[Jandek] the whole thing as a holistic revery

James Holloway jwholloway at mac.com
Sat Nov 26 06:34:58 PST 2005

 Gavin, this is one of the best (meaning most insightful)  pieces of writing about Jandek I've seen (and I think I've seen them all) -- you connected some obvious, but heretofore unremarked dots here in a way that makes complete sense. Thinking about Jandek in that context -- Walser, Kafka, Musil -- is incredibly interesting, and his recordings as "chapers" in a long story -- is to my mind an excellent way to approach his work. Thanks man! 

On Friday, November 25, 2005, at 07:43AM, Gavin <rangoon at ntlworld.com> wrote:

>> above all I'm interested in the
>> whole thing as a holistic revery. Every album has its flaws that become
>> qualities when considering them in the jandekian system. One great
>> installation/composition, not singular albums.
>This is how I see the albums as a whole as well...upon discovering
>Jandek (about five years ago), and also seeing the frightening homogeneity
>of the entire Jandek corpus, the thing that most struck me was the
>similarity to how Robert Walser (Swiss prose-poetry writer from the
>early 20th century, admired by Kafka and Robert Musil, translated into
>English by Christopher Middleton, Wikipedia entry here:
>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Walser_(writer)) characterises his own
>work in a passage quoted as a prologue to the translated 'Selected Stories':
>'My prose pieces are, to my mind, nothing more nor less than parts of
>a long, plotless realistic story. For me, the sketches I produce now
>and then are shortish or longish chapters of a novel. The novel I am
>constantly writing is always the same one, and it might be described
>as a variously sliced-up or torn-apart book of myself'
>and that the Jandek albums (at least to me) are all chapters in one
>long 'book of myself', 'a long, plotless realistic story', that keeps
>unfolding album by album, and will one day end, and its end will be the
>culmination of the 'novel' of Jandek...obviously there is a lot of personal
>projection on my part here, but the oft-maligned Irwin Chusid 'Key Of
>Z' essay (my introduction to Jandek) does contain one or two rather crucial
>details that aren't often requoted, especially those relating to the seven
>novel manuscripts that were submitted for publication prior to 'Ready For The
>'but after they'd been rejected by New York publishers, he'd burned the
>and later in the essay Chusid says
>'I received one more handwritten note from Corwood, explaining the
>seven incinerated novels: "Regarding the book burnings...we took the
>printed matter to the countryside for an unfettered, proper cremation.
>Stirred into ashes into the ground...the countryside dirt was
>and then the Jandek project was (presumably) undertaken, as if the novel
>form was not working as the chosen mode of expression, and a new form was
>needed, this being 'Ready For The House' and then everything that
>followed...that Jandek's artistic background is literary rather than
>musical per se, and that a substantial body of work was destroyed (in a
>similarly-final way to how Harry Partch ditched his 'formal' compositional
>work in the 1920s prior to venturing off onto his own idiosyncratic path)
>before a completely different form of expression was undertaken says to me
>that he wasn't making amateurish-sound blues records (say) for want of
>anything better to do, or for a lack of intention...it's this aspect of
>Jandek that sustains me through the more difficult records, and justifies
>the need to
>> suffer through something you don't enjoy
>(although there is little Jandek that I find either meaningless or
>pointless) - my belief has always been that the entire body of work
>is one long...well, *something*, some kind of artistic form that has
>neither label nor precedent, like an impressionistic and selective
>autobiography in regularly-released and homogenous parts...but
>Jandek's absence of context, ie. no statement of intent, ever (another
>pretty-much unprecedented state of affairs in 'pop' music, but not
>uncommon in the 'art' world) does mean that the listener can bring
>pretty much whatever he or she might want to the work, and where one
>person sees Art, another sees Bluff...nobody at Corwood is going to
>contradict another we say here, however we judge the work - but the
>(rather prurient) speculation about Sterling Smith's health does at
>least address his mortality, and that this will end, somehow, and
>sooner rather than later, and if nothing is ever confirmed or denied
>about 'artistic intention' prior to this point, all that will be left
>will be a genuine enigma, and that's a real rarity in an age where
>information about anything or anyone else is more readily accessible
>than at any other time in human history...
>jandek mailing list
>jandek at mylist.net

Man never mounts higher than when he knows not where he is going.
         -Oliver Cromwell

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