josh blog

Ordinary language is all right.

One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.

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20 Jan '17 11:51:50 PM

'It's almost like a funeral.'

18 Jan '17 05:18:52 AM

A Deweyan response to hyperdemocracy

15 Jan '17 02:45:19 AM

'For Édouard Dujardin's novel inaugurated nothing less than the era of the monologue intérieur, thereby altering the temporal and spatial form of the modern novel. I recognize that these are empyreal words, atmospheric and Einsteinian, and that they figure strangely in a discussion of a work bounded by the boulevards and placed in the consciousness of a self-obsessed Parisian dandy. What, the reader may ask, has the chase after an actress to do with matters dimensional and horological? Certainly, Édouard Dujardin, scribbling his novel in 1887 (one imagines his pointed beard held high in the air, a flower in his buttonhole, a long-stemmed cigarette holder in his mouth), was conscious of little but the difficulties of the literary "stunt" he had set himself. He would write a novel wholly subjective. He would never go "outside" his character's mind. It would all take place in a single evening, a matter of hours—all thought and no action. The novel ran its course in the magazine, appeared as a volume, attracted little notice, and then faded away. A decade later Dujardin reprinted it as the title story in a collection of his prose and verse, and it was this edition, apparently, which James Joyce came upon, after the century's turn, and read during his trip from Paris to Dublin in 1902—the troubled journey commemorated in the opening pages of Ulysses. Twenty years later the Irish novelist still remembered the book and could pay tribute to it as the principal source for his stream-of-consciousness techniques in his Dublin Odyssey.

Édouard Dujardin was still alive when Joyce invoked his name. In literary obscurity, he was writing books on religion and music. He responded with almost pathetic gratitude to the greatness which the author of Ulysses thrust upon him. This was indeed a case of Lazar veni foras; and if Dujardin invoked the image of himself as one raised from the dead, in a flattering re-dedication of a new edition of his book (it was of 1924), he was well aware that by implication he was calling Joyce the Christ who had performed the miracle. The allusion was hardly lost upon the fabulous artificer. With that ironic modesty which was the mask of his self-assertion, he responded by inscribing a copy of Ulysses to the "preacher of the inner word" from the "impenitent thief." The gallantries of the occasion were properly observed.

Around these, however, a serious debate had developed. What was the monologue intériuer? How "new" was it? How was it to be defined? In due course Dujardin was invited to Germany to lecture on his "discovery." At Berlin, Marburg, Leipzig, during the dying days of the Weimar Republic, he delivered a rambling discourse, later printed, which bore the portentous title Le monologue intérieur, son apparition, ses origines, sa place dand l'oeuvre de James Joyce et dans le roman contemporain. This sounds like a formidable treatise. The title of the lecture no doubt had appeal in a country where the higher scholarship has always cultivated the higher pedantry. Dujardin, moreover, knew his Germany and may have assumed a certain Teutonic tone in his old age which his younger self would have repudiated, although he had been a "Perfect Wagnerite," in the early days of Bayreuth. It was indeed Wagner's music, so much in vogue among the Parisian Symbolists, which had suggested to him the idea for his work. In tracing his inner monologue of the Parisian dandy, Dujardin sought to capture the leit-motifs of consciousness, the orchestra of the inner man. The Dujardin discourse makes strange reading today. It is a farrago of self-laudation, a potpourri of quotations from reviewers, reminiscences, literary history, and now and again a kind of blinking search to define, in the bright light of 1930, the old candle-light intuition of 1887. The lecture reads as if Dujardin arrived at his theories from a perusal of Ulysses, rather than from a rereading of Les lauriers sont coupés.'

12 Jan '17 07:05:32 PM

'… ritual and labor and exercise.'

11 Jan '17 05:53:08 AM

'… it's like whispers…'

10 Jan '17 09:58:45 PM

Or, Horkheimer and Adorno's zine

9 Jan '17 12:06:59 AM

You've got mail!

6 Jan '17 02:44:08 AM

If a 'writer's sketchbook' is to be for practice, as an artist's is, then perhaps that suggests why the private blog seemed to have been a new possibility. A writer like Thoreau did achieve a kind of practice in his journal, I think. And the resolutely private status of most of it meant that its writing could be perfected on terms appropriate to a practice, without interference from external goals and purposes inevitably attaching to publication as then institutionalized. But it would be different still, and arguably at least as true to what writing is, for a 'sketchbook' writing practice to exploit universal, instantaneous publication.

6 Jan '17 02:24:15 AM

A writer's equivalent to the sketchbook: Thoreau's journal?