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04/09/2008

Comments

Daniel

Why not a call for balance? Ignore neither the art nor the social implications and effects.

Steven Augustine

"In Exit Ghost, Philip Roth includes a letter putatively written by "Amy Bellette" but, as it turns out, mostly written by her lover, E.I. Lonoff..."

Only if we take Amy's word for it that Lonoff keeps an open channel between Amy and the grave!

Excellent (and absurdly underrated; it gets richer, and more winkingly clever, every time I read it) choice of books to illustrate your point, though, Dan. "Exit" is *all about* the misinterpretation/misappropriation of texts and lives, along with being an elegy to an era in which art-qua-art was considered a supremely noble cultural value. Skull-stapled Amy and sloshy-diapered Zuck are just the Sancho and Quixote to make a futile last charge in defence of that faded value.

When Boyd writes, "The pleasure art's intense play with patterns affords compels our engagement again and again and helps shape our capacity to create and process pattern more swiftly," I'd *like* to believe that his point is that every text teaches us how, and why, to read it.

The second half of that quoted passage (as you cite it), though, in referencing the Flynn Effect, bursts that little bubble; it's worth noting that Malcolm Gladwell does a good job of refuting the obvious nonsense of an *absolute* pattern of generational I.Q. increase (which would imply that our great-great-grandfathers had all been low-grade morons) here:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2007/12/17/071217crbo_books_gladwell

After reading Boyd's two-volume Nabokov, all those years ago, I immediately placed him, in this tiny mind of mine, second only to Ellmann in the pantheon of Literary Biographers. Still, second he remains, if only because nowhere in his exhaustive studies of "Lolita" have I found even a glancing reference to the nicely-hidden clues indicating that Dolores Haze is the biological daughter of Mr. C. Quilty.

If he's missed that (and I'm happy to be corrected if it turns out that he hasn't), he's missed other things... things beyond Nabokov... stuff about Art in general. He's only human, after all. We all have our blind spots.

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