"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Category: Creative Process

The 70% Solution

plow There is a lot of good stuff to be found in Andrew Corsello’s GQ profile of Louis C.K. (never mind the “genius” part if you can). I especially like this:

“All of that”—the death of the New York club scene in the early ’90s, the Pootie Tang debacle—”has helped me form what I call my 70 Percent Rule for decision-making.” C.K. then describes a practical application of a worldview laced into many of his best routines—that “everything is amazing and nobody is happy.” If we just wrest our eyes, literally and figuratively, from our digital gizmos and the shitty, spoiling impatience they instill, we’ll see that this life, this planet, is amazing. That it is something just to be in the world, seeing and hearing and smelling. That for trillions of miles in every direction from earth, life really is blood-boilingly, eye-explodingly horrific.

“These situations where I can’t make a choice because I’m too busy trying to envision the perfect one—that false perfectionism traps you in this painful ambivalence: If I do this, then that other thing I could have done becomes attractive. But if I go and choose the other one, the same thing happens again. It’s part of our consumer culture. People do this trying to get a DVD player or a service provider, but it also bleeds into big decisions. So my rule is that if you have someone or something that gets 70 percent approval, you just do it. ‘Cause here’s what happens. The fact that other options go away immediately brings your choice to 80. Because the pain of deciding is over.

“And,” he continues, “when you get to 80 percent, you work. You apply your knowledge, and that gets you to 85 percent! And the thing itself, especially if it’s a human being, will always reveal itself—100 percent of the time!—to be more than you thought. And that will get you to 90 percent. After that, you’re stuck at 90, but who the fuck do you think you are, a god? You got to 90 percent? It’s incredible!”

[Picture by Randel Plowman via Just Another Masterpiece]

Write On

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Adam Begley’s new biography, Updike, reviewed by Orhan Pamuk in the Sunday Book Review:

Aside from his enormous talents and Protestant work ethic, Updike’s defining characteristic is his signature style, which he owes to his desire to be a graphic artist, and to his stunningly visual memory. Like Proust, like Nabokov and like Henry Green, all of whom influenced him, Updike wrote sentences that work through the precise meeting of visual detail and verbal accuracy. Updike was fully aware that this precision required a wide verbal range and ingenuity; indeed, when he criticized Tom Wolfe’s failure to be “exquisite,” Updike’s point of comparison was his own style.

And here is Louis Menand’s Updike appreciation for the New Yorker:

Updike wanted to do with the world of mid-century middle-class American Wasps what Proust had done with Belle Époque Paris and Joyce had done with a single day in 1904 Dublin—and, for that matter, Jane Austen had done with the landed gentry in the Home Counties at the time of the Napoleonic Wars and James had done with idle Americans living abroad at the turn of the nineteenth century. He wanted to biopsy a minute sample of the social tissue and reproduce the results in the form of a permanent verbal artifact.

Updike believed that people in that world sought happiness, and that, contrary to the representations of novelists like Cheever and Kerouac, they often found it. But he thought that the happiness was always edged with dread, because acquiring it often meant ignoring, hurting, and damaging other people. In a lot of Updike’s fiction, those other people are children. Adultery was for him the perfect example of the moral condition of the suburban middle class: the source of a wickedly exciting kind of pleasure and a terrible kind of guilt.

It’s easy to understand why people identify Stephen Dedalus with Joyce, and why they identify the narrator of “In Search of Lost Time” with Proust. But it’s strange that people persist in identifying the protagonists of the Olinger stories and the Maples stories and the Rabbit books with Updike. Those characters are Updikean in certain limited ways—unusually sensitive, unusually death-haunted, unusually horny. But they are not unusually smart or unusually gifted. They could never have created John Updike. And only Updike could have created them.

[Photo Via: The. Buried. Talent.]

It Ain’t Hard to Tell

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Lots of deserved attention being paid to Nas’ debut record Illmatic which turns 20 this year. A documentary, mix tape tributes, you name it.

Here’s one of my favorites so far–an in-depth interview with Large Professor:

DX: Yeah, Nas always said Illmatic was like his application to the Rap gods membership club. Sort of like a “Hear me out..this is what I’m doing…I belong here,” thing.

Large Professor: Definitely, definitely. Yeah, that was it, and with that album, I always say that was a more lyrical-driven album, if anything. Like, the beats were cool. They were good backdrops, but just the lyrics and the experience that he was putting down over those beats just it is why that album is heralded the way it is today.

