Wednesday 1 August 2018

LRB - a philistine institution

The one good thing that happened in LRB recently was David Nirenberg's happy shooting down of Schama's ridiculous new book on Jews without wasting our time on a display of the reviewer's accomplishment at the expense even of an idea of what the book might concern - the more typical LRB mode. Led me to reading Nirenberg's Aesthetic Theology, the most imaginative and learned study of anti-semintism and the image as one could imagine and, at the same time, such a sophisticated and historically complex point of view that, despite a hint of paranoia, in his case a motivation to learning rather than to ignorance, it makes one realise how ridiculous and absurdly ignorant the current 'debates' around Corbyn and anti-semitism actually are. What a mess, what a parade of unpardonable stupidities on all sides, and all for the sake of the utterly dysfunctional IHRA definitions which solve neither the problems of freedom of thought(qv )nor of institutional inertia. Recall that the two brightest Labour leading figures seen off in recent years happened to be Jewish, the Miliband brothers, but I do doubt that there was any conscious prejudice. The UK does not have Jewish PMs nor Catholic nor, really atheist. Our current bunch of putschist parliamentarians are evidence enough the someone's undeclared interests in any event dissolve parliament as a functioning institution.

Anyway, despite this flare up of rare intelligence (I guess an all time low was T J Clark's defence of BREXIT) Perry Anderson's bullying and provincial comparison of POWELL and PROUST takes the cake and takes it again in its demonstration that he is scarcely able to think anything outside the blindfold of a provincial kind of marxo-historical conventionalism on the one hand and an incapacity to read text AT ALL on the other. I was never an admirer of Anderson and always thought that his master narratives of this and that historical transition or passage were of an order of the improbable at the level of what anyone can come to know at all, under any circumstances, unless one has tricked oneself into believing that one is intelligent design as such, and of the order of the creator. In fact that always was the problem with master narratives, not the idea of narrative as such but the deluded mastery of the master as such, the one who believes themself to be the one not only supposed to know, but the one who actually does.


if you read this

and can find this book

Laurent Nunez - L'enigme des premières lignes

and read the little chapter on Proust,
you will see