Q&A On Mary MacLane #3

[ With Fred Feinberg. ]

> how could someone THAT well-known fade, in a mere century, into near-total obscurity?

That’s one of the major questions I’ve pondered on, and it reduces in my mind to the same question that comes when I look at films that capture the beauty of the ’60s – where did all that go? Why did it not last in purer form, especially aesthetic, and not just as diffused influence? I suspect it’s the same answer: the stimulus didn’t go deep enough. MM was hobbled by being so far ahead of her times, and was such a sensation in her time that her particular energy was channeled into the more sensate and momentary channels (exactly as with the ’60s – the sensate flare had tonus only because it was butting up against ’50s repression – you couldn’t have Hugh Hefner and Alan Watts without the Man in the Grey Flannel Suit – note how Hefner and Watts looked like him in the early 60s – lean, controlled, driven, and heady). She never quite made it to the guardians and temporal transmitters – she was too much an outsider, and outrider. She was attracted to bohemian/lower class things – was somewhat of a proto-Beat there – and the social structures just weren’t in place to get her and implant her properly in a matrix. (There were also issues internal to her – she was not, in the conventional sense, a fecund writer. Her art is recondite. She goes more for the concision, deeply refined and pared-away, until the magic effect rises.)

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