Lynn Alexander on “Epigonesia”, by Kane Faucher, annotated by Tom Bradley, published by Blaze VOX.
Resist the temptation to confuse the writer with the narrator, and the narrator with the channeled. In “Epigonesia” we see a writer –Faucher- who is also a character but who speaks with the voices of multiple and disparate others, explained by still another voice, Bradley, who provides the “annotation”. It is through Bradley that we are led through the sequence of inhabitants, a parade of “literary luminaries”.
Yes. Through an untimely death we end up in Canada, terrain of the “parochial”. (One wonders why they opted to reject the Falkland Islands? Too coveted, the wanting of Brits, the inability to convey the proper contrition?) Canadian cultureclasts might be either “protesting too much or compensating for something”. (What are they saying, penis envy?)
While much can be said about the premise and format, I want to focus on the aspect of satire in the work, and the way Faucher and Bradley establish the scene for their mischief. Stated outright is the confession of the author’s engaging in posthumous critique, which is clever as it serves to absolve him of accountability. Can anyone blame a guy for conclusions arrived at and conveyed via deciphered utterances, dead? He has crossed over into dead’s domain, where civilization reclaims her moderns to ferret them away from a begrudging and indulgent context. We can’t blame Faucher, he knows not what he speaks, wrapped as he is in transubstantia-tech fever. He’s only a conduit, after all.
First, the obvious irony of a critique on popular modern culture (text-speak, message obsession, gadgets, empty banter) and the scenario of a retrieved cell phone that serves as medium to some of history’s…well, less accessible personalities. The rejection of one candidate as of “the wrong antiquity” is suggestive of the kind of lampoon the reader will encounter. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect it to be funny- but it really is. And Faucher reveals his interest in the dynamics of “tech culture” , perhaps also an interest in the data-crypt, pieces of us once lost to the ethers, now ghost bits “in the machine”. Do we really know how electronic information might endure beyond us? Cyberspace might indeed be the modern “crystal skull”.
If we could ask Faucher or Bradley (well, actually we can probably do that…) who their intended audience would be, what would they say? Academic, elite, leisure class, deranged? Who among us reads Artaud? Celine?
This is an important question here because it speaks to at least part of the point, that we writers of today often treat legacy with the snub of ill-mannered children and then we busy ourselves with the most vacuous of pleasures.
If I had to sum up the point of “Epigonesia” in MY words, it would be the asking of this very simple question: What will be in your head when you are dead? When your filters and postures are immobilized, what is the breadth of your inner world? What is the intellectual truth, the mental summation of you?
“But death is the true
lesson and image of life… At least when you’re dead, the truth
comes out… all those years of fat eating and fat thinking…” (p.35)
Never mind the rigors of pretensions. As a sort of ghost, Faucher means to be let loose. And Bradley means to explain.
“The characters portrayed in this work are the product of the author’s speculative fictions and imagination, very loosely based on the actual persons themselves. This work is in no way designed to defame or libel the deceased persons of Ezra Pound, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Charles Bukowski, Antonin Artaud, Hunter S. Thompson, or Henry Miller3, nor their respective descendants or estates. This text is an exercise in caricature, satire, and speculation, and does not intend to cast these named persons in any claim to historical accuracy.4
For some inexplicable reason perhaps known only to the most eldritch of alchemical sciences in the perfection of homunculi,5 five6 dead vitriolic writers of the twentieth century have returned in the polite environs of Canada7 As they come to grips with the grim and harsh realities of the present day, they assess the situation the only way they know how: through their signature acerbic critiques, jeremiads, and austere reflections. However, lurking above them all as the fiendish puppetmaster and nefarious arch-villain is the one who ferried them into the world: Ebeneezer8 Pound, Grand Ipsissimus of Poetic Criticism.”
Consider the reader who is rooted in dueling dichotomies, scornful of modernity while entrenched in her trappings, nostalgic, craving the alleged disciplines of “old school” literature in a field of self-absorbed contemporaries. Imagine the reader who is both enamored with and disgusted by work that is robust and pompous, who seeks to understand the historical yardstick while also seeking to identify with something proximal but distinct.
Picture a modern man, emasculated by giants, pop culture the diluting, antithesis, the implicated “saltpetre”.
Different readers will identify different things that are funny, that speak to their own experiences and inner rants. The strange format can be appreciated as innovative, Faucher and Bradley authors of distinction in the experimental realm.
Lest you be put off by the different personalities, you don’t need to be an avid student of each to be entertained by the sections, I am certainly not.
It is a work to experience rather than study, a work whose volume was worth my time.