10 May

Why so much time and energy is devoted to epitaths and obituaries of textual literature and its correspondent sub culture is to me, on the face of it, a fool’s enterprise. This , especially in light of an ample supply of wonderous texts and tracts available in a super abundance that may actually be a more serious matter than anxieties about the disappearance of the printed word.

I was grazing my bookmarked sites and came across Simon Blackburn’s thoughtful and accessible commentary noting Scottish Empiricist David Hume’s 300th anniversary. Hume was a philosopher but not of the Public Television banality blathering ilk. One passage especially caught my attention as it seemed to me to have applications beyond the more rarified ontological issues real philosophers were given to worrying. To whit:

Incalculably diffusive processes are real enough. Education is one of them. Sending a book or an idea into the marketplace may be the datable beginning of a diffusive process, but then there may be no datable end product. William Shakespeare’s works diffuse after more than four centuries; Hume’s after three. Their works are tributaries into the vast stream of thoughts and ideas and writings and political changes that made the modern world. But nobody can calculate the effect that just one work had, any more than they can calculate just how much of the growth of a flower, or how much of its beauty, was the result of any one raindrop falling on any one day. Yet nobody doubts that rain makes the garden grow. It is an incalculably diffusive process.

I probably noted in this out of the way corner of Universe, the arrival of the Los Angeles Review of Books to fan the dying embers of the book. Though for the most part I avoid reading essays on “the dead book or its impending passing, respecting author Ben Ehrenreich’s intelligence and bloodlines(his mother is the non pareil Barbra ), I ventured to read his disarmingDeath of the Book
in the debut issue of above mentioned journal (as Ehrenreich points out, googling death of the book will get you close to 12 million hits.)

There is a lot of intelligent cogitation in this article but for me its best part is the citation of Bruno Schulz’s riveting fiction, The Book.

Also, in this premier issue is a piece by the perennially engaging David Shields, entitled Life is Short, Art is Shorter In this predictably unpredictable tractatus Shields opines:

Perhaps it’s time to retire this quaint trope—the critic’s shock that an artist has found matter other than in the agreed-upon precincts. Life is interesting all over. Every life, properly understood, is compelling. Anyone aspiring to be an artist knows there’s no such thing as why-bother or nothing-to-see.

Which, I may say is a simple and brilliant guidepost. The trope Shields refers to is a sensibility, unfortunately, prevalent in the broadcasts and scribblings of people who don’t do anything original or go anywhere off the beaten track.

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