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Interstitial Artists/Interstitial WritersVeronica Schanoes11-13-03  06:31 pm
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Interstitial
Posted on Monday, October 27, 2003 - 10:46 am:   

This topic is a big one. Here's the only two cents I have to add to the discussion right now: over the listserv, there seems to be agreement that we should keep the definition of interstitiality between recognized genres and not allow hierarchies of literature to come into play (i.e. *Brave New World* is not interstitial just because it's both science fiction and considered "high" literature). But is that possible, given the inherent hierarchies of genre? Is it desirable, given that part of the need for recognition of interstitial arts comes from the difficulties arts that aren't easily categorizable have in getting shelf-space and good marketing?

On the other hand, *Brave New World* has not been overlooked critically or financially, so perhaps that kind of work does not need the interstitial spotlight.

But what about successful interstitial works? Why do some interstitial works hit it big, *Beloved* and *Nights at the Circus*, for example, while others languish?
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Friday, November 07, 2003 - 04:45 am:   

Check out Jim Kelly's excellent column on slipstream (though he also uses the term interstitial) in his "On the Net" column for Asimov's:

http://www.asimovs.com/_issue_0311/onthenet2.shtml

He defines, gives examples, and provides lots of links. For the Fantastic Metropolis and Strange Horizons editors and fans out there, he mentions both extensively! He also mentions Alan DeNiro's essay, "The Dream of the Unified Field," which generated a lot of discussion on the Fantastic Metropolis board.
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Charles Vess
Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 08:28 am:   

I started having this conversation with Dora at WFC and then this morning I was answering a guestion from Midori concerning the IAF website and I started formulating a bit of a theory about interstial artists as opposssed to interstial writers.

I don't concider any individual pieces of my work to be particularly interstitial. At least in my case I think that I might/should be considered an interstitial artist but not particular pieces of art that I am creating . This is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately and perhaps it can become part of the definitive definition of an interstitial artist as opposed to an interstitial writer. As an artist I seem to be constantly working in many different disciplines (painting, drawing, sculpture, writing, etc.) and applying what I've learned by working in that particular discipline to each new piece of art that I produce in a different medium. Perhaps for the artist their 'medium'
becomes his or her 'genre'. Producing pieces of sculpture allows me to 'see' what I'm drawing/painting more fully when I return to that discipline. With this new knowledge I am better able to use my imagination to 'walk around' the images in my flat art and more completely develop an image that I'm working on. In turn, this ability to 'walk into my paintings' allows me to write a scene in a prose work more fully. Etc. The world that I am creating in my imagination, for whatever medium that I am working in, seems to gain more clarity by developing my work across many disciplines. It continues to be a very interesting process.

You can, of course, apply this theory to many other artists as well (Dave McKean, Jay Muth,
etc.)

Best,
Charles
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AliceB
Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2003 - 07:29 pm:   

Hello Charles,

I find the notion of an interstitial artist intriguing, but I'm not sure the process you describe quite fits. I think you are truly multitalented, and serendipitously, you can use the talents you have in each medium to enrich the others. I am limited in my talents to two dimensions, so I cannot speak about sculpture, but picture books are an example of flat art affecting writing.

Last June I attended an informal conference in Madison, Connecticut run by the Shoreline SCBWI where writer/illustrators were asked to talk about their craft. Some wrote first, then the art came next. Some an image came first, then the words. And some, both mixed, one helping the other -- although usually either the words or pictures had some shape first. The end result, whatever the process (which could be wonderfully messy) was a picture book -- a clear, definite genre. It is a blending of two arts: writing and illustration (the last using the medium best suited for the artist). But blending in itself isn't interstitial since the result is clearly defined and understood, i.e. someone out there can affix a neat little label to it.

So then what is an interstitial artist? I'm not sure. But I do think Leonardo da Vinci might fit the bill. He was a painter, a sculptor... and also an inventor. He used his artistic talents to fabulous effect in his inventions and his research. The results sit in museums as artistic pieces, and yet they are also blueprints, theories and conjectures. His art informed his scientific research -- and vice versa.

I guess I think an artist is "interstitial" if what s/he produces ends up being so. I know both painters and writers who depend on music to keep them on track, and to inform their work. Yet I do not think of them as interstitial, since they write and paint. After all, what gives inspiration to someone can come from innumerable sources -- not the least other media. I think that as fundamental to the creative process.

Thoughts?

All the best,
Alice
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Charles Vess
Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2003 - 07:26 am:   

Alice, thanks for your comments. So far most of the theorizing on the subject of interstitiality has been among the authors among us and I wanted to hear from more artists such as yourself. I started this thread hoping that a discussion would develop that would inform my thinking as to what constitutes a truely interstitial artist. I, myself, am not at all clear yet on what that might be. So I hope there will be more posts with some interesting thought threads.

Best,
Charles
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 05:50 pm:   

Hi Charles!

I've been thinking about your post for a couple of days, because I want to continue the conversation but haven't been sure how to answer. So this answer is going to be a tentative and preliminary one.

I think you're ultimately asking two questions:

1. What does interstitiality mean in the visual arts?
2. How is this different from interstitiality in literature?

Wow. I don't know how to begin to answer those questions. But I do want to challenge your own statement about your artwork. (See why I wasn't sure how to write this? The next time you see me, you're more than welcome to throw rotten tomatoes.) Here's why.

When I was walking around the art room at the World Fantasy Convention, I noticed that most of the art looked fairly similar. There was a particular style that I kept seeing over and over, slightly different in the case of each artist of course, but recognizable. It was what I call "fantasy style." I think it comes from artists influenced primarily by slick paperback covers. And I'm not talking about similar content (dragons, elves), which I would have expected, it being after all the World Fantasy Convention. I mean that all those dragons and elves looked alike.

But there were two artists whose works were quite different: you and Omar Rayyan. They looked, to me, as though they were coming from somewhere completely different than any of the other art in the room. (I'm not an artist, so I don't quite have the words to say what I mean.) I don't want to give an example from your work (then you really would throw rotten tomatoes), so I'm going to give one from his. Here is his website:

http://www.studiorayyan.com/homset.html

Now find a painting called "Horny Duchess" (well, I'm not so fond of the name, but I love the painting). So, how do I describe it? Eighteenth century portraiture in the world of H.P. Lovecraft? I mean, what is this? It sure doesn't look anything like my idea of "fantasy art," which seems to be a distinct genre with its own conventions. I went to a Rembrandt exhibit today at the Museum of Fine Arts and saw some of the same stylistic choices, particularly in the use of light.

Your art is quite different than his, but I also see it as influenced by various traditions, some of which don't seem particularly compatible, like Pre-Raphaelite painting and comic art. You blend those traditions into an organic whole, so that what you're doing doesn't seem to consist of separate parts. Instead, it seems an original style that looks like nobody else's.

But that, to me, is a perfect example of interstitiality. So while I think your idea of an "interstitial artist" is an interesting one, I disagree with your statement about your individual works of art. I think they are interstitial.

And I should end here, before getting myself into more trouble.

(Also, just wanted to let you know that at WFC I picked up two of your prints! The first Charles Vess works in my collection. I was going to get one for the baby, but couldn't resist also getting one for myself.)
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Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 08:52 pm:   

I'm also really interested in this discussion, because our defining has been very writing-centered until now. I wonder about mixing media, like say combining painting with collage and also with some three-dimensional elements (I'm thinking here of a piece my sister did once)--would that make an artwork interstitial?

Thanks for expanding the definition question, Charles.
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Kendrick Goss
Posted on Friday, November 14, 2003 - 09:29 pm:   

Hmmm. I am glad you posted this message as I think I used precisely this definition in the pretty pictures thread without knowing it. There I was talking about Andy Goldsworthy's works without specifically naming any individual works. This is complicated in Glodsworthy's case because his work is usually destroyed or rained on or something. The only way to talk about his interstitiality is talk about his technique.

Which brings us precisely to your point, I believe. We only end up with objects that may be considered interstitial because visual artists borrow and use different media, and incorporate influences from different types of art.

Does this lead us away from some of the definitions we have been using in the Literature discussions? Probably.

I went to see the Rembrandt exhibit today at the MFA. They were selling magnifying glasses at the entrance to the show. Some of the etchings were so small and detailed you really needed them! Any way, looking at the etchings up close I thought: Bill Griffith (of "Zippy the Pinhead") and Robert Clumb (of "American Splendor")! All the hashing and stippling and effects Rembrandt uses are identical to comic artists technques. (I am not sure this point is relavent to this thread, but I think it is trendously interesting.)

By using a wide variety of technical influence and ending up with highly imaginative works as a result, I am quite comfortable with the definition of artist being applied to an individual artist.
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Charles Vess
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 11:45 am:   

Okay, this is the conversation that I was hoping would begin here on these threads. Mostly because I find that I, myself, can't put into words WHAT exactly an interstitial artist would be and therefor find myself unable to explain the concept to other artists that I would like to see involved with the IAF.

