This is Vince Williams's Typepad Profile.
Join Typepad and start following Vince Williams's activity
Join Now!
Already a member? Sign In
Vince Williams
A haunted house
Interests: Life, the universe, and everything
Recent Activity
Ah, the sophisticated cynicism of postmodern hagiography. Jonathan Derbyshire's paean to the sainted Cobain-hood of a spiritually ill man made me feel as if I'd been hit on the head and wakened as a subsidiary character in Arno Schmidt's book, The Egghead Republic. Who knows, maybe I am. This comment practically wrote itself. Schmidt's book was prescient in a twisted way, as perhaps the 'cognoscenti' know. But here again, Derbyshire enjoins us to worship at the altar of the deranged and the pathological. "Who else could have written a story about a marketing executive who plans to inject deadly cultures into a snack he’s testing with focus groups?" Hmm, let me guess: that brilliant mathematician, the Unabomber? Wallace was, by his own description, an “infantile transplant” who had been reared by a mother who pretended that her small child was actually denying her oxygen by speaking incorrectly. Yes, I would say that seems a bit excessive. You don't think it might have had something to do with why he became "that kind of genius, whose understanding of the workings of his own fiction was... largely separate from ideas of audience"? Or that this could possibly be one of the reasons why he came to believe that each of us is "sort of marooned" inside our own skull? Believe me, I know the feeling. So I should allow a man who believed that it is fiction's job to "aggravate this sense of entrapment and loneliness and death in people" to be my 'priest' and tell me "what it is to be a fucking human being"? I don't think so. It's certainly no mystery why Wallace was "tormented by the thought that the 'antagonistic elements' in his fiction might in fact just be manifestations of a pathological exhibitionism". Or why he grappled obsessively with spirituality and values in insanely detailed style, and in language of 'polyesterish' banality (like that bit about the repulsive nest of moles and the weird deep yellow viral infection of the toenails). To say that to be Midwestern is to be "marooned in a space whose emptiness is both physical and spiritual" is one of the most ridiculous statements I've ever heard. I'm sure just about any non-postmodernist Hoosier would agree with my judgement. So Wallace doesn't settle for simply unmasking the 'event' as a sham. Well, neither do I. The 'infinite jest' he hurled at mankind and the universe is what drove him to suicide. At least Jonathan Derbyshire got one thing right-- Wallace really was the ultimate victim of his own interior war. Only a postmodernist could fail to see that such a bleak and barren philosophy leads to death and destruction.
1 reply
I've not read Roberto Bolaño, but that n+1 essay didn't exactly make me want to rush down to the used book store (I do try to shop locally) and pick up a copy of one of his books. The essay is well written, but when a writer tells us that an author "proceeds as if literature were too desperate an enterprise to bother with being well written", I hardly consider it a commendation, regardless of how laudatory the words that follow. But that is not what our diabolical mysterian has in mind. Just warming up with that nihilistic bit of 'criticism', the essayist goes on to advise us that "people who think he's [Bolaño] a big deal, including professional critics, mostly can't say why". Now I begin to think he's really yanking my chain. Then: "Bolaño can write page after page without indulging in a single metaphor, or adding a dab of rhetorical color to the account of a dinner party or a murder." Oh joy. "He makes no effort to write convincing scenes or dialogue." Stop, stop. But the Mysterian has to twist the knife: "There is a virtually Seinfeldian ban on moral growth or learning." God bless you, too, Mysterian. Finally: "Nothing is so consistent across Bolaño's work as the suspicion that literature is chiefly bullshit, rationalizing the misery, delusions, and/or narcissism of various careerists, flakes, and losers." Blessed Mysterian, you took the words right out of my mouth. But M's not satisfied. He has to drive the knife home to my very heart: "Bolaño's incoherence— books mean everything and nothing; the writer is hero and jerk— has come to seem one of the few plausible literary attitudes these days." You lie, you lie, Mysterian. I hate you and your postmodern bullshit. You are wrong, you sorry excuse for a human being-- there is redemption. But at last you come clean and confess your utter depravity: "The whole thing's hopeless and pathetic." So true, so true. Thank you, Mysterian.
Toggle Commented Dec 25, 2008 on Assorted Links and Musings at Ben Casnocha: The Blog
1 reply