2.10.2005

Modus Operandi

"You will find most books worth reading are worth reading twice."
-- John Morely

BBC recently attributed to Oscar Wilde the quote, "If a book isn't worth reading twice it isn't worth reading once," though this site claims Scooter(?) said it. Famous, infamous, or unfamous--whoever said it said wisely.

"[A]ll aspects of a film are based on formal, structural principles, and meaning as well as emotion is always communicated by structure.... Meaning or emotion does not exist without a form to communicate it. We never simply 'know' something."
--Robert Kolker, Film, Form and Culture

"Break up the larger story into its components, make sure you understand the exact function of each component (a story is like a machine with numerous gears: it should contain no gear that doesn't turn something) and after each component has been carefully set in place, step back and have a look at the whole."
--John Gardner

On our local public radio came a musician who spoke of teaching the next generation of musicians. Her rationale was that (I wish I had the direct quote) if you teach them, they will understand the form and be able to pass it on. The interest now infused in Language poetry may be due in large part to Ron Silliman's blog (his work can be found here).

All of this quoting is simply pointing the direction of this blog. I used to feel it important to be coyly speechless about art as Robert Frost or Robert Altman, but wouldn't it be better to explain art so that more could participate? The more who can participate, the higher the odds are that the arts will be funded for the future. Mystical, elitist attitudes about art and understanding it bore me, so I plan to dig deeper into texts (probably no deeper than I dug into "Wakefield," etc.). This means I'll be spoiling plots and sleight-of-hand, but would the story be worth reading if talking about it ruined it? (Maybe particularly well-crafted plot-driven stories, in which case I'll be as indirect and coyly phrased as possible.)

Jeff Vandermeer recently blogged one of his best commentaries on Haruki Murakamis. He asks, "Are there books we under-appreciate through no fault of the author's, but because our own imaginations as readers are not up to the task?" Maybe essays of more depth will help us get to a place where can appreciate them as opposed to reading good art because it's somehow mystically good for us. Spinach is too, but would you eat everything you were told was good for you if you didn't know how? If we aren't able to explain what we say we appreciate, do we truly appreciate it?