[Jandek] the whole thing as a holistic revery

Frank Hardy soccerdude219 at yahoo.com
Sat Nov 26 18:02:30 PST 2005

Call me a pedestrian, but I don't get how you can see his whole work as having some united purpose; it's just so diverse. Yeah, he's saying something about the human experience, but isn't that the point of art in the first place? I mean, couldn't you say that about any artist who's released enough material? Isn't Kurt Cobain or John Lennon the same way, or is it different just because we know so much more about them? 
  Plus, if you really survey his lyrics, Jandek doesn't seem to ever be getting at a single unified purpose or message- he's constantly questioning himself in his songs, expecially the later ones. Sure, he makes stirring  and poignant observations (my favorite: "The years leave me different/ If only you remain the same"), but I don't see how everything fits together. He's consistently presented one man's psyche and its changes over the years, but like everyone, it's all over the place- hopes dreams, fears, nightmares, out of order, out of context, just thoughts. To me it's not one big message, not one big piece of art, but hundreds of smaller ones. They can be construed in a way that makes some greater sense- in the same way, we can look back on our lives and say we couldn't imagine it any other way- but it's always a self-fulfilling prophesy, isn't it? We will it to make sense. To me, this is the greatest idea we can take from Jandek's work- that everyone's life, no matter how
 obscure or uneventful, is a poem waiting to be written.
  Then again, maybe that's what you guys meant in the first place.

James Holloway <jwholloway at mac.com> wrote:
  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 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...
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>jandek at mylist.net

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