Dasein, Red Elephant.

Interview with William H.Gass


redelephant: This is a week old. William H.Gass talks to the Boston Globe about his new collection of essays, the Temple of Texts.. In this five minute interview, he starts getting excited about the logic behind the simple to-do list. For Gass, the list is "the power and joy of utterance, of hyperbola and enthusiasms".

Pick up laundry, call the dentist, visit the cemetary. Lists. I love 'em. Especially online ones. An illusion of productivity. Order admist chaos. Vision of a perfected future. The eye of a hurricane. You get the idea.

Excerpt from the Boston Globe Q & A with William Gass

Question: Your interest in structure extends to the sentence itself: Not only do you include sentence diagrams in some of your essays, you write extraordinarily long sentences-150 words a pop isn't uncommon...

GASS: People just don't notice my short ones! There are a lot more short ones.

But I do like lists. I've written an essay on the logic of lists and that's what I'm interested in: the structure of the list. The list is an important aspect of literature itself and has been since the ''Iliad."

IDEAS: You mean, a regular old list? ''I need milk, eggs, bacon..."

GASS: Yes, a list like that. It's the power and joy of utterance, of hyperbola and enthusiasms. When someone says, ''Do you like fruit?" and you say, ''Yes, I like apples, oranges, peaches,..." what you're saying is ''yes!" in a hyperbolic structure.

Rabelais was a great list maker. Whitman was a great list poet. The description of the armor of Achilles in the ''Iliad" is a list. The forces that are going to attack Troy is one of the greatest and earliest of lists.


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