Thursday, May 31, 2018

Against Literary Eulogies

Damn it. I just did it again.

As is my wont, after telling myself not to do something (in this case, writing yet another "brief eulogy" for Philip Roth), I immediately did it.

As one of my personal mottoes is "Fuck Death" (It currently stands right behind "Fuck Trump" on my hit parade.), I refuse to turn Mindful Pleasures into a literary graveyard. This blog was intended to focus on works of art, not deaths of artists. So I hereby refuse to publicly mourn the passing of any more writers. (And a great many will be passing soon: check out the ages of most of the world's greats; they're a coterie of septuas, octos and nonas. That grating sound you hear is the literary reaper sharpening his scythe.) In lieu of eulogies, in place of pathetic "thoughts and prayers"--a phrase that needs to be expunged from American English--let's resolve to remember the writers by reading the books.

I vaguely recall a passage in Amos Oz's autobiography where he recounts a childhood wish to achieve immortality by physically becoming a book. This is exactly the Ovidian transformation every great writer pulls off. So in a sense, the writer's cadaver is the corpse least in need of eulogy. When the last breath leaves his body, he metamorphoses into text: wild whirling words, worlds of words, better than yours or mine.

The rest is reading...

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