Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Metaphysical Brawlers

I see that Albert Camus was born on this date in 1913. His rift with Sartre occurred after many bitter exchanges in the newspapers and reflected their fundamental philosophical contrasts. Some of the differences were niggling,others were crucial. No matter, a conflict of ideas lead to the demise of their friendship and initiated different directions in their works.

Essentially the same was the feuding between poets Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov two decades later. I suppose these break-ups were tragic to some extent and maybe expose the limits of creative/intellectual collaboration, but it is nonetheless inspiring to see literary wars based on ideas, not egos or peripheral issues of the trade. The literary world has always been a community in conflict, of conflict; why not feud and frenzy with ardor and depth?

Last year, Ben Marcus won my affections for his full-on assault on Jonathan Franzen's ideas about literature.But that was a one-sided affair. What can we quarrel about, dear reader, dear writer?Bring on the Metaphysical Brawlers!