Thursday, May 27

Your Back to the Island Teaser Quotation for The End

“Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “Oh how banal.” To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness.” – David Foster Wallace, E Unibus Plurum


  1. I get what you are getting at, and I agree. Why is it such a crime for a show to be sentimental?

  2. DFW, rest in peace. Sorry you never became the anti-ironist you wanted to become, but ...

    "What if sometimes there is no choice about what to love? What if the temple comes to Mohamed? What if you just love? without deciding? You just do: you see her and in that instant are lost to sober account-keeping and cannot choose but to love?"

    Ahhh,Infinite Jest you broke my brain.


    "Since an ineluctable part of being a human self is suffering, part of what we humans come to art for is an experience of suffering, necessarily a vicarious experience, more like a sort of "generalization" of suffering. Does this make sense? We all suffer alone in the real world; true empathy’s impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to identify with a character’s pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own. This is nourishing, redemptive; we become less alone inside. It might just be that simple. But now realize that TV and popular film and most kinds of "low" art—which just means art whose primary aim is to make money—is lucrative precisely because it recognizes that audiences prefer 100 percent pleasure to the reality that tends to be 49 percent pleasure and 51 percent pain. Whereas "serious" art, which is not primarily about getting money out of you, is more apt to make you uncomfortable, or to force you to work hard to access its pleasures, the same way that in real life true pleasure is usually a by-product of hard work and discomfort. So it’s hard for an art audience, especially a young one that’s been raised to expect art to be 100 percent pleasurable and to make that pleasure effortless, to read and appreciate serious fiction. That’s not good. The problem isn’t that today’s readership is "dumb," I don’t think. Just that TV and the commercial-art culture’s trained it to be sort of lazy and childish in its expectations. But it makes trying to engage today’s readers both imaginatively and intellectually unprecedentedly hard."

    I'd love it if your new endeavor tried to argue that some TV shows do aspire to, as DFW's teacher said of "good" fiction, "to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable."

  3. I'm the worst at posting. My point was to suggest that, some TV programming deserves as much attention as literature. The problem (academic setting seldom provide enough time to examine 6 seasons worth - The Wire's five - of hour-ish long programming, but there's a space for that.

  4. I think that most art, good and bad and mediocre, has the potential to allow us real self-examination and real exploration of the world and of our fellow man.

    Even "bad" art, when not assembly-line art, is made with a purpose, driven by a person's unique experiences and outlook and etc. As such, it affords as much opportunity as "good" art in terms of thinking and writing about it. It's just not fun to sit through.

    The upcoming Chud project will be tackling some of this directly. I won't be watching The Wire just yet (there's a lot of critical verbiage out there about it and I'm looking for something less well-trod/well-regarded at the moment) but I will be writing about things that afford the opportunity to explore all the stuff that interests me, that will hopefully encrouage people to write about what interests them, and in a manner that encourages positive, mostly non-ironic reflection (except, y'know, when its fun/funny to do so).

  5. @Morse: I'd love to see you tackle "John From Cincinnati" in your next project. (If the nature of the project allows for it, that is.) It's only one season, but what a loaded season!

  6. i used The Wire as an example because it, at least to me, seems to be a show everyone realizes was created for the purposes of art more so than commerce.I didn't mean to suggest that I thought that you should tackle The Wire. That wouldn't suit the "this just in" nature of the web. Maybe a book, but not the web. I was just suggesting that there is a space for TV to be viewed as "art" worthy of study, like LOST!

    What I find interesting about this blog is that it defines Lost as a show that is culturally relevant and thematically ambitious. Lost is Pop Art in the best way.

    As a medium, TV is super weird. Neil Postman says, “The reader must come armed, in a serious state of intellectual readiness. This is not easy because he comes to the text alone. In reading, one’s responses are isolated, one’s intellect thrown back on its own resources.” It's why he favors print over TV.

    TV hums right along. Blogs like this one, however, provide a space for those shows to be examined and discussed in near real time (thanks instareaction). That is super cool. It augmented/changed my experience.

    Anyway, you watch TV as if you're reading a book, as do ALL of your readers. What I think is super duper is that you encourage and promote that behavior in new readers. It's kinda important and very rewarding.

  7. @The Colonel

    awww crap... I loved that show! I was sorry to see it die.

  8. Colonel,

    All I'll say is that you may be very pleased by what's coming next.

    Details to follow - potentially as early as next week.

  9. Lon,

    That's awesome of you to say. Thanks so much.

  10. Great to hear Morse! I used to write a long, long time ago, in a life far, far away. It has been ages and instead of getting back to it, I just kept putting it off. Shame on me, but I am glad to see that you will continue the trend you are on. I cannot wait to hear what it is. I am pretty sure I put myself on your list to keep me updated.

  11. @Lon: I loved it, too. Loved the music, loved the performances, loved the brazen meta-ness of the writing. Ah well.

    @Morse: Can't wait.

  12. Ahhhh, what a wonderful comment. It really rings true for me - what's so bad about delivering a moral about love? Why must all shows that attempt to protray an altruistic set of characters be scoffed at?

    For your next project, I would say John from Cincinatti or Mad Men would be great choices. No matter what you decide though, I'll be sure to watch and read along with you.