15 September 2009

Lev Grossman: Good Sport

A couple weeks ago, Lev Grossman wrote an essay for The Wall Street Journal and I was in a bad mood that day (having choked on all the butt-ends of my days and ways) and so I decided to take issue with Mr. Grossman's representation of literary modernism. I know my pet peeve against people using the term "modernism" in certain ways borders on the irrational and is at best a bit of lit geekery, but so it goes. I certainly didn't expect a lot of notice. But there was a lot of notice, and various people started piling up either to pummel Mr. Grossman's essay or to celebrate it. There was, at least from the perspective of a lit geek like me, some fascinating discussion in amidst the ever-vociferous noise of internet brouhahahahahas.

I know Mr. Grossman considered some of what I said to be too ad hominem, and though I may not feel that it was too ad hominem, he's absolutely right that, out of disappointment that someone of his educational background, broad reading experience, and obvious intelligence would write such sentences as he wrote, I expressed my argument not only with his ideas, but with him. I really just thought he was having a temporary delusion and my words were (though it was perhaps not obvious) fueled by an optimistic belief that he could recover. Having suffered plenty of delusions in my own time -- delusions of grandeur, of omnipotence, of eloquence, of relevance, of thrift -- I am sometimes too ready to help other people recover from theirs....

Meanwhile, Mr. Grossman seems to have survived my attack on his windmill, and done so in good humor -- Jeff VanderMeer asked him a series of immensely serious questions, and got immensely serious responses. It's a perfect coda to the conversation.

1 comment:

  1. We had a good time with this one at Making Light. Thank you for writing the original post, and I'm glad you enjoyed the thread.

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