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September 08, 2008

Quote for the Day

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Tom Conoboy, who has been thinking about American "metafiction," offers a sensible question:

I guess this is the problem with anything experimental ... Eventually, the experiment has to either lead somewhere or stop. We've had metafiction for forty years (and more) from Auster, Barthelme, Barth, Pynchon et al. They've broken down the barriers. But is there anything beyond? Or do you, in the end, have to return to traditional storytelling in order to tell a story?




posted by Michael at September 8, 2008


Much lit-fic, and all metafiction, is not really doing the same thing as storytelling. They are two entirely different asking a woman to examine her vagina and performing cunnilingus on her. The first is to establish a self-consciousness in the audience, often with therapeutic or didactic intention; the latter to elicit a reaction, being fundamentally altruistic in intent, with self-forgetting as its aim. Cunnilingus and storytelling are both forms of entertainment, entre tenir, holding within, as a host holds a travel-weary guest in his hall, warm and safe and fed. Metafiction and vagina monologues are both attempts to trap the victim within their own mind, with masturbation its only pleasure.

The distinction I'm trying to make is similar to that between "enjoyment" and "contemplation" in Alexander's Space, Time and Deity*.

Metafiction hasn't broken any barriers. It has created them. It has tried (and succeeded) in establishing an ineluctable self-consciousness in its readers, an inability to let go, to be in the moment, to enjoy. Genre fiction is so different in its very aim and not just its methods, that I don't think we can claim that metafiction has anything to do with it at all.

Not that I disagree with Conoboy's question, which is, I think, right, except that there is no "return" from metafiction: once the camera starts running in your mind instead of pointing at the world, there's no escape. Traditional storytelling is now forever closed to you.

* Sorry about the cunnilingus reference. It's just that I really enjoy the Oral Way, and decided to sneak a reference to it in here if I could, especially if I could find a way to connect it with Space, Time and Deity.

Posted by: PatrickH on September 9, 2008 5:48 PM

May I also be pretentious here and add something about Harold Brodkey's "Innocence", a 25 page story about one act of oral sex? It is a landmark in the literature of cunnilingus, bla bla bla.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on September 9, 2008 10:16 PM

Time for an entire blogposting devoted to pussyeating. Or even better, maybe a series of blogpostings. If Brodkey can get 25 pages out of the topic, we can certainly get three or four postings out of it.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 9, 2008 10:46 PM

Ha! I double-dare you, Mr.Blowhard! However, if you go through with it, I know I'll have to defend American pussy vs Filipina pussy, and by golly, I'm up to it.

Posted by: Sister Wolf on September 10, 2008 1:17 AM

Sister, I would be glad to help prove the superiority of American pussy over Filipina pussy. It would require your, ah, cooperation, however. While I am definitely "up for it", I somehow doubt that you are. Correct me if I'm wrong!

Michael had a hilarious post a while back where he mentioned making amends for the Vietnam War with "hours of pussy eating", presumably the pussy of an outraged American foe of the war.

You are outraged over the Iraq War, are you not, Sister? Well then...

Let me make it up to you.

I await your response,

Posted by: PatrickH on September 10, 2008 10:23 AM

Well, but Patrick have you already partaken of the filipina pussy??

Posted by: Sister Wolf on September 10, 2008 7:20 PM

No, Sister, alas I have not. I shall need ST's cooperation to investigate on that, ah, front. I wonder how open-minded he is about that kind of thing?

Posted by: PatrickH on September 10, 2008 7:47 PM

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