Por qu la gente infringe las leyes para coger todo lo que pueden si siempre hay alguna ley con la que puedes ser legal y cogerlo todo de todas formas Quer a leer este libro antes de ir con la considerada mejor obra de Gaddis, Los reconocimientos Con Jota Erre esperaba algo que me permitiera entrar en la narrativa de Gaddis y no sorprenderme con nada que pudiera aparecer en Los reconocimientos Pero cuando ya llevaba m s de 100 p ginas dentro de Jota Erre supe que este libro no era ninguna introducci n a Gaddis ni mucho menos, m s bien todo lo contrario pareciera que Gaddis no solo escribi una Gran Novela, sino que escribi dos Jota Erre est conformado casi completamente por di logos podr a ser en un 98 % Pero no di logos arm nicos y completos di logos entrecortados No hay muchas oraciones en Jota Erre que tengan el privilegio de llegar a su final Entre m s de 25 personajes se despliega una red de ruido de hecho el mismo Gaddis dijo esto, que quer a que esta novela fuera un caos inconexo, una tormenta de ruido , sin descanso Gente hablando y hablando y hablando, pero sin comunicarse Nadie se escucha entre s y nadie se preocupa sobre lo que dice Simplemente hacen ruido para dotar de alg n sonido al mundo.Claramente, ante ese recurso de los di logos se hace bastante dif cil seguirle el ritmo a Jota Erre, y m s si Gaddis, para complicar un poco m s las cosas, no dice qui n es el que est hablando No hay cambios de cap tulo, gente conocida y an nima habla mientras es interrumpida por la televisi n, intercomunicadores y la radio un caos El lector se tiene que dar cuenta de qui n es qui n por el contexto y por la forma de hablar del personaje Y s , esto es un alivio Si hay algo que Gaddis hizo perfectamente bien es darle una voz particular a cada uno de los personajes, que hace mucho m s f cil distinguir qui n es el que habla Cabe aclarar que la parte m s dif cil de Jota Erre son las primeras 250 p ginas, luego resulta m s sencillo tener constancia de lo que anda sucediendo, aunque siempre es necesaria una dosis de atenci n elevada para no perderse.Pero el libro realmente no es un caos Jota Erre est muy bien armado Cada hecho que sucede en Jota Erre encaja cuidadosamente con otro hecho No hay realmente una desconexi n de acontecimientos, sino que esa falta de conexi n se vive solamente en los mismos personajes, por sus egos y su codicia y falta de empat a por el otro de hecho muy pocos llegan a sufrir cuando un personaje muere o tiene un accidente Aunque con esto no quiero decir que Jota Erre carezca de un elemento sentimental o profundo, porque tiene, y bastante, principalmente en los viajes en tren Para los personajes, los viajes en tren funcionan como una especie de suspensi n del ritmo empresarial y capitalista que transpira en cada p gina del libro, una clase de detenci n para separarse de la presi n del dinero y los activos y las acciones y lo que sea y ser ellos mismos, y conectar Jota Erre nos permite espiar un mundo regido meramente por las acciones, las herencias, las empresas, la publicidad, el m rketing, la falta de valores y de moralidad, un mundo regido por el dinero, que lamentablemente no se aleja mucho de la sociedad que conocemos ahora En Jota Erre todos tienen una porci n de x empresa, todos est n organizados en algo para ganar dinero e ignoran otros factores de la vida y el mundo Y aqu es cuando entra en escena el arte El arte en Jota Erre est sojuzgado por la pol tica empresarial, por el capitalismo salvaje Eigen, Bast, uno, escritor de novelas, el otro, de m sica, no pueden dar rienda suelta a lo que tienen dentro Ese bloqueo art stico es debido a una corrupci n del arte en s , y esa corrupci n no viene de otra cosa que del susodicho capitalismo Hallar el verdadero arte cuando se encuentra perseguido por empresarios y publicistas con ganas de transformarlo en dinero no va a ser una tarea f cil para aquellos personajes, y esa va a ser su tragedia.Lo que m s me gust de Jota Erre es que gracias al recurso de los di logos no existen descripciones de c mo se siente cada personaje por dentro, o lo que piensa Eso me parece que nos permite encontrarnos con uno de los libros m s reales que existen, una de las mejores imitaciones de la vida Por lo que dice cada personaje nosotros, los lectores, tenemos que tratar de quiz descifrar lo que est sucediendo en su interior, c mo se siente Gaddis volvi al lector una persona m s dentro de su ficci n, un juego metaficcional supremo.En fin Jota Erre no es un libro para cualquiera Requiere paciencia, atenci n y estar preparados para aburrirse, pero si se le da una oportunidad y no se privan de leerlo a pesar de su car cter de tour de force, se ver n recompensados Jota Erre est plagado de humor, una s tira de la sociedad moderna sin dejar de lado las desgracias personales de sus personajes Un libro completo, uno de los mejores que he le do en mi vida. STARTERS Hey You Listening It s like a darned big brick, isn t it Um Monolithic N Intimidating Listen will you, goddammit Impenetrable Not at all No It s just like anything else that s marvellous and new Whaddya mean It s like me trying to write music Until a performer hears what I hear and can make other people hear what I hear what the audience hears it s just trashit s just trash like everything else in this world full of shopping malls Trash Yeahmost everything you see around here it s just trash Who do they think will buy it It s worthless This book thoughit s like a symphonyyou just have to work out how to hear it Wait a minute buddy I can t take all this in myyou ve finished reading the whole book Right Well why don t you be the performer I, um, OK Just tell me what you heard I mean like remember this here book he started it that time where they wanted him to write about success and like free enterprise and entering public life and all hey Um, did it, reallythis had better not be boring So I mean listen he had this neat idea hey, you listening Hey You listening BURGER MEAL Dialogical MasqueradeYes, this novel consists mainly of dialogue, apart from the occasional and usually beautiful interstitial bits, some of which I ve extracted and tried to poeticise below.But then, if you were masked or closed your eyes the whole time while you experienced a play or a film or a