Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Application of Word to Thing

Didn't know much about Mike Huckabee until I read this article in GQ. I probably still don't, but it was an interesting read, nonetheless. I liked some of what he said, but I was disturbed by this line:

I’m likely to support the Republican nominee whatever our options are—because anybody on our side is better than anybody on their side.
which basically sums up nicely why I generally can't get interested in politics. It's almost less that the system is a joke than the politicians are, for all intensive purposes, very intelligent 7th graders. Despite my feelings to that effect, I really am thinking about maybe paying attention to what they're all saying as we head into the '08 election. (Don't count on much of it finding its way here, though. I couldn't bear to become yet another irritatingly smug political blog)

This isn't exactly new information, but I was still mildly amused by an article on Time's website about Social Security numbers. Apparently, you don't really have to give it out to everyone on the planet. Who knew?

I don't even know what to say about this next thing. I know nothing at all about this Denis Johnson fellow, except that his book, Tree of Smoke, won the '07 National Book Award, and that I don't plan on reading it. That non-plan, though, is not due entirely to the article on the Atlantic Monthly's website, which, well, lambastes both book and author (and I mean that as close to literally as possible, as I get the sense the article's author would like to actually beat Denis Johnson with a cane). I don't plan on reading it because, frankly, I don't care about it. I tend to hold a rather dystopian view of contemporary literature in general, but I don't think I'm alone in thinking that the novel has gone a strange, unfortunate way. I don't even know what makes novels good anymore, and as such, I have little interest in reading new ones. I know, I know... I was an English major (whatever that means), and I should know better, and maybe I'm way off-base, but I can't help but feel that literature is heading away from the likes of Johnson and his ilk, from their particular way of killing trees. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe (almost certainly) it's not as black and white as all that. Still, would you want to read a book whose first words are “Last night at 3:00 a.m. President Kennedy had been killed"?

Anyway, the article also brings to mind this lovely gem from Ezra Pound:
The individual cannot think and communicate his thought, the governor and legislator cannot act effectively or frame his laws without words, and the solidity and validity of these words is in the care of the damned and despised litterati …when their very medium, the very essence of their work, the application of word to thing goes rotten, i.e. becomes slushy and inexact, or excessive or bloated, the whole machinery of social and of individual thought and order goes to pot.
Word to thing, indeed. Slushy, inexact, excessive, bloated. Anyone want to stand up and say those words don't describe a lot of "important" writing these days?

Oh, the rot.

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