Go Ahead and Fuck Up

29 thoughts on “Go Ahead and Fuck Up”

  1. Yes, well you have just given me the encouragement I needed for this day. Today I feel as though my up and coming book, Calming the Chaos: How to Live Beautifully in an Ugly World, will never be finished, let alone out there in the world for people to read. Writing from the heart is what authorship is all about, and it seems as though the “talking heads” can either love or hate what our hearts say. No matter, it’s the work that matters. After all, “writing is a struggle against silence.” Thanks.

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  2. Camus holds a similar position in my heart. My Dad was an actual beatnik and professional artist. I remember, at about 14 or 15, him throwing his copy The Plague at me while I was reading who knows what in my room, with the comment, “Read this if you want to understand humanity!” Camus is an interesting case. He suffered some of the same criticisms as Fellini: he didn’t take conventional or popular sides, and they are both entertaining! I love The Plague. It is an exciting book. A page-turner with a profound truth at its heart: in life, you do what you can the best you can with the circumstances you’re given. And it doesn’t necessarily work out for you in the end, but your work lives on in the lives you’ve touched. He also writes more like a screenwriter than a writer. He SHOWS rather than tells. Unfortunately it seems his estate is managed by his former publisher in coordination with his son and daughter. And while the daughter desires to spread her father’s legacy. The son never liked his dad, and is resistant to any proposal to reintroduce his genius to new generations. If accessibility is wrong in a writer or filmmaker to a certain set, their loss. Homer is accessible in a good translation. As should be off books that have lasted millennia! To Camus and his fans, I say, “Gentlemen. Hats off!”

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  3. Hi Tim,

    “We seem to have such a skewed notion of talent, genius, or just of fame, that even the hint of personal or artistic criticism or failure becomes an immediate excuse to sentence one to some form of public shaming, or just years out of public or critical favor; and these judgments are taken as titanic, as final.” — Tim Miller

    That part of your post, especially, hits a chord with me, And I’m sure, many others.

    A nice read for me this morning.

    Cheers! JBS

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  4. ‘The point, then, isn’t to avoid the possibility of a negative reaction, but just to keep going.’
    YES! Thank you! The point is I like my art (my visual art), anything I do, actually, and I keep going, because it makes me happy:)

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  5. Very true; it took me a long time to realize this. I wrote a similar post once myself:

    https://entertainingwelseyshaw.com/2014/06/27/courage/

    I never discovered “literary writers” after King and Koontz, however. It was because of King and Koontz that for years I thought I didn’t like fiction, as it was because of pop music that for years I thought I didn’t like music. Then I discovered Beethoven; taught me in a day I certainly don’t have a music-loving problem, as did Haydn, Mozart, Brahms, Debussy, Mahler and others. As for K&K, I read The Stand in junior high–or tried to, but it bored me to tears. I returned to it about ten years ago and it bored me worse…Sorry, don’t get the fuss over King. The way he handles prose makes me want to barf. Koontz my college roommate introduced me to with a novel he said scared him so much he couldn’t sleep at night. I forget what it was called, but it was about a whole town disappearing and there’s some sort of evil devil-like creature responsible for it and this small band of survivors is left to fight it. (Would have been written in the late 80s I believe.) He may have been scared, but I laughed. And thought the book sucked.

    Since you’re into Camus I’d like some recommendations for how to get into him, since I’ve never tried anything he’s written. Same, btw, with Kafka, whom I’ve only read a little of, and none of it recently. I keep eying him but don’t know where’s best to jump in.

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  6. Thanks for this John. For both of them I’d see if you like either of their shortest books, Camus’s The Stranger, or Kafka’s Metamorphosis; it’s a good bet that if you don’t like those, you won’t like the others. I’d give Kafka’s Trial a go, but not really The Castle, & Camus’s Notebooks are quite nice as well, as are his plays. But The Stranger & the Metamorphosis are both gems for me. I’d love to hear what you think if you give them a try.

    Since I’ve always tended towards writing, King & Koontz swept me up in junior high/high school, & I read tons of them, although admittedly it’s harder to now (but as I suggest in the essay, a “serious” novel by a “serious” writer can easily be just as bad).