TV show, you might say the same.The challenge is not to be deterred by the apparent novelty of this narrative device You have to find your own way into the text, even if it still requires exertion.If you can do that, it will make sense for you You won t be distracted by its failure or refusal to comply with literary conventions.Wings of DesireMy initial interpretive device was what I ll call a Wings of Desire strategy Imagine that Marx and Engels die and go to Heaven God keeps them I suppose Engels was descended from a family of angels, anyway , because they re good company even if they might be anti corporate , until one day in the 70 s Marx and Engels ask God if they can listen in on what s happening in capitalist America Marx and Engels can only hear the conversation Occasionally, God supplies some interstitial description EavesdroppingAnother interpretive device is the Eavesdropping strategy.You have to imagine that the characters are our neighbours, although we never actually get to see them We can only eavesdrop on their conversations behind the wall.Gaddis himself has described the novel asa chaos of disconnections, a blizzard of noise , almost as if it was a blizzard of white noise a la Don De Lillo.However, it s not really a blizzard Nothing is incomprehensible It s sequential and systematic, like a relay race with the baton being passed on from one speaker to the next The audience reader just has to keep their eyes on the baton.This novel isn t chaotic It s extremely highly and tightly structured I saw connections in the shape of the strands of a rope Every strand of the rope strengthens every other strand, thus giving the whole its integrity Feeling the Elephant in the Next RoomA variation of the Eavesdropping strategy is to imagine sticking your hands through a hole in the wall in the dark and trying to define what it is you can feel on the other side We have to use our imagination It might be hard to work out what it is, if it s an elephant and we ve never seen an elephant before.But here we have the privilege of knowing that the subject is people living under the conditions of capitalism albeit in the early 70 s, although you ll be surprised how little they have changed.Infinite Riches in a Little RoomBy these strategies, our imaginations can equip us to believe that there are infinite riches in the little room of this novel.Gaddis novel helps us to learn about the condition of the middle class in America or the soul of man under capitalism.However, in order to do so, it doesn t so much focus on what people own materialism or do activism pragmatism or think idealism It focusses on what they say dialogism It assumes that we can learn about people well enough by listening to them talk with each other The stock exchange and money as a means of exchange are vital to the content of the novel However, what s most important to the form of the novel is the exchange of conversation.A Glimmer of the RecognitionsPart of the subject matter concerns the attempts of business to get artists to create objects that glorify or aggrandise capitalism or capitalists.To this extent, the novel continues Gaddis themes fromThe Recognitions.The focus on conversation also reminded me of that novel s party scenes, where you could imagine the narrative being a camera rolling through the room recording the goings on, but most importantly the dialogue.The Soft White UnderbellyAt a macro level, then, the novel concerns business, money, art, women and men.At a micro level, it deals with the human aspects of production, management, administration, decision making, finance, budgeting, pricing, marketing, publicity, advertising, lobbying, trade, exchange, take overs, insider trading, fraud, success, failure, insolvency and liquidation.Gaddis rolls the beast of American capitalism onto its back and observes its soft white underbelly.Only this isn t dry academic stuff It s as insightful and humorous as the Marx Brothers take inA Day at the Races.We casual browsers and armchair travellers get a pretty good tour through something akin to Walt Disney s Businessworld.Inherent Vice and Limited ReliabilityUltimately, there is little grandeur on display.We see plenty of beefy faces and grubby hands Nothing is what it seems Limited liability companies become masters of limited reliability How can we assess the veracity of their promises until we can see the fine print of their promissory notes For all the claims of business, its disclaimers are what count and discount We see less merit and skill than opportunism The big decision is whether to hedge your risk or hedge your bets Paradoxically, JR, an 11 year old student who hasn t reached the age of majority, is able to command a majority on the board Where there is success in one generation, we witness problems of succession to the next generation If wealth is lucky enough to transition from Senior to Junior, vice is both inherent and inherited Conversely, when it comes to debt funding, collateral securities result in collateral damage and insecurity.Vox Populi or Patrician In the long run, Gaddis asks why government, invention, art, industry and religion can t serve all of the people, instead of just the patrician classes.Over the course of the novel, readers should find that the slow dazzle of conversation is never boring, but instead has accrued interest On the other hand, unlike Marx and Engels, Gaddis never stoops to a crude manifesto, nor does he make any predictions So, at the end, it s unclear whether capitalism will survive intact or eventually be brought down, and if the latter, whether by revolution or class actions.Insider Trading PlacesIt would be enough that the novel is frequently hilarious, if only it wasn t also so true Gaddis took 20 years to write this novel, during which time he worked at the highest levels of business and saw what was really going on He writes with the insight of an insider who has traded places He also writes like someone who listens and hears This is what people talk about This is how people speak This is what they say He s entitled to ask, hey, are we listening This isn t just trash talk This is a symphony We just have to work out how to hear it.Ultimately, what Gaddis achieves is a magnificent encyclopaedic