Weekend notes

  • Conversational reading has a fairly sharp piece about one of my favorite literary critics, James Wood.

I don’t think Wood believes there is much value in metaphors like Flaubert’s because as a reader he doesn’t appreciate what use they have in a novel. Wood is comfortable dissecting how an author attaches character traits to realistic people, but when an author tosses in an enigmatic metaphor, Wood finds it too fuzzy, and therefore meaningless. I think, perhaps, if he were better at imagining his way into the psychology of a work, he might better understand the value of metaphors like Flaubert’s.

Esposito seems to go a little over the top to make his point, for, after all, enigmatic metaphor and social commentary doesn’t really matter much without the existing creation in the novel of one real human being.

  • Prompted in part by this New York Times article, I’ve been reading up on recent cancer research. Most articles I’ve read, are, unfortunately, unlinkable (like this one), having come from ridiculously expensive medical journals. One of the recommendations I encountered in the Times is essentially to spend more resources on soi-disant “blue sky” research. One of the places that I became aware of at the beginning of this decade that actually works on this sort of stuff is the Webb-Waring Institute, which operates free of commercial interests.
  • An era ended in New York last week with Joe Torre’s departure from the New York Yankees. The teams from 1996 through 2001 played an essential part in my sense of who I am as an individual—Mo; Jeter; Posada; waking up at obscene hours in France to listen to the 2000 Subway Series; the 2001 playoff games that started on one day and finished the next, ending in October—and I’m rather sad about the end of things for Torre. These letters to the Times sports section express that sadness better than I can right now.

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