Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Insertions and Deletions

This page is a fascinating record of the editing process of a David Foster Wallace piece recently published in The New Yorker. (The piece, Backbone, is highly recommended as an example of Wallace at his most obsessive.) Curiously, my fascination for the working processes of writers — I'm perpetually getting serenely lost in all those volumes of Joyce's notes, sketches, drafts, and proofs — doesn't extend much to the work of composers, and I've more or less given up on maintaining my own sketches and drafts. I used to love to puzzle through things like this — having worked intensely with manuscript materials by a diverse collection of composers including Machaut, Ockeghem, Lully, Ives, Partch, Cage — but found myself soon imitating methods too much for my own comfort. (Some scores should carry a warning label: Analyzing music other than your own can be infectious!) Perhaps the translation of methods from one medium into another involved in following a writer (or a writer/artist like Duchamp or Klee) provides a useful distance.

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