It Is What It Isn’t
“The Shining is not really about the murders at the Overlook Hotel. It is about the murder of a race – the race of Native Americans – and the consequences of that murder.”
-Bill Blakemore, writing in The San Francisco Chronicle
“There must be five hundred young writers in New York who had a day of experience that was incomparable–nothing remotely like that had ever happened before in their lives. And it’s likely that some extraordinary work will come out of it. Hopefully, not all of it about 9/11.”
-Norman Mailer, The Spooky Art
What stuck me on this is the last line of the Mailer quote–the idea that a little apocalypse would (naturally) burrow inside the skulls/souls of novelists or whomever, re-wire a few circuit breakers, and change all the output.
Of course people were going to write about 9/11–though I have yet to read anything “extraordinary” about it–but whence this idea that it would inspire (compel?) extraordinary work about other things?
Does this mean we uh, “credit” 9/11 with any great post 9/11 writing? That probably isn’t what The Lion King was getting at, but it’s a danger worth fearing if his premise is widely adopted.
Zooming in, do we “credit” 9/11 with any great post 9/11 writing that pertains to tragedy, loss, ideology, etc.? This might be a defensible position, but it might also be crass and disrespectful. No readers should use 9/11 as a tourniquet to help them mainline their meaning fix.
I have a good feeling Mr. Mailer would agree. But if anyone could have turned out a piece of extraordinary work that doesn’t–yet does–have to do with that Tuesday rain of blood and fire, my ten dollars would have been on Stanley Kubrick.
June 15, 2012