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Showing posts from June 12, 2022

Function dysfunction

  In the 1920s, left-leaning writers in Germany became enamoured of questions like: what is the function of art? What is the function of poetry? What is the function of the novel? Und so weiter. These questions were echoed in the Cold War period, and you still see the phrase “the social function of the novel” or the like in criticism. Which leads to the question, naturally, of the function of ‘function talk’. When everything has a social function, the underlying image is of society as composed of parts, each of which is programmed to perform for some purpose. As in a machine, the parts have, ideally, one program and one purpose. The gears in a watch are programmed to turn in synch with each other, and not to do the cha cha cha. I just had a problem with my mouse, and I went, as per a helpful Internet site, to the task manager and solved that problem – because my mouse was performing badly: it was dysfunctional. This view of function has received some dents, however, in the design

Rue Perdue

    Pierre Michon is not well known as a writer in the Anglophone world, but in France he holds a position of high regard, in disproportion to the pages he has produced for publication – he favours the small enterprise.   His first book, Vies Miniscules , packs it in at 248 pages in the Folio edition. It is his longest book. His collected works would surely amount to around 500 pages. He’s been writing for forty years. I’ve just finished Les Onze, a novel he wrote in 2009. The book presents itself as a cross between a biography and   an essay on François-Elie Corentin and his painting of the eleven member Committee on Public Safety from 1794, on the eve of Robespierre’s downfall. It is a painting that shocked Michelet with the brutality of the painter’s unmasking of its spectral crewe of terrorists, terrorists in a good cause, as they considered it; which is why he devoted 12 pages to it in his History of the French Revolution. The painting anoints a special room in the Louvre. A