Saturday, March 15, 2008

Robbe-Grillet Fans

A Robbe-Grillet fan in 2008 is the ultimate anachronism. Alain Robbe-Grillet was very much a writer of a moment in time. His argument, the justification for his art presented in For a New Novel, is premised on being a writer THEN, in 1965; the culmination of a progressive line of novelists, the logical end point in an ever-moving artistic system necessarily dependent on the WHEN of the novelist.

By his own thinking, a Robbe-Grillet 2008 is an impossibility; a time-machine freak. Within the narrow sophistry of the arguments of his book, literary fans embracing his art in 2008 are inconceivable, can only be considered museum pieces.

I agree with A. R-B that art can't remain static. Ironically though, for all his "avant-garde" thought, he held a linear view of history, while from my brief days 20 years ago on the fringe of the investment biz I've believed in Elliott Wave Theory; or, history as cyclical, or more specifically, proceeding rhythmnically like nature, in ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys.

Robbe-Grillet would be disappointed in his own fans. Their view of history isn't linear or cyclical, but rigid.


K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Stay tuned-- more on both Robbe-Grillet and Cozzens coming Monday.
(I may even argue that if R-B were around today, he'd be in the ULA.)

Anonymous said...

I read Robbe-Grillet as part of his times, so the fact that his work doesn't feel avant-garde now isn't surprising or disappointing.

Why are you so resistant to the idea that people who like Robbe-Grillet (or other writers you admire) are genuine in their regard?

--the wandering jew

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

??? I don't doubt that you're genuine in that.
I also feel-- and you'll dispute that-- that you've imbibed many of the current "Received Wisdom" about literature. I'm simply stressing that the wisdom is wrong.
Your remark on that other blog that what you enjoyed most about War and Peace-- as with R-B-- is the language.
The current literary mindset makes language predominant among factors of the novel. (As if it were poetry.)
But-- given that you don't read either Tolstoy or R-B in their own language?
To me, AS important in the novel, as language, is what I call the stuff of the novel.
I accept that you disagree with this. I'll still use R-B to illustrate my point and my ideas, if you don't mind.
One thing about Robbe-Grillet: one should understand the ideas which were behind his novels, which he well explained.
One of those ideas was that art is in constant change.
This is something I agree with.
It was based on this that I said, not that you should stop reading and enjoying him, but that you were an anachronism-- by his lights, not necessarily mine (not yet)-- for doing so.
To quote the man,
"--that the forms of the novel change and pass is precisely what the new novel is saying!"

Anonymous said...

That doesn't mean that appreciating Robbe-Grillet is anachronistic. That means that simply demanding everyone write like Robbe-Grillet would be anachronistic - but nobody's doing that. The only lit-blogger I see making uniform demands of literature is you. Every writer published by a mainstream house is garbage, according to you. Social realism is the only relevant approach, according to you. And if we disagree, we're brainwashed fools, according to you, and probably trust-fund kids besides.

The literature on your sites, what there is of it, is throwback to Beat in language and social realism in approach. That's cool, but it's not particularly forward-thinking. It's unfashionable, but so's Robbe-Grillet. The truth is, you have a lot more in common with lit-geeks like me than you'd like to admit. The difference is that you expect everyone to share your literary taste, and you rant at them if they don't, and then you rant when nobody listens. I hope at least you're having fun.

Anonymous said...

(That last comment was me, the wandering jew, don't have the kind of account your blog insists on.)

FDW said...

[cf. below in earlier Robbe-Grillet post]
Thanks for removing my post from the Philly Lit Blog.
And respecting my wishes.
I am not going to argue here about what you're saying even if you are lying about what I did or didn't do -- it's now in the past as if it never existed.
However as I sd. Bonnie is not significant to me ( however if you insist you should look at Pound's "feud" with his nemesis Amy Lowell-- where strangely enough the style of AL and BM are parallel and similar!) but all these other people you've got up there on the P- blog taken together with her included makes me uncomfortable and feeling sullied as I am not of their nature or compromised lifestyle, and most importantly as the Blog currently stands it does not represent the Philadelphia writing/poetry nor poets or writers who are at this point blaringly absent from your Lit Blog. Whose fault is that?
The petty wranglings, false witnessing of the micchu- puggula-- mere worldlings has no and never did have any importance to me.

However since you're raising it and unsubtly accusing me of having a negative role in what according you was some such failure of the ULA, the public should know now that the Concourse Press/ ULA anthology has failed in large part and this according to the CP publishers because of the infighting, disharmony, and schism between ULA members.
So here we have a negative situ whereas YOU are the main Cause of.
1. You refused to participate or cooperate or submit work to the Anthology because the ULA editor-in-chief had included certain writer in the manuscript who were your enemies and in fact enemies of the ULA-- in this many key members of the ULA including myself (who in fact refused to participate in the project and back your decision)
2.Then things were hashed out and I facilitated the removal of non- ULA members and especially those enemies in question and the ULA editor- in- chief deferred to this cooperative facilitating and relinquished control in favor of the self- determination of the consensus of individual members.
3. Despite this new and positive development you still refused to cooperate and contribute to the project. In fact claimed that you were dropping out of the ULA shortly afterward instead!
4. I predicted in a response to an email from you that justified your dropping out of the ULA, among other things, that is in fact cc'd to the other ULA principles, that your insistence not to contribute to the project which was now "purged" of any and all of the conditions that were your reasons for dropping out would in fact sabotage the publication of the Concourse/ULA anthology. And that is what happened.
I would have preferred to keep these two problems-- including my wanting to have my post removed at Philly Lit-- "in house" and "mano e mano" but you have made that impossible.
Anyway nothing personal this is in the past so let's just get along-- at the time I have to be a little more careful and respectful in dealing with you as regards any of your agendas or ideas that are not in keeping with my own intentions and vision and integrity.

john said...

