July 8, 2010

Life’s Too Short

In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Terry Teachout had a wonderful essay questioning the complexity of modern art.* He quotes from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, which contains sentences like this:

    It is the circumconversioning of antelithual paganelles by a huggerknut cramwell energuman, or the caecodedition of an absquelitteris puttagonnianne to the herreraism of a cabotinesque exploser?

A subsequent exchange between HG Wells and Joyce is priceless:

    “You have turned your back on common men, on their elementary needs and their restricted time and intelligence,” HG Wells complained to Joyce after reading Finnegans Wake. That didn’t faze him. “The demand that I make of my reader,” Joyce said, “is that he should devote his whole life to reading my works.”

Priceless too is the rejoinder by Mr. Teachout:

    To which the obvious retort is: Life’s too short.

If that knocked your socks off, be sure to read our next cool topic: World (Cup) Cultures. And if you want to peruse all of the previous sock-knocking blog entries, visit the Knocked My Socks Off archive.

*Teachout T. Too complicated for words: are our brains big enough to untangle modern art? Wall Street Journal. June 26, 2010. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704911704575327163342009080.html?mod=WSJ_Books_LS_Books_5. Accessed July 2, 2010.



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Life’s Too Short

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