Melinda Camber Porter In Conversation with Joyce Carol Oates, 1987 Princeton University: ISSN Volume 1, Number 6: Melinda Camber Porter Archive of Creative Works

Melinda Camber Porter In Conversation with Joyce Carol Oates, 1987 Princeton University: ISSN Volume 1, Number 6: Melinda Camber Porter Archive of Creative Works

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Melinda Camber Porter In Conversation with Joyce Carol Oates, 1987 Princeton University: ISSN Volume 1, Number 6: Melinda Camber Porter Archive of Creative Works by Melinda Camber Porter, Joyce Carol Oates, Joseph R. Flicek

Melinda Camber Porter in Conversation with Joyce Carol Oates Forward by: Cathy Suter, artist and writer ISSN: Volume 1, Number 6 Hardcover: (ISBN: 978-1-942231-03-5), 8½x11, $49.99 (2017). (98 pages, photo illustrated, index, and bibliography) Ebook: (ISBN: 978-1-942231-20-2), $3.99 (2017). See Melinda Camber Porter on YouTube… Melinda Camber Porter interview with Joyce Carol Oates took place in 1987 at her Princeton University Office at the time of the publication of her book On Boxing. They noted it as a highly unusual topic for a female writer. Joyce Carol Oates grew up at an early age attending boxing matches with her father and thus the book. Their conversations ranged from boxing to her writings, writers, and her writing process and styles. This title includes the differences noted in American and European writers. In 1987, Joyce Carol Oates notes the American infatuation with celebrities and names as examples Henry Ford, PT Barnum and Donald Trump! In the Foreward Cathy Suter, writer and artist, notes the metaphor for the creative writing process and writer’s block described by Joyce Carol Oates, when she compares it to, “mowing very wet, chunky grass with a hand mower, pushing through big patches of lawn and having to go over it again and again, until getting it just right.” Melinda Camber Porter passed away of ovarian cancer in 2008 and left a significant body of work in art, journalism, and literature. The Melinda Camber Porter Archive wishes to share these conversations with the public to ensure the continuation and expansion of the ideas expressed in her creative works. Melinda Camber Porter Archive of Creative Works ISSN: 2379-2450 (Print), 2379-3198 (E-Book), 2379-321X (Audio) Joseph R. Flicek, Director flicekjr@pipeline.com USA 1-347-782-1653 www.MelindaCamberPorter.com http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melinda_Camber_Porter Melinda Camber Porter's YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIflCaF2qpHh8uQgffSXLDQ

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781942231035
Publisher: Blake Press
Publication date: 09/01/2017
Pages: 98
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.44(d)

About the Author

Melinda Camber Porter (1953 - 2008) was born in London and graduated from Oxford University with First-Class-Honors in Modern Languages.
She began her writing career in Paris as a cultural correspondent for The Times of London. French culture is the subject of her book Through Parisian Eyes, which the Boston Globe describes as "a particularly readable and brilliantly and uniquely compiled collection."
She interviewed major cultural figures including four Nobel Prize winners (Saul Bellow, Gunter Grass, Eugenio Montale, and Octavio Paz), and major writers and film directors from 1975 to 2008.
She took thousands of photographs. Her novel, Badlands, a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, was set on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Receiving a Starred review from Booklist, and Publishers Weekly stated "a novel of startling, dreamlike lyricism." The library edition includes 45 of her photographs of the Badlands and Pine Ridge, SD.
A film documenting her paintings and poems, The Art of Love, showed regularly on Public Television stations nationally with her exhibitions.
Melinda Camber Porter's paintings served as the backdrops for her theatrical works for her musicals: Night Angel, with music by Carmen Moore and originally performed at Lincoln Center in New York City, and Journey to Benares, a rock-opera with music, direction and choreography by Elizabeth Swados, and was performed at the Asia Society and Museum in New York City.
Melinda Camber Porter leaves a prolific legacy of art, journalism, literature, and media. The Library of Congress established the international standard serial numbers for The Melinda Camber Porter Archive of Creative Works, which comprises two series of books. The First Series are books of journalism. The Second Series are books of art and literature. [ISSN:2379-2450 (Print), 2379-3198 (Ebook), 2379-321X (Audio)]

Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific American Writer

Joseph R. Flicek is the editor

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

MELINDA CAMBER PORTER IN CONVERSATION WITH JOYCE CAROL OATES Princeton, New Jersey, April 9, 1987

Melinda Camber Porter:

When I was reading On Boxing I was very much reminded of something that you said about D. H. Lawrence, which was that he — well, he tends to celebrate — I've got it written down — you said that like most visionary artists he celebrates the life force wherever it appears, even if it withdraws itself from the species to which it belongs. And when I was reading On Boxing I was wondering if you thought the life force was withdrawing at certain points in the act of boxing or whether you were fully celebrating it, because it changes throughout the book. Sometimes you see it as a sign of really an underprivileged person coming into some form of being.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

And then at other times you compare it. You don't just say it's an art.

You say it's art.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes. It is very complex, and I think that people who follow boxing are always more or less reassessing their own responses to it. There are some people who basically love boxing and go through periods when they can't watch any more boxing. What you say is so interesting. I never thought of that before. I mean obviously it springs from some of the same Lawrencian sources.

Melinda Camber Porter:

Yes.

Joyce Carol Oates:

The celebration of a kind of primal energy and ingenuity. At the same time it can be such a devastating and cruel Darwinian, really piteous spectacle of two men just pitted against each other for the amusement or entertainment of a crowd, so that it operates really on different levels.

Melinda Camber Porter:

And yet it seemed to me that the book didn't — to me, it surprised me when people were saying "Oh this is your best book" or something as if you'd just started —

Joyce Carol Oates:

Oh yes, the themes are there.

Melinda Camber Porter:

— writing about this sort of thing, because what I find very interesting in your writing is a particular quality. I mean, one of the qualities I find fascinating about it is that violence and — let's call it evil behavior, if one wants to be sort of moralistic about it — is presented not in a depressing way a lot of the time but as some kind of maniacal life force.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes. Maniacal life force. It's a life force that we're looking at through a pane of glass or something. It's not able to hurt us personally, so it seems to be some kind of celebration of energy as we might feel if we looked at a supernova or a comet or a star exploding out in space. It's just an extraordinary spectacle and we're really removed from it. So that is one way of looking at boxing, a kind of aesthetic point of view. And I could see other points of view too. And I thought of the book as a sort of mosaic or collage where you look at it very close and with great concentration in one way but then having done that you move on to another way to see — well, it may be all these things but it's also the way the underprivileged class literally fights its way out of poverty, and they might not fight each other if they could fight other people and get paid for it.

Melinda Camber Porter:

Yes.

Joyce Carol Oates:

And those of us who follow boxing very closely are sort of coming off the recent extraordinary fight of Hagler and Leonard, still talking about and trying to absorb a fight that seems not to have been won but in a funny way a fight that didn't end, just arbitrarily stops after twelve rounds. But the trajectory of that fight is something that people will be talking about, like, what would have happened had it been fifteen rounds. Everybody says, well, Hagler would have won. So it's all very complex. I'm probably going on a little too long.

Melinda Camber Porter:

No, you're not. I mean, the point is for you to talk rather than for me to talk.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Did you see that fight?

Melinda Camber Porter:

No, I didn't. In fact, I didn't at all. I can't bear watching boxing, I have to admit.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Well, many people —

Melinda Camber Porter:

I really — I don't — in fact, when I read your book I sort of saw boxing in a different way, but I more saw it as that you were hovering around the unspeakable bounds at times and that it kept coming through.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

That you sort of touched on it. That you couldn't put it into words because one can't. It was just —

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

— an edge of horror almost. It was never really stated, I think, completely in the writing, or do you think it —

Joyce Carol Oates:

