Forum / Matt Paust doesn't wanna work.

  • Friendlyfun.thumb
    Smiley McGrouchpants
    Oct 03, 08:44pm

    .

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 09, 12:00am

    I don't know anybody who wantsta work, Grouchy. Do you?

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 05:57pm

    I certainly don't. I hate - HATE - my fucking job. Been sitting in this chair for over 15 years, doing the same thing day after day after day after day. What a waste of a life. I tell my kids: find a job you want, or else a job will find you, and the odds are that you won't want it.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 09, 07:27pm

    Congratulations, Chris. At least you're sensible enough to hate it and not let it kill all feeling. Pity the poor bastards who let their jobs become their life and find retirement leaves them empty of all purpose, and it turns out, of self.

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 07:38pm

    I won't let my job become my life, which is why I'm not very good at my job. Much to my supervisor's consternation. I do my job just well enough to keep it. I'm an underachiever.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 09, 10:03pm

    I watch the parade of cars and trucks speed by my apt. every morning going one way, and back again late afternoon. For a while I had the impression everyone in this frantic scramble hated the jobs they were rushing to, and probly most of them do. I imagine them putting on their work face as they careen down the highway, and then peeling it off as they head for home. I live on Social Security, which many Facebook friends whine has them on the ropes staring poverty eye to eye. Other than the incremental physical disintegration that comes with aging, I am happier now in retirement than I can remember ever having been employed.

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 10:08pm

    Entropy is a motherfucker, Mat. Couldn't agree more.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 09, 10:52pm

    Yet the concept seems to energize some writers, altho we haven't heard from Pynchon in a while. At least I haven't.

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 10:58pm

    Pynchon's toast, Mat. Entropy finally proved him right.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 09, 11:13pm

    Ya think? I keep hoping, way back in my chest of implausible hopes, he's got one last brilliant, big-ass, gobsmacking blast to give us. Shit, he's only 82!

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 09, 11:34pm

    I would hold out my hopes for DeLillo instead of Pynchon. DeLillo's got a late-style thing going on that is incredible. Pynchon's always shooting for the moon, and DeLillo just keeps churning out these slim, 200 page novels that are simply like nothing else ever written by an American. You read Omega Point or Zero K? Phenomenal.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 10, 12:08am

    Have not read a single word of DeLillo's. Have for some reason, probly pathological, avoided him like jock itch. I did read Franzen, and was unkind to him in my review (letting Michiko Kakutani do the heavy lifting, of course), so maybe it was the proximity of DeLillo's rise with Franzen's that poisoned the well. Similar reason, I suspect, for avoiding Wallace, altho I did read an overlong, overwritten takedown he did for Esquire about a week on a cruise ship. Struck me as Gonzo without the insouciance. Then again, maybe I'm just warped with age.

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 10, 12:26am

    If you've avoided DeLillo for this long no need for you to catch up now.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 10, 06:08pm

    Reverse psychology! Where should I start?

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 10, 06:25pm

    Start with Mao II. Or Libra.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 10, 10:44pm

    Thanks

  • Img_1307.thumb
    James Lloyd Davis
    Oct 17, 10:21pm

    I had the best job in the world, building ships... pr like the old Miller commercial, "Carving a ship out of a mountain of steel..." I would have been happy to spend the rest of my life building ships, but the Koreans, the Japanese, the Chinese... hell, even the Germans work cheaper than we do, so the shipyards in the USA kind of went bust, so... there it is.

    DeLillo is the king.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 18, 09:10pm

    It's interesting, not to say telling, I think, that there isn't a lot of good writing in any form in this country about work, especially about the industrial work that James Lloyd Davis did. As Faulkner noted it's the only thing that you can do for eight hours a day, so you'd think it would be a subject if only for hatred and calumny. Anybody ever read Harvey Swados? He's one of the few that took it up to decent effect. Studs Terkel tried the oral history route with some success, but I don't know if you could quite qualify that as writing since it lacks any critical stance and is more like recording. There might be reasons, but the ones I can hypothesize sound like excuses and work's absence from representation in American Fiction is finally puzzling.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 18, 09:13pm

    I might except, especially in showing what could be done, the paintworks section of INVISIBLE MAN, which is illuminating and rich with the contradictions the subject could offer up.

