Thursday, March 27, 2014
on not being a professional
Colebrook refers to Modernism as a liquid state, "dynamic, open, fluid and affective," with "deflection, divergeance, deviation and dehiscence," and "attention to the force of the dead," a flow not only from one idea to another but the flow also extending back in history, picking up a scrap of lingo and carrying it into the current text, book, poem, whatever that is, making it into a prose-moue, ie, hint of another language of emotion coming into the present discourse, making, maybe, a mosaic of personalities or utters of the dead.
In a state of nondifferentiation before the historic Big Bang you would not have these divergeances for no one is dead and there is no death; and if modernity is "liquid" then it must be a time of extreme deviations, knowing that Powys is an author of extreme deviations who goes in pursuit of those deviations once he finds them, this Modernist with a theory of his own, maybe, so compare him to others in that area and say he is more easily frightened than a Joyce or a Woolf or an Eliot because he stopped before they stopped and planted his mule feet stubbornly in the ground, never leaving the foreknown field of narrative as per the famous nineteenth century model, all his deviations recycling themselves into that shape; and perhaps you could call him a more eccentric and amateur author than the others, amateur on purpose, defending, like Clarice Lispector, his right to be an amateur. "I only write when I want to. I’m an amateur and insist on staying that way. A professional has a personal commitment to writing. Or a commitment to someone else to write. As for me … I insist on not being a professional. To keep my freedom," she said in her last interview, these very Powys sentiments coming out of a different mouth, freedom or free will being paramount, and both of them saying, "You can't make me if I don't want to," those words being metamorphosised from a pout into a value.
In literature I respect the I-won't but the last time I met it in real life it was a dam-like stunting force coming out of a man who said that he would never understand any modern art, it was all Renaissance and Rome for him, meanwhile producing the same small vocabulary of stiff figures in a bad imitation-classical smooth-surfaced style. Speaking of figuration, I saw a piece of observation in an oil portrait two days ago that gave me an instant interest in the artist, no matter what else they ever did with their lives, and that was the subtle way they had depicted the shadow between the person's fingers as a compacted fiery glow, not brown or grey or black or any of the other colours that people paint on shadows when they haven't looked at them, but rose.