Dora,
Hadn't even had the slightest impulse to throw any ripe tomatoes your way…

As an artist I do see the difference in what I would call 'pulp' influenced art that is more generally and more easily accepted by most of the sf/fantasy loving attendees of these conventions and work like Omar's or even mine. I just don't fit into that art influence category. I like pulp art (Howard Pyle, N.C.Wyeth, Kelly Freas, Frank Frazetta, etc.) but my art is much more heavily influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, the English/mid-European turn-of-the-last-century illustrators (especially Rackham and John Bauer) as well as the Fin de Siecle symbolist artists. Consequently I've always found it difficult to 'crack' the interest of the sf community at large, that’s another thread altogether.

But then every artist that I know has a multitude of divergent influences (whether they show in their art or not). Which is I guess my biggest quandary, if the definition of an interstitial artist becomes simply those divergent influences then every artist is interstitial and then what good is the term?

So I'm still left here, thinking to myself, that there is no way I could describe the latest cover painting that I've done of a woman standing on top of a tree, surrounded by a horde of faeries as interstitial. And if I should be describing it as interstitial then I would LOVE to know why and how?

There are many more questions to formulate before any answers are reached I'm afraid…

Best,
Charles
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Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 01:31 pm:   

Maybe, and I have to admit that I speak as someone whose artistic talent, visually, is very slight, but maybe the interstitiality of a piece of art hinges on whether or not it shows the multiple influences? I don't know--and that definition would depend on us knowing how to "read" the appearence of those influences. Maybe if the presence of those influences produces a tension(s) among them?

I'm thinking of a friend of mine in the MFA program here at Penn, a really interesting artist, whose most recent work has involved taking images from ads in fashion/women's magazines and/or stills from movies like *Dirty Dancing* and reproducing the figures and settings in shades of black, white, and gray until, while the figures and references are recognizable, the feel of the work is utterly changed, sort of gothicized, but at the same time, you recognize the scene from *Dirty Dancing*, so you have conflicting signals about what that image is and how it functions. Her earlier work was incredibly lush and colorful, and a professor referred it dismissively as "Disney's story of an orgasm," a description that she actually loved, so again you have the disparate influences existing in tension.

I don't think that every piece an interstitial artist produces has to be interstitial. Some of my short stories may be interstitial, but I don't think any of my poetry is. What do you think (about the points in general, not about my poetry)?
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Saturday, November 15, 2003 - 10:09 pm:   

Charles wrote:

"But then every artist that I know has a multitude of divergent influences (whether they show in their art or not). Which is I guess my biggest quandary, if the definition of an interstitial artist becomes simply those divergent influences then every artist is interstitial and then what good is the term?"

I think this is the crux of the issue, and not only for visual art. I don't have a good answer, but I'm going to give an example, which may just raise more questions.

I'm sure Monet had a lot of different influences. And, when I walk through the Impressionist room at the Boston MFA, I can see that all the impressionists were doing something slightly different. But I can also see that they all influenced each other, and they were all working from the same sort of attitude about art. They make sense together. (Like most of the artists exhibiting at WFC.)

But what about Edward Gorey, who came up on another thread? If I hung him in a museum, who else would I put in that room? Maybe the guy who does the Addams family cartoons. Maybe Mervyn Peake (thought I don't know enough about him as an artist to say)? But there's no "school" or "tradition" or "group" to which I can readily assign him. I'm sure he was influenced by other artists, just like Monet. But then something different happened. It's as though--no one else was influenced quite the way he was.

(I could be completely wrong and there could be plenty of artists like Gorey out there--but it's the point I'm interested in even more than the specific example.)

The other thing from Charles' email that struck me:

"Consequently I've always found it difficult to 'crack' the interest of the sf community at large, that’s another thread altogether. "

Is it another thread altogether? Or it is all part of the same thing? When the first impressionists came on the scene, they had a hard time cracking the interest of the art community. But eventually impressionism became both fashionable and lucrative, and artists came from everywhere to meet with and imitate Monet. It's easy to accept art that already belongs to an established genre or category.

(This comes in part from my basic hypothesis that most genres begin with one interstitial work, or a few such works, before they develop into the genres we're familiar with. Once the genre develops, subsequent works belonging to it are no longer interstitial. So, it seems to me that Robinson Crusoe, often considered the first novel, has interstitial qualities. But by the time we get to Pride and Prejudice, we are firmly in the tradition of the novel, and more specifically of domestic realism. Sorry, this is a tangent.)

Basically, I don't think I'm providing any answers. But I thought some examples might help.
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Terri Windling
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 02:54 am:   

Here's my two cents, for what it's worth. In my view of the arts, Interstitial art (or fiction) is nothing new. One can find artists (and writers)who have been blending influences and medias, and crossing between established catagories, since the arts began.

So why create an Interstitial Arts Foundation, and why now? It seems to me that the value of the term Interstitial Art derives from the increasing emphasis our modern market-driven society places on catagorization, on labels, genres, brands. The majority of creative artists today reach their audience via the marketplace, and the marketplace (the gallery, the bookstore, the newspaper review column, etc.) increasingly depends on labelling and catagorizing art in order to "sell" it to the art audience. Thus genres develop, for the ease of identify and marketing art works: the genre of "illustrative art," for example, which we, as a society, have separated from the genre of "fine art" -- and then have further divided into the genre of fantasy illustration, or children's illustration, or comics, or what have you. (Fine art is also divided, of course -- into conceptual art, minimalist art, etc.)

There's nothing wrong with the idea of genre per se, or of works created within their recognized boundaries -- many of which I admire profoundly. But because of the way art is marketed, artists who don't fit easily into any single genre can have a very difficult time reaching an audience -- and some audience members, having spent a life-timing consuming art with clear catagory labels, can also find themselves quite puzzled by or uncomfortable with work that doesn't fit into any of the areas of art that they're familiar with. Art marketers, critics, viewers/readers can spend a lot of time anxiously trying to figure out what catagory to put a work in, and then judging the work poorly under the terms of that catagory simply because it doesn't quite fit. Interstitial Arts says: Hey, relax, some art *doesn't* fit into a single catagory, and you know what? That's okay!

Charles, I see your art as Interstitial for this reason: The vast majority of your works sits at the crossroads between three traditions: the European Pre-Raphaelite/Symbolist romantic-symbolic-surrealist painting tradition, the English Victorian Golden Age children's book ilustration tradition, and the American comic book tradition. You could have worked easily and comfortably within any one of those traditions -- the first, as a "fine art" painter; the second, as a children's book illustrator; the third, as a comic book artist doing work that fits more easily into the comic book genre. Instead, you do work that blends all three, and have had the common Intersitial Arts experience of having art directors and gallery owners scratching their heads and saying: we like it, but what the heck is it and where do we put it?

Interstitial Art is a paradoxical term as far as I'm concerned. Everyone is eager to define it, yet it exists as a term to refer to art that resists definition, and thus it too resists strict definition. It's a label (a concession to a label-driven world) for work that really doesn't want to be labelled. It's not a "movement," it's not a new kind of art. It's simply a way of recognizing a particular type of art that *already exists* but is often ignored or misunderstood in an art world (and publishing world) where crossing boundaries between catagories is often discourged in both subtle and obvious ways. We want to celebrate this art not because it's better than other kinds of art (it's not), but because it's in need of some attention, some support, particularly in the marketplace.

That's my take on it anyway.
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AliceB
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 11:48 am:   

Terri said that interstitial art is "simply a way of recognizing a particular type of art that *already exists* but is often ignored or misunderstood in an art world (and publishing world) where crossing boundaries between categories is often discouraged in both subtle and obvious ways."

I second that. And I loved your description of the interstitiality (is that a word?) of Charles work. But to pick up Charles' earlier thread, I also think that interstitial artists can be those who work simultaneously with different media, as opposed to someone who uses different genres within one media. I have thought quite a bit about your question Charles of whether an interstitial artist might not be someone that combines say flat art, sculpture and writing. I think the answer is yes, absolutely, although I don't see it on the inspiration side (and I say up front I may change my opinion about that along the way...). Creators of movable books are an example.

Movable books, aka pop-up books, have been around for a few centuries, but have only in recent times been recognized as their own art form. They were shelved with whatever topic the content fit in, usually as novelties, and in the last century, usually with children's books, even if they were not aimed primarily for children.

Creators of movable books strike me as the quintessential interstitial artists (sorry for the mouthful) -- they have used paper sculpture, flat art, and words to convey stories and images. Some, like Robert Sabuda in his rendition of THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, through paper sculpture have challenged the notion of how pages are supposed to follow in a book. I still treasure a THUMBELINA Peepshow Book, illustrated by Linda Griffith, published in 1976 where the book opens up into a kind of carousel, the covers are tied together, and you get layers of illustrations for each "page" (here the notion of what's a page is severely challenged).

It is only now that paper engineers, as movable book artists call themselves, have been recognized as having their own genre and therefore are, slowly, moving away from the intersteces (I'm having problems remembering how to spell all these multi-syllable words!). But I think they still have a way to go -- I recently found BROOKLYN POPS UP, presented by the Brooklyn Public Library, shelved in the children's section -- perhaps because the movable cover was created by Maurice Sendak?

