Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

Left Behind

Yesterday I took a whirlwind trip to Oakland, California. I arose in the pre-dawn, and caught my plane. I bought a number of magazines to read on the plane. In an Atlantic Monthly, a man bewailed that another man bewailed "experimental novels". I found myself rather out of sympathy with both men, as each seemed calcified into a position neither revelatory of much insight nor possessed of much compassion or perspective. My favorite part in the piece arose when the proponent of experimental writing (which, by the way, seemed anything but experimental to me, as described) quoted a long paragraph by a "modern" writer as an example of the sublime power of the genre. The aforesaid quoted paragraph read like nothing so much as the winner of the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest. I revise that, actually, the paragraph read like one of the mid-career works of Bulwer-Lytton himself. That may sound harsh, but in the way my mind works, I am mentally making a note to check out some Bulwer-Lyttton novels from the library.

Throughout my childhood and young adulthood, proponents of various movements such as Abstract Expressionism and "experimental writing" have pronounced various things I like,such as hyper-realism, plotted stories, and narrative composition to be dead as doornails. I always thought those pronouncements a bit silly. Yet I also find a bit silly the pronouncements that those movements are themselves dead. I keep thinking we are all weaving portions of some great tapestry, but the prevailing model for criticism so often suggests we are only making the One True Piece of Pottery. I would quote the book by the novelist whose telepathic gorilla teaches us New Age ponderings on humanity's place in the universe, except that this book now resides, Left Behind like some Tim Lahaye protagonist over in the "truly damned" section of the bookstore, on the floor of a tiny conference room in an airport hotel in Oakland, California.

In my layover, in Las Vegas, I won seventeen dollars and fifty cents from a slot machine that would let me pick whether I wished to accept 40 coins or "pick again". "Final offer", it would say,and then I would win more coins.
I won about as much as the lost magazines cost. The global equilibrium was restored.

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