and panoramic vision of the human aspects of living under the capitalist elephant.His perspective is authoritative, because it s informed by living inside the whale If that s not too much of a mixed metaphor SOME FRIES WITH THAT Interstitial Assemblages These assemblages are almost 100% the words of William Gaddis via which I hope to demonstrate the poetry of his prose.Howl 1975 20 In the Words of William Gaddis Stressing the vital necessityOf expanded capital formationUnimpeded by government restraints,Senator Broos made An impassioned pleaFor a restoration of faithOn the part of the common manIn the free enterprise systemAs the cornerstoneOf those son of a bitchesWho still thinkWinning s what it s all aboutGive them a string of high p e ratiosAnd a rising marketIt s all free enterpriseAll they howl about s Government restraintsInterferenceDouble taxationAll free enterpriseTill they wreck the whole thingThey re the first ones up thereWith a tin cupWhining for the governmentTo bail them outWith a loan guaranteeSo they can do itAll over again.Flowers in the Mud In the Words of William Gaddis If there was one flowerOut here in this mudAnd weeds and broken toilet seatsYou d find it and step on itThe minute you getYour hands on somethingThe power to keep somethingLike that goingYou couldn t do itYou couldn t even leave it aloneFor a few people still lookingFor something beautifulPeople who d rather Hear a symphonyThan eatWho can still hearA magnificentSoprano voice singing.Ach nein, When you hear this here Lady singing upYou can t get Up to their levelSo you drag them Down to yoursIf there s any way To ruin somethingTo degrade itTo cheapen itThat s what you ll do.I Think It s My Pulse In the Words of William Gaddis And the glow at the wall socketTook up the loss of day,Eyed the slow accumulationOf the night.The spot of light leaped,Dropped shrunk close,Searching white from whites,Darted, paused,Came up blinding and was gone,Leaving the dark confirmedBy the wall socket s glow,Until it fadedWith the rise of day.Mister Duncan Are you awake Sun caught on water somewhereTrembled on the ceiling.That reflection up there,Can you see it throbbing I think it s my pulse.Just Like Heaven Between the Covers In the Words of William Gaddis From his her own hand camemeasuring down firmness of bonebrushed past its preyto stroke at distancesto climb back still slowlyfingertips gone in hollows, fingers paused weighing shapes that slipped from their enquiry before they rose confirming where already they could not envelop but simply cling there fleshing end to end, until their reach was gonehands running to the spill of hairover her face in the pillowand down to declivities and downcleaving where his breathcame suddenly close enoughto find its warmth reflectedtongue to pierce puckered heatlingering on to depthscoming wide to its promiserising wide to the streak of its touchgorging its stabs of entranceaswim to its passagerising still furtherto threats of its losssuddenly realleft high agapeto the mere onslaughtof his gazeknees locked to kneesthrust deepin that full symmetrysurged back against himsurges his handson either side bit deepas though in their possessionall her eloquent bloodspoke in her cheeksuntil a slow turn to her sideshe gave him upand ran raised lipson the wet surface of his mouththe weight of her leg warm over his gone rigid for his twist away leaving only his back to her where she kissed his shoulder in the darkness and clung as though for warmth until, as of its own weight, it eased away, and she caught breath at the stealth of springs across the gap, the desolate toss of covers on the bed there and then, for warmth, pulled up her own.Make It Magnificent Camp FuntimeSOUNDTRACK view spoiler Blondie Atomic Oh, uh huh, Make it MagnificentTonightRightJust RightJust RiteJR Blondie Atomic Live 1979 soundBlondie Atomic Live 1980 Cure Just Like Heaven Show me, show me, show me how you do that trick,The one that makes me scream she said The one that makes me laugh she said,And threw her arms around my neck Show me how you do itAnd I promise you, I promise thatI ll run away with you,I ll run away with you Spinning on that dizzy edge,I kissed her face and kissed her head,And dreamed of all the different ways I hadTo make her glow Why are you so far away she said Why won t you ever know that I m in love with youThat I m in love with you The Cure Just Like Heaven Live at Bestival 2011 on guitarThe Cure Just Like Heaven Live at Lollapalooza Chicago 2013 Gabrels on guitarDavid Bowie Look Back in Anger 1988 rerecorded version Gabrels on guitarDavid Bowie Look Back in Anger unreleased 1995 version Alomar on guitarDavid Bowie Look Back in Anger Live at Loreley 1996 Gabrels Dig a Pony hide spoiler J R Is The Long Awaited Novel From William Gaddis, Author Of The Recognitions, That Tremendous Book Which, In The Twenty Years Since Its Publication, Has Come To Be Acknowledged As An American Masterpiece And J R Is A Book Of Comparable Magnitude, Substance, And Humor A Rushing, Raucous Look At Money And Its Influence, At Love And Its Absence, At Success And Its Failures, In The Magnificently Orchestrated Circus Of All Its Larger And Smaller Than Life Characters A Frantic, Forlorn Comedy About Who Uses And Misuses WhomAt The Center J R, Ambitious Sixth Grader In Torn Sneakers, Bred On The Challenge Of Free Enterprise And Fired By Heady Mail Order Promises Of Success His Teachers Would Rather Be Elsewhere, His Principal Doubles As A Bank President, His Long Island Classroom Mirrors The World He Sees Around Him A World Of Public Relations And Private Betrayals Where Everything And Everyone Wears A Price Tag, A World Of Deals Where Honesty Is No Substitute For Experience, And The Letter Of The Law Flouts Its Spirit At Every Turn Operating From The Remote Anonymity Of Phone Booths And The Local Post Office, With Beachheads In A Seedy New York Cafeteria And A Catastrophic, Carton Crammed Tenement On East Th Street, J R Parlays A Deal For Thousands Of Surplus Navy Picnic Forks Through Penny Stock Flyers And A Distant Textile Mill Bankruptcy Into A Nationwide, Hydra Headed Family Of Companies The J R Corp And Its Boss Engulf Brokers, Lawyers, Congressmen, Disaffected School Teachers And Disenfranchised