I was looking at my blog’s stats recently, and I noticed that I had just thirty posts last year! This is in comparison to, I think, 2013, when I posted literally every day (330 posts). That was excessive, I think the happy medium is somewhere in between. But now that I’m less active on Twitter and Facebook, I am finding myself with more desire to write here.
The election fills me with dread, as always. It’s looking highly likely that on Election Night Donald Trump will be ahead in the electoral college and that the election will be decided by mail-in ballots counted after Election Night. What a mess!
The thing that frustrates me is that although my opinion probably counts for something, the fate of the Republic really lies in the hands of Republicans. If there are exist Republicans who care less about winning than they do about the fate of our democracy, then we will be okay. But it just feels like anyone who cares about that shit is already voting for Biden. I don’t believe in the existence of Republicans who will vote for Donald Trump on election day, and then a week after the election will turn around and say, “Okay, well we lost, fair and square.”
I mean, to be honest, it’s not like Democrats are thaaaat much better. In 2016, I was a person who really wanted the electoral college to refuse to elect Trump–a hope that in retrospect seems laughable–because I regarded Trump as an existential threat to the country. The problem is that I was right, he is an existential threat, whereas Republicans who feared the same about Biden would be wrong. There’s no equivalence.
Whatevs. I don’t know. Writing continues apace. I only have a half-day of childcare today, so I’m trying to get in gear and get to work a little earlier.
I continue to read learned articles. It’s interesting. I think I’ll probably get a little tired at some point of a few of the tics that the various literary publications, in particular, tend to evince. For instance, many of the articles in the New York Review of Books seem to have a bit of an axe to grind. I just finished reading one about this survey of Wagner’s influence, and the reviewer started talking about whether the writer had proven whether or not genius is real, or whether a work’s aesthetic qualities are created and understood through the act of criticism. All seemed a little beside the point. I suppose that’s the charm of the publication: someone gets to give you a long and interesting opinion about a book you’re not going to read and probably will never read. And the articles are by and large very compelling: oftentimes I start one thinking I have no interest in this subject, and then I end up reading an entire article about Goya or something.
I just have two wishes. The first is that the articles evinced a little more humility. If you go off on a long tangent, then that’s your tangent, that’s your hobby-horse, don’t put that on the author and pretend it’s some flaw in the work. And the second is that in many cases, it’s clear that the works being reviewed are not particularly good or substantive. Why waste all this space in the magazine reviewing or talking about books that aren’t good? Surely you could write a long, interesting article about a book that’s actually worth that treatment. But I suppose that’s an outdated view of criticism: the point of a literary review isn’t to identify good books, it’s to practice the art of criticism, and there’s a certain mode of criticism that doesn’t work very well when the book in question is very good.