[Jandek] Re: wfmu Jandek auction

jesus kenievel knievelperu at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 10 12:20:03 PDT 2010

Well, "Mark Greenberg" (if that is your real name), I don't to agree to disagree on Chusid's intent. People write books to share knowledge or to entertain. They sell them to make money.  That's really all there is to it. I'm not sure why you're embarrassed to point out that Jandek sells his CDs for money. I don't even understand what that has to do with what we've been discussing. My initial point was that once I pay for my copy of Chusid's book, I don't own him anything. Once I pay Corwood for a CD I don't own them anything either. They both sell their products to make money. Why else would someone sell something? Whether they do it to make profit is another story.  So what exactly are you implying? That Chusid wrote his book because it was that important to him to let the world know that Jandek is some kind of deranged lunatic?  I think that the money reason actually sounds better for him. 

I think that it's admirable in a way that you want to defend your buddy but the fact that you know him personally actually weakens your argument as far as I'm concerned. 

If Mr. Chusid is such an expert on pre-CD Jandek why isn't that evident from his writing? What makes him an expert? A few telephone conversations and letters? I would be a lot more impressed and convinced by a well articulated and intelligent analysis of Jandek's work. If you could point me to such a piece of writing by Mr. Chusid I would appreciate that very much, because I can't find it in his book. You keep talking about a difference of opinion, but there's more to it than that. If Chusid wants to be considered an "expert" he needs to provide more than his opinion. There has to be some meaningful insight, some degree of interpretation. My point is that his insights are not very informative or professional. Contrast them with the interviews in Jandek On Corwood.  I didn't agree with everything said in that interview, and not all of those people interviewed appeared to be Jandek fans, but all of them had intelligent things to say.  Chusid doesn't. He just wants to ridicule and insult Jandek and his work. That doesn't sound like the efforts of an "expert".

As far as talking about someone "through the lookingglass OF the music", I think that's just foolishness and bad analysis. Such techniques of interpretation are specious at best. The literary world abandoned them for much of the 20th century, (The New Criticism, for example, and Russian Formalism I believe). I remember reading an interview a number of years ago in which William Burroughs talked about how he was accused of antisemitism because one of his characters made antisemitic comments. The character was a Nazi, and Burroughs, (who wasn't an anti-Semite),  responded with "what else would you expect a Nazi to say?". The accusation came from just the sort of interpretation you indicate Chusid of engaging in. Can you see why it's hard to take seriously?

It might be fun to theorize or speculate on The Rep's personal life and its relationship to his music, but it's not the sort of serious analysis I'd expect from and "expert".  This isn't about me disagreeing with his opinions. I know a few people who really dislike Jandek's music and I respect their opinions because they are able to offer insight into why they think the way they do, beyond, "he's crazy" and "it sounds weird". Unfortunately our Jandek expert Mr. Chusid can't do nearly as much as these amateurs. I think I have expressed my point of view very clearly, and I certainly don't detect any sort of "straw-man" aspect to it. I think the only things you have pointed out is your willingness to blindly defend your friend, (who even you suspect is disingenuous with regards to his views on Jandek).  I don't think that Jandek, or Jandek fans owe Chusid anything. Jandek is a good story that it appears Mr. Chusid has enjoyed telling again and again. I'm sure it's served him well over the years.

Also, not everyone, (for example myself), is in America, and I'm not sure what nationality has to do with expressing oneself. Lot's of people outside of the USA enjoy 


From: mark at mayfairrecordings.com
Subject: Re: [Jandek] Re: wfmu Jandek auction
Date: Sat, 9 Oct 2010 15:50:17 -0500
To: jandek at mylist.net

Well "Jesus Knievel", we will have to agree to disagree on Irwin's intent. I know Irwin professionally and personally and perhaps my insight comes from more than just reading the chapter in his book. He is who turned me and my friends on to Jandek many many years ago and I know that he turned a lot of people on to him. He knows the early records and is very much an expert on Jandek's pre-CD period whether you agree or not.  My feelings on it is that he was as drawn to them as equally as he was repelled by them. His attention and focus on Jandek shows he is maybe not being completely 100% honest in his appearance of disregarding Jandek or he wouldn't have spent the time or energy on him. I know this because there are loads of so called outsider 'geniuses' whose home-made cassettes and vanity pressed records have made their way in to Irwin's hands (he as you can expect is a magnet for such things) and he has assisted and decided they haven't the merit to focus or write about. 
Also, in music writing such as Irwin's on Jandek, the writer can talk about the maker of the music through the lookingglass OF the music and that is always how I read Irwin's words on Jandek. Back then, that is the only way you COULD talk about Jandek as he didn't make himself available beyond the music and the records. You are more than entitled to disagree with his take but to say he isn't an expert and doesn't know his subject just because you disagree with his opinions is just factually incorrect. But hey, this is America. Do what makes you feel good I guess.... but I too am free to point out the weaknesses in your straw-man arguments.

I do want to point out a difference for doing something 'just for the money' and writing a book that you sell. Jandek makes CDs that he sells, though I would never accuse him of doing it just for the money. See what I'm saying? I am sort of embarrassed I would have to point that out.

