he is not. He wants the positive attributes of Jackson Pollock, but not all of his rage and neuroses. He wants to be able to affect change upon the outside world without the world contaminating him.
Winona Ryder is given the definition of two different words in two different movies. The first word is from Girl, Interrupted. “Ambivalence” is the coexistence of two opposing feelings. And the second word is from Reality Bites. “Irony” is basically a kind of ambivalence because the external expression is opposed to the internal intention. And so when John Haskell says that he is not Jackson Pollock, he is being ironic. Not because he is Jackson Pollock, but because he wants to be.
Haskell confuses the actors with the roles they play because it symbolizes the confusion of outward expression and inward intention. There is a dichotomy of who the person is versus who the person wants to be or the role they are playing.
“It’s not that he wants to be himself, he wants to lose himself.” (“Narrow Road”) John Haskell wants to lose his self, much like he will do again in Out of My Skin where he will become Steve Martin. He wants his intention and expression to fuse.
“His plan was to empty himself, to radiate out into the world and then let the world flow into the vacuum… He sent his attention out to the world, but nothing came back except an echo, nothing but himself.” (“Narrow Road”) “He can now let go of that effort and pressure and striving, and be, finally, who he was afraid of being.” (“Crimes at Midnight”)
If you read the nine stories as one story, you see Haskell’s progression from his very first line of opposition: “I am not Jackson Pollock” to his acceptance of the fact that he is not Jackson Pollock. He has had to tear himself apart and let many people tear themselves apart in order to have a thesis and an antithesis from which to create some new, other thing.
“After a while he creates this thing, and it’s not Harry Lime, and it’s not exactly Joseph Cotton either.” (“Crimes at Midnight”) By the end of the book, John Haskell is neither John Haskell nor Jackson Pollock but some synthesis of the two.
“Presume not that I am the thing I was,” John Haskell writes, quoting Chimes at Midnight quoting Henry IV. He once was John Haskell, not Jackson Pollock. And now he is no longer himself, or at least not the self he thought he was.
In an interview with Poets and Writers, Haskell talks about his influences and he mentions Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata and this quote: “Resist what resists in you. Become yourself.” Which is to say that the you who you think you are is not your self.
By saying “I am not Jackson Pollock,” John Haskell identifies the ambivalence of his desires. He is not whom he wishes to be. And in order to resolve this dilemma he creates a labyrinth of personhood in which he loses not himself but the self that wanted to be something other....more