Here are links to two good articles from the 2005/12/01 LRB:
“Remember me” by Adam Phillips, on Bret Easton Ellis
Ellis’s characters come after Balzac’s in the sense that they are already inordinately wealthy – many have both inherited money and made considerable amounts of it – and are already stranded by their inordinate success, or the success of their parents. Ellis wants to show us what happens to people when they are successful by the standards of their culture, when they have got what they are supposed to want (wealth, fame, glamour and sex); when, that is, they have to live without any compelling forms of resistance to the prevailing ideology; when all they have got to protect themselves are anaesthetics. If you can’t bear what you can see you can close your eyes; but every time you close your eyes you are reminded that what you can’t see is still there. Ellis, a very remarkable writer who is in some ways as underrated by his fans as by his critics, gives us a picture of what happens to morality when there is no political life, when capitalism without optimism and without question takes hold, when inattention is the last resort.
“As Astonishing as Elvis” by Jenny Turner, on Ayn Rand
Nasty sex and scenes of wanton cruelty and destruction are not unusual in novels and movies. But Rand’s nastiness has an earnestness to it, a desire to transform naughty frisson into iron principle. And as for sex, so for politics. Popular stories of the 1940s and 1950s are full of people being rapacious and unkind, but for Rand, noir has to become a system of world history. Her ethics are doggedly, insistently supremacist, the line between sheep and goats cut in black marker pen. You’re either a producer or a looter, on the side of ‘greatness’, ‘the individual will’ and so on, or one of the ‘parasites’, the ‘mediocrity’, the ‘second-handers’ who feed off their energy; all the heroes are gaunt, angular, square-jawed, all the looters the opposite. Good guys recognise other good guys immediately: the novels are full of heart-warming chats between a hero and a noble tramp or plumber. Bad guys stammer, and bluster, and let their weak chins wobble as their dull eyes look down at the floor.
3 Comments »
Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Your email address is never displayed.
Do not paste an entire article or blog post into here: create a link to it (or at least create a tinyurl) instead.
The following HTML tags are allowed:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>