Monday, March 15, 2010
At Finnegan We Begin Again
I have to highlight my Forum exchange with John Berbrich earlier this morning. For those who don’t know, John and his wife Nancy publish and edit the literary quarterly Barbaric Yawp in upstate New York. Way back in 2001, John interviewed me for the magazine, and then in 2002 I interviewed him. Ever since, we’ve continued our conversation on my main website — the source of my frequent Forum updates.
Last night, I pointed John to the wonderful portrait by Cassandra LaMothe I posted recently. Here’s what he had to say, followed by my reply:
JB: Wow, that woman can really draw. The picture makes you look solid & kinda mean. Certainly formidable. Could be an author in a remote century, sitting in a garret or a dungeon, your face illuminated by a flaming torch. You’re wearing scratchy wool, & I can hear people outside calling sheep & tramping through the mud. Someone’s preparing gruel for supper & there’s a religious earthquake about to start shaking things up somewhere to the east. But you’ve got your literary & philosophical work to do & can’t be bothered w/ these mundane happenings. Am I close?
WM: Closer than you might imagine. Because now I have a confession to make: this is actually based on a photograph of my great-grandfather, Lev Mikhailovich Wilstoy, an obscure writer and philosopher who babbled and wrote nothing but gibberish the last three decades of his life. He was so hard to understand, in fact, that some say he was a precursor to Joyce.
It’s hard to believe we’ve been carrying on like this almost every day for over seven years. It explains a lot, I think. Maybe too much.