Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch
cbertsch

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Parts and Hearts

I've been thinking a lot about parts and wholes lately, with my graduate class's Wednesday night discussion of Libra serving as the latest provocation.

The paper I gave at the 20th Century Literature conference in Louisville last month on William T. Vollmann's framing by McSweeney's implicitly touched on the topic.

Does the sublimity of excess differ qualitatively from the sublimity of restraint?

Could it be that minimalism and maximalism meet behind the back of bourgeois literary convention?

When I was a ten-year-old fixated on World War II, my mother was fond of repeating that Hannah Arendt line about how fascism is the coming full circle of communism and vice versa. Arendt used the term "totalitarianism." What would be a good word to describe the converging of minimalism and maximalism?

This morning I was thinking about how my chapter on do-it-yourself publishing, exemplified by McSweeney's, has morphed into a chapter on competing visions of the sublime.

And then the waters muddied with the prospect of time.

How might the handling of time become sublime?

Obviously, you can temporalize the spatial aspect of minimalism and maximalism. Long books take longer to read, right?

The harder I pondered -- can you ponder hard? -- the more I began to see how my chapter on the "serious" recuperation of punk in the late 1980s -- Lipstick Traces lies at the heart of both phenomenon and chapter -- could use the idea of temporal minimalism to advance the "The term 'punk' functions like the term 'sublime'" dimension to my book. Zeroing in on the moment, describing it so fully that the minute becomes excessive -- that's analogous to the minimalism-maximalism convergence.

When the moment is transformed into the momentous, our sense of proportion is destabilized.

Well, time to continue packing. It's raining like mad here. Strange.
Tags: language, literature, music, ramble, theory
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