Per la fine di JR

Ci ho messo quasi due mesi, alla fine l’ho finito, un po’ perso e un po’ stordito. Adesso per un po’ solo libri corti.

– Ha mai pensato, signora Joubert, che per tutto quello che si vede in qualche posto c’è un milionario?
– Ma tu pensi solo a questo?
– Certo, cioè, guardi là dietro… – aveva bloccato la porta con la schiena mentre cercava di aprirgliela, facendo entrare il vento,  – cioè, in questo preciso momento in qualche posto c’è il milionario delle fontanelle e il milionario degli armadietti e il milionario delle lampadine, e anche per le lampadine c’è il milionario del vetro e quello della parte che si avvita […]
– Fermati solo un momento! – lei gli mise un braccio sulle spalle, – fermati e guarda…!
– Cosa? cosa devo…
[…] – Sì, alza gli occhi al cielo, guardalo! C’è un milionario per questo? – ma i suoi occhi si abbassarono sulla mano che lo teneva per la spalla come per confermare la sorpresa che aveva provato davanti alla fragilità delle ossa che stringeva. – Ci deve essere un milionario per ogni cosa?
– Certo, be’, be’ no, cioè…

(W.Gaddis, JR)

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3 risposte a “Per la fine di JR

  1. viapozzo6

    Metto qui di seguito estratti da un’intervista che ho trovato su Paris Review:

    INTERVIEWER What moved you to write JR?
    GADDIS Even though I should have known from The Recognitions that the world was not waiting breathlessly for my message, that it already knew, and was quite happy to live with all these false values, I’d always been intrigued by the charade of the so-called free market, so-called free enterprise system, the stock market conceived of as what was called a “people’s capitalism” where you “owned a part of the company” and so forth. All of which is true; you own shares in a company, so you literally do own part of the assets. But if you own a hundred shares out of six or sixty or six hundred million, you’re not going to influence things very much. Also, the fact that people buy securities—the very word in this context is comic—not because they are excited by the product—often you don’t know what the company makes—but simply for profit: The stock looks good and you buy it. The moment it looks bad you sell it. What had actually happened in the company is not your concern. In many ways I thought . . . the childishness of all this. Because JR himself, which is why he is eleven years old, is motivated only by good-natured greed. JR was, in other words, to be a commentary on this free enterprise system running out of control. Looking around us now with a two-trillion-dollar federal deficit and billions of private debt and the banks, the farms, basic industry all in serious trouble, it seems to have been rather prophetic.

  2. viapozzo6

    Qui tutta una parte lunghissima e approfondita:

    INTERVIEWER Is JR’s story something you extrapolated from life only, or did you rely on sociologies devoted to how the corporate world works upon social values, human qualities, and relationships in American culture?

    GADDIS The boy himself is a total invention, completely sui generis. The reason he is eleven is because he is in this prepubescent age where he is amoral, with a clear conscience, dealing with people who are immoral, unscrupulous; they realize what scruples are, but push them aside, whereas his good cheer and greed he considers perfectly normal. He thinks this is what you’re supposed to do; he is not going to wait around; he is in a hurry, as you should be in America—get on with it, get going. He is very scrupulous about obeying the letter of the law and then (never making the distinction) evading the spirit of the law at every possible turn. He is in these ways an innocent and is well-meaning, a sincere hypocrite. With Bast, he does think he’s helping him out. As for the corporate world, I do read the newspapers, clip things, ideas, articles, and just use them as fodder. But all that hardly requires a text in sociology. And this may be the place to make a further point. I’m frequently seen in the conservative press as being out there on the barricades shouting: Down with capitalism! I do see it in the end as really the most workable system we’ve produced. So what we’re talking about is not the system itself, but its abuses, I don’t mean criminal but the abundant abuses just withinthe letter of the law. The essential question is whether it can survive these abuses given free rein and whether these abuses are inherent in the system itself. I should think it is perfectly clear in my work—calling attention, satirizing these abuses—that our best hope lies in bringing things under better and more equitable control, cutting back the temptations to unmitigated greed and bemused dishonesty . . . in other words that these abuses the system has fostered are not essential, but running out of moral or ethical control can certainly threaten its survival.

    INTERVIEWER What JR is about is a radically new situation from the point of view of the American dream, too, and radically new as a literary treatment of that theme: the novel seems to be about how the American dream claims you before you are socially mature enough to dream it.

    GADDIS Fine, yes, well put. Very much the heart of it in fact.

    INTERVIEWER But the writer of JR must have commanded an immense inward knowledge of the mentality and the clichés of the jungle of speculation and manipulation to enable him to write the book. Is this formidable “documentation” mainly veristic or intuitive?

