Tuesday, 13 January 2015

...of literary inundation

Well, as I was saying just now, it was Rita's fault. There was tremendous pressure from minority groups, who are now so numerous as to constitute a majority, those who want to alter the canon, you know, dig up forgotten works ignored by what they call white male warmongers - a lousy pun on canon-makers, hell - in favour, I guess, of black female peacemongers, Fine. Don't get me wrong, I'm for it, but the canon does change, has changed pretty drastically, in a natural way, and partly thanks to their efforts. We've always rewritten the past. But they're so aggressive. And their position is illogical. They ought to want to abolish the canon altogether, on their premisses that a canon is unconsciously a male preserve, a protection, like a club, a second matrix as Norman O. Brown used to say. So a female canon is a contradiction in terms. And deep down they know this, we can't work without some sort of institutional canon you know, to make some sort of sense, however changing, out of such a huge indiscriminate mass of literary facts. Well we could if we had unlimited resources, but we don't. Maybe with computers that'll come. But think of the chaos. It's already with us. There are far too many books in the world, the idea being I guess, that out of all that quantity some small quality will emerge.
Perhaps its true. Qualantity, qualantiquity, she adds silently to herself and raps herself on imaginary knuckles in her head.
You're dead right its true. I calculated yesterday that if you'd read one book a day from age fourteen to age eighty-four, you'd still only have read about point oh one percent of all that's available, isn't that scary? Just think of Chaucer, who was a learned man, and had forty books in his library. True, most of those are unread today, except by scholars. And if it isn't time that does the abolishing it's space. All those minority languages you know, so-called even when millions speak them, except us, the white West, too damned ignorant and arrogant, so that great works are only known to that one nation, except for those few that are translated, and most of us ignore those too. Not to mention all those states that excercise all their ingenuity to efface all cultural memory of books that don't suit their ideologies. This fortunately often has the opposite effect, so that characters from such books may even survive more vividly. But what are we to do? Still and all, that was a parenthesis. To return to our so-called minority groups, though why women should be called a minority Godalmighty knows, they don't want to do the abolishing, they think its we the white males that do it, their attitude is we bind them, without maybe meaning to, they do give us that. What they want is to replace the existing canon with theirs. So they want power too, and warmongering. But the canon does change, has changed, a deal faster than they'll admit, like I said. They want it to change even faster. It's the old revolution/evolution thing, and look where it's gotten us.
I see, says Mira. She is silent. She has followed this diatribal little lecture attentively, but part of her mind asks, am I abolished? Another part tells her that on the contrary she is inventing all this, and has no idea how to go on. Someone should enter now.

[Textermination, Brooke-Rose, C.]

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