who the heck knows anything, anyway

Saturday, February 25, 2012

blah blah blah Craig Finn!!! blah

Got some good brainstorming in this morning--though, as the day creeps ever onward, I find myself growing more and more skeptical of what seemed like an amazing plan this morning. If I wake up tomorrow morning for Brainstorming: Round 2 and it, again, seems like a good idea, then I'll stop talking myself out of it and give it a try.

Relatedly--i.e as a direct result of my brainstorm subjects--I got to thinking about what I will here refer to as Writing of the Times. Or we could use the German term (because they have nice, digestible words for all sort of long-winded ideas): zeitgeist.* My general opinion of contemporary (I'm going to further this by adding "white" and/or possibly "male") American fiction that falls into this zeitgeist category is: I don't like it. Subconsciously, I think, I've turned myself against the whole idea of writing the next Great American Novel because I haven't liked any of them for quite some time. Now, this may be an issue I have with white, male authors writing about ennui or living in Brooklyn or what have you (basically, I find anything that reads like the couple from the film Beginners acts to be extremely alienating. And dull), but whatever the cause, I have been turned off by most contemporary American lit** for some time.

Then I thought really hard about it. I thought about why I don't like those books. Yes, part of it is subject matter, but isn't it important to capture the contemporary zeitgeist for future generations? Isn't that why Jack Kerouac still sends 18 year-olds reeling the first time they read On the Road? Isn't that why we all feel a strange nostalgia for times we never lived in (kudos, Woody Allen, for making an absolutely lovely film about what has been plaguing creative people for generations)?

I feel I haven't been giving our zeitgeist enough credit. I feel the problem I have is less the spirit of what America is living/struggling through and more that the books are not as good as they could be. After all, Busy Monsters was zeitgeisty and brilliant and horribly under-raved about. I would like to nominate it for Great American Novel fame, please.

So maybe it wouldn't be terrible if I write about what I know, what my friends know, what we grew up knowing, how our world has changed. Just because I'm twenty-three and grew up in the Pacific NW doesn't mean my present-day novel is doomed to be some Hipster Manifesto; or any historical reflections, about the Oregon Trail. I have a knack for writing elegant prose. Why not combine it with something a little gritty? It's not as though I know enough to do much else. (I would be an idiot to assume I'll write a brilliant novel at my age. That used to be possible, but I don't believe it is anymore.***)

Last night we went to see Craig Finn at the Crocodile. It was amazing. There's a guy who's brilliant and contemporary. That's largely why I respect him so much. AND. At the end of the show, he signed my bandana. It is now hanging on the wall. (!!!!!)

Anyways, here are pictures!

that's my red head with the bandana on it. FRONT ROW, BIZZITCHES.

this man is my hero

"Stay Positive! Craig Finn" awww YISS

And with that, I'm going to eat dinner.  I think some of my footnotes sounded grumpier than they otherwise would have, because my blood sugar has taken a thrilling nose-dive.

*And how meta it is! I hear it all the time these days, but had never heard it used before 2007/08 (though it has been around since 1848). I think I first heard it when my roommates watched a 2007 documentary with that name, and it's blown up since then. My point: The very word "zeitgeist" is zeitgeisty.

**There are obviously a few exceptions. 

***People are allowed/encouraged to be children much longer than they used to be. I think this stunts the novel-writing process, because (unlike many forms of art, in which very young people can be geniuses) prose requires years of things like observation, hardship, complex emotional understanding, etc. Etc. Etc. You get what I'm saying.