Friday, September 18, 2009

The Web 2.0 Wayback Machine:: Fireworks During CBC Interview of Can Lit Queen, Margaret Atwood

Click on image for interview.

I'm falling behind on my blogging, as I have a lot going on these days, but I'll try to catch up soon.  Not helping is that I'm taking the trusty white Macbook down to a San José Apple Store to get repaired.  I was able to get an appointment sooner than other stores, but they needed to order the part and may not be able to install it without having my laptop for over a day.  Oh, Eaton Centre Apple Store, you have spoiled me.

This 1977 CBC interview of Margaret Atwood in a nutshell...a w k w a r d.  You can see the wheels come off the bus of this one, about a third of the way into the clip.  Atwood {above left} seems to get annoyed with the interviewer, Hana Gartner, for her interpretation of one of the short stories in Dancing Girls.  Atwood dishes out cutting remarks while donning a seemingly passive-aggressive smile.  I dig Gartner's glasses.

Hana brings up an interesting point about how people want to know more about Margaret.  There a bit where Atwood says to Gartner that she hasn't asked anything about her personal life and then proceeds to rattle off some details of the generic ilk found on book jackets.  Atwood goes on to show her annoyance at how people relate her characters to her, but get it all wrong.

Using Roland Barthes' Death of the Author, there is no prescribed meaning for a creative work.  While factoring in the "life" of the author to give meanings and interpretations to the stories might be sloppy criticism to some, I feel it's what the everyday lay reader does all the time.  Not just with writers, but many forms of entertainment.  This hunger for the personal details of creative people {artists, writers, actors, etc.} can be mapped onto our interests in celebrity culture, which I feel is a complicated relationship between the individual and the idol.  

So, when people go up to her and ask, "Are you a vegetarian?," because one of her stories has a central character who is a vegetarian, she is annoyed.  Her rationale?  She's annoyed by readers trying to know more about her because she doesn't want to be reduced to a simplified fetish object and goes on to discuss the fluidity of identity.  In her mind, the psyche is highly contextualized and rooted in moments::
"If you put me in a new situation, I would probably behave in a totally unpredictable way, just as you would."
I disagree.  She even states she wants to separate her life from the work, but she realizes that once a work is completed and published, the author doesn't have any control over it.  I can see how that could be frustrating to a creative person, but for whatever reason it doesn't bother me.  In terms of the creative process, I tend to embrace and play with the open-ended nature of interpretations.  Not as a device to be intentionally coy or obscure, but to create work that embraces multiple meanings, as opposed to a singular "read."

Atwood was spot-on about predicting a pendulum swing in the culture from "experimentation" in the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s and what she felt was a rising tide of "traditionalism," which she doesn't decry.  Exit Trudeau and Carter, enter Mulroney and Reagan.

Twitterversion:: Web2_0 Wayback Machine.Intrsting #CBCArchive footge:: #HanaGartner intervw of #MargaretAtwood fr. #1977 w/mild fireworks. @Prof_K

Song:: Do You Know The Way To San Jose (Live Version) - Dionne Warwick

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