Indians, Drunks, Divorc Es, Second Hand Generals, And A Fledgling Composer Hopelessly Entangled In A Nightmare Marriage Of Business And The Arts Their Bullish Ventures Shaky Mineral Claims And Gas Leases, Cost Plus Defense Contracts, A String Of Nursing Homes Cum Funeral Parlors, A Formula For Frozen Music Burgeon Into A Paper Empire Ranging From Timber To Textiles, From Matchbooks To Legalized Marijuana, From Prostheses To Publishing, Inadvertently Crushing Hopes, Careers, An Entire Town, On A Collision Course With The Bigger World The Pragmatic Real World Where The Business Of America Is Business, Where The Stock Market Exists As A Convenience, And The Tax Laws Make Some People Equal Than Others The World That Makes The Rules Because It Plays To Win, And Plays For KeepsAbsurdly Logical, Mercilessly Real, Gathering Its Own Tumultuous Momentum For The Ultimate Brush With Commodity Trading When The Drop In Pork Belly Futures Masks The Crumbling Of Our Own, J R Captures The Reader In The Cacophony Of Voices That Revolves Around This Young Captive Of His Own Myths Voices That Dominate The Book, Talking To Each Other, At Each Other, Into Phones, On Intercoms, From TV Screens And Radios A Vast Mosaic Of Sound That Sweeps The Reader Into The Relentless Real Time Of Spoken Words In A Way Unprecedented In Modern Fiction The Disturbing Clarity With Which This Finished Writer Captures The Ways In Which We Deal, Dissemble, Stumble Through Our Words Through Our Lives While The Real Plans Are Being Made Elsewhere Makes J R The Extraordinary Novel That It Is From The First Edition Dustjacket Completely spectacular, best if read very slowly it is a novel, a very long novel, told almost exclusively in untagged dialogue Though at first it is dizzying, the characters dozens and dozens of them each have their own speech patterns, and through context, the plot JR, a boy, becomes very rich slowly becomes clear The level of detail is crazy JR says this here fairly often, and toward the end of the book, he buys HER magazine a plot set up for many pages , seemingly just so he can say This Her Magazine I laughed many times, thrilled constantly It is very Gaddis, in that it in some ways deserves acclaim, but it is also very understandable that very few tilt at it There s a willful difficulty here that takes pride in itself That can be frustrating, but his obstinance masks his mastery. Do you find books like Infinite Jest too accessible Is Gravity s Rainbow too basic for you Well friends, William Gaddis s J R is the book for you It s got a slew of amazing features Over 700 pages of almost totally unattributed dialogue Only the smallest specks of narration possible to indicate a change of time or setting No chapters, headings or sections and barely any paragraphs to indicate the formal beginning or end of any action Finishing J R, I feel like Frodo Baggins must feel when he finally throws the one ring into the fires of mount doom utterly used up and exhausted I ll risk making a bold claim J R is the single hardest to read novel ever written by an American and likely to be written by one for some time I don t mean the hardest to comprehend or make sense of, but certainly the hardest to actually sit there and read In fact, Gaddis isn t a novelist here as much as he is a master ventriloquist, he can make any voice he takes up instantly believable and often times compelling, whether it s the naively scheming, oddly lonely eleven year old at the book s center or any of the several dozen confused, manipulative corporate fat cats, school administrators, kookie ex generals and aspiring artists whose endless flow of of conversations, orders, monologues, recriminations, advertisements, and painfully minutely rendered financial jargon compose the main body of the book.The little actual narration there is is strange, elliptical, and even though this came out in the mid 1970 s remember the last time the national book award was given to the most INSANE book of the year me either the prose is so uber modern that it mops the floor with most other respected post modern writers There are no transitions in this book, no real breaks, just sudden grinding shifts through time and location, kind of similar to the perpetual roving camera in Richard Linklater s Slackers , but rendered with gorgeous, almost biblical descriptions of phones ringing and trees swaying.Much like Gaddis s first, even larger novel, The Recognitions, J R is, broadly speaking, concerned with the increasingly commercial nature of our society Not just of capitalism per se, but of how literally everything, especially art itself, becomes just another form of liquidity Another thing to buy and sell and wheel and deal with The sense of disgust and anger that Gaddis feels seems much older and much primal than any particular ideology or economic philosophy As the late writer Marshall Berman once wrote, Modernity could easily be described as a state when all that is solid melts into air In so far as this book is about the entropic dissolution and recombination of various stocks, bonds, debts, securities, escrows, debentures, foundations, companies, corporations, etc and in so far as the book is told almost entirely in a cacophony of voices which themselves appear, dissolve and then reappear in a state of constant flux and confrontation J R is about Modernity itself maybe not modernism per se than any novel I have ever read before.But Gaddis s revulsion with speculation and incorporation run amok comes through as much as a confrontation to the reader as a condemnation of the America he is living in and his take on America in this book is fare sighted and frankly even truer to the overwhelming confusion of American life now than it did decades ago, this is the rare book that has only gotten right with time Maybe it s because his first massive novel was initially a critical and commercial failure Most writers would probably either have thrown in the towel, or at least compromised and come up with something commercially viable But Not.William.Gaddis Instead he built another monster of a book, one that s actually funnier and a bit easier to follow and whose characters are brought into sharper focus than in his first, but which is also vastly difficult