Monday, January 12, 2009

Why read fiction?

Being in graduate school and working for a "classical liberal" organization, I read a lot of nonfiction. To balance this, I try to always have some fiction on hand. Right now, I'm in the middle of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. It's certainly a doozy with all the Russian names to keep up with and subtle social cues from the era. What makes Anna a classic? I'm not done yet so maybe I'm speaking too soon, but I think a large part of it is the novelty of a unlikeable main character. The book also speaks to long standing traditions of propriety, family relations, society, and to a lesser extent politics. There are moral and social consequences to the character's actions and many of these lessons still ring true today.

Aside - I also dig the fact that I think my favorite character, Levin, tries to devise a stockholding scheme to better incentivize the peasants on his land. This is a very tiny part of the story but it got me all excited.

"The Point of the Story" at that new conservative Big Hollywood site talks about the social foundations of story-telling and how a story serves to make sense of the senselessness of our existance. A big problem with modern art, movies, and books are that there is often no point. It's called postmodernism and it often turns my stomach.


Timothy said...

My feelings exactly. I watched "Volver" with a few friends the other night, and about halfway through, I said aloud, "What's the point of this movie? It has no direction." Then it ended, and the point was no more lucid than it was halfway through. I mean, I like Penelope Cruz's breasts as much as the next red-blooded male, but unlike what happens in real life, those glorious breasts alone couldn't save that film. But the point is that I'm pretty big on storytelling, and so I especially appreciate its value in our society/culture, and agree with your assessment in the post.

Did I mention that Penelope Cruz has nice ta-ta's? :)

Whitney Lynne said...

Volver was a really, really bad movie. No comment on the leading actress.