Enjoyed reading this essay on how the technique of using footnotes in fiction has evolved over the years. Another example is Book: A Novel by Robert Grudin, a work of pure metafiction in which the footnotes try for a while to dominate and take over the main narrative.
“In fact, what all of these works show—from Nabokov and Wallace to Danielewski and Boully—is that experimentation quickly stops being experimental when it works well, and gives way to progression … Footnotes, once the hallmark of pedantry and pretension, have now entered the realm of craft. More than a trick, footnotes can be technique. We’ve seen how they can be used to comment on a narrative or to create a new one, to overlap separate narratives, to evoke character in new ways, and to dig into difficult parts of who we are. Footnotes, in other words, no longer merely support a story; now, they can be the story.”
Jonathan Russell Clark, ON THE FINE ART OF THE FOOTNOTE
Metapoems are almost as alluring as metafiction. Perhaps even more, considering that poetry is said to be the purest of all art-forms.
“I think you exist only
To tease me into doing it, on your level, and then you aren’t there
Or have adopted a different attitude. And the poem
Has set me softly down beside you. The poem is you.”
John Ashbery, Paradoxes and Oxymorons
“I think of the postmodern attitude as that of a man who loves a very cultivated woman and knows that he cannot say to her “I love you madly”, because he knows that she knows (and that she knows he knows) that these words have already been written by Barbara Cartland. Still there is a solution. He can say “As Barbara Cartland would put it, I love you madly”. At this point, having avoided false innocence, having said clearly it is no longer possible to talk innocently, he will nevertheless say what he wanted to say to the woman: that he loves her in an age of lost innocence.”
― Umberto Eco
Professor Eco does have a point. But but but… (rhetorical question) would a cultivated woman ever read them, those candy pink paperbacks?
“Depression is the illness of post-postmodernism“, says Professor Patricia Waugh. A quote which suits the characters in the genre, and sometimes their writers as well…
I really enjoyed listening to this lecture.
Though these are films on two very different themes, the film Island City reminded me more than once of Party, Govind Nihalani’s brilliant adaptation of Mahesh Elkunchwar’s play which explores the role of the writer as artist and activist in a shallow, self-serving society. Both films constantly make the viewer pause to think and reflect on the questions raised by the premise.
Island City is a thought-provoking exploration of urban loneliness, conveyed through three loosely interconnected stories. The corporate employee in an Orwellian setup who is desensitised to obey any instruction unquestioningly, the suppressed housewife who chooses the lead character in a schmaltzy television soap over the tyrannical man of the house, and the blue collar worker who finds love in an unexpected place which proceeds to render her life bleaker than before, come from very different backgrounds, but their lives are equally affected by the impersonal hollowness of life in a city. Though the stories are set in Mumbai, these are universal tales of present times which could have played out in any city in the world. The boundaries between fiction and reality, as well as technology and human emotions, blur and eventually dissolve at the end of each story, leaving the viewers with a paradox: despite the images of absurdism and black humour, the film comes across as more real than surreal, reemphasising that we now live in a post-postmodern world.