Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sapere Aude Award for Ian McCullough

I award the first ever Sapere Aude Award to Ian McCullough for this comment:

When someone asks me what, say, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson is about I give a plot synopsis. It's a great work of speculative fiction. If someone asked about Moby Dick all I can really say is it's great. It is a rollicking tale of sea going adventure (this isn't irony, parts of Moby Dick are real page turning action), but it's not shelved in Nautical Adventure at Powell's. To ask about the plot of "great literature" is to fundamentally miss the point. Life is a series of decisions, informed by the past with an eye towards the future. The moment, that slippery thing that just slid by, is difficult to consider normally. Literature does that, creates the environment of a moment and pins it down. Being able to consider why Ivan tells himself he is a scoundrel as he goes to Moscow is the reward of reading Brothers Karamzov - to see someone in a complex moral dilemma. But what fool thinks they are going to get concrete examples for dealing with their own dysfunctional family? The texture of every life is different, for which we rejoice, but this means we extract personal truth at a very oblique angle from literature.
Well done, Ian.

Here is the post to which this comment was made.

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