A very comprehensive essay on The Dreyfus Affair that split French opinion in the 1890s- 1900s.  (wikipedia link) and which in literature is most remembered for the references it finds in Proust’s works. I found the following observation to be quite insightful though it is tangential to the topic.

In any modernized country, the backward-looking party will always tend toward resentment and grievance. The key is to keep the conservatives feeling that they are an alternative party of modernity. (This was Disraeli’s great achievement, as it was, much later, de Gaulle’s.) When the conservative party comes to see itself as unfairly marginalized, it becomes a party of pure reaction…

Githa Hariharan has a fine column in The Telegraph where she writes about the ‘kitsch in everyday life‘:

What is this thing we call kitsch with such an easy sneer? The word, popularized in the 1930s by theorists such as Adorno and Broch, was first used to denote that which is in opposition to art. Kitsch included artefacts considered inferior or unoriginal, often tastelessly imitating art of recognized value. The key word here is imitating.

Since then, kitsch has been reinvented in original ways, making use of irony, for example, and blurring the boundary between high and popular art. One moving force of this enterprise has been the democratic impulse: the stuff of art is to be found around us, not in some rarefied aesthetic hothouse. But for the lay person, these twists of postmodernism are easier to identify and appreciate in what continues, essentially, to be high (and highly priced) art. The intentions, and the aesthetic experience, of the more powerful kitsch in our lives, are somewhat different.

At The Quarterly Conversation, Scott Esposito writes on the Guatemalean novelist Horacio Castenellos, whose novella ‘Senselessness’ I read recently and heartily recommend as a fine political novel.

What distinguishes Moya’s work, and what allows it to be at once utterly political without being political fiction, is that Moya brings this kind of paranoia to the ordinary individual. He does not write about political actors—more often than not his characters have no interest in politics beyond the average citizen’s concern with the news of the day. And yet, through paranoia his characters come to feel deeply—too deeply—involved in the great national political matters of their time.


Author: bhupinder singh

an occasional blogger

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