All the best,
Alice
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Charles Vess
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 12:23 pm:   

Alice,

This more than slightly off topic but I couldn't resist bring this up after your lovely description of those 'movable books' so forgive me...

As a member of the Arthur Rackham Society I have been able to visit many book collections that I would not otherwise have seen as an individual artist. One of these was in the Bodelean (gack!!! spelling?) Library in Oxford. Our guide had a presentation of many interesting, books, but the one that has haunted my mind ever since was a 19th century edition of Cinderella. This 'book' consisted entirely of elaborate hand colored cutouts with the story itself, being told orally as each cutout was displayed to the listener. You began with the figure of Cinderella clothed in rags overwhich a respendent gown was clipped at the appropriate point in the story. Her head dettached (!!!) and could be clipped into the window of her couch and six as she makes her way to the ball , etc. The effect was quite stunning and now that I think of it again, certainly interstial in it's unique storytelling manner.

For what its worth...

Best,
Charles

PS: Kendrick, I've stood and marveled at Rembrandts etchings for many hours. Every time I do I try to imagine producing them by the available light sources of his day: Sun light or candle light. The mind boggles, indeed!!!
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AliceB
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 05:44 pm:   

Charles,

Since we have strayed off topic, I think you might find the Movable Book Society site interesting. The site isn't the easiest to get around, but they have a nice gallery of movable books through the ages on line, well worth poking around for.

I promise, I'll stay on topic from now on. :-)

Alice
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Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Sunday, November 16, 2003 - 09:12 pm:   

Well, as long as we're moving a touch off topic...Oh my, what a lovely sounding Cinderella book! I wish I could see it. Alice, could you describe Sendak's moveable cover to me....I love Sendak and if there's some cool Sendak thing I don't know about, well, I guess nothing will happen, but my curiosity is piqued.
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AliceB
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 07:28 am:   

Veronica, the cover of BROOKLYN POPS UP has two of Sendak's kids holding a Walt Whitman book open. When you push a lever, a picture of Whitman pops out of the book while the arms and heads of the kids move with appreciation. The real kicker is that when you open the cover, there's a lift-the-flat under which you get to see the intricate paper engineering required to make all these movable parts do what they do. The rest of the book includes art by David A. Carter and Tor Lovig, Bruce Foster, Robert Sabuda, Ken Wilson-Max and Keith Finch, Biruta Akerberg Ansen, Iain Smith, Kees Moerbeek and Carla Dijs, and Chuck Murphy (with apologies to anyone I missed).
Alice
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AliceB
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 07:32 am:   

Oops. I meant "lift-the-flap"... Alice
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Charles Vess
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 12:21 pm:   

Okay, lets get back to it...

Another question I have concerning the interstitial artist is, do we concern ourselves with just the art or also with the medium used. Unlike writing, where there are very few choices to be made when you want to commit your words onto paper and those choices will never really affect the look of your end product, the artist has an extremely wide choice in materials to choose from when attempting to do the same. Each one of those choices (pencil, ink, watercolor, oil, collage, etc.) will have a major role in determining the look of the end product sought by the artist. Indeed the artist's choice in materials used will sometimes so drastically affect the process of achieving that final image that it has as much to do with that completed images as the original inspiration. And by that I mean, that the artist will usually approach her/his particular blank canvas with an image in mind, but sometimes an inability to render that image successfully using the chosen medium will cause the artist to end up with an entirely different final vision than the original intent. This 'new' image is often times better/more successful than that original intent. Artists sometimes call that process, "the happy accident". This process of planning a certain course of action and veering off course only to end up at a better place than you originally had thought you wanted to be happens quite often in writing also. But there, it is an intellectual exercise, here, I think, it is more of a physical one.

There are artists, such as Alan Lee that use watercolor in a strictly traditional way and any highlight that you see in the image is the white of the paper showing through. In my own art, I am a non-traditionalist. I will use whatever needs to be used to achieve the image that I want to make. I mix colored inks, colored pencils, watercolor, and even oil and acrylic if need be. If a correction or a highlight is called for then I will apply it to the image with whatever method works best. Then there are artists such as Dave McKean who go even further in that 'anything goes' direction to splendid effect.

So my question is, do we need to consider not only the finished image, with it's multitude of artistic influences but also the use of medium itself in defining interstitial art?

Or am I just thinking too hard about this and needlessly complicating matters?

Best,
Charles
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AliceB
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 12:45 pm:   

Hmm.

In another thread here there is a description of sculture that uses gardening as part of its medium, or perhaps gardening with sculpture in mind -- a kind of interestitial art. Would that be an example of what you mean by the use of medium itself to define interstitial art, i.e. adding an element not usually associated with sculpture to create something outside any easy category?

Or do you mean how one bends the use of one medium (e.g. doing something new with etching and printing) to define interstitial art?

I'm not sure I'm being clear...


Alice
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Charles Vess
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 01:11 pm:   

Alice,

Well, I was trying to use the process of producing art as one means of defining an interstitial artist as oppossed to an interstitial writer. The Goldsworthy (/) sculpture/garden work is certainly an example of my theory that the process where bye the art is produced plays an important role in determaning the interstitiality of a piece of art or the artist involved.

Charles
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Pat O'Connor
Posted on Monday, November 17, 2003 - 08:56 pm:   

I love this conversation, Charles and Alice.

It's especially interesting to me because I keep falling back to the idea that publishers and marketers (and gallery owners, I suppose) are the ones who draw the lines that the artists are expected to stay within: the model is, "We don't know where to put that thing you made."

Your conversation isn't about that, but rather, what it feels like to make art where the conception and the medium feel as though they aren't in the same box, at first. So as an artist you move sideways and try to fold in other media to express what you originally conceived.

One of the thought experiments that Delia suggested some months ago was, "When is multimedia art not interstitial?" and her first proposed answer was, A mainstream rock concert. Sure, besides the musicians there are light technicians, people making and selling the t-shirts, an opening band, but they're all supposed to belong together, and the people who attend pretty much know what they're going to be getting..

She wanted to contrast that with one of the new-theater pieces like Mary Zimmerman's The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, which is certainly a bourgeois experience too (a different slice of the bourgeoisie, of course), but which plays with expectations about narrative --the actors don't quite inhabit characters and the scenes don't quite tell stories and even sometimes when they claim to be didactic and to show us, say, a law of gravity that Leonardo discovered in his notebooks, the scene also seems to be about men and women, or about the present and the past.

[I think we could've done the examples the other way around, too, and talked about a control-freak playwright and excellent but rigorously conventional play, versus a rock musician whose concerts never seem to resemble the kinds of concerts we're used to going to.]

I like Mary Zimmerman as an example because, like your work, Charles, and like the work of Dave McKean, I've seen so much of her theater work that I recognize it as a specific aesthetic experience (even though I have also seen it evolve over the years). Do we all remember the first time we saw a Joseph Cornell box? Repetition must certainly affect our sense of what is interstitial at any given moment, and what belongs to a recognizable genre.

Much of Zimmerman's work is warm and fuzzy; it seems to believe in love and healing, even when the authors she's treating don't (I've seen her adaptation of Ovid, and of Proust). But I'm also fascinated by the chillier artists and authors, like Joseph Cornell (and, I think, Rackham), who seemed to repeat themselves a bit obsessively because they knew that their artwork was not reaching an audience immediately, or not reaching it on the level where it meant the most to themselves.

Cornell is in my opinion just about one step away from being an Outsider Artist. But of course, that category is an example of me sliding back to talking about the way that audiences and markets and publishers draw the lines, not the artists themselves.
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AliceB
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 06:53 am:   

Pat, I love the image of moving sideways to fold in another media so that an artist can achieve his/her vision. Does that make the artist interstitial?

I'm struggling with an answer here, so forgive me for my stream of consciousness.

When I think of myself as an artist I think of myself as a craftsman (I am primarily a writer, but I think this applies to other arts). I apprenticed over many years, learning the tools of my trade, trying, failing, and trying again until I made something worth sharing. Is what I have made art? Perhaps. I don't get to decide.

So as a craftsman, if I decide to use different tools that people in my craft don't usually use to create, am I being intestitial? I guess I'd agree with you there, Charles. A fellow craftsman might tell me "I've never seen anyone do it that way before" and not be able to categorize my technique. But if what I create is art, my fellow craftsman might decide to try what I've done too. And if enough people do it, it's no longer interstitial, it's become a new medium. And in the art world, that has happened over and over.

What about the result -- what I've created -- is it interstitial too because I've used an interstitial method? Depends. Topiary is an understood genre. Goldsworthy's work isn't -- yet. But it isn't entirely foreign either, because topiary is moving in that direction: for the past several summers, Montreal has had an exhibit of topiary that is more like a gigantic sculpture garden. Gardeners from across the world come to exhibit -- and many different media, in addition to plants, are used.

I guess why I'm struggling with the question is that what we call "interstitial" is a moving target. Artists, for as long as there have been artists, have experimented with media -- from blowing colored pigments over hands onto stone walls, to using pigments to color the walls, to using something other than walls, and so on. I think of artistic development as a conversation between craftspeople willing to listen and to take risks. So, on some level to become an innovative artist you have to be interstitial -- either by moving sideways through media, or sideways through ideas, or elements of the craft...

