Reinvigorate the Language of CanLit: For Chad Pelley
This is a sort of response to Chad Pelley’s excellent written assault against some of the language and conceits at the heart of the CanLit organism.
Sure, it was not the perfect piece.
The writing lacked the neutering effects of a good editor and the piece is rife with wild over-generalizations and the circuitous logic of the impassioned artist in an inspired moment.
Great stuff. Go read it here.
Chad’s piece addresses much of what’s often missing from discussions of Canadian literature and the publishing superstructure in all of its vastness and complexity and contradictory behaviours that simultaneously supports and confounds writers and everyone else in this creative value chain.
His frustration with the systems that we have created – the ‘superstructure’ that I mention above – and the language that we use to describe them is palpable.
It is strong writing. Writing that comes directly from that strange region of the interior that is part intestine, part pulse, part mind reeling at the infinite potential for creativity that these systems are not capable of actively encouraging and responding to in this moment when emerging technologies and attitudes are exposing systemic weaknesses too numerous to itemize and too nebulous in many cases to articulate properly.
Chad’s voice is insistent.
Everything is falling apart and the language that we use to describe important aspects of this “creative cultural industry” is suddenly insufficient.
We need to reinvigorate the conversation. Our language needs to be better.
We have an opportunity that we should not ignore to create a language and an attitude that better reflects current realities.
While reading Chad’s piece I was reminded of this quote from Henry Miller’s The Tropic of Cancer.
Whether it’s Paris in the 20′s or St John’s in 2012 the task is the same.
The renewal of fundamental ideals through change today.
More and more the world resembles an entomologist’s dream. The earth is moving out of its orbit, the axis has shifted: from the north the snow blows down in huge knife-blue drifts. A new ice age is setting in, the transverse sutures are closing up and everywhere throughout the corn belt the fetal world is dying, turning to dead mastoid. Inch by inch the deltas are drying out and the river beds are smooth as glass. A new day is dawning, a metallurgical day, when the earth shall clink with showers of bright yellow ore. As the thermometer drops, the form of the world grows blurred; osmosis there still is, and here and there articulation, but at the periphery the veins are all varicose, at the periphery the light waves bend and the sun bleeds like a broken rectum.
At the very hub of this wheel which is falling apart, is Matisse. And he will keep on rolling until everything that has gone to make up the wheel has disintegrated. He has already rolled over a goodly portion of the globe, over Persia and India and China, and like a magnet he has attached to himself microscopic particles from Kurd, Baluchistan, Timbuktu, Somaliland, Angkor, Tierra del Fuego. The odalisques he has studded with malachite and jasper, their flesh veiled with a thousand eyes, perfumed eyes dipped in the sperm of whales. Wherever a breeze stirs there are breasts as cool as jelly, white pigeons come to flutter and rut in the ice-blue veins of the Himalayas.
Henry Miller, The Tropic of Cancer