Saturday, August 05, 2006

8.05.06, Who Is This Mr. Jones Anyway?

[Franky Scale for today remains in the 6 range, no vomiting but nausea still; and I had some real hunger and a brunch to match in the a.m. with Mr. Ted; all such good things today were no doubt transcontinental gifts of providence from Francis, after whom we name our scale, and who was born on this day those years ago. Peace. -Mr. J]


“Who Is This Mr. Jones Anyway?”

Why has no one even questioned what’s in this name? I assume it’s collective tact to explain why no one asked why a pseudonym, now defunct save for the continuation in its new or afterlife as nom de guerre. I appreciate all of your tact while it was needed. But the provenance, am I the only one who thinks it’s strange? An in any event I clearly seem to want to talk about it, so you’re stuck, unless you hit fast forward.

Mr. Jones, the obvious initial source character is from the Counting Crows song, “Mr. Jones,” in the little prophetic fantasy room built by Adam Duritz in their first album (August and Everything After), but still he’s someone who’s misunderstood there too. First, of course the song bears his name — but what I noticed when going back to the song for details is that it’s not really about him at all. It’s very much about the “me” of the singer, the speaker of the poem returns.

Second, logical correlative to the first, there is only one line about Mr. Jones in the whole song, only one that says anything about his desire, and of course I’m going to take the Lacanian route here too and assert that the desire is sign of lack and the lack constitutes a person’s identity, if you will. The one-line persona then there: “Mr. Jones wishes he was someone just a little more funky.” Period. That’s it. He’s a cipher, a projection, or a foil, a person with an unrealized desire or the person of unrealized desire. Who lives on a wish and a wish alone. Everything else you think you know about him is projected from “me” onto him — yes, I like the conceptual pun that it’s me who has to tell it to you, it’s me you rely upon, it’s me who narrates who the I am supposed to be. And at the same time, the “me” of the song isn’t me. Productive confusion is necessary for any good poem.

So back to numbering things, you could say there’s a seemingly manifest level of the song and thus of the person, first off. Next, you could say there’s a latent level too, as with dreams, as with all texts, as with always. You get the man-on-the-street Mr. Jones who comes from not listening carefully enough to the song: hanging out at the New Amsterdam, drink in hand, watching the beautiful women, strolling through the barrio, images of Picasso, grey guitars, wanting, watching, me on TV, fame, Bob Dylan, and so on. Go deeper and the more careful listen gives you what? Buttkiss. Butkiss? Butt-kiss? Nada. You realize this whole story you thought you knew in this song is really just someone else’s tale. Another person thought it up, wrote it out, sang it out. So much for song of myself. Shit. The whole story has been filtered through someone else’s desire/s, through someone else’s words, somebody who can play the grey guitar, hell, any color guitar. Mr. Jones, I think, doesn’t play, but his friend apparently does.

There’s a third Mr. Jones who doesn’t show up, not even in the song, though he’s everywhere. Filling the world as a trope. “Mr. Jones” of “the jonez.” The martini jonez, the OC jonez, the desert jonez, the book jonez, the work jonez, love jonez. We’ve got it bad and that ain’t good, and all of us seem to play the Jonesey role at some point. Some of us play it all the time. The modern bourgeois subject jonez. The subject of capital Jonez — now before you roll your eyes and make any disparaging comments about academic-speak or deliberate unintelligibility or intellectual posing or whatever, let me say that for my part, at least, I’m dead serious. This person of our modern age is precisely a non-person, and if we’re brave enough to look really closely in the mirror, too many of us will see it there — nothing. Just a bunch of borrowed desires produced by a system we’re stuck in. I don’t care how it sounds and if it breaks from what is usually a more direct style of writing found here, it’s the truth and it sucks and it’s to be faced. If not, take Camus’ other alternative seriously.

The blog identity is as much about this as it is about the imaginary projections of somebody else’s storytelling. The power of narration. A great line from the literary theorist Pierre Macherey is right on the point: “[Literature’s/narrative’s] discourse has a shadow-life at the edge of a radical exclusion, the exclusion of its pretended object, which does not exist” (Theory of Literary Production, p. 61).

