What Is Your Vision? The Literature of Malaise and Angst vs. the Literature of Redemption

This sounds suspiciously like if you don’t share my vision your literature is lesser in meaning if not execution. Interestingly, I love the author’s massive The Mad Patagonian, but I don’t share the redemptive vision. Nor do I accept that “…transcendence must be possible for every reason that exists, because our only concern when we consider life and death is: Do we survive after death? That is the goal – to survive our deaths, to retain our personal identity as we transition from this plane to the next. ” That’s all a very tall order if one happens not to believe that such a plane exists. Nor, if it does not exist is a vision faithful to the degredations wrought by human upon human, a tragic vision, ironic, despairing, absurd possible. And, to keep this short, it has been such books, the tragic, ironic, despairing, and absurd, out of which much, paradaxically, life-affirming prose has kept me awash on rugged shores instead of sinking.

The Collidescope

The name of this column is taken from Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel. The entire passage is as follows: “My dear, dear girl [. . .] we can’t turn back the days that have gone. We can’t turn life back to the hours when our lungs were sound, our blood hot, our bodies young. We are a flash of fire—a brain, a heart, a spirit. And we are three-cents-worth of lime and iron—which we cannot get back.”


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