rough notes

Scraps of Hex / Andre Gide

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I found this file on my desktop the other day. It was the beginning of an entry I had started a long time ago, I think in November, but dropped, as it was time to head home and prepare some dinner. It is nonetheless an interesting little note about a book I will likely read some time soon, and then press on everyone I know. The PDLT, by the way, is the Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, a handy little desktop reference guide that has always sat close to my desk since I purchased it years ago. Sadly, I have not yet met the day where I no longer need its help when waxing poetic about Theory And Others Things I Think I Understand But Really Don’t.


Get a load of this shit, from the PDLT, under “Narrator,” where I’m glossing stuff about defamiliarization, and the self-reflexive novel, I’ve come across this amazing book:

. . . The method of using the self-conscious narrator [that is, roughly, a narrator written to understand his/her role in a work of fiction] lens itself to sophisticated and complex refinements in what is known as the ‘reflexive novel’ (q.v.) or the ‘involuted novel.’ An outstanding example of this is Andre’ Gide’s Les Faux-monnayeurs (1926). . . . This book is the diary of a novelist who is writing a novel – which is going to have the title Les Faux-monnayeurs (‘The Counterfeiters’) about a novelist who is keeping a diary about the novel he is actually writing. Gide compounded this ingenuity by keeping a journal while he was composing the novel; this was the Journal of the Counterfeiters, which he published in the same year as the novel.

(PDLT, p. 538)

Anyway, how fun is THAT!?! What an incredible book to read! Even better, it reminds me of the great story of my life that several anonymous readers of this journal pushed me once to write. Back in the day, when I was slightly more (or less?) of an idiot as I am today, I had an incredible idea for a book. This great idea was to write the fictional account of my alter ego (that is, Mitchell Irons), from the perspective of all the friends and lovers of the real self. Each chapter would be another friend/narrator, telling another facet/fabrication (lie) of the life of Mitch, and with each successive chapter, the reader would develop a better sense of my real self. (Of course, unawares to me, my real self and my doppelganger had long ago intertwined into the same person.) Just to add a little fun, the first couple chapters would begin with each friend talking about the time that Mitch tried to write his memoirs. It even had a cute title, something like “The Autobiography of Mark Chains, by Mitchell Irons,” or maybe it was “The Autobiography of Mitchell Irons, by Mark Chains.” The title included the byline of course – there would not be a listed author, at best, just an editor (i.e. The Iliad of Homer, ed by Richmond and Lattimore).

The book was started, but never completed, partly because I was too young and naive to understand the scope of my idea, but mostly because I prefered to go out and party on weekends instead of writing fiction. Maybe one day I’ll get back to it, and produce the epic account of my life, or the epic account of some one else’s life, whatever it way things actually are. Until then, if ever I hear one of you are writing something similar, then I’ll sick my gang of rogue bureaucrats on you. Led by iWill and The Most Hallowed Stonemonkey, they’ll come up quietly on you and then beat you senseless. Or maybe just giggle about how cool such a stunt would be.

Written by mitchellirons

February 26, 2004 at 9:41 pm

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