Monday, January 4, 2010

To tear or not to tear

January notes:

Just finished Scott McFarland's dissertation draft: "Libraries Full of Tears". It's a compelling generative/constraint-based manuscript that offers a series of Oulipian games based upon the rhyming letters of the alphabet--b,c,d,e,g,p,t,v,z.

The tone of the 9*18 pieces suggests the wonderful automata-snark that characterizes the best mash-ups, but also, McFarland carries over a sort-of-aw-shucks-America thing from his other fascination with American film. Think Jimmy Stewart reworking Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World" while reading Coca Cola ads through the last century to the tune of the M*A*S*H theme song, etc.

I'll serve on his dissertation committee at University of Illinois-Chicago, so am perhaps biased...but McFarland is a writer to watch.

The double meaning of tear/tear also suggests a moment with my two adorable little children, Athena, 3, and Kallista, 2. I don't know what's gotten into them, but they are constantly ripping books apart.

Have they internalized the ripping/deconstructing/defamiliarizing that their old man daydreams about during much of his waking life? See here for Stephen Colbert, and here for the late Raymond Federman and the fantastic Lidia Yuknavitch, and here (above, also) for me just drilling the shit out of The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing. (Video shot by Lake Forest College student Ben Lundquist)

The chickens have come home to roost, because I've even applied for a summer student to produce a further series of videos, and am contemplating a dedicated YouTube channel.

Anyway, this is my first encounter with the yes-I-did-it-but-you-shouldn't-and-I'll-pretend-I-never-have and they are still toddlers. Imagine the trouble I'm in down the road.

In the last week I've discovered a potty training book with a signature removed, the back of a Pinocchio Golden Book completely severed as if by machete, loose pages of Dora scattered about the upstairs, and a Yo Gabba Gabba cover ripped into more small pieces than would be produced by an industrial shredder hooked to a small star.

No doubt this relates to Athena's growing skepticism about talking animals in general, but they've even come up with elaborate covers for their actions.

Last night: Who tore the book? Athena: me. Me: Then you lose the book. A: it was actually Cassie (the cat) Me: Kallista, who did it? Kallista: CASSIE!

The syndrome moves toward complex linguistic analyses:

At breakfast today:
Athena eats yogurt. Kallista: I want yogurt too! Athena: Daddy, Kallista's copying me. Kallista: COPY! COPY! COPY! COPY!

This afternoon: Athena: Daddy, why is a cat called a cat? Why that word 'c-a-t'?

Must I purge all poststructural tomes from my library? Will I see A Thousand Plateaus shredded into an untoward net of flittering lines of flight?

Damn, these kids make me proud.

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