DX: You’re being really modest, man. Those beats were not just okay.

Large Professor: Nah, I mean, they were bangin’. “One Love,” you know what I mean? “The World Is Yours,” and everything… But you could have had some clown get those beats and put some bullshit down, and them shits, it wouldn’t have been nothing. Nas put something down that was like, “Yo, this is… It’s not the icing on the cake. This is part of the cake.” It was like, “This ain’t the icing on the cake; this is the cake almost,” and the beat was almost like the icing. Nas’s rhymes were like the cake because, you could have gotten any old body to rhyme on them beats, and you would have been like, “That’s cool.” But [with] the stuff like “The World Is Yours,” he was tapping into the spirit of the beats and everything. It was like, “Yo, what is this? This is like world is yours type shit, man,” and that’s serious business.

DX: Absolutely. He’s said in interviews that he begged you to executive produce the album, but you were like, “No. It’s your vision.”

Large Professor: Yeah, nah, like I was on some… We were cool. We would be in the crib, and we’d be recording, and then we’d take a break, sit out on the terrace and just chill. We would be talking about the world like, “Yo, if this planet…” We would just be wandering in thought and just all kind of stuff like that. So, to have that kind of relationship, and then just one day come and say, “Just sign this contract.” Nah, I couldn’t. That’s not who I am. I’m not a sign this contract kind of guy.

[Image via: Complex]

Zippo, Bang

calvinandhobbes Check out this meaty 1989 Comics Journal interview with Bill Watterson (found over at Longform):

WEST: In looking at Krazy Kat, do you draw any strength from what Herriman did in terms of the relationships of his characters?

WATTERSON: Krazy Kat is a completely unique strip. I think it’s the best comic strip ever drawn. Ultimately, though, it’s such a peculiar and idiosyncratic vision that it has little to say to me directly. I marvel at it because it’s beyond duplication. It’s like trying to paint a sunrise — you’re better off not even trying. Peanuts and Pogo have been inspirations, too, but these strips are much more down to earth, and are much closer to my own way of thinking, and have had much more direct influence. Even so, I try to keep the instances of blatant plagiarism to a minimum. Looking back, you’ll see that some of the old strips are one-gag formulas, endlessly varied. Krazy Kat revolves around the tossing of the brick. Little Nemo was always a dream, and you know the kid is going to wake up in a heap at the bottom of his bed in every single strip. I find Herriman a lot more interesting than McCay, but both are working within a very limited construct. It’s a very different approach to cartooning that what we do now. I would go insane working with limited formulas like theirs, but on the other hand, Herriman and McCay gave us something better than gags. Back then, the fun was in the getting there. The destination of each strip was the same, but every day you went there by a different road. Today, we want the strip over as soon as possible — “Just hand me the punch line, please.” The fewer panels, words, and drawings, the better: I think Pogo was the last of the enjoy-the-ride strips. It’s a shame. We’ve really lost what comics do best.

WEST: Can’t you still do that with the Sundays?

WATTERSON: The Sundays are frustrating — you have to waste the entire top third of the strip so that the panels can be dropped or reconfigured for certain-sized newspapers. This really limits what I can do. Krazy Kat had a whole page to itself, as did Nemo. Even so, there’s more flexibility on Sundays than in the daily strips. I’ve always tried to make the strip animated, even when the characters aren’t moving, with expressions or perspectives or some sort of exaggeration. There’s great potential for that which has yet to be fully mined.

 

Searching for Mr. Lehrer

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This is worth reading. Ben Smith on Tom Lehrer:

If you get hooked on Tom Lehrer as a kid, it’s not because you think he might be a sweet old man. It’s because beneath the cheerful tunes is an edge, a sheer nastiness and even sadism, that kids have always loved. It’s the same edge that makes Roald Dahl so appealing to children and disturbing to their parents.

Lehrer saw this Peter Pan in himself, joking about it before one of his last performances, in Copenhagen in 1967. “All of these songs were part of a huge scientific project to which I have devoted my entire life,” Lehrer said. “Namely, the attempt to prolong adolescence beyond all previous limits.”

