Friday, February 22, 2008

FALL INTO THE GAP: 21st Century Primer

Voila! The video of my 2008 Associated Writing Programs (AWP) presentation on the marriage of text and image in fiction and other narrative forms.  Recommended reading for literary and art critics, creative writing and English professors, and writers who aspire toward approaching, Herein, I discuss Bardo, neurological synapses,'s Kindle, virtual reality, Second Life (and lives), typeface design and usage, advertising, brain computer interface, Oblomov, willful ignorance, and much more. Originally presented on the AWP panel, "1000Pictures."  


Part Two  (if Part Two does not appear here, go to:

[If you would like a high-res copy on DVD for educational purposes, please email me: ddiblasi at ]

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Interjection: The Death of Robbe-Grillet

There are a handful of writers who changed my thinking and thus my writing and thus my life. Alain Robbe-Grillet was one of them. I first read Jealousy in 1980. A thin, powerful book so much like squeezing through a crack in a stone wall after which, on the other side, lay magnificent possibilities. Robbe-Grillet's intersection between the language of film and the language literature allowed a conversation between the two that subsequently allowed other forms of narrative to occur and marry. (See the French New Wave film, Last Year at Marienbad, for which Robbe-Grillet is likely better known, because readin B hard, sez U shits)  

(NOTE to the similar shit to whom I foolishly loaned my only copy of Jealousy: May your life be plagued with dangling participles!)

14 years later I read The Voyeur, a novel that is not, as some too-simply synopsize, just a serial killer story. There are amazing shifts of point of view in the book which asks the reader to question the veracity of the narrator, the narrator's identity, and time itself. Thus, the reader is forced to question her own identity as reader and/or participant in envisioning killing, and the moment in which a novel occurs, beginning to end. A pack of cigarettes floating on water grows monumental inside this questioning.

When I began teaching avant-garde writing, I used Robbe-Grillet's Toward a New Novel as my lifeline into the fissure that would eventually open up into a vast cave yet unexplored. This nonfiction book is invaluable, and still immensely relevant. If you have not read it, then you are not a serious writer or writing teacher.

The French produced frittes and Robbe-Grillet. They are still delicious.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Monstrous Women of the Avant-Garde (Part I)

I'm back from the AWP Conference in New York. Five pounds lighter with a pocketful of business cards.

To those of you not in an academic writing program (if you're over 25, rejoice! then go live in a foreign country until you have something interesting to say), AWP stands for Associated Writing Programs. The annual conference is typically a depressing confluence of desperate graduate and PhD (for fuck's sake) creative writing students, and adjunct, assistant, and associate (plus a few full) professors trying to move up in that narrow spout akin to that which the itsy-bitsy spider ascends only to get washed out by the rain. Eventually, the spider dies as a result of its Sisyphean life because the pipeline does not prepare it for the big green FROG OF DOOM hopping by on its way from one marvelous teeming pond to the next. But that is another children's song of quite a different tune. (Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!) 

This year's AWP was different. Or I was different. Or both were different. I can honestly say I enjoyed myself more than once. In hindsight, the reason is clear: I was surrounded by breathtakingly brilliant, funny, talented, intrepid women writers, editors, publishers, et al. Nearly all of them are, in one way or another, involved in avant-garde literature. This is no coincidence. I've said it before (though I can't remember when or where): Avant-garde women writers take significantly more risks in their lives and therefore in their writing and therefore are endlessly fascinating, endlessly evolving. They put their asses on the line again and again and don't give a shit if that ass is naked. Naked is good. Curious is good. Being a good writer is good. Being a good girl is boring -- and an old, frayed-at-the edges lie. And these women know it.  As do I. 

When you not only question the rules (created but break them because they coddle the status quo and protect some notion of humanity disturbingly separate from actual human biology ("godlike," my naked ape ass!), then you achieve a level of freedom otherwise impossible.  A priceless Visa moment. But better. Because Visa would never advertise such a moment as it would interfere with rampant consumerism.

There's a quasar in the eyes of these women.  Glint of mischief.  Laser flash of perspicacity.  If you're hiding something you're going to get cooked.  If you're not, that light's a doorway to great conversations. I'm going to introduce you to a few of these women writers in my next few blogs.  And when I say they are GREAT WOMEN WRITERS I mean:  They are great writers who have vaginas not penises.  But as for balls...!

P.S. to those who requested my Text + Image presentation: It will be posted here by February 15.