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 18, 11:08pm

    I think Melville - with Bartelby - gave us the first and last word regarding work. At least for me, he did, and it's because he was forced through circumstance to do something he was not fit to do, and which went against every fiber of his being. The man who wrote Moby Dick and The Confidence Man and Pierre,; or, The Ambiguities should not have been working in an office for a living. It must have killed him on a daily basis. That he was eventually rediscovered and is now widely considered one of - if not the - greatest writers in America's history is cold comfort. He died believing he was a failure. He died believing he was nothing more than a working schlub. "I'd prefer not to" is written on the whiteboard over my desk here at work.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 19, 02:05pm

    I agree with you completely about Bartleby which had the same effect on me every time I read it, and the main reason why I kept re-assigning it.
    If it were the last word, which it may well be, you have to ask yourself how anyone could keep working after it? The answer is of course that except for the wealthy there's no alternative. Thus the term "wage slave," which, for whatever consolation it is, describes just about everybody.

    But I think your description of how Melville allegorized his own sometimes miserable condition is exactly right, and founds his passion and eloquence in his own experience. Not only in the misery of his stifling confinement in the customs house and its bureacratic imperatives, but before that in what Peter Linebaugh calls the "proletariat of the seas," the laboring seamen on merchant ships, the navy, whalers etc.

    " I prefer not to," can be construed as a great socially muted outcry of the revolution of refusal. I try to imagine a world where everyone all at once, having had enough, put down their implements, folded their arms and said,"I prefer not to." I take it you've seen "Office Space."

  • Img_1307.thumb
    James Lloyd Davis
    Oct 21, 01:39am

    There is some literature out there on "work" as the average American understands it... as for the kind of work I did, I think there is some curiosity, so who knows. I published a couple of pieces a few years ago and considered writing a book, based on the premise of the pieces I published and may do it yet.
    I wrote a novel set in a shipyard that was heading into a strike, a short one, but never tried to get it published. Maybe I should try.

    https://rabblelit.com/2017/08/21/rust-remembrance-jacobs-ladder-part-1/

    And ...

    https://rabblelit.com/2017/10/20/rust-remembrance-jacobs-ladder-part-2/

  • Img_1307.thumb
    James Lloyd Davis
    Oct 21, 01:48am

    Arthur Miller wrote a short story set in the Brooklyn Navy Yard during WWII, called Shipfitter Blues. I can remember other stories, written in the fifties and sixties that were true blue-collar literature, but you're right, considering how many Americans work in industry, there's not much out there... probably because the people who write the literature tend to be pretty far removed from blue collar work in their personal lives. You can't really write effectively about walking the high steel in construction, or tending, pouring the molds in a steel mill or running a line from a a plastics extruder, or a grinder in a machine shop unless you know the words and have the muscle memory that you can describe with sincerity.
    More's the pity.

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 21, 04:32am

    Another book I love that deals with work - albeit of the gentler, more white collar kind, in NYC in the 1960s - is Heller's "Something Happened," which I also consider one of the great American novels of the 20th Century, even better than his own Catch-22. Heller's taxonomy of the type of his people who work in his office, and who and what they are afraid of - the politics of the office class system - struck me as universal the first time I read it in the late 1990s, and still seems relevant today.

    DAVID: I have seen "Office Space." I liked it, but I found the satire a little too gentle. I prefer Judge's "Idiocracy," which now, 14 years later, tracks like a primordial yowl of disenchantment.

  • Self_portrait.thumb
    eamon byrne
    Oct 21, 11:46am

    can't add much to this except its a great thread ..

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 21, 02:46pm

    In the event, I think work in all its phases and contradictions is the great unexamined( exceptions noted as above) subject of literature, Fiction and non-fiction alike. One could theorize the reasons for this which is touched on in James' posting where he points out the bourgeois history of most writers. I am trying to avoid Marxist terminology here just so as not to allow my point to be easily characterized and dismissed as ideological.

    However I do happen to think that analysis applies so why avoid it.

    Just as I think that the fixations and avoidances of writers have a lot to do with the class they happen to identify with consciously or not. In any event it is a great shame because any good attempt to grapple with the conditions (or condition) in which we live, which is to say Late Capitalism, realistically, allegorically or otherwise, ought to take account of its pervasive nature and profoundest symptom which is the wheel of work that most of us are bound to and dominated by.