But when Lehrer is the nostalgic music of your childhood, you want to like him. He always replies politely to his fans, no less when they are journalists seeking to profile him. Earlier this year, he put up with a brief telephone conversation with a BuzzFeed reporter, whom he referred to “Mr. Google” for further research. Told that search results concerning him are full of gaps and contradictions, he just laughed. “It doesn’t matter if the answer is correct — who cares?” he said. “And I lie a lot too.”

He then replied to our letter full of nostalgia and curiosity with a genial dismissal. “You seem to have devoted so much thought to the questions you ask that you should perhaps just write what you think is the truth, even if it’s just speculation, which — judging by today’s commentators on TV — is the easiest and therefore the most common form of punditry. I neither support nor encourage your efforts, but I shall not try to thwart them,” he wrote. And he was true to his word. He didn’t respond to a second letter, nor to a fact-checking email sent to his AOL email address; his email handle includes a phrase along the line of “living legend.” When we stopped by his Sparks Street house on a cold night in February, a light was on and a Prius was in the driveway, but nobody answered the door and Lehrer wrote that he had left town for California.

 

That’s Life

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Roz Chast. Her pictures make me laugh and other things.

[Photo Credit: Piotr Redlinski for The New York Times]

Geek Love Revisited

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I’ve never read Katherine Dunn’s novel Geek Love but I remember it being a big deal when it came out and also recall seeing it in bookstores for a long time after that.

Over at Wired, Caitlin Roper celebrates Geek Love at 25:

KURT COBAIN AND COURTNEY LOVE were fans. Terry Gilliam—former Monty Pythonite and the director of Time Bandits, Brazil, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas—calls it “the most romantic novel about love and family I have read. It made me ashamed to be so utterly normal.” In the ’90s, Harry Anderson, the magician and actor (he played the Judge on Night Court) optioned the film rights and wrote a movie script himself. Flea, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist, adores it. “Certain books,” he says, “are so imaginative that they suck you into a world that you’d never known existed. They make you feel like you’re being let in on this secret. It’s life-changing.”

The book is Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love, a dazzling oddball masterpiece published 25 years ago this month. It’s the tale of a circus sideshow called the Binewski Carnival Fabulon that hits hard times. (The titular “geek” refers to a sideshow performer who bites the heads off chickens.) When some of the show’s performers defect, its proprietors—Aloysius and Crystal Lil Binewski—decide to breed their own stable of freaks. Their methods are experimental and more than a little disturbing: They mess with their own DNA and biochemistry using various drugs, insecticides, and radioactive materials. It works: Lil gives birth to a boy with flippers for hands and feet, a set of Siamese twins joined at the waist, a hunchback albino dwarf, and a regular-looking baby with telekinetic powers. The Binewskis become freak superheroes, a team of way-weirdos, each with his own skills and powers.

It hardly sounds like mass-market material. But Geek Love has been a perennial best seller, and its cultural influence has been prodigious. The book has inspired and moved writers, artists, and performers to tell their own wild stories. Novelist Karen Russell read Geek Love for the first time when she was 15. She picked it up expecting a story of nerds in love, but found something else: “I felt electrocuted when I read that first page with Crystal Lil and her freak brood. I stood there in the bookstore and my jaw came unhinged. No book I’ve read, before or since, has given me that specific jolt.” Harlan Ellison describes Geek Love as “transformative” and adds: “Not only for its time and its subject matter, but for Katherine Dunn’s attack on the material. She had a stout voice and a clear insight.” Then there’s Jim Rose, who read Geek Love when he was a 30-year-old American touring Europe as a stunt performer with his wife’s family circus. The novel inspired him to launch his own sideshow in the US, the Jim Rose Circus, which toured with Lollapalooza, Nine Inch Nails, and then on its own through the ’90s. “Geek Love forces a movie into your head while you read it,” Rose says. “You barely even realize you’re reading words.” The only other book he could think of that had the same effect on him? Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. (It must be the scene where the lady gets a hatchet in her head.)

[Illustration by Brandon Zimmerman]

Million Dollar Movie

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This movie looks good. And this post by Andrew Martin over at the New York Review of Books is cool. 

The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

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Jon Michaud still admires the classic Genesis concept album:

I’ve been listening to “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” for three decades now, and I haven’t tired of it—which is something I can’t honestly say about the rest of the Genesis catalogue. The record was a kind of looking glass for my youthful dreams, as crucial as the movies of Martin Scorsese and the novels of Paul Auster in fostering a long-distance fascination with New York that prompted my move to the city after college. Guided by Kevin Holm-Hudson’s critical history, “Genesis and ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway’,” and several biographies of the band and its members, I’ve spent the past few weeks immersing myself once again in the mysteries of “The Lamb.” On the eve of Gabriel’s induction into the Hall, there remains no better place to look for the roots of his artistic transformation.

