Thursday, January 04, 2007

WRITING AND A PERSONALITY

This is the question?

DO YOU HAVE A FUCKING PERSONALITY?

I got a job somewhere, like 80 people work there, like two people have personalities.

which is like 1 our of every 40 humans have a personality.

To be a good writer you must have a personality.

You can be a great carpenter, scientist, doctor, lawyer without a personality. It is strange with actors, either you have a lot of personality (Clint Eastwood, James Stewart) or none at all like (Robert Duvall or Christina Ricci).

But you cannot be a good writer without a personality.

You don't need a Good or Bad personality, you just need a personality.

Norman Mailer or Charles Bukowski, read their interviews, a lot of personality going on there.

This is one of the functions of the artist, to have a personality, and people without them can enjoy their art and have some while enjoying it.

because everyone has a personality, but most don't show it unless you like live with them for several years and get to know them.

I don't know why I wrote this, but it makes sense to me.

14 comments:

Chief said...

Thomas Wolfe (author of "Look Homeward, Angel") used to literally chew up up glasses of beer--he'd down his beer and then eat the glass, for the amusement of the other patrons.

F. Scott Fitzgerald used to tie a piece of mistletoe to his ass at christmas parties, and then spend like twenty minutes stuck in a revolving door at the Algonquin.

Wallace Stevens once punched Hemingway in the jaw and broke his hand. Later, Hem sent him a bottle of good scotch.

Ezra Pound used to wear a cape everywhere and like to fence with his butler.

Faulkner lost his original copy of his Nobel prize acceptance speech while in a drunken blackout. He ended up writing the speech he eventually delivered 30 minutes before it was time to give it, and was still making corrections as he was walking up to the podium.

And there's that great Norman Mailer story where he lost half his teeth and had his eye practically kicked out of his head by bunch of sailors. Apparently, Mailer was walking his wife's dog, a french poodle, and one of the sailors shouted "queer" at him. "Nobody calls my dog a queer!" said Mailer.

And so one and so forth--it's certainly true that writers have calmed down in recent years. You don't hear very many colorful stories about Franzen or Eggers.

Although, there was that thing a couple of years ago where Richard Ford went up to Colson Whitehead at a party and spat in his face. "You spat on my book, so I spit on you," he said, trembling with anger. Whitehead pussied out, though.

If it had been me, I'd've fucked that old has been up.

adam said...

Since Mike's not speaking up...

I don't think funny anecdotes make a personality, but if that's the kind of thing you do, then do it and be happy-- you've got the personality of someone who does odd things socially. Whatever else might be true about you is up to speculation.

"Come as you are," you might say. Yeah, pretty much. Even if you act differently towards different people.

Chief said...

Like so many things in life, there are both upper case and lower case versions of "personality".

Every place that human beings interact, there is "culture" of the lower case variety: norms of behavior, styles of speech and dress, etc. But not everywhere does "Culture" or "Kultur" reside. Upper case "Culture" is books and paintings and music and architecture, and as an outgrowth of lower-case culture, it is infinitely more salient.

That is to say, from existential point of view: the way we live is invisible to us, much in the way that a fish doesn't know there's water, but the art we produce is visible to all.

"Personality" then, of the upper-case variety, is unignorable--you can't miss it. I might agree that loud, attention-seeking behaviors are annoying and without intrinsic merit, but I cannot, no matter how hard I try, deny their existence.

With quiet personalities, you can do this: you can doubt whether or not a shy person has a "Personality" because signs of it are as rare and elusive as bigfoot tracks.

In any event, I am not necessarily an advocate of "big" personalities, merely an admirer of them.

MadisonGlass said...

Tour buses used to stop to stare at Rowan oak; Faulkner would, without fail, stand out on the balcony and piss over the railing while the tourists watched.

He went to Canada and after joining the air force, never saw combat, but came back with a limp. And a cane.

MadisonGlass said...

Faulkner. Awesome.

Chief said...

I didn't know about the public pissing.

Nice one. If I was one of those tourists, I would have hoisted and lit my lighter in tribute as Bill evacuated his bladder.

nic chiarella said...

i failed a personality test once.

Ned said...

when the current writers are OLDER, there will be the same sorts of legends about them

Richard Ford said...

chief: "If it had been me, I'd've fucked that old has been up."

Keep dreaming, creep. You look at me the wrong way, and I'll give you dozens of bad Amazon reviews.

Lester said...

yeah you need at least one personality, sure
but don't kid yourself
you don't need your own
or anyone else's for that matter

comparing a senseless working stiff to a personality-filled writer
is like comparing a corpse to a clown

i mean the corpse is boring and smells quite a bit
but you'll treat it with respect for eternity
give it a safe quiet place to rest
you'll just ditch the clown at the circus
leave him in a tiny car surrounded by carneys

the original crack smoker in delphi she coulda told you all about it when she was hunkered down in her cave
but she was busy speaking on behalf of apollo
she wasn't herself
self wasn't even considered

the cult of the author in the modern era is nothing but a crass byproduct of the need for intellectual property
so that printers could borrow money from banks to buy presses
something had to be collateral
why not the writing?
the voices that once came from afar?
replaced by the inner voice marketing scam
the one that says that writing is democratic
everyone's a poet deep down inside
but what about that working stiff?
if he can afford the mfa tuition
or be obedient enough to suffer an assistantship
he's perfect for the new job

no one knows who homer was (or who homer were, really) and it's completely irrelevant to anyone except in the people magazine set

who is worshipping the authors
the idolators, that's who

the idols came after people forgot to speak
after they forgot how to tune into the noise

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