I didn't want to say too much about it. I just did one chapter on that. I talk about the sense of complicity that one feels. It's really a very curious thing, I think, the ambiguity that boxing admirers have for the sport because there is so much theoretical speculation about it, which I don't think there is about other sports. And there are people who really hate boxing, who also love it, who can't keep away from it, who are just drawn to it, and it has much to do, I think, with one's reading of human nature and how there are certain things in the culture. Where, during the sixties, when the Vietnam War was on, people knew — I mean, my contemporaries, if they watched the evening television news, they would be very, profoundly disgusted and just depressed and angry. Nonetheless, you have to watch it because it's out there and you have to bear witness and I think that some of the same motives lead people to watch a spectacle like boxing. And many people can't watch it. But you know, on the other hand, had you seen the fight on Monday you would not have seen a brutal match at all. It was a very brainy, intellectual sort of psyching-out match in which one man, whom everybody thought could not do it, did it. And that was a kind of a phenomenon in boxing history, that Sugar Ray Leonard could come back, climb into the ring with this great champion, and do all the things he did. And it was a contest of wills. It was not a brutal match at all. Nobody got hurt. Hagler didn't get hurt at all. The losing boxer didn't get hurt at all. They were both tired, the way one would be exhausted, say, running and playing for fifteen minutes very fast, and doing various maneuvers. They were exhausted. But they weren't hurt. So it was an unusual fight maybe in that sense.

Melinda Camber Porter:

A lot of the time you compare it to art and then you refuse to compare it to art, you sort of don't want to play around too much with the metaphor —

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

You know, that boxing is like something —

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

You're always saying that boxing is boxing. But then you do say —

Joyce Carol Oates:

I do.

Melinda Camber Porter:

It is like art.

Joyce Carol Oates:

I know.

Melinda Camber Porter:

And that's fine. I mean, I agree with you that you are doing it from different angles and I like that, the way that your perspective shifts, but I was wondering — sort of thinking to some of your criticism, actually. When you say that the confrontation of these two men requires art but also says more about the process of creation and what art is, I wondered if you also thought, and which you didn't say in the book, that art is a kind of violation of other people's visions. I mean you suggest that slightly —

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

— in some of your critical essays, when you say that an original artist in a sense destroys —

Joyce Carol Oates:

Destroys.

Melinda Camber Porter:

— the status quo. And whether there was — I mean, there's a great deal in your writing, and you do it in the book too, of trying to talk about justified anger or the wish to change or violate the world's order.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

Do you —

Joyce Carol Oates:

I think it must spring from the same source. It's mesmerizing in that it's a collaborative art and that the boxers are like, I guess, any good athlete, except they're really creating something that wasn't there before and improvising it. And boxing as an historical phenomenon is so — on its highest level — is so studied that boxing historians and people who like boxing see these films again and again so that one can sit down and talk about Ali-Frazier I and Ali-Frazier II and the trilogy of fights, and one can talk about Leonard and Herns and really have something in mind that would be analogous to talking about a movie that you've seen five times.

Like, there is that scene and there is that moment, that climactic turning point when one man did one thing. So that it exists in one sense — it's just this existential event that took place once, but it enters this other realm, this other phenomenal realm, where it's sort of something on the shelf that people pull down and they're still talking about Dempsey-Firpo like fifty or sixty years later. Which is very strange, because in the world of actual art, particularly in the world of books, we do so much revision, there are so many stages and layers of effort and rethinking, recasting, and then producing — it becomes sort of an object in the world. But it goes through so many different stages, and yet it never has that primal stage. There's never one existential moment where it comes into being. There's all these mini ones.

Melinda Camber Porter:

I mean, do you really think that's true, because in a way for the writer there is — isn't there — a moment when — well, there are many, many moments.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Many moments!

Melinda Camber Porter:

When it comes into being, and then you lose it —

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

And then you lose it. And then it comes into being again.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Nobody else experiences it, that's right. And when you're writing a novel — do you write?

Melinda Camber Porter:

Yes, I do write.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Have you written a novel?

Melinda Camber Porter:

I've written five.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Have you really?

Melinda Camber Porter:

Yes.

Joyce Carol Oates:

I wonder if I've read them.

Melinda Camber Porter:

No, you wouldn't have read them. Because I've written five unpublished novels.

Joyce Carol Oates:

I see.

Melinda Camber Porter:

I'm a novelist who hasn't yet found a publisher. I think you went through that at a certain point, didn't you?

Joyce Carol Oates:

Well, I didn't have too much trouble, because I started kind of young. But most people have novels that they have written, and then they publish their first novel and they go back and publish the others. Do some revisions or something.