“The Lamb” was written and recorded during the summer of 1974. By that time, Genesis had been together for seven years and released five albums, establishing a reputation for long, intricately constructed songs featuring multiple mood changes and unconventional time signatures (“Apocalypse in 9/8” is the partial subheading of one of their longer numbers). After some early personnel shifts, the band had stabilized its lineup in 1970: founding members Gabriel (vocals and flute) and Tony Banks (keyboards) along with Mike Rutherford (bass and guitar), Steve Hackett (guitars), and Phil Collins (percussion). Intense touring—as many as two hundred shows a year—had helped them develop a strong following in the U.K. Their fifth album, “Selling England by the Pound” (1973), rose as high as No. 3 on the British charts. Though that LP made it only to No. 70 on the Billboard Hot 100, Genesis had supported the record with a long tour in the U.S. (their first), where an embryonic fan base had begun to grow. The exposure to America, and New York in particular, would inspire their next project.

The band operated as a coöperative, equally sharing all music-writing credits. The lyrics were also a collaboration, usually between Gabriel, Banks, and Rutherford. Yet, in performance the members of Genesis were anything but equals. In typical fashion for a progressive-rock act, the four instrumentalists sat or stood in a semicircle, rooted to their spots, intently playing. Front and center was Gabriel, who looked like he’d stormed in from a commedia dell’arte show in the theatre next door. With face paint, an overgrown monk’s haircut, and a tight-fitting black jumpsuit, he bounced around the stage telling stories, donning costumes and masks, and pantomiming. Holm-Hudson correctly argues that Gabriel’s performances are much more akin to early David Bowie than to those of other prog-rock singers like Jon Anderson, of Yes. The video below, of the song “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe),” from 1973, is a representative example of his dynamic stage presence. It also gives the viewer an indication why the other members of Genesis might have begun to resent the growing impression that they were merely a backup group for their charismatic lead singer.

The Allman Brothers Story

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Here’s Cameron Crowe’s 1973 Rolling Stone cover story on the Allman Brothers.

This is the story that inspired Crowe’s movie, Almost Famous.

Affliction

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Afflictor is a site worth book-marking. Here’s a recent post on a 1958 BBC conversation between Ian Fleming and and Raymond Chandler.

Dutch Master

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From the excellent Fairfield Writer’s blog check out these two long appreciations of Elmore Leonard. They are packed with goodies.

Part One.

Part Two.

Gimme The Beat

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Oliver Want on drum machines. 

The Ecstasy of Indifference

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From Glenn Kenny:

Art Pepper, the jazz saxophonist, wrote, with his wife Laurie Pepper, one of the great books about art and addiction, his memoir Straight Life. After describing his childhood, and his discovery of music, and his development as a musician in the Central Avenue “scene” of the 1940s, and his stint in the Army, Pepper writes, with great frankness, of the sexual compulsions he struggled with as a rising star in jazz. Then he writes about the first time he got high on heroin, and how, in a flash, he realized he had “found God.”

“I loved myself, everything about myself, ” Pepper writes. “I loved my talent. I had lost the sour taste of the filthy alcohol and the feeling of the bennies and the strips that put chills up and down my spine. I looked at myself in the mirror and I looked at Sheila”—Sheila Harris, the singer who was getting Pepper high—”and I looked at the few remaining lines of heroin and I took the dollar bill and horned the rest of them down. I said, ‘This is it. This is the only answer for me. If this is what it takes, then this is what I’m going to do, whatever dues I have to pay…’ And then I knew that I would get busted and I knew that I would go to prison and that I wouldn’t be weak; I wouldn’t be an informer like all the phonies, the no-account, the nonreal, the zero people that roam around, the scum that slither out from under rocks, the people that destroyed music, that destroyed this country, that destroyed the world, the rotten, fucking, lousy people that for their own little ends—the black power people, the sickening, stinking motherfuckers that play on the fact that they’re black, and all this fucking shit that happened later on—the rotten, no-account, filthy women that have no feling for anything; they have no love for anyone; they don’t know what love is; they are shallow hulls of nothingness—the whole group of rotten people that have nothing to offer, that are nothing, never will be anything, never were intending to be anything.”

