June 16, 2011

"Develop your legitimate strangeness." Lars Iyer on the freedom of blogging.


HowTheLightGetsIn, the philosophy and music festival at Hay on Wye has just ended. Wait. Let me repeat that: A philosophy and music festival. Brilliant.

Lars Iyer, author of the “viciously funny” novel Spurious, was invited to the panel “Once Upon A Time the End” to discuss the question: “Will postmodernity see a distillation of literary meaning into fewer (better?) words, or will our ability to tell big, expansive stories be destroyed by glib brevity, leaving us at the mercy of blurbs, stings, tweets and zingers?”

While some are bemoaning the devolution from books to blogs to tweets to status updates, Iyer (whose novel originated in a blog) feels that he has betrayed his blog readers by “betraying his anonymity” and allowing his blog to become a novel with an author. “One of the  wonderful things about blogging in the early days,” says Iyer, was that “a bunch of bloggers emerged each of whom were pursuing something that the poet René Char, the great French poet, summarizes in one of his poems as follows: develop your legitimate strangeness.”

It’s a wonderful notion, and a intriguing inversion of a bloggers status. Blogs, rather than being crass or cheap or easy, are a far superior place for a writer to develop a truly odd, individual voice and perspective. Far away from the public sphere of publishing where authors must always be promoters and professionals, bloggers have the freedom to explore their writing far from the clamor of workshops and the publishing industry. Freed from social constraints and genre forms, the can delve down into their legitimate strangeness. Which is perhaps why Spurious is such an utterly sui generis book, displaying a hilarious oddity of form and voice that could, perhaps, only have been formed in the lawlessness of the web.