Shaken and Stirred
bond, gwenda bond

not much really, speech truths and play reviews
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And this time it's true. Tired, cranky, computer glaring at me accusingly from across the room.

Via the wondrous and overworked Maud Newton, I found my way to one fo those things you just never expect to be seeking -- an award acceptance speech. (Though there is that one that I think some of us would love to have a copy of; you know the one, if you're supposed to. Otherwise drive yourself crazy figuring it out or pretend this aside never happened.)

Anyway, a marvelous speech by Scott McLemee on being awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing by the National Book Critics Circle on March 4. Excerpt:

For the past few weeks, with an eye to this evening, I have been trying to practice a bit of reflexive critique -- to work out an account of the “conditions of possibility” of my own activity, but with an eye to the problem of thinking about how it will continue, as a public enterprise, in the future.

Doing so has not been easy, nor particularly encouraging.

The person standing in front of you, this very moment, is conscious that one of his own “conditions of possibility” was reading Octavio Paz -- of being almost blinded by his brilliance, as if from staring into the sun. But in reflecting upon how that moment came to pass, I find, somehow, that it is repeatedly eclipsed by -- strangely enough -- Janet Jackson’s breast.

Not, to be clear, by that shape itself, as such – which, after all, was only in view for a moment – but by a vast cultural and economic mechanism that sustains itself through ceaselessly transforming Janet Jackson’s breast (or whatever) into a cultural icon that the entire society must debate, view in slow motion, subdue through legislation, and so forth.

So let me be (as the saying goes) country simple, just for a minute.

There are only so many hours in a day. Only so many pages in a magazine. Only so much information that the mind can absorb, and find any meaning in it. And so one ubiquitous nipple can, in effect, set the agenda for the entire culture -- through its very ubiquity. I mean, when was the last time you read a book review in a newsmagazine? If you did, it was probably for The Serial Killer’s Low-Carb Cookbook or something.

And I take much glee in the NYTimes review of the Humana Festival plays -- AT THE VANISHING POINT got an eh (which is bad for the play, but good for us since we didn't get to see it). And now I'm even madder at the Self-Important Jack-Asses for not recommending AFTER ASHLEY to us -- after all, it had only gotten so so notices. But I'm still pleased we got to see RUBY, a play which I develop more affection for the more I think about it.

And that is really and truly all. G'night.

worm: "Never No More," Patsy Cline

today's fave post: Moorish Girl on the portrayal of the Egyptian reaction to THE PASSION OF THE GIBSON

namecheck: Anyone who can tell me whether I'm watering this plant too much or not enough...

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