Baudelaire’s Nightmare

In 1859, the Paris Salon allowed photographs into its exhibition. This brought a howl of outrage from Baudelaire, who claimed that it would destroy painting, while the great unwashed would flock to the exhibition just to see themselves.

He was partly right, but more interestingly wrong. Continue reading

Advertisements

Our Natural Bent for Destruction and the Rights to Failure

“Is there an art that is dangerous? Yes. It is that art which upsets the conditions of life.”–Charles Baudelaire.

What are the conditions of life? Simply put: that which sustains it.

Does art sustain life? Does literature? Does poetry? No. None of those practices are required to sustain life. And we are better off for it. For who would want to rely on failure for sustenance? And yet, that is precisely what we have today. Failure. And lots of it. And that’s a good thing–for the arts and for life. Precisely because the very conditions that sustain life require failure in the realm of the arts.

Continue reading

An Interview with Me at Untoward

just went up—well, Part One did, in which Matt Rowan asks me questions about my first book (Amazing Adult Fantasy), G.I. Joe, geek culture, Ota Benga, Ayn Rand, George Orwell, and bad writing habits; we also discuss Curtis White, Theodor Adorno, Viktor Shklovsky, and ninjas, among other things.

[Update: Part Two, which focuses more on my first novel, Giant Slugs, is now up.]

My Four Favorite New Books of 2009, part 5: Other New Books That I Enjoyed in 2009

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

There are still more! Alphabetically, then…

Continue reading