to really work through page by page With the possible exception of Ulysses, I can t recall another fictional book I ve read which demanded such an intense level of focus so consistently over so many hundreds of pages And just like Ulysses, there are moments in this that makes your eyes glaze over as you try and parse out who is speaking to who about what, and you re not sure if you re reading a book or just being intellectually abused by someone with vastly erudition and discipline than you will ever have And yet, there are moments of dialogue and tiny narrative descriptions so hysterically brilliant, so weirdly nutty that you almost can t believe a human mind came up with them And you feel somehow privileged to live in a world which will even allow for the creation and dissemination of a novel this utterly, un apologetically crazed J.R is the work of a fierce, and totally uncompromising stylistic master Highly, highly recommended. I d suggest that what J R documents is the way that America is hollowing out the foundation necessary to even read a book like it, an America that teaches its children via closed circuit television, an America that thinks democracy means owning a share of profit maximizing publicly traded corporations This is what it means to say that J R is about the conditions underlying the impossibility of its own reception If there were a welcoming mass public for books like this, a public able to appreciate its beautiful difficulty and astonishing imagination, we wouldn t live in the sort of world so in need of savage satirical critique in the first place Lee Konstantinou That quote is probably the best summa I ve come across concerning J R, it s from this LARB review that is most certainly worth your time and attention, even if you are unfamiliar with this book or Gaddis what do I think I believe J R to be a better novel than The Recognitions, though I m not trying to diminish that book, which I consider a great novel But where The Recognitions strived toward greatness, strived toward profundity of image and symbolism and meaning, in an astonishing Joycean effort, which it most certainly often than not attained, J R achieves this almost without seams, without showing its hand, so to speak It is, from the outset, already at those heights and just rockets, comets, burns away from page one to the crashing end like some kind of apocalypse meteor across the night It is noisier, chaotic, uglier than its predecessor, but it is mature, unified, of itself by itself within itself, a novel created by its own form and subject almost than by an author It is a truly unique work of art, so than Gaddis s first novel, in this reader s opinion.It was so strange to read the majority of this novel in cafes and coffee shops in downtown Washington DC, mostly within sight of the Capitol Building, as I did The tables would ebb and flow, fill and empty, in tides of suits and clean haircuts, perfect smiles and arms adorned with things signifying wealth, and the noise of these places resembled the noise in J R, broken fragments of conversations reaching my ears, talk talk talk business business business because that is the air in this town, DC is money and business and ladder climbing and institutionalized classism careerism, DC is built on this swamp see and the swamp never went away, it just got like reverse reified into this mire of business talk policy talk displays of money subtle bragging power plays this is just how it is, it s as J R Vansant would say it s just like what you do Entire conversations I overheard while reading J R could have been lifted directly from its pages without any alteration Truly, Gaddis has written in this book what it is like to listen to America talk. The thing of wonder is that it was published forty years ago and written in the twenty years preceding that Gaddis as Cassandra indeed.As you probably know, J R is a novel comprised for the most part of unattributed dialogue Contrasting this, there are transitional interludes, parts that bridge the dialogue and act as a kind of omniscient voice out of time or a bodiless narrator beyond the voices clamoring around, basically serving to note shifts of action and time elapsing, to specify place where it needs specifying, and herein lies some of Gaddis s most musical, purely beautiful prose The flow from enjambed, chaotic, manic dialogue, constantly being interrupted, full of holes and dropped clauses, often jarring and disorienting, into these passages of pure lyrical beauty, is a brilliant form for the novel, and it became Gaddis s mode of choice for the rest of his career To me it rang utterly true, it created the effect that often happens in life as it is lived, where one moves from the multiphonic cacophony of being in the world, living out there, moving through the world, and that retreat into the moment when you seek refuge inside, within your own thoughts, the thoughts you ve tended, cared for, watered with literature and poems and songs and memories and dreams and gentle desires Of course you cannot stay there, one must again emerge into the whirlwind the cacophony because it is out there, in the mess the shit the storm where making our living resides So it is a shattered kind of existence we live out and is drawn here The physical world of J R is also shattered, broken monuments cracked heaving pavement ruined buildings wastelands moors emerging cluttered with garbage debris graffiti ads traffic etc etc.But this is a book mostly about Work, in all the senses of that word Work, what we do, why we do what we do, what motivates us, makes necessary our ventures, our attempts to build ourselves out in society, what motivates our attempts to be recognized, make ourselves valued and valuable what does value mean and what is worth doing I think this is the main concern of J R what is worth doing and why the majority of humanity spend their potential, their wealth of energy and talent and time doing things that are, for the most part, not worth doing Wasted energy Inertia Entropy Clutter Clatter Signifying a surplus of activity a surplus of speech that all seem to come to nothing but are so overflowing with content that their non content comes to seem like everything, within its own hectic