Check out my review of Maggie Umber's Time Capsule on TCJ.com
I had a dream last night that a monster bacteria was wiping out everyone I worked with. I was somehow protected, and I went to my workplace to bring my wife into my protected sphere. After the disaster, I was shown an elaborate grid of scenes projected in a special room. Each scene or panel contained the life of a person who had died because of the plague. I could enter these squares and interact with the deceased, and it seemed amazing and revelatory to both me and them.
Of course, I can't really describe accurately in words the experience of the dream. I don't even know what dreams are. We attach linearity and solidity to immersive, diffuse experiences after we wake up.
What I was thinking about before I went to bed, in that hazy hypnogogic limbo, was how mimetic/conceptual bits of culture are 'things' best seen peripherally or understood whole-cloth the same way that I was saying junk culture is best interacted with in my previous post.
Right before that, I had been reading Maugham's "The Razor's Edge," an old favorite I've read many times, and thinking about how as a reading experience, it was much more engaging than "Finnegan's Wake" and came out at roughly the same time, though Joyce's book is decidedly more profound and will probably fare better as an object of critical discussion over time.
David Foster Wallace was quoted in "Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself" comparing avant-garde literature to pop culture and saying that the more highbow literature required too much work on the reader's part to make it worthwhile, that the pop stuff was simply more enjoyable.
I still haven't finished Gravity's Rainbow, but there are ideas and forms within it that have changed my overall conception of the world. And there are very beautiful passages, too.
I was trying to make an argument about conceptual or challenging works being like Kirby's 2001 lying in my studio: as art objects or beautiful theoretical constructs they can be inspiring while lacking the ability to engage the reader/viewer in the interior world of the work.
All of this theorizing is just empty, a way for me to attempt to understand/justify the allure of old comics. And I'm, maybe, invalidating the argument from my previous post: pop culture as genre enterprise can be riveting in the moment head on, not just peripherally. Its value is in whatever pleasure it gives, I guess.
Like my dream, I can't unpack the swamp of my mental construct clearly enough to make my meaning understood, even to myself. Writing it out just shows me how muddy it will continue to be.