Whenever I talk to people about how much I loved Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" I talk about how he pulled together all these tried and true storylines, plot moments, and happenings from a long tradition of post-apocolyptic literature / film, BUT did it with so much style, so much emotion (under the surface), pitch perfections, pacing, etc. to lift it from a ho-hum collage of things I'd read before to amazing.
And in those conversations, I eventually come around to the sparseness of the story and how it reads like allegory to me. And how through the whole story-on-the-surface there is a second story for me. This second story is the story of a father who has lost his wife and is just trying to survive the everyday life of bringing up a child on his own and all the attendant fears of child-raising turned to 11. So much fear that "finding meaning" in his new life is out the window and then some -- that The Road is this depressed-and-scared mind's halluncination of "just making it" in today's world. One of the brilliances (not a word, but a word I need) of the book is that the sparseness creates a canvas for projecting your own fears and fears onto this archetypal story of loss, fear, and hope. And yes, I've just provided you a key to a recurring nightmare of mine -- I'll share the details of that actual not-fun-dream sometime (over a drink).
But I'm writing this post, because it sounds like this second-story-in-the-story just happened. Instead of it being a depressed man's view of the world around him after a post-wife's-suicide mental breakdown... this guy actually picked up his life, his young son, and headed into the woods to survive.
I'm thinking about the title of that great Charles Simic book, "The World Doesn't End" -- sometime I read that as a threat, other times as a positive outlook -- and at times like this it cycles back and forth between the two and so many shades in between. Like when you learn the electrons aren't going between the shells, but are in all of them, all the time (sorta).
This got started by coming across Mark Leidner's poetry over at HTML Giant...
And then stumbling into pieces on the whole BlazeVOX thing I'd successfully avoided until 2:30am on a Friday (avoided because I didn't want it to be my business --complicated, ugly, sad the state of all things -- just things I didn't need to cross paths with)...
And I only ended up there because after reading Mark's poems I'd wanted to watch his video interview about collage and it wouldn't load so I started to wander...
But having finished reading some of the BlazeVOX drama (hey Justin, your comments on some blog about it were good -- sorry you went through all that, but also I think we are all sorry for a lot of people involved in all this, including Gatza) and having all the reasons I'd avoided it confirmed, I really needed a piece of GOOD so then I had to get a copy of that Leidner interview, cuz the poem with the secret agent and the Scarsfaces was that good and so how could the interview not be the mental breath mint I needed. Get thee to YouTube then young man, and this thee's search there turned up a motherlode of Leitner's stuff including a bizarre photocollage over a Beach Boys track that was good stuff.
And I looked and there were a half a dozen or more videos from Mark, and I got to holding in my head that there are thousands of people like Mark -- good writers doing good different things, video collages, text-to-video cartoons, and a hundred other things. And not just writers... Photographers and artists filling Flickr and Facebook and blogs around every cornerwith strange and beautiful things. And people that would never call themselves writers or photographers or artists doing the same -- and so many people striking so much gold.
And I'm not naive, also so much crap in between and all around.
Piles and piles of good and bad and better and worse and shit.
And I get to thinking about an illustration of the world and how big and connected it is (or can be) that I use in conversation every now and again:
If just one person in one million can give you a funny, then in America alone you can get a funny a day for the whole year.
Numbers are staggering. The world is staggering.
I still don't like Pet Sounds (though I return to it every handful of years thinking my tastes will just change at some point -- hell, I used to hate orange juice).
Jamie is a co-director of Narrow House, bass player for Sweatpants (we'll rise again!), and pretty serious about fish tacos. He lives in Baltimore and works in DC at Threespot.
This is how he gets his Facebook on.