I'm with you Charles, I think I'm thinking too much. Time to get to work.

Alice

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Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 12:21 pm:   

One of things that I think is underlying this conversation is the difference between describing an artist as interstitial and a piece of art as interstitial. I understand why we would call a piece of art interstitial; I'm less clear on what it takes to be an interstitial artist, or what we gain by using the term to describe artists. This isn't an objection to doing so--I'm just interested in the differences between labeling a thing and a person. What are your thoughts?

I also want to look at Charles's discussion of materials of presentation. I would argue that literature is indeed just as dependent upon the materials used for distribution: font, paper, size, cover design, illustration, but that the difference is that the writer has little to no control over those elements. It's just another wrinkle to throw in the discussion.
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Delia Sherman
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 01:44 pm:   

This is a great discussion, and brings up lots of interesting points. I've always been of the opinion that Interstitiality is as much about the work as it is about the person who executes it--mostly because there are very few artists of any kind who don't develop different interests and methods during the course of their careers. There's an artist, for instance, well-known for his traditional landscapes and woodblock illustrations for children's books, who is in the process of creating a series of prints set in a country for which he has imagined a geography, a history, and a culture. Some of them are landscapes and some of them look like illustrations, but their style somehow lets you know that you're looking at something that only the artist has seen. The reason I'm not mentioning his name is because he's shy about this new series and isn't ready to go public with it yet.

Similarly, there's a leather worker who goes to the higher-end crafts shows who makes blank books and address books and so on with moulded leather covers. She also makes statues and masks out of porcelain and leather which depict spirits out of her personal mythology, themselves a blend of bird, animal and human. Recently, I bought a miniature book from her with a tiny porcelain mask of a bird folded into the cover, and all the pages printed carefully with letters and words of an unknown alphabet, interspersed with tiny ink drawings of animals. The address books she makes because they are beautful and they sell. The masks and miniature books she makes primarily for love, and was utterly astounded when I actually bought one.

The point I'm trying to make is not that some of these artists' works are interstitial and some are easily classified. The point is that these artists, who were already successful in making art that was easy to classify and understand, were drawn to ideas, to subjects, to media, to methods that are taking them further and further from the genres they'd started in. Which (as Manet and the Impressionists held) is how art grows and develops. You don't have to think of yourself as an interstitial artist to be one, and you can still be one if everything you do isn't interstitial.
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Charles Vess
Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 05:44 pm:   

Veronica,
You said, " I would argue that literature is indeed just as dependent upon the materials used for distribution: font, paper, size, cover design, illustration, but that the difference is that the writer has little to no control over those elements."

Perhaps, but none of that has any effect on what the writer is essentially trying to say. Better paper, cover design, etc will most certainly offer the reader a more aesthetically pleasing experience with the book as an art object but it wont alter the author's theme or intent.

What I was trying to get across was that with an artist, often times, the choice of materials that she/he uses in the act of creation will actually participate in the metamorphosis from intial idea to final image in a sometimes essential manner and thus become an actual part of the creative process itself.

At least that what I thought I was saying...

Best,
Charles

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Connie Toebe
Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 09:52 am:   

I've been reading this thread avidly. There is so much going on and being said that I'd like to respond to. I'll try to keep it short and simple! The main thing that interested me is the dialog about what makes someone an interstitial artist. I find it a bit difficult to imagine someone who does straight forward art as interstitial no matter what their influences. My own experience (as a visual artist) is that artists almost always use a great variety of influences and methods to arrive at a finished piece. But if the finished piece is a strait painting then I would think that the artist is a painter and not interstitial. On the other hand, I find Charles idea "often times, the choice of materials that she/he uses in the act of creation will actually participate in the metamorphosis from initial idea to final image in a sometimes essential manner and thus become an actual part of the creative process itself." really intriguing. I think I'm going to have to think about this a little more!

On the more practical side, I'm thinking in terms of what Terri said above; about the point of having an Interstital Arts foundation. I think if we want to encourage people to be more open about art that slips between boundaries then we should concentrate on art that actually does that. Working methods are working methods and whatever people have to do to create their art is fine, but to point to someone who does art that fits firmly into one genre and then say that they are interstial because of how they work, seems confuses the matter. Especially as the idea of what interstial art is, is so hard to grasp to begin with.

I can only use my own experience to go by, but as a working/showing artist, here is what I've seen. Right now I'm doing do separate types of art. My first are my boxes. I don't know that I'm the best person to judge whether or not they are interstial but they don't slip easily into any convenient marketing category (or any category at all that I can think of) so they are probably pretty intersitial. (Your free to disagree!) On the other hand, I am also doing a series of photographs based on my boxes. I use the imagery from my boxes as a starting point but I wouldn't call them intersitial by themselves, and here's why. I enter shows all over the country. Finding shows to enter my photographs in is quite easy. They are photographs, plain and simple. People understand what a photograph is and so I know which shows I can or can't enter, which shows I'm likely to get my work accepted in.

My boxes on the other hand are quite a puzzle. From the very beginning, I understood that it would be difficult to sell my boxes or even just get them accepted in shows. People don't always know what to think or say when confronted with them. The more one knows about art history probably the more my influences show, but trying to describe them to someone who doesn't have an art education can be quite tricky. (And you'd be surprised how many non-artists judge art shows.)

The point of all this is, for someone who is making art that isn't easy to market or sell, groups like the Interstitial Arts foundation are a godsend. It really is a place to celebrate work that might not otherwise get a real showing. (Did I say I'm really looking forward to seeing the full website?) I think Kendrick has a really good idea with the "garden" art. It's something that's new to me and I'M and artist. I'm sure that people who have little exposure to art (especially contemporary art) could really be enlightened.

Anyway, I can see that I've wandered at bit here, but I figured I should at least chime it. I'm sure I'll have more to say later.
Connie
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Veronica Schanoes
Posted on Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - 04:17 pm:   

Ah yes, Charles, that does clear it up for me. Thanks. I wonder, though, if writers did have control over those things, whether we would be able to use them to some effect. But that's pure speculation and thus unhelpful. I thought you were talking about the interstitiality of the finished product (blech, a wretched way to refer to art *or* writing); I didn't understand that you were referring to the process of creation itself.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 08:24 am:   

Veronica: "I wonder, though, if writers did have control over those things, whether we would be able to use them to some effect. But that's pure speculation and thus unhelpful."

Well, I could point to The Thackerey T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases, and especially to John Coulthart's entry, which certainly benefits from control of the materials used to produce the text. I'm not going to spoil the fun for anyone who hasn't seen this book. Buy a copy and check it out.

Normally, I would agree with what Charles said, but there are those cases where preserving/imparting the meaning of the story demands attention to details normally left to chance or budget.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 12:53 pm:   

I think another example of this would be the hardcover of Jeff's City of Saints and Madmen, with that story embedded in the cover design.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 02:39 pm:   

Yes, Nicholas, I think you're right. I wonder what it says that both the examples we've cited have been (at least in part) VanderProjects. I also wonder what it would take to get more writers/editors to start treating the codex form with a little more... what am I looking for?... curiosity? respect? playfulness? To get folks to imagine some possibilities in the material composition of the book itself.
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Nicholas Liu
Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 03:11 pm:   

I think perhaps writers who haven't themselves had experience in book production tend to treat the book as artifact as something they have no control over; admittedly, outside of the small press, they're usually right.
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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, November 20, 2003 - 04:37 pm:   

Neal: "I also wonder what it would take to get more writers/editors to start treating the the codex form with a little more... what am I looking for?... curiosity? respect? playfulness? To get folds to imagine some possibilities in the material composition of the book itself."

Nicholas: "I think perhaps writers who haven't themselves had experience in book production tend to treat the book as artifact as something they have no control over..."

Neal and Nicholas, I think that is in part because movable books (see previous posts)-- which have been printed by both small and large presses, and have existed for centuries--have been ghettoed in the children's market, whether or not they are for children. There has been a huge amount of creativity in the area--adding a variety of media and forms to covers and pages.

All the best,
Alice
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, November 21, 2003 - 06:27 am:   

Alice, your point is a good one. Children's literature has long been concerned with combining media in the service of storytelling. So has the comic book / graphic novel. Sadly, I think books with pictures, or books which integrate any kind of visual media, tend to be marketed to children, even in the cases of such titles as Moore's V for Vendetta, which is anything but a children's title. Part of this is probably due to a confusion over where else to put these things. But another problem is the common perception that books with pictures are for kids, because books with pictures denote a lower facility with reading. And then there's the already-strong tendency on the part of merchandisers to align sales of genre material with a juvenile audience in the first place. (How many of us have gone into the F/SF section of our local chain bookstore and found the mature books we seek neatly sandwiched between Young Adult immigrant-girl-in-history stories and a rack of X-Men comics and Shadowrun novelizations? The message is straightforward: The Golden Age of Science Fiction and Fantasy is Twelve.)

