Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ecce Homo




The quest at first seems noble.

Listen up, all you poseurs and incompetents, writer manqués, poseurs, English teacher all.

I will go to Tahiti, do what I have to do there, and when I come back, I will go to the auditorium, read my stuff and bring the house down.

Well. Certainly great expectations.

But the allure of a new paradise, the smell of eucalyptus, the vodka taste of alcohol, the gleaming limbs of women, most distracting to the ordinarily closeted writer.

The rewards seem there before the accomplishment, the novel, the painting.

For Gaugin, it was beautiful Wahine women. For Joe Orton it was lightfooted Arab boys in white, and for me it was a Hollywood starlet.
But both Gaugin and Orton got the work done.

Thirty years later, I'm still stuck at the work, the nuts and bolts of it, before I go up on the podium.

Oh sure, there were the palliatives the little romans a clef to spite your underachieving peers, The poetry readings, the coffee house grind. But it was largely dreck, coffee house leftovers from the magnum opus that was to have been your novel.

Well, I'm finally ready. Not with the novel that I had meant to write (though it was somehow shoemakered together) but with a knock-off, my Fire In Bradford, with which I hope to read on the podium--hoping to bring down the house.

But,

Something is happening to Professor Irwin Kovalenko.
It is happening, is happening, as he had always dreaded, happening to him in public, before students, yes, a public breakdown.
Yes, a crack-up on this glorious, but unnaturallly chilly campus in summer, with its stone arches and lentils among the flowering tiger lillies and cultivated roses, the college a jewel in the Caledon hillls of Ontario, and it is here that Professor Kovalenko freezes up.
He had laboured mightily, toiled for years, thought, fucked, drank.


And now this.

A friggin' clown.

But somehow he gets through the reading.

There is faint applause.

He bows, goes in among he audience, takes off his mortarboard hat, turns it upside down, uses it like a panhandler's cup.

And strangely, there is the first hollow click of coin.

And the tragicomedy of this is that there is suddenly wild applause.
##

19 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

For me it was the small town girl, along the dirt roads, in the corn fields. Night moves.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

I think it was one of our bloggers who wrote about conflower- blue eyes.

Mona said...

Tragi comedy for the theatre of Absurd!

Sounds like some confusion.

Mona said...

& I was wondering about the picture. I guess you did not get any picture of the Emperor without clothes & so the cupid...

I think the coin flick was the child's shout of the 'emperor's new clothes' for the people!

ivan said...

Mona,

I think I swallowed my art history book.
But here goes anyway.

The cupid in the painting is by Carravagio, perhaps the greatest of the Italian Baroque painters.
He is probably most famous for his Conversion of Saul, where there are horses hooves and glints here and there of gold,difficult to impart, Carravagio's masterful technique.
The Renaissance was a tough act to follow, but it was Carravagio that finally went from Renassance to almost magic realism, baroque--if that isn't an oxymoron.

He was in good company. I believe Bach's music could be classified as baroque, though it is so precise that it is certatinly mathematical. Egad. Baroque...elements of the fantastical, yet so precise.
Carravagio never saw forty. Died of swamp fever (maybe V.D.?) at thirty-nine. He bacame, when rejected once or twice on a church commission, very arrogant, and he would fight and even kill people.
...I am certainly no Carravagio, bukt I have been in a bar fight or two over literary points. :)

You are dead- on about theatre of the absurd and tagicomedy in my writing. Almost the exact same was said to my by James Polk, an editor of a medium size publishing house here in Toronto.

He had said about my book, The Hat People, "A tragicomedy of a culturally displaced person trying to hold it together in Toronto.
"

You are accurate as a literary critic.

As for the painting above, it is "love conquers all", by Carravagio. Homo-erotic for him? I don't know....I was just making reference, I guess to the great and gay English contemporary novelist, Joe Orton.

BTW, I have a book coming out, a re-editing of my The Fire in Bradford, which is up on my header on my blog, top right. The book comes out in two weeks, but there migh be time to slip in a review by Mona.
Click onto it. The Fire in Bradford is rather compact, an easy read, I think.

Anyway from my silly absurdities in my blog to a fershlugginer discusson of Baroque art.

We're all over the place!

Take care.

Mona said...

Thanks for the write up on Carravagio. I have come across magic realism in literature, specially Salman Rushdie's. The Satanic Verses ( Yes I have read it despite the Ban in India) is the greatest expositon of the technique in prose ( But I guess all novels of Rushdie's are.)

