Monday, November 28, 2011

Wherein we visit Benjamin Hale at Fortnight Journal . . .

The Mysterious Mr. Hale

I have the above image from Fortnight Journal, a project that explains itself here, beginning with these words:
Fortnight is a non-profit, multimedia online project that documents promising members of the "millennial generation." By featuring 14 contributors each edition from 14 distinct disciplines, Fortnight showcases young people who will define the ideas of tomorrow. In doing so, we document an important shift: Millennials are the first generation to grow up with the Internet, yet will be the last to recall a time when it did not exist . . .

There's a lot more to read on that if you're so inclined, but perhaps you're wondering how I learned of this site. Did I spend hours surfing the internet for sites featuring Ben Hale? No. I received a head's up from Ben's father, one of my high school friends from back in the Ozarks:
I happened upon some interesting stuff of Ben's last night, collected at something called the Fortnight Journal, itself a pretty interesting piece of work that I plan to poke around in more if/when I ever get all the stuff currently in front of me read/watched/listened-to and digested, etc. Anyhow, I just listened to this audio piece that he logged there, and liked it a lot. I think I can remember him describing the bulk of this tale to me several years ago (you'd think something as flipped out as this would have more of a "Oh, yeah, he DEFINITELY told me about that!!" stature in my head, but, all I can say is, he's got a lot of stuff like this that he talks about when he and I are around each other, and, often they get talked about after a half a bottle or two of wine has been expended . . . so.), and I believe the whole thing is by and large coming from real experience in Iowa City. See (or hear in this case) what you think.

Well, that sounded intriguing enough for me to investigate further, so I clicked over to the FJ and listened to Ben read the piece that Pete recommended. This required about 40 minutes, but if you're in a hurry, a transcript exists for busy folk like you. The story involves a doppelgänger. And a larger mystery. And for some reason, the voice reminds me of Bruno Littlemore's manner of speaking . . . though more evolved. Anyway, the story's titled "Epistemological Promises," and it's a sort of metafiction -- as we used to call such things back in the 1980s -- in which Ben Hale plays himself caught up in a mystery that eventually gets solved without getting resolved. The story begins in a mundane manner:
I attended, and this semester I’m currently teaching at, Sarah Lawrence College, a tiny liberal arts school in Westchester County. While at Sarah Lawrence, I took a writing class from the novelist Brian Morton, who was one of the best writing teachers I’ve ever had. It was a class where the personalities of all the students in it just had a way of meshing well together, and I still have some great friends that I met in that class. Brian became a great friend, and a great help to me in many ways later on. When Brian moved from Brooklyn to a house in Westchester near to the Sarah Lawrence campus, I built a lot of bookshelves and furniture for him, and even wound up babysitting his two young kids. So I was pretty close with Brian at Sarah Lawrence . . .

I'll leave the rest for interested readers or auditors. Like Pete, I recommend it. Oh, I nearly forgot. There's also a video interview (cf. the image above) of Ben talking about Arkansas and his earliest memory, which is of lying as a baby in a buggy bumping along as he looks up into a blue sky and suddenly being fearfully aware of the infinite depth up there, or what seemed boundless, I suppose, and falling into terror at the possibility of falling . . .

Though there would be an intriguing irony in falling from the corrupt earth into the pristine heavens.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home