August 2009


Once, the idiots were just the fools gawping in through the windows. Now they’ve entered the building. You can hear them everywhere. They use the word ” cool”. It is their favourite word.

The idiot does not think about what it is saying. Thinking is rubbish. And rubbish isn’t cool. Stuff & shit is cool. The idiots are self-regarding consumer slaves, oblivious to the paradox of their uniform individuality. They sculpt their hair to casual perfection, they wear their waistbands below their balls, they babble into hand-held twit machines about that cool email of the woman being bummed by a wolf. Their cool friend made it. He’s an idiot too. Welcome to the age of stupidity. Hail to the rise of the idiots.

The Rise of the Idiots by Dan Ashcroft from Nathan Barley, Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker

Entirely possible that my plangent cries against the possibility of rebelling against an aura that promotes and attenuates all rebellion says more about my residency inside that aura, my own lack of vision, than it does about any exhaustion of U.S. fiction’s possibilities. The next real literary “rebels” in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of “anti-rebels,” born oglers who dare to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall to actually endorse single-entendre values. Who treat old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point, why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk things. Risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, outrage, disgust, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. The new rebels might be the ones willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “How banal”. Accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Credulity. Willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law. Who knows. Today’s most engaged young fiction does seem like some kind of line’s end’s end. I guess that means we all get to draw our own conclusions. Have to. Are you immensely pleased.

– For M.M. Karr

E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, David Foster Wallace

Still frame from: I Realise You're a Bitch

(Click image to view)

But Josef, like many boys of nineteen, was under the misapprehension that his heart had been broken a number of times, and he prided himself on the imagined toughness of that organ.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon

“Hands down, I’m too proud for love.”

“Working in corners / peaking over shoulders / waiting for my time to come.”

As Hyde puts it, “Irony has only emergency use.. Carried over time, it is the voice of the trapped who have come to enjoy their cage.” This is because irony, entertaining as it is, serves an exclusively negative function. It’s critical and destructive, a ground-clearing. Surely this is the way our postmodern fathers saw it. But irony is singularly unuseful when it comes to constructing anything to replace the hypocrisies it debunks. This is why Hyde seems right about persistent irony being tiresome. It is unmeaty. Even gifted ironists work best in sound bites. I find them sort of wickedly fun to listen to at parties, but I always walk away feeling like I’ve had several radical surgical procedures. And as for actually driving cross-country with a gifted ironist, or sitting through a 300-page novel full of nothing but trendy sardonic exhaustion, one ends up feeling not only empty but somehow… oppressed.

E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, David Foster Wallace

File:Egon Schiele 079.jpg

Indifference is actually just the contemporary version of frugality, for U.S young people: wooed for several gorgeous hours a day for nothing but our attention, we regard that attention as our chief commodity, our social capital, and we are loath to fritter it. In the same regard, see that in 1990, flatness, numbness, and cynicism in one’s demeanor are clear ways to transmit the televisual attitude of stand-out transcendence — flatness is transcendence of melodrama, numbness transcends sentimentality, and cynicism announces that one knows the score, was last naive about something at like age four.

E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, David Foster Wallace

Next Page »