Friday, October 21, 2011

Hmm ...

... The Late Word by Curtis White - Roundtable | Lapham’s Quarterly. (Hat tip, Lee Lowe.)

An odd piece, lamenting the demise of something that seems scarcely ever to have been. The reasoning seems to at least border on the circular: "But I wonder if there is really a reason to grieve the passing of this Platonic thing we have called Literature ... unless what we are in danger of losing is of another order than mere literature." How exactly does mere literature differ from Literature? And is devotion to the latter any different from devotion to  "literature’s 'nobility' "? 
To think that the book business and literature were ever really that closely aligned is also odd. One must not confuse the product with its delivery system, which is what a book is, just as a scroll once was. And the scroll has made a comeback in this electronic age.  All well and good to moon sentimentally over Murray's store and tea with Miss Austen, but it is worth noting how small a circle of devotees we are talking about. Technology has enabled anyone who thinks he has something to say to get his message out. It's up to the rest of us to decide if we are interested. What's so bad about that?


  1. I don't know, Frank. You can certainly try to get your word out, but the power of something like Amazon as a gatekeeper shouldn't be discounted. A delivery system tends to mould/control the product.

  2. Good point, Lee. Actually, the power of any gatekeeper should never be underestimated. But I am not sure how much Amazon is interested in being a gatekeeper. They may just be content with providing people with a platform for publishing. I suppose they might object if the views involved were especially odious, but so far it seems pretty hands-off.