manic emptiness and high stakes game of oblivion logic.This is a novel about the alienation that Marx analyzed and assessed and made predictions about so long ago that has come to pass and subsume almost all activities, interactions, and relationships in our world This is a novel about language and interpersonal relationships as commodities It s about speech, language the only medium us poor humans have for understanding ourselves and the world, the only way we can come to any sort of knowledge about being, perception, belief about speech and language infected by and determined by the drive for money and what Money values It s about what Money values and what values there might be left in people weighted with the pursuit of, the life and death need of money It is a novel about Real Life.So it is a sad novel, utterly bleak Whether it was hyperbolic satire when it was written I can t know for sure, but these days it is hardly an exaggeration So many things in J R that are written to be outrageous are ubiquitous in my world But still it is perfect, blazing, excoriating satire Utterly hilarious With few exceptions, you will laugh on every page.There s an apartment that becomes a kind of surrogate headquarters for the J R Family of Companies, a place of infinite riches in a little room the irony on the second word is dripping embodying entropy where taps are constantly running hot water spewing energy uselessly and papers and mail and boxes and junk trinkets pile up like all the debris of modern society amassing there, an impossible amassing of debris, overflowing, to the point of absurdity and uselessness, another kind of mass collection of particular units that becomes an emptiness, a clutter a cosmos of Nothing, like the speech in this book there s an apartment that is a shipwreck in a storm, an infinitely sinking room filling being sunk by the accumulating debris of the modern world And J R is also a novel about Gaddis s own frustrations as an artist, his frustration with the reception of The Recognitions see Fire The Bastardsby Jack Green , his frustrations with attempting to live and work a creative life within the very world described in J R We should all be thankful he had the perseverance to see it through, the ears to hear what he heard, the courage to write it out in the face of all the world s demands on our freedom and all its curious animosities so that he might accomplish Hamlet s centuries old demand the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure With J R, he has done this very thing The sincere endeavour to accomplish that creative task, to go as far on that road as his strength will carry him, to go undeterred by faltering, weariness or reproach, is the only valid justification for the worker in prose And if his conscience is clear, his answer to those who, in the fulness of a wisdom which looks for immediate profit, demand specifically to be edified, consoled, amused who demand to be promptly improved, or encouraged, or frightened, or shocked, or charmed, must run thus My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel it is, before all, to make you see That and no , and it is everything If I succeed, you shall find there according to your deserts encouragement, consolation, fear, charm all you demand and, perhaps, also that glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask Joseph Conrad As a tribute to Gaddis, below I ve taken a one star review of J R from this site and tried to improve it by running it through a series of iterations in an online translation program This is a kind of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, or maybe a new internet age type of player piano Either way, enjoy Sorry guys Probably Factory enemy or two here, but I m not HEY Me This book stinks Monco Oh Yeah sure, you will find NIIT, who say this, I do not have one of the best novels of the 20th century, a work of genius They dispersion of the literature, which is stylings of modernism Paint wise, witty satirization I mboliza yadda yadda yadda drive Benefits Some went so far as to say that the book SI Gaddis I am positive results Really Coming soon Really Left pure ingenuity Gaddis Niidar money to get this brick printed, published, SI hyped up enough to win the National Book bed He used the must ni, bribery, extortion maybe Han Han know incriminating evidence out some of the most influential literary SI realizar say, for Niidar imaxes PET or something I found this book I like very much just plain annoying NOT contaminate Luke I mean, what you type on the first or say Story of the browser listen Concentrate It does not make heads or tails is SIIT, Loyd voice Other Always portfolio befuddlement that were things we drink Factory ver, SI Milloins It is a small error Cogent comes to colors samall keep readers, Carballo Mjata NIIT Mere drift aimlessly in desultory conversation This would have taken some curse If not, punctuation marks or rather the lack of tarde Han Gaddis received quotes comma, SI put the letters after the Full Report immediately to Mara Actually, the un stuck in a van in New Taman past hurts, is not it a bit OCD reason van SI do not leave a record among the Apart na HILO, Si, I liked the hope that I waded through the twisting Page 726, the book will solve itself van Eiko SAFETY Sita, however, times are times when the light discretion paragraph re keep the black, but they were few color SI Far East in September Tuke enjoy the novel I am a farmer IF NOT book with ENIT enemy All the thoughts, perhaps Mina. Rhinegold Rhinegold Purest gold If but your bright gleamstill glittered in the deep Now only in the depths is theretenderness and truth false and faint heartedare those who revel above The Maidens of the Rhine, Rheingold, Richard WagnerThe first thing which struck me about this book was how noisy it was Almost the entire book is ceaseless dialogue, not even stopping for quotation marks or even identifying who s talking The background noise is overwhelming, with Wagner s Ring, televised classroom broadcasts, advertising, the low buzz of crowds But there s also a lot of talk about money Money talks Long monologues or one sided phone conversations about business deals, transactions, where money is the dominant, deciding