Saturday, May 24, 2003

A quick rundown before I go back to my sickbed.
There has been some praise for William Safire opining that power corrupts. "The concentration of power — political, corporate, media, cultural — should be anathema to conservatives." Of course he's referring only to domestic policy, not foreign policy. I'd love to hear him argue how such a contradiction is moral and necessary. He obviously believes it is, but I want to hear him defend it in public. As the thinking man's George Will; he should be up to the task.

One of these days the assholes are going to pick on someone who can fight back.

On the arts front:
So the pendulum swings back. How stupidly predictable. I don't read much contemporary fiction, specifically avoiding the hipster kind. Thomas Pynchon ruined it for me when I read Gravity's Rainbow, and now the genre's past its prime. People tell me Delillo's good, but anything made after 1973 with Lee Harvey Oswald as a subject gets an automatic pass. It keeps things simple.

There comes a time, always, when someone argues for throwing out the baby with the bathwater. James Wood, "has called Mr. Pynchon's characters 'not human' and 'serfs to allegory.' " In and of itself, what's wrong with a character in a novel being a serf?

I hope the book is good. Perhaps Wood's simplistic argument comes from a need to arm himself against the acolytes of hipsterism, I don't know. Frank Stella is a perfect example of an artist who makes intellectual arguments that contradict the works they're meant to defend. It's only a problem when critics who hate his ideas choose to hate the work as a result. And of course Stella's old fans defend the ideas instead of the work, which makes it worse. Wood seems to understand the need for a work to exist on its own terms. Apparently he's broken a few of his rules already, so who knows.

There is an article in the Times on The Matrix and philosophy. I haven't read it. All I can say is that illustrating someone else's ideas only gets you... illustration; so why should I be interested?
Maybe the movie is good, but that's not the question at the moment. The question is "why?" and my response was to that.

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