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Category: High Street

High Street 3.9 — Downhill Racing (cont.)

“When computers learn how to make jokes, artists will be in serious trouble.  But artists will respond in such a way as to make art impossible for the computer.  They will redefine art to take into account (that is, to exclude) technology–photography’s impact upon painting and painting’s brilliant response being a clear and comparatively recent example.” — Donald Barthelme, “Not-Knowing” (from Not-Knowing, ed. Herzinger)

High Street 3.9 — “Downhill Racing” (cont.) is posted today.

(Tomorrow: High Street 3.10 — “Downhill Racing” (fin.))

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High Street 3.8 — Downhill Racing (cont.)

“The combinatorial agility of words, the exponential generation of meaning once they’re allowed to go to bed together, allows the writer to surprise himself, makes art possible, reveals how much of Being we haven’t yet encountered.” — Donald Barthelme, “Not-Knowing” (from Not-Knowing, ed. Herzinger)

High Street 3.8 — “Downhill Racing” (cont.) is posted today.

(Tomorrow: High Street 3.9 — “Downhill Racing” (cont.))

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High Street 3.6 — Downhill Racing (cont.)

“If the writer is taken to be the work’s way of getting itself written, a sort of lightning rod for an accumulation of atmospheric disturbances, a St. Sebastian absorbing in his tattered breast the arrows of the Zeitgeist, this changes not very much the traditional view of the artist.  But it does license a very great deal of critical imperialism.  This is fun for everyone.” — Donald Barthelme, “Not-Knowing” (from Not-Knowing, ed. Herzinger)

High Street 3.6 — “Downhill Racing” (cont.) is posted today.

(Tomorrow: High Street 3.7 — “Downhill Racing” (cont.))

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High Street 3.4 — Downhill Racing (cont.)

“Not-knowing is crucial to art, is what permits art to be made.  Without the scanning process engendered by not-knowing, without the possibility of having the mind move in unanticipated directions, there would be no invention.” — Donald Barthelme, “Not-Knowing” (from Not-Knowing, ed. Herzinger)

High Street 3.4 — “Downhill Racing” (cont.) is posted today.

(Tomorrow: High Street 3.5 — “Downhill Racing” (cont.))


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“Sometimes I think that there will be a place in the future for a literature the nature of which will singularly resemble that of a sport.  Let us subtract, from literary possibilities, everything which today, by the direct expression of things and the direct stimulation of the sensibility by new means–motion pictures, omnipresent music, etc.–is being rendered useless or ineffective for the art of language.  Let us also subtract a whole category of subjects–psychological, sociological, etc.–which the growing precision of the sciences will render it difficult to treat freely.  There will remain to letters a private domain: that of symbolic expression and of imaginative values due to the free combination of the elements of language.” — Paul Valery (quoted in “After Joyce,” from Not-Knowing, ed. Herzinger)

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Getting it right

“[Henry] James was the most consummate artist American literature has produced. He was fastidious by nature and by early training. He had studied his art in France as men study sculpture in Italy, and he had learned the French mastery of form. Nowhere in his writings may we find slovenly work. His opening and closing paragraphs are always models, his dialogue moves naturally and inevitably,—in all the story despite its length nothing too much,—and everywhere a brilliancy new in American fiction. He is seldom spontaneous; always is he the conscious artist; always is he intellectual; always is he working in the clay of actual life, a realist who never forgets his problem to soar into the uncharted and the unscientific realms of the metaphysical and the romantic.” — Fred Lewis Pattee (from The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, Vol. XVI, Book III, Part VI., Sec. 9)

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