  • Img_1307.thumb
    James Lloyd Davis
    Oct 21, 03:20pm

    Then again, themes in literature that are visited by writers familiar with the poetry and the pain, the pride and the prejudices that are prevalent aspects of working class people are often eclipsed by the fact that these are the people who also obsess on the crime to which they are subject and the wars to which they are sent, extremes that inhabit and fascinate, so why bother to write about the majesty inherent to a working life in the steel mill or the ship yard, when you can enhance your possibility of publication by writing about the larger themes to which you and your parents and grandparents have been exposed, about which you may be intimately familiar... about which the greater audience would rather hear. I tried to tell my kids about working in the shipyard, a job I so loved and drove them past one where I was working....
    My daughter took one look at the piles of rusting steel plate, the grit-strewn fields around the drydocks and the old and rusted hulks of ships that were dockside, waiting for repair... the smoke and the dust clouds rising above it all and said, "Daddy, you work in a junk yard?"
    Perception is difficult to overcome.

  • Img_1307.thumb
    James Lloyd Davis
    Oct 21, 03:36pm

    People also tend to imagine that working class life is cause for themes of upward mobility... where the hero is trying his damnedest to escape the "lower class" life... move on up to the big time, the cush and the good life... so it's there the essence of struggle supercedes the possibility that a man in a gritty machine shop, up to his eyeballs in oily grit, with little curled shavings of metal stuck to his clothes and enmeshed in his beard could ever be happy.

  • Img_1307.thumb
    James Lloyd Davis
    Oct 21, 03:45pm

    And the heavy industry I worked in for the first half of my working life is disappearing... coal miners, shipyard workers, steel workers... their jobs have fled to the third world and their lives and their story is often jobless and harsh, like that of the people in Winter's Bone and The Outlaw Album by David Woodrell.
    Sweat and pride took a back seat to Oxy, the shit and shinola of the new working class in America.

  • Img_1307.thumb
    James Lloyd Davis
    Oct 21, 04:22pm

    "For a long time, I didn't think I wanted to live in the Ozarks or write about the region. It seemed to be a sure recipe for obscurity, and to be obscure was not my conscious ambition." Daniel Woodrell

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 22, 01:45am

    Since the mantra of Writing Programs is "Write what you know," there's sprung up a kind of reaction to it. I don't know, I like to sort of mix it up and write a good deal of what I don't know layered on a dangerously small amount of knowledge. But that's by the way and off topic.

    I did like your shipyard story, James, thanks for posting the link.

    It might be worth remembering that Solidarnosc was founded in the Gdansk Shipyard and that it led more or less inevitably, Reaganite false claims notwithstanding, to the fall of the Soviet empire.

    It's impossible to predict what subjects are going to arouse interest at any given time. But as I've said, right now, work with all its pluses and minuses seems unjustly neglected.

  • Img_1307.thumb
    James Lloyd Davis
    Oct 22, 03:45am

    I was working in a shipyard in Lorain, Ohio at the time when the Gdansk Shipyard workers struck their yard and formed Solidarnosc. Our local chapter of the Boilermaker's union was contemplating a strike which came shortly afterward... lasted a year... and at one of our meetings, we composed a letter and sent it off to the Polish yardbirds as an act of solidarity. Don't know if they got it... never heard back... but we did wish them well. Our own strike won a proper contract after a year, but after we delivered a ship in record time and below budget, they moved the yard down to Tampa where the Cubans worked for half the wages and almost no benefits... but hey... America.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 22, 01:49pm

    Wow. I'm not sure a novel could improve on the condensed power of its telling, but furnish the above anecdote with characters, temporality ( narrative) and set it in motion and there one is, James. Great story either way. I could easily transfer it to the factory town here where workers in the shoe factory went through the brute part of the process, without even the notional sense of solidarity that in some way might have redeemed your experience.

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 22, 04:24pm

    The only book I know that captures the absolute soul-sucking boredom of the kind of work I do - filing out forms, standing at a Xerox machine, answering emails, writing 30 page letters for people who can't write them themselves - is David Foster Wallace's "The Pale King." I know it's not proper or acceptable to promote a writer like Wallace right now, but the book is right and true, like most things he wrote.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 23, 01:28pm

    Faulkner's novella "Spotted Horses," is profoundly about work and about the soul's resistances to its abrasions. In some tough company, as with all art, I'd call it (along with "Bartleby,""Metamorphasis,""Ward No. 6" ) one of the three or four great novellas. That a core concern of each of these is work isn't coincidental.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 23, 01:35pm