role in a person s life The catalog s centerfold is the precocious 11 year old capitalist JR He builds up his empire from a pay phone in the school, desperately merging, acquiring, consolidating, new holdings into a Family of Companies He s a winner , but he s a very lonely anxious boy.Gaddis portrayal of the financial world seems oddly out of time today a brief look at derivatives and Bloomberg terminals show that Gaddis himself might be shocked at the sheer forces of finance and the random walks it takes through history This book can be very funny It has a physical slapstick comedy element to it, with car crashes and sex puns There s also a dark undercurrent of what businesses do when they mess up, like selling toy guns to rebellious armies or using condoms in piano manufacturing.Despite J R s length, it is not so much a single unified narrative, but a collage of many little stories There are many failed artists and lonely geniuses which we can easily place as stand ins for the author and his own lack of financial success There s a lot of talk about how mass production has taken the meaning out of art, lifted straight from Walter Benjamin There s talk about the random, almost cruel behavior of financial capital, how it decides who lives and dies There is the valuation of business practices and the devaluation of human life After Bast realizes that his composition was set to be zebra music for a softcore porno film and he just shoves a cassette tape of Bach s 22nd Cantata into young J R s hands, he pleads, tears in his eyes, trying to convince himself that art still has a meaning It s all unbearably sad.Gaddis is a brilliant and undeservedly forgotten writer It s not just about the ideas and dialogues that I ve scattered around in here, but also from the strengths of his characterization The dialogue lives and flows, and the characters suffer and lapse into dramatic searching monologues If you can find even one of the characters to latch onto and observe, you can see their lives through the babble of their voices It s a hell of a story. I mean why should somebody go steal and break the law to get all they can when there s always some law where you can be legal and get it all anywayWilliam Gaddis, JRHow do you rate this adequately heh Four stars allows that humanity or Gaddis might reach a little higher, dance a little quicker, squeeze a little juice out of the GD lemon, but sitting here now it also seems like I would have to go and downgrade all previous fours if I only gave it four stars Five it must be Besides, if I rate it as five now, I can always downgrade it later, after reading The Recognitions and use the carry forward star loss to offset the capital gains on my outstanding shares of stars I m not sure my wife loved it, since it proved once and fore, well unequivocally, that I m a bad father yes, inadequate husband yes, don t sleep much hey and this may be let all the F ing challengers just try and knock it down my GD favorite GD books in the whole GD world This morning, with 100 pages left, part of me just wanted to loop the SOB and start reading it again once I finished That 3am euphoria has since passed, luckily Recommendation to friends who read this after me try to read about 200 pgs day, because GDs this book almost requires you read it GD fast I read somewhere online yes there it is GD Paris Review that Gaddis said the secret to reading J R was it was my hope for many readers it worked, for others it did not that having made some effort they would not read too agonizedly slowly and carefully, trying to figure out who is talking and so forth It was the flow that I wanted, for the readers to read and be swept along to participate And enjoy it And occasionally chuckle, laugh along the way Well, GD, the flow thing kinda works It also helps that I have a GD series 7 and the financial stuff all made perfect f ing sense. 1.Trying to make sense of corporate America is like trying to make sense of Beckett Wait, this was a bad year when you made 5% than last year which was a good year Why are they waiting for some dude who never shows up Why doesn t he just get out of the pile of pig shit .I hate capitalism I abhor it I don t have a better idea for how things could run, but I know that there is something fundamentally wrong with it Corporate America knows there is something fundamentally wrong with it too, that is why they play their game from a socialist standpoint if the game were truly played fair most of them wouldn t stand a chance of surviving America would be a vast wasteland of destruction with just a few having won everything They would be the emperors of a big pile of shit Hooray for them Fortunately laws are in place that let lots of people people rule over their own little piles of shit.Before I even knew about the whole corporate take over bullshit with Barnes and Noble I had dreams about the store turning into a fucking supermarket In my dreams I yell and scream that this is all bullshit, we are a bookstore, not a fucking supermarket, that there is to the business than just making the most possible money In my dreams I m a troublemaker who people get angry at, and then ignore while I throw temper tantrums Now there is a guy who runs supermarkets trying to buy the company and institute policies favorable to the shareholders Art and making conditions that are fiscally favorable to those greedy idiot children that go buy the name of shareholders do not go hand in hand Actually, they are antagonistic to one another As is seen in JR 2 JR is now part of the holy trinity of novels The father Gravity s Rainbow , the son JR , and the holy spirit Infinite Jest Feel free to move these around, arguments can be made for any of the books to occupy any of the spaces JR is not quite as engaging as Gaddis s first novel The Recognitions, but it s a cohesive novel I mentioned in my review for the earlier novel that it felt like it was straddling the line between the moderns and the post moderns this is such bullshit really, how is Joyce any less of a post modernist than most of the pomo authors High Modernism and post modernism are the same shit, but whatever this makes sense if you don t over think it and by this I mean my argument about Gaddis, you need to