A Telephone Call

December 23, 2008

 

BY DOROTHY PARKER

(posted by Lily)

PLEASE, God, let him telephone me now. Dear God, let him call me now. I won’t ask anything else of You, truly I won’t. It isn’t very much to ask. It would be so little to You, God, such a little, little thing. Only let him telephone now. Please, God. Please, please, please.

If I didn’t think about it, maybe the telephone might ring. Sometimes it does that. If I could think of something else. If I could think of something else. Knobby if I counted five hundred by fives, it might ring by that time. I’ll count slowly. I won’t cheat. And if it rings when I get to three hundred, I won’t stop; I won’t answer it until I get to five hundred. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty, forty-five, fifty…. Oh, please ring. Please.

This is the last time I’ll look at the clock. I will not look at it again. It’s ten minutes past seven. He said he would telephone at five o’clock. “I’ll call you at five, darling.” I think that’s where he said “darling.” I’m almost sure he said it there. I know he called me “darling” twice, and the other time was when he said good-by. “Good-by, darling.” He was busy, and he can’t say much in the office, but he called me “darling” twice. He couldn’t have minded my calling him up. I know you shouldn’t keep telephoning them–I know they don’t like that. When you do that they know you are thinking about them and wanting them, and that makes them hate you. But I hadn’t talked to him in three days-not in three days. And all I did was ask him how he was; it was just the way anybody might have called him up. He couldn’t have minded that. He couldn’t have thought I was bothering him. “No, of course you’re not,” he said. And he said he’d telephone me. He didn’t have to say that. I didn’t ask him to, truly I didn’t. I’m sure I didn’t. I don’t think he would say he’d telephone me, and then just never do it. Please don’t let him do that, God. Please don’t.

 

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“I’ll call you at five, darling.” “Good-by, darling.,’ He was busy, and he was in a hurry, and there were people around him, but he called me “darling” twice. That’s mine, that’s mine. I have that, even if I never see him again. Oh, but that’s so little. That isn’t enough. Nothing’s enough, if I never see him again. Please let me see him again, God. Please, I want him so much. I want him so much. I’ll be good, God. I will try to be better, I will, If you will let me see him again. If You will let him telephone me. Oh, let him telephone me now.

Ah, don’t let my prayer seem too little to You, God. You sit up there, so white and old, with all the angels about You and the stars slipping by. And I come to You with a prayer about a telephone call. Ah, don’t laugh, God. You see, You don’t know how it feels. You’re so safe, there on Your throne, with the blue swirling under You. Nothing can touch You; no one can twist Your heart in his hands. This is suffering, God, this is bad, bad suffering. Won’t You help me? For Your Son’s sake, help me. You said You would do whatever was asked of You in His name. Oh, God, in the name of Thine only beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, let him telephone me now.

I must stop this. I mustn’t be this way. Look. Suppose a young man says he’ll call a girl up, and then something happens, and he doesn’t. That isn’t so terrible, is it? Why, it’s gong on all over the world, right this minute. Oh, what do I care what’s going on all over the world? Why can’t that telephone ring? Why can’t it, why can’t it? Couldn’t you ring? Ah, please, couldn’t you? You damned, ugly, shiny thing. It would hurt you to ring, wouldn’t it? Oh, that would hurt you. Damn you, I’ll pull your filthy roots out of the wall, I’ll smash your smug black face in little bits. Damn you to hell.

No, no, no. I must stop. I must think about something else. This is what I’ll do. I’ll put the clock in the other room. Then I can’t look at it. If I do have to look at it, then I’ll have to walk into the bedroom, and that will be something to do. Maybe, before I look at it again, he will call me. I’ll be so sweet to him, if he calls me. If he says he can’t see me tonight, I’ll say, “Why, that’s all right, dear. Why, of course it’s all right.” I’ll be the way I was when I first met him. Then maybe he’ll like me again. I was always sweet, at first. Oh, it’s so easy to be sweet to people before you love them.

I think he must still like me a little. He couldn’t have called me “darling” twice today, if he didn’t still like me a little. It isn’t all gone, if he still likes me a little; even if it’s only a little, little bit. You see, God, if You would just let him telephone me, I wouldn’t have to ask You anything more. I would be sweet to him, I would be gay, I would be just the way I used to be, and then he would love me again. And then I would never have to ask You for anything more. Don’t You see, God? So won’t You please let him telephone me? Won’t You please, please, please?

Are You punishing me, God, because I’ve been bad? Are You angry with me because I did that? Oh, but, God, there are so many bad people –You could not be ######### to me. And it wasn’t very bad; it couldn’t have been bad. We didn’t hurt anybody, God. Things are only bad when they hurt people. We didn’t hurt one single soul; You know that. You know it wasn’t bad, don’t You, God? So won’t You let him telephone me now?

If he doesn’t telephone me, I’ll know God is angry with me. I’ll count five hundred by fives, and if he hasn’t called me then, I will know God isn’t going to help me, ever again. That will be the sign. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty, forty-five, fifty, fifty-five. . . It was bad. I knew it was bad. All right, God, send me to hell. You think You’re frightening me with Your hell, don’t You? You think. Your hell is worse than mine.