Melinda Camber Porter:

That's funny, because I thought you did write a lot of novels before one got published.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Oh, I wrote a lot, but they weren't submitted for publication. They were things I did as an apprentice writer, as a teenager, and as an undergraduate. And I always have novels at home that are not published, in drawers, because I want to revise them at some time. I'm kind of waiting for that year when I'll be able to do it. So — but when people write novels they generally have a glimmering, like in the sense of an epiphany maybe, but then that shifts as you're writing the novel and there is a kind of evolving story. So there is never any moment where anything exists, I don't think. It's certainly not in my experience. A kind of complete gestalt.

Melinda Camber Porter:

No, not in the same way as when you look at a painting.

Joyce Carol Oates:

A painting.

Melinda Camber Porter:

A sort of instantaneous moment —

Joyce Carol Oates:

Right.

Melinda Camber Porter:

When you look at the cover of a book you don't get that at all.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

Do you miss that in a way? Is that something — you sound as if boxing —

Joyce Carol Oates:

Performing art? No. I think performing arts are trepidacious. I can't imagine putting one's whole life, all that you are, up to that moment, stepping into the ring, any more than stepping into oblivion, in a sense. In a personal sense. You are sort of disrobing yourself in going in for this primary effort. I can't imagine that. Maybe it's partly because I'm a woman. But it is one of the reasons I'm fascinated by boxing. And almost no women have written about boxing. There's a whole macho tradition of talking about boxing, as if only men can talk about it. And I think women can talk about men. Women should have strong and definite enterprises about writing and analyzing masculine behavior. It's not that I necessarily chose boxing, because I like boxing. But even if I didn't like it I would be drawn to it as a sort of quintessential masculine exhibit of masculinity. And as a feminist it's kind of interesting because there isn't any contamination from my life. I'm not involved in it. Say, if I were writing about literature, there would be some contamination from my personal vantage point because I have a stake in literature, and even if I didn't mean to, I would probably be writing about things that represented my own hopes or aspirations as a writer. But when I write about boxing I have nothing to do with that. And another reason I am so drawn to it as a feminist, as a subject for feminist inquiry, is that most men, including athletic men and men in good condition, are so excluded from the world of boxing. They could never begin to be boxing. The kind of high physical development, the ingenuity, represented by somebody like Sugar Ray Leonard is unthinkable. So there is all this thing — all the categories of women are excluded. But then almost all the categories of men. Like Norman Mailer and I are both equal in front of the boxer, and he knows that. So it's a kind of wonderful feminist sleight of hand where you seem to be writing about something masculine and you're a woman but in fact you're almost the same as all these other men, because they couldn't possibly do it either.

Melinda Camber Porter:

I hadn't actually seen that.

Joyce Carol Oates:

I haven't talked about that because it would seem to be insulting to men. They'd say, "Well ..." You and I would both go the same distance with Mike Tyson. That's Mike Tyson over there, that photograph. But my husband and I would both be able to do about as well with Mike Tyson, you know, so it makes men and women equal in a kind of amusing way.

Melinda Camber Porter:

Yes, it does. It's also — I'm also interested in your sort of sympathy, in a way, for the underprivileged. It's as if you — well, I don't know what word to use, but people who aren't given a chance by society —

Melinda Camber Porter:

— by society when they're born, or whatever. But there is a tremendous amount of sympathy for the boxer because he is normally black, and much of boxing is black history.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

And also because he's normally from a really impoverished background.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Almost always, yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

And you dismiss the notion very quickly that boxing should be abolished or something. You just say abolish poverty.

Joyce Carol Oates:

That would be a way around — working around —

Melinda Camber Porter:

You really catch me when you say — it's like, don't bother to talk about it, there's no point in abolishing boxing.

Joyce Carol Oates:

Yes.

Melinda Camber Porter:

I mean, abolish the conditions that create it.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Melinda Camber Porter in Conversation with Joyce Carol Oates Volume 1, Number 6"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Blake Press.
Excerpted by permission of Blake Press.
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Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Foreword by Catherine Suter
Figure Illustrations
Melinda Camber Porter in conversation with Joyce Carol Oates
Article for the London Times, as Submitted by
Melinda Camber Porter, April 1987
Article for the London Times, as Published by
Melinda Camber Porter, June 1987
Biography of Joyce Carol Oates
The Melinda Camber Porter Archive
About
Art
Literature
Film
Journalism
Praise
Series Titles
Index

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