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Louis Greenberg

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“here is Jane sed Ann”: a critical analysis

I recently posted a picture of some writing by my son on Facebook. Some literary discussion ensued:

Guido Vittorio Salamdien
Oh dear, Louis, a realist in your midsts.
3 hours ago · Unlike · 2

Louis Greenberg
I’m struggling to pinpoint the influence, actually. It could be a McCarthyesque post-causal inductive style. Perhaps mid-career Coetzee? Or it could be a simple homage to Hemingway with updated universal masculinist tropes (note where the power of the remote control lies – squarely with the patriarchy; but at the same time the protagonists, passive though they are, are notably weighted towards the presumably female. What does it mean?). I’ll ask the author at the next Q&A.
3 hours ago · Edited · Like · 3

Guido Vittorio Salamdien
Ask about Beckett as well.
3 hours ago · Unlike · 2

Louis Greenberg
Good point. Though I suspect that the concept of ‘trooth’ is deployed post-ironically.
3 hours ago · Edited · Like · 1

Guido Vittorio Salamdien
That opening anti-flourish: “Here is Jane sed Ann” is stylistically strikingly (sorry) Beckett.
3 hours ago · Unlike · 2

Louis Greenberg
And, of course, just as we wait indefinitely for closure (what do they see on the television? what is their reaction? what happens afterwards? we are left devastingly in a condition of unalleviated pending), the protagonists are waiting for the Patriarch to broadcast something worthwhile over the public broadcast system. They could have chosen a YouTube video or DVD of their own choosing, been participants in their own meaning-making, but instead they (prepare to) watch television. Is it a comment on the limits of the putative “choice” offered by the tyranny of the new media?
2 hours ago · Edited · Like · 3

Louis Greenberg
Even though “Here is Jane sed Ann” seems definitive and declarative, I’m struck by Bob’s doubt: “[he] came and had a look”. In this setting, he cannot trust even the most straightforward statement of fact. Nothing can be taken for granted.
2 hours ago · Edited · Like · 2

Louis Greenberg
Feminists might argue that Bob mistrusts the statement because it has been uttered by a woman, but my sense of the piece is that it points towards a far broader ontological instability.
2 hours ago · Like · 2

Louis Greenberg
Maybe that’s because I like the author and his other work and don’t want to see him as harbouring such reactionary politics, even if they are unconscious.
2 hours ago · Like · 2

Louis Greenberg
But that stance, of course, implicates me, the reader, as much in the (potentially) reactionary politics of the piece. Why must I take sides, instead of simply read what is stated?
2 hours ago · Like · 2

Guido Vittorio Salamdien
That final false note, “Bob, Ann and Jane sat” strikes with its pessimism as much as it is a description of equality. A lapse into the truly post-Utopian? Are we now post-post-Lapserian?
2 hours ago · Unlike · 4

Louis Greenberg
Yes, there is a definite weight about it. A heavy finality (that ‘sat’ onomatepoeically conjures the intractability of gravity (and of course mortality)) that, all the same, offers no closure. I released a new edition of one of my previous monographs on this work, which made more of that devastating, “unalleviated pending” (Greenberg 2014). We don’t know what happens after they sit and we are forced to draw our own conclusions. I suspect that our reading of what happens after the end is a mirror on our selves. In fact, I find it such a glaring, honest mirror that I find it difficult to look into it. More questions are raised than answers.
2 hours ago · Edited · Like · 3

Helen Moffett
I really really wish I could read this thread out at the average English Dept seminar.
2 hours ago · Unlike · 4

Guido Vittorio Salamdien
Think about how “it was troo” draws the Molesworthian dilemma inside out and compresses the humour of it as if it were to pass through a blackhole. A cry of anguish dense in its extistenstialist compression.
2 hours ago · Unlike · 3

Louis Greenberg
Absolutely (and beautifully put) – an unflinchingly cynical mockery of the very concept of truth and the complacent comforts it provides the bourgeoisie.
2 hours ago · Edited · Like · 2

Helen Brain Faulkner
My reading is that Jane Sed Ann is one person. Possibly with a fractured sense of self, but don’t discount this possibility.
2 hours ago · Unlike · 3

Louis Greenberg
You might be right, Helen. The ambiguous typography in that opening salvo suggests it. And, as you say, the intrapsychic fracturing in the final line then becomes both devastatingly intimate and almost eschatological in effect. I never read it like this, but it adds compelling layers of meaning to the text.
2 hours ago · Edited · Like · 3

