Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Aestheticism

Godine translator Damion Searls has a manifesto in the newest issue of The Quarterly Conversation, in which he proclaims New Aestheticism: 'For all its implicit timelessness, New Aestheticism will no doubt one day be seen as a reaction to its age and therefore part of it, like the Chinese literati in dark times who turned away from a corrupt court to tend to their gardens. Whom has all our genocide testimony helped? Has deconstructing the bourgeois subject of linear narrative served any purpose but to construct an escapist ghetto for intellectuals who might otherwise have been among the best minds of their generation? And then of course there’s the Bush years.

But hear how shrill this all sounds. The New Aesthete would rather be beautiful than shrill. “I don’t know why literary people spend so much time apologizing for their perfectly harmless little books that no one will ever read. You don’t hear generals apologizing for killing people” (Leonora Carrington, The Hearing Trumpet).

If you write interesting sentences then people will want to read them if not then not, that is the truth.'

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