JR Summer Read

--I'm participating in #occupygaddis...
--Well, that... --The online group read... --That's something then... --Wonder where the rest are?... --Something to write about, you think? --I'll write, too, I'll write... --Take it easy about the rest... --Don't need to be on my case about writing... --But take your time, you won't do yourself any good otherwise... --How else could I even participate huh? --I'm not on anyone's case... --Except mine... --Anymore, I'm just saying work at it...

The Decedent Dies Intestate

 ”you ladies may find certain legal terms somewhat obscure”

For at least a couple years, I’ve thought of myself as a comedian, and, as I consider whether I do (or want to) anymore, I want to talk about humor in JR.This is a supposedly difficult novel, and like all difficult novels I’ve ever attempted, I’ve been overwhelmed with humor during the first thirty pages. In the first scene, where the Bast sisters Anne and Julia have a loopy conversation with the befuddled lawyer Mr. Coen, you can barely read two sentences without hearing the comedic timing. The sisters are constantly off topic, from Mr Coen’s point of view, as he tries to explain to them a large amount of complex legal particulars. It doesn’t just seem like an attention deficit on their part, partly because I am confronted with the legal jargon in the same way as the sisters. Their frustrations are mine when Coen goes into paragraphs about cross-purchase insurance plans, prima facie presumptions of legitimacy, or an infant’s intention to disaffirm. “I’m sure he’s only complicating things unnecessarily,” Anne comforts her sister, and me. He presses on and they make remarks about his weight. It is at least a textual undermining of the lawyer when the sisters always refer to him as “Mr. Cohen,” even though he introduces himself on page one as “Coen without the h.” Their deflections of his sledgehammer attempts at communication are likable, and funny, because I’m afraid of what he has to say too. Maybe like the viscous bunny rabbit from Monty Python’s Holy Grail, Mr. Coen represents a great and terrible foe (the complexity of law or money), while being presented as an object of ridicule (repeating himself, being fat and sickly, frustrated gesticulations, and more). The masterstroke is how much the use of humor works not as a distraction, but to underline that the very problem at the heart of this scene is one of distraction vs complexity. The scene, in its humor, is able to carry a lot of information without losing focus or becoming inhuman, a technique Mr. Coen could learn from Gaddis if he truly believes

"it is my duty to make every point […] absolutely crystal clear to you" 


The story goes that JR is a novel about money and America: money in America,  money around America, Americans with and without money, American money, the monied American-ness of money over Americans.

We’ll see…






If I type this here, will anybody see it?

… I believe the culprit is the species, which surrounds itself with lies, and calls the lies culture, the way squirrels build their nests of dead twigs and fallen leaves, then hide inside. William H Gass, intro to The Recognitions
comic written and drawn by cortnie “one time” jones

comic written and drawn by cortnie “one time” jones

I done wrote a song

Jotted this song down about two weeks ago, I like it:

I done learned me how to play guitar,

I done learned me how to sing,

I done gave all my thoughts away,

So’s I’d know everything.


Query: How contrive not to waste one’s time? Answer: By being fully aware of it all the while. Ways which this can be done: By spending one’s days on an uneasy chair in a dentist’s waiting room; by remaining on one’s balcony all of a Sunday afternoon; by listening to lectures in a language one doesn’t know; by traveling by the longest and least-convenient train routes, and of course standing all the way; by lining up at the box-office of theaters and then not buying a seat; and so forth. Camus, from The Plague p.26
There’s no more complex, messy, community-wide argument (or ‘dialogue’); political discourse is now a formulaic matter of preaching to one’s own choir and demonizing the opposition. … How can any of this possibly help me, the average citizen, deliberate about any number of complicated policy issues? David Foster Wallace, interview with Dave Eggers, The Believer, November 2003, http://www.believermag.com/issues/200311/?read=interview_wallace
  • Me: but a hard game's like a wax ball: you can't put it in your mouth and expect to be going to church on sunday.
  • that's my new saying
  • Edward: hahaha
  • i love it
  • it confuses me
  • in the best way