I mustn’t. I mustn’t do this. Suppose he’s a little late calling me up –that’s nothing to get hysterical about. Maybe he isn’t going to call–maybe he’s coming straight up here without telephoning. He’ll be cross if he sees I have been crying. They don’t like you to cry. He doesn’t cry. I wish to God I could make him cry. I wish I could make him cry and tread the floor and feel his heart heavy and big and festering in him. I wish I could hurt him like hell.

He doesn’t wish that about me. I don’t think he even knows how he makes me feel. I wish he could know, without my telling him. They don’t like you to tell them they’ve made you cry. They don’t like you to tell them you’re unhappy because of them. If you do, they think you’re possessive and exacting. And then they hate you. They hate you whenever you say anything you really think. You always have to keep playing little games. Oh, I thought we didn’t have to; I thought this was so big I could say whatever I meant. I guess you can’t, ever. I guess there isn’t ever anything big enough for that. Oh, if he would just telephone, I wouldn’t tell him I had been sad about him. They hate sad people. I would be so sweet and so gay, he couldn’t help but like me. If he would only telephone. If he would only telephone.

Maybe that’s what he is doing. Maybe he is coming on here without calling me up. Maybe he’s on his way now. Something might have happened to him. No, nothing could ever happen to him. I can’t picture anything happening to him. I never picture him run over. I never see him lying still and long and dead. I wish he were dead. That’s a terrible wish. That’s a lovely wish. If he were dead, he would be mine. If he were dead, I would never think of now and the last few weeks. I would remember only the lovely times. It would be all beautiful. I wish he were dead. I wish he were dead, dead, dead.

This is silly. It’s silly to go wishing people were dead just because they don’t call you up the very minute they said they would. Maybe the clock’s fast; I don’t know whether it’s right. Maybe he’s hardly late at all. Anything could have made him a little late. Maybe he had to stay at his office. Maybe he went home, to call me up from there, and somebody came in. He doesn’t like to telephone me in front of people. Maybe he’s worried, just alittle, little bit, about keeping me waiting. He might even hope that I would call him up. I could do that. I could telephone him.

I mustn’t. I mustn’t, I mustn’t. Oh, God, please don’t let me telephone him. Please keep me from doing that. I know, God, just as well as You do, that if he were worried about me, he’d telephone no matter where he was or how many people there were around him. Please make me know that, God. I don’t ask YOU to make it easy for me–You can’t do that, for all that You could make a world. Only let me know it, God. Don’t let me go on hoping. Don’t let me say comforting things to myself. Please don’t let me hope, dear God. Please don’t.

I won’t telephone him. I’ll never telephone him again as long as I live. He’ll rot in hell, before I’ll call him up. You don’t have to give me strength, God; I have it myself. If he wanted me, he could get me. He knows where I ram. He knows I’m waiting here. He’s so sure of me, so sure. I wonder why they hate you, as soon as they are sure of you. I should think it would be so sweet to be sure.

It would be so easy to telephone him. Then I’d know. Maybe it wouldn’t be a foolish thing to do. Maybe he wouldn’t mind. Maybe he’d like it. Maybe he has been trying to get me. Sometimes people try and try to get you on the telephone, and they say the number doesn’t answer. I’m not just saying that to help myself; that really happens. You know that really happens, God. Oh, God, keep me away from that telephone. Kcep me away. Let me still have just a little bit of pride. I think I’m going to need it, God. I think it will be all I’ll have.

Oh, what does pride matter, when I can’t stand it if I don’t talk to him? Pride like that is such a silly, shabby little thing. The real pride, the big pride, is in having no pride. I’m not saying that just because I want to call him. I am not. That’s true, I know that’s true. I will be big. I will be beyond little prides.

Please, God, keep me from, telephoning him. Please, God.

I don’t see what pride has to do with it. This is such a little thing, for me to be bringing in pride, for me to be making such a fuss about. I may have misunderstood him. Maybe he said for me to call him up, at five. “Call me at five, darling.” He could have said that, perfectly well. It’s so possible that I didn’t hear him right. “Call me at five, darling.” I’m almost sure that’s what he said. God, don’t let me talk this way to myself. Make me know, please make me know.

I’ll think about something else. I’ll just sit quietly. If I could sit still. If I could sit still. Maybe I could read. Oh, all the books are about people who love each other, truly and sweetly. What do they want to write about that for? Don’t they know it isn’t tree? Don’t they know it’s a lie, it’s a God damned lie? What do they have to tell about that for, when they know how it hurts? Damn them, damn them, damn them.

I won’t. I’ll be quiet. This is nothing to get excited about. Look. Suppose he were someone I didn’t know very well. Suppose he were another girl. Then I d just telephone and say, “Well, for goodness’ sake, what happened to you?” That’s what I’d do, and I’d never even think about it. Why can’t I be casual and natural, just because I love him? I can be. Honestly, I can be. I’ll call him up, and be so easy and pleasant. You see if I won’t, God. Oh, don’t let me call him. Don’t, don’t, don’t.

God, aren’t You really going to let him call me? Are You sure, God? Couldn’t You please relent? Couldn’t You? I don’t even ask You to let him telephone me this minute, God; only let him do it in a little while. I’ll count five hundred by fives. I’ll do it so slowly and so fairly. If he hasn’t telephoned then, I’ll call him. I will. Oh, please, dear God, dear kind God, my blessed Father in Heaven, let him call before then. Please, God. Please.

Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twentyfive, thirty, thirty-five….

Elephants in Small Places

December 23, 2008

The Green Lantern is proud to announce a new group show called “ELEPHANTS IN SMALL PLACES” opening on Saturday January 10th with a reception from 7-10pm. Running until  Feb 7th, featuring the work of Shannon Gerard (Canada), Clare Britt (Chicago), Jennifer Wilkey (NY) & Derek Haverland (Chicago).

Elephants in Small Places is a show documenting various approaches to illness in our society. Featuring a range of work from soft sculpture maquettes that teach breast and testicular cancer awareness, to photographs that integrate hospital scenes with knitting performances that are documented in photographs; a 2-d installation referencing
fashion by Clare Britt and a credit card piece by Derek Haverland.

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Clare Britt earned her Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her Bachelors of Fine Arts degree concentration in Sculpture, minor in Business from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has been published in Bailliwik, Chicago, IL. She produces the nationally acclaimed ‘zine: Ghetto Blues with her collaborator John Word. She has talked with Duncan MacKenzie on BadatSports about art in Europe. Solo exhibitions include: Gallery 400, Chicago, IL; Elliot University Center Greensboro, NC; FlatFilePhotography Gallery, Chicago, Artspace, Raleigh, NC; and the Page Bros Building, Chicago, IL. She participated in the Open Studio Program with the Chicago Cultural Center.

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Shannon Gerard publishes an ongoing illustrated auto-bio project called Hung. She also prints, binds and distributes little books and artist’s multiples that are mostly about faith, wishing and loss. Her most recent project is a series of multiples called Boobs and Dinks: Early Detection Kits, which involve plush crocheted breasts and
penises with little lumps sewn inside that can be found by following instructions in the accompanying booklets- also made to encourage real-life monthly self-examinations.

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Derek Haverland‘s current body of work includes etched glass and meticulously hand-stitched needlework pieces that address issues of the family, loss and regeneration. He has shown in several group exhibitions in San Francisco and Chicago. He received a B.S. in Art Education from Northern Illinois University in 1995 and received his M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2008. Haverland lives
and works in the Chicagoland area.

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Jennifer Wilkey is an artist who works in a variety of media. In her work she considers what it means to be ill and examine the roles of the patient, the doctor, and the hospital in treatment and healing. She is currently an MFA student in Photography at Syracuse University.


posted by Caroline Picard; in regards to the continued conversation of editors and greatness. you can see the original site for this post on new york book review site, here.

Volume 28, Number 4 · March 19, 1981

Who Wrote Thomas Wolfe’s Last Novels?

By John Halberstadt

To the Editors:

I think your readers might want to know some of the background to my discovery, published in the current Yale Review, that the three posthumous novels of Thomas Wolfe, The Web and the Rock, You Can’t Go Home Again, and The Hills Beyond, were not really written by Wolfe in the usual sense but were predominantly the work of an editor named Edward Aswell.

Readers are generally aware, of course, that the novels published during Wolfe’s lifetime, such as Look Homeward, Angel, were heavily edited by Wolfe’s editor at Scribner’s, Maxwell Perkins. But readers may not know that near the end of his career, Wolfe fled Perkins to sign with a new publisher, Harper’s, and a new editor, Edward Aswell. “Fled” Perkins’s scissors, that is. That Wolfe’s novels depended on Perkins’s large-scale editing was common gossip.

Wolfe signed a contract with Edward Aswell for a manuscript-in-progress which, when he finally relinquished it to Aswell, came to perhaps one and a quarter million words, some five thousand pages, over two hundred chapters. The contract, however, specified that “no changes, additions or alterations in the title or text” of the work could be made without Wolfe’s written consent. Aswell probably didn’t think much about this clause. He was so happy to sign Wolfe he offered him a $10,000 advance for the manuscript “sight unseen.” He made the offer in November 1937 and Wolfe signed the contract on December 31.


In May 1938, Wolfe gave this manuscript to Aswell. It was not a finished product in any sense. It was a collection of materials Perkins had cut from earlier novels, previously published sketches or even short novels, chapters in variant versions, fragments, new writing—only the “enormous skeleton” of a novel, as Wolfe had described his earlier manuscript for Of Time and the River; but he wanted Aswell to become familiar with the general plan. And it had one. As usual, the work would be autobiographical but this time it would span more than one hundred and fifty years and include hundreds of characters. In fact the very first chapter would show America itself being created, being made manifest out of the unmanifest absolute “source” from which Wolfe believed all manifest creation springs.

At least sporadically throughout the manuscript, in fact, Wolfe’s hero actively searches for a procedure for transcendence, a way to contact the absolute. If one could but touch the never-changing basis of life, the absolute, one would enrich the ever-changing surface, the relative, Wolfe believed, until one could live a life “more fortunate and happy than man has ever known.” Wolfe himself appears to have been quite serious about this quest. Unpublished manuscripts, if they are essentially autobiographical as I believe they are, suggest that Wolfe sought a literal technique for achieving transcendence ever since childhood. At Harvard he held his breath on subways for four counts trying to “break through.”

