Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Interviews: (on index cards) Nabokov and the Reeders

Excerpts below from Vladimir Nabokov: The Art of Fiction No. 40. Full interview at the Paris Review No. 41 (Summer-Fall 1967).
Could you say something of your work habits? Do you write to a preplanned chart? Do you jump from one section to another, or do you move from the beginning through to the end?

The pattern of the thing precedes the thing. I fill in the gaps of the crossword at any spot I happen to choose. These bits I write on index cards until the novel is done. My schedule is flexible, but I am rather particular about my instruments: lined Bristol cards and well sharpened, not too hard, pencils capped with erasers.

Is there a community of which you consider yourself a part?

Not really. I can mentally collect quite a large number of individuals whom I am fond of, but they would form a very disparate and discordant group if gathered in real life, on a real island. Otherwise, I would say that I am fairly comfortable in the company of American intellectuals who have read my books.

What is most characteristic of poshlust in contemporary writing? Are there temptations for you in the sin of poshlust? Have you ever fallen?

“Poshlust,” or in a better transliteration poshlost, has many nuances, and evidently I have not described them clearly enough in my little book on Gogol, if you think one can ask anybody if he is tempted by poshlost. Corny trash, vulgar clichés, Philistinism in all its phases, imitations of imitations, bogus profundities, crude, moronic, and dishonest pseudo-literature—these are obvious examples. Now, if we want to pin down poshlost in contemporary writing, we must look for it in Freudian symbolism, moth-eaten mythologies, social comment, humanistic messages, political allegories, overconcern with class or race, and the journalistic generalities we all know. Poshlost speaks in such concepts as “America is no better than Russia” or “We all share in Germany's guilt.” The flowers of poshlost bloom in such phrases and terms as “the moment of truth,” “charisma,” “existential” (used seriously), “dialogue” (as applied to political talks between nations), and “vocabulary” (as applied to a dauber). Listing in one breath Auschwitz, Hiroshima, and Vietnam is seditious poshlost. Belonging to a very select club (which sports one Jewish name—that of the treasurer) is genteel poshlost. Hack reviews are frequently poshlost, but it also lurks in certain highbrow essays. Poshlost calls Mr. Blank a great poet and Mr. Bluff a great novelist. One of poshlost's favorite breeding places has always been the Art Exhibition; there it is produced by so-called sculptors working with the tools of wreckers, building crankshaft cretins of stainless steel, Zen stereos, polystyrene stinkbirds, objects trouvés in latrines, cannonballs, canned balls. There we admire the gabinetti wall patterns of so-called abstract artists, Freudian surrealism, roric smudges, and Rorschach blots—all of it as corny in its own right as the academic “September Morns” and “Florentine Flowergirls” of half a century ago. The list is long, and, of course, everybody has his bête noire, his black pet, in the series. Mine is that airline ad: the snack served by an obsequious wench to a young couple—she eyeing ecstatically the cucumber canapé, he admiring wistfully the hostess. And, of course, Death in Venice. You see the range.

Excerpts below from Scott and Tyson Reeder Talk to Each Other (Jan-Feb 2008), The NY Arts Magazine.

If you could hire anyone throughout art history as your studio assistant who would it be?
Scott Reeder: Joseph Albers—it seems like he would be really organized and have really clean brushes, plus he seems to be pretty good with color. Warhol would also be a nice assistant because he would be good at attracting other interesting assistants and he would always come up with the easiest way to do something.

Tyson Reeder: Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart. A painter who could help me with my titles and play sax.

How do you get your ideas?
S: I have a system of notebooks where I write down things that pop into my head. It’s all numbered and color-coded (I use a four-color pen). Green is for art ideas. Red is for video and film ideas. Blue is for music and sound ideas. And black is what I use to write down boring information like grocery lists.

T: I have hundreds of small drawings on index cards that have become my own dictionary of colors, marks, accidental stains, and spills that I draw from in order to make distortions of Midwestern rural and urban space, small town freaks, and regional history.


If you had to come up with a name for it what would you call the art movement that is going on right now?
S: “Image Searchism” or maybe “more broken mirrors.”
T: “punk for sale” or “post-good.”

If you wrote a manifesto what would it be titled?
S: Not sure what it would be titled, but the text would be all dingbats.
T: “Let's Make Something New”

No comments:

Post a Comment