ReadySteadyBlog

In a recent Guardian article, ReadySteadyBook reviewer (and author of The Canal) Lee Rourke speaks to our friend Tom McCarthy about Tom's novel C, about art and culture generally, and about Modernism:


LR: You recently reviewed Gabriel Josipovici's latest book What Ever Happened to Modernism? for this paper, calling it a cure for our conservative times. What did you mean by this?

TMcC: It's a wonderful book. We've had over a century of these radical writers such as Beckett, Celan and Kafka, and in philosophy people like Bataille, Levinas and Derrida, and in psychoanalysis Freud and Lacan, and in film Godard and Lynch, and so on. It's incredibly dynamic stuff, and unleashes a vertiginous set of possibilities – not to mention the amount of anguish and trauma that's gone into producing it. I mean, Paul Celan virtually walked out of Auschwitz to write his poetry. For us to dismiss its legacy as if it was just some irritation that got in the way of an ongoing rational enlightenment is negligible to say the least. In fact, I think it's actually offensive. It's an ethical thing: to brush all this aside and to regress to sentimental humanism is almost like revisionism: it's the cultural analogue to historical revisionism, it's just ethically wrong and aesthetically rubbish. Modernism is a legacy we have whether we want it or not. It's like Darwin: you can either go beyond it and think through its implications, or you can ignore it, and if you do that you're a Creationist (more...)

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