Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist


I have a book review to write and I don't want to write it. The book has taken me weeks to read. It's an experimental novel. It doesn't have a plot or characters or even grammar.

Of course I'm work-shy. But more than that, I'm afraid of looking a fool.

The history of modern art- going back to the beginning of the 19th century- is full of examples of often distinguished critics coming a cropper over work they didn't understand. There is the chap from the Edinburgh Review who rubbished Keats, there is Dickens coming out of the first pre-Raphaelite exhibition overwhelmed by the depravity of it all, there is Ruskin accusing Whistler of "throwing a pot of paint in the public's face" and getting sued by his victim.

Poor Ruskin. He was an intellectual giant and what are the two best known facts about him? (a.) He was so horrified by the discovery that his wife had pubic hair that he was unable to consummate his marriage, and, (b.) Whistler made him look like a twat.

And when you get to the 20th century there's this running battle going on between the cool guys who get it and the silly old noddies who don't. I've always been mortally afeared of being thought a noddy. It has led me, in the past, to embrace experimental work (Hiroshima, Mon Amour, anyone?) which on cooler reflection I think overcooked and silly.

So this is a day for procrastination. Obviously I have to read my LJ Friends list first. And Ailz has just marched in and asked me to type up the notes I took at the Frankenstein tutorial last weekend. Hooray, that will eat up another half hour.

But the moment will finally come. Judgement hour. I will be judged for my judgement. I will walk into the panelled examination room with the grim-faced spectres of modernist heroes- Eliot, Pound, Woolf, Picasso- lined up around the walls and the judge will slap Che Elias' The Pagan Ellipsis on the table and say with an ill-disguised sneer, "well, what do you make of this lot then?"
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