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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Profound? More Like Antifound

Martin Amis used to be one of my favorite authors. I read through The Information and The Rachel Papers, the latter of which perfectly encapsulated what it was like to be me in high school. Anybody who has ever read something penned by Amis has to, grudgingly or not, admit that from a purely literary perspective, his writing is beautiful. But there's a subtle shift from his beginnings, that is perhaps more perceptable in his literary criticism and reviews than his works of fiction (though Yellow Dog was roundly panned by critics) - specifically, Amis begins as time wears on to use language as a crutch rather than a tool. While still rhetorically brilliant, the words he mixes and matches begin a descent into the uselessly erudite. He stops elucidating anything real, and starts writing just for the sake of putting words onto a blank sheet of paper.

A great piece of writing can change your entire life. Below, I quoted Camus' The Plague - one of the only books that's ever completely changed the way I view the world. That's the power language has. Some concepts and ideas are so hopelessly complex and wonderful that simple words are an insufficient vector. Emotions like the paniced fear of living under the auspices of an oppressive dictatorship or the airy heights of an infatuation with a member of the opposite sex - these are not thought patterns that can easily be transfered from one person to the next. Especially, especially, especially through the impersonal medium of the printed page.

But too often, people take in these labarynthine meanderings, obsserve the feeling and power they command, and mistake the form of the writing for the function. These wreched individuals begin to value opaqueness of language where translucense would better serve, assuming that the more abstract, the better. The structure of what they write matters more to them than expressing anything. The only people I really detest in this world are the intellectual snobs who think that they're plumbing the depths of human experience just becuase they can construct a pretty sentence.

cranked out at 2:58 PM | |

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