I wouldn’t consider Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita a classic or say there’s more value to it than in a Michael Bay film.
It’s an impressive technical achievement, and it’s formally beautiful; if that justifies its existence, I don’t see how that’s enough to justify its study.
I once read an essay arguing that if there were a story about someone obsessed with chopping off dicks, it wouldn’t matter how gorgeous the prose was: no one would assign it. Instead, this is about lusting after and raping a young girl, so we can call it literature. If hedged, ‘provocative literature’.
There’s a lot of literature that’s beautifully written. This one in particular is studied because it allows people to lust after a teenage girl under the pretense of art, from within the gaze a sexual predator they’re allowed to empathize with without feeling guilty of it themselves.
Continue reading ‘Why is “Lolita” considered a literary classic?’
If we pretend that culture and art are the hammers they were never meant to be, very soon we will arrive at a point which says other ideas and the people who hold them are wrong, then inferior, then dangerous, and finally as subhuman or not fit to live—or at least unfit to live around us, some illusory sense of social or culture “purity” now the goal.
—Tim Miller at word and silence
I disagree with your premise. In a 2001: A Space Odyssey’ sense, we’re always trying to rid ourselves of the tribe the next hill over. Baboons and chimpanzees don’t need art criticism to break open the bones of rivals and suck out marrow in victory.
Continue reading ‘Civilization Does Not Civilize’ – or barbarize, either
‘The feeling of intense joy at sacrifice & action, that you can be a part of shoving the fulcrum of history toward its natural conclusion gives way to a realization that it’s a pendulum swinging back, and no matter how much you put your shoulder into it, you’re too small against this bigger thing. You & everyone you know & care for are too small for this thing.’
- I raise my eyebrows.
- It’s almost embarrassing to witness.
- ‘You’re tired.’
- ‘Did you get me tipsy on purpose?’
- ‘And please, let’s try it for three months.’
- I feel unbearably shy when I open the door.