    It’s nice to hear you talk about music, since that’s been the undercurrent to so much, so that where authors have gone by the wayside, many composers have not. Beethoven most of all. I’m in the middle of Jan Swafford’s biography of him, & for me there’s nothing like his Late Quartets, or so much of Bach. It’s strange where people find themselves intersecting. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll go check out your post.

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  7. Thanks Elizabeth. Sometimes that personal happiness, & the process of creation itself, is all we might ever get. It’s worth reminding ourselves how important that private feeling is.

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  8. “They were never the near-armor they seem to be for us now, as we carry their books around like a proud and private secret.” I loved this line. I read it three times.

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  9. Thanks for this, Jessica. Seems we read The Plague around the same time, & what you say is a perfect response to the essay I mention. It pretends to criticize The Plague for not being a consistent (or whatever) parallel/allegory for the Nazi Occupation (& the doctors & those who help parallels to the Resistance) which Camus supposedly said it was. Yet the book still works, has it good & bad parts, but it works. It worked for both of us when we were fifteen, despite all the distractions that were around then…. & you mention his never being conventionally political; his change after the war, for wanting the death penalty etc. for collaborators, to being convinced otherwise, is really a moving thing to witness. Imagine that, someone who sees the difficulty of things & can change his mind, & grow! Thanks for stopping by, & for the comment.

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  10. Existentialist literature and philosophy subverted traditional narrative semantics and teleologies and introduced a new kind of freedom and for me this was the terrain that later came to be populated by an experience Kerouac, Punk Rock, Zen and the realisation that, as we are left Ultimately rudderless and with only ourselves to depend on for meaning-construction and purpose-attribution in life – we should our best to make sure these creative meanings are worth something, that we can look back upon our life and feel that we meant something, even if only within our own improvised semantic Universe.

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  11. Very true. You only have to look up any classic book on Amazon and you will find a one star review. At the end of the day it is hard to argue successfully what is “good” art/poetry/writing/music etc. and what isn’t, because it is always subjective.
    Mind you arguing about it is actually quite fun, just ultimately pointless.
    My approach is to write/paint stuff I like and if other people like it as well then great.
    If they don’t then my response is that they’re entitled to their opinion, (unless they’re just mean, in which case screw ’em!)

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  12. “Mind you arguing about it is actually quite fun, just ultimately pointless.” This is pretty much it, & I haven’t heard it said better than that. The art (& for me the story of the life of the artist) is of primary importance, but the only way it seems to get either of those out into the world is to pretend & play at arguing & criticism. Thank you for this.

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  13. Great essay, I love it. Very personal yet filled with a great tone of frankness. If I wrote a novel, I would likely touch upon similar themes that Camus touches upon because he speaks to me the most from other writers so far.

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  14. Great piece of work. I really liked the title. Like we receive appreciation for our qualities, we also have to learn accept criticism for our flaws. That’s what is actually keep going. Because if we do not have room for improvement what will we do with our life!

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  15. > as I suggest in the essay, a “serious” novel by a “serious” writer can easily be just as bad

    Oh tell me about it. I’ve just finished several. There’s one very prominent American writer who gets all the raves and even magazine covers, and I’ve yet to figure out why.

    I bought and have been listening to the Italianos in the LvB quartets. I owned these before (their late ones anyway…the whole thing in one box wasn’t available yet) and didn’t care for them compared to some others, but now I am broader and appreciated a lot, though it’s still hard to compete with the Lindsays in their first run if you forgive some finger slips. (But their Opp. 127 and 135 have never been surpassed for me.) I was rather impressed by the Italianos’ Op. 18–oddly, I have a hard time finding recordings of those that I like.

    And just to give a quick self-plug, my own novel Entertaining Welsey Shaw is officially out. https://www.amazon.com/Entertaining-Welsey-Shaw-John-Grabowski/dp/0998464503/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490928942&sr=1-1&keywords=entertaining+welsey+shaw.
    Just so you don’t get the idea that one has to be interested in movie stars or celebrity to enjoy it, it’s really about loneliness, about how there are these giant walls erected between people no matter how close they are, how society is filled with lots of diversions to occupy our time and little real connection. I simply picked a movie star because she is glamorous and followed by millions and about as opposite an “ordinary person” as you can get. Anyway, it’s funny, it’s sad and it’s a commentary on today, I think. I hope. And I am very much looking forward to both the Camus and Kafka you recommended.

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