Amis on Bellow, Bennett on connections…

Knee deep in Martin Amis’ Experience, he offers a convincing definition of literature:

“I see Bellow perhaps twice a year, and we call, and we write. But that accounts for only a fraction of the time I spend in his company. He is on the shelves, on the desk, he is all over the house, and always in the mood to talk. That’s what writing is, not communication but a means of communion. And there are the other writers who swirl around you, like friends, patient, intimate, sleeplessly accessible, over centuries. This is the definition of literature.”

It put me in mind of what Alan Bennett had to say in The History Boys on the same subject:

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours”

Mr. Robot

I’m not naive enough to think that a show on a commercial TV channel can ever be truly subversive, but Mr. Robot certainly struck a chord with me. As someone who wants to throw paint at every perfect face staring out from the myriad adverts that line my daily commute, I have real sympathy for the anti-hero, Elliot. He’s a cyber-security specialist and hacker, with severe social anxiety. But his distance from most people means that he sees our commercially driven society for the sham that it truly is, and is determined to do something about it:

“Is it that, we collectively thought that, Steve Jobs was a great man? Even when we knew he made billions off the backs of children. Or maybe it’s that it feels like all our heroes are counterfeit. The world itself is just one big hoax. Spamming each other with our commentary bullshit masquerading as insight. Our social media faking us into intimacy, or is that we voted for this? Not with our rigged elections, but with our things, our property, our money. I’m not saying anything new, we all know why we do this. Not because Hunger games books makes us happy, but because we want to be sedated. Because it’s painful not to pretend, because we’re cowards. Fuck Society.”

I’m five episodes in to the series and looking forward to the rest. Not sure when this is showing in the UK – I had to use ‘alternative’ means to watch it. But then, this felt perfectly in keeping with the counter-cultural theme of the show!

“Truth always rests with the minority”

“…and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because the minority is generally formed by those who really have an opinion, while the strength of a majority is illusory, formed by the gangs who have no opinion — and who, therefore, in the next instant (when it is evident that the minority is the stronger) assume its opinion… while truth again reverts to a new minority.”

Søren Kierkegaard