In Pepper’s unstuck-in-time rant of resentment (the actual scene is set in 1950, but his voice goes ahead to his stint in prison, and speaks to a number of attitudes he was still coming to terms with as he was composing the book) will of course remind one of Lou Reed’s song “Heroin,” in which the protagonist, asserting his intention to “nullify [his] life,” sneers at “you sweet girls with your sweet talk,” and celebrates the fact that “when the smack begins to flow/then I really don’t care anymore/abouts all the Jim-Jims in this town/and everybody puttin’ everybody else down/and all the politicians making crazy sounds/and all the dead bodies piled up in mounds.” The key phrase is “really don’t care” and the key word is “really.” The ecstasy of heroin, if ecstasy it in fact is, is the ecstasy of genuine indifference. You REALLY just don’t care. And really not caring can seem like an exceptional blessing to people of exceptional sensitivity. Hell, to people of average sensitivity, even. Who knows.

Gasp

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This is a paper airplane. 

The Exploitation Was The Genius

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Last month, Adam Gopnik wrote an absorbing review of Terry Teachout’s new Duke Ellington biography in the New Yorker. It’s only available to subscribers but I wanted to share this part:

…A residue of disappointment clings to go to these pages: Ellington was an elegant man but not a very nice one, Teachout concludes, exploiting the musicians he gathered and held so close. He used his musicians (not to mention his women) often quite coldly, and his romantic-seeming life was really one long cloud of shimmering misdirection. Teachout reveals that Ellington was rarely the sole composer of the music associated with his name. Nearly all of his hit songs, Teachout explains,”were collaborations with band members who did not always receive credit—or royalties—when the songs were recorded and published.” It’s long been known by fans that many of the most famous “Ellington” numbers are really the arranger Billy Strayhorn’s, including “Take the A Train” and “Chelsea Bridge,” and that the valve trombonist Juan Tizol wrote most of “Caravan.” But most of “Mood Indigo” was Barney Bigard’s, while “Never Know Lament” (which became the hit “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”),”I’m Beginning to See the Light,” and” I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart” began as Johnny Hodges riffs and then became songs. “Sophisticated Lady,” “Prelude to a Kiss,” and “In a Sentimental Mood,” in turn, are melodies originally blown by, and rarely credited to, the alto-sax player Otto Hardwick.

None of these are obvious, all-purpose riffs, or simple blues phrases. They’re rich, melodic ideas, as complex as anything in Gershwin or Rodgers. Ellington owned them, but they didn’t start in his head, or take form under his fingers. Teachout says all the right things about how, without Ellington’s ear to hear them and his intelligence to fix and resolve them, these might have been butterflies that lived a day, fluttered, and died. But you sense that he’s shaken by the news. It seems like theft. It certainly bothered the musicians. Hodges used to make a sign of counting money when Ellington was playing the medley of his tunes.

One might be a touch more defiant on behalf of the Duke. Ellington really did take other men’s ideas and act as if they were his own. But he did this because because he took other men’s ideas and made them his own. There are artists whose genius lies in exploiting other people’s talent, and we can recognize the exploitation as the genius. It is the gift of such artists to be able to energize and paralyze other people and do both at the same time. It may be true that Herman Mankiewicz wrote most of “Citizen Kane,” scene by scene and even shot by shot. What is certainly true is that nothing else that survives of Mankiewicz’s is remotely as good as “Citizen Kane.” That’s because he was writing “Citizen Kane” for Orson Welles. Johnny Hodges spent many years on his own, with every chance to keep his tunes to himself. No other standard ever emerged. Suppose Billy Strayhorn had been liberated instead of “adopted” and infantilized. Would he have had the energy and mastery to form a band, sustain it, recruit the right musicians, survive their eccentricities and addictions, give them music they could play, record it, and keep enough of a popular audience alive to justify the expense of the rest? It is painful to read of Strayhorn desolate over having credit for his music stolen by the Duke; it is also the case that Ellington had the genius not to have to cry.

