I don’t really need to say this; I just want to, for some reason. Well, this is a diary as well as an essay dump, and I don’t need to calculate everything — I’ll just say it.
I kind of decided, quite a while ago, not to do obituary-posts here.
For one thing, there’s an awful lot of people I grew up admiring who are getting a bit older now, and I’m afraid if I started writing eulogies they might gradually crowd out anything else I had to say. Then there’s people it almost embarrasses me not to be able to count as direct influences: if I make a big deal about Dave Cockrum dying, or Marshall Rogers (and those are big deals, naturally) , how do I not mention Arnold Drake? And yet I know Arnold Drake’s work only indirectly, and mostly posthumously. Then there’s Bus Griffiths, whose work I did know, and who was a pretty good representative of those older men who bequeathed to me the province in which I live…but, even eulogizing Bus struck me as a jarring thing to do, and after briefly making a stab at it, I deleted the post. So, can I really go on now to mentioning Johnny Hart, after that? How do you decide where to start with these things, and where can you ever end, once you do?
So I decided to avoid the whole thing.
But now, why do I bring it up? I mean, why do I bring it up now. Well, I don’t know…as I said, sometimes a blog is a diary, and often what gets written in a diary is just what comes out of your fingers that day. Mostly I try to confine my writing here to (I flatter myself) genuine ideas that I actually have about things. But today, I’m thinking about Kurt Vonnegut, an extremely famous and influential writer whose work was always a little problematic for me. I should’ve come to him at 15, but didn’t get around to him until I was 27, rooting through an old roommate’s huge laundry-basket of books. I guess I probably read about twenty or so of these, that penniless summer. And they were very good, I thought, but still a little problematical.
I don’t like Tom Robbins, like at all. Many people I know seem to think I ought to, but I don’t. Kurt Vonnegut I do like, though, which sometimes perplexes me: because his amazing self-created oeuvre isn’t always to my taste, but what he has to say in it is, I think, important enough…and he could certainly write, very admirably. I think more than any other author I’ve encountered (with the possible exception of Dr. Seuss), his style disguised his skill, his intention disguised his art…or maybe it was that his art disguised his intention? All that baby-talk was no accident, anymore than was the occasionally ruthless, almost rootless, lunacy of narrative and plot…anymore than (perhaps) was its effect. It’s probably easy to forget, but we walk about in a Vonnegut-ian world, these days, a plastic world that melts and deforms as we regard it: all unknowing, we walk about in a postwar literature of the impermanent.
I still didn’t like Slapstick.
But that’s a small matter, I guess.
Anyway, that’s why I don’t write eulogies. I’m not really any good at them.
Just thought I’d mention it.