Thursday, June 17, 2010

You and me and "you" and "me," but not "you and me."

Bret's in here as a tangent. This is about Borges, him, but most of all me, and what I wrote in my journal going on like four years ago now. Bit of a small post before the jump here, so I'll just point the finger to Say Hi, who I've been soundtracking this blog entry and the past hour?-ish to by way of the stand-by youtube. Another one-man band, so it elicits the issue of pronoun, they?, he? I'll go with "they." They make better music than I make blog posts, but go ahead and read this one if you wish, it's one of the better ones, until the end where I have no idea what I'm doing.

“Borges and I,” the beautiful prose poem that closes The Maker was probably even more amazing in the Spanish, but that’s a story for another day. What we’re talking about tonight, my friends, is the story of putting on hats, of dressing up and looking at yourself in the mirror and recording what you see. Writing is a self-reflexive fashion show, which is why I don’t think much of myself as a writer, because I’m nothing like a model or an actor and yet my job is no different. What I do is easier than the visual artist, because I can just explain things and be done with them. The DalĂ­ painting Gala Contemplating the Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes a Portrait of Abraham Lincoln is completely finished in my line of work once that line has been coined. But enough about how pitiful my hobby is.

I first read “Borges and I” for my Latin American seminar last semester and our professor explained how this story/poem was a sort of road untaken, the way he could have taught this class, but chose not to. I think if he’d gone that way it would’ve been a literature class, so it’s probably a good idea that he didn’t walk that line, since the class is history credit, but it was an interesting way of explaining a reading assignment. A tease, he might’ve said, if my memory’s half decent, of where we could have gone with the discussion of the Latin American identity. And perhaps “Borges and I” is a perfect example of the uncertainty of Latin America—instead of the successful novelist and the real man he happens to be, we could discuss the successful nation on the upper continent that I referred to in a poem as affecting Latin America in much the same way as Jupiter’s gravity affects the asteroid belt. (It was these subtle connections that I made throughout last semester that really cemented the greatness of university in my mind: topics as different as astrobiology and Latin American studies slipping together in me ole noggin.)

I’m not going to talk about “Borges and I” in detail, because I’ll fail at it. I’ve already made too much of a fool of myself here when talking about poems. So I’ll link you to it on the web and it’s like two paragraphs or something, so you have no excuse as to not reading it if you are even mildly interesting; it’s here:

Bret Easton Ellis has to deal with a very similar issue, in my opinion, and I think he does so in a similar way. In Lunar Park, he creates “Bret,” like “Borges,” the writer; even later in the book, the character Bret breaks into two and one is even referred to by that vague title, the writer, the italicized word (or phrase that depending on my choice whether or not the “the” should stay standing up straight) that I keep bringing up, am probably boring you to death with, so you know, that continuing concept isn’t mine, it’s like from somewhere.

This idea of the writer as someone separate from you, someone that you might become, someone that you cannot define the lines of, the edges, the places where you end and this person who simply types or scribbles begins, became severely interesting to me when I picked up my old journal the other day. This was a venture from July of ’06 up into late ’08, maybe if I’m doing my math right on the dates (I didn’t put years down, so I’m not sure). When I came across an entry I did remember writing, but only vaguely, all of these ideas came back to me.

“Metafiction” I titled that page on Groundhog Day, 2007. “Pandrio Androtti doesn’t exist. He’s a fictional character,” It began. “Pandrio Androtti doesn’t speak. I, on the other hand, do. Maybe I should correct myself, Pandrio Androtti rarely speaks. I guess I’m somewhat of a speaker. Pandrio Androtti is a writer, no question about it.

“Sometimes he takes control, expresses a philosophy I can’t exactly call my own. Last story I wrote had a single comment glorifying communism. Not too big a deal, but no matter how much they would deny it, liberals are the closest to Reds. This isn’t my father talking in his definitely not Bill O’Reilly, but definitely biased opinion. By now, it’s really Pandrio Androtti writing, but writing as the real person, not the fictional character, fictional writer he truly is.

“I guess it is hard to keep it all apart these days. I don’t think I’m Pandrio Androtti anymore than I think I’m Jack Kraloni, Brian Bruce, Paul Kuberg, or my currently unnamed protagonist (hopefully you know who these people are, but if you don’t, I apologize). However, so much communication is writing, so he’s taking over. Developed a bit of a voice (as I’ve already mentioned), he has.

“‘Oh, I know what that is,’ the reader’s mind has already moved towards schizophrenia, but that’s not politically correct. And I’m not crazy. I ‘m perfectly sane and at the moment (I’m writing, aren’t I?) I couldn’t argue with you of who I am. Pandrio Androtti writes, I’m just glad he lets me take all the credit.

“Back to the liberals, I’m conservative, but I don’t know about Pandrio. I’m Christian, he’s nothing and everything at the same time.

“Wikipedia has quite a few definitions of metafiction. I think everything would [technically] qualify. One that comes to mind is fiction that references that it’s fiction. That’s Pandrio Androtti. That’s me.”

And you get older and this only becomes more complicated, because suddenly you don’t define yourself with your parents anymore. Who’s the socialist now? I know I am, but does that make me Pandrio? And what name do I post under? What’s my Twitter? My AIM? You create a pseudonym of sorts, an alter-ego, and it starts taking over because you want to be anonymous in this digital age where everyone’s a Nigerian Prince who wants all your money and I’m losing all kinds of understanding of what I’m talking about as I move in a bit of a rhythm to Say Hi playing “Northwestern Girls.” You know, they (he?) had a bit of a naming issue themselves (himself)? They (He?) used to be called Say Hi to Your Mom. There’s the question of whether there’s a change simply because you’re calling something a different name.

And if so, wouldn’t there have to be a same-ness to calling something by the same name? All the Rachels in the world sharing some trait, in the same way that Columbus and his men named the jaguar after its known equivalent, the tiger? Wow, I’m rambling, I’m going off on incredible tangents, but I have an excuse this time. It’s the writer who’s doing it.

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