Another aspect of this can be inferred from Nicholas's claim: in order for genre artists outside comics and graphic novels to begin producing work which values format as an integral part of storytelling, there must be some reasonable expectation that those formal aspects of the story which make meaning will be handled seriously by the publisher. In the case of the Vandermeer projects already mentioned, that expectation was presumably there. But are a few small houses enough to open a new marketing niche and keep it open? Are they enough to give the green light to authors who have something to say, and a relatively rare way to say it? I don't know.

Seems to me there must be an effective way of dealing with this sort of thing. The first step is obvious: actively support those publishers, small press or otherwise, who are doing right by your own sensibilities. Don't just buy their books -- promote them to others, suggest them as gift ideas, perform a little unpaid advertising work. But beyond that? I don't know. Guerilla merchandising? Guerilla marketing?
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Barrie Lynn Bryant
Posted on Sunday, November 23, 2003 - 09:59 pm:   

A brief note about why Merglenn Studios is interstitial. I recently made a frame for another of AB's paintings that I feel could stand alone as a work of art itself. Even though a picture frame is regarded as applied art (i.e. art which is essentially functional, but which is also designed to be aesthetically pleasing) and I made it for a painting, I feel that this particular frame could be viewed as fine art (i.e. architecture, sculpture and painting, as opposed to applied art or decorative art). Those definitions are directly from the Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art Terms.

I also work with a variety of materials including steel, stained glass, gemstones, clay, wood, and gilding materials to produce frames for AB's artwork. And following along with what Charles mentioned, I leave the door open for happy accidents to occur even though I draw out a working plan. Happy accidents usually occur when I make a mistake cutting something and must incorporate the mistake into the finished product so that it doesn't appear as a fault. But I don't view these points as indicators of interstitiality.

The frame that appears as fine art and/or applied art is what makes me interstitial. Furthermore, I feel that the frame fits in both categories rather than not really fitting into one or the other.

That is what I feel about AB's art, also. We exhibit her work one week in the World Horror Convention and the next in the Metaphysical Celebration. Then we ship something off to the National Realism exhibition and then retrieve our exhibition from the Contemporary Art Museum. Clearly these are all different markets that we manage to fit into. It's not that we don't necessarily fit into one or the other. We fit in all of them.

I feel that we are interstitial because we exhibit and sell our work in a variety of markets. Guerilla marketing. Finding one collector at a time. Collectors are everywhere.

Hope I put this in at the right time. You guys really devote quite a little thought to all this.

Yours, Barrie
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Eric Marin
Posted on Thursday, December 04, 2003 - 06:04 pm:   

The creative methods of printed book production discussed here are intriguing, and I'm glad to hear that small presses are pushing the boundaries of book concepts and presentations, but what about "books" that utilize the visual and audio aspects of electronic media like the internet in new and interesting ways?

The e-book market is a nascent one at this point, which permits far more flexibility in presentation possibilities than if it had already become an established process like traditional book-making. One medium that pops into my mind is flash animation.

What do y'all think about the possibilities, interstitial and otherwise?
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 05:32 am:   

Eric --

Interstitially: Text with pictures has possibilities. I think the medieval monks realized that when they illuminated their manuscripts. Not to say the e-book isn't a new thing in the world, especially when we factor in the possibilities of simultaneous readings and comment on the same text through Internet technologies. But I think any claims about its revolutionary or "interstitial" qualities are overblown. Electronic print has yet to storm the palace of the codex, and I think that event is a long way off, if it ever materializes at all. Also, what e-books offer are so far just amalgams of things already extant in other media: printed books, comics, television, recorded music, and so on. As for new and intersting applications, what I've seen so far of (e.g.) "nonlinear" and "interactive" text has been disappointing, neither truly nonlinear nor truly interactive, just connect-the-dots stories for people with short attention spans and a jones for going online.

Otherwise: Never liked the e-book. My first memories of books incorporate the peculiar smell of printer's ink, the portability of the codex form, the hush of the library, the soft breeze of my back yard in summertime. I get none of that with e-books. Just load-time snags, eye-strain, and a thwarted urge to write in the margins. Perhaps that marks me as a crank, but I've gotten similar comments from my eighteen-year-old students when they've been asked to refer to online readings. They generally print them out (or ignore the assignment altogether, in a few cases).

Worst of all, from a political perspective, I think electronic text, far from being the emancipatory move some claim it to be, actually further restricts access to discourse across socioeconomic divisions: even very poor people can often come across a second-hand book, magazine, or newspaper, but in a world in which over seventy percent of humans have never made a telephone call... I'll stop there.

Summing up, I think the possibilities, both interstitial and otherwise, are largely negative.
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Eric Marin
Posted on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 07:44 am:   

Neal,

First of all, thank you for your thoughtful response. I agree with your view of the current iteration of e-books, and I much prefer to read a paper-based novel than an electronic one. I like the feel and portability of a book, but that does not mean that I will not read an electronic one if it is presented in an appealing and useable manner. The technology has simply not risen to that level yet, but I believe it will sometime in the not too distant future. When it does, it could provide excellent opportunities for creative composition and presentation.

As far as internet fictional works, yes, some of them cater to the attention-challenged and reading them can strain eyes and patience. However, some excellent standard fictional works appear only online now, and reading online is becoming an easier and more attractive option than it once was.

I understand your frustration with applications such as hypertext fiction. I took a hypertext fiction class taught by Robert Coover in 1992, and I did not find it a compelling experience. That does not mean that other more intriguing possibilities do not exist for creative expression on the internet.

Your socio-political concern regarding access to electronic works by the economically and technologically deprived is a reasonable one, but libraries are creating access points for the internet that anyone can use for no charge. As electronic arts become more common, libraries will attempt to provide means to experience such works (intellectual property issues aside). One more point on the subject of access: paper-based works are becoming so expensive that I worry that books and related media are also moving out of reach of the majority of humanity.

Electronic fiction and arts are generally not a great option at present, but I see real possibilities as time passes. Still, tastes differ, and perhaps only a few people will have any interest in creating and viewing electronic fiction and related works. Then again, maybe many will. I find it entertaining to think about, and I appreciate your thoughts on the subject.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 11:27 am:   

Eric: "However, some excellent standard fictional works appear only online now, and reading online is becoming an easier and more attractive option than it once was."

Agreed. I regularly access SCIFICTION, though when a story posted there really grips me, I'll print it out. And things like Project Gutenberg and its imitators may one day provide access even to obscure and near-forgotten texts, something which would be a tremendous boon to scholars and those with quirky curiosities. Yes, the comfort factor for online reading is moving forward, though not fast enough for my tastes. And then there's the vacuum left behind by my own nostalgic connections with print, something which electronic media will never duplicate. Books will always be my Petite Madelaines. You're right, though; tastes differ.
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Eric Marin
Posted on Friday, December 05, 2003 - 11:39 am:   

Neal,

I find it a pleasure to acknowledge our differences in taste; it reinforces the wonderful reality that every person has his or her own individual and, to some extent, unique interests. Life would be so dull if everyone agreed on everything.
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Ellen Kushner
Posted on Saturday, January 10, 2004 - 08:02 am:   

In his Jan. 4, 2004 NYTBook Review of Stephen King's latest, WOLVES OF THE CALLA, The Dark Tower Book V, Andrew O'Hehir writes:

"Early in 'Wolves of the Calla,' Roland asks Eddie about 20th century America and its narrative preferences. 'Do people in your world always want only one story-flavor at a time?...Does no one eat stew?' Eddie...replies that some in his world indeed eat stew. But 'when it comes to entertainment,' he continues, 'we _do_ tend to stick with one flavor at a time, and don't let any one thing touch another thing on your plate.'"

Oh, boy! Another perfect metaphor for what we're up against! I particularly love it because it makes the genre-bound (in which I include the literati and other purists in all the art forms) sound like the picky 6-year-olds at the banquet table that they are.

For a lovely image of Interstitial work as "genetically modified products have escaped from the orchard and blown onto that really big field across the road," see Greg Frost's essay on the IA site:
http://www.artistswithoutborders.org/what/whats_inthe_wind.html
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 09:02 am:   

Ellen, I wonder if you could give an example or two of these genre-bound literati/purists. Is there something out there I could read which might give these chimerae some substance for me? I ask because I hear them mentioned quite a bit, but I've never actually met one or corresponded with one. Most of the picky readers I know don't seem so much to mind a little bleed-across in their genre reading, though they might get a bit ruffled if bleed-across is the main point of the piece, and the writer sacrifices story-telling and other aspects of writerly craftsmanship for smarty-pants avant-gardism.
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Pat O'Connor
Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 06:05 pm:   

To that, Neal --does anybody remember what Sven Birkerts was reviewing in the Sunday Times Book Review that got us all so angry at him this summer? It was a textbook case of genre-bashing: "Dear reader, you think that genre X is subliterary, and that therefore Book Y must be a bad book. Well, genre X is indeed subliterary; however, I'm happy to report that Book Y, which looks as though it belongs to genre X, doesn't really belong to that genre at all, because it's [hushed awe] Well Written."

I can't remember the book or the genre, but I remember it was Sven Birkerts, who is pretty high up there on the pecking order, although I myself think that he is like Captain Hook in the new Peter Pan movie: "Old! Alone! Done For!!"

