Monday, October 23, 2006

The new, New World

Blogging does something awful to the way I write, something I'm not sure is entirely excusable, redolent of the days when I'd sit up all night writing agonisingly sincere essays on subjects that didn't really interest me a great deal, for the consumption of people who'd read it all before during decades of study, or worse, had heard it all before a couple of hours earlier that morning from someone else with the same reading list.

Now I sit down to blog, and the urge descends to write the most pedantically worthy drivel imaginable. I do not recognise myself in the sanctimonious crap you read below, in the equivocating confessional tide of named-checked works, of cocked-hats and knowing winks. These are not my concerns, these are not the subjects that move me to want to sit and write, and so this is the reason that blogging has felt so incomplete for so long - too many hours spent writing for an audience that is not even there; too much effort spent joining a dialogue that is nothing of the sort, not even a lashed-together raft of monologues.

I made a very silly error, assuming that the motivation and inspiration would come from a network, from plugging into a ready-made discourse. Of course it doesn't, like all writing there has to be a heavy dose of selfishness, of solipsism. What remains is to escape this cloying tedious preoccupation with getting beyond the page, and start cataloging what I actually care about...

I'll confess at the absolute outset that I haven't read any Lovecraft that I can remember. I might have seen him anthologised once before, and have a fleeting recollection of a story about a group of people descending into a cavern, which was sandwiched between Le Fanu and Polidori's Vampire stories in a cheap paperback I picked up in an outlet mall bookstore, but that could just as easily have been a Dennis Wheatley story.

I'm not even sure I have a very good idea of what Lovecraft is all about; he exists for me in a state of finite possibility, where all of the many things he could represent seem equally appealing. Much like my half-recollection of David Lynch's films - through accident rather than by design, I have never seen a David Lynch film more than once (though I've watched Twin Peaks several times). And so the eight year old imagery of 'Lost Highway' (I watched it during my first weekend in Oxford, unhappy and already apprehensive about how things were going to turn out), the already disjointed, unburied plot of 'Mulholland Drive' poking it's fingers through thick turf. I remember so little of these films, not even a complete sequence - just the dark-eyed midget from LH and the side-stepping tramp, the hysterical laughing pensioners in the car in MD (do I even remember these? I'd love to find that my recollections are inaccurate). Lynch's films now mean whatever I feel they should mean at any particular time, they exist purely as potential and dimly remembered specifics, not tethered to the dull surface of a commonly held, oft-interrogated interpretation.

Still, the comparison with Lynch only extends so far - the films do sit in my memory somewhere, if only to rapidly deteriorate and reappear downstream tangled with books I no longer remember reading, stories I no longer remember hearing (for evidence of the randomness of this, two books that come maddeningly back to me constantly but with almost no detail and form are 'Beaver Towers' - I kid you not - a book I read when I was about 5 years old, and 'Prince on a White Horse' a book I know nothing about now, other than exactly how it felt to be reading it when I was 9 or 10). Lovecraft on the other hand is literally a mystery to me - I could not quote one word, the titles of more than his most famous works, I couldn't recite a single plot or expound on his themes or concerns. Instead all I have is a comprehensive but indefinable sense of what Lovecraft is, haunting my understanding rather than confronting it.


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