Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stephanie Young

I also wanted to draw your attention to Elisa Gabbert's very thoughtful review of Stephanie Young's book "Picture Palace.":

I don't just like it because it refers to this blog, but I think the ambivalence shows a really honest attitude toward the book and this ambivalence curiously made me want to read the book much more than I would if it got a purely positive shiny review. I'm going to get it the next time I go on a SPD shopping spree.

Here's her discussion of this blog (when I came to that part, I was like, that looks familiar, and that's my name... It took me a second):

Johannes Göransson wrote the following on his blog Exoskeleton on August 12, 2008:

I don’t see why re-reading something is such a die-hard merit. Some works may be read wonderfully once and meant only to be read once. Or even a half time. Not to be combed through. Perhaps not even read at all.

I have thought about this idea–the value of impermanence in literature–from time to time since reading it, and Picture Palace put me in mind of it again. To demand that all poetry stand up to multiple readings–or that any art form, for that matter, always be endlessly re-experienced or re-experiencable–limits its possibilities. To use Dada as an example again: Dadaist plays are not really meant to be reproduced; they exist as records of “happenings.” I don’t know if this is what Young had in mind, but it might be helpful to frame the performance pieces in this book in a similar way, as transcripts that are not intended to offer the same or approximate value as the events they correspond to.

Within a close-reading paradigm, “any text that seeks to provoke, ritualize or offend, rather than craft a poetic experience, will usually not make sense,” Göransson wrote on his blog several days later. If Picture Palace occasionally reads like rough notes–bits of brilliance among stabs at connection and impressionistic ramblings–this doesn’t feel accidental. Its purposeful lack of formal rigor is part of what makes it intriguing as a form of autobiography–calling attention, like an avant garde film, to its inherent discontinuity, rather than exploiting the tendency of the human eye and mind to turn a succession of frames into a continuous experience. The “notes are a mess” for a reason, Young tells us: “this mess / is economic, it represents / the time I had.”


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