As for people within a genre community who want the uniformity of the genre patrolled, I read a 1995 essay by Jonathan Lethem claiming that the science fiction community circled the wagons in the late '70s (he wasn't sure whether the cause was the success of the Star Wars movies, or some kind of malaise in the zeitgeist); but I admit I only eavesdrop on science fiction. Isn't there a general sense in SF that the people who write and read "hard" SF consider themselves the only authentic SF community?
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 06:34 pm:   

Pat, yes, I remember the review. I even responded with some few degrees of excess heat to Birkerts's comments. And I'm sure there are others like him, not only among less-talented book reviewers, but also in the defensive trenches of the genre ghettoes (the Hard SF rear-guard you mentioned, for example). Nevertheless, I just can't get terribly exercised over what I can only perceive as a clownish minority. As I said, I've never met any of these dolts face-to-face, nor corresponded with any, and I know and correspond with a wide variety of genre readers. Almost everyone I know who reads genre, does so for the same reason: they're looking for an interesting story, and contemporary realism doesn't always provide that.

My reason for asking for specifics wasn't necessarily to begin a roll-call of stray dweebs and arch naysayers, but rather to call attention to the problems we face when we think of these people as (to use Ellen's words) "what we're up against." I don't think they are "what we're up against." In fact, I think they're marginal, and they marginalize themselves further each time they open their mouths. They certainly don't seem to represent the majority of genre buyers and readers.

I think what interstitiality is "up against" is that when it looks in the mirror, there's nothing looking back.
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Trent
Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 06:56 pm:   

Neal,

I've met some. Some told a creative writing friend not to show his genre work if he wanted to get into an MFA program. Check out various issues of the Ansible (Langford seems to collect them):

http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/SF-Archives/Ansible/

Some of the better SF writers get asked to repent of their SF ways: Goldstein, Shaara. Donald Barthelme wrote genre under an unknown pseudonym until he sold to the New Yorker. The list is rather long. These days I hear they dispense with threats of torture and go straight to brain-washing: "I want to kill everyone, the devil is my friend, the devil is my pal." [from THE BURBS]
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Spooky Jones
Posted on Tuesday, January 13, 2004 - 11:02 pm:   

I think Neal's point was this: what do these people have to do with anything?

There's a difference, for example, between Person X telling Person Y not to use genre work in an MFA portfolio and Person Y actually being rejected from that MFA program because of using genre work.

There's a difference between Birkerts little rant in the review of Atwood's latest, and that rant actually affecting the sales of any SF other than Atwood's. Ditto the occasional (or even frequent) critic saying something like "This isn't sci-fi, it's too good."

If one is "up against" something or someone, that that thing or person actually has to present a real obstacle. Neal believes this group to be marginal clowns and is asking for evidence that they are not.

There are real obstacles out there, but those have much more to do with the production and distribution processes of literary and genre titles, and how frequently they are reviewed. A snarky full-page review in the Times will certainly sell more books than no Times review at all, so why pillory Birkerts when you can pillory the editors that reduce science fiction to a monthly column?
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Trent
Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 - 03:39 am:   

Spooky,

I'm not sure what you mean by "why pillory Birkerts when you can pillory the editors that reduce science fiction to a monthly column?"

One cannot prove the pervasiveness of the attitude one way or another. None of us has polled through Gallup to ask the "literati" (whoever they may be) what they really think of genre. We would undoubtedly find at least a few fans among them. What we do know is that the attitude is out there and that it pops up frequently enough that the term "science fiction" has gathered a new definition that is quite the opposite of how the genre views it. We do know that genre, when nominated for a major literary award in the U.S., tends to be for children's literature.

Neal is quite a smart feller, who thinks that SF needs no justification, if I am stating his position correctly. I enjoy reading his posts. But since the aim of Interstitiality is well-meaning in its intent to prove there's no difference between genre and "literary" and is still in its infancy, I propose we let it mature if it may. A sizable portion of genre is dubious of its theoretical nature--as yet--so I don't think it's necessary to beat the horse.

I suppose another unspoken fear is that Interstitiality creates another set of royal "literati" to look down on the other little genre folk--that less speculation is better. But that attitude would undermine the Interstitials, anyway, by having any speculation at all.

In order to build muscle or bone, it takes a little wear or pressure, so I see the need for both supporters and detractors of Interstitiality if it wants to grow. Too much of one or the other will create flab or emaciation.
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AliceB
Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2004 - 06:49 am:   

I'd like to add another perspective as to "what we're up against": the perspective of writers trying to sell their work. What I have been hearing from editors--at least in large houses--has been "I may love the story but I have to get it through the marketing people." And the marketing people thrive on pegging works in categories they can sell. If a work straddles categories--say realistic fiction with intersperced fairy tales--an editor might want to buy it, but the marketing people with say: "well it has fairy tales, so it's got to be marketed as fantasy. But the bulk of the book is contemporary fiction, and readers of fantasy don't like contemporary fiction, so the already smaller market for fantasy which is X, will be further reduced by the fact that it's really a contemporary fiction book. So that brings down the market by Y percent. Crunch some numbers. Voila. No point buying this story."

The result has been that at conferences and in meetings, I hear regularly from editors and agents that writers should pick a genre and stick to it if they want to sell their work. Big names can straddle genres, but younger writers shouldn't.

Now I've heard all the talk about apprenticeship in a field, and working on stuff you don't like so much so that you can learn your craft, and you've got to start small and build. All of this is true. But the way categories are set up (we've been calling them genres, but I think it's just another word for category), it can be mighty stiffling for some.

My two cents.

Alice
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 04:43 am:   

Well, writing something just because you think you can sell it sounds like a pretty silly thing to do. After all, if a person wants to make money, they can do so very easily in some other field (become a Dr., Lawyer etc.). So, if you are going to bother to write at all, you might as well write what you want to write. As for publishers: many of them are simply behind the times. . . . It is better to set the trend and let the publishers follow it than follow the trend that they are already following.
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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 07:44 am:   

That's a noble thought, Brendan, but it doesn't pay bills. :-) The problem is that the bean counters often make the decisions, and they are loathe to risk something new--that according to their calculations based on their categories might lose money--on someone who isn't a Big Name and therefore already has a market based on name recognition.

I don't advocate writing what you don't believe in, but don't expect to sell quickly if it can't be pegged.

Alice
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 08:42 am:   

Well, all the stuff I have written to try and 'sell' has always ended up selling poorly, while the things I have written because I have wanted to (usually thinking that no one would be interested), have usually been received decently. So, I am not sure that I go for the 'pay the bills' thing. The majority of the people who are paying the bills with their writing are writing what they want to write--or so I believe. . . . And as I said before, if money is a person's concern, then they shouldn't look to writing to make it--because it rarely does.
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des
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 08:52 am:   

I don't yet fully understand what 'Interstitial' is meant to mean or what it is meant to make happen. Proust's interstitial concept of discrete 'selves' (and Pessoa's heteronyms?) (together with, in a tiny way, my own recent tentative concept of Nemonymity) seems to be the essence of the meaning behind the label Interstitiality as I understand it to have been defined.
But Interstitiality can so easily become just another label or intra-label -- and labels generally are used to further careers within a name culture rather than furthering distinctive discrete art creations in themselves, and judged in and for themselves without labels. (Much as Brendan is advocating, above, I think an art for art's sake approach).
I'm genuinely interested in Interstitiality. And I'm still confused about it. (I love the word Interstitiality itself, but too much of a concertina phoneme-cluster to be meaningful in the mouths of babes and sucklings).
df lewis



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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 09:02 am:   

I agree. If I write to sell, it sounds, well, like I'm writing to sell.

But I don't think my point is off. We've talked a lot about what editors will buy, and what readers will read, and what critiquers (sp?) have to say, but the people who often make the decisions about what is going to get published haven't been discussed: the marketing people. In some places they rule. And they're not interested in new and interesting developments in literature unless sales are involved.

I've often wondered why, at various conferences I've been to, they've never sat on the podium, and have only been talked about with somewhat hushed tones by authors and editors. If bringing something that doesn't fit categories into the world requires their help, why not get it?

Alice
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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 09:16 am:   

Des -- seems we cross posted.

I think art for arts sake is wonderful. And I'm not being sarcastic. I also agree with you that labelling things as "interstitial" just creates another category. I guess I'm more interested in getting rid of as many labels as possible, so that the categories can be as broad as possible. (And, as an aside, I guess what's "interstitial" to me is what doesn't fit any one category, as they are currently defined, comfortably.)

But we live in a world ruled by the market. And unless we get marketing people on board, how are we going to tear away the labels?

Some of the magazines are doing this. But (please correct me if I'm wrong) I think the marketing people have less sway about individual stories, because one story will not sell the entire magazine, and so there's more room to experiment. Longer fiction is more difficult--because, under the rules of engagement, the book has to pay for itself, mostly.

Which brings me back to my main point. Why don't we try to bring the marketing people on board?