    Your description, Chris, of a work that captures the "absolute soul-sucking boredom" of your job could also be applied to the others above. Interestingly, you could contrast that situation with the one James described above, where both the job and its purpose, and even its political context feed the spirit. Which is to bring in the contradictions in work and how they play out.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 23, 03:36pm

    Yoiks, I step away for a couple of days to read Libra, as Chris had recommended, and am now working on my response to it--not a review, of course, I'm not that pretentious--and happen to peek back here to see this fascinating discussion threading on down the screen. I shall take its title, referring to me not wanting to work, as license to avoid that part of this discussion that IS about work as a literary foundation, except to say Chris's mention of Bartleby reminded me of the Chayevsky/Lumet film Network and its crowning, forever-to-be-quoted scene launched by Peter Finch in the lead role urging his TV audience to lean out their windows and announce to the world--c'mon, join me here, you know it: I'M MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GONNA TAKE THIS ANYMORE!!! ...!!!

    'tis fun to let a little steam off now and again, but on Monday we grudgingly re-engage the harness and plod along to pay the bills for the comforts, if not luxuries, to which we've become accustomed and have come to expect, egged on by the Peter Finch character's mercenary sponsors, who, I can't recall specifically but have a vague sense, have driven him to hate his job, as well.

    One question of David: My note on the pretentiousness of me even contemplating "reviewing" the likes of DeLillo might be rooted to some extent in having no clue as to which "critical stance" one should take with a writer who seems not at all to care how his work might reflect one or another school of literary categorization. The term "critical stance" seems intuitive enuf, but until I saw it in your comment, I had not been confronted with it in any manner. May I assume the term refers to the more pedestrian (in my commonplace milieu) literary delineations, i.e. post-modern, post-post modern, post-post-post...etc., etc.?

    Thank you again, Chris, for your generous introduction to DeLillo, whose work I'd consciously, determinedly avoided, with a mysterious lack of sound reasoning, until now.

    Wallace, tho? Nah. Too self-centered, from what little I've read of his and of him.

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 23, 03:56pm

    Mat: Wallace is beyond self-centered. His work is what self-centeredness would look like if it could take human form and speak for itself, and for that, he is an important writer for our age, where self-centeredness isn't just a quirk or irritating characteristic, but the ruling ideology, one that best fits with the economic system that has us in its death grip.

    As for DeLillo: read Mao II next. And then...read it all.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 23, 04:25pm

    You've hooked me on DeLillo. But I don't need reminders of what's wrong with our culture (I won't dignify it as an ideology--more like a rationality). Matthew Dexter sent me a link to an interminable second-by-second plodding journal in, I believe, Esquire or Harper's, of his trip aboard a cruise ship. So self-conscious and indulgent and petty. The writing struck me as pedestrian, but seemed aspiring to a Gonzo audience. It's supercilious, without the whip-smart audacity, comic arias, and sense of drug-infused derring-do that eventually wore even Thompson down to self-parody. No humor that I could see in Wallace. I'm too old to wallow in muck anymore--might get to liking it. And why would anyone want to read fiction framing the shit they see on the tube every minute of every day, telling them how fucked they are and that there's nothing they can do about it?

    And knowing Wallace and Franzen were friends was the coup de grace.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 23, 04:56pm

    To avoid any confusion, the Dexter link I mention above is to a piece by Wallace. (I do wish this forum had an editing feature, as my typing does not always keep pace with the shit coalescing in my head)

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 23, 10:58pm

    It's been a while since I read DeLillo, Mathew,(White Noise, I think was the last I read) and I wouldn't even begin to presume I could tell you anything about a critical stance to take toward him. I do think any approach you take that accords with how the work affects you, and why you think it does is the right one. In fact, that's the one I'd like to read.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 23, 11:37pm

    Thanks, David, I'll post a link here when it's done.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 24, 10:30pm

    As promised, my report on reading DeLillo's Libra. Thanks once again, Chris.

    https://mdpaust.blogspot.com/2019/10/libra-don-delillo.html

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 24, 10:41pm

    Great report, Mat.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 24, 11:00pm

    Thanks, Chris. I owe ya!

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 25, 02:18am

    Report. Review. Whatever, it was truly worth the read, Mat. A gut punch of a response, and right on.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 25, 11:10am

    Thank you, David.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 26, 11:40pm

    To return, as it were, to work: What seems to be part of the trouble, is aside, from the brute fact of the need to eat, and hungry dependents, work as presently constituted seems devoid of use. I mean just plain use, aside from "purpose," not only because the end use is so distant from our endeavors as to be invisible, but with the question added of whether, even if the product were visible it would prove to have any "use value." Consider the manufacture, packaging, advertising, distribution of -oh, I don't know-deodorant, or cell-phone "minutes," or insurance. In what sense, if as I am, you are burdened with a desire to be " useful," can these, which are only representative of well, almost everything we produce, can these provide it? And where can one go (Medicins Sans Frontiere, maybe?) for a vocation that escapes this abiding sense of uselessness, if not outright destruction?

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 26, 11:55pm

    Depends on our needs, I would guess. If minimal, one might devote oneself to developing a saleable craft. I know a guy who learned primitive gunsmithing at Colonial Williamsburg. After he was laid off he started making Revolutionary War era flintlocks to order and selling them for thousands of dollars. He and his family are comfortable and he is happy as a toad in his own little marsh. I envy him.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 27, 02:25pm

    Excellent. Good on him. No doubt there are other niches or at the margins for the shrinking number of craftsmen to practise their trades. These are at the margins by definition, meaning opportunities are few, and as with writing, the field as it is discovered risks becoming desirable then overcrowded cancelling it out as opportunity. Let us leave your friend alone in his undiscovered paradise.

    One can construe a fate such as with Creative Writing programs, where one can eventually go to school to train to be a flintlock maker, whose products, the students(--schools have difficulty these days deciding whether students are their customers or their products, but that's another argument)were overproduced, thus killing the market for their work as potential producers in a glut of flintlock makers producing a glut of flintlocks. As we MFA holders have collectively contributed to a glut of "creative writing," whatever the merits of our individual work.

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 27, 03:46pm

    Without an MFA from the right school you're not getting published in shit. I learned that the hard way. Got my MFA. But from the wrong school.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 27, 04:25pm

    Ultimately I suppose it boils down, once again, to personal values. Is "making it" about affording all of the pleasures, comforts, securities, and social status a person's appetites require, or about setting those sights to a goal less dependent on a frantically competitive marketplace? Granted, a certain amount of competition can inspire and hone the skills of the craftsman (I'm coming to see everything as a craft now, from the creation of ethereal poetry to the strive for rewarding research and teaching, to bold, compulsive leaps of intuitive gambling), so long as the craftsman eyes this competitive environment more to learn than yearn. If, as David theorizes, the craftsman finds his market facing a sudden imbalance of practitioners to customers, o lort, as the kids tell us, shit doth happen. Perhaps it was for this reason my friend chose a craft that predates the industrial age of mass production of mechanical weapons of massive firepower. Perhaps in this respect he is an artist. I would say so. In this respect I would note that while there might well be many imitators there is only one Picasso. Maybe this is the key, look to your craft as an art instead of a product. Should your needs require a more expedient means of attaining material wealth--jeezuz, you say were getting triplets???--well, as the kids might tell us, lower those sights and hustle that ass.

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 27, 05:07pm

    Making it means you get paid to write. That's it. Anything less than that and you haven't made it, you're not a writer. You're someone who likes to write. And there's a huge gap between those two.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 27, 06:22pm

    I disagree. In fact I am insulted by anyone who thinks that because I don't get paid I am not a writer, but merely someone who likes to write. I got paid for my writing for 40 years, supporting me and my family, when I worked for newspapers.I actually do get paid even in my retirement--oh, maybe $7 or $8 a year in royalties, for my self-published novels. Does this qualify me as "a writer?" Oh, I do like to write, and, yes, while there surely is a "huge gap between those two," the gap exists simply between the artist/writer/whatever and a society that values money über alles. And someone who writes only for money is, in my opinion, only a hack.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 27, 08:22pm

    Should Writing( by which I mean so called 'literary writing,' you know that stuff on the story pages of this electronic rag) be thought of as work for pay (craft), art, or the production of a commodity? Or something else like Frost's definition for example, poetry being work as play for mortal stakes?

    Why do you write, someone asked that self-defined 'harmless drudge,' Samuel Johnson. "For money, for money, for money," said Johnson.

    On the other hand, Johnson had no other marketable skills.

    A writer I know, who'd published several novels, and short stories for which he was fairly well paid, and received good reviews, awards, fame etc. wanted to get back the rights to one of his novels from his publisher. In order to get back the rights, his publisher made him buy back all the remaindered copies of his books, which he left stacked by the thousands downstairs from where I lived. From which I might conclude, that even the best forms of publication aint all they're cracked up to be.

    Still money would be good, Chris, no question. But how essential is it to calling yourself a writer? And in fact how essential is calling yourself a writer? There are plenty of those making tons of money( e.g. James Patterson) who can also call themselves writers, so somewhere the definition may split into categories .

    And if work is what you get paid for, and writing seeks the same reward, what separates writing from harmless drudgery?

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 27, 09:02pm

    Good points, David. It occurs to me the real "gap" Chris addressed is between the words "write" and "writer." Seems almost as silly as Clinton's "definition of 'is." Yet I can't remember ever calling myself, or even considering myself a "writer," except back in the day when I did resumes for newspaper jobs. Then I was merely playing the game. Today the verb would be an option should there be any confusion over what "blogging" or "reviewing" means. "I write" likely would be my last resort, knowing it would render me immediately vulnerable, and forcing me to brace for fisticuffs--verbal, preferably, yet not ruling out the Mailer solution.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 27, 10:54pm

    Just realized I evidently considered myself a "writer" up above when I took umbrage at Chris's determination that "writers" who don't get paid aren't "writers." So maybe I do think of myself as a "writer," but only in a community of "writers." We write. That's what matters. But I am reminded of the cartoon someone posted recently on Facebook of a young couple getting acquainted over coffee. He's just told her he's a "writer." Oh, she says, and what do you do for a living."

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 28, 12:42am

    In one of my favorite movies, possibly the best western ever, "Unforgiven," both Gene Hackman( Little Bill) and Clint Eastwood (William* Munny) at different points meet the Writer of Penny Dreadfuls who attaches himself to gunfighters to acquire their stories.

    Each is informed by the writer of his vocation and offers the same question:

    What, letters and such?

    * Critical footnote: Never really noticed before but it seems the two bear the same name.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 28, 01:19am

    Been ages since I've seen "Unforgiven." Perfect matchup--Clint and Gene. Either I missed the "letters and such?" or I wasn't feeling very writerly that day. I'd prolly have thrown my box of Black Crows at the screen.

  • Football_02.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Oct 29, 06:29am

    I'm sorry if I said something out of line. That wasn't my intention. To insult, belittle, that's not what I was trying to do . For what it's worth, I don't consider myself a writer. I consider myself what I am, what I do for a living, for better and for worse. Someone asks me what I do and I tell them what I do. I tell them about my job. So going forward I will only presume to speak for myself regarding this issue. Again, my apologies.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 29, 10:15am

    Forget it. I overreacted, which only proves I do consider myself a writer, albeit,secretly, a woefully unappreciated one. The important thing for me, tho, is to be able write, and to have an outlet where I can expose what I write to other sentient beings. Getting paid for it would prolly scare the shit out of me, as then I would worry about living up to others' expectations. And since I no longer have a family dependent on me, I can write whatever the hell I please, any way I please. (seems like a pretty good story to stick to, no?)

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 29, 09:51pm

    By sheer coincidence, my friend Caroline Haygood posted this link today on Facebook. It's to her essay "Quit Lit" in Kenyon Review. https://kenyonreview.org/2019/10/on-quit-lit-and-why-i-wont-be-quitting-any-time-soon/?fbclid=IwAR2EuKz8ZBKDa-RTNAyK4RWuPk6G2ObGRRCikBq-fbWBJAEViMiXVYiiB80

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 31, 01:49pm

    A great essay, and to the point of what we've been talking about, which is , to try to put it succinctly, Is there any meaning in work( aside from the necessity to survive) and if so, where does it lie?

    I was going to post this link quote before I read yours, Mat, now it seems the other side of the dialectic between work and human meaning.

    "A recent Gallup poll shows that the majority of Americans work in jobs that they define as mediocre or poor." I should add that the poll was about measures of quality, such as autonomy, not the paycheck.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 31, 01:51pm

    Sorry again about my abysmal proofing which left "link," where it should have read only " quote."

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Oct 31, 01:59pm

    Oh, hell, I'm not sure we need "empirical evidence," for knowing what we know, but here's the link anyway:

    https://www.gallup.com/education/267590/great-jobs-lumina-gates-omidyar-gallup-quality-report-2019.aspx

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Oct 31, 09:24pm

    Thanks, David. I've been retired nearly 10 years now, and I'm still decompressing. Funny, because I thought I liked my work as a reporter at the time, despite resenting supervision and second guessing by administrators. But I think what makes me happy now is the complete freedom to spend an entire day getting one or maybe three sentences to read perfectly to my sensibility. The discipline was different in daily journalism. There was structure and time constraints. A certain amount of creativity was possible within these parameters, but it still had to pass the scrutiny of others, few of whom had the imagination to allow innovation that would risk censure further up the hierarchy. So damned glad now, perhaps especially with retrospect leering at the distance, that I'm completely on my own.

