Monday, August 06, 2007

Editorial Comment (by a Ben Marcus sympathizer)

In yesterday's New York Times, A.O. Scott wrote an interesting piece on Bergman and Antonioni. In it, he notes that "The two of them upheld, as filmmakers, T.S. Eliot's observation that "poets, in our civilization, as it exists at present, must be difficult."

I found this line of thinking quite relevant to my particular literary convictions, and then as I continued reading I felt the warm light of recognition:

"There was, among certain filmgoers in the 1960s, an appetite for difficulty, a conviction that symbolic obscurity and psychological alienation were authentic responses to the state of the world. More than that, the idea that a difficult work had special value — that being challenged was a distinct form of pleasure — enjoyed a prestige, at the time, that is almost unimaginable today. We would rather be teased than troubled, and the measure of artistic sophistication is cleverness rather than seriousness."

That about sums up my frustration with contemporary fiction.

I anxiously await the day when others will awake from the stupor and return to the embrace of seriousness and difficulty.