Linkyland

4 thoughts on “Linkyland

  1. I take James Wood seriously. I think he’s thorough-going and serious-minded. His thinking has never struck me as too left field; it seems to have foregrounded the more serious parts of Pauline Kael’s film criticism and is a more specific, less systematic working out of Iris Murdoch’s writings on art. Not that I’d call those two women his influences but all three run in the same direction.

    I didn’t read the DeLillo article because I have read neither enough DeLillo nor enough of Wood’s on DeLillo to be able to form a proper response to it but the second article seems to be chasing its own tail. The content of lots of artistic work, from ‘Birth of a Nation’ to ‘Veronica Mars’, has been criticised as immoral for longer than a short time now. When the author writes “I like and admire the fiction of DeLillo, Pynchon, Foster Wallace, et al. Does that make me morally suspect in Wood’s eyes? “, I can’t help but think he misunderstands Wood pretty seriously: the reader doesn’t share in the author’s sin; the reader is sinned against.

    And the weirdness of Beckett, Nabakov and O’Connor interests Wood too; they have written about post-apocalyptic landscapes, invented nations and the appearance of the Holy Spirit respectively and he’s spoken rapturously of all three.

  2. “I like and admire the fiction of DeLillo, Pynchon, Foster Wallace, et al. Does that make me morally suspect in Wood’s eyes? “, I can’t help but think he misunderstands Wood pretty seriously: the reader doesn’t share in the author’s sin; the reader is sinned against.

    No, go and read Wood’s stuff on hysterical realism. If you like those writers, you do share the sin, in Wood’s eyes; you are an insufficiently sophisticated reader.

  3. It’s been some time since I read that essay so forgive me if I’m misremembering but I don’t believe Wood draws the readership into the moral fray. Listening to and entertaining distortions of reality isn’t a moral shortcoming; telling them is. The writers are playing in the moral sphere because Wood sees them as, essentially, lying.

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