Saturday, April 09, 2005

"clogged with belated thought"

Dave Monroe quoting the Guardian re the late, great Saul Bellow, @ pynchon-l:
And he was always concerned with the modern self, the American self. It is usual to give writers like DeLillo and Pynchon credit for what seems the essentially postmodern insight that we are colonised, mediated, and finally oppressed by modern forms of knowledge - by television, film, advertising, the newspapers - and that this mediation has the effect of making our own mental activity somewhat self-conscious. But Bellow believed that public life drives out private life, and that this pressure on the private was a unique contemporary invention. His modern heroes are clogged with belated thought - they arrive so late in history, when there is too much too know, too much to bear, and no one speaks the same language....

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

violent prose

via Heikki @pynchon-l:
"[...] Four years and a series of catastrophic world events later, the new production, Saturday, is here. It begins with its hero, the successful neurosurgeon Henry Perowne, gazing through the window of his house at what might well be another major calamity: A plane is flying over London, on fire. Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow also famously opens with a burning projectile over London, and whether or not McEwan is alluding to it, the comparison is instructive. Pynchon: "A screaming comes across the sky." McEwan: "Above the usual deep and airy roar is a straining, choking, banshee sound growing in volume-both a scream and a sustained shout, an impure, dirty noise that suggests unsustainable mechanical effort," etc., etc. Pynchon's sentence contains no adjectives; McEwan's two clauses contain ten. The desired effect is vividness, proximity; the result is the opposite, with the adjectives muffling the screaming, so that it is no longer screaming but only screaming-that-is-being-written-about. Few contemporary writers are as fixated as McEwan on physical violence; yet no one's prose is less violent than his. [...]."