October 14, 2010

Patti Smith nominated for a National Book Award.

For her memoir "Just Kids" about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe.
The boy I had met was shy and inarticulate. He liked to be led, to be taken by the hand and enter wholeheartedly another world. He was masculine and protective, even as he was feminine and submissive.
And  Franzen's frozen out! 
What should we make of this surprising refusal to shower acclaim on Freedom, the most acclaimed novel of the millennium? Is it a snub, an injustice, a petty backlash? Or is it a brave act of rebellion against the PR-driven literary-industrial complex that wants us all to bow down to King Franzen?

17 comments:

traditionalguy said...

That is as provocative an article as Mapplethorpe was an artist. The rational thinkers will not let that go unchallenged. Smith admits that art is a response to a force/muse that works through an artist to create it. She wonders out loud whether in the war between magic and religion is magic the ultimate winner. She sounds more like sweet William Shakespeare at work. That should get anyone a National Book Award. Free speech is a wonderful thing.

Robert Cook said...

Maybe the judges just liked Smith's book better than Franzen's.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)
Maybe the judges just liked Smith's book better than Franzen's.

Mayhap they were all just Patti Smith Group fans?

Ann Althouse said...

"Maybe the judges just liked Smith's book better than Franzen's."

They're not in competition. One's fiction and one is nonfiction. Separate categories.

Chip Ahoy said...

I sense unclean spirits surrounding this issue, poisoning the discussion. Therefore we must do our part to keep the spirits around us clean.

ndspinelli said...

I can't think of Patti Smith w/o remembering, with a smile on my face, the great impersonation Gilda Radner did of her on SNL. I then think of Belushi, side by side w/ Joe Cocker, and I get melancholy.

MadisonMan said...

ew.com has a list of scathing reviews up, and the one for Freedom reads: ''...a 576-page monument to insignificance.'' — The Atlantic, October 2010

So maybe the National Book Award people are also subscribers to ew.com.

wv: dravatar! A PhD from James Cameron University! Woo Hoo!

somefeller said...

I suspect more people will be interested in Patti Smith's work 50 or 100 years from now than Jonathan Franzen's. He's probably sort of the Ford Madox Ford of the early 21st century, without the cool name.

"Just Kids" is an outstanding book. And traditionalguy - here are some lines from the dedication to Mapplethorpe at the beginning of the book you might like: In the end, truth will be found in his work, the corporeal body of the artist. It will not fall away. Man cannot judge it. For art sings of God, and ultimately belongs to him.

ricpic said...

",,,the corporeal body of the artist..."

What the hell does the body body of the artist mean?

ricpic said...

",,,the corporeal body of the artist..."

What the hell does the body body of the artist mean?

ricpic said...

I've been double posted by a higher power!

ricpic said...

Even if it's bodily body, what does that mean?

traditionalguy said...

Somefeller...That was another great quote, and it reminded that in the old testament only one person was said to have been anointed by the Holy Spirit of wisdom and understanding as God's choice for the artist that made all of the art works and constructed and furnished the tabernacle. Bezalel was that artist. Maybe interior decorating is not such a non-manly activity after all. I will go get this book today.

somefeller said...

What the hell does the body body of the artist mean?

I think it's a play on words on the idea of the body of work an artist leaves behind.

I will go get this book today.

Money and time well spent.

Maguro said...

Good lord, there's a literary-industrial complex now? How frightening.

jr565 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jr565 said...

somefeller, qouting Just kids:
n the end, truth will be found in his work, the corporeal body of the artist. It will not fall away. Man cannot judge it. For art sings of God, and ultimately belongs to him.

I do wonder where rationalists and modern liberals fall when it comes to art and truth and morality and why Patti Smith even believes this (and why other than material gain Mapplethorpe bothered doing photography). IF there is no God, then there is in fact no ultimate truth, and artists could never find any truth beyond themselves, so ultimately what is the purpose of art? Anyone looking for truth in art, or an artist looking for some utlimate truth (other than how to sell a million copies of their work) beyond himself is in fact a fool. THe most that could really be said of Mapplethorpe's "truth" was that he made good use of his f stop on his camera when he took a picture of a penis, and that picture came out very crisp and non blurry.No other truth to be gleaned, because there is none in the universe.

Also, where are these materialists even defining What defines a good person other than the materialist saying what's good or not good?

Even Darwin realized the implications when he argued that modern society (by helping the poor, caring for the sick) was undermining his law of natural selection:
..It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, harldly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed".
Yet Darwin himself pulled back and suggested we couldn't act otherwise as it would violate human sympathy. The nazis weren't bothered by the human sympathy aspect when it came to Jews. The Jews were poison to the aryan race and so needed to be stamped out. Nazis are villified over anyone else by liberals, but weren't they hewing closer to darwinism than Darwin? Logically, if the fitness or unfitness of a race is valued and the weaker species devalue the race as a whole, then human sympathy in fact is not a virtue but a flaw if we want a strong race.
Why are modern Darwinists so determined to include humann sympathy in the equation, when it would appear to be illogical to the futherance of the race and when it would otherwise invalidate the survival of the fittest?
I don't get where modern atheist Darwinistic liberals are coming from. They seem awfully intent on demanding human sympathy and empathy as if it were an absolute value (we must help the poor, we mustn't be judgemental of gays, etc.). But why?
Explain to a non materialist, in a world where there is no actual higher power why human empathy is in fact a virtue and not a flaw?