over think the modernism is post modernism thing The straddling of The Recognitions gave the text an interesting tension It was almost like Gaddis was afraid to really let go and let the novel go where it wanted to go He no longer has that problem in JR I don t know if it is because writers like Pynchon, Coover and Barth had staked out some of the territory for him, or if he just grew comfortable, angry, something in the twenty years he hid from writing novels in corporate America, but whatever happened he produced a capital em fucking Masterpiece 3 A caveat While the book is a capital em fucking Masterpiece I do not recommend you read it Seriously, I m telling you don t read it, or if you do decide on your own to read it Don t let anything I say influence you to read it If you do let anything I say influence you to read it and you hate the book I don t want to hear about it I ll just tell you I told you so And then I ll tell you that it is one of the greatest books ever written and that I told you not to read it on my advice JR is possibly a 726 page headache Or it is an oh my fucking god of all literature this is one of the greatest fucking things ever type experience The book is probably about 99.5% dialog maybe higher actually NONE of the dialog is attributed to anyone There is no he said, Stella exclaimed, JR excitedly yelled, Bast resignedly agreed, Jack drunkenly argued None of that stuff Just approximately seven hundred some odd pages of people speaking who you need to build the story up out of the context of what they are saying and the brief action description paragraphs that move characters either temporally or spatially around If you can give yourself into the author If you can trust that Mr Gaddis knows what he is doing and he isn t going to steer you too wrong then go right ahead and start reading If you are going to get your asshole in a knot over not always being completely clear about who is speaking to whom or that you need to know everything immediately than this book is not for you Roland Barthes kooky theory aside, this book shows the author is not dead, the reader is to the author and that giving yourself over to the hands of a very skilled writer, such as William Gaddis, is a transcendent experience I imagine engaging in a novel like this is about as close as I will ever have to putting myself fully in the hands of a higher power BUT that doesn t mean the book is going to excuse you from having to do some work on your own You ve got to pay attention and read the fucking thing like an intelligent adult and not as a passive consumer And you have to be the type of reader who can enjoy that an author is creating a cantata of dialog well it may have been an opera at first, but after a bit it had to be toned down.4.Why we re read Why does a book like this appeal to me Why at the midway point in my days well midway point in a year do I spend ten days reading a satire on corporate America written in a difficult and slow style Why did I feel a total rush reading this Why does reading a book like this get me excited for the possibilities of literature, the intellect, creativity, etc., that a straight forward book just doesn t usually do for me Why are most, well all, of my absolute favorites all difficult in one way or another I m not looking to impress anyone by reading this If anything I d recommend most people I know not to read this because I don t think they would have the patience to let the book unfold on it s own terms this is the condition that I imagine one must have to read Finnegans Wake, I believe Joyce is an able writer genius who may make things difficult but not guide one wrong As opposed to certain wits on this website who believe that it is just gibberish that a computer program could write as satisfying of a read I read lots of books that aren t difficult And some of those books I enjoy a great deal Some I even award five stars But they don t usually strike me as books I will want to return to again For example Kafka s prose isn t the most enjoyable to read, I mean stylistically for me But he is an author that I can see returning to again and again His stories have an openness to them that invites re readings and play, even though they take place in a very confining and formally rigid realm I m not just talking about plot setting here Or why are DFW s long serpentine sentences really a light joy that can be savored Why doesn t a straight forward writer not seem to invite re readings Of course this is only for me For you there are probably a whole different set of characteristics that make you want to cherish one book over another But can we even really point a finger to what it is in a book that makes one work over another 5.In closing JR is an amazing book and I don t recommend you read it Or read it but I disavow all responsibility for you reading it and consider yourself warned. I love this grubby child persistent child I feel as if he is someone that I know Not that any of the large cast of characters gets short shrift in floating opera But, the reader doesn t miss a scene It reminded me of reading Robertson Davies and John Dos Passos although darker and less mythical than Davies and of a micro view than Dos Passos Right You mention education and they grab for their wallets Now here s thirty two thousand six hundred and seventy for blacktopping the parking lot over to the tv studio That s the only bid that came in And there s this twelve thousand dollars item for books That s supposed to be twelve hundred, the twelve thousand should be paper towels Besides, there s already that bequest for the library Did it say books in so many words No It s just a bequest for the library Use it for a pegboard You need a pegboard in a library Books you don t know what you re getting into.
William Gaddis was the author of five novels He was born in New York December 29, 1922 The circumstances why he left Harvard in his senior year are mysterious He worked for The New Yorker for a spell in the 1950s, and absorbed experiences at the bohemian parties and happenings, to be later used as material in The Recognitions Travel provided further resources of experience in Mexico, in Costa
- 726 pages
- J R
- William Gaddis
- 21 January 2018 William Gaddis