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Preview: Comments on This Space: Gough witless

Comments on This Space: Gough witless





Updated: 2018-01-10T09:05:35.102+00:00

 



Roy, this post has nothing to do with Gough Whitla...

2015-11-01T12:01:19.945+00:00

Roy, this post has nothing to do with Gough Whitlam, who was courageous and honourable, unlike the English scum who deposed him and still run this country.



Whitlam, I voted for. I knew nothing, about anythi...

2015-11-01T11:53:16.982+00:00

Whitlam, I voted for. I knew nothing, about anything. Thought he would do a good job, but had no idea of what a good job meant because I knew nothing about how the world worked. Our world.
I think Whitlam was a smart man but I think outsmarted. He did everything that he wanted to do...it was all wrong as far as I can tell...at least most outcomes were negative....and really it was the beginning of the end of the Australia I thought I knew and the beginning of something I had no idea would turn out the way it has. A gradual decline with some peripheral improvements but overall a total mess. What a legacy.



Just to quickly add, that doesn't mean I demand or...

2007-06-08T20:34:00.000+01:00

Just to quickly add, that doesn't mean I demand or expect hallelujahs from literature...I'm someone who derives huge worth from the likes of Dostoevsky and Goya.



I think what O Brien does is beyond clever though....

2007-06-08T18:34:00.000+01:00

I think what O Brien does is beyond clever though. I think he has quite a direct understanding of the strangeness of being, as though his imagination were fuelled by something like hallucinogenic Beamish(Guinness doesn't quite have the same ring- another stout just to clarify), and this we could argue more in tune with the nature of reality as it is than Beckett's ultimate inability to get beyond himself, even if he did strip things down to a bare level. Perhaps to compare with another art, how do the two writers conmpare with music like Tomorrow Never Knows by he Beatles, or Voodoo Chile by Hendrix, and these for me very powerfu lpure expressions of Being, and Being by its nature ecstatic certainty or whatever unsatisfactory phrase we wish to use. I think Beckett and this sense of reality don't mix particularly well. I'm not sure what it's from but you know that passage where he seems to realise that truth might be experienced if "he" stops, or thought stops, but despairingly climaxes with-"I'll go on." And so dooms himself to separation from Being.
Sorry bout all that.



Well "Murphy" was one of those early works. He fai...

2007-06-08T17:24:00.000+01:00

Well "Murphy" was one of those early works. He failed better later.

His gifts as a writer were not what made him great so much as the dismantling of them, which is why the commonsense English-speaking world has never embraced the Trilogy and what came later. A clever comedy is more to our taste.



Though perhaps I broadly agree with you, though th...

2007-06-08T17:11:00.000+01:00

Though perhaps I broadly agree with you, though this depends on what is meant by second-rank. It has quite a dismissive connotation which I would argue doesn't do justice to O Brien's genius. Though if I am left with who are my first rank writers, the list would be extremely small. Though I did re-read The Poor Mouth recently, and there are few books I've enjoyed so much in recent years.



No, Steve, I'd disagree- At Swim Two Birds is not ...

2007-06-08T17:04:00.000+01:00

No, Steve, I'd disagree- At Swim Two Birds is not a book of a second-rank writer, so O Brien not second rank. Lampedusa only wrote one novel but that novel is one of the first rank, and so Lampedusa a first rank writer.
Regarding Beckett, I'm afraid I find his understanding of life to be simply false in essence and so would personally have very little empathy or love for his vision, regardless of his gifts as a writer. For instance, that opening line from Murphy, "The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new," is a fine sentence but utterly false in terms of reality, each moment being new, and the idea of life's staleness being a neurosis of the person who sees things that way. So I wouldn't include him in the first rank as regards which riers matter to me.



As you say, he didn't develop his talent. So, seco...

2007-06-08T15:39:00.000+01:00

As you say, he didn't develop his talent. So, second-rank. To be second behind Beckett, who did, is no disgrace. It's just that there's a blindspot in many critics and readers, who are satisfied with brilliance rather than greatness, to make unconvincing claims based, it seems, on a wish to appease the demands of the market. This is often done with Beckett with an emphasis on his "riotous" early work or with Joyce with the polite formalities of Dubliners. They want the incontrovertiblity of these writers' greatness to give credence to their own philistinism.



I don't think a second-rank writer could be capabl...

2007-06-08T15:30:00.000+01:00

I don't think a second-rank writer could be capable of writing a comic masterpiece like The Poor Mouth, nor would I imagine a second-rank writer capable of At Swim Two Birds. "That's a real writer with the true comic spirit," said Joyce of O Brien. And Anthony Burgess- "If we don't cherish the work of Flann O'Brien we are stupid fools who don't deserve to have great men. Flann O'Brien is a very great man." That O Brien didn't go on develop his talent may be a given but the idea that he weas second rank I find a bit ridiculous.