Friday, August 26, 2011

Taking Down the Help

A really interesting critical takedown of The Help (novel and film) courtesy of Roxanne Gay. I haven't experienced either, but Gay's perspective is powerful, her sense of moral outrage palpable. The essay is worth a read.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Power Over Distraction

"If the remission of pain is happiness, then the emergence from distraction is aesthetic bliss. I use these terms loosely, for I am not making an argument but attempting to describe the pleasure from recognition or rediscovery of certain essences permanently associated with human life. These essences are restored to our consciousness by persons who are described by artists...When you open a novel--and I mean of course the real thing--you enter into a state of intimacy with its writer. You hear a voice or, more significantly, an individual tone under the words. This tone you, the reader, will identify not so much by a name, the name of the author, as by a distinct and unique human quality. It seems to issue from the bosom, from a place beneath the breastbone. It is more musical than verbal, and it is the characteristic signature of a person, of a soul. Such a writer has power over distraction and fragmentation, and out of distressing unrest, even from the edge of chaos, he can bring unity and carry us into a state of intransitive attention."

Saul Bellow on "the distracted public" in his collection of non-fiction, It All Adds Up: From the Dim Past to the Uncertain Future.