Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Origins of Wednesday lxx: I never read a thing by Philip Roth


Overnight my telephone screen
flashed the New York Times'
report of Philip Roth's death
at 85. He was one of the most
heralded observers of post-War
American society, and I was a
post-War child.





The failure was not, in short, Philip Roth's. He wrote of a society and from a culture of highly fertile influence in American life, which were nevertheless circumscribed by covenants and restrictions and holocausts and other persisting maldistributions in the American dialogue in which my generation was raised: a brilliance in a shell game of bushels in scarcely glancing interaction. I knew a massive war had ended just before I was born, but I was 10 years old before I was aware there are Jews.

I think such oblivion defines the intractability of the wasteland cherished so anxiously by the new American government, that one needn't ask how It happened. It, an insidious presumption of innocence in resistance to information, withstood masterpiece after masterpiece from Philip Roth - not alone among post-War writers to do his best to give meaning to the permeating leanings of a common language, but just stellar enough to illuminate the density of the shell with each one.  

Today we hear counsels for mourning. As if this were understood.