Tom McCarthy: You gotta read the Greeks if you want to understand how the whole symbolic order fits together; it’s like the main-frame from which all subsequent literature springs. Read the Oresteia, Oedipus, Antigone. Then the Renaissance writers, obviously. And the big modernists. Not reading Joyce if you want to be a serious writer would be kind of like not looking at Picasso if you want to paint. In terms of now, I think some of the most interesting literary figures (as I suggested earlier) aren’t necessarily writers. The films of David Lynch, for example, have an extremely literary logic; his latest, Inland Empire, is structured like Finnegans Wake or the novels of Robbe-Grillet, with a set of repetitions regressing inwards, modulating as they repeat. He’s grappling with questions of narrative and representation and identity in a way that mainstream novelists simply aren’t, and is therefore much more interesting as a ‘writer’, even if he isn’t strictly speaking one.
I’ve got Robbe-Grillet’s Jealousy/In the Labrynth at home, but have you seen the print? Who gave that atrocity the green light? Do not open the book without ibuprofen.
Inland Empire is not too far down our Netflix list, but there’s a risk of spraining something, to go directly from the last disc of Arrested Development (I have never laughed so much) to Inland Empire, isn’t there?