The manuscript which Aswell called a “mess” begins in the transcendent or absolute, introduces the hero’s frontier and Civil War ancestors at length, his childhood neighborhood, later a mistress and editor such as Wolfe himself had. As I will explain shortly, it has not been possible in the forty years since Wolfe gave this manuscript to Aswell to know, except for a relatively brief sketch, what was in it. After turning over the “mess” to Aswell, who put it in bundles, Wolfe raced to catch a train west. He fell sick on the trip and returned to Baltimore where he died.

Aswell in New York now faced a one and a quarter million word “mess” for which he had risked $10,000, with no author to consult and no permission to make any “changes, additions, or alterations” because the contract explicitly forbade it. But Aswell found a way out of the dilemma, I discovered. Another clause in the contract stipulated that Wolfe would give Harper’s a manuscript that would not exceed 750,000 words. Since Wolfe’s last unfinished manuscript was at least a million words, Aswell estimated, he had permission to cut at least 250,000 words. Maxwell Perkins, who was now the estate’s literary executor, gave his blessing to this clever interpretation of Wolfe’s contract.

Aswell then shelved the manuscript’s transcendental opening section. He collected all the chapters about the hero’s ancestry and published them last as The Hills Beyond. He was now ready to make the first of “Wolfe’s” posthumous novels, The Web and the Rock. He fashioned an introduction for the novel by completely reducing and distorting a document Wolfe had written for another purpose, but by comparison with Aswell’s other editorial manipulations, this is a mere quibble. Aswell then cut at least fifty chapters of the manuscript. He made at least ten more, here and in his next production, by putting together bits and pieces of the original. Let me make this clear. Aswell would take a few pages from a chapter or variant version of a chapter, a few pages from a second, write a line himself, then mix in third and even fourth sources until he had the hybrid he desired. In my Yale PhD dissertation, which concerns Wolfe’s last manuscript and its editing, I have “maps” showing where Aswell found almost each line of five of his hybrid chapters. I think this is one reason my adviser, R.W.B. Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Edith Wharton, has written in a report on my dissertation: “In years past, I have often taught The Web and the Rock in American literature courses; after reading Halberstadt, I would not dream of doing so again. It would be teaching an unacknowledged and profoundly misleading hybrid.”

But in the second posthumous novel, You Can’t Go Home Again, Aswell did not merely cut chapters, make collages of others, and rearrange the chapters which he did not cut in a new order. This time Aswell created out of Wolfe’s materials wholly original characters. For example, “Randy Shepperton,” an important character in You Can’t Go Home Again, the hero’s confidant, is actually Aswell’s combining of two young salesmen, an older literary executor, and perhaps other characters as well—I don’t know. Randy’s sister Margaret is another collage. “Tim Wagner,” a combination of a drunk and an addict in Wolfe’s manuscript, is another example.

At the end of the third posthumous novel, The Hills Beyond, created mainly by transposing a group of chapters that were supposed to come at the beginning of Wolfe’s epic and calling the group a short novel, and then attaching sketches cut from various sources to this “novel,” Aswell wrote a long essay about Wolfe in which he skillfully created the misleading impression that Wolfe had left behind a relatively complete manuscript, and if one removed its excesses, the remainder cohered “like a jigsaw puzzle.” One could not easily tamper with Wolfe’s prose, he wrote, “By just a little injudicious tampering, those sonorous sentences [of Wolfe's] which have the majestic swing and roll of mighty music can be reduced to limping dissonance.” Aswell not only misleads the reader but cites Randy Shepperton as proof Wolfe wasn’t always autobiographical but was capable of “free invention.” “Randy represents another imaginative projection of the close contemporary—sympathetic, understanding, loyal—whom Tom desperately needed…but did not have.”

In 1962 a scholar named Richard S. Kennedy in The Window of Memory provided the first report that Wolfe’s posthumous novels had been manufactured by Aswell from Wolfe’s unfinished manuscript. Kennedy called Aswell’s efforts with a great portion of The Web and the Rock “creative editing.” In the case of You Can’t Go Home Again, Aswell “tampered with Wolfe’s style as he had not done before,” even “began to play author with the manuscript.” Although Kennedy’s brilliant and pioneering research did not make all the discoveries which I would—later—make: the contract violation, the collages of chapters and characters, the deceptive essay about Wolfe, Kennedy had himself noted hundreds of changes. He already had perhaps two-thirds of the story. But Kennedy felt it was all justified under the circumstances, an “acceptable job of editing for commercial publication.” For this reason or because his account is so understated, Kennedy’s book never produced the critical outcry I would have expected. At the very least, I felt, Aswell should have acknowledged what happened. So I went to Harvard to compare the original manuscript with the published novels and this comparison provided the basis for my PhD and my article. I also discovered about fifteen hundred neverquoted letters saved by Wolfe’s literary agent, some of which offer firsthand admissions by Aswell to Wolfe’s agent that yes, he altered this or wrote that.

