Monday, April 25, 2011

You didn’t like 2666? That’s bologña!

Upon finishing Roberto Bolaño’s 2666, the posthumously published 900-page tome centered on an elusive German author and the spate of yet-to-be solved female sexual homicides committed in Juárez, Mexico (which Bolaño fictionalizes as Santa Theresa) in the past 20 years, my initial reaction was: what the fuck?

Absent was my usual conception of a novel’s end: a resolution, some semblance of a wrap-up. Here we have five seemingly disparate books placed one after the other, and the threads of varying thickness tying each to one another were revealed slowly, and at times enigmatically, but where was the dénouement? I sat stunned, and a little betrayed, for a few moments, until I began to process what had just taken me the better part of two months to finish. A revelation: 2666 had, for me, pulverized the boundaries within which a novel must remain and revolutionized the rules to which a novel ought to adhere. Could this be due to my sophomoric understanding of the current literary landscape? Perhaps. But if so, I implore those in the know to point me toward works on par with 2666 (Maybe Infinite Jest?  It's on my list, okay?).

There is something bigger at play betwixt the first and final pages: between the subtle call to action; the intersection of postnationalism and cultural identity; the commentary on futility and obsession; the plight of wars both intra- and international; the silencing of a multiplicity of voices. Yes, these tropes can be found across the spectrum of literature, but Bolaño creates a new stage from which to air them; his novel both dazzles and provokes without adhering to conventional parameters. In full cognizance of the vagueness in which I’m communicating (due to my apprehension at spoiling the beauty of this novel for anyone), let me say that in this, his final work, Bolaño explodes the very term, novel, yet adheres to the secondary definition, creating something unusual, crafty, and inimitable.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sonnet 100

Ginny contemplates existence.  On the toilet, natch.

My left forearm now bears the mark of Margaret, fulfilling a dalliance I entertained in my initial blogpost.  Nice follow-through, Hawkins!  These last four lines of Margaret Atwood's Variation on the Word 'Sleep' serve as a testament to my allegiance to the written word, both mine and that of others.  A constant reminder that it is through writing that we come to know ourselves, and through reading we come to know our world.  And maybe something about love, blah blah.

Taken within the context of the orginal poem, these lines have an eerie voyeuristic quality, a desire to be unknowingly essential to someone.  But I also appreciate how they resonate in terms of the muse -- that which inspires us (sometimes unbeknownst, sometimes fleetingly) to act, create.  That muse that inhabits us for only a moment, giving us the capacity and space to take a heretofore inchoate thought and forge a tangible product or empirical action.  Thanks to all the muses out there. (Especially Josh Silverman of Schwadesign who helped me with font selection, and my tattoo artist-in-residence Mike of Black Lotus.) 

I had another tattoo finished in this sitting, but Imma waiting for that to heal 'fore I post photos.  Think: an ode to Providence.