Friday, February 11, 2011

Scraping the bottom of the bowl

Frank Sargeson's toilet, Takapuna
Shabby, dirty, and with the seat up

I couldn't believe it when I saw that the judges of the Commonwealth Literary prize have selected Patrick Evans's cultural appropriation of Janet Frame, for the Asia Pacific shortlist.

Gifted exploits Janet Frame and steals her identity; it changes almost every relevant fact about her life in order to portray her as dishonest and elusive and inhuman. It's a deeply deceitful work that seems to have fooled many people into thinking it's some sort of tribute to Frame.

Yeah right. Coming from one of the most irritating thorns in Frame's side, a persistent Porlock who outraged Frame by his misrepresentations of her life, a man she really did despise, is it likely to be anything but revenge for her having spurned him as failed and flawed biographer?

Actually in an online interview Evans claims his novel is the "consummation" of all that Frame never really achieved (in his opinion). So he is not just appropriating her great reputation and using it to publicise his pale shadow of a book, he is attempting to take her place. He calls this her "last novel" and claims to have channeled her in writing it.

There has been no discussion within NZ of the lack of ethics in the identity theft of a great author who died only 7 years ago. Claims that it's "just a novel" wear thin in the light of the fact that all reviews have sported pictures of Janet Frame and made claims about her real life based on the Evans travesty.

It's not hard to see why those opposed to this sick and creepy novel - and I know there are many - have kept quiet in public.

They are afraid of the immature but vindictive power of the people who have been promoting it, to exclude anyone who opposes them, from the fellowships and mutual support and patsy reviewing that keep the mediocre drones of the hive mind busy and fed and feeling good about themselves.

Yet again Frame is demeaned and seen through the eyes of her woman-hating one-time 'mentor' Frank Sargeson, who quickly turned against her and spent many years involved in a vicious and untrue gossip campaign against her, resenting her success and pathologising her.

Sheesh people, where are your hearts? Where are your morals?
This is a crazy mean little country with no soul of its own; it was always abusive to Janet Frame and even after her death the bully-boy men and their heartless flunkie bitches are pissing on her grave.

A plague on them and their houses.

Not one decent reviewer or critic willing to raise these issues, in a whole country?


What a piss-poor state NZ literary criticism has reached, when such a hugely significant attack on the integrity of NZ's greatest author has not even been questioned.

But it's a small country, and the tendrils of influence and mutual obligation apparently reach, in this case, to every single corner of the literary world.
Except Janet Frame's corner. But who gives a shit about her?
Not this tall poppy slashing country.

Thank God she's dead, because nobody cared enough to stop the lobotomy this time, that Patrick Evans has given her.


The Paradoxical Cat said...

Oh wow. This post has been found and reviled by an Evans apologist! It has been called "outraged and abusive" by some chick who "objects" to my "objections".

If only she knew that better minds than hers have tried to deny me the right to express my honest opinion, have tried to silence me and otherwise neutralise my opposition to their appropriations of Frame.

OK for her to rail and flail with high dudgeon against her chosen windmills. Ooh ooh we should all bow down before her rapier wit!!But I should be demure and allow HER particular fave peeps to get away with proverbial murder, uncommented upon? Sorry chicky pie.

"Abusive" is clearly a relative term. It's OK in her head for Patrick Evans to give Frame a fictional lobotomy, and not OK for me to deplore his reinventions of a woman I knew and loved.

I am actually powerless to stop him, because the current law allows him to "slander the dead" and so I express my rage honestly.

The moral law, and the law of ethics, would have, should have, given any author pause before they used the real name of Janet Frame in a novel less than ten years after her death. In fact there are probably laws I could have appealed to, but frankly this particular issue isn't important enough to bother with. One or two blog posts to let off steam.

And as for the outraged blogger, she's obviously not a deep thinker, so I'm not overly offended by her bitter tirade against me. I understand her spleen; she on the other hand doesn't seem to be able to put herself into my place as an aggrieved friend of someone who has been done a grave injusice. Has she even researched the responses to fictional identity theft, how even after dozens or undreds of years, fans are insulted by the changing of well-known biographical details of the great writers or other historical figures? Is she so ignorant of Frame's biography that she hasn't recognised where Evans is "doing a number?" and where he is deliberately manipulating the emotional responses of readers just-like-her. (After decades of teaching tiresome undergrads, he has clearly learned how to pull their strings!)

Yes GIFTED is an achievement, and it's a shame so few of us can see just what that achievement really is. The ones like the furious wee bloggetta are the target uaudience and have swallowed it whole.

My righteously angry blog with its tearful recriminations and helpless appeal to karma in the face of apathy and malice, is an easy target for MS Self-righteous police dog defender of the Wellington School. let her read D. harold's reasoned critique of Evans's novel and still claim he's a demi god.

The Paradoxical Cat said...

I received this coment from someone who, I think, wanted to remain anonymous. I think I'll post it now just to show that some people seem to appreciate me sticking up for JF:

"Dear Schroedinger, No need to post this, please, since I'm 16,000K away and my opinion on this matter means nothing, but as a new fan of your blog (and one of JF) just wanted to say Brava! That was some awesome roar!"