The consequences of Aswell’s editing are far-reaching. First it is clear that much scholarship on Wolfe in the last forty years has been muddled. Just the other day I read a report reminding me that it is a “commonplace in Wolfe criticism” that all Wolfe’s novels taken together “constitute a single book” with “beginning, middle and end.” But the structure was not Wolfe’s. My article makes this clear…. We may need to study Aswell’s biography for clues to Wolfe’s psyche.


To do research for my dissertation, I needed permission from Mr. Paul Gitlin, the noted copyright attorney who is Executor of the Estate of Thomas Wolfe, and from Harvard’s Houghten Library. I made an agreement with him hat my dissertation would be “unpublished.” It may not leave the library at Yale in either its book or microfilm form (even though normally all dissertations are universally microfilmed by Ann Arbor Micro-films, or so I understand). I could, however, thanks to the courtesy of Mr. Gitlin, include a generous sample of Wolfe’s last manuscript in the dissertation.

In 1978 and 979, in a telephone call, letters, and finally a telegram pleading that survival in the “dwindling market of the humanities”—I have been a college English teacher—depended on publication, I begged to publish the fruits of my six or seven years’ research, but Mr. Gitlin replied with only two sentences. “In response to your letter of February 8th, this will confirm what I stated to you on the telephone, some time ago. We are not willing to grant permission for the submission of your dissertation, or the article based upon it, for publication.” No reason offered, yet because he brought it up on the phone, I had told Mr. Gitlin my general area of inquiry.

Mr. Gitlin had, however, in the same period given another scholar, a fine historian at Harvard, Dr. David Donald, permission to publish a Wolfe biography. I understand from another scholar that Dr. Donald and Mr. Gitlin have signed an exclusive three-year contract such that no one else in the field can publish anything. One day I observed that Dr. Donald had found a file of material which would permit him to scoop my own work with a quick article. By this time, I may already have begun disobeying Mr. Gitlin by submitting my article to be published by the Yale Review, but I recall that Dr. Donald’s activity provided an additional stimulant later.

I published without permission. Unthinkingly (I was so concerned and distracted by my relationship with Mr. Gitlin) I broke an agreement with the Houghton Library, the permission of which is also required, and in the process hurt the curator, Mr. Rodney Dennis, who had been kind to me. I came to make a gift of my article. He applauded, then grew dark as he became aware of what I had done. I am—this is the upshot—barred from the library for a year, a lenient punishment perhaps from the library’s standpoint, but serious for me since I need to see certain documents right away which are part of a group identified for the first time in my article. Otherwise someone else may capitalize on my discovery first. I also require this library should I need to defend my article and to research Henry James should my adviser agree to let me help him with his James research. (Many of the James family papers are also stored there.) But I can’t use it.

I asked a Harvard administrator to remove the restriction. He told me it was a minimal punishment “and you can’t go below the minimum.” This administrator was familiar with the case. Could he tell me the name of the Wolfe family member represented by Gitlin. “My advice to you,” he warned, “is to lie low for a year, and maybe this’ll all be forgotten.” Otherwise I’d make matters worse for myself. This applied to giving interviews to the press; I said I’d received invitations. (They came from UPI and The Boston Globe and elsewhere.) But even if I’m allowed back in the library at year’s end, I argued, having been quiet all year, there’s no guarantee that Mr. Gitlin will allow me to do anything once I’m there, given that three-year contract. I could be barred from the library for years, with or without that contract. The administrator said that, as far as he knew, the library could speak only for its own “bailiwick.” A publisher is interested, so far at least, in bringing out a more general version of my dissertation; in addition I would like to bring out a selection from Wolfe’s “enormous” last manuscript, which contains about fifteen sketches and passages that have never been published, or were published in distorted form, and in either case are worth publishing. (One of these is about one hundred pages long.) Still others have been previously published but were relocated by Wolfe in his last manuscript; these also deserve publication. As it is, however, I can’t do anything about them.

Wolfe, I believe, would have approved my writing this letter.

John Halberstadt

118 High Street

Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129

Digital Artifacts Magazine

December 22, 2008

Digital Artifact Magazine
–presents–
Issue 2: Transnationalism

digitalartifactmagazine.com/issue2

digitalartifact_issue2

Digital Artifact Magazine is a Web based journal that explores digital and global culture using hybrid aesthetic tactics. Issue 2: Transnationalism includes fiction, poetry, essays and translations along with sound pieces, video, and images. Whether lingering in airport waiting zones or interrogating the idea of a boundary line, the works in Digital Artifact’s latest issue question the inscriptions of nationalism, locality and genre, and explore the possibilities of transnational artistic practices.

Including works by: Ghada Abdelquadar, Emily Abendroth, Mary Burger, Rachel Carvosso, Marcus Civin, Anna Paola Civardi, Renee Evans, Cassandra Feelings, Linda Ford, Hilary Kaplan, Marco Lean, Georgina Lewis, Chana Morgenstern, Juliana Mundim, Kirthi Nath, Mamoru Okuno, Soo Na Pak, Francis Raven, Lily Robert-Foley, deNNis M. SOmeRA and Azareen Van Der Vliet Oloomi

Stay tuned for Issue 3 call for submissions ~ coming soon.

digitalartifactmagazine.com 
digitalartifactmagazine.blogspot.com 
digitalartifactmagazine@gmail.com

A Confederacy of Dunces

December 22, 2008

posted by Caroline Picard – John Kennedy Toole came to mind, as I’d heard a wild fable (likely true) that his manuscript was submitted to the editor post-humously on a stack of legal pads with an all-but illegible scrawl. As a fan of the book, I’d be curious to see the inner workings of what took place between the written draft and the published version. Editing books is such a touchy subject, and all kinds of editors have different styles, those that take a more interior approach (by which, I mean that they try and understand what the piece is about on its own, using a criteria for editing that is generated from the interior purpose of the book), or editors who edit towards what they think is best – an aesthetic that is predetermined in their mind. While I prefer the latter style, I’ve been thinking about it of late, for instance: perhaps the great writers we know (albeit great might be a point of contention), are really the result of an essential conversation between editor and writer – even if that conversation took place after the author has died.

