Bühne des Lebens, Rhetorik des Gefühls

In the recent issue of frieze magazine there is an interesting shot in the direction of an entity named fictitious interview—though in this case, and unfortunately so, not of the still very new variety of the double-fictitious interview (as seen HERE!!), but nevertheless.
And of course, not only the form is interesting but also the content. Is there a principle lurking: Get the fictitious (if there are other) form right, and (for various reasons) ass, brain, and content will follow?

A country road, a tree. Evening.
Dan Fox (1976– ), sitting on a low mound, is trying to take his boot off. He pulls at it with both hands, panting.
He gives up, exhausted, rests, tries again.
As before.
Enter B.S. Johnson, novelist (1933–1973).

[This introduction wants no frieze-reader to get lost; ed.]

Dan Fox: I could talk about Walter Benjamin. I notice some critics have brought up Bertolt Brecht, or the history of photojournalism but why step in other writers’ footprints? Something tells me it would be easier for me to articulate my thoughts about Gerard Byrne’s work with the help of a literary conceit, some clever device that in its very form might directly, or indirectly, serve to highlight just what it is that makes Byrne’s work interesting. I hope you don’t mind if I run a few things by you?

[The last two sentences are overly explicit – they scream “STAGED”, and thereby unstage things, in a way. Not good.]


DF: […] You have, or rather had – I’m not quite sure what the correct etiquette is for tenses in these situations – a problem with fiction. Your profound conviction was that mid-20th-century literature was backwards. You saw yourself as carrying the torch for James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, arguing that any attempt to follow the narrative forms established by the 19th century novel, after landmark works such as Ulysses (1922), was …

BSJ: ‘… anachronistic, invalid, irrelevant and perverse.’1

[Here, and in the following I kind of like the use of footnotes. It counterbalances the fictitiousness of things, somehow.]


BSJ: […]


DF: […] An unevenness in the delivery of the lines – some are spoken with a confident, conversational tone, others sound flat, as if read straight off the page – flags up a sense of drama rather than documentary, an uneasiness to the translation, emphasizing the abrasive juxtaposition of multiple historical moments.
In all Byrne’s films, we’re very aware of watching actors at work; what the artist has described as ‘the texture of acting’5, a level of delivery that is neither highly polished nor amateur, but like the theatre of Brecht, emphasizes in its inconsistencies ‘acting as a type of representation’6; like the novel as a type of representation not just an act of fabulism.



DF: Oh sorry, was I going on?

BSJ: I’m trying to say something not tell a story telling stories is telling lies and I want to tell the truth about me about my experience about my truth …9 Look there were millions of people, thousands of peoples, hundreds of countries, all of them going in every direction and performing every kind of significant and insignificant act. How could anyone impose order on that multitudinous discontinuity? History must surely be lying, of one kind or another, no more true than what used to be called fiction? How can any one mind comprehend it? And would there be any point if it could?10



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