The pornography of despair

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Philadelphia Inquirer books editor Frank Wilson uses Cormac McCarthy as an excuse to peddle the rankest of bullshit in his column of yesterday:

Of course, as D.H. Lawrence pointed out in the last book he wrote, Apocalypse, those who warn of apocalypse secretly crave it, the way puritans tend to be turned on by the very vices they so loudly denounce.

The Road is just the latest installment in the pornography of despair.  [full diatribe]

That saw Wilson trots out about those who warn of apocalpypse is one that gets appropriated and applied out of context time and again in a ploy to shame us into thinking that everything will be all right if we just carry on in the style to which we have become accustomed. Lawrence's book was at least in part a diatribe against Christianity, a religion whose anticipated Apocalypse is a rather different animal from environmental disaster. Believers in Apocalypse believe that Apocalypse is inevitable, and they look forward to the happy horseshit of the Millennium that will follow. Believers in environmental catastrophe, or in nuclear winter, or in a host of other terrors of the modern age, don't believe the end is necessarily inevitable. If they did, why would they be trying to raise enough awareness to avert it?

Furthermore, in the balance of his column, Frank Wilson pretty much shames books editors everywhere by displaying his tin ear for brilliant, poetic prose, his utter lack of sophistication as a reader, and his blindness to symbolic content as he drops road apples all over The Road. Of course, if he denudes the book of its value as art, all that can remain in his cramped little mind is a perception of pornography. It's all in the eye of the beholder, after all. To me, pornography is American soldiers and Iraqi citizens dying unnecessarily while Washington watches, skies and seas poisoned as we blithely career down dead-end roads in our dead-end SUVs. Pornography is not contained, nor would be it even be containable, within the borders of The Road.

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/398548.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on May 3, 2007 11:00 AM.

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