To that end, I’ve included part of a book review, and something about the supposed movie that people stopped talking about…

ken-toole

Confederacy of Dunces

The comedy of A Confederacy of Dunces is writ large in and between its many lines: a grand farce of overeducated white trash, corrupt law enforcement, exotic dancing and the nouveau riche in steamy New Orleans. The Pulitzer committee thought highly enough of Toole’s comic prowess to give his only novel the Prize posthumously. Therein lies the tragedy of this huge and hugely funny book: John Kennedy Toole didn’t live to see this now-classic novel published. He committed suicide in 1969 at the age of thirty-two. It was his mother who was responsible for bringing his book to public light, pestering the hell out of Walker Percy, who was teaching at Loyola in 1976, to read it until finally that distinguished author relented. In his foreword to A Confederacy of Dunces, Percy laments the body of work lost to the world of literature with the author’s death, but rejoices “that this gargantuan tumultuous human tragicomedy is at least made available to a world of readers.”

At the center of A Confederacy of Dunces is that contemptuous hypochondriac, that deadbeat ideologue, that gluttonous moocher Ignatius Reilly. A mountainous college graduate living off his mother’s welfare check in her home on one of New Orleans seedy back streets. He spends most of his time waxing melodramatically philosophic, hiding out in the squalor of his bedroom, filling Big Chief writing tablets with his unique brand of Luddite/medievalist/anti-Enlightenment thought and penning incendiary letters to his sex-crazed ex-college-girlfriend Myrna Minkoff. His beleaguered mother by turns dotes and turns on him in their schizophrenic dance between adult child and aging parent.

You can continue reading this review by following this link, to curledup.com. Copyrighted by Sharon Schulz-Elsing.

A Conspiracy of DuncesWill John Kennedy Toole’s comic masterpiece ever reach the big screen?

A Confederacy of Dunces.

In January of 1980, Scott Kramer, a young executive at 20th Century Fox, received the galleys of an oddly titled novel. The publisher, the Louisiana State University Press, had no presence whatsoever in Hollywood, but Kramer had contacted them a year earlier, using studio letterhead to obtain an arcane guide to the flora of Louisiana, which he gave to his mother, an amateur botanist, for her birthday. In the process, he unwittingly became the press’s only contact in the movie business. When the book arrived, Kramer had no desire to read it, but making some effort, he rationalized, would give him a clear conscience when he passed on the project. As it turned out, the manuscript changed his life. Kramer became one of the first of many readers to be seduced by the comic charms of A Confederacy of Dunces. The producer has spent 26 years trying to make the book into a movie, and his odyssey underlines a perennial Hollywood question: Can you adapt a satire without losing your shirt and your mind?

According to some sources, a film version of Dunces is slated for release in 2007, with a meticulously faithful script by Kramer and Steven Soderbergh. To direct, Kramer has attached David Gordon Green, who, though relatively unknown, has a Southern Gothic style that matches the tone of the book. The all-star cast includes Lily Tomlin, Drew Barrymore, Mos Def, Olympia Dukakis, and Will Ferrell in a fat suit, as the philosophical and portly Ignatius J. Reilly. There’s just one problem: Not a scene has been captured on film yet.

Ostensibly, this is because Paramount, which currently owns the rights to the book, has reached something of a creative lull on Dunces, and the project appears orphaned by the regime change that resulted in producer Scott Rudin’s exodus to Disney (e-mails to Paramount went unreturned). But at a grander level, this is the latest hitch in a litany of woe that has conspired to keep the film from being made. Even Kramer, its most tireless advocate, has begun to doubt whether the project will ever get out of development hell.

posted by Caroline Picard; because I’ve been having a number of conversations lately about editing and how much an editor has to do with a great writer….

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Talking about editing Ray Carver

By Alex Beam Globe Columnist / December 19, 2007

I have never met a writer who didn’t need an editor, and an editor without a writer is a person without a job. It is a fraught and often-imperfect relationship, of course, dating back to the beginning of time. You remember; after God moved upon the darkness, he proclaimed, “I’ve put in place some very wondrous illumination here!” And Mrs. God gently suggested the more pithy: “Let there be light.”

Writer-editor relations appear front and center these days because Tess Gallagher, the widow of short story writer Raymond Carver, is suggesting that Carver’s editor, Gordon Lish, bowdlerized the Carver oeuvre. “Bowdlerize” is a word that owes its existence to a 19th-century editor, Thomas Bowdler, who toned down the gamy parts of Shakespeare’s works. It’s not precisely accurate here, because Lish added lots of four-letter Anglo-Saxonisms into Carver’s stories, if the edited manuscript of “Beginners,” now displayed at newyorker.com, is any guide.

