In Bolano, literature is a helpless, undignified, and not especially pleasant compulsion, like smoking. At one point you started and now you can't stop; it's become a habit and an identity. Nothing is so consistent across Bolano's work as the suspicion that literature is chiefly bullshit, rationalizing the misery, delusions, and/or narcissism of various careerists, flakes and losers. Yet Bolano somehow also treats literature as his and characters' sole excuse for exisitng. This basic Bolano aporia - literature is all that matters, literature doesn't matter at all - can be a glib paradox for others. He seems to have meant it sincerely, even desperately, something one would feel without knowing the irst thing about his life.
It can be said that any art is avant-garde is it permits the reconstruction of the real-life circumstances from which it emerged. While the conventional work of art thematizes cause and effect and thereby gives the hallucinatory impression of sealing itself off, the avant-garde work remains open to the conditions of its existence.
... the material of experience is not the material of expression and I think the distress you feel, as a writer, comes from a tendency on your part to assimilate the two. The issue is roughly that raised by Proust in his campaign against naturalism and the distinction he made between the “real” of the human predicament and the artist’s “ideal real” remains certainly valid for me and indeed badly in of revival. I understand, I think no one better, the flight from experience to expression and I understand the necessary failure of both. But it is the flight from one order or disorder to an order or disorder of a different nature and the two failures are essentially dissimilar in kind. Thus failure in life can hardly be anything but dismal at the best, whereas there is nothing more exciting for the writer, or richer in unexploited expressive possibilities, than the failure to express.
Beckett writing to Matti Megged, November 1960 (Via)
We tend to think that student debt was a problem only since the economic problems of 2008 and Occupy, but it arose with deregulation and other policies in the 1980s. I’ve detailed the facts and figures in several essays, but I’ve especially thought about how student debt is an experience not unlike indenture, and it leaves lasting scars. It teaches lessons in civics — rather than a social good, higher ed is an individual good, atomizing us instead of democratizing us. It teaches lessons in economics — rather than a public obligation that we all contribute to and benefit from (I’d like my neighbors’ children to get an education), it’s a private concession, and a majority of students become instruments of the world of finance almost automatically at 18. It also teaches career choices — forget about being a schoolteacher; you want to go into finance. And it teaches a mode of feeling — of personal self-interest and of anxiety, or worse.