Tuesday, November 11, 2008

LitMag Wave: Tin House 37: The Political Future

I don’t think I’ll remember this issue of Tin House as one of my favorites. It arrived shortly before the election—good timing—and included a lot of liberal politics with which I was in complete agreement. So what’s to remember?

One thing I might remember is Francine Prose’s essay “Out From Under the Cloud of Unknowing: some Thoughts on Politics and Art.” Among other things, it’s funny and personal and it’s in the form of a numbered list, which is still amusing after all these years. Also, I like the last paragraph:
“Maybe, like other arts, political art might as well start from there—not from the impulse to teach or inform, but from the desire to discover and to grope our way out from under what a fourteenth-century English monk called the cloud of unknowing.”

I might also remember the excerpt from José Saramago’s new novel, Death With Interruptions, except I didn’t read it because I recently bought the novel and so what’s the point of reading an excerpt?

J.C. Hallman’s story “Ethan: A Love Story” had some excellent moments. The narrator is the odd uncle in the family (I can relate) and comes to spend a holiday with relatives, some of whom he hasn’t met, including his young nephew Ethan. It proceeds pleasantly enough little Ethan grabs his uncles penis through his pants. What? There is a lecture that follows, and the incident seems to be over and in fact isn’t mentioned again. But then for reasons that aren’t clear to me, the story becomes surreal, as Ethan and the narrator play a video game that bends reality. Maybe that game is tied to the earlier incident. Maybe not. It didn’t work for me.

On the purely political front there is Win McCormack’s essay “The End of Democracy?” which asks some tough questions: What position will we be in to morally resist the bid for dominance by authoritarian world powers? McCormack also conducts an interesting interview with Thomas Frank.

There’s more. But I’m moving on . . .

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