It’s the Economy, Stupid.

June 4, 2009 at 12:43 am (By Amba)

As we were saying.  What’s an avant-gardiste to do when he, or she, realizes that economics is now the cutting edge of the culture, with technology close behind?  Something like this:

I’ve got a longstanding fascination with the way economics haunts literature, and vice versa.  You can trace the history of this haunting from Joyce, whose writing is obsessed with credit, debt and forgery, right back through Shakespeare, whose “Merchant of Venice” should be required reading for all economists — especially now. . . . Right now I’ve just installed a “Black Box Transmitter” in an art institute in Germany.  It sends out looping sequences of poetry created by cutting up and mixing together stock market prices, weather forecasts and lines of Hölderlin. . . . I’ve just finished a novel about early radio and its relation to poetry and death.  Technology is always haunted, too:  that’s what makes it so sexy.  [Tom McCarthy]

Talk about jumping on a bandwagon with such enthusiasm you almost capsize it.  There’s no parody like self-parody (the bolded part, I think, is priceless).  This was, of course, in the New York Times.



  1. Icepick said,

    Here’s my question: Will the critics be able to tell the difference between the machine generated poetry and other modern master works? If not, does that mean the machines have passed the Turing Test, or that the critics failed the Turing Test?

  2. Richard Lawrence Cohen said,

    “a novel about early radio and its relation to poetry and death…”

    That’s what’s wrong with contemporary fiction. A novel is not a thesis. It is not “about” relationships between ideas.

    A novel is about, for example, “a poor boy in England who runs away from a sadistically run school and lands in a group of apprentice pickpockets supervised a by a crafty Jew.”

    This is what happens when young people believe what their professors tell them.

    The problem is even worse in the visual arts.

  3. Rod said,

    Ice: You left out a third possibility, that avant garde artists have failed the Turing Test. Or perhaps we are approaching the much heralded Singularity from the other direction.

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