My Monster Exam is next Sunday. Let us see what we can do...

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Salman Rushdie.

I am a little ashamed of not having read all of The Satanic Verses. It began to work on my schizophrenia.
But there are so many reviews out on the book. Mr. Rushdie is a frequent featured guest on Canadian television. He seems a very segacious man. Says things like, The pen is mightier than the sword? Pschaw!
Something of an iconoclast, I suppose.

Speaking of schizophrenia, The Verses must have certainly left particles of that condition in Indian society. He is either admired or reviled.
To invent a joke, mildly sacriligious, why doesn't he just take Jesus as his personal saviour?

You are right about his magic realism. Surrealism?

I admire his writing. But it seems-- though Rushdie is very Anglicized-- as if it were written in Arabic first, then translated into English.

But a wild, kaleidoscopic ride all the same.

Myself, I prefer the late John Champlin Gardner, the farmboy turned mystical writer.. The Sunlight Dialogues was quite a read for me... About a Satanic kind of guy taking the chief of police on a tour with him through all the histories of Ur-Babylon, the chief hypnotized and having to take the ride.
It is written in wonderful, Western New York diction, without the presumably Arabic? word order of Rushdie, which I found irritating at times.
But face it. A Booker prize winner is a booker prize winner.
And very brave.

Ah brave. The exam.

As they say in show business, Mona, break a leg on that exam!

Cheers.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I have given up on the quest. I'm reminded of the pursuit of a woman, the more I tried, the more I was rejected; If I no longer pursue such matters then maybe, just maybe, something good will come my way.

Mona said...

Joe Orton died young...

They wouldn't have that kind of appeal for you, the Rushdie novels. Since we From Asia can relate much more to the subject and the diction, it is of great interest for us. Although Rushdie's Moor last sigh was set in Spain....

Despite his imaginary homelands theory, he is more ethnic than he would like to believe. & we can clearly relate even to the subtlest of innuendos. Some of his work can be translated Metaphrase , and we can get the own language version to feel the 'real impact' more forcefully than a foreigner ever would. We can also relate to the milieu...
As Far as Satanic Verses is concerned, it IS blasphemy by Muslim Standards, since some of the Koranic Verses have been deliberately modified with an addition or subtraction to give an opposite meaning thereof. It is also derogatory in some sense, for having equated the wives of the prophet to being prostitutes in a brothel.

But I am not judgmental... To each his own...

I presented a paper on his earlier works, in a seminar once. The midnight's Children & Shame. Since they are both satirical works of post Independence India & Pakistan respectively ...

I am already getting ideas on your Bradford...

TomCat said...

Just don't cut off your ear. :-)

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Well JR, and old Russian W.W.I colonel once told me, "If you just sit still for once, the bluebird of happiness might just perch on your shoulder."

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Mona,

Thanks for the elucidation on author Salman Rushdie.
I think I am beginning to understand.

As for a review, of my Fire in Bradford, no pressure. The book is going to print in two weeks, but I may be able to tack newer reviews on in another press run, or put them here.
I know that you are a trained critic, and your review will be interesting indeed.

ivan said...

TomCat,

Did you ever hear Van cough?

Mona said...

Trained Critic! Hardly true. I can say I am a natural in that respect. Never opted for the criticism paper in my studies & never studied many of them critics!

Well... About the Play...Never mind the first mild applause. Remember, Harold Pinter's 'The Birthday Party' opened to empty theaters at first. Yet some some critics declared it a classic at their own risk, at that very time...

It is one of his most important plays today...

I remember having read that the actor who had been acting in Beckett's Waiting for Godot had after some time asked the play write, what was his actual role in the play ! :)

Cya, after my exam!

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Hi Mona,

My The Fire in Bradford comes in two forms. One is the novel, which will come out very soon, but can be read up on my header, top right, under that title.
The other format is a play, also titled Fire in Bradford, which I have put on line in a series of blogs which were actually play segments.
In a word, I have fired two 20mm cannons out into the world with The Fire in Bradford. One "cannon" is the novel version, and the other the play which is in my archives.

(...That is funny about the actor and the playwright...I guess he had to wait.:)

Break a leg on the exam!

TomCat said...

Oh Ivan! Peeyew!!

Seriously, with all the soul searching you literary writers endure, I'm so glad that I'm just a political commentator.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Oh hang it all, TomCat.

Did you ever see a moth bawl?

TomCat said...

Ugh!! Nope, but I've seen one flame out.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

TomCat.

Well drawn.