Sunday, March 22, 2009

Aimless Reading: The C's, Part 9 (Anne Carson)

Carson, Anne
Economy of the Unlost

Purchased online a few years back, this book probably belongs in the Paul Celan section, as I bought it when I was reading about Paul Celan. There are some good reasons not to put it in the Celan section, the most significant being that this book is primarily about Simonides of Keos and only tangentially about Paul Celan. Given that Carson is a classics scholar, this is not surprising. I don't remember much about the essay other than that I was disappointed at how little I learned about Celan or his work by reading it. I would also like to state for the record that this is one of the most pretentious, academic, non-signifying titles for any book I have ever read. There, I said it.

From the prologue, "False Sail":

Humans value economy. Why? Whether we are commending a mathematician for her proof or a draughtsman for his use of line or a poet for furnishing us with nuggets of beauty and truth, economy is a trope of intellectual, aesthetic, and moral value. How do we come to take comfort in this notion. It is arguable that the trope does not predate the invention of coinage. And certainly in a civilization so unconditionally committed to greed as ours is, no one questions any more the wisdom of saving money. But money is just a mediator for our greed. What does it mean to save time, or trouble, or face, or breath, or shoe leather? Or words?

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