I have to agree with the wandering jew. If the establishment literature is no good and the new underground writers are, then how come you don't quote from them? How come you don't take passages from Wred Fright and Bill Blackolive and Jack Saunders and Lawrence Richette? How come you don't quote from their works and show how this writing is the best stuff out there?

Instead, go look backward, to writers of old who were great. That's hardly the definition of change. And isn't it also anachronistic? Cozzens was a great writer. Okay. He got a Pulitzer so apparently the establishment thought so too. But what does that have to do with literature today?

You should be promoting the writers the ULA has published, and other underground writers. These are the members of the new regime you want to replace or at least shake up the establishment, so why don't you show how and why these writers are great?

Your tactics aren't effective because you contradict yourself (such as claiming there is too much emphasis on language, yet you talk about how great Cozzens' language is) and instead of persuading those with a different viewpoint, you rant at them.

If I hold a different view than you, and you want me to accept your view, then you need to persuade me. You need to make me see how your own view/ideas are naturally the right ones. You do this by giving clear examples of why your ideas are so good and clear examples of why my view is so bad.

But all you do is talk vague about how the "system" is corrupt or weak, or "the establishment" is yada yada yada...Your arguments are one-sided. You don't even acknowledge the other side's viewpoint. Say, yeah, I get what you're saying, I see where you're coming from, but here's why you're still dead wrong. And then you show them through examples.

Furthermore, I question your validity as an "underground" writer. You said on that radio show with the Philadelphia Stories writer that you wanted a bigger piece of the pie.

My question is, why would an underground writer want any piece of establishment pie? That pie would be poison to you, because as soon as you tasted it you would become one of them. You would have moved above ground.

The underground is the underground BECAUSE know one pays attention to it. These artists do their thing because that's what they like to do, and to hell with the establishment or fame or whatever. And underground writer who craves the respect/attention/acknowledgment of the mainstream is not an underground writer.

You expound the virtues of zine and DIY culture, then turn around and lament that you have no authority like the establishment literati. You just want a little pie of the pie. You come off as a poseur.

You may not be a poseur; I don't know you personally, so I don't know. But judging from your arguments, it seems that way.

FDW said...

Every lit. geek, pip-squeak. pit boss, tongue cheek deserves a chanc today and can make their own decision 'bout reading some of the best independent alternative writeres in the American hippodrome:

And there's they modern wonder of paypal!
And the most amazing DIY movie to ever come out of the Independent Republic of West Philadelphia-- the UNHOLY SIDESHOW

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

Way too much to respond to.
And why should I bother?
Poseur? What does that mean?
Sorry, chumps, but I live my art, have done so for years.
Shoot the messenger. . . .
FDW's post is exactly why I left the ULA-- because whatever happens with it, I was always blamed.
I didn't like the way the book was going, and washed my hands of it for that reason. And am still blamed!
I THINK I've done a lot to get writers like Richette attention-- staged mucho shows at which such writers appeared; hyped them on my blogs-- but it still hasn't been ENOUGH for everyone.
It will never be enough.
No one invested more in the ULA, and by extension, the underground, than I have.
I've generated more more words, more noise, more articles, more strategies and ideas, than the rest of the ULA combined. I have nothing to apologize for.
Once I said I was out, there was no going back-- no matter what happened after the fact. As I've said again and again, I mean what I say and say what I mean.
The ideas I'm posting on my blogs stand on their own.
I stand behind them.
I'm trying to move forward with literature-- explaining, step by step, how to do so-- but will have limited effect when everyone's mind is a wall.
Yes, shoot the messenger. Don't confront my analysis (my four-part series) or my arguments.
Believe that literature is great, when it's not.
Stuff cotton in your ears.
Btw, I'm not at all an enemy of R-B's. He at least had the vision to recognize the condition literature was in-- that it HAD to change.
Only his prescription was wrong, which I plan to illustrate.
I'll explain what lit has to do instead.
If you'll all allow me to.
Thank you.

K.I.N.G. Wenclas said...

p.s. There's no contradiction regarding Cozzens's use of language. (Btw, my remark was in response to a criticism of his writing on another blog.)
My point was that language should not be the CHIEF element in the novel. Obviously, it remains an element.
To find a "contradiction" in this illustrates the fundamental dishonesty of john's statement.
As to my credibility as an undergrounder: I've been doing zeens since 1992. The bulk of my literary activities were in the print-zeen world. (This includes 45 issues of New Philistine, and many many other zeens, from Pop Literary Gazette to War Hysteria! to Literary Fan Magazine to Zeen Beat, among others.) Since late 2000 I've been following a course of getting undergrounders larger attention. I live, and have lived much of my life, as underground as any person is allowed to in this ultra-regulated society. . . .