1982, Janine is such a hot, tender, intense, Modernist novel because it is the rough, crass, slippery back and forth of the self turned against itself, the self with no options, or only bad options, the self that denies itself or acts against its desires. It expresses this mostly through the medium of pornography, or, no, imagined pornography, a lurid soup of the worst genre excesses with telling caesuras where individual psychology peeks through, a startling headlamp pair of eyes, hello! And thus the book flips, introspection becomes the instrument to examine the porn, to break the hapless heroine out of her fetish dungeon of neoliberal state immiseration, which is to liberate both of them, together. Jock quits his job.
When I read a review of a recent novel that chided it, in a formula that has become basically one of the dull "types" of narrow media crit options, as "too psychological" in opposition to presenting a solution that was, of course, some completely abstract and purely notative idea of "solidarity," basically presenting having interiority and political consciousness as a conflicting binary, I had to conclude, this person just does not like novels. Psychology is one of the finest materials you can use in fictional prose; it's like making a film without visual pleasure or a videogame car that can't jump. If you really insist on it, why are you even here?
It's not even to superficially place the two next to each other, or attempt to synthesize them, but more to look at how one is always in the other anyways; the experience of political economy creates particular psychological effects, relationships to the self, Jock eroticizes the very security complexes he works as an inspector for and torments his soul in its barbed wire; political possibilities emerge from the scope imagination is allowed. And this is the charge of reading theory to me, it is a tool to better think about what I want and what I have in common with others, in a context of constrained alienation.
So this is what I try to do with writing, blogging, but also fiction. My novel is about identification with/across the alien as an escape route from normative social structures in a broad sense, and the more sf-oriented work I've been doing with Red Futures has been trying to crack more into the particulars of alienation via work, which I of course have a lot of material on, and have also read a lot about.
I've done three so far! The first is a bit about encountering the naivete of people who are still sincerely "into" their work, see it as a sort of non-antagonistic situation that allows them to "use their skills" and "pursue their interests," as well as the proximity of roles that burn through that goodwill at different rates, and the awkwardness that can result in, plus the role of cultural heritage, IP and academic study in perpetuating industries "as is." The second was responding to the idea of "utopias," so I turned it around a bit and had a literal alien discover a bit of their ideal while trying to understand the superficial rituals of office work.
The most recent one is specifically responding to how relationships are metricized and instrumentalized by capitalism, it's a sort of nightmare scenario that did indeed come to me in a dream that combines the dehumanization of social media surveillance and personality tests with the dystopian concept of a "work wife." And of course, I had a blast writing it. If you care to check them out, I hope you enjoy them!
With another volume of Domino Club on the horizon, this post is mainly just to put the writing I've been doing in the meantime here and spitball a bit about my intent and philosophy towards it. Regardless of what I'm doing for a day job, producing writing, sometimes a huge amount, seems inevitable, it basically has been since I was young, but I think the line being clearly drawn now, that work is totally separate from what I write, has made me a lot more explorative and excited by what I can do with my own writing. I found out recently that my art historical role model, Lucy Lippard, also wrote a novel that has been reprinted recently; I'm very excited to think through that!
Also did you hear, Bjork is going to release a "mushroom album" filled with gabber beats and bass...