Saturday, November 10, 2007
I see that Norman Mailer has died. I've never read a novel by him, don't think I've read any of his non-fiction work tho I know that in high school I read a collection of his poetry (sic). so I guess I'm in a perfect position to comment on his writing. and my comment boils down to: why did/do people read his work? talk about thingness, the thingly aspect of Mailer's work is what? being a celeb, he has this high impact presence, and that seems to be the igniting agent to people's imagination. I, personally, don't hear talk about the particular shimmer of his work, the vague lines of artistic extent that map into the plush dimensions, or whatever art does. what I hear is the Time Magazine jazziness of notoriety, in other words the prefab meaning that flies with this particular bird. just to repeat, I have read close to none of Mailer's work. what I am reading here, then, is the public imagination, or lack thereof. how reputations are onslaughts, and that sort of thing. in the sense that Allen Ginsberg can be replaced by or Madonna (or whoever you want to list), it's that stuff about the person before anything else. I think matters of criticism plunge often into Behlresques of thoughtfulness, punchy provocations instead of internal challenges. so a Norman Mailer becomes a battlefield, he and his work. like we will always need a dickweed to fuss over. maybe I've missed something in not reading his work. I never made a proud stand against his work, only selected other avenues to explore, as one must practically make such choices.