Friday, April 30, 2021

The problem for programmatic liberalism as for radicalism is that both are fantasies sprung out of individualist imagination; both deny the fact of what Arendt called human “plurality”. The truths of liberalism and radicalism are singular because they’re generalizations; the truths of art are plural because specific. Brecht’s decadence is far less problematic than Walter Benjamin’s for the same reason Borges’ decadence is more problematic than Billy Wilder’s. But Modernism takes what it can use. Self-hatred is as appropriate a topic in discussing Borges and Philip Roth as Mapplethorpe, Fassbinder, Céline, Mishima, or Houellebecq. “Céline is my Proust!” as Roth said. But the only people to refer openly to Roth’s self-hatred use it to attack his work. And he’s defended from the charge with the same loyalty as defenders of Borges, for reasons that have nothing to do with the work itself, but only with the role they’re made to play, even though Borges deals in generalizations, and Roth in specifics.

Katha Politt on Roth and Bailey isn't bad, but not good enough. What does it mean that Cynthia Ozick is as twisted as Roth?

The rest started as a new post, but two days later it makes sense to join them,

John McWhorter in the NYT    

(I should also note that I am concerned here with “nigger” as a slur rather than its adoption, as “nigga,” as a term of affection by Black people, like “buddy.”)

That's as far as I got.

"Nigga" only works within the group. It means "us". Outsiders don't use it, and shouldn't. Gay men call each other "faggot", acknowledging their shared status as marginal, outside, "down by law".  The language toughens you, but includes self-hatred. This is all obvious to anyone who's not a proud deluded American "liberal". 

I had a long conversation a couple of days ago with a foreign-born academic. A major figure. On Zoom. At his suggestion. It's nice when someone at that level says flatly, "I know what you mean." and, "Americans have no sense of irony"

May 12: Céline is My Proust II

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