Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Revolution Will Be Accessorized edited by Aaron Hicklin is a compilation of essays that originally appeared in BlackBook magazine, which I occasionally read. These aren't long in-depth interviews or powerful essays for the most part and it's a bit of a mixed bag with some I enjoyed, some I thought were just okay, and some I didn't care for at all (namely Toby Young's piece, which just further reinforced the violently unfavorable opinion of him I developed from reading all of 10 pages of his book). There were a couple of things that struck me from two of the interviews that I want to mention though.

The first was in an interview with Joan Didion when, in response to a question asking if the written word has been devalued since she began her career, she answered, "I think specifically novels because people don't understand unreliable narrators, for example; they believe that anything the narrators of a novel tells them is supposed to be the truth. They read a novel as if they were reading nonfiction. They literally do not seem to grasp the difference. And even if they know that one is fiction and one is not, they don't know it at a level where it allows them to not trust a character - they will turn against that character rather than simply think, 'This is an interesting, untrustworthy character.'" This obviously amused me because I loves me some unreliable narrators and I have several friends who do as well. I guess I see her point though, because looking at the bestseller lists doesn't usually engender confidence in the general public's ability to recognize shades of gray, and in my view great art is rarely found in black and white because there's no breathing room there, no space for interpretation.

Speaking of art, the second quote I wanted to mention was in an interview with Damien Hirst (conducted shortly after the fire that took out a lot of his works) when he made the statement that he'd, "always believed that art's more powerful and important than money, but it gets fucking close sometimes, and you just have to stay open to the fact that if you decide money's more important you have to stop doing it." I really love that. It encapsulates exactly what I always feel is the point at which you can see a band or a movie or a TV show fail - that moment when artistry falls before commerce.

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