Literature, it fails us now

Dale Peck body-slams cheap, decayed postmodernism:

…But as I puzzled my way through this and the rest of Moody’s books, I found myself looking not for the place in their execution or conception where they went wrong, but rather for something even prior and more primary: the wrong turn in our culture that led to Moody’s status as one of the anointed ones of his — okay, our — generation. In my view, the wrong turn starts around the time Stephen Dedalus goes to college in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and echoes all the way through Don DeLillo’s ponderously self-important rendering of Bobby Thompson’s shot heard round the world in the opening chapter of Underworld. Moody’s badness is a little less inexplicable if you look at him as the lowest common denominator of a generation of writers — and readers: they, too, bear some responsibility for the condition of fiction — who have long since forgotten what the modernist and postmodernist assaults on linearity were actually about, and as such have lost the ability to tell the difference between ambiguity and inscrutability, ambition and bombast; of writers who are taken at face value when they are being ironic and who are deemed ironic when they are telling it straight — assuming, of course, that they themselves know the difference. Assuming, I should add, that they actually have a subject.

He’s right even about writers I like.

Obscurantisme Terroriste

With Derrida, you can hardly misread him, because he’s so obscure.
Every time you say, “He says so and so,” he always says, “You misunderstood
me.” But if you try to figure out the correct interpretation, then that’s not
so easy. I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida
even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of
obscurantisme terroriste (terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking
French. And I said, “What the hell do you mean by that?” And he said, “He
writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying, that’s the obscurantism
part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t
understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.” And I like that.
So I wrote an article about Derrida. I asked Michel if it was OK if I quoted
that passage, and he said yes.

From an interview with John Searle