Sunday, October 26, 2008

Literature in the Marketplace

The TLS has a review of a book by some right-wing nut who says that literary critics are unjustifiably hostile to market and commercialism and argues for something called "commodity aesthetics" (do words really mean nothing anymore?). The review itself is quite good and really worth reading.

"It is paradoxical for an advocate of the Western cultural tradition to laud market capitalism. For in the very brief period in which it has held earthly power, market capitalism has essentially destroyed that tradition – profaning everything sacred, evaporating everything solid, and directing its destructive might with particular intensity against the autonomous individual. It has instituted the rule of appearance over essence, of signs over things, of things over people, of dead labour over living labour. It exploits base appetites and fosters insatiable desires, giving rise to epidemic addiction and depression. There have been many societies in which large numbers of people dedicated their lives to the pursuit of economic self-interest through the market. But there have been no societies in which the pursuit of economic self-interest through the market was held to be an admirable way to spend one’s life. Our society is unique in having produced that philosophy. One of the reasons to read the literature of the past is to learn how anomalous our society is in its self-interested single-mindedness. "


Szerelem said...

Haven't read the review yet, but I think commodity aesthetics are working in any case. How else do you explain the success of people like Chetan Bhagat?

Alok said...

yeah. And in US they have started stocking books in walmart too (and not just self-improvement books). some even give three-for-two type discounts.