Vila-Matas At Documenta 13

Article-HeaderDid Enrique Vila-Matas attend Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany? Was he an invited artist, albeit an unusual selection being a writer? Is his novel The Illogic of Kassel a fictionalized accounting of Vila-Matas experiences at Documenta 13 or is it a complete fiction? Is Documenta a McGuffin?

I did some quick research after finishing this novel and learned that most of the specifics related to Kassel and Documenta were true: characters, places, events. I was unable to verify the actual art exhibits but considering that there were almost two-hundred exhibits, I can accept that those Vila-Matas wrote about were real or at least variations on real exhibits.

But it strikes me that the reality or fictionalization of the author’s presumed experiences at Documenta 13 are irrelevant to the novel.

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We Look For the Vampires That Exist Inside Us

images.jpgI am at the head of this expedition about which we have all dreamed at some point, and, among my memories is hearing the Italian writer Antonio Tabucchi say that, in a way, literature is like a message in a bottle (or like those messages pinned on the bulletin board in Peter’s Bar), because literature needs a recipient too; and so, just as we know that someone, some unknown person, will read our shipwrecked sailor’s message, we also know that someone will read our literary writings: someone who is not so much the intended recipient as an accomplice, insofar as he or she is the one who will give meaning to our writing. That is what allows every message to be added to, to acquire new meaning, to grow in resonance. And that is precisely what is so strange and fascinating about literature, the fact that it is not a static organism, but something that mutates with every reading, something that is constantly changing.

Enrique Vila-Matas — Vampire In Love, “Invented Memories”

Is This the End of Gutenberg?

DublinesqueIn the vernacular of the age, Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas is a bit of a hot-mess. At times it is great and at times it flounders. I suppose one might take the analogy of a day meandering around Dublin to excuse some of the meandering in Dublinesque, but I think the author could have tightened things up a bit.

Dublinesque revolves around the changeover from the “Gutenberg Galaxy” to the digital age in publishing and uses James Joyce’s Ulysses as the last truly great novel of the ink and paper variety and symbolically focuses on the celebration of Bloomsday in Dublin for its “center.” The plot follows the downward spiral of a literary publisher, whose battles with alcohol and hikikomori glued to his computer screen experiencing life filtered through Google. The destruction of this publisher is, if you will, the objective correlative of the passing of the age of Gutenberg.

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In favor of talented readers

DublinesqueHe made associations between ideas, and always had a remarkable tendency to read his own life like a book. Publishing, and consequently having to read so many manuscripts, contributed still more to this tendency of his to imagine that metaphorical associations and an often highly enigmatic code lay concealed behind any scene in his daily life.

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