“Such are the perfections of fiction...Everything it teaches is useless insofar as structuring your life: you can’t prop up anything with fiction. It, in fact, teaches you just that. That in order to attempt to employ its specific wisdom is a sign of madness...There is more profit in an hour’s talk with Billy Graham than in a reading of Joyce. Graham might conceivably make you sick, so that you might move, go somewhere to get well. But Joyce just sends you out into the street, where the world goes on, solid as a bus. If you met Joyce and said 'Help me,' he’d hand you a copy of Finnegans Wake. You could both cry.” – Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things


Friday, November 5, 2010

Literary Links: pollytiks v. fiction

So, um, yes, the debate about Politics and Fiction rages on at Overland's blog. I don't have too much more to say about it than what I've said there. My bone(s) of contention at this point is basically twofold: 1) I don't think authors have a moral/ethical imperative to write about politics and 2) I don't get why this whole argument is so focused on authors anyway; I think there are systemic issues regarding the dissemination of fiction that are much larger than authorial intent, basically.


OK, some links for this week:
  • Re: the above, why not read Mayakovsky's 'Order No. 2 to the Army of the Arts' (1921)? I love this poem even though it calls for exactly what I'm arguing against (which, weirdly, kind of supports my argument about literature and potentiality).
  • There is, of course, another possibility in the above debate that's been left more or less unexplored: anyone for a spot of d√©soeuvrement?
  • Joshua Cohen has quickly become one of my favourite reviewers eva. This one on Doc Zhivago doesn't contain his trademark weisenheimerism, but, you know, it's still really good.

3 comments:

Zoe said...

Emmett, link no. 3 not working. Also, thanks for that Mayakovsky poem.

Anonymous said...

"weisenheimer" - an upstart who makes conceited, sardonic, insolent comments.

Is this what you meant Emmett??

cheers

Martin

Emmett Stinson said...

Zoe, the link should be fixed now. Thanks!

Martin, yes I was goofily coining a neologism in "weisenheimerism", i.e. the quality of being a weisenheimer, which was meant to be an act of weisenheimerism itself. But Cohen usually is quite the weisenheimer; check out his review of Gordon Lish's Collected Fictions: http://www.bookforum.com/review/5976

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