Search This Blog

Monday, November 12, 2018

Aristotelian Tyranny

Episode One Hundred: Aristotelian Tyranny.
In which there is an agenda.


1 comment:

  1. Reading at the Old West Church in Calais, VT, several weeks ago. Elena Georgiou, fiction, flustered at an unexpected shortage in time, ends up truncating several stories. She apologizes repeatedly for not offering 'a beginning, middle, and end.' And, finally, she chooses a complete story to read, which, she points out, does provide us 'a beginning, middle, and end'.

    I'm bemused by this preoccupation. Is it not enough that this collection of half-strangers should sit in the cold, in this lovely ancient New England church, on this lovely autumn afternoon? That we sit, enjoying the words, however fragmented from their original intent?

    But Elena's sentiment sticks, and I sense it relates to my time at the college. A lifetime of misgiving reconsidered by my having returned there as an employee. Old issues haunt, and are met with new ones, and blistering. I begin to wonder whether my return to such a formative space in my own life, can ever be spun into an emotional closure.

    Indeed, closure becomes increasingly unlikely, and I find that my desire for such is similar to Elena's fixture on that proscribed rule for what makes a complete story. My adult life has been one long rail against these kinds of fascistic ideal. 'Art forms follow rules; stories need structure.' This comic prods it it every week, and Paul Metcalf has always been a significant figure in the formation of that shouting voice in my head.

    Googling that phrase, 'beginning, middle, and end', I find that this comes form Aristotle's 'Poetics', and so the proscription deeply ingrained culturally. Even after decades of 'experimental' art, after pop-culture variations on what makes viable alternative story-telling vehicles, we are still, at base, greeting the unfamiliar with unease. We are still most comfortable with being handed the Obvious Narrative.

    Paul Metcalf, guest inspiration: experimental author who wrote collage-fiction, pasting primary sources into his stories on an even-keel with his narration. The resolution frame is Paul reminding Guy (who is, again, heading out with his resume) that this proscription doesn't fit. In truth, the words are those of Metcalf's daughter, from "Where Do You Put The Horse?" (1977), explaining why some audiences have difficulty with his writing. Which is to say, Metcalf (either father or daughter) didn't state it as an absolute about the world, but rather it is an absolute about his art. And here I inflate it to an absolute about the world. This misappropriation bugs me.

    Soap Strip frame a noir figure smoking a cigarette in front of a Chinese butcher. The Proscription that I must act, that I must get my ducks in a row, turned into a dark farce based on a bad pun. Am happy with how that turned out, though, the lighting coming from inside the building.

    Pharm Life frame a reference to The Faint, video on their single "Agenda Suicide" (2002), created by animation studio MK12. It's a beautifully rendered commentary on the dehumanization of modern worker exploitation, and there's a repeating image of suited worker drones standing in a line that recedes dramatically in the distance. The pills in this frame mimic that scene against a mural (not sure if this is at all clear) that depicts another image from that video of a manager berating an office worker. The line of pills unintentionally mirrors that hanging ducks, which turned out be the most striking and satisfying result of this comic.

    ReplyDelete