Ellington’s ear, his energy, his organizational abilities, the shortness of his decisions are a case study for management school.(Consider the way he fired Charles Mingus for fighting with Tizol, fondly but with no appeal: “I’m afraid, Charles—I’ve never fired anybody—you’ll have to quit my band. I don’t need any new problems. Juan’s an old problem…. I must ask you to be kind enough to give me your notice.”) These are not ordinary or secondary gifts. They were the essence of his genius. Ellington had an idea of a certain kind of jazz: tonal, atmospheric, blues-based but elegant. He took what he needed to realize the ideal he had invented. The tunes may have begun with his sidemen; the music was his. This is not a secondary form of originality, which needs a postmodern apologia, in which “curating” is another kind of “creating.” It is the original kind of originality.

There is a reason that Duke’s players mostly complained of being cheated only of the dough. Originality comes in two kinds: originality of ideas, and originality of labor, and although it is the first kind that we get agitated about, we should honor the second kind still more. There is wit, made by the head and spun out into life; and work, created mostly by fingers engaging tools as various as tenor saxes and computer keyboards. It is an oddity of our civilization, and has been since the Renaissance, to honor wit more than work, to think that the new idea “contributed” by the work matters more than the work itself.

What Johnny Hodges was doing in making those new melodies may have been more like copying errors in ceaseless cell fission then like premeditated decision: as he set to playing the same chord changes over and over, night after night, a lucky error in a note may, one night, have touched another and become an innovation. It was a happy accident produced by hard labor. But that it reflected effort as much as inspiration should only increase its value. No author really minds, too much, seeing his or her ideas “out there,” to be recycled, and even a conceptual artist has a slightly guilty conscience trading in that commodity alone. (That’s why Jasper Johns fans insist that it is the finish, the touch, that really matters.) What artists dislike is having their effort recirculated without we recompense. It is our sentences, not our sentiments, that we ought to protect. The Duke’s men grasped this. They were glad to concede to their self-made duke all of his preëminence—indeed, his royalty. They just wanted him to hand over their royalties first.

What mattered was the band. Duke Ellington was a great impresario and bandleader who created the most stylish sound, and brand, and American music, and kept the company of musicians going for half a century. That this description seem somehow less exalting than calling him a “major American composer” or a “radical music innovator” is a sign of how far we have to go in allowing art to tell us how to admire it, rather than trying to make it hold still in conventional poses in order to be admired.

Fascinating.

A Great Communicator

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Over at Buzzfeed, check out this terrific interview with George Saunders talking about Arthur Miller’s memoir, Timebends:

CW: What drew you into this book, initially? What kept you reading, and what inspired the recommendation today?

GS: At first I was just loving the descriptions of his childhood and being reminded of the fact that the only thing that will evoke the world as we actually experience it is great sentences – the difference between a boring, banal account of childhood and one that feels properly rich and mysterious (i.e., like one’s own actual childhood), is the phrase-by-phrase quality of the prose. Perceptions truthfully remembered make great sentences and great sentences provide the way for that truthful remembering to happen – something like that. I guess I’m just saying it was a pleasure to read such intelligent writing.

But also – lately I find myself interested in anything historical that can open up my mind afresh and get me really seeing the past, with the purpose of adding that data to my evolving moral-ethical view of the world. (We only live in one time but can read in many, etc., etc.) To have a witness as intelligent and articulate as Miler is almost (almost!) like having been there oneself. So here, wow, the stories and details – New York before the war, all his crazy relatives and their various ends; stories about Odets, Kazan, et al, Miller’s deep periods of artistic immersion, life with Monroe, trips to Russia, walking around with Frank Lloyd Wright (and finding him unlikeable), the moral-spiritual breakdown of Untermeyer, the way Lee J. Cobb first “got” Willy Loman, and on and on – I just came away thinking, “Jeez, what a life. Good for you, Arthur Miller. We should all live so fully.”

I also found myself really excited by Miller’s basic assumptions about art: it’s important, it is supposed to change us, it’s not supposed to be trivial or merely clever, it’s one human being trying to urgently communicate with another. But it was also exciting to see his uncertainty around this stance – the way he couldn’t always execute, and sometimes doubted those ideas, and found himself fighting against the prevailing spirit of the time – like in the 1960s, when everything felt, to him, ironic and faux-cynical. I found myself inspired by the way he went through his life, always holding out a high vision of what art is supposed to do – he strikes me as having been a real fighter.

I read the book when it came out. Sounds like it’s time to dive back in.
[Photo Credit: Elliot Erwitt]

Studs and Bob

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Via the always nourishing Kottke, check out Studs Terkel’s 1963 interview with Dylan. 

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver