Weirdly, this makes me want to be friends with Michael Chabon

Now, I know (along with everything else) that I am a know-it-all. I avoid contests of knowledge—word games, Trivial Pursuit, Celebrities—because they bring out an omnisapient swagger in me that I despise. I also try to steer clear of puzzles, because I have a tendency, in the solving of them, to lose perspective. There was a broken combination padlock lying on a coffee table at a party I attended not long ago; though my hosts knew the correct combination, the lock refused to open. At this party—or so I was afterward informed—one might have enjoyed excellent hors d’oeuvres, premium alcoholic beverages, the company of witty and attractive human beings. I spent the whole time wedged into a corner of the couch, fiddling with that lock.

from an essay by Michael Chabon on the unreadability of Finnegans Wake.

No but seriously, I highly recommend this essay. Even if you have no interest in Joyce or Finnegans Wake, Chabon gets some insight from this project that is relevant to all readers and writers.

As my year of diving languorously into the murky waters of the Wake wore on, I came to feel that it was this failure, this impossibility, this grand futility of the Wake, that constituted its secret theme, its true aboutness. The Wake’s failure to render up a true account of the experience of dreaming, of the unconscious passage of a human consciousness across an ordinary night, was only a figure for a greater failure, a more fundamental impossibility… The idea for a book, the beckoning fair prospect of it, is the dream; the writing of it is the breakfast-table recitation, groping, approximation, and ultimately, always, a failure. It was not like that at all.

2 Comments

  1. Comment by Elissa J. Hoole:

    ha! great excerpt! *bookmarks essay for the next time I need extra procrastination fodder*

    • Comment by amy ross:

      do! it really was a good read, especially towards the end. I found it motivating. it even made me kind of want to read Finnegans Wake, although I should probably read Ulysses first, lol.

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