Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I guess 60 changes a guy

I recently experienced my 20 x 3 birthday. And it seems my perspective or attitude on some things is shifting, modifying.

Here's an article about George Steiner:

"George Steiner, Last of the Europeans"

I have these books by Steiner and enjoyed reading them over the years:

And this book of essays about Steiner:

So.......what is it that changed with me?

I still admire Steiner's writings. He's an impressive literary and culture critic. My general assessment: Steiner is an advocate for high culture as a kind of divine immanence. Art, music, and literature (especially literature) are bridges between the phenomenal and the possible transcendent. The Holocaust, for him as for me, is a thing of great temporal wounding -- time itself and its speaking through language have been permanently altered, made equivocal and dark. (Those who continue blathering out their postmodern novels and ego-saturated poems are oddly oblivious to how dimensions of being have been distorted by the industrial slaughter of Jews.)

For quite a while, I was sympathetic to Steiner's basic form of sensibility. There's probably a bunch of my essayic ramblings on this blog that echo Steiner's thought. For me, high culture was a weave of meaning that I thought could be discerned in the world. Made life worth living.'s all beginning to go strange on me. Steiner's mandarin intellection, his brilliant observance of literary associations and allusions, his hypnotically elegant writing style -- all these are maybe only apparent and not actual excavations and examples of deep meaning.

How has human life as such been elevated and made more humane by high culture? At this moment, I can't think of an answer. And Steiner's diffuse, balletic incantations have, so far as I know, conjured no god from the silence behind language or from the absence behind appearance.

I'm afraid that George Steiner (me, too) writes a lot of merely elegiac, effusive stuff. A wreathing of serious-sounding words around a metaphysical void. It strikes me now that Steiner's writing is perhaps more language-as-musical-affect than language-as-semantical-effect.

I guess 60 changes a guy.

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