Is it possible to have too much art?
This is the current preferred publishing method: have no talent, finally scrape together a book once every six to eight years, be connected, then have the publication of that culturally and societally meaningless book be treated like an event by those connections who implausibly shill and advocate for it.
It seems to me that if you were actually a great artist, you would produce great works of art, often. The better an artist you were, the more great works of art you would produce, and the more frequently.
Eventually I am going to get past these people. But I am worried that I simply have too much art. Too much art for anyone to even begin to get through a fraction of it. This journal alone would keep you busy. If I did nothing but fiction, that would keep you busy. Or radio. Or writings on art. Or sports. Or literature. Or personal essays. Then we get into my books. Novels. Story collections. Memoirs. Music books. Film books. Humor books. Then there will be television and film, and etc.
The news of the day is that I completed most of the new story--which is the third new story, so let me clarify. I had mentioned that this story came to me the other night while I was asleep. I worked on it some more, and it changed much. It's called "Stickleback." Today I wrote more of it in the shower, then I went to the Starbucks and head-wrote the rest of it. I still have a few things to work out. It's a story that stems, in a unique way, from a school shooting. No one has approached this subject as I handle it fictively here. What this means is, simultaneously, I am now working on three stories between this one, "A man outside a playground," and "Post-Fletcher." (Plus the new personal essays, and the art and opinion pieces. And the etc.) They could not be more different from each other. Writers don't do this. They work on one thing. They don't move from thing to thing. But I can flip a switch for any one thing, and be entirely within that world, then flip the switch off again, and flip on the switch for another work. These are societally and culturally consequential works. No one is going to see them right now. But when I do get past these people, I am going to have...let's see...I'll estimate and say fifty to 100 short stories, just sitting in my gem cupboard. Not MFA workshop pablum short stories. Works of societal and cultural consequence. Is that too many? What could you even do with that many? There's no foot-off-the-gas story in here. I don't have greatest hits, I don't have lesser cuts. Each and every time out now, I create to the very highest of my abilities. I always end up at the pole. It's just a different pole. Then I stick a flag. And that flag in that pole is that work.
There are two venues that publish short fiction that people read in any numbers. So what will I do with all of these stories? I'm going to have to invent a market. A format. I can't not write things now that come to me, that I know are unique works of art. They keep coming to me. But with the Beatles, say, you can go through their entire output--the official portion--in a day. I worry that I am too productive; that when that comes that I am past the people who work to hold me back, that I will have made too much art. There are the letters, too. There is so much here. And in some ways, I am just getting started, and have never really gotten started, because I have been given no chance. And most of my days are put towards debasing things that is certainly not proper composing.
What if the Beatles produced the equivalent of Revolver every week? Several times every week? But different in nature each time, but the same level qualitatively? What if some weeks they did ten Revolvers? And they did this for years? Would that be good? Or would it be too much? Are you better off being more limited? Plateauing? I keep getting better. I actually feel more power in me every day. And what does it mean, where have things gotten to, how backwards has all of this gone, that I can honestly say that I hate that? The better I have gotten, the greater my pain has become, the greater the resistance. I become less and less like one of them; and they insist that you be like them to even be under consideration to be put forward by them. And I was already never like them from day one here, long ago.
I did not climb today. Nor walk. I did talk on Downtown, about a number of films from 1939. It was a very good discussion, I think. We really got into some stuff. This is the kind of radio I like. This is art radio that is also entertainment. The film we did not have time to talk about was Jesse James. What I would have said about it is that Westerns in which crime is central tend not to really register as Westerns. Isn't that interesting? Of course you have crimes in Westerns, but if they have a caper element, that overrides the Western-ness. They become crime pictures, and in Jesse James we even have a proto-noir element due to the fatalistic handling of the subject matter and story. Noir is highly, highly, fatalistic.
Tonight I am on the eve of a non-drinking accomplishment. Well, not accomplishment. Milestone. I just thought that as I poured water down my gullet. I'm trying to hydrate more. As one of the films discussed on the radio today was Howard Hawks' Only Angels Have Wings, here is a radio adaptation--with the film cast--from a short while after the film's release (actually, it aired seventy years ago yesterday):
And here is a 1940 radio radio adaptation of the same material by Orson Welles.
Thought it was really strong what we got into with The Wizard of Oz and how it functions as a horror film. I intend to write about this later this year, so this was a way for me to work through some ideas. There's also relevance with my Scrooge book--Noel Langley wrote both Scrooge and The Wizard of Oz--which will be one of at least two books of mine coming out next year. I'd really like to see that number move up to four or five books. Tonight Emma texted me and asked me to go to the dog park with her, so I threw on some sneakers--my last pair, which have holes in them, alas--and joined her, and she asked about today's segment, and I told her about The Wizard of Oz, which she said she recognized straight away as a horror film--I am not surprised--and we had a good talk about that, before she also made this same case for the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I saw Zdeno Chara outside my door a couple days ago with his kids--he was moving well, incidentally--and I thought about something he recently said. On the Bruins, they don't use the term rookie. You're on the team and you're a teammate, or you're not. I understood exactly what he meant and why that was a sound way to think.
Had to swallow some edits today. Usually, there are no changes. What you read is exactly what I composed. Other times, I just have to swallow things. It's financial. You pick your battles. I also came up with about ten new ideas, some going into the spring portion of next year. In case I am still in this position, though please, God, enough, it's time to let me out of it.
This, by the way, is the 1950 radio adaptation--from Christmas--of The Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland. Fascinating to hear her back in the part eleven years later. I liked that Garland/Billie Holiday comparison today.
And on the subject of too much: Don't you just love the sound the Who got on their first LP? They never had this sound again. The guitar chords here are enormous. He generates so much volume and sustain from his chording. It's basically choric chording; the guitar chords act as a chorus as couterpoint to the singer. And what Moon is doing is, of course, without precedent.