Alice
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des
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 10:08 am:   

But a crucial question for me. What are we in 'art' for but to produce the best 'art' we as individuals can produce. Marketing merely blurs the simplicity of that statement. Do you really want marketing people as part of an 'art' movement? Or is not Interstitiality an 'art' movement? Or is it, as I asked before, the blatant means to further careers within a name culture? Or something else? Still confused. des
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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 10:36 am:   

Heck, des, I don't know. I'm not a member of the IAF. I write cuz I have to. I am financially secure enough (cf. Brendan's other means of support) not to live and die based on sales. But I am very frustrated by a market that is blindered by categories.

I can sell within genre. But some of my best stuff doesn't quite fit there. Some of my favorite stuff to read doesn't fit there. My background is as a litigator (very long story) and so when I see something blocking the way of art getting out there, I say, let's go after it and knock it down. Does that mean getting down and dirty and messing with sales issues. Well, yeah. But it also means having a set of principles to work with.

Is it an "art" movement? Don't know. Is it a blatant means to further careers within a name culture? I hope not. But I do hope, that maybe with enough artistic discussion, critique, theory, and yes, real guerilla tactics, we can get more good art out there. (I'll stop here before I start a screed on drek within genres.)

All the best,
Alice
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Brendan
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 10:51 am:   

Well, any real 'movement' has to be something that grows naturally out of a historical time, place and condition. The Futurists of course made their own movement, but unfortunately it had a lot more hot air (manifestos) than great work - though it did produce some. . . .

As for marketing, well . . . Truth be told the audience is what determines this. And the best way to have an audience is to create something powerful. So if 'interstitiality' or whatever is going to have an audience there really needs to be first and foremost a great work that just screams 'I am Interstitial!' . . . Does one exist? I have not heard anything mentioned. The Naturalists had the Rouge Macquart, the Romantics The Human Comedy, Modernists Ulysses etc. . . . In my (probably inflated) opinion, those are the kinds of things that break down bariers - not marketing or open minded publishers.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 02:04 pm:   

Brendan: "Well, all the stuff I have written to try and 'sell' has always ended up selling poorly, while the things I have written because I have wanted to (usually thinking that no one would be interested), have usually been received decently."

Seems to me the lesson here isn't so much "Don't write to sell," but rather "Don't second-guess the market or the editors." If someone isn't writing to sell, then he or she is a hobbyist, not a professional. On the other hand, presuming to outfox the market and serve something into a well-worn market niche might well leave you holding several hundred pages of worn-out cliche.
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des
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 02:16 pm:   

Neil: If someone isn't writing to sell, then he or she is a hobbyist, not a professional.
************
Maybe, and it's an interesting thought.
I guess I'm a hobbyist.
des
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AliceB
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 05:00 pm:   

Gosh, I hadn't thought about it that way. I guess I should set up a booth between the macrame and the flower arrangements at our town's next Strawberry Festival. I can see the sign now: "Anyone can write. Just a few easy steps. Basic supplies provided." Who knows, I might even win a blue ribbon.
:-)

Alice
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Dan L-K
Posted on Thursday, January 15, 2004 - 05:45 pm:   

The counterpart to "professional" is not "hobbyist" (a vaguely - and unnecessarily - degrading word) but amateur.
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 12:11 am:   

Well, then I imagine many of the greatest writers were 'hobbyists': Joyce, Gourmont etc.

No, I am not a 'hobbyist'. And niether is Des. Someone who has written over 1,000 stories is not a 'hobbyist'.

Also, amateur is not correct. That means you do it for the love of it.

There are other reasons people write: not for the love of it, or for money, or as a hobby.
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Dan L-K
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 04:55 am:   

There are other reasons people write: not for the love of it, or for money, or as a hobby.

I'm certain that that must be true, but damned if I can think of what one of those reasons might be.

I'm going to speculate, though, that "amateur" applies to 99% of non-professional fiction writers - though I'll concede this may require a certain broadness in defining "love."
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 06:57 am:   

Well, the problem with the word amateur is that to use it means that there really is a 'profession' called writing. But writing is really not a profession, in the sense that being a doctor or a lawyer is. It is closer to janitorial work, or cooking. . . . I simply think that the 'professional' fiction writer is something of a myth.
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Neal Stanifer
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 07:20 am:   

Dan: "The counterpart to "professional" is not "hobbyist" (a vaguely - and unnecessarily - degrading word) but amateur."

I'm an amateur. I've made not one single solitary professional sale of my fiction. And yet, most of what I write goes through a process of critique and revision and re-revision in the hope that it will one day be purchased (or will at least help me to hone my craft).

I am also, in some ways, a hobbyist. Some of my writings (mostly non-fictional) are in no wise intended for professional sale, now or ever.

Amateur athletes often strive for professional status; they just haven't earned it yet. Hobbyists shoot hoops on the weekend to kill time and have a little fun.

As for the myth of the professional fiction writer, just because making a profession of writing is hit-or-miss and highly contingent does not mean it is mythical. And to anticipate a common charge, neither does professionalism reduce one to the level of hack. The market is part of what we do, whether or not we choose to acknowledge it, and while attempting to second-guess an editor may be folly, awareness of the market is inevitable.

I welcome the day when we finally break with the Romantic myth of the genius artist, inspired by the muse and answerable to no material or contingent force. If you're looking for mythology, start there.
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des
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 07:23 am:   

HP Lovecraft was a prime example of a 'gentleman writer' of 'amateur' leanings, I guess.

But what is Interstitialism? It still seems to me to be a professional type 'club' for those wanting a new label to further themselves in the name culture.
des
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 08:31 am:   

Well, my idea of a profession is one that is actually open. For instance, even a bad lawyer or doctor can usually find work. A bad fiction writer? Hell, not even most good fiction writer's make a living at it. How can it possibly be called a profession? That does not mean that I think the Romantic myth of genius is necessarily any better. . . .
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des
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 08:37 am:   

Who knows where art comes from? I don't think you can exlude slavish professionalism to one's market *or* dependency on some imputed muse. Possibly somewhere between.
des
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Spooky Jones
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 11:19 am:   

Lovecraft was pretty clear on the distinction between the material he placed in amateur collections and the stuff he managed to sell.

"Professional" is one of those words very prone to a Wittgensteinian "private language." Doctors and lawyers are open if one has the money to attend their schools, are accepted into their professional guilds and receive licensing by the state. Writing is far more open than that! Anyone with access to a typewriter and a few stamps can be a writer.

Even if only one writer made a living from it, that would qualify it as a profession if you define it as "an endeavor ones draws one's living from." If you define it, as I belive most people do, as "an endeavor one draws income from" then clearly a few sales a year as a sideline would suffice.

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AliceB
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 11:29 am:   

Brendan wrote: "So if 'interstitiality' or whatever is going to have an audience there really needs to be first and foremost a great work that just screams 'I am Interstitial!' . . . Does one exist?"

How about the works of Angela Carter?
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des
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 11:31 am:   

Forgive me if I'm wrong - because I'm not an expert on HPL and his life and unknowable intentionality etc. - being just someone who likes reading his work --- but I imagine he simply had a passion for amateur journalism and amateur verse, and was pleasantly surprised when he made money from his stories and story collaborations.
des
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des
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 12:00 pm:   

Angela Carter ... and Peter Ackroyd.
des
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Brendan
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 12:17 pm:   

Alice: Well, I dont think Angela Carter can qualify, because she is unfortunately no longer here. You cannot have the head of a movement be someone who died ten or eleven or twelve years before the movement began. It has to be something in the more or less present time.
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Spooky Jones
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 12:42 pm:   

In many of his letters HPL noted that some of his stories and essays were designed for amateur publication and some simply ended up there after being turned down by Weird Tales and other pulps. The work was certainly split in his mind and in his discussions with his many correspondents.

Our hosts offer a book of his letters to Wandrei where this topic comes up several times: Mysteries of Time And Space.
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des
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 12:59 pm:   

Yes, I've read many of HPL's letters. But, like all primary sources, pretty undependable. des
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Pat O'Connor
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 03:08 pm:   

To Brendan: The heads of the movement are currently the people most responsible for the contents of the web page, which would be Delia Sherman, Ellen Kushner, Terri Windling, Dora Goss, and a few more, and (insofar as he has enough institutional clout to create an "institute," and organize a conference at his home base at SUNY New Paltz, both with the word "interstitial" in their titles) Heinz Insu Fenkl. Another institutional toe-hold might be represented by Kelly Link, who with her husband Gavin Grant runs Small Beer Press, but who is also a writer who straddles the genre community, the experimental writing community, and the on-line zine readership community. But she is hardly a househould name yet either.

Insofar as none of them are names big enough to conjure with, I sort of prefer the idea that we pick a Dead Heroine like Angela Carter for the "elevator speech" aspect of describing interstitial arts.

I guess the best reason not to pick a dead person for such elevator speeches would be to get that live person into the elevator and convince her or him to be part of the movement in an active way, browbeating those pesky marketing people with her/his sales-driven charisma, etc.

If anyone is in the mood to do so, I say, write a letter to Anne Carson, prominent poet and Classics professor who sometimes writes novels in verse and who sometimes pretends to be writing commentaries on Keats when she is really describing her cheatin' ex-husband and who likes all the oddball Great Writers of literature that I like, if I've heard of them but often I haven't because she is so much smarter than I am. And she is from Canada, which is where all the great singer-songwriters come from, even the ones who don't know who Simonides of Ceos and Roland Barthes are.

