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The Critical Fiction Symposium, held at the Grolier Club in New York City last night, was a success on all counts. Wendy Walker’s book, MY MAN AND OTHER CRITICAL FICTIONS was published and the beautiful subscribers issue was also on view. An engaged and intelligent audience of approximately 35 to 40 people gathered to see WENDY WALKER, RON JANSSEN, JENNIFER NELSON, JOHN CROWLEY, and HENRY WESSELLS discuss the critical fiction mode, with numerous examples mentioned in the course of the conversation. An audio recording of the Symposium is available for listening here (1 hr. 12 mins.) through the courtesy of P. Richardson. There were many interesting aphorisms and exchanges; your correspondent cites a few now and will add to this list as other sections are transcribed.

“Every text contains its own critique.” — Wendy Walker

“Anything that breaks down genre categories as currently constructed is to my mind a good thing.” — Wendy Walker

“the way you use language out of the texts, and especially the pieces in which you’ve let the text literally flow across the page, it feels to me in reading that the language is liberated” — Ron Janssen

Discussing “Olaudah Equiano Crosses the Ice”, Walker said one aim was to “call attention to the lostness of the book. The slave narrative is well known, but nobody talks about the fact that Olaudah Equiano was writing this book on a journey to the North Pole” (an early journal he was subsequently obliged to abandon).

In closing, a member of the audience, Carrie Cooperider, made a comment that drew upon Heidegger’s  Poetry, Language, Thought: “he writes, ‘in the vicinity of the work we are suddenly somewhere else than usually we tend to be’ and it is critical fiction’s great gift that it allows us to be displaced by the work of art and to be somewhere where we tend not to be.”

Order the book here, join in the discussion!

2 Responses to “‘Every text contains its own critique’ — Wendy Walker”

  1. Carrie Cooperider says:

    I’ve been thinking about the word “seduce” — how necessary it is for a work of art to be seductive in order to be successful in capturing whatever small corner of our attention is ever available to attend to the work. I like this word because of its etymology; originally signifying a desertion of allegiance, from ‘subducere’, to draw away, withdraw, remove — another way to think of Heidegger’s being somewhere we usually tend not to be.

    Critical fiction’s seduction, though, is contrapuntal. There’s a sense in which the writing is ‘against’ — a contradiction, even when the intention is the celebration of an esteemed text.

    Carrie Cooperider

  2. John Crowley says:

    a good description of my feeling when I at last understood what Wendy Walker was up to, at least in “My Man”: she said (in delayed response to my question that I could not really grasp in what sense a critical fiction like hers was a critique) that her method and aim was to discover within a text, a text that was different from or even contrary to the text of which her new text was a critique. Her text seduces a reader away from the author’s announced or evident text to a differnet one, that’s right there within it. A place different but the same.

    John Crowley

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