Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

Literature Bores Me, But So Does This Discussion

Over at Harpers Online, Arthur Krystal says:

The ability to respond to prose and poetry hasn’t entirely disappeared, but it has been dulled. This is a dicey business to discuss. There are many people who still depend on novels and poems for enjoyment and intellectual stimulation, and they tend to dismiss someone who feels differently. Clearly, I’m either depressed or I just don’t get it. Thing is, I’m not on meds, and since I believe that I do “get” Joyce, Pound, Beckett, Larkin, and Auden, I also believe that I’m able to appreciate what novelists and poets are doing today. And yet very little strikes my fancy. I can’t prove it, but I think the fault lies in the literary firmament and not in me.

It's an interesting comment, because, to a point, I agree with it, and feel the same way (also, I feel that way about films, too).

Krystal's problem, however, is that he spends too much time discussing genius, as if by doing this he reinforces his own intellect and position of power. Quoting Cervantes and Joyce and Shakespeare as genius' doesn't, in my mind, help his argument, because the authors he is talking about are merely canonical, and are easy marks for the 'genius' tag. Personally, I think Shakespeare is shockingly over rated, and Cervantes is more and less interesting depending on the translation, but it's neither here nor there, because about half way through the interview I linked, I began to wander and drift, even as I began to understand what bores me some times. The continual referencing to older work, to supposed genius', to how things should be, the almost condescending admittance to reading modern novels that have been well received... just, like, fuck off, you know?

I realised that, as I read the interview, that it is this very thing that bores me about art: the sameness that pervades artists in what is 'genius' and what it is that they should emulate. Don't look to anything new. Don't look to different forms, different style, different mixes, remember that there's a classic way to do it, remember the canon, remember the shiny, shiny things you can't cut up.


I need to grab some breakfast.


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