Or maybe we could write a letter to Jonathan Lethem, who might win the National Book Award in spite of the fact that his moving retelling of a white Brooklynite's childhood in a black neighborhood in the '70s includes the finding of a magic ring that gives him and his friend invisibility powers. (I haven't read The Fortress of Solitude yet, but I'm catching up on his earlier novels, which I definitely like for their uncomfortable straddling of genre tropes.) But I'm not sure Lethem can browbeat marketing departments yet either; maybe he can sneak into their offices under cloak of invisibility, though.

So definitely, either Angela Carter or Simonides of Ceos.
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AliceB
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 07:46 pm:   

How are Simonides' sales?
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 08:48 pm:   

How about Little, Big? Which is not to agree with the proposition that we need one great work of literature to exemplify interstitiality. To me, interstitial simply means work that falls into the gap between current categories, whether used by critics or by marketing departments. The IAF is not a movement. It's not trying to say that interstitial work is more interesting or more important than work we can categorize more easily. It's simply trying to draw attention to work that falls into that gap, particularly when it has a difficult time finding an audience. I'm not sure singling out one "great work" accomplishes that.

Delia Sherman chose Angela Carter as the first featured author on the website, I think because most people have a pretty good idea of how and why her work is interstitial. But she's very much just a start. I think the organization will be worthwhile to the extent that it draws attention to people who are not already well known. It's funny, I think I hear people wanting the IAF to be a movement, or to start a movement, and I'm not sure what that movement would be about. To me, and I'm not speaking for anyone else involved with the IAF here, the organization's goals are significantly more modest. They really are about bringing attention to interesting art that isn't finding its audience. Hence all the reading lists . . .
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Theodora Goss
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 08:50 pm:   

P.S. Pat, what do you recommend by Anne Carson?
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GabrielM
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2004 - 09:56 pm:   

How does LITTLE BIG fall into the gap between categories? It's one of my favorite books but it seems to me to be rather clearly located in the fantasy genre.
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Brendan
Posted on Saturday, January 17, 2004 - 12:15 am:   

Well, if something simply needs to fall between the gap to be interstitial, then, from one view or another, about half the literature out there is. . . . But my point was, that if interstitial were to be something more than just a vague label that one can attach to whatever one wishes, then someone (and I don't mean someone already well known) needs to make a work of art that is extremely striking and purposefully place it under the heading of 'interstitial'. Picking people who don't know anything about interstitial and covering them with its blanket seems too much like rummaging in the attic.
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des
Posted on Saturday, January 17, 2004 - 12:59 am:   

I agree with Brendan -- and maybe go further. All art falls between the gaps left by something else.

Indeed, haven't we been heading into a genreless arena with literature, anyway? Or are we talking *pure* Western, Romance, Space Opera etc? Are we spending our time, with Interstitiality, in examining such purities?


des
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Pat O'Connor
Posted on Saturday, January 17, 2004 - 08:51 pm:   

Hi, Dora. I put some Anne Carson books on the website's reading lists. The novel-in-verse about a young gay kid growing up in Canada (who is also the red mythological winged monster Geryon) and who gets his heart broken by an older boy named Herakles, and as a young adult Geryon meets Herakles again in Buenos Aires, is called Autobiography in Red. I'd read that one first.

The one that pretends to be commentaries about Keats but are really poems about the unhappy relationship she had with her husband is called The Beauty of the Husband (she never says it explicitly, but I gather the reason that he never has to tell her the truth is because of what the Grecian Urn says).

The one that reads like an essay is called Eros the Bittersweet and is mostly putting Sappho, Plato's Symposium, and Barthes's The Pleasure of the Text up against each other. She loves edges, like the edge between bitter and sweet.

I'm currently sneaking time from doing my homework and reading Glass, Irony, and God, which is much earlier and I didn't think I would like it because of the title, my not being a fan of God, but the long poem in which she returns home to her aging mother's house in Canada in order to get over a broken heart, while she is rereading the life of Emily Bronte, is mighty good too.

I forget the title of the most recent mostly-essay, except that it was mostly about German poets I haven't read (Celan, I think), and Simonides of Ceos.

[Another candidate for interstitiality in the not-quite-essay, not-quite-autobiography mode: W.G.Sebald. ]

Actually, my current homework is reading the Argentine feminist multi-genre writer Angelica Gorodsicher (Gorodischer doesn't straddle genres much, she picks one at the start of each book and plays by those rules until the end; true, when she does science fiction, it's very soft) with relation to the writings of Ursula Le Guin. It is pretty amazing to hear the similarities between our IAF-talk and the stuff that Le Guin has been saying in her non-fiction essay collections for over thirty years. Here's what she says in 1989 as an introduction to the book reviews section of Dancing at the Edge fo the World:

"As I went through my manuscripts in preparing this volume, I was surprised at what a very odd lot of books i was asked, and agreed, to review. I suppose it is because I am myself a genre-buster that I get invited to discuss books that don't fit neatly into the pigeonholes; certainly these are often the books I can best appreciate."

The novels are by: Doris Lessing, John Gardner, Calvino, Mervyn Peake, and Carolyn See. So there's another reading list we could start up (although she is quite angry at Doris Lessing's science fiction, for its Puritan ethical content and rigorous humorlessness). The first paragraph of her 1981 essay about Mervyn Peake begins thus:

"Classification, the distinguishing of styles and relationships, is essential to literary criticism, but some writers are members of a class that contains no other member. Such troublemakers, who won't quite fit in anywhere, tend to get left out of the textbooks and ignored in the discussions. Critical neglect may be overcompensated by uncritical praise by reader-devotees, which gives the critics ground to gibe at the "cultists," whose praise then grows shriller. The major fantasists are all mavericks, and all of them, including Carroll and Tolkien, have traveled at least part of this descending gyre of neglect-defense-contempt-adulation. So have such great unclassifiable novels as Finnegans Wake and Kim. Though American Lit people ought to be used to mavericks, they don't seem to be able to lay a rope on Austin Tappan Wright. An illustrious name in the egregious non-company of those who don't belong is that of Mervyn Peake.... "

So Ursula said it first, at least to a certain extent: some writers fall through the cracks; as a mode (though maybe not as a marketing category) fantasy is more likely than other modes to trouble classificatory systems. And (maybe because she has Mervyn Peake in mind) she connects this all up to being a loner, a "maverick," someone who is inclined to make up his or her own world rather than write in a style with a pre-existing accumulated social prestige.

But of course the world is very different now in 2004 than it was in 1981 on this topic.

Right.

Some things don't change too much. As Anne Carson says at the very beginning of Autobiography of Red about Stesichoros, one of the sources of the Twelve Labors of Hercules who alludes to the monster Geryon, "He came after Homer and before Gertrude Stein, a difficult interval for a poet."
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AliceB
Posted on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 - 05:54 pm:   

Des-- A while back you suggested Peter Ackroyd as an exemplar of someone producing interstitial work. I am curious why you suggested him. (I have to confess, though, that I have not read his work, although ALBION is on my to read list.)

All the best,
Alice

P.S. I did thumb through his Biography of London in a bookstore last week, mysteriously shelved with in "European History" rather than in the separate section on "British History."... Maybe I've answered my question?
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GabrielM
Posted on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 - 09:56 pm:   

Ackroyd also writes fiction.
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des
Posted on Tuesday, January 27, 2004 - 10:49 pm:   

Ackroyd to my mind is essentially Interstitial as I understand the term. His novels are well within the gaps, but not across them.
And his London book is not a history but a biography of London. And biography is indeed the right word for it!
des
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AliceB
Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - 07:44 am:   

Gabriel and Des -- Thank you for your responses. Apparently book stores here in Connecticut and down in Pennsylvania (where I was a week ago) list him only as a historian. Time to check Amazon... Or maybe I should insist my local bookstore order a novel or two... that might help more.

Alice
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GabrielM
Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - 09:04 am:   

I'd recommend above all reading HAWKSMOOR. Also HOUSE OF DOCTOR DEE and ENGLISH MUSIC. Actually, most anything of Ackroyd's is worth reading, although I might stay away from THE PLATO PAPERS and MILTON IN AMERICA. Unfortunately, since these are the ones most recently issued they're the ones most likely to come up.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - 09:19 am:   

I'd add DICKENS and DAN LENO AND THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM (as well as LONDON, HAWKSMOOR and DR DEE) -- and all his book reviews in the UK press!
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AliceB
Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - 09:47 am:   

Thank you for all the recommendations! My budget may end up limiting me to the local library.

Alice

P.S. When I pulled up HAWKSMOOR on Amazon, it was only listed as available in audiobook or in translation...????
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GabrielM
Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - 10:39 am:   

FYI, DAN LENO AND THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM was originally released in the US under the title THE TRIAL OF ELIZABETH CREE. Excellent Victorian thriller. And Ackroyd's reviews are collected in a book called, appropriately enough, THE COLLECTION.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2004 - 10:45 am:   

And his excellent reviews of course still occur every week in the papers, so the COLLECTION will not be complete!

des

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