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Saturday, February 27, 2010


A magical night on the town last night, and I do mean magical; for the first time in seven months, Heather and I didn't have to suffer violent pangs of guilt for doing our part as consumers...

I'm adding the re prefix to many things lately. My latest: I re-watched Taxi Driver. For highly personal reasons the film remains my favorite. Reading over the first few descriptive lines of the script, Paul Schrader adds to Bickle's character the superb epithet "consummate loner." And so he is, prowling the sordid streets of 1970s New York with the uncanny eye of an outsider, or, to put it in a literary context, the stranger. The violent climax leaves me breathless every time, despite the lusterless color imposed by the censor; the originals have perished unfortunately. All that red gone to waste.

Picked up Bloom's Genius. I indiscriminately love anything touched by the man's pen, so my opinion on the book is truly of no consequence. Bloom frequently falls under his own spell, talking himself into an ever-higher pitch of ecstatic fervor. The book gives an explicitly religious twist to Bloom's literary idolatry. He is a self-proclaimed Gnostic in the tradition of Valentinus. The book follows a Kabbalistic system and is arranged in the form of a mosaic. In this way, Bloom hopes to augment our understanding of how genius propagates, so to speak. The book has a palpably organic structure, crowned by Shakespeare, Bloom's God. Idiosyncratic, and in fact, downright bizarre at times, Bloom's brilliant erudition and Olympian prose overshadow his religious short-comings for me. Though I think he makes an egregious critical error by placing Shakespeare above the Scriptures, his passion is intoxicating, and I always end his books as a staggering drunk.

There are some obscene omissions, but Bloom claims these are "his" choices, and reminds us they are not authoritative, though, I suspect, he's rather certain that they are. Where, may I ask, is Vladimir Nabokov, a trilingual genius who reshaped the stylistic conventions of a language not his own and gave us a whole host of dazzling books, including three indisputable works of literary genius: Pale Fire, Lolita, and Ada or Ardor? One might also make a case for Pnin, but I'll leave that to professionals.

As always, the sudden bursts of polemic are glorious. I'm still waiting for a book dedicated solely to the enterprise of insults.

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