Thursday, September 11, 2008

I love this artist Nina Murdoch who has just won the Threadneedle Figurative Art Prize.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

For several months I've been obsessed by this sentence from an interview with Philip Roth:

"... it feels to me very much like a dying moment, for literary culture in my own country – but you can't have computers and iPods and BlackBerries and blueberries and raspberries, and have time left to sit for two or three hours with a book."

Two or three hours! Then today, provoked by that sentence into reading Roth himself (The Ghost Writer) over dinner instead of watching Mad Men as usual, I see this:

"He did not do justice to a writer unless he read him on consecutive days and for no less than three hours at a sitting. Otherwise, despite his notetaking and underlining, he lost touch with a book's inner life and might as well not have begun. Sometimes, when he unavoidably had to miss a day, he would go back and begin all over again, rather than be nagged by his sense that he was wronging a serious author."

Oh god!
Here is a table that appears in Reactionary Modernism by Jeffrey Herf, derived from the pre-WW2 writings of the German economist Werner Sombart. Let's imagine it's a quiz from a magazine.

Exchange value
Use value
AbstractionConcrete immediacy
International socialism and international capitalism
National socialism

Mostly A's: You are the Jewish Geist.
Mostly B's: You are German technology.

Although I'm half-Jewish, I think I prefer forest to desert and use value to exchange value. But, on the other hand, I do prefer abstraction to concrete immediacy, reason to instinct, intellect to soul, and - perhaps decisively - international socialism to National Socialism.

You certainly don't get much sense from Werner Sombart's Wikipedia page that he was in fact a fairly committed anti-Semite who even disliked department stores because he thought their "crass juxtapositions" were a product of Jewish sensibilities.