We are taking a break from Luna Digest for the holiday, but I couldn’t help at least mentioning this:
I’ve been stumbling across some great excerpts recently from David Shields‘s upcoming book Reality Hunger: A Manifesto (a book previously mentioned/excerpted already on this blog by Shields himself, “David Shields: Reality Hunger“). For example, yesterday I picked up a copy of the most recent A Public Space at Borders and found a thrilling excerpt about fiction and truthfulness from Reality Hunger. Then, this morning, I received a review copy of PEN America and inside is yet another excerpt from Shields’s book, this time a section about mimesis: “The origin of the novel lies in its pretense of actuality.”
Much intrigued, I popped Shields’s name into Google in the hopes of finding an excerpt for this post and also to get more information in general. I found more than seven other excerpts from the book in magazines—such as this very early one in the March 2006 issue of The Believer:
The world exists. Why recreate it? I want to think about it, try to understand it. What I am is a wisdom junkie, knowing all along that wisdom is, in many ways, junk. I want a literature built entirely out of contemplation and revelation. Who cares about anything else? Not me.
And I must say, the excerpts have worked. I’m hooked. Persuaded. What’s more, the excerpts are not even written by Shields, not directly; they were constructed by him from the world at large. The pieces are co-opted. They are reterritorialized. Shields writes about his process in PEN America:
I’m trying to regain a freedom that writers from Montaigne to Burroughs had but that we have lost. The uncertainty about whose words you are reading is not a bug, but a feature. Who owns the words? Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do. All of us. Reality cannot be copyrighted.
An exhortation to attend the sublime pleasures of truth and “truth,” and the suspicious and clandestine meetings of fact and “fact.” Why is this man always writing the most interesting books? I think he is not from our country.