Posts Tagged ‘John Kennedy Toole’

Touched with FireThe fiery aspects of thought and feeling that initially compel the artistic voyage—fierce energy, high mood, and quick intelligence; a sense of the visionary and the grand; a restless and feverish temperament—commonly carry with them the capacity for vastly darker moods, grimmer energies, and occasionally, bouts of “madness.”  “Touched with Fire: Manic-depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament,” by Kay Redfield Jamison

I received another in a seemingly endless series of “not for us” letters in the mail yesterday.  One of those impersonal form rejection letters sent out by students and volunteers at literary magazines when they find a free moment to shove an 8 ½’ x 11 guillotine into a number 9 envelope and send it off to me using the stamp that I supplied.  The cut is quick, but it is not painless.

It does however leave me headless for a few days.  Especially when those successive mornings are spent in front of the television watching Nancy (Dis)Grace hawking her novel on Good Morning America and the Today Show.

Is her writing that good?  Is mine that bad?  You be the judge:

He couldn’t just leave the body lying there like that. There was something missing. It was biting at him. He’d tried to go, walking back to his car in the dark twice now, but the nagging in his brain wouldn’t let him leave until she was absolutely perfect.  He looked at her lying there in the moonlight. Her dead body was absolutely stunning. Before, when she had been alive, sitting in the passenger seat of his car, talking and talking about her life and herself and her journey from Anniston, Alabama, to Atlanta to break into acting, he thought his head would blow up like a bomb. She just wouldn’t shut up.”  “The Eleventh Victim,” by Nancy Grace.

It makes me wonder, and I don’t say this lightly, if a world in which Nancy Grace is a published author, a “novelist,” merely because she has “a platform,” is a world worth living in?  This being the same world that offers Levi Johnston movie roles, John and Kate Plus 8 their own TV series, and rewards talentless singers like William Hung with recording contracts.

Now, to cleanse your literary palate and to inspire you, for whatever creative outlet you might have, here are the words of some true artists who died long before they should have.  By their own hands.

A Confederacy of Dunces by J K TooleAs I was wearing the soles of my desert boots down to a mere sliver of crepe rubber on the old flagstone banquettes of the French Quarter in my fevered attempt to wrest a living from an unthinking and uncaring society, I was hailed by a cherished old acquaintance (deviate).  After a few minutes of conversation in which I established most easily my moral superiority over this degenerate, I found myself pondering once more the crises of our times.  My mentality, uncontrollable and wanton as always, whispered to me a scheme so magnificent and daring that I shrank from the very thought of what I was hearing.  “Stop!”  I cried imploringly to my god-like mind.  “This is madness.”  But still I listened to the counsel of my brain.  It was offering me the opportunity to Save the World Through Degeneracy.”  “A Confederacy of Dunces,” by John Kennedy Toole.

To the Lighthouse by Virginia WoolfFirst, the pulse of colour flooded the bay with blue, and the heart expanded with it and the body swam, only the next instant to be checked and chilled by the prickly blackness on the ruffled waves.  Then, up behind the great black rock, almost every evening spurted irregularly, so that one had to watch for it and it was a delight when it came, a fountain of white water; and then while one waited for that, one watched, on the pale semicircular beach, wave after wave shedding again and again smoothly, a film of mother of pearl.”  “To the Lighthouse,” by Virginia Woolf

Brief Interviews with Hideous MenAnd dreams.  For months there have been dreams like nothing before: moist and busy and distant, full of yielding curves, frantic pistons, warmth and a great falling; and you have awakened through fluttering lids to a rush and a gush and a toe-curling scalp-snapping jolt of feeling from an inside deeper than you knew you had, spasms of a deep sweet hurt, the streetlights through your window blinds cracking into sharp stars against the black bedroom ceiling, and on you a dense white jam that lisps between legs, trickles and sticks, cools on you, hardens and clears until there is nothing but gnarled knots of pale solid animal hair in the morning shower, and in the wet tangle a clean sweet smell you can’t believe comes from anything you made inside you.”  “Forever Overhead,” from “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men,” by David Foster Wallace.

True genius often finds reality unbearable.  But the likes of Nancy Grace would never consider suicide.  They are too pleased by the sound of their own voice, however shrill.  Too enamored of their own reflection in the mirror, in the toaster, in the window at Bloomingdale’s.  While I don’t wish Ms. Grace any harm (although I can’t stop smiling at the thought of her being the twelfth victim) I do wish she would just go away.  She is not the type to put rocks in her pocket and wade into a lake.  Her ilk just makes the rest of us want to.  So in effect, she is spared, as WE are the twelfth victim.

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