On Oct 9, 2010, at 1:27 PM, Jesus Knievel wrote:I completely disagree. Quotes like the one I provided in my previous post indicate to me that Chusid isn't any sort of Jandek expert at all. It actually makes me suspect that he hasn't spent much time listening to Jandek's work. I just re-read the chapter in Songs In The Key of Z on Jandek. Chusid is mean-spirited to the point of being cruel. He tries very hard to make Jandek out to be a crazy person, (calling him a "deranged loner" for example). This is no longer an opinion about music but just insulting. Chusid might be a "full timer" but he seems to lack any iota of professionalism. The purpose of his analysis of Jandek's work appears only to be to further his conclusion that Jandek is a lunatic that produces non-sensical music that pretty much no one likes. He offers no other insights into Jandek's work. This is not journalism, it's character assassination. I'm not interested in "protecting" Jandek. I don't know him and how he feels about things is none of my business. This isn't personal for me. It about unmasking a charlatan.
Also, if Chusid wasn't interested in making money off his book then why did I have to pay for my copy? Why doesn't he just put it up on the Internet for free? Using bit torrent it could be done at no cost to Mr. Chusid. 
I spend a lot of time listening to music as well as searching for new music to listen to. I listen to all types of music, some of which I'm not particularly interested in, but I do it for educational purposes. I watch documentaries, read books, research on the Internet, and sometimes I even write about music. Like Mr. Chusid I have put years and years into it. The only difference between us is that I approach my subject with respect and a notion of decorum, not as some kind of circus barker selling tickets to see the freaks.

Sent from my iPad
On 2010-10-08, at 4:52 PM, Mark Greenberg <mark at mayfairrecordings.com> wrote:

 I appreciate the varying takes on Jandek and really music in general on this list. I don't always agree with all things said on here but I respect it all and will challenge some when provoked but all in the spirit of good conversation and debate with passionate people.
That said, I think though that describing Irwin's book and involvement in Jandek (or outsider music and/or the other characters in his book) was based on money is a very unfair and totally unfounded statement. Though you may not agree with his take, his is still a very very informed opinion if nothing else. Irwin does the foot work. He's not one of these wikipedia educated music writer with a shallow knowledge of music history like the kids doing a lot of the music writing these days... He is a FULL TIMER and has put years and years and tons of his time and energy into discovering music that excites, incites, and interests him. Agree with him or not, but you can't pretend he is just in it for the money (...yeah, all that crazy money associated with writing about outsider musicians...)
Plus I don't think his description is disrespectful, offensive, unfair, based or prejudice. It is his opinion and reaction to the music. His description is a very vivid one meant to try to capture something that he hears in Jandek's music and body of work. I sometimes have fallen on the side of wanting to 'protect' our Rep (especially when it seemed like he wanted to be left alone), but he is not an infant or handicapped. He is an artist that has released his art into the world and like it or not, people will have differing valid opinions on it.
And Irwin's book is a good one worthy of buying and reading. No I don't agree with everything in it (nor do I in most music writing/criticism) but it's a good read from a very smart and interesting and able writer on subjects that interest me. 


On Oct 8, 2010, at 10:33 AM, Jesus Knievel wrote:What I find offensive is comments such as:
"Imagine a microphone cabled down a month-old tomb capturing the subterranean munch of maggots nibbling a decaying corpse, counterpointed by the agonized howls of a departed soul desperate to escape tortuous decomposition and eternal boredom"
That does not describe Jandek's music at all in my opinion. Such sensationalism is irritates me because all it achieves is to keep Jandek in some category of freaks that Mr. Chusid has consigned him to. Jandek's work is not a joke and I think people should stop treating it as if it is one. I don't think Chusid wrote his book to spread the word about Jandek. He wrote it to make money. I think that once you handed over the money you spent on the book you've given him everything he's owed.

Sent from my iPad
On 2010-10-08, at 7:15 AM, Ross Morris <rossmorris1 at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:

I wouldn't say I was offended by Chusid's chapter.  The guy's got one perspective on Jandek that I think is illegitimate, that, as Paul pointed out, has become increasingly redundant over time.  It's like the fable of the ugly duckling.  Jandek's worth is now being recognised by people all over the world, and it's no longer a useful way to look at Jandek's music.  Once again, that was particularly apparent with the Ottawa article which used the Chusid book as the source.    His contribution to the dissemination of the music is significant, and the gifts sent are indicative of Corwood's appreciation.  I just personally don't like the disrespect shown here.  My opinion.     Ross ___________________________________________________________________ Stephen wrote: 
Maybe I need to reread the Jandek portion of Chusid's book, but I don't understand why you are all offended by this. Without Chusid, I would have never heard of Jandek and subsequently I would have never written a term paper on the artist in college. (I had a very hip American music prof who had once corresponded with Corwood and who I got to see the rep. with live in chapel hill!)  
 Who cares that Irwin isn't a fan of the music? Does that make him any less important to the dissemination of Jandek? No, absolutely not. WFMU is an important radio station for fans and artists of independent and non-mainstream artists, a la Jandek, so any support of them should be praised. While these CDs have little value to Chusid, he recognizes they are valuable to others. Chusid is forever tied to Jandek, whether you like it or not. And this collection is a piece of Corwood history, probably even more so due to their falling out.  
 I think what you're all losing sight of is that he could have just as easily thrown all of this into the garbage. It's absurd that people are peeved about his lack of sentimentality about these things, ESPECIALLY when it comes to an artist as polarizing as Jandek. Jandek records are either cherished or trashed; listeners of Jandek are not ambivalent.  
 So, for Churid to recognize their value to this community -- and to benefit a good cause (a point which is almost irrelevant in this context) -- he should be commended. When cleaning out a basement it's much simpler to put things at the curb than it is to put them online for others to benefit, value, and enjoy.  
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