May 24, 2018

Rundle: Philip Roth wanders in St. Peter’s office …

The "last American vitalist" pays a visit to the pearly gates to explain what all the obituaries are getting wrong about him.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


St. Peter (checks list): Philip Roth! Philip Roth? Shouldn’t you be in Jew heaven?

Roth: There is no Jew heaven. Except maybe Connecticut.

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15 thoughts on “Rundle: Philip Roth wanders in St. Peter’s office …

  1. kyle Hargraves

    Excellent ! First Class! Cheered me up no-end.
    If this exchange is original Guy then flick politics and take up literary commentary.

  2. graybul

    Jack R will love this Guy.

    1. Jack Robertson

      Aye. Exquisite, not just in casual heft, execution, flair. But…sheer effing audacity. Can you even begin to imagine a single other Australian writer – much less an actual nominal lit crit hahahaha – with the stones or twat (and grunt) to do it….like this?

      Aye, Graybs: author, author(s)! Fittingly – truly – respectful. Why, subs, annually, etc, etc.

      1. graybul

        Thought it might draw you out mate. Had been waiting for Guy to discard the chains. Huge gust of fresh air . . .

        1. Jack Robertson

          It’s the subject matter that mostly got dull n’ dreary, Gray, not the local painters. The narcissistic contempt with which the political/knowledge/info class – including most ‘pro’ writers, across all sub-genres – clearly now regards the bulk of humanity that exists outside their human-centipede of a ‘public conversion’ now demands that anyone with a shred of curiosity about the wider world, and a bit of genuine info-talent, refuse to give their self-referential antics any but a half-assed effort. Expecting GR, HR, BK et al…to write interestingly about the dreck in Canberra or Trumpocity or the turgid churn of ID politix is a demeaning category error. Diminishing, too: that shit wipes off, and then it sticks.

          Did you cop that nauseating piece about us comment section plebs yesterday (from some self-important PR-release office-girl, AKA 20-year veteran ‘journalist’)? If that’s the qualitative disposition regarding the external world now largely underpinning ‘professional news gathering’ – and all evidence increasingly suggests just that – then ‘professional news gathering’ can go f**k itself. Along with all other forms of ‘professional’ information wrangling. It’ll all be dead inside half a decade anyway, taken down by the absence of any tenably monetising biz model, thank Christ. (Who the eff kept paying scribes to write their letters, in a literate world? A few dopey calligraphy fetishists, is who, and …umm). ‘Information professionals’. Yairs…blah blah blah, they all go, these ‘information professionals’. Blah blah truthy truthy truth blah blah analyse analysey blah blah comment commenty blah blah spin spruik stoush…satisfying the insatiable strictures of 24-7 space-stuffery. Blah blah blah…comment box inanity, is it?! Well, just now on taxpayer-info-flagship 7.30 Report here’s Laura Tingle, one of our better ‘serious political journalists’, describing to Leigh Sales, one of our more insipid, how Labor is (quotes) ‘spewing’ over the by-election timings. Fucking television: The Stupidiser, Graybul. (Modern-day screen zombification the death of our littlies’ grasp of reality, is it Rundle? Ho ho…Dude, the passive schizofication of human sentient acuity by toxic technology has been underway for well over half a century now, and in plain sight. My 11 year old son has more authorial autonomy and power in HIS electronic I-conversations than we Gen X-ers, and certainly the Boomers, ever did. That’s what really sh*ts the wailing, bog-stranded infosauruses of the one-way-only legacy media, these don’t-read-the-comments-box pompostadors of the Secular Priesthood: turns out it was they, not my frighteningly info-lithe and info-agile digital native son and his mates, whose grasp of reality and perspective got so terminally all-fucked-up by electronics.

          They – and the public players mutually bonded in the introspective 24-7 info-death spiral with them – go blah blah blah blah endlessly from afar at each other like broadsiding dreadnoughts, never having to actually engage with anyone but their own thundering arseholes, and no-one sane & attuned to the real material world would want anything to do with them or their contrived panto call-n-response shtick anymore.

          What do we information ‘amateurs’ do instead? Like my son at my local brewshop, we ignore the ‘grown-ups’ talking their one-way wisdom down uponst them from their hipster high tables…and talk directly with, to, for and about each other instead. Simply because…we can. We don’t need the Secular Priesthood anymore. We just…don’t.

          Gray? Of course a Guy Rundle is only going to really make a writerly effort these days on an outworld dwelling heavyweight like Roth. Marx. The arc of big history. Frightening ideas. Things that piss exactly the wrong – which is to say right – people off: all of them info-workers, of some or other rapidly aging sort.

          The rest is just rent-paying filler for any authentic talent, the subject matter disqualifing itself from any right to much of it…but…wait, hang on a tic…What the..?

