robert cohen

The Middle Path

Robert Cohen has a new piece worth reading called “Going to the Tigers: Notes on Middle Style” now up at The Believer.

Ultimately, I disagree with Cohen because to my mind he’s implicitly recuperating the old Aristotelian virtues we know so well from Book II of the Nicomachean Ethics, in order to illustrate his point about the value of avoiding both excess and deficiency. What seals my disagreement is this statement:

Reading a novel that feels overly finessed, not quite visceral, makes us antsy and peevish. Enough with the light show, we think, enough with the incense, the dry ice, the elaborate riddles and evasions. No wonder people hate novels.

For one thing, I disagree with his use of first person plural. It makes “us” antsy? “We” think? Really? You’re gonna make a claim that you know what reading an overly finessed, not quite visceral novel makes me feel? That’s bonkers. And point of fact, I almost exclusively (and purposefully) read works that strive for light shows, incense, dry ice, elaborate riddles and evasions. I’m being serious. That’s why I attend to literature: for the spectacle.

But before I skin my tongue, I’ll leave it there. Take a gander. Seems like something that might/could spark some conversation.

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February 3rd, 2010 / 11:34 pm