Friday, May 01, 2015

Entrepreneurs of the spirit

Entrepreneurs of the spirit

Will Wilkinson laments the decline of “old school blogging,” the original style of blogging—before the media outlets launched their group blogs and bought up the first-generation “personal bloggers”—in which the blogger composed a self, day by day, “put[ting] things out there, broadcast[ing] bits of [his] mind,” and in return finding a place for himself “as a node in the social world.”
Spirit of Bohemia

Moravian born Freud and his followers know that Eros and Thanatos are opposites in the human psyche. The former, the love instinct, pushes us to survive, while the latter, the death instinct, pushes us to destruction. In an essay forBookslutJelena Markovic explores the importanceof Thanatos in daily life, using as an example a man she knew with an “instinct for nonexistence.”

Sunday was the fifth anniversary of this Commonplace Blog. My very first post, appropriately enough given my sworn allegiance to him, was a review of Philip Roth. Few people read it, although I was happy and relieved to publish it here.

(1.) Review of Tim Winton’s novelBreath, probably because the novel’s subject (surfing) causes my review to pop up in search engines.

(2.) My lament “What Became of Literary History?” which mourns the success of New Criticism in reducing the study of literature to “close reading.”
Sapphire anniversary

A self-reflexive theme of reading follows the character Joe, who fails to separate the world of fiction from the world that surrounds him. Here’s a passage from the book about Joe’s reading: 
The next day Joe took off from work. He began reading a book with only one page. The book was clothbound, with a drawing of a tall pine tree on the cover. Inside there was a single thick sheet of paper. This sheet could be unfolded to the length of the desk. The picture on the cover appeared to be of an anthill. The periphery of the anthill was densely written over with a miniature text, visible only under a magnifying glass. And once Joe looked with the glass, he discovered that he didn’t recognize a single word.
Then the book starts flapping around the room, then the room starts shaking, then there is an invasion of doves, etc.
The theme of love, too, pervades the novel, although in many ways The Last Loverexplores how people are constantly moving away from each other through space and time, both real and imagined. As the distance between the book’s central couples increases, their communication deepens. These forms of communication from afar seem to echo the novel’s central parable about reading.