Looking for the sur-prize
Sunday morning: dawn.
An article in the UK Guardian concerning the tawdry descent of the Nobel Prize ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/jul/17/the-ugly-scandal-that-cancelled-the-nobel-prize-in-literature ) only makes me think of the corresponding degeneration of American letters. Certainly the Pulitzer is no longer a prize of more than promotional worth—but given the proliferation of subcategories to meet every demand, and the corresponding lack of sales, even that lesser god has failed. The American Book Award has long been a vehicle of political assuagement rather than artistic merit and an economically impotent statement of virtue signaling at that, having little to do with America or American readers beyond the shadow of the academic pale. And the decline of British literary awards, a riot of special interests, is on par now with a Simon Cowell talent show—no longer a presentation of Brit talent but a smorgasbord of international fire-eaters, dog acts, and precocious children. It has been many generations since the French chose to enter into this sort of contest, and thus their literature is read these days only in paperback while sipping bad coffee and sitting on wire chairs, watching the congestion of traffic and breathing the fumes for flavor. And sadly, the Germans have not regained their soul since Thomas Mann stopped climbing mountains. I would love to know what the Polish and Russians are up to since the fall of the Soviets, but they apparently can’t find English translators, unless of course they hate Americans and/or all Western values after spending some time at an American University. read more…
A friend was recently reading the revised version of John Finn that appears to be making its way into print sooner than later and suggested that a particular chapter might stand on its own. It happens to be one of those I posted first about eight years ago when John Finn was newly minted apart from its origins in the Henry Sullivan Hound novels. Long absent from view, I was happy to oblige. read more…
Rejoice! (if not, read Joyce)
I am told by my betters that I am too negative. Not for the first time, of course. So I have looked again at this ongoing collapse of Western Civilization that surrounds me in the rubble of all that I hold dear—other than family and friends—in the hope of finding some morsel of good cheer, happiness, and prospect for good times ahead.
Lo, I have found it this day with the arrival of another volume I had just ordered through the all-knowing internet (in this instance AbeBooks.com, a subsidiary of the mighty Amazon) for my current project—I am re-writing A Young Man from Mars, and I’d already sold some of my original research materials from that project several years ago). This is a copy of Alexis De Tocqueville’s translated and edited journals, written on his Journey to America during his quest to understand the still new Democracy in America, which was his greater effort. Lovely stuff. read more…
In our lost time
[A portion of the novel A Young Man From Mars, currently being re-written and somewhat available elsewhere in this ethereal site]
Recalling any given lecture I am impressed by the fact that Professor Tripp himself was not nearly as kind as his classroom manner allowed. The record of his first talk concerning the Collapse is a good example:
Looking back at the first part of the Twenty-first Century, it is difficult to feel pity. With three thousand years of human history, of ‘blood sweat and tears,’ and more, of creation and joy, tossed away, and the history of countless billions of human lives destroyed, carelessly. All pity must be reserved for those they desecrated. Certainly some compassion must be felt for the children. They alone might deserve that. But for their parents, and the rest, there can only be disgust. And as those children who survived reached maturity and took possession of their own lives, those who followed the same bloody rites as their parents, in retrospect, lost any claim of innocence. Worse. They made of their very births a sacrilege. An especial disdain must be held for those who saw the horror about them, knew it for what it was, and out of cowardice did not rise up against it. Thankfully, revulsion leaves no stomach for hate, else we might consume ourselves in the very heat of hell the people of that time made for themselves. Though mercy, even of thought, is impossible given the ruthless brutality they showed toward the rest of mankind. read more…
The bright side is pretty dim
Trying to see the bright side of the current cultural malaise is difficult in the glare of modernity. Over one hundred years on, that is since the infamous Armory Show, the squandering of Western culture has reached its nadir with a wallowing in wantonness and a rejection of good and bad, along with all such standards and values.
Other than that, what’s not to like? The pervasive music is loud, and the beat distracting, the visuals titillating, and feelings are all the rage—the showers are just ahead, so keep moving please. (The holocaust reference is not made gratuitously.)
So sorry! I shouldn’t be repeating myself. I wrote something like that in the early 1970’s, didn’t I? Where have I been? How can we have reached a nadir in 1974 and still be there? read more…
In Grand Delusia
In the land of Grand Delusia, I roam again. It is true enough that an author of fiction must persuade a reader to come along for the ride, but first the author must cajole himself. It is not a simple thing. The Lesser Existentials crowd at every side. There are shores of things to do. Mountains of bills to pay. People to see about and weather to weather. Never mind the need to rest. There is little time for play. . . . And yet, without it, all the rest and all the weather or not, mean little or nothing.
Longtime readers of this ethereal site may recall another project of that near past of some years ago when, soon after one more attempt to write A Republic of Books, I faltered again and in frustration launched myself headlong into another of my grand delusions, A Young Man From Mars. I posted several parts here and spent a year on that before running aground on the aforementioned shoals of the Lesser Existentials. I had then recently completed two mystery novels, Hound and A Slepyng Hound to Wake and that feeling of accomplishment buoyed a belief that I could undertake the larger project. I was wrong. My map was missing parts. My compass wanted other directions. read more…