So, this week a book blog Guardian thing decided to make the point that Philip K Dick's prose was a little kldugy, from time to time. I wouldn't really argue with that, after all Dick wrote fast under heavy financial constraints and often the influence of drugs, so if there's the occasional flub we shouldn't be surprised, but even so it's a small-minded and stupid criticism to make.
By and large Dick's prose is pretty good, and often wonderful. Deckard's dialogue with Mercer in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? for example, of the creepy descriptions of the half-life clinic in Ubik are magnificently controlled. Also in Ubik, there's the hilarious opening scene where Joe Chip argues with his door over whether the 25 cent opening charge is a fee of a gratuity. These scenes - plucked from the top of my head - are brilliantly realised, and there are moments like this all around his books and stories.
You could go through any great writer, it seems to me, and isolate a few paragraphs where the prose doesn't quite measure up - even Homer nodded - but why would you?
Well, the answer is simple - web hits. This silly little piece has generated a lot of hits from flabbergasted commenters (yes, me included) spluttering refutations. That's what it's all about.
"Pink Floyd are over rated!"
"Martin Amis is an Arab-hating hack!"
"Dali was a sell out nutter!"
"Mozart is bourgeois toss!"
This kind of commentary infects the web as bloggers - both professional and amatuer - attempt to generate traffic. The blogosphere (sorry!) is alive with puffed-up little attention whores, wannabe giant killers flinging their vapid feaces in an attempt to attract attention without creating one damn thing of value of their own.
This is why I'm not linking to the article. You can find it easily enough on your own, if you like, but don't bother. It's dreary pretend controversy for its own sake that will only make you cross.
I suppose the rejoinder is to point at all the review blogs that give superficial, fawning reviews off the latest ARC to hit the blogger's doorstep. That's just part of the marketing machine, just hype that's easy to ignore. Even hype is a more defensible practice than generating attention through wilful ignorance and stupidity.
Well, here at Pointless Philosophical Asides you'll find none of either. On the one hand, I want to share the things I love, communicate what's special and brilliant about them. On the other, my reading log includes a honest appreciation of books and stories, acknowledging the good and the bad. I guess that's why I never get any traffic...