NEW WORK, NEW YORK:
CALL FOR RAID RESPONSES
TRANSMITTED OCTOBER 8, 2001
To All Brave Souls,
It’s hard to put together an incomprehensible mass e-mail these days. We’ll try to straight-talk. But one is not so far off from the other anymore.
In Don DeLillo’s Mao II, published in 1991, there are several bits of dialogue about the relationship between terrorism and writing:
There's a curious knot that binds novelists and terrorists . . . Years ago I used to think it was possible for a novelist to alter the inner life of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory. They make raids on human consciousness. What writers used to do . . . News of disaster is the only narrative people need. The darker the news, the grander the narrative. (p. 41)In an article that appeared in a 1999 issue of Harper’s, Vince Passaro stated that "with the Internet comes the possibility of such an inexpensive distribution system of large blocks of language that writing essentially will become volunteer work, and similarly oriented toward triage for victims of our culture."
Now it seems we’re all victims of conflicting cultures, no matter where you live.
OK. You’re pretty smart, right? You’ve read the DeLillo Quotations and the Harper’s Thing and you've anticipated what will come next.
Q: What comes next?
A: How writers react to the human-consciousness raid. How they make marks on the new narrative, no matter how grand and dark it is, no matter how inconsequential these marks may seem. How this is a sort of a triage, one that's abstract, but not entirely worthless. Responses to "a raid on human consciousness" shouldn't be worthless.
"This isn’t happening" so many said as they saw what was happening. How do you make sense of that reaction? How do you make sense of what happened in New York, what's happening right now, what will continue to happen all over? No matter where you live, something also happened -- is happening -- in your head. Maybe there’s a way to respond to "the narrative," to throw words at it, to make sense in ways that do not necessarily make explicit sense.
Here are five stories by five writers who haven’t been able to make much sense so far:
The Thinking Reed by Leda Swann
Polaris by James Norton
Maggie’s Last Memory by Matt Semele
Window Mouth by Bryson Newhart
Patterson by Whitney Pastorek
After a forest fire, aspens and pines come in by the thousands. They get everything going again. They are not full-grown oaks. They're these little, flimsy, cool-ass pines that grow out of charred forest ash. Similarly, Eyeshot is attempting to post new material, work written after 9-11-01, or at the very least, things that still seem relevant.
If you’re interested in contributing to Eyeshot, submissions do not need to include literal references, obscure symbolic associations, burning/collapsing buildings, terrorists, airplanes, the phrase "make no mistake," or the word "harbor." But there should be churning, confusion, sorrow, questioning, dissent, attraction, suddenness, draining, pace, ferocity, absence, sexiness, humor, optimism, life, and beauty. (These are just some ideas). Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those still interested in images of buildings burning, and images of related consumer goods, and some useless reactionary words: http://www.eyeshot.net/wtc1.html
For all those else, take care.
For all those who'd like to be removed from this list, just respond and tell us why. We might not even try to talk you out of it.
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