1. article: A Language All Its Own: The Fiction of Gary Lutz
“In his introduction to The Complete Gary Lutz, Brian Evenson recounts his experience “with a gathering of French translators and editors” during which the group concludes that translating Gary Lutz is “impossible.”
“I know what you’re thinking: hyperbole. There’s no way writing can be “impossible” to translate. Perhaps a translation doesn’t quite capture the essence of the writing in its original tongue, but any translator will tell you that very few translations succeed in doing so.
Hyperbole it is not, I assure you. Gary Lutz’s writing is untranslatable; rather, any Lutz translation would be so far afield from the original wording and meaning of his writing that it might as well not be a translation at all. A mimicry, perhaps. But probably a mockery.”
“Hyperbole it is not, I assure you.”
It may or may not be hyperbole (to assert that Lutz’s work is untranslatable) but that’s not the real question. The real question has more to do with how good Lutz’s work is, and why there is so much hyperbole to wade through when people like you are called upon to answer it. Gary’s shtick is not without charm but it is, also, not without problems… like a Rube Goldberg device for making coffee. Only when the novelty wears off does the coffee-drinker learn to become impatient enough with the unnecessarily (and showily) complicated process to wonder if the coffee is any better for it. Like too many of Captain Fiction’s proteges, Lutz has managed to eke out a mildly different way to say the same old things, with the same old sophomore sneer and slouch while also, quite pointedly, it seems to me, having been vetted to never risk the outshining of the disco-ball ego of Lish himself. Lish is an interesting stylist who was probably a fun teacher (at his peak) who has had a pernicious effect on American Lit. “Fruitful botch” of a school, indeed.
Here’s a passage from a story in one of Lutz’s collections:
I taught at a school, a college — actually, a community college. The students hated me, and most who got stuck in my courses eventually dropped. I would step into a classroom on the first day of the term, and a good third of the kids, furious that I was going to be the teacher, would get up and walk out. On those who remained, I got my revenge by ladling out all A’s — even an A for the kid who slept through my entire last term, because I was jealous of his frictionless, rubber-limbed sleep. I would often want to stop talking — there was never any discussion; I filled the room with words for seventy-five-minute sessions, displacing the air with sequences of salival syllables arranged to give one the feeling, afterward, of having heard something like a lecture, something that could survive on a margin-doodled notebook page in a plausible outline of a plausible topic — so that I would not wake the kid up, even though it was obvious he could sleep through disquiets of any kind. (My own sleep was and continues to be a tiresome business — battering, sloppy, unproductive.) Shall I admit that more than once I wanted to share that kid’s sleep — i.e., to be fucked and fucked and fucked by him until I bled?”
Strikes me as fairly easy to translate.
2. article: The Strange Liberal Backlash to Woke Culture
“The title of Meghan Daum’s new book—The Problem With Everything—conveys just how far she believes the woke left has overstepped. Its publication follows similar works of polemic recently by the novelist Bret Easton Ellis (White) and the journalist and essayist Wesley Yang (The Souls of Yellow Folk). Together they constitute a school of thought of sorts, distinct from the usual howling condemnations of wokeness from the right. These three writers, after all, don’t fit the profile (straight, white, male, conservative) of the average anti-P.C. crusader. Daum insists that she is a feminist; Ellis for a long time struggled with his public identity as a gay man; and Yang made his name as an astute chronicler of Asian American life. Yet, in styles ranging from anxious foreboding to visceral contempt, they each oppose what is at its heart a movement for equality.”
“Wokeness,” as it is playing out, is a bizarre effort to replace the old Inequalities with the new Inequalities. We used to have to swallow the ridiculous notion that any White Male is inherently more valuable, more Human, than any Black or Asian or Jewish male or female (et al)… that was the History of “The West” up until and including the middle of the 20th century (at the very least; lots of grim cultural momentum in various enclaves and backwaters extended this paradigm well into the dawn of the 21st century). Deposing straight White Males (only the 99%ers among them, of course, I mean) from that throne, there’s a mad rush to squeeze the Other onto the throne, in a righteous clump, instead. With no intermediate phase of actual Equality and certainly no consideration for such Meritocratic Principles as might obligate a committee to consider the talent/ intelligence/ innovation of a novel, short story or a poem before giving a Vastly Superior Genius Award to its Author(ess) just because he’s/ she’s Trans/ Morbidly Obese/ Black. How does elevating one group, or groups, at the expense of others, serve the cause of Equality? But We aren’t really happy being “Equal,” are We? We always need some random group or other to feel better than, in order to be happy, right? Always.
The backlash to “wokeness” is anything but strange. It’s the same old reasonable impatience with Arbitrary Privilege and Discrimination that people once marched about.
3. article: The FBI files on being and nothingness
“We are apt to think of the FBI as the great conspiracy theorists. But the reality is quite nuanced: I am tempted to say they are not conspiratorial enough. They resist theory. They don’t really want to believe in plots. Hence their primal attitude, their metaphysics, when it comes to the question, Who Killed Kennedy? Was the assassination of Kennedy a conspiracy? The FBI won’t have it. They were, in their typically neo-existential way, intent on the Oswald lone-wolf story—or non-story. Oswald, in short, is just their kind of guy: a conflicted, anomic, disconnected loner. More Meursault than conspirator.”
I understand that such a preposterous premise is necessary in order to make the article’s gag (“the FBI were “philosophical policemen”) work, but, please. How naive do we, and the article’s author, have to pretend to be in order to share a wry chuckle over the joke? The FBI were “intent on the Oswald lone-wolf story” to the extent that the General Public should come to accept it on the FBI’s authority. It’s called a “Cover-Up,” kids. The successful Pusher never gets high on the pusher’s supply.
4. article: Leave Lizzo alone: why her thong dress should command respect
5. article: New book claims Albert Camus was murdered by the KGB
“Catelli’s said his theory had not been endorsed by Camus’ daughter Catherine, who prohibited publisher Gallimard from quoting her father’s work. The book has nonetheless been published in France, Argentina and Italy, and received the backing of Paul Auster, who called Catelli’s argument compelling.
“A horrible conclusion, but after digesting the evidence Catelli has given us, it becomes difficult not to agree with him. Thus ‘car accident’ should now be filed in another drawer as ‘political assassination’ – and thus Albert Camus was silenced when he was 46 years old,” writes Auster in a foreword.
“I hope that the academics will not follow the old opinion that it was a simple accident,” said Catelli, who is talking to British publishers about an English translation. “I think we owe it to the memory of Albert Camus.”
Certainly plausible. But can we please now look into the political assassination of John Lennon? (and will it help if we pretend that the KGB was behind that one, too?) Or do we have wait until (does a quick calculation) 2040…?
6. article: MAN WHO ATE $120,000 BANANA ART INSTALLATION SAYS HE ISN’T SORRY
This is what happens when your Offensively-Wealthy Shitheads start getting so arrogant and untouchable that they openly get off on rubbing it in our Serfy faces. Some enterprising young “Outsider Artist” should design and start selling cheap necklaces with little guillotines, and the number 1789, for us all to proudly wear. Let’s bring back the days of a skittishly decorous Ruling Class eager to indulge in insincere gestures of Noblesse Oblige and Grand Public Works, eh?