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Clancy Martin

Autor/a de How to Sell

21+ obres 405 Membres 24 Ressenyes

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Obres de Clancy Martin

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Nom oficial
Martin, Clancy W.
Data de naixement



On tortured material and the (ironic) posthumous work.

The naïve writer/reader often starts from the perspective that "it is possible to write anything," only to subsequently realize that only certain specific things can be written, and only in certain specific ways. (problems of writing.) Those of us who have at least gotten that far have done so following the recognition of a resistance in the material itself which retaliates against the kind of presentation or conclusion which we would have for it. When, nonetheless, we would have the material confess our conclusions, we do so by prodding (editing) in a way which produces a "tortured" work. There is something uncomfortable going on here, a kind of lack of fit. The Memoir (not just in this case) often reaches back against its authors' intentions.

To understand how a succinct 20 page essay can metastasize into a 400 page tome (which could have been even longer) we would do well to consider the idea of a "novel in retreat." A novel constructed in the form of an ego defense, where each compulsive addition to the series appears to subtract further from the argument, "Well so what if I'm not a great philosopher at least I'm a great artist and so what if I'm not a great artist at least I'm a good person and so what if I'm not a good person at least I'm trying to tell the truth and so what if I'm not telling the whole truth at least I'm making an attempt." So an essay becomes an essay/memoir becomes an essay/memoir/philosophical-investigation becomes an essay/memoir/philosophical-investigation/resource-for-crisis, but gets progressively further away from its stated goal.

On Memoir
Martin's "memoir" practices a kind of slight-of-hand. The author is endlessly apologizing for unforgiveable past transgressions, yet every questionable act is excluded from description. (Supposedly to "spare the children" the horror of repeating the experience in lexicographic form, but we know the real reason.) Occasionally we are presented with a striking image (e.g the gun in mouth), but these have the uncanny quality of still-images, as if the author is watching himself watching himself (which is, not uncoincidentally, the author's description of his meditative process).

One wonders to what extent the well-marketed book with glossy cover is functioning as a bulwark against the author's own suicidal ideation. Yet we also sense that in his continuous insistence that he is "not currently suicidal," the author is working himself up toward a future tragedy (which would lend the work the pathos it currently lacks). There is a sense that the author is out-of-place in that he continues to live. (A similar feeling arises when watching highly-acclaimed film Dear Zachary (crypto-reactionary cinematography) which, ostensibly the letter-on-film to a child, is couched in a kind of persistent vitriol such that one intuits that the child must be martyred for the sake of justifying the hatred pervading that product of cinematographic revenge.)

On Suicide
To what extent is the suicidal person subjected to intolerable feelings as a consequence of a "vegetal reflex" versus a "conclusion of objective analysis." Martin's own struggle appears to be more of the former, though he appears to be convinced it's about an even split. To what extent is the author's sympathy for himself, which is the enlightened self-actualized perspective of, "I would not have it any other way," reconciled with the notion that certain horrible and life-scarring experiences/compulsions actually make you a worse person. In the interstices between Martin's vocal rejection of suicidality, we witness the paradoxical notion that having compulsive feelings of desire for suicide makes you a deeper, more mature person, belied in the episode of the precocious undergraduate who is able to read the author's soul with a glance.

How does it come to pass that the esteemed PhD, who was once motivated by a deep sensitivity to the material, and who has pursued a strenuous course of graduate studies in confirmation of that fact, comes to lose the earnest joy of the text which once motivated him to pursue this accreditation. (Many such cases.) One must assume it has something to do with graduate-school tedium which is the major constituting power behind the monomaniacal training for dissertation-writing. Martin's scholarship lacks the levity/irony which may have once lead him to pursue a dissertation on the concept of irony in Kierkegaard. It is scholarship as flat survey, exemplifying the aseptic academic approach to the original texts which is already a kind of black dread (author does not appear to be aware of this). To forget that the texts are, even now, lying in abeyance for a new interpretation is already the death of scholarship. (Though Martin makes explicit reference to Fear and Trembling he appears to have moved beyond Kierkegaard, not bothering to consider the real possibility of an existence for which, "The ethical is the temptation.") Our author's eschatological argument is the half-serious half-Buddhist insistence that existence continues after death, but that you end up somewhere even worse. If this were an effective panacea, or even an axiom he himself believed, "It would have been enough."
… (més)
Joe.Olipo | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Jun 4, 2023 |
the main appeal of "vacation angst" in my view is the contrast of scenery and activity but this book is just like reading someone's diary -- this needed to be about 200% more decadent for it to be interesting or to even earn its dramatic situation
there was an HBO documentary about alcohol abuse ("risky drinking") where one of the segments was about a like ex-radio producer getting plowed at a tiki bar in the virgin islands while his tween son watches (it's on youtube) --just watch that instead… (més)
slimeboy | Hi ha 2 ressenyes més | Jan 3, 2023 |
Only the suicidal minority of all depressive people can really judge the merit of this book. I don't even know anyone to ask. And I can't say that a full-length book about what Martin calls "suicidality" is a fun read. It's informative, though, about what drives those people and how to recognize them. I only wish Martin could tell us more about how to help them. His nine points for self-help are extremely interesting.

Describing his father's schizophrenia and his own "suicidality," Martin makes it easier than most writers do to distinguish suicidality from depression, unhappiness, or even he way people who basically enjoy life consider suicide as an alternative to more painful ends. While he creates a fair amount of misery for himself--hospitalizations, divorces, loss of jobs--Martin clearly tells us that his suicidality had more to do with thrill-seeking than with unhappiness, that he wanted to do self-destructive things and did some of them even as a child.

His scholarly study of writing on suicidality considers, but mostly dismisses, familiar sources like Nietzsche, Hemingway, and Plath in order to focus on writers who may be less familiar: Arthur Koestler, Laura Marx, A. Alvarez, Seneca, Yiyun Li. Probably those working with people for whom suicidality is their primary ongoing mental illness can gain insight from reading those authors' work.

I'm dissatisfied by Martin's lack of attention to more practical authors like Kathleen Desmaisons and Joan Mathews-Larsen. While he tells us that a big part of his trouble has to do with alcoholism and drug abuse, and that he doesn't seem to be the typical (Irish and Native American) genetic alcoholic, he doesn't consider the other genetic patterns of alcoholism or the role of sugar metabolism and dietary fibre in his symptoms.

I wish everyone would read his remarks on identifying as a non-typical alcoholic and on living in an alcohol-drinking culture.

If you know someone who is suicidal, you might ask that person to read and comment on Martin's nine tips for self-help, in the last regular chapter of the book (before the appendices and notes).
… (més)
PriscillaKing | Hi ha 1 ressenya més | Dec 18, 2022 |
A little hard to see what all the fuss is about. HOW TO SELL is droll and reasonably emblematic of our times, but hardly the dazzling tour de force and fictional indictment of contemporary consumerism that some folks are claiming it for. A while back Martin had a (presumably nonfiction) piece in the LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS that was a good deal more harrowing and vivid than anything in this book.
MikeLindgren51 | Hi ha 18 ressenyes més | Aug 7, 2018 |



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