I meant, on Monday, to read one of Ligotti's tales in honour of his birthday, and report back here, but ironically (considerding I'd meant in particular to read one of his corporate horror tales), I was working till past midnight, and didn't have time.
Another literary figure with a birthday soon is Bruno Schulz. I've bought a copy of The Street of Crocodiles for a friend who also has a birthday this week. Can a misanthrope be democratic? I don't insist on being a misanthrope, but when I encounter general opinions on literature, I often feel very inclined to take a dim view of both humanity and democracy. Up with elitism, etc. In particular, this kind of thing will do it:
When I found out Safran Foer's new book had something to do with Schulz' 'The Street of Crocodiles', I had to read it. As much as I try to, I don't love it. Full of weird and descriptive passages, with very little human conversation, it can be quite heavy reading.
The 'it' referred to in "I had to read it", is The Street of Crocodiles, not whatever Safran Foer's book was. "Full of weird and descriptive passages, with very little human conversation, it can be quite heavy reading." Take out the word "reading", and this could almost be a description of my life. Looked at this way, I suppose it's easier for me to sympathise when the reviewer says, "I don't love it." Still, since this is, in a sense, my life, it's hard not to feel marginalised by this crushingly relentless popular view of... "weird and descriptive passages", etc.
On the subject of misanthropy, there is now an additional Kodagain soundcloud page, here, and the first song is - kind of - about misanthropy. I'll embed it here:TRAITOR TO THE HUMAN RACE by Kodagain again
Readers of this blog might also enjoy the song 'Morrissey Hairstyle Blog'.
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Edgar A. Poe. Poe was one of the very first writers I read who I would say stands up to adult re-reading. The first Poe tale I ever read was 'The Gold Bug'. I was perhaps eleven or twelve. While admiring Poe, I've always felt I was missing something in relation to his writing. For instance, 'The Fall of the House of Usher', while impressing me in a surface sense, always somehow felt meaningless to me. That is, I felt there was a meaning, but that I couldn't connect with it. I've grown fond of Poe's poetry in recent years, perhaps more than his prose. But I am beginning to get a sense that it is time for me to re-read the prose, too, and to read those things that I have thus far left unread.
I have only a very bare idea of Poe's life, but recent, rather superficial internet research tells me that Poe was one of the first well known Americans (not sure how that's measured) to attempt to live from his writing alone. If this is true, it's a very interesting fact, and one that makes me feel closer to him. The struggles he had with poverty were the result of his trying to live by writing. The rather superior attitude that one should not make money by writing could be seen - as I have long seen it - as a hangover from a period when only gentlemen were supposed to write, and were able to do so because they had the leisure and did not have to worry where their next meal was coming from. The struggle with poverty - much romanticised - that is often associated with writers, is precisely the struggle of the likes of Poe, to be recognised as those who live entirely for their writing and who either believe they deserve to be paid for it, or know that, anyway, they can live no other way, so they had better be paid whether they deserve it or not, if they want to eat.
Also of interest is that Poe - if I am correct - fought for the enforcement of copyright, again to protect the livelihood of writers.
But to say that writers should be paid is not to argue for the commercialisation of literature, any more than saying that teachers should be paid is arguing for the commercialisation of education. I can extend this analogy. There seem very few who are able or willing to argue against the current equation of popularity with quality in literature. While I don't see literature as didactic, I don't believe popularity is a measure of its worth, any more than I think education should take a 'democratic' path of least resistance.
But perhaps we're always forced to revert to acknowledging that we're all just fighting to survive in a chaotic world...