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#191564 - 09/25/07 04:00 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Charles Reece Offline
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"I see what you are saying about trying for a Farber-esque attack on the elephant but I would say that is a plus if it rejects the very specialized set of reading strategies that embody the experience, values, and knowledge of a group which is made to seem natural and universal."

I agree, except I'd change "rejects" to "challenges," as sometimes such strategies are applicable and sometimes they're not. Berlatsky strikes me as someone who would simply reject.
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#191565 - 09/25/07 05:01 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
X-height Offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Charles Reece:
I agree, except I'd change "rejects" to "challenges," as sometimes such strategies are applicable and sometimes they're not. Berlatsky strikes me as someone who would simply reject.
I'll have to stick with rejects; as styles in art don't really move as logical arguments do so much as shift.
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#191566 - 09/26/07 01:01 AM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Dumas Offline
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Here is an interesting article about literary fiction I stumbled across.
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#191567 - 09/26/07 11:15 AM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
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heh, I remember that piece and enjoyed the way it took the air out of McCarthy but it addresses a different pretense or intent, I think, than the more subject/content centered accepted standard.

In the case of McCarthy perhaps lifting a genre into acceptance where well-thinking adults can feel safe reading it.
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#191568 - 09/26/07 11:22 AM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Dumas Offline
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Quote:
In the case of McCarthy perhaps lifting a genre into acceptance where well-thinking adults can feel safe reading it.
... which is what "literary fiction" style comics supposedly do, but what you usually get instead is boring auto-bio stuff about going to church camp.
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#191569 - 09/26/07 01:28 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Charles Reece Offline
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There were a bunch of those articles a few years ago. Ben Marcus wrote a great rebuttal in Harper's, which might be available online somewhere.

The guy only quotes from books he has a problem with, but not from any he praises, so I thought I'd do a quick comparison. I liked CITY OF GLASS by Auster well enough, so I thought I'd put a quote followed by a few of the essayist's comments next to a quote from BAG OF BONES by King (which received a few compliments at the beginning of the essay).

Quote:
It was dark in the room when he woke up. Quinn could not be sure how much time had passed—whether it was the night of that day or the night of the next. It was even possible, he thought, that it was not night at all. Perhaps it was merely dark inside the room, and outside, beyond the window, the sun was shining. For several moments he considered getting up and going to the window to see, but then he decided it did not matter. If it was not night now, he thought, then night would come later. That was certain, and whether he looked out the window or not, the answer would be the same. On the other hand, if it was in fact night here in New York, then surely the sun was shining somewhere else. In China, for example, it was no doubt mid-afternoon, and the rice farmers were mopping sweat from their brows. Night and day were no more than relative terms; they did not refer to an absolute condition. At any given moment it was always both. The only reason we did not know it was because we could not be in two places at the same time. (City of Glass, 1985)

This could be said in half as many words, but then we might feel even more inclined to ask why it needs to be said at all. (Who ever thought of night and day as an absolute condition anyway?) The flat, laborious wordiness signals that this is avant-garde stuff, to miss the point of which would put us on the level of the morons who booed Le Sacre du Printemps. But what is the point? Is the passage meant to be banal, in order to trap philistines into complaining about it, thereby leaving the cognoscenti to relish the irony on some postmodern level?
Now consider how boring and unnecessary (just not "postmodern") the majority of the following is:
Quote:
On a very hot day in August of 1994, my wife told me she was going down to the Derry Rite Aid to pick up a refill on her sinus medicine prescription -- this is stuff you can buy over the counter these days, I believe. I'd finished my writing for the day and offered to pick it up for her. She said thanks, but she wanted to get a piece of fish at the supermarket next door anyway; two birds with one stone and all of that. She blew a kiss at me off the palm of her hand and went out. The next time I saw her, she was on TV. That's how you identify the dead here in Derry -- no walking down a subterranean corridor with green tiles on the walls and long fluorescent bars overhead, no naked body rolling out of a chilly drawer on casters; you just go into an office marked PRIVATE and look at a TV screen and say yep or nope.

The Rite Aid and the Shopwell are less than a mile from our house, in a little neighborhood strip mall which also supports a video store, a used-book store named Spread It Around (they do a very brisk business in my old paperbacks), a Radio Shack, and a Fast Foto. It's on Up-Mile Hill, at the intersection of Witcham and Jackson.