Fiona Snyckers
I am gripped by the crushing weight of nominative determinism that afflicts Jane. She is held suspended in a narrative web not of her own weaving. She suffers intense appearance anxiety (plain Jane), and also from the knowledge of her own imminent demise (Jane Doe). Yet she is supposed to be playful (Fun with Dick and Jane). In short she is hamstrung by the expectations that a capitalist hegemonic media places on young women.
about an hour ago · Unlike · 3

Bronwyn Harris
In the spirit of Louis Greenberg’s (2014) “glaring honest mirror” and following the post-Freudian confessional, the silence surrounding this text must now speak to Patriarchal Power: the author’s Squidwardian Mama recently annexed the television remote control and declared herself The Remote Monarch. By empowering “Daddy” to “toond on the television”, the author enacts a wish fullfillment that dares not speak directly to the omnipotent and frankly, awesome, Mama. He leaves Bob, Ann and Jane sitting in anticipation and hope, yearning for a return to the squabbling bleakness of everyday life.
about an hour ago · Unlike · 4

Helen Brain Faulkner
of course when one takes into account that the last component of television is Sion, it all takes on a deeper, more theological meaning. Bob, Ann and Jane are determined not to engage with the numinosity which Daddy so ardently desires.
about an hour ago · Unlike · 3

Louis Greenberg
That’s a chilling reading, Fiona, but you’re absolutely right. You’ve deftly managed to connect the themes of mortality and the oddly passive female characterisation. Who is this “Jane”, if not the archetypal corpse-bride, Sleeping Beauty or Snow White?
about an hour ago · Edited · Like · 4

Louis Greenberg
No wonder the poor woman ends up fractured. Do you think the fracturing is a critical flourish on the author’s part, almost in a Charlotte Perkins Gilman tradition, arguing that madness is the only feasible result of a culpable patriarchy? The deadpan delivery either suggests an uncritical presentation or a tightly controlled subversiveness.
about an hour ago · Edited · Like · 1

Helen Brain Faulkner
what troubles me also is the structure of the double d’s in ‘Daddy.’ Why these elongated letter stems? Do they say something about the author’s relationship with his father?
about an hour ago · Unlike · 3

 

Recent comments:

  • <a href="http://www.sapartridge.co.za" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    Sally
    May 13th, 2014 @13:16 #
     
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    A bright future lies ahead :)

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  • <a href="http://tiahbeautement.typepad.com/quotidian/" rel="nofollow">tiah</a>
    tiah
    May 13th, 2014 @13:22 #
     
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    Fantastic.
    All of it.

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  • <a href="http://www.cathellisen.com/" rel="nofollow">Cat Hellisen</a>
    Cat Hellisen
    May 14th, 2014 @06:13 #
     
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    Hee! Wonderful. I keep sending this to all the people I know who've studied lit.

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  • <a href="http://www.joannemacgregor.com" rel="nofollow">Joanne Macgregor</a>
    Joanne Macgregor
    May 14th, 2014 @07:42 #
     
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    Two aspects of this text, more apparent in their absence than their presence, are disturbing to the vigilant reader.

    Firstly, what is the nature and origin of the author’s aversion to the letter ‘u’ – as evidenced by his atypical, perhaps even iconoclastic, spelling of the words “true” (“troo”) and “turned” (“troond”)? Is the author blatantly, yet subtly, pointing at a childlike narcissism in the narrator, in which the aspect of the alien other is minimised and discounted in the phenomenological lived experience of the self?

    Secondly, where WAS Jane? The acontextual positioning of the text speaks to the existential alienation of the characters who exist, indeed subsist, in a motiveless vacuum which renders inexplicable their their attitudes (doubt regarding Jane’s return), actions (the hopeless, lemming-like submission to the cultural hegemony of mass ‘entertainment’), and inaction (the timeless, Godot-like sitting).

    Where was Jane and what will be her ultimate fate? The reader, like Jane and Ann and Bob, is left in limbo. Only the impersonally designated “daddy” escapes the sedentary fate – ironically by subjecting others to it with his “toond”-ing. Significantly, he is the only character referred to in terms of his role – that of the paterfamilias – rather than a unique cognomen. Is the author implying that hope and redemption lie in familial service rather than personal identity? Alas, in a text without a history or, seemingly, a future, there can be no comforting answers.

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  • ar
    ar
    May 17th, 2014 @21:47 #
     
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    It’s actually simpler and more complicated than that. Molesworthian dilemmas inside out, compression of humour, blackhole whatwhat, all that. Cries of anguish. Bob is channelling Adrain here. I don’t agree that Jane Sed Ann is one person. Jane is quite obviously Pandora. There are tens of hundreds of people who can’t get out of bed lately, for the misery of not having any more Mole books to look forward to. Louis, early indications are that you have spawned well and in the interests of Humanity.

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