[Jandek] Mystique shmystique

Gavin rangoon at ntlworld.com
Sun Jan 29 06:09:46 PST 2006

> I'm tired of all the "keep the mystery alive" crap, folks. If Jandek is
> only cool when he has a "mystique", then how great of an artist is he
> really?

I couldn't agree more; I've always regarded this list and its
contributors as the 'cutting edge' of Jandek debate and criticism (if
such a 'cutting edge' exists or needs to exist), and that it's here
that the 'mystique' is both debated and demystified - I don't know of
anywhere else or anyone else that *cares* as much as the people on the
list do, and there's a wealth of revelation awaiting anyone with the
time and the determination to plough through the list archives. I
personally think that the Jandek body of work and its creator(s) are
robust enough to stand up to pretty close scrutiny, and the 'mystique'
has survived this long intact despite fairly radical changes in tack
(cooperation with the Jandek On Corwood filmmakers, live performances),
no mean feat considering Corwood actually occasionally answer
written queries (again, some great stuff in the list archives) - I
had a friend who was a huge This Heat fan, but always bemoaned the fact
that letters to the postal address on their first album were never replied
to...Corwood are positively sociable compared to this!

> I don't think anyone on this list or anywhere else should hesitate
> to share speculations/facts about the man and his life and music

This is the place to do it. I've spent five years immersed in
everything I could find relating to Jandek, starting with Irwin
Chusid's essay, working through the list archive, months upon months
of listening to nothing else but Jandek, scanning the lyric
transcriptions as they were added and updated on the Tisue site for
clues or indicators as to what this music was actually about, actually
*meant*...Jandek means that much to me, and continues to do so, but it
isn't the mystery that makes it attractive, rather the absence of
either stated intention or context - these records just keep being
released, admittedly to a slightly larger anticipatory audience than
in the past, but nonetheless still a good few steps left of the
mainstream - it's my belief that the intention behind it all is
artistic, or even literary, rather than musical per se...but it's only
my belief; nobody from Corwood is going to contradict, or confirm or
deny anything anyone here says - and so we can use this forum to say
anything we might think about the work. But I do concur with the
statement that

> "snooping about" or otherwise invading the guy's privacy is in pretty poor
> taste and no one here is going to respect you for it

if only because it's kind of irrelevant; I was a Residents fan for a
long time (and 'Not Available' is still one of the eeriest records about
nothing I've ever heard), but never really cared who they might be - what
does it add? What does it take away from the work? And who really
cares? I'm genuinely interested in Jumbalaya Negro's 13 year 'sleuthing'
and what light it might shed on Jandek, but I want to know specifics
about the *work*, (when were the earlier records recorded? Where? Why?)
not the person or people involved; I want quantifiable information
that can be gleaned from careful listening and interpretation, and
extrapolation based upon concurrences between Jandek and the larger world
(like Jason Henn's discovery of the 'Hilda Sings' label similarity to
'Ready For The House') - and I'm only going to get this here, on this list,
and only from the people who read and post here, so this list needs
people willing to post speculations and observations, like the 'Three times
four is twenty-seven' 0739 conjecture (can't imagine why this didn't
pique my curiosity before, especially as it's been posted by its
author for the third time!)

> I just think it's unfortunate that this guy who's new to Jandek feels
> like he has to keep back his ideas just because some a few wispy romantics
> want to pretend Mr. Smith (yeah I called him that!) never came out
> of hiding

I'd hate to think that I'm one of these 'wispy romantics'...no, I know
I'm not; I know that Sterling Smith is real, because I've seen him in
the flesh (twice live and once in the street) - but I prefer the idea
of Jandek/Corwood as a 'collective', non-personal identifier as the
source of the work if only because I suspect The Units, and then Jandek,
was chosen as an umbrella name to avoid the necessity of
personally-attributed authorship, and determinedly referring to Jandek as
Sterling Smith is like refusing to accept that Frederick Rolfe can
also be Baron Corvo, or Nicholas Currie Momus - but this is a moot
point and a personal preference, and I'm agreeing with Mr. Hardy here,
and using his aggressively positive post as a springboard for a revived
debate on this board, a debate that interrogates the work, and builds
upon the more mainstream critical context that the Jandek On Corwood
filmmakers have helped create so far...I may be in a minority, but I
believe that what Jandek does *means* something, and matters, and
isn't just a haphazard quarter-century habit, but instead an attempt
to construct a new and personal type of art, in the same way as
similarly-individualistic artists (Joseph Cornell, Henry Darger, Harry
Partch...); I believe this absolutely, and Corwood have done nothing
so far to counter this belief.

Excuse both my rant and my rambling, but to have speculations both
suggested and then withdrawn is very frustrating - what *is* Al
Heldermon's number sequence theory? Does it differ from the
mathematical suggestions or tape-counter idea? And does the

> START 0739

completely deflate knowing

> the rationale for the numbering of the albums

And where else can this be discussed but here?


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