    GADDIS I think both, in the sense that the earlier book was too. It is getting a central idea—in one case the forgery, in the other case the American dream turned inside out—and then seeking the documentation, in areas that essentially don’t greatly interest me, that simply provide vehicles. But I wanted them right, thinking if someone who is well-versed and familiar with the world of finance, with what goes on in the market and so forth, read JR . . . that even though it’s a quite improbable story, it is still possible. So that JR backs into the situation; he isn’t sure really what is happening. But in the beginning, what is very important, he is not viewed as one of these computer-wizard brilliant kids. He buys defaulted bond issues simply because they’re cheap—it says a thousand dollars up in the corner, but selling at seven cents on the dollar, he’s getting them for seventy dollars apiece. So it’s simple, cheerful greed. Then, when finally the corporation is thrown into bankruptcy, and they wipe out all of the stock, all the equities, he becomes the largest holder of preferred stock and takes control pretty much by default. This is not through his brilliance. But, of course, when he does end up with this textile mill, Eagle Mills, and reads in the paper about this brilliant financial person in New York who has taken over, he believes the myth that has been created around him. And, finally, by the end of the book, he is a prisoner of his own myth: he thinks that he isa brilliant financial operator. When it all collapses, he says, “Well, why do they blame me?”

    INTERVIEWER Earlier you mentioned the irrelevant activities of educators in JR’s world. Your satire concerning education is quite passionate. You must have had bad experiences.

    GADDIS No, really the opposite, in fact. I went to boarding school in New England when I was very young, and to college at Harvard, and had a good education. And so it was: looking around me as I became thirty and forty and fifty at what goes on, thinking this is not what serious education is all about.

    INTERVIEWER The humanities can do anything but humanize these school children in JR. And your view of art has not changed since The Recognitions, as evidenced by figures like Bast, the composer, Eigen, the novelist, and Gibbs, the encyclopedist. What makes you place art at the center of fraud and counterfeit in the modern world?

    GADDIS Let me start off with this observation, touching perhaps on my earlier ones on the crushing abuses of capitalism. Frequently enough, careless or predisposed readers, John Gardner for instance, see these books as chronicles of the dedicated artist crushed by commerce, which is, of course, to miss, or misread, or simply disregard all the evidence oftheir own appetite for destruction, their frequently eager embrace of the forces to be blamed for their failure to pursue the difficult task for which their talents have equipped them, failure to pursue their destiny if you like, taking art at the center, as you say, as redemption in, and of and from, a world of material values, overwhelmed by the material demands it imposes. The embittered character in JR, for instance, who is Eigen, is obviously based in part on my own experience with The Recognitions, that it was not a success when it was published and I was obliged to go and work in a pharmaceutical company, which I did not like, but I had a family and had to make a living. Next, Gibbs, who is very much a persona; obviously his name is from Willard Gibbs of the second law of thermodynamics and the concept of entropy. Gibbs is the man who has all of the feelings and the competency but is overcome, overwhelmed by a sense of the futility of doing anything and the consequent question of what is worth doing, which he cannot respond to. And so even though he could’vedone this, he could’ve done this, he could’ve done this, he doesn’t finish anything because he just thinks it’s not worth it, whatever it is. So that finally, when he has been quite a negative figure all the way through, and meets a woman who has great confidence and faith and love for him, and wants him to complete his own work, he tries to go back, but it’s too late. Bast starts with great confidence, the sort I mentioned earlier, that confidence of youth. He’s going to write grand opera. And gradually, if you noticed— because of pressures of reality on him and money and so forth—his ambitions shrink. The grand opera becomes a cantata where we have the orchestra and the voices. Then it becomes a piece for orchestra, then a piece for small orchestra, and finally at the end he’s writing a piece for unaccompanied cello, his own that is to say, one small voice trying to rescue it all and say,Yes, there is hope. Again, like Wyatt, living it through, and in his adventure with JR having lived through all the nonsense, he will rescue this one small, hard, gem-like flame, if you like. Because it is thatreal note of hope in JR that is very important. It’s the kind of thing that someone like John Gardner totally missed. Finally, it’s the artist as “inner-directed” confronting a materialistic world—brokers, bankers, salesmen, factory workers, most politicians, the lot—that JR himself represents, and which is “outer-directed,” if you want it in sociological terms.

    INTERVIEWER What do the letters J and R stand for?

    GADDIS A sort of abbreviation for Junior.

    INTERVIEWER And also his class at school perhaps. He is going to 6J. If that has got anything to do with it at all.

    GADDIS No, no, no, that J is Mrs. Joubert, the teacher. This is what I mean about being wary of tracing down sources, inferences; Gardner, I think, traced the name Bast down to some Greek reference, which was, of course, nonsense.

  3. viapozzo6

    E qui due risposte brevi, le più importanti:

    INTERVIEWER Do you want readers to like what you do?

    GADDIS Heavens yes.

    INTERVIEWER What kind of audience do you think of when you write?

    GADDIS When I write I don’t think of the audience. After the fact I think, Well there. I hope they like it.

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