So I see that I had the chronology on Bellow a little wrong. And I also see that his first success was Herzog, which I just started, and I have to say that novel's success could only happen in the sixties. I'm also amazed that Dangling Man ever got published. It's a ponderous account of a man waiting for his assignment with the army to go through written in the form of a journal (a kind of proto-blog fiction).
They're both quite brilliant. And quite ponderous. I just can't imagine a man like him being successful today. Ponderous and earnest. Two things not so much in high demand. Two things that are just absolutely so right up my alley though. So, the summer of Bellow will continue, and probably have to be extended into the fall. With a dozen novels and half a dozen short story collections and works of non-fiction, I would have to focus solely on him, which I really can't do this summer. Must make headway with the study of religion and mythology. Work that it is becoming more and more apparent is really necessary for my own novel work (to be cont'd at A the P).
I'll leave the political analysis for another day, but I did want to get into deconstruction on some op-eds from the Wall St. Journal and will. Another day.
I do want to say a few words about Micheal Jackson. I know the interweb is awash in remembrances and discussion of MJ, but I still wanted to add my own two cents because he definitely held a position of prominence in my love of music and dance.
When I was about 13, I took over my neighbor's paper route after he left for college, and after a few months I had collected together the awe-inspiring sum of seventy dollars from this endeavor. I still remember so clearly that trip to the mall. The first time ever that I had any real money of my own to spend. And I remember going into one of those shitty music stores that used to be in every mall (hey, surburbia, watcha gonna do?). And I remember being just totally overwhelmed by the amount of music available.
There were so many choices. Different genres of music and bands, just an amount of music that I could never possibly hope to listen to and absorb myself even if it was all free for the taking (as it now sorta, kinda is). It was one of the first times I realized how big the world was. How much was going on that I'd had no idea about. I admit, I was a little freaked out in that record store that day. So, I picked one artist. Really one group, and I think you can probably guess who that was. Yep, I picked the J5. And I obsessively bought every cassette tape (CD's existed but my sis had this crappy boombox that I could listen to in my room, so cassettes it was) of MJ and the J5 I could over the next year. And knowing all of their and his music top to bottom and stem to stern was a way for me to feel like I wasn't lost in a world that would always be so much bigger than I was.
It was an early coping strategy for the anxiety inducement of feeling lost and small and disconnected, which has always been a kind of mainstay in my life. And I also went out and read biographies about Micheal and read his autobio and watched MTV (this was the one time in my life when I lived in a house with cable) for the Micheal Jackson weekends. I recorded all that stuff on VHS tapes. I had Motown 25, all his music videos, early J5 stuff. So much of his stuff. And knowing his work so thoroughly made me feel comfortable that, if taken one thing at a time, I might not be drowned in information overload.
The thing about MJ that I think impressed me the most was when I found out that he was choreographing the J5 right from the beginning (at age 6 or 7). He was the one that designed their dance moves. I used to wear those VHS tapes of him and them out trying to imitate those moves. That man could dance like nobody's business. My fav is the move he does in the middle of the long form Smooth Criminal video when the song stops and he does this funky sort of moonwalk but just in place in a circle while looking at the ground and holding his white fedora. Loved that move. Practiced it endlessly. Never could nail it.
Anyway, I took a lot of shit for my obsessive love of Micheal Jackson I can tell you. Everyone thought it was off the wall odd-ballness, which it was. By that time MJ was well into his downward slide, of which is being written about plenty so I'm gonna pass by on that. The first child molestation charges came up about 7 or 8 months after I got into his stuff. And I got ragged hard, but I stood my ground and defended him tooth and nail.
I can still sing along with just about every J5 or MJ song there is right up through Dangerous, which I bought the day it was released. That was about the time that I started to move on to other things.
I guess that trip to the music store is really one of the precursors of my fanatic reading, listening, and film watching of particular artists entire body of work. It's not so much about overcoming the overwhelming nature of a global society anymore (for that I have philosophy). Now, it's more about seeing the developmental arc. And enjoying good art. And stuff. For that I am grateful, so thank you for that Micheal. Dance on into the eternal.
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