Sam Truitt’s DICK may be one of the most obfuscated and impenetrable works to have come along in some time. And yet it’s full of rewards…and an opening (and opener) to great worlds of understanding, both personal and political. A novel of sorts, it started “publishing” in short one and a half minute long segments of 450 words apiece on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook November 22, one year from its anticipated conclusion — and full publication — on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination next autumn. But described by Truitt as being in the genre of Metanoia — a term that refers to the idea of repentance (or at least a change of mind) in theology, a “correction” in rhetoric, or a psychological process that uses psychotic breakdown to allow for internal rebuilding and healing — “Dick” somehow weaves a deep effect with seeming too affected. In fact, it somehow imparts a sense, in the final rounds, of being as perfect to our age as Truitt’s slice-of-moment poetics, for which he is best known, or the various seemingly-obscure works by Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and James Joyce were to the beginnings of the last century.
“It’s ‘about’ the JFK assassination — or, as it is written, ‘Made of maps, mirrors and labyrinths — though grounded in proprietary knowledge — DICK is a book that explodes the Kennedy assassination and the machinations around that event. References to the JFK murder are in fact quite oblique: in fact, the whole work is, including most obdurately the integral deployment of Morse Code as text.’”
Truitt works in layers. Taken as transmitted what comes across is a robotic British female voice reading bits of text interspersed with long renderings of “dash dot dot dash dash” Morse Code, simultaneous to a fast-paced flickering of partial images and appearing/disappearing notes. One gets a sense of things happening, of a narrative being unveiled somewhat reluctantly, and huge amounts of work at play. The very cross-pollination of media is impressive…and about the only welcoming element of the whole enterprise, at least until one starts returning to it daily and getting a sense of something unfolding.
Having been cheat-slipped a copy of the text as a whole, before Truitt came up with the transmission idea for its initial “publication,” DICK — as a whole document — is similarly mysterious in its constant use of Morse Code and Shakespearean stage directions amid an apparent stream of consciousness babble of statements, descriptions, and epiphanies. Yet it also imparts a building sense of outrage and dangerousness. Something evil is being imparted, it appears, that creates a sense of outrage in the writer.
Partly that comes from the sense of background Truitt allows to precede his transmissions.
“The story behind DICK lies in my family’s association with Kennedy’s assassination,” he writes. “My mother, the visual artist Anne Truitt, was a close friend of Mary Pinchot Meyer, the ex-wife of Cord Meyer, who helped found the World Federalist Movement and was subsequently a CIA official. Mary Meyer had an on-going affair with President Kennedy up to his death, about which she wrote in a diary. On our family leaving Washington for Tokyo in 1963 (my father, a journalist, had been appointed bureau chief of Newsweek in Japan), Mary Meyer told my mother that if anything happened to her she should find and safeguard the diary. Mary Meyer was assassinated in Washington in October 1964, and on this news my mother contacted James Angleton, the CIA’s head of Counter Intelligence and a family friend, to secure the diary. He did so and having read the diary kept it in his safe at CIA. Subsequently the diary was given to my mother and to Mary Meyer’s sister, Antoinette Pinchot Bradlee, the wife of Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post. They read and then burned it.”
Unstated in the annotations Truitt provides are such elements as his father’s eventual release from Newsweek and eventual suicide, the fact that his sister’s godparents were Angleton and Meyer (and his godfather, Cord Meyer), or his toddler memories of having had his first school experience alongside the Kennedy kids in the White House nursery.
After running some of the Morse Code through translators, uncovering what appears to be a gobbledygook of capital letters, I asked Truitt if I was missing something. He said he’d added that another cryptographic layer that needed cracking by those searching out the deeper messages he was trying to impart.
“You can continue the penetration and find out what was transmitted by Mary Meyer’s diary,” he said. “Why do I bury it all? Unless there’s an outright release of all the documents involved in her assassination, the Kennedy murder, and the other records kept top secret — unless everybody were to become clear and come clean at the CIA, the FBI and so forth — the whole of this narrative will never be clear. I chose this as a way of sharing the impenetrability of what really happened.”
Truitt, who lives in Lake Hill and runs Station Hill Press near the Bard Campus across the river, went on to note how his wife had suggested he somehow write his family’s secrets and then decided to do so in “a John Cage sort of way.”
“I think this stuff is still sort of dangerous. What I’ve done here is a form of self protection, I guess,” he added. “Yet it does bring together the political and art focus. It’s just buried, dude.”
And yet, somehow, bound for some form of eternity, now, given the absolute rigor of Truitt’s work here…as well as his rising reputation as truly modern writer pushing his craft, and art, into new areas as few do so well these days.
“What’s always obsessed me,” he added, in apparent finale, “Is that you can’t get here from here.”
For the full experience of Sam Truitt’s DICK, visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dick-An-Oblique-Kennedy-Conspiracy-Countdown/494093407275592?ref=hl, search it out on Facebook, or visit https://twitter.com/sam_truitt on your computer or smartphone.