Critic steals Obooki’s Idea and makes it into a Book

A man, Steven Moore, has taken one of Obooki’s notions and run with it, turning it into a six-hundred page book. There is a (pretty damning) review of it here.

This is of course Obooki’s highly original idea that there was an avant-garde before the onset of modernism and that perhaps c20th writers aren’t quite so clever and inventive as what they’re made out. (Most of the posts for this are now lost in some text file on my hard drive, and I won’t be digging them out any time soon).

It’s interesting though that Moore’s ultimate intention in identifying elements of modernism before modernism is almost entirely the opposite to Obooki’s. For Obooki imagined, if he could find the avant-garde in earlier writing, then the claims of moderns (claims to originality in general – of the sort, “oh yes, of course Franz Kafka, he was the first to…”; but in particular claims such as: “all books should now be written in a modernist or post-modernist manner for it is only this which is capable of representing the c20th/c21st mind, really how can all these novelists who just write like Balzac conjure up what it means now living in the modern world and how we’ve come to think entirely differently from our Victorian counterparts to the extent that they seem as alien to us people in Heian-era Japan”) could be demonstrated to be hollow. Obooki has the idea that the conventional and the avant-garde have always walked along hand in hand, as a boy and a girl who’ve just fallen in love.

Steven Moore, on the other hand, seeks to use the existence of an antiquity to demonstrate that the avant-garde has a rightful place in the literary canon – perhaps in much the same way (and I’m sure he would appreciate the comparison) as the Romans were always very impressed by the Jewish religion on account of its antiquity – and is not mere annoying (post-)modernist tomfoolery.

Of course, the truth of the matter seems to be that the conventional and the avant-garde have always had a violent contempt for one another; – in this age, however, the boxing-match has reached the 12th round, and the feeble efforts of the boxers to knock one another out induce in the observer only horror, if not pity.

[Obooki apologises for any incompatible metaphors in this piece.]


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