Thursday, July 12, 2007

The loneliness of the long-distance sophist


It's a slow week, I suppose, when someone has to visit a venerable landmark like Shakespeare and Company in Paris and then attempt to elevate the piece from being mere tourist journalism  and dig out some of the hair-encrusted residue of undergraduate post-structuralism and it's attendant postmodern shell game to argue the obvious and dated insight that the S & C of legend is not the same thing as it once was. Lee Rourke's exercise in summarizing the bad ideas of mediocre thinkers meets, I suppose, the minimum requirement of a blog post, but it simply won't suffice as real thinking. It might have been one thing to simply assert that the quaint shop exists solely as a link to an era that gone past us and it's stock and trade these days is nostalgia, not book selling or advancing the cause of exposing the world to emerging authors; someone cannot be blamed for resenting the way an exotic past one was not a part of ) known only through proxy or through a reading of the literature and histories of the era) is fetishized, gormandized and sold again as to would be bohemians seeking the golden age of deep, envelope pushing thoughts.One complaining of the mere consumerism surrounding the enterprise at least has a foot on real ground and can make a point and sling a devastating metaphor that makes sense in this world, not the reference library.But dredging up the image of the tediously redundant crypto-neocon Jean Baudriallard smacks of preciousness; JB was aggravating enough with his mock oracular pronouncements and anchorless Marxism , and these days listening to those after him invoke his names and his phrases reeks of a phoniness one suspects when words like “Existential”, or even”postmodernism” are uttered. Let this French gasbag remain buried, and let Lee Rourke find a bookstore that doesn’t give him the heebie jeebies.