Tuesday, August 22, 2006

between citation and accusation

Where to draw the line? There can be no pure formula. But one way of approaching this question arose recently in the course of a discussion with Ellis Sharp (see his reply to my reply). My argument, such as it was, was of the sort wishing primarily to raise questions about the way Markson's This is Not a Novel–for lack of a better word– argued. That is, how seriously are we to take it? Markson sure seems to be citing an awful lot, and citing cocktail gossip-type nuggets of information, bits and pieces and shards of what is often called "autobiographical" reference, with cavalier concern for accuracy or the fullness of the truth at best. Of course, such "not-novel" would lose something crucial were it entirely fabricated (instead of a performative and self-returning and self-referring emptying of the head, it would perhaps only be the emptying of an empty head). Accuracy matters, surely. And giving free circulation to slander of the worst, most pernicious sort is no small matter, either. But I still wonder if Markson (that is, personally) may in some sense be forgiven for citing here, or rather for having his "Writer" cite what is, whether justly or not, still cocktail knowledge of the generally accepted sort. Which maybe raises another question: where does the recourse to irony fall short?

nb. On another, admittedly more interesting note, on Genet and frenemies, please see one and two by Angela.

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