Well then, Mr. Jones: I think it’s not just me, but it is definitely me. If nothing or no one else.

6 comments:

[disenchanted princess] said...

You know, I never questioned the pseudonym because I assumed I knew the (non) relevance. Mr. Jones is the non-character: a little of all of us, but no one at the same time. And naturally, who doesn't want to be a little more funky =)

BTW: Counting Crows has a "new" live album out. New Amsterdam something, I think it's called.

Anonymous said...

oops. silly me. i thought it was a random name like "Smith". in my head, i linked the name to the movie "Mr. Jones" (richard gere, lena olin)- not anything like your situation, but dealing with death on a different level. but the song definitely fits better! :)

spacely said...

Hey spot I actually thought it was like using a name like mr. smith (pretty generic) Or like that song Me and mrs. jones and until I sang it I realized HE said "Mrs. Jones not MR Jones. But of course you would have a more profound reason than a silly song or trying to be annonymous. I'm sorry to hear your getting sooo sick to your stomach. But nadine would tell it beacuse SHE needs to feed you her goooood cooking. One of her perfect grilled cheese sandwiches. I can do one almost as good. So... when is the DAY you will be here?!!!! So we can all play. I have a really good book for you from Ryan Moore my brother in law. Let me know if you need a ride or what you need to have on your agenda while you're here. Remember who loves your sexy hairy butt.....ME!!!! :O Did I just say that ?! :D :D :D :D See I'm laughing at myself for you. Ciao

Mr. Jones said...

spacely: a really good book? do i get to know the title? or must it be secret? also, you're reading too much into my post, i think, it is basically a silly song and was to maintain anonymity at first. these other explanations are just ex post facto, to make it more interesting. silly as always. -Mr. J

Slarry said...

On The Question of More Praise:

Dear Mr. Jones:

Actually, yes, I do think it is quite possible for me to sing your praises
and extoll more of your many virtues. Actually, I could go on for hours
and hours without interruption.

I love your guts, you silly, silly man / brother. : )

However, I won’t do it because you mentioned it, plus I have a really dry mouth today.
I think it stems from my new stress ( blessing in disguise )
of recently signing the papers for selling mine and Lefty’s home. YIKES.
I am waiting for frankly and dzd to explain and express their feelings and opinions of the song / poem :
MR. JONES by The Counting Crows. Lefty alluded to it a few weeks ago in one of her comments. I think because we listened to it so much at Frank's and P’s place and also while you and Frances were building one of franky’s first architectural grand designs, his baby, the grand addition to our first home on Lake Street.
Complete with Glass blocks, cathedral ceilings and a skylight to boot.

Many "FIRSTS" occured there for me too. : )

Some of my fondest memories. And the best parties.
Lake St. was like TALES OF THE CITY, for Zion.

We always liked your friends better than our own.

Frankly, you ‘gotta say something, big guy. Love to you, cc and 34dd.
And I can’t forget about the daisy and lupine. Love was all around us
and maybe a couple of beer bongs. ( I still don’t know what that means .. )

Love and Gatorade--

larry

Anonymous said...

That's funny! When you first asked "what do you think my pseudonym means?" I thought that it would be silly to answer "It's not from that irritatingly catchy Counting Crows song, is it?" Because when I first saw your blog the song got stuck in my head. (There was a kid in my high school who would wander around singing "Everybody wants to pass as cats" under his breath all day long).

I'll buy your interpretation that Mr. Jones represents lack. But that's just listening to the lyrics. Listening to lyrics and music together, I always got something different (and yes, it's just a silly song, but there was a time in my life that I heard it almost constantly). The way he sings Mr. Jones' name- it seems like he relies on Mr. Jones as some kind of muse. Mr. Jones and me are one and the same- by the end of the song I started thinking that Mr. Jones was the guiding inner voice of the narrator. But that might be crazy...

Anyway, blah blah. My driver's ed instructor was also Mr. Jones, and he was NOT a terribly good guide.

Bonnie