Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Right-Wing Intellectual Tradition

In today's worthless right-wing rag, on the editorial page, we have a column by George Eff Will, who isexploding in rage at the Pope's unconscionable failure to regurgitate the talking points of American capitalism. It really is some funny stuff: wingnuts are so used to using religious authorities as a tool to cudgel Teh Librulz that they've gotten the idea that they have the right to do this; that said authorities should be required to let them—so when, ignoring years of precedent, the biggest one in the world doesn't, they act like spoiled children who've just been told “no” for the first time. They truly do not realize how self-centered and repulsive they look.

But that's only the second-most thoughtful thing on the page. The first is this letter:

Thank God Hitler is not alive or the Democrats would probably make a deal with the Nazis.
Charles Ardell
South Williamsport

Charles Ardell of South Williamsport has apparently confused the letters page with his twitter feed. Lionel Trilling's description of conservative “thought” as a series of “irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas” has never seemed more apropos. This is why I don't write much about politics these days: it just seems so futile when the dominant strain of right-wing thought in the country is represented—and it is--by doltish grotesques like Charles Ardell of South Williamsport. What's the use?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Evan Dara, The Easy Chain (2008)

After an interval of thirteen years: Evan Dara's second novel, and an interesting case it is. It would be easy to say that The Easy Chain is a marginally more conventional novel than The Lost Scrapbook, inasmuch as it has characters an' a (loose) plot an' everything. On the other hand, in the latter half, the narrative unravels in a way that I don't think I've ever quite seen in a novel, and becomes as avant-garde-ish as anything I've read. So, six of one half dozen of the other.
Read more »

Friday, September 11, 2015

Evan Dara, The Lost Scrapbook (1995)

This book, little read but hyperbolically praised and cultishly adored by those who have, had been on my radar for some time, but as it's not available anywhere as an ebook, obtaining it while outside the US would have been difficult. I'm going to use my time here to read as many books that are only available physically as I can.
Read more »

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

László Krasznahorkai, The Melancholy of Resistance

Right, okay, real quick, Krasznahorkai's second novel. It's about a town in Hungary undergoing vague intimations of apocalypse. When a circus that seems to feature no exhibits other than a big stuffed whale comes to town, people are worried that it means no good. And, as it happens, there's some mob violence that night, which is ultimately put down and authoritarian rule established in the town, as led by the awful Mrs. Eszter, whose fascist tendencies are illustrated by her tendency to sleep with authority figures. There's also her ineffectual husband, who obsesses about how awful and doomed humanity is, and his friend, the naive and somewhat simple-minded Valuska, with his mystical visions of the cosmos.

Look, that's about all, okay? It may just be that I wasn't quite in the right frame of mind to appreciate a novel like this, but I wasn't thrilled with The Melancholy of Resistance. To be honest, I'm really just writing this to note: I read it. 'Cause I totally did! But it seemed like maybe there wasn't that much there, and it didn't at all grab me in the way that Satantango did. Krasznahorkai certainly has a singular vision, and I'll probably end up reading his other novels one of these days, but that day is not today. THE END!