The Unknown: The Orange Line.

Date: Wednesday, 25 Nov 1998, 13:33:32
From: William Gillespie
Organization: Spineless Books
To: Scott Rettberg, Frank Marquardt, Dirk Stratton
Subject: Re: Okay let’s talk aesthetics

Frank, the only thing that you wrote that I can get a handle on is the issue of control. You can ask for what you want. Scott’s “control” of the project is, to me, the work he’s done. And if he didn’t do it, nobody would have. Whenever I question his decisions, I remind myself that at least he’s making decisions and acting on them, in which light my being able to question those decisions is a pretty luxurious position.

You’re in a weird situation because you are working on the hypertext but don’t hang out with us. The three of us hang out together, me and Scott and Dirk, that’s how we got started doing this. We like writing together, and we like the conversations that it makes us have. We read each other’s stuff and we rip it apart and we get in fights and then we forgive each other. We meet each other’s friends and sleep on each other’s couches and drink each other’s beer. So, because you have confessed to having mixed feelings, in your case, I don’t know what the positive feelings are.

Because you called one of my pages “drivil” (sic) I am kind of stalled as far as writing more stuff. If you’ve ever liked a page I don’t know what it was. In other words, you have some idea of what you want the Unknown to be that you aren’t telling me so I can’t write it. I can chase myself around in my own head wielding the word “drivil” and, through elaborate internal dialectics that last for hours, try to figure out what you want me to write. But I’m not going to go through that kind of trouble to let you off the hook of being the critic your degree says you are. I’m not hurt by your insult, but I could have been. It is drivil, I copied it off the program notes of the Arditti String Quartet’s concert here last Friday. Writing about music, like writing about art, is prone toward drivilish tendencies. I think drivil is hilarious. I love the writing on the backs of wine bottles that explains what the wine tastes like.

I wrote it because I think more writing styles enrich the experience of reading through an endless hypertext, and I think it’s too late to strive for consistency of style or voice or plot or character or anything except consistency of dissonance and discontinuity. And because The Unknown reminds me of Beethoven’s “Grosse Fugue.” You guys should hear it. And because I liked the phrase “700 bars of rhythmic violence and almost ruthless density of thought” so much that I wanted to make it our own.

So why is drivil bad? The hypertext is probably full of it, whatever it is, since I think we’ve only erased one page since the day we started. Tell me what to write.

Scott, good response. Put it in, put it all in. But don’t put in our critique of Dirk’s poem until he says so. I think he should write a critique of my critique.

Happy Thanksgiving Eve,




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