"Brain, shake out thy water, dog-like." -- Ron Padgett

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Speaking in Many Tongues: Junot Diaz, Caroline Bergvall

Caroline Bergvall on "Seeing through Languages


Junot Diaz on unintelligibility: around 1'40"

"That as a writer you need a much stronger conceptualization of what readers mean and how readers function on the page. Readers are absolutely accustomed to massive unintelligibility. And without the reader workshop, they’re always saying, “Well, I don’t understand this.” Unintelligibility has always been attacked. Where unintelligibility is an absolutely normative condition of the experience of reading. And a lot of times, a bunch of the shit that we do, people are trying to lay it on some ethnic cultural crap. “Are you sure people are going to understand this? Are you positive that this isn’t too much?” For a reader, if they can make sense of sixty percent of what you write, that’s considered a win. The great joys of reading is that most of what you read escapes us and is only learned or approached through rereading and through contact with other readers. If you don’t have an interesting way of how audience works, you’re making about five times more work for yourself as a writer. Audience helps you shape an economy of signification, and the proliferation of some of these fantasies about how art works—and very unrigorous—it’s not helpful for anybody. The writer with an audience is a powerful artist and I think that’s what the best literature is. We’re overhearing comments that were directed to someone that doesn’t even exist anymore. And the very fact that someone was supposed to receive it charges the words with meaning, significance, and with libidinal energies. You know?"

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