Friday, August 24, 2007

withdrawing the gibson


It’s a precious logic, like a baby’s cry when the nipple goes away. I don’t have Internet access this AM. I can’t visit my 2-3 favorite forums and blogs, or check yahoo headlines. So I dredge up my lowly word soft and write about it.


This stimulates me to take aspects of my life, the LAN of my daily life, and write them into position for upload rather than my usual habit of downloading stuff, ruminating on it, and then uploading the cud this makes, which is typically how we happy cattle of the mediated world discourse.

I acquired, by devious accident, a copy of Thomas Pynchon’s “Vineland” that formerly was a guest book at last week’s family rental cabin on Lake Getaway. I had never read Pynchon before except for detestable opening pages from alleged masterpieces like Gravity’s Rainbow. But William Gibson, whom I admire, revere, and adore (he is by all accounts a very gracious fellow), worships Pynchon.

So… to my surprise I find Vineland enjoyable. I am not reading it front to back. I see no reason to do so with books cited by critics as prime and pinnacle examples of ‘hysterical realism’ and described as brilliantly unreadable. Instead, I dip in here and there, and enjoy how Pynchon gets away, at least in “Vineland”, with indulging himself as he will but, owing to talent, practice, and discipline, does so in easily understood prose that meanders where it will yet rarely trips over itself. As if Salman Rushdie, another ‘hysterical realist’, actually paid attention to what he wrote. (No, I don’t care for Rushdie. Yes, he is a brave man, and ‘twould seem a genius, but genius has difficulty avoiding the vulgarity of its own excess, and I do not think I will ever read more than a few paragraphs or pages of his.)

I can see why Gibson loves Pynchon. He is funny, very stylish, and sensitive to technology and its futurist implications. Indeed, it is as I thought (nay, knew) all along: Pynchon is for Gibson what Nabokov is to me: they are writers who uniquely inspired us, and whose influence on our writing we must struggle to remove from the word, sentence, paragraph, work at hand. For if we must be married to our work, we must visit our Nabokovs and Pynchons after hours, in a rented room or spare apartment uptown, and consistently tell our work-wives that that old thing is over, definitely over, long ago.

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