Faulkner Changed My Life

1001 Words5 Pages
Thanks to Faulkner, to the very thought of him, between thirteen and fourteen I began to feel unassailable I spite of everything. I wasn't, of course, but I felt that way, enough to get on with my writing and to mop up like high-calorie gravy such praise from teachers as came my way.

If you fix one eye on Faulkner and the other on Melville, and you remember some of what Keats said about negative capability, you can just about manage to commit the delectable autonomy known as writing for its own sake - for the glory, the rebirth, the illusion of doing what nobody has ever done before. There's nothing more unassailable than that, even as things fall apart around you and you see the fruit-flies ascending to power without composing so much as a paragraph. Vary the image a bit, amassing the bestiary of the foul, and you can add Zola's toad of disgust, which he said you have the swallow every morning before getting on with the work. Swallow it, note the hegemony of the fruitflies, and indeed the demise of yet another nobel unicorn gone to roost in Paris or now plying trade on Wall Street, and you then become clear enough to write for the next few hours as if the world were waiting for your sun to rise and would do nothing serious without you. That's the feeling, the pumped-up, inspired elation that lofts you---me-from essay to essay.

My admission includes the fact that, apart from admiring his expertise at caricatural opera, I never took much interest in Yoknapatawpha, the fantastic name apart only slightly below Brobdingnag. They might have been pinball salesmen in Ethiopia for all I cared. What bowled me over was WR's noise, that humming and thrumming you heard in the distance even as you opened just about any novel of his except the first two. It was a deliberate obfuscation of meaning yet done with meanings, using meaning to obliterate some other meaning, and the message, if such, was something choral and echoic with in its intimate hinterland just about everything else of his you'd read. He wasn't creative-writing, he was doing solo recitative, singing to himself all the while, wso that while you have Gavin Stevens in focus, one work of gab to eight hundred of deviant penumbral gesture, some of the
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