Samuel Beckett on Finnegans Wake:
"Here form IS content, content IS form. You complain that this stuff is not written in English. It is not written at all. It is not to read - or rather it is not only to be read. It is to be looked at and listened to. Joyce's writing is not about something; it is that something itself... Here is a savage economy of hieroglyphs. Here words are not the polite contortions of 20th century printer's ink. They are alive. They elbow their way on to the page, and glow and blaze and fade and disappear."
It strikes me that this was written in 1929. To think that the overwhelming majority of work that is being published now (in both microzines and macrozines), 80 years after a comment like this and a book like FW, is still not much more than "printer's ink," is baffling. Our need for comfort, for familiarity, to vacation where others have vacationed, to go to the same restaurants, cafes, to write the same books and movies, story and syntax is strong indeed. Every one of these works is disposable. Every era is, of course, inundated with mediocrity, so strong is our need to communicate and be understood. The degree to which we repeat ourselves is nauseating.
Grahm Greene has said that "when we are not sure, we are alive." To be unsure is the way, I'm sure of it.
In an essay entitled "Melody as Death," the philosopher Raymond Geuss writes that, at the age of eleven, he sat on the floor at his friend's house listening to Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries." He goes on to say this of his experience:
"I distinctly recall two impressions I had in quick succession that are among the most vivid I have ever received. The first was that of simply being overwhelmed by the richness and complexity of the sound, and the electricity of those crisply executed initial upward reaching flourishes (in B minor, as I now have learned to call it) in the first four bars. More indescribable flourishes on the horns and bassoons followed, and then the alternation of the ascending motif with descending slurred quintuplets in the violins.
"The second impression I recall is my disappointment, in fact complete and utter dejection, when the horns and bass trumpet entered forte at bar 13, and an easily discernible motif emerged very clearly as an individual theme from the general whirl of sound. I remember thinking, 'Oh no! There is a tune in this after all.'"
Understanding is perhaps more fatal than anything else.
PageBoy has returned from Mexico and is gearing up for the next issue, which is due out this summer. Send work now! or forever Reverdy, Heather.*
Having studied the literature and language (y empenadas rajas con queso) of Mexico, we feel that we editors here at PageBoy Magazine have sufficiently lost our language (y nos linea), and are now thoroughly confused by various spellings and capitalizations, word genders and syntactic differences between Spanish and english so that you can rest assured there will be many typos in the next issue hurray! Don't fret, however, it's only language, which is, as you know, both a comma splice and everything else(,).
W de GDL
your smiling was waiting, it flew off
to roost near perch, the ranch
on the road west of Guadalajara
was blue with agave and old tractors
rolling into us as we rode and
turned into dust, slow as fermentation
slow as swallows, as owls slow
leaving the filthy catholic afternoons
for the pagan sea hungry to touch our
every inch without shame
* a word about Heather: Heather is you.