R. Scott Bakker responds to Leo Grin

Bakker responded to Grin's article on his blog. Here's an extract:

Given this, you might say that Grin thinks this is fantasy’s vocation, to endlessly eulogize, and that writing that strays into the baroque or revisionary are not only morally and imaginatively bankrupt, they are symptomatic of some great disease of the soul that is presently claiming the world and humanity.

Sound familiar? It should if you read fantasy. This particular salad of attitudes and concepts – moral certainty writ on a cosmic scale – is precisely what you find in almost all premodern works of fantastic fiction, everything from Upanishads to the Holy Bible. Consider the hyperbole. Consider the way he structures his oppositions in the above quote: on the one side you have the sacred, the treasured and the cruciform, while on the other side you have, well, shit and piss.

Pure purity and abject pollution.


The ‘nihilism’ that Grin blames on decadent individuals (who also happen to be his political competitors) is as impersonal as can be, the result the forces unleashed by the Enlightenment twins of science and capital. Someone like him is bound to see ‘liberal contamination’ everywhere he turns, simply because, like our less tolerant ancestors, he needs to personify those things he does not like. But you don’t need liberal conspiracies or social dystopia to explain the evolution of contemporary fantasy. The transformation of ‘earnest art’ into forms than are progressively more baroque and revisionary is something you find in pretty much all genres of artistic expression. Familiarity breeds boredom, if not contempt. Humans stranded with old equipment come up with new games to play.

Thus the paradox: People are generally allergic to complexity and uncertainty, and so crave the apparent simplicity and certainty delivered by the Same. But they are also allergic to monotony, and so begin to improvise, to complicate and to surprise. ‘To go for baroque.’ The severity of these allergies depends on the sensibilities of the individual: we react to our reading, then rationalize accordingly, typically using what themes that dominate our thinking otherwise. Grin sees contemporary fantasy as the expression of liberal decadence. I see Grin’s diagnosis as the expression of our all too human cognitive shortcomings.

Me right. He wrong! So very wrong!

Follow this link to read the entire piece.

1 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Wisdom! Can't wait to start the Aspect Emperor!