Samuel Beckett, Soul-talk and Sacred Chaos

Monday, January 18th, 2010

(Original blog date: 05/01/10)

Happy new year folks. I hope it’s going to be a good one for you, I know it’s going to be a great one for me, because 2009 was so suckingly horribly miserable. It felt like a prolonged sugarcane crusher, something you’ll be familiar with if you live in a tropical country where people on the street sell sugarcane juice. The kind that tastes good but has loads of gut-killing crawlies in it, bless their hearts.

The key thing is I survived. Not only that, I’m writing again. Ah the bliss of it.

I’ve also understood a few more things about Revenge Ink and the books we plan to publish.

Revenge Ink plans to publish lots of books in 2010. Written by lots of very interesting writers, some professional, others amateur, still others, not writers at all.

And why is Revenge Ink inundating an already glutted market with more books? Well, because Revenge Ink has little to do with publishing as a business or even a mission. Revenge Ink has to do with publishing as a party, a feral, crazy riot of passion, uncommon sense, wild judgment and chaotic thrills. And oh yes, also because the need for books and writing was never more urgent than it is today.

Let me explain. I am reading one of our upcoming books (still in the manuscript phase), written by Simon Kearns (to be published on Sep 11th, check out his blog on http://spiralise.blogspot.com/ …. And in his book, Simon’s lead character says something interesting: he says genuine communication seems to have become impossible in this age of sms’s and fast techno-heavy communication. This made me think. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, bla bla, it’s all about putting yourself out there from an advertising perspective. Always selling yourself, promoting your best parts, making yourself sound generically original, anything but your true, smelly, crappy self. It’s a bit like how sex and love have been hijacked by porn. How everything’s been hijacked by dull, established forms of communication, slogans, bylines, boring sh*t we’ve internalized from TV.

It’s very hard to be authentic these days, sincere, real, heartfelt, because you’re communicating most of the time via alpha-numerics on a screen. So what’s left? How can we still be ourselves and express genuine, honest thoughts and feelings? Can we do so at all? Well yes we can. Ironically, through books.

This doesn’t mean books have to be autobiographical. It means they have to be original. Unique. Words that folks like Nabokov and Yeats would have disliked deeply.

That’s the first thing.

The second thing is books must be spiritual. Not religious or moral, but spiritual. The spirit’s language is chaos. Not rules. The spirit equals individuality. This is why writers like Samuel Beckett wrote as they did. Beckett’s language was chaos for the brain but perfect syntax for the spirit. He wasn’t just playing around when he invented the kind of writing he did. And he didn’t do it to reflect the chaos of the modern age, or whatever crap the soul-killing critics will tell you. That’s not how writers work, that’s the sh*t critics write post facto about writers. They hijack the writer’s purposes.

I’m not saying I know Beckett’s purposes. What I do know is that most writers aren’t like Nabokov who was a manufactured, academic-circle-jerk of a writer. Beckett was not Nabokov. Nabokov never experienced spontaneity. He didn’t like spontaneity. Even his spontaneity was rehearsed. Lolita is his exception, not his rule.

Anyway, whatever Beckett’s purposes were, they are unimportant. It is the effects of his writing that matter. And the effects of the work of any great artist (or lesser artist) are directed at the heart, the spirit and the soul, not the brain. Critics feel with their brains, they probably f*ck with their brains too. But the worst part is they fill their brainy sh*t into you and then we’re all made to feel we have to analyze literary works based on all this brainy sh*ttage. No, if you feel Beckett, you see something else: that his writing evokes a sort of sacred chaos, a blissful holiday for the brain and a profoundly pleasurable call to the spirit.

This is the second reason why we need more books and writers. On the condition that the writers are like you and me, not bred and buttered by the academies. No, soul talk can only happen if writers are real people, expressing something unique, personal, entirely their own.

Strikingly all my writers in 2010 have this in common. They’re all interesting, intelligent people who don’t take themselves seriously. Amazingly, they also all write about the individual in some sort of way. Not in autobiographical stories or standard plots but in highly original, exciting, thought-provoking plots, sometimes no plots at all. And yet, all the stories have this strangely spiritual quality to them. They’re full of bad language, criminals, madness, violence, ratiocination and sex. And yet, they will speak not to your brain but to your fun parts. Your soul parts. That I can guarantee.

This is why Revenge Ink and its writers and books are important. We need genuine communication between people, and we need books that speak to our souls. Not to our brains or our well-bred artistic educations, corroded to conformist nothings in the academies of boredom we all know and love. Remember, two people shot someone after reading Salinger. He spoke to their souls, albeit in a slightly disturbing and tragic way. But ask yourselves. Who’s going to kill someone from reading The Tempest, or Anna Karenina? Or Oliver frigging Twist?

Yep, I know, it sounds fruity. But here is my deepest conviction. Art must be chaotic. Chaos is sacred. Excessively rule-bound ordered crap kills the truthful and genuine. It kills pleasure. If life is universal, chaotic and fundamentally mysterious, no reason art should be any different.

So happy new year again, and saludos till I pontificate next.