She parked in front of Blockbuster Video, went into the drugstore, and did business with Mr. Joe Wyzer, who was the druggist in those days; he has since moved on to the Rite Aid in Bangor. At the checkout she picked up one of those little chocolates with marshmallow inside, this one in the shape of a mouse. I found it later, in her purse. I unwrapped it and ate it myself, sitting at the kitchen table with the contents of her red handbag spread out in front of me, and it was like taking Communion. When it was gone except for the taste of chocolate on my tongue and in my throat, I burst into tears. I sat there in the litter of her Kleenex and makeup and keys and half-finished rolls of Certs and cried with my hands over my eyes, the way a kid cries. -- Bag of Bones
For example, who gives a fuck who the imaginary druggist for an imaginary drugstore used to be or where he now resides? Anyway, we can play this game of economy all day long.
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#191570 - 09/26/07 02:48 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
madget Offline
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Registered: 05/11/01
Posts: 4870
I feel like that article with the Proulx/McCarthy comparison has been linked from here several times before.

McCarthy's a pretty great writer. A lot of great writers are flawed and idiosyncratic, and McCarthy is no exception. In fairness, he seems to have lost his way a little after BLOOD MERIDIAN, and a lot of his later work -- the more popular stuff -- does seem inferior to his earlier.

I'd bet all of it's better than anything Proulx's done, though.

K

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#191571 - 09/26/07 03:01 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Ken Offline
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Registered: 02/24/01
Posts: 431
Dumas: "Despite the best efforts of various college professors and literary purists, I have never understood why it's supposed to be better to write about stuff that could happen in real life instead of things that require more willing suspension of disbelief."

As a college professor who knows hundreds of college professors, I don't know a single person who holds the view that you describe: the belief that realistic fiction is inherently better. Some prefer that type, but everyone I know teaches a pretty wide variety of material.

Just look at the major lit anthologies - plenty of types of fantasy in them . . .

And I would say that now, more than ever, people read, teach, and study an extremely broad cross section of genres.

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#191572 - 09/26/07 03:04 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Ken Offline
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Registered: 02/24/01
Posts: 431
Quote:
Originally posted by Charles Reece:
That's fine, but none of that makes for using the term as an insult. As best I can tell, the term used against a comic means something like "falsely attempts to make itself an art equivalent in value to 'serious' literature." It's not about realism per se. Berlatsky wants to be some sort of Manny Farber like critic, which is a laudable enough goal (even if Farber isn't one of my favorites). My problem is that what he celebrates as comics' version of termite art is more often garbage than not. Craig Thompson, as Dumas points out (and I'd add any of the stuff like FUN HOME), is more accurately what his criticisms target. It's precisely people like Clowes who create comics as comics, regardless of some underdog need to justify them via the criteria of other artforms, and have begun to legimatize the artform within critical circles. I'd put WATCHMEN in the same category. It's a "fuck you, superhero stories are serious art, too."
Exactly.

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#191573 - 09/27/07 12:35 PM Re: Debate About State of "Art-Comics" (Particularly Clowes), But w/o Superhero Nuts
Dumas Offline
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Registered: 07/20/99
Posts: 6777
Loc: Melnibone
Quote:
Originally posted by Ken:
As a college professor who knows hundreds of college professors, I don't know a single person who holds the view that you describe: the belief that realistic fiction is inherently better. Some prefer that type, but everyone I know teaches a pretty wide variety of material.
When I was an undergrad, I encountered that attitude a lot from my professors. The only exceptions were the two guys who lectured about stuff from the Middle Ages. They were more accepting of things like Gawain and the Green Knight or Beowulf. One of them even let me do an oral report on Huxley's "Brave New World."

All the other English teachers I had expressed nothing but disdain for anything that could be considered "genre." Well, except for Borges. He got a free pass because his stuff is so darn interesting.

Quote:
Just look at the major lit anthologies - plenty of types of fantasy in them . . .
... which drove me crazy when I was in school, because there was other stuff in those expensive books that was a lot more fun than the stories we were assigned to read. There would be all sorts of magical realism-type stories and some Kafka and all kinds of funky experimental fiction, and we would be discussing some stupid ass story about a guy on a bus who thinks his mom is a racist.

Quote:
And I would say that now, more than ever, people read, teach, and study an extremely broad cross section of genres.
I would have loved to go to a university where the English professors were that open minded.
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