          Chortle chortle – see what you did there, Graybs? And here was me doing so well swearing off this blah caper myself for good! Remember: Don’t read the comments boxes, but especially: don’t ever feed the mouthiest of those wot lurk within! Ther, be epistemologically autopeotomising dragyns & tygers… 🙂

          All good karma as ever, G. And…Crikey!

          1. graybul

            Can only whisper/shout out loud Jack, whenever a genuine Grundle whoever, drops their stone into stagnant waters. To see, feel ripples renew possibilities. Only care , know, some have gift of crazy, honest expression. And for that . . . am a sucker; again and again. Think you understand. Stagnation cannot be tolerated; anymore than justice blocked or chained? The professional communicators are in disarray; chaos, false news (even worse, uninformed, all guilty like me, try to fill gaps and more often than not deepen the morass). But stuff me . . . a vacuum is even more frightening if the whole box and dice is left to bastards like the Prime Minister or, Minister for Home Affairs eh? So, simply put . . . I’m in for the long haul and to piss on the fires that don’t deserve to be lit. Am happy whenever . . . Guy, yourself, or any other warrior bounces my neurons and offers hope. (Graeme)

          2. kyle Hargraves

            I “think” I am in fundamental agreement with your views to the extent that I understand them. I am similarity challenged by many of the articles by Ms Razer on account of the “modern” jargon and associations to contemporary social media services that apparently “everyone” is expected to “know about”.

            I am interested in inter-generational comparisons so I would be grateful if you could expand upon what you intended by ” My 11 year old son has more authorial autonomy and power in HIS electronic I-conversations than we Gen X-ers, and certainly the Boomers, ever did.” – for the sake of my small mind. As it stands, with do desire to criticise, I have no idea as to what the sentence might mean.

  3. AR

    Reads like a dry run by grundle for his own obit. coz, hey ne plus ultra.

    1. kyle Hargraves

      Ok – AR : flex your literary skills. Link the jazz album [Ne Plus Ultra, of which I haven’t heard for years] and content by a guy with two famous Oz-names (Warne Marsh) to to the St Peter – Roth dialogue. As an aside, the album was good but ne plus ultra? Others may judge.

  4. bref

    One of your best Guy! vale yada yada

  5. Jack Robertson

    Quite so, Graeme…for as the Professionals advise us: t’is merely the insignificant sound and fury of the comments box. We can write wot we bloody well please. Worse thing they can do is Mod us into obliv-…

    Go well, friend, as ever.

  6. Jack Robertson

    Kyle H: apologies, my very long reply to you appears to have exceeded even the long-suffering Criks mods’ capacity for indulgence of me. If you’re interested email me at jackrobertson dot com dot au and I’ll send it to you directly.

    Shorter answer: my son, like all of his digital native age peers, has grown simply assuming as a fact if life that there is no such thing as ‘one way’ information, delivered from behind an epistemological barrier of authorial untouchability. I – and certainly you – grew up largely confined to shouting at the radio/TV and throwing the newspaper/little mag/book across the room, and/or allowing what they delivered to largely confirm and cosset our existing worldviews. For him, the inherent interactivity of all his key sources of information mean that both his functional relationship with it is qualitatively different to ours, and his expectations and demands of those who seek to deliver it infinitely more collegiate. Cheers.

    1. Jack Robertson

      Gah -sorry Kyle, my email address is of course jackrobertson AT ozemail dot com dot au.

      A cack-handed technical blunder no digital native would ever make…

    2. kyle Hargraves

      Thanks indeed for the offer Jack; an email is on its way to you. One aspect of your reply that I think deserves examination is the claim : “there is no such thing as ‘one way’ information, delivered from behind an epistemological barrier of authorial untouchability”

      On the one hand (see the email) it depends upon what one means. However, there is a current (quasi post-modernist) assumption that all “opinions” are equally valid (in general terms : irrespective of the knowledge-base). It seems to me that religious doctrine is not going to change but, perhaps such is not quite what you intended or meant. What is gong to change is the necessity to be able to manage (summarise and organise) data in a critical (i.e. knowledge-based) manner.

      I don’t claim that my crystal ball is superior to another but there are a few presumptions, pertaining to recent work on World Order (see Kissinger for a intro.), that may not come to be the case. Kissinger put the case for the West but the case may come to be overtaken by events. Who knows? Indeed, what passes for democracy nowadays may not be the case 35-50 years from now. A change in such a factor would have a profound effect upon the means of obtaining information and the means of analysing information.

    3. kyle Hargraves

      For the record, Jack sent me circa 3,000 words that I found myself having to read and re-read several times. I concur with some (most?) of the content and other sections – not so much. Nevertheless, With the application of a nail punch here and there along with a bit of stained putty the composition would be a useful article for Crikey concerning an opinion on boomers, Gen X, Y & Z.

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