So what exactly did Lish, himself a writer of no small ambition, do to Carver’s story, originally called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”? He did one thing that many good editors do, and that most good writers do for themselves. He cut, and cut, and cut. Lish seems to have cut between 4,000 and 5,000 words from the story, which appears at its original length in the current print version of The New Yorker. In the main, he cut length and sentimentality, especially an extended, mawkish, semi-credible subplot about an elderly couple who “truly” loved each other.

Secondly – and this is more problematic – Lish also wrote portions of Carver’s work. He wrote in the semi-telegraphic, minimalist style that had become the watermark of Carver’s work, a style some say was foisted on Carver by his editor. If you read the story, you will see that “Beginners” ends with a sort of naturalistic, half-cocked-epiphany that befits what has come to be known as a New Yorker story.

Lish tossed the last 2,000 words of the story, and wrote instead: “I could hear my heart beating. As a matter of fact, I could hear everyone’s heart. It was awful, the human noise we sat there making, not a one of us moving even when the room went totally dark.”

(You can see other, purported Lish rewrites collated by University of Hartford scholars William Stull and Maureen Carroll at nytimes.com/packages/pdf/ Carver.pdf. Carroll and Stull declined to answer questions about their work.)

In addition to the drastic cuts, Lish made other changes. He roughed up the prose, injecting some of the “Kmart realism” that New York intellectuals so savored in Carver. Under Lish’s pen, an Albuquerque cardiologist adopts longshoreman patois: “this [expletive] gin” for “gin;” “shooter” for drink, and so on. Lish also changed the names of two characters, and deleted a favorable reference to Sir Walter Scott’s “Ivanhoe,” a novel presumably little read in the Kmart aisles.

Does Tess Gallagher have a point? I think she does. While it is true that “Beginners” as Carver wrote it does drag on, it’s an extended conversation among people drinking gin, lots of gin. (“Cheapo” gin, Lish felt compelled to add, although Carver had mentioned it was Beefeaters.) For my money Carver picks up the longueurs, the non sequiturs, the occasional insights, and the blind boredom of alcohol talk pretty well. It sounds like what drunk people talk about when they think they are talking about love.

Whether Gallagher will succeed in publishing the “real” Raymond Carver stories is far from clear. This is a copyright battle looking for a place to happen. The New Yorker paid fees to both Gallagher’s agent Andrew Wylie and to Carver’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, for “Beginners.” Wylie won’t talk about who really owns the edited versus unedited stories, and whether they will be published in book form. Knopf’s position is that it published the genuine Carver stories starting in 1981, and that there is no need for any new editions. “It’s pretty cut and dry,” a spokesman explains. “We own the publishing rights to the stories.”

Alex Beam is a Globe columnist. His e-dress is beam@globe.com.

A January festival of writing, performance, and video curated by Amina Cain & Jennifer Karmin.
date:  January 09, 2009    08:00PM
venue: Links Hall
location: 3435 N. Sheffield, Chicago, IL, The United States
website: http://www.linkshall.org

Beginning on January 9/ending February 1, When Does It or You Begin? (Memory as Innovation) explores the ways new forms of expression are created from the recollections of individuals, groups, positions, and places. Moving from subject to action, in between imagination and lived experience, the festival draws together writers and artists who take memory as a site of curiosity and absorption. Who are we when we remember? 

 
Weekend 1: (January 9-11) Individual Memory – A Celebration for Hannah Weiner featuring Lee Ann Brown, Judith Goldman, Roberto Harrison, Nicole LeGette, Jenny Roberts, Timothy Yu, and video by Abigail Child. 

Weekend 2: (January 16-18) Collective Memory – Collaboration is Group Work featuring Dolores Dorantes, Patrick Durgin, Jen Hofer, Jennifer Karmin, John Keene, Laurie Jo Reynolds, Christopher Stackhouse, Tradeshow, and video by Temporary Services. 

Weekend 3: (January 23-25) Memory’s Encounter – The Language of Position featuring Teresa Carmody, Karen Christopher, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Vanessa Place, Nathalie Stephens (Nathanaël), Christine Stewart, and videos by Gaelen Hanson and Cecilia Viñuna. 

Weekend 4: (January 30- February 1) Memory’s Place – Alternative Sites and Histories featuring Tisa Bryant, Amina Cain, Duriel Harris, Miranda Mellis, ThickRoutes Performance Collage, and videos by Bryan Saner and Chi Jang Yin. 

(posted by Lily)

Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky

December 20, 2008

Posted by Nick Sarno

 

Prokudin-Gorsky (1863-1944) was a Russian photographer who, with a permit from the Tsar, documented the Empire just before the First World War and the following revolution. He developed a process which took a series of monochrome pictures in rapid sequence, each through a different colored filter. By projecting all three pictures using correctly colored light, he could reconstruct the original color scene. He experimented with colored prints, but the technology at the time made it impossible and no actual photographs were ever produced. 

