[Jandek] Jandek as the Hunger Artist

Gavin rangoon at ntlworld.com
Sun Nov 27 06:49:24 PST 2005

> My theory on why Jandek came out of hiding is this: he's getting older now,
> he has assumedly retired, and got an offer to play that that Instal festival at 
> around the same time as the documentary was coming out.   Perhaps he figured 
> simply figured that now was a better time than ever.   One can interpret the 
> CDs he has put out in the last few years as indicative of some kind of a change 
> within him-worthless recluse, the end of it all-and perhaps he found his 
> enigma to be too stifling and decided to put himself in an uncomfortable situation 
> and use his art as a means of betterment as opposed to a narration of his 
> inner struggles.   The issue of his frailty reminds me a bit of Kafka's the 
> Hunger Artist.   Hell, in my imagination, Jandek IS a lot like the central 
> character to that story: his art is informed by his lack of comfort with aspects of 
> the world that so many people are able to navigate with such apparent ease.   
> Maybe he's finally decided to step out of the cage and have a taste....

This reads to me like a very valid observation - Jandek as the Hunger
Artist seems so applicable, and Kafka is another author who is all of
his own protagonists, and who is endlessly rewriting the same story -
Jandek and Kafka share the obvious obtuseness, but more importantly the
drivenness, the *need* to create, to express the narrative as poetically or
prosaically as is necessary, but to get it out 'as a means of betterment'
- the original Trubee Spin article references a 'spirituality' that seems
very important to Jandek, and the Jandek On Corwood filmmakers use this
discussion as the culmination of the film - I think that Jandek shares
this concern with Kafka, with what meaning a person's life has, with all of
its vicissitudes, its successes and failures, the fraility of human life
in the face of an unspecified Eternal (Max Brod's original critical context
for Kafka's postumous publication was Christian rather than 'postmodern')
...I think that the live performances are a part of a crucial change in the
Jandek working method, and while he may be 'stepping out of the cage', I
don't think he will stay out of the cage forever.

This is a far more productive consideration of the nature of how the
inevitability of mortality will effect Jandek than any speculation
about his health - some people found the WFMU snapshot as 'intrusive',
but debate in a public forum about whether someone is dying is rather
more intrusive...Christ, we're all going to die - it's one of the few
absolute guarantees life has to offer...but to be able to leave
something of substance behind must be in part what (consciously or
unconsciously) informs artists and their work - and Jandek has made it
all available, whereas, had Kafka had his wish, Max Brod would have
burnt everything, and this comparison could probably never have been


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