I write at the conclusion of your latest assignment. Your author appears to be finished with his current text. Should I rather, say that he has abandoned it? I once heard a poet say that no poem is ever finished - only that the poet abandons it. Despite the wonderful conclusion that he has wrought for us the text still seems, to me at least, as a discontinued thing. But let me not put the cart before the horse here.
Your briefing for this assignment was most detailed and despite, as you know, being familiar with his oeuvre I was yet surprised and delighted by turn with the way he carved his text out of the self-imposed narrative constraints. I find his artistic journey fascinating and await his next essay into this struggle that he seems to be taking on single handedly. He is clearly not frightened of failing and in fact fails regularly in the subtexts that contribute to the construction and pursuit of his obsession. Before beginning this piece I re-read the interview that he gave to The Dalkey Archive last year and am frankly amazed at his literary hubris: to "annihilate lisability" is a towering ambition; to " ... invent the 21st century text ... from the modes and methods of literature past and the new, technologically informed cultures of the late 20th and the early 21st century ... in a way that acknowledges the new delivery technologies ... " even as an idea, takes my breath away. I suppose that what you really want of me is a progress report for his project.
Indulge me not to answer as to his progress in his individual quests in the order presented - I simply have no way of knowing which is his primary goal. Nor which he considers to be the contributing sub goals - I am not convinced that he even sees the overall project in the engineering model that I have used to describe it.
The outstanding area in which this latest text marks a progress is in the adaptation of the text to the delivery technology. In previous work, his "episodes" have veered alarmingly away from the terse and sometimes abrupt delivery that so suits the evanescent twinkling of the pixel oriented internet. In this piece his length and periodicity are, without being obviously so, carefully crafted and interspersed. His delivery pace, if you will, is much improved. Not perfect perhaps, but with a reassuringly sure footed precision he chunks the text so that it is easily digested. Where previously the novel has been moved on by the rise of a new technology that in some way appropriated the content or method of the novel this is the first time since the invention of the printing press that the medium itself has contributed significantly to the need to adapt. That he reverts in some manner to the serialisation techniques of the early novel while reflecting the modern lack of extended attention span is to be applauded.
Another feature of this latest text that I find interesting inasmuch as it supports his quest is the distance that he has opened between the creative and the craft sides of the maker and the making of a text - his disjoint of the author and the writer here is masterly. By making his author more productive and his writer lazy he has taken another, and very long, stride toward his idea of obliterating concrete language from the text. There is not a memorable phrase in the entire text. The ideas and conceits resonate, melodise, and harmonize above a backcloth of a drab, near inaudible, unmemorable, parole. When the text has been read and the screen goes blank, when each last pixel has switched off all we are left with is the idea, or the ideas, of the text. It is wonderfully effective as a mechanism but I remain skeptical that there is mileage in it - long term. Or even that it is to be desired but that is his choice and not mine. Will I seek out an author who serves me a dish that has only an aftertaste?
Three cheers and a hip-hooray more are due to his clinical disavowal of that much hyped trope of would be avant-garde textualists: the hyperlink. Those who would have you believe that hyperlinking is the future of the text have never garnered much support from our man and in this text he eschews it entirely for the first time. Bravo that man. It is a brave move.
Finally let me return to the ending that he has conjured. The idea of a text that critiques and analyses itself is, I believe, revolutionary. His execution is neither perfect nor complete and I am not sure that it, as a concept, has a future but then again after this piece his innovative capacity is not in doubt and I hope he will prove me wrong.
In short I believe your man is making meaningful progress and his new work reminds me of both Laurence Sterne and Julian Rios. Need I say more? I look forward to any further assignments that you might put in my way and I particularly enjoy the prospect of your esteemed author's next work.
My invoice follows under separate cover.
____________________________ DONE ____________________________
An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete
Monday, January 22, 2007