Sunday, November 13, 2011

Man, people in the past used to be dicks

Ok, so I have talked to a fair amount of people about this, but I am about to blow everyone's mind. Not really, but you might find this also an interesting thing that happens.

There is a type of writing, usually essays, that I enjoy a lot. But there isn't really a word for the idea that groups them all together, being all sorts of styles (plays, essays, poetry, novels, letters) and from all sorts of eras and other things. But to put it in a plain way: I love reading about people I like, writing about other people I like, but the first person hates the second person. This might seem like a weird, not very much done thing. But it totally is, because even if the people in the past were more cultured than us (a dubious claim), they were equally capable of hating other people in petty ways.

So, a good example of this is that George Orwell wrote a series of essays on Salvador Dali. I like both of those people in different ways, but damn. George Orwell hated Salvador Dali SO MUCH. Like, 3 or 4 essays worth of just talking about how he thinks Salvador Dali is not only a terrible artist, but a terrible evil person. Orwell did one about Gandhi too, and that is a little less vitriolic, if a bit more realistic. But it's the Dali essays that are gold; sometimes he just tells stories about Dali that are probably not even true. The best evidence of their falseness? The fact that he is taking Dali at his word.

Others include a Sartre book about Gustav Flaubert called "L'idiot de sa famille" (The idiot of his family). Why didn't I buy this book? It has to be promising, but I don't have the time to hear about how much Sartre hated Flaubert. He also called Foucault "The last rampart of the bourgeoisie", which is awesome insofar as I wish I could be a petty indignant person and have my opinions get cited on Foucault's wikipedia page. Speaking of Foucault, there is no greater fount of this type of writing than Nietzsche, but I already liked his style since it mainly consists of ranting ALL THE TIME.

So I'm at an impasse, because what do you even call that grouping of things? I mean, Nietzsche, Orwell, Shakespeare (Henry VI-Joan of Arc), Jerome (really, pretty much anyone. I imagine I could find something he said about Augustine), Virginia Woolfe, it kind of spans all of time and style. I guess maybe polemic? But that's not their intended purpose, as much as just...

You know what? It doesn't really matter. If anyone has name ideas, then they can make it up. I'm just saying, try to read stuff like this sometimes, because it's awesome.

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