An Interview with and Some Autobiographical Thoughts of Clive James
Jul 3, 2010
Clive James, man of many talents, roles and names to fame, admits that on some occasions when he spoke he did not know what he was talking about. Goodness, you can’t know the detail about all those things you’ve talking about over your seven decades of living, Clive! Clive has tried to absorb anything and everything that's new or rather, almost everything. He says that he can't abide hip-hop. The motivation behind his huge body of work: essays, poems, books, inter alia--is partly, he says, his sense of responsibility that began in childhood. He also has had a desire to: (a) use his time well and (b) experience the pleasures and fruits of solitude.
James's literary and verbal artistry lies in his ability to seem both casual and careful. He observes an imperfect world with acerbic off-handedness and humour. He displays a formidable erudition and a giddy love of pop culture. So much of our culture, its history and its present, infuses James's prose and his wit blossoms when he is interviewed.
Writers, James emphasizes, often speak with a special pontificating voice. That voice, James continues, strives for integration and a certain judiciousness even in its doubts. It also purports to contain the distilled wisdom of a lifetime's experience. Almost always, he says, that voice of the writer is at odds with the personality from which it emerges. “In my case the discrepancy is so glaring that even I can spot it,” he says engagingly with a proverbial twinkle in his eye. He introduced one of his columns about the mess that exists in his study and on his desk with the following question: “Are we able to think clearly when surrounded by mess because chaos is inherent in all our minds, even those of the great writers and thinkers?--Ron Price with thanks to “Denton: Elders,” 30 November 2009, ABC1, 8:00-8:30 p.m. and several interviews and columns of Clive James available on the internet.
It’s always a pleasure, Clive, although I can’t say I’ve read all your 30 books..there is too much else which catches my... fancy, my mind and emotions.
You said a good deal tonight which pleased my sensory & intellectual emporium...your words about creativity & sex; your comments about our wide- wide world thrown off with an insouciance and concern, with a humour and seriousness as... befits your life in the world of erudition and our pop-culture.. entertaining the mass as you’ve travelled your road during these epochs, my age, contemporary.. Clive, just a little bit older and so much more well-read: how on earth did you do it, Clive?? How did you do it, Clive?????
Is this all there is, Clive, this life? Ah well, we can’t agree on every line of thought, can we Clive???(1)
(1) my Bahá'í beliefs posit an afterlife. But whatever one believes, in the end, we are all agnostics, since belief and knowledge are different things. One can be convinced of the truth of something, have a sense of certitude and know little to nothing at all about the object.
Ron Price 1 December 2009 -----------------------------MORE ON CLIVE JAMES BELOW----------------------------- I was impressed with how Clive James approached his autobiography in his Unreliable Memoirs published at about the time I began to collect my own writings for a possible posterity. “Most first novels are disguised autobiographies,” he wrote. “My autobiography is a disguised novel. On the periphery, names and attributes of real people have been changed and shuffled so as to render identification impossible. Nearer the centre, important characters have been run through the scrambler or else left out completely. So really the whole affair is a figment got up to sound like truth. All you can be sure of is one thing: careful as I have been to spare other people's feelings, I have been even more careful not to spare my own. Up, that is, of course, to a point.”(1) Clive James,
Unreliable Memoirs, Picador, London, 1980, p. 9
------------ James says that he felt he had for too long been a prisoner of his childhood and wanted to put it behind him and that was the reason he wanted to “dredge it all up again without sounding too pompous.” He did not want to “wait until reminiscence was justified by achievement.” All attempts James wrote, with a strong vein of Australian humour and cynicism that runs through his entire work—indeed all his writing,“ all attempts to put oneself in a bad light are doomed to be frustrated.”-idem
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This full frontal facial photo was taken in 2004 when I was 60. The photo was taken in Hobart Tasmania. With its light and shadow, its light side and its dark side, it is an appropriate photo to symbolize … more
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