Friday, 9 May 2008

Exploiting Borrowed Emotion

...was an idea I picked up from one reviewer's description of the still from Casablanca at the end of The Raw Shark Texts. I've come across it again in a review of Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Too much in the middle of what I'm doing to store it anywhere else but here:
In a blurb to this book, Salman Rushdie writes: ‘Perhaps the highest praise I can give is to say it completely earns the right to take on the World Trade Centre atrocity. The powerful emotions generated feel deserved, not borrowed.’ Most of the time, I felt the opposite. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close offers, along with many local pleasures – Safran Foer is a writer of considerable brilliance – a narcissistic realism, in love with it own gimmickry. By the time you get to the end, and flip backwards through the pictures of the falling figure to restore the victim to the top of the skyscraper, as Oskar wishes, you may feel a good deal of the emotion has been borrowed and not quite deserved. Adams, T. 2005, ‘A nine-year-old and 9/11’, Guardian (Books), May 29
*note use of 'gimmickry' again

Idea of 'borrowing' emotion relates back to the postmodern idea of all texts being fragments of other texts - existing within the continuum of all literature (including film and other media) - we can't help making comparisons and drawing on our past experience to interpret the work at hand. Why not exploit that?

A review of Mysterious Flame (Umberto Eco) states:
In the Eco-ian universe, books aren’t merely stand-alone islands to be traversed in linear fashion; they are nodes in an exponentially expanding extranet. To read one book, you sometimes have to pass through several others, accumulating countless references and subtexts along the way. Ng, D. 2005, ‘Eco and the funnymen’, Village Voice, vol. 50, no. 27, pp. 32

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