Young, Kerouac and the brilliance of Unknown

How much of this work is real? Coover says it’s a mock book tour. What about this? (note the tie dye and grad cap later during the reading) What about the audio clips and photographs? These guys did have to write together. They had to make this work–and Jesus it must have taken a minute or two. And maybe they didn’t go on such a huge bender of a book tour (maybe–but I want to believe so badly). William Gaddis  is real but De Selby is not. How about the mescaline drops? Is the tie dye costume that Dirk wears in those photographs a costume or is it a costume? Gaddis hated interviews–he said it connected the author too much to the text. Maybe they wrote the text and then recorded it later? Maybe they got high and shot the shit:

Neil Young’s philosophy on recording: “[Producer David] Briggs and I, if you weren’t rolling as soon as one guy sat down, you were out,” he said. “We were not about saving tape. Our whole message was…just be rolling all the time, anytime anybody’s in there. That way there’ll never be a start or an end, because it’s always on. Then musicians relax. There’s no ‘Wait, we’re not rolling.’ There’s none of that…. You just go in that room and you play, and later on you hear what you did.”

This matters because I wonder a few more things about the connections between this fictional book tour and the real-life one needed to be done post release. Did the fact that the piece presupposed popularity actually bolster its popularity in the academic/lit world?

The Unknown is a brilliant piece. Its detours and multivarying voices and situations/methods of information capture (thru media and particular perspectives–although I’d hazard a bet that Gaddis had something to do with the dialogues, thinking about it now) provide an interesting sense of legitimacy that other pieces don’t seem to have without significant hunting on the reader’s part. I mean that the piece connected (instant-gratification fun)huge and intricate, deceptively simple in its neat side-stepping of linearity…it’s like On the Road but you can throw causality out, man (…Kerouac has other (even more similar) modes though…”Is the world holy? Is a basketball holy, preacher?”) and each instance was just another part of the road, another piece, something pre during and post that all kind of blended together into this cocktail of acid self-annihilation and self-gratification charred in hedonism and dreams and specific records of it all: brought back from the dead or might as well be… like warriors or pioneers alternative histories told by the critics the lovers learners the front liners the one liners the mirrors and microphones that caught it all and put it there and here and here and there and now on the walls to look and hear at (at you) as you move around in fiction made farce made fact made…what?

-Josh Barnes


~ by hobodreams on March 1, 2010.

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