[Jandek] Re: jandek Digest, Vol 54, Issue 162 ("jandek the concept")

Michael Mellor miquelotjr at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Aug 7 13:12:56 PDT 2006

w/r/t Danen's comment on whether Sterlin R Smith should list personnel, some thoughts:

* Nancy, Mike, and John seem to have done a good job of respecting Sterling's wishes over the years. As we know from the telephone interview, SRS "doesn't think it would be right" to disclose information about them. Without accusing SRS of cynicism, I reckon that one (post hoc) reason for keeping us all in the dark is that it sells records, and I wouldn't be surprised if Nancy, Mike & John know this too. Now, I believe the Corwood back catalogue is a phenomenal body of work (comparable, sure, to The Fall or the Residents), but having known more than a few struggling artists I have no problem with SRS keeping the mystique going as a major selling point (...until we get hooked and decide we have to have the lot!!)

* I'm also convinced that (ante hoc / before the fact) SRS just wanted to maintain some secrecy. The guy has absolutely undisputed psychological problems (cf. "Depression" / "The Blues Turned Black", and so on), meaning that whatever their severity at different points in his life, he's weighed up the personal psychic costs of being a semi-public figure - articulating dark emotions on behalf of the rest of us - against the risk of being hounded / demonized / fawned over by a fickle press. We can only applaud his candour. I kinda think that N, M, J, et alia (not to mention Alex & Richard) have repaid his trust in their musical expertise by respecting his desire for privacy. I also think they "get" whatever "concept" SRS very probably does self-consciously perpetuate (...about, maybe, "Jandek" as mystery figure at the periphery of society, and - at times - the absolute ontological minimum of humanity, too bleak to musically cohere). As David Foster Wallace says of his AA
 informants in Infinite Jest "the best thing i can do to thank them is by allowing them to remain anonymous"

* as an addendum to the last point, i recommend to everyone on the list the article on Scatter (Alex's band) in Plan B magazine (www.planbmag.com). In a footnote, there, Frances May Morgan (herself a Jandek aficionado) mentions the Jandek connection but - kinda amazingly - doesn't pry, speculate, or tender any information that Alex might have given her. good for him / them, not saying anything

* here's a tangent, tho, or a new line of discussion: if SRS ever intended (even partly) that disarticulating his music from the whole rigmarole of promotion / interviewing would get his music listened to / scrutinized / meditated upon more than usual... has it worked, or backfired on him? remember, SRS has been rumoured to have had literary aspirations. as an avant-garde poetics doctoral candidate, i totally endorse the idea of "Jandek-as-great-poetry" - any takers? "The Cell" certainly reads pretty impressively to me...


(miquelotjr at yahoo.co.uk)

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