Kaplan, Carter 1960-
KAPLAN, Carter 1960-
Born April 15, 1960, in KY; son of Sidney Joseph (a professor of sociology) and Patricia Ann (a book store manager; maiden name, Carter; later surname, Weiss) Kaplan. Ethnicity: "American." Education:University of Toledo, B.A., M.A.; also earned Ph.D. Politics: "Jeffersonian." Religion: "Independent Presbyterian." Hobbies and other interests: Musical composition, mountain climbing, museums, looking at buildings, conversation.
Office—Mountain State University, Beckley, WV 25802. E-mail—[email protected].
Yeshiva University, New York, NY, adjunct assistant professor, 1997; College of St. Elizabeth, Morristown, NJ, assistant professor, 1998-99; Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, PA, assistant professor, 1999-2000; Mountain State University, Beckley, WV, associate professor of English and philosophy, 2001—. Architectural writer.
New Jersey College English Association (member of board of trustees, 1998-2002).
Critical Synoptics: Menippean Satire and the Analysis of Intellectual Mythology, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (Madison, NJ), 2000.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
A Greek play reminiscent of the comedy of Aristophanes; research on abstract thinking, approached from the perspective of Milton and Wittgenstein.
Carter Kaplan told CA: "Although I have written stories from childhood, I was first motivated to write seriously in my late teens after immersing myself in the fantastic tales of pulp writers from the thirties, particularly Robert E. Howard, Clarke Ashton Smith, and H. P. Lovecraft. Such examples led me to entertain notions of becoming a famous and reclusive fantasy writer, and I indulged visions of myself living in a Scottish castle with a mailbox overflowing with royalty checks. As I embarked upon these early projects, however, I discovered two things that prevented me from fulfilling my ambition: I disliked writing the sort of fantasy that is commercially viable; and I possessed a keen interest in philosophy that I was reluctant to control when it surfaced in my writing. Rather than the writers of generic fantasy, I found myself identifying strongly with people like Rabelais, Petronius, Mary Shelley, Wittgenstein, Swift, and Melville. What this meant for me was a year of frustrated attempts to write fantasy, followed by twenty years of producing material characterized by interweaving threads of multilevel thematic sophistication, misleading allusions, ultra-violent forays into psychological disaffection and detachment, and terse philosophical analysis. I suppose I style my work 'satire,' though I am earnest in striving for that modernist insinuation that whispers to the reader, 'Something new has been pioneered in this work of art you're now clutching, and you ought to bow down to it.'
"Such writing did not stuff my mailbox with royalty checks, nor did I find myself set to purchase that castle in Scotland, so instead I turned, ironically, to the university, which had been the very same target of some of my most vitriolic declamations. Not unlike that lesser species of rebel who 'bites the hand who feeds him,' I plugged along, taking my doctorate from one of the most undistinguished English programs in the country, and writing a dissertation (later to be revised and published as Critical Synoptics: Menippean Satire and the Analysis of Intellectual Mythology) that was an attack on the 'postmodern' university, thinly veiled as a study of satire. One of the chapters of this multi-genre work is taken from one of my novels, featuring a description of a 'well connected world class poet' who thrashes a gang of literary theorists with a prosthetic arm torn from the shoulder of a deconstructionist. What makes my graduate school period (which I describe as Ph.D. boot camp) particularly odd was the members of the English department itself, who stand in my memory as epitomizing a sort of conservative news-magazine columnist's nightmare of contemporary university clichés: tenured radicals, New Left nihilists, amoral Marxists in Volvos, and lower-middle-class bureaucratic thugs—the wilted flower of the Woodstock nation maintaining a sort of permanent adolescent siege from behind the ramparts of their pinched brows, fat jaws, maroon scarves, and baggy denim dungarees. Actually, their nihilism was a front, as were their orthodox left-wing pretensions. They were no more than simple, run-of-the-mill mad persons.
"Writing comes very easily to me, which is probably a reflection or a 'function' of the efforts of my parents, who read to me from the time I was a small child. I don't use notebooks or outlines, relying instead on my memory and the odd sentence or image that often returns to pester me, as if to say, 'Don't forget to write me down.' Most of my work consists in stringing such images together with a narrative of some kind, usually fast-paced. Verisimilitude and the suspension of disbelief are very important to me, and I've shied away from fantastic worlds and comic book heroes, instead creating wonderful effects through writing about eccentric and loquacious individuals who have credible—though improbable—adventures. Events that appear either fantastic or surreal early in a work are later explained away by providing rational explanations, after the technique of Mrs. Radcliffe in her gothic mysteries, or Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey. My latest work is a play, a Greek comedy after the style of Aristophanes."