 

It wasn’t until the advent of digital image processing that the multiple images could be satisfactorily combined into one. 

 

A link to his Wikipedia entry can be found here. Images are below.

 

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Studs Terkel : Obituary

December 20, 2008

posted by Caroline Picard; I thought it might be worth giving a nod to Studs, and of particular interest is this site on which you can hear him read. It’s worth it; there’s a blurb about it here:
Division Street: America is Studs Terkel’s look at twentieth century urban life in and around Chicago. He included interviews with immigrants from other lands, like George Drossos from Greece, and those who migrated to Chicago looking for work such as Eva Barnes from rural Illinois and Mrs. Thacker and her son, Danny from Kentucky. Terkel interviews urban dwellers that aim high (Lucy Jefferson and Judy Huff) and high school drop-outs who are just “keeping on” (Jimmy White and Lilly Lowell). Street-wise Kid Pharaoh offers insight on the nature of success and so does Benny Bearskin from his Native American perspective.”

Studs Terkel

Writer and broadcaster whose interviews with ordinary people created a chronicle of American life

see the original site for this post here.
The writer and broadcaster whose interviews with ordinary people created a chronicle of American life  has died aged 96

The FBI took an interest in Terkel’s links with people it considered subversive. Photo: AP

Studs Terkel, who died on Friday aged 96, was an American writer and broadcaster known for oral histories celebrating the common people he liked to call the “non-celebrated”.

Such was his gift for capturing the words of ordinary men and women, Terkel might have claimed to have been the inventor of the modern “oral history” genre. In hundreds of interviews, published in book form, he listened to the experiences, hopes and fears of Americans of many different backgrounds.

Beginning with Division Street: America (1966), about urban unrest in the 1960s, Terkel produced a series of books that pulled together the vivid and often moving recollections of 20th-century Americans. For The Good War: An Oral History of World War II, Terkel won a Pulitzer Prize in 1985.

A native New Yorker who moved to Chicago as a child and came to embrace his adopted city, Terkel excelled at the art of the interview; his ability to draw people out to talk unselfconsciously and at length gave what he called his “memory books” their charm and feel of authenticity. It was a skill that many reporters might have envied, and yielded the kind of detail that was the very stuff of social history. Led by his gentle prodding, his interviewees reminisced about the mob wars of the Prohibition era, the horrors of jungle warfare, the despair of the great Depression and the soul-destroying tedium of life on the production line.

For his oral histories Terkel interviewed his subjects on tape, then transcribed and sifted. “What first comes out of an interview are tons of ore; you have to get that gold dust in your hands,” he wrote. “Now, how does it become a necklace or a ring or a gold watch? You have to get the form; you have to mould the gold dust.”

Terkel was also a syndicated radio talk show host, interviewing many famous Americans, among them Martin Luther King, Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, Buster Keaton, Marlon Brando and Bob Dylan. His interview with the author James Baldwin in September 1962 was selected for the National Recording Registry of sound recordings by the Library of Congress.

In his autobiography Talking To Myself (1986), Terkel reflected on his own Left-leaning politics, and recalled how the FBI had taken an interest in his links with people it considered subversive. He also recalled a visit to Britain, when he spent an afternoon with the novelist Ivy Compton-Burnett, sharing tea and plum cake. “Better than whisky, don’t you think?” she asked. “Yes, yes, of course,” replied Terkel guardedly.

He was born Louis Terkel in the Bronx on May 16 1912, a month after the Titanic disaster: “I came up,” he remarked, “as it went down.” His parents, a tailor and a seamstress, were Russian Jews who had fled to America in 1902. The family moved to Chicago in 1922 and ran a rooming house where young Louis met the workers and activists who would profoundly influence his view of the world.

As a young man he took the nickname Studs from the character Studs Lonigan, the protagonist of James T Farrell’s trilogy of crime novels set in Chicago.Terkel graduated from the University of Chicago in 1932, having studied Philosophy, and also gained a Law degree.

He worked briefly in the civil service and then drifted into radio, working as an actor, disc jockey and interviewer. Between 1949 and 1952 he starred in Studs’ Place, a television programme of largely improvised stories and songs set in a fictional bar (later a restaurant).

Although his television show was cancelled during the McCarthy era, Terkel returned to radio in 1953, when WFMT in Chicago offered him a daily interview show called Sound of the City. “What about the blacklist?” asked Terkel. “Piss on the blacklist,” he was told. The show flourished, and was syndicated all over America.

Since breaking his neck when he tripped over a pile of his own books in 2004, Terkel had given up his habitual cigars and strong Martinis. He had hoped to see Barack Obama elected president.

Studs Terkel married, in 1939, Ida Goldberg, a social worker, who predeceased him in 1999. Their son survives him.

Epitaph for a Darling Lady

December 19, 2008

posted by caroline picard

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Epitaph for a Darling Lady

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)


1All her hours were yellow sands,
2Blown in foolish whorls and tassels;
3Slipping warmly through her hands;
4Patted into little castles.

5Shiny day on shiny day
6Tumble in a rainbow clutter,
7As she flipped them all away,
8Sent them spinning down the gutter.

9Leave for her a red young rose,
10Go your way, and save your pity;
11She is happy, for she knows
12That her dust is very pretty.
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