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August 22, 2013


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The highbrow lowbrow thing might be distracting in its terms. No, we don't go in nowadays for there being Proust and the Transformers and nothing in between. You can even find auterist defenses of the Transformers. But that's it, isn't it. What Shawn is mourning is not Donne so much as critical faculty as one might apply to art or politics.

Shawn's really good at showing how seductive really bad ideas can be. I don't feel the Shawn audience hatred from DM (though I only know it from its great movie) because I feel like Shawn is so honest about how good it feels to call bullshit on snobs, pretension, on the pressure to be better whateverthatmeans, I feel he's admitting having the same temptations. I don't feel judged from on high. Or rather I feel I'm being judged, but alongside Jack and Wallace both. That's essential to my liking the piece, since I'm a sucker for the cathartic communal experience of doom we like tracing back to the Greeks with a dash of Brechtian alienation.

The main element of the seduction is the relief of being honest about what one's impulses really are, and forgoing any pretension that one's impulses should go any other way or have to be justified. I think pretending to like Schubert and abandoning your loved one to doom are not meant to be equated as hypocrisy. Jack disdains the former because it's dishonest. He basically owns up to the latter, if I remember right. And then he terrible thing is the abandonment isn't really hypocritical at all. It's just what rats do.

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