Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Hardboiled genealogy

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 13 Feb 2006

Sorry for the tardiness of this reply. I've been busy.

Robert Elkin wrote:

>I did not find hostility in your Ellroy comments,
> Brian. I know many people for whom the book held no
> satisfaction, & have heard remarks similar to yours
> before. Which is good--taste doesn't exist when it
> comes to stds. anyway.

Glad we got that cleared up.

Where I DID find hostility was
> in your anti-intellectual "big brain"/"Joyce"
> comments, whether intended or not.

That's preposterous. You're completely off the mark, here, Dr. Freud.

The sum total
> implied that because you yourself did not find worthy
> the authors you mentioned (think Tolstoy was in there
> too), only "nerds" or "eggheads" (i.e., the
> "big-brained") could do so.

Are you familiar with the difference between "exegesis" and eisegesis"? Your statements above would be clear-cut examples of the former. For the record, your quotation marks notwithstanding, I NEVER called either Joyce or Tolstoy "nerds," "eggheads," "geeks," "dorks," "stooges," "suckers,"or
"neo-maxie zoom dweebies," either.

And you know, it's funny, but I'm a teacher. I *LIKE* big brains. Well, at least when they're not being needlessly defensive.

I meant exactly what I said when I said that I would leave it for bigger brains (including yours, perhaps) to figure out just how good they were. That's my own particular short-hand for saying, "I know people whose opinions I respect who hold these guys in high esteem, so I know they're neither frauds nor charlatans. I just don't get their appeal. Must be a limitation on my part." You know, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Twain, I get them. Shakespeare? No problem. I'm a gushing, unabashed fan. With a bit of work, I've managed to "get" Faulkner, as well, and it paid off. I have TRIED to "get" both Joyce AND Tolstoy. I can't get them (although I share Tolstoy's enthusiasm for Shakespeare. Can't manage to get through more than a few pages of WAR AND PEACE).

> Which is offensive to me.

Man, now that's a leap. You'd think I was a Danish cartoonist, the way I was able to gratuitously offend you, without even trying. I saw a nice comment from Karin Monton (who I know well, and who I have had the pleasure and the honor of meeting in person) speaking up. Now, Karin's got a BIG, BIG brain (probably bigger than yours, and DEFINITELY bigger than mine!), and she was kind enough to try to explain to you what passes for self-deprecating humor in my world. Thanks, Karin.

You know, I'd say I thought you just didn't get what I was trying to say, and read a lot in to it, but I wouldn't want to go out on a limb, or anything.

> But that was then, this is now. Maybe you didn't mean
> what you implied.

Or what *you* inferred. For what it's worth, I'm foregoing being insulted by the high-handed tone you used to both dismiss my comments and slap me with that absurd "anti-intellectual" tag at the same time. ;)

Tell you what, since I wasn't intending to "offend" you, since you obviously misunderstood (and misdiagnosed) me, and since I don't like being put on the psychoanalyst's couch any more than our current sitting president does, how about we both get over being offended, and I won't start getting offended, and maybe we can talk about something more on-point with this list, rather than about how "offended" we all are?

Since you mentioned Faulkner in an ancillary comment on this thread, I'm curious, have you read "Smoke," or "Knight's Gambit," or any of Faulkner's other crime stories? That's on point. Let's talk about that. I find Faulkner to be fascinating, and an awful lot of work to get through from time to time, but he's always been worth the effort for me. How about you?

No offense!

Brian Thornton

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 13 Feb 2006 EST