Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Have you read your media dragon?

The C.P.J. reports that government officials and their allies are now suspected of being responsible for more than a third of the murders of journalists, a higher proportion than killings attributed to terrorist groups or criminal enterprises. Using War as Cover to Target Journalists

Stories are the most durable texture of life for us. Not forms of societies, but stories. Stories are really what keeps everything together, in a way. When you are abandoned by stories - when you go back beyond the invention of writing, beyond the literary tradition - you feel of course lost: because one needs stories. Am I the only one a little disturbed by this poster's attempt to change the flinty Susan Sontag into an aphorism-spouting love guru? Probably just me, I know. Over the past couple years, I've become very hesitant to mention the titles of books I hate. And I do occasionally keep reading the books, even after deciding I hate them, because Hazlitt was right. There is pleasure in really hating something, really just holding it in your hands and wishing it harm and destruction. Part of the hesitancy is, you know, what if I am reading this wrong. What if I'm only 50% through and at 80% something clicks and I see what the author was doing. And it's not like I don't want to warn people off. But while there is pleasure in hating something, and there is pleasure in the reading of a hatchet piece, to me there is not a lot of pleasure in writing a good hatchet piece. I get a little bored halfway through. I'd much rather talk than write my way through hating something, and I do, endlessly, to the people around me. Obviously, I am reading a book that I hate right now. I hate it with a cleansing self-righteousness. I make fun of it in my head, and I feel superior in every way to its aims. And I will miss it once I get to the final page, because being in awe of a novel doesn't really give you the same kick. Have you read your Roberto Calasso or Jozef Imrich ;-)?

It seems like a strange time to be defending the ultra-rich, but Douglas Smith's Former People: The Final Days of the Russian Aristocracy kind of does that, trying to draw our sympathies to the class of nobles that were sent into exile, arrested, or executed during the Revolution. (Minor complaint: There had to have been more eccentric ways for these people to spend their money, and Smith is for the most part quiet about it, except for the guy who always traveled with his own cow, to secure a private supply of fresh milk. I guess probably turning your characters into eccentrics is not a great way to provoke sympathy, though, and so the rich people are only mildly crazy here.)It seems like a strange time to be defending the ultra-rich