    Now I'll read the Gallup piece...

  • Img_1307.thumb
    James Lloyd Davis
    Nov 03, 03:16am

    If anyone needs validation, I will be happy to attest that y'all are writers because I've seen the product of your hands here. I'll even send a certificate for the price of shipping and handling. ($247.67 each... and a bargain at a fraction of the price)
    Nice report on Libra, by the way, which is my favorite of all Delillo's work. You are in for a treat just breaking into his books.
    I'm rather fond of DFW myself, but then, I am partial to high functioning lunacy, being two or three cans shy of a six-pack myself. His insights are refreshing always, but he seems to offend many. He reads like Vonnegut without a sense of humor if Vonnegut had read an entire set of the Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia except for the 16th volume which had mysteriously disappeared.
    Franzen? Not so much.

  • Img_1307.thumb
    James Lloyd Davis
    Nov 05, 02:35am

    Bottom of the ninth, little to gain, nothing to lose.

    Swing and a miss.
    That's three.
    He's out.

    That's a long walk back to the dugout.
    Rumor has it he's going to the bushes.
    You only get one shot at the big time.

    I guess that was his.

  • Nuclearman2_1_.thumb
    Christian Bell
    Nov 08, 06:59pm

    Chiming in here late from the land of the writer who doesn’t make money writing (I’ve collected about $200 dollars over the years for my fiction from kind publications willing to throw a bit of change a writer’s way), and also occupying the same land of a writer whose actual writing hasn’t been much the last few years, great discussion, and I agree with James, y’all are writers.

    I’ve read all of DeLillo, some of it more than once, and he’s probably my favorite. Libra is great (Mat, excellent post at your blog), Mao II is as well, and, for me, Underworld is the crowning achievement. Ratner’s Star and Great Jones Street are underappreciated. Point Omega is a late period gem. I’d put End Zone, The Body Artist, and Zero K at the bottom (though all still worth reading), but I might just need to revisit them. I’d say that DeLillo’s writing has had the biggest influence on my own.

    As for Wallace, love his work as well (fiction and essays). Infinite Jest was kind of stunning when I read it 20 years ago and I don’t think I could do it again. The Pale King might be my favorite, and I can’t even explain why. I’m still trying to make it through The Broom of the System. As for influence, I'd say that Wallace is a minor one for me.

    And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Stephen Dixon, who just passed away. He rambled on, went around in circles and in his head and back, but damn, I loved his work. Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea though, but always saw him as the writer’s writer.

    And, David, I love the repeated “letters and such?” line from Unforgiven. I think I’ve used a version of that line in conversations before, but people don’t get the reference.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Nov 09, 02:22pm

    Nice to have your voice here, Christian.

    It seems to me in this discussion what we're trying to tease out is some difference between work--what the world requires of us in order to let us live--and vocation, what our spirit asks. I think so many people wouldn't hate their jobs if that split weren't so wide.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Nov 27, 02:38pm

    As in my last post, the discussion seemed to devolve around 1) the kind of work you do because you want to e.g. writing, without regard to whether you get paid 2) the kind of work you do because you have to eat, whether its work you want to do or not.

    Most of the discussion has focused on the first of these, naturally enough. But Chris and Mathew have both talked about the other kind, especially if it's what you'd rather not do if you had the choice.

    In BULLSHIT JOBS, a theory, David Graeber defines a "bullshit job," as one where what you do, if you do anything at all is socially useless if not outright pernicious, you know it's bullshit, but at least at work you have to pretend that it's not. Surprisingly--but maybe not-- almost 40% of respondents defined their jobs as bullshit according to the definition he proposed. I'm posting this partly for Chris Okum's sake, to suggest, for whatever it's worth,that he's far from alone and also to recommend the book to all those who may have the gut feeling that this system is far more adept at generating bullshit jobs than it sensibly should be.

  • Mugshotme_(3).thumb
    Mathew Paust
    Nov 27, 06:03pm

    Good to see you keeping this thread alive, Christian and David, despite Smiley's reminder every time I see the title. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • You must log in to reply to this thread.