Thesis

Most modern architecture does not reflect any local culture, but rather is part of a monoculture. You cannot identify buildings in a picture to any particular country, but rather have to guess at where they are located because they all look the same.

Dialog Does Not Ring True

Ta-Nehisi Coates writes:

One interesting technical problem for writers today is how to invent characters who are plausible readers—without writing a campus novel. The problem is bigger than you might think: ever since Jane Austen most fictional characters have talked and thought like people who read fiction. Many basic techniques of the modern novel (dialogue, inner monologue, moral suspense) require characters who think in something like novelistic prose.

You notice the difficulty in a novel like Claire Messud’s The Emperor’s Children, where media people of the early Oughts are forced—ingeniously and enjoyably—to have verbally complicated thoughts about their lives, as if they went home every night and curled up with Edith Wharton. You don’t actually overhear conversations like that at the Waverley Inn.
Others who tackled the problem and made it central to their fiction include: Bret Easton Ellis, David Foster Wallace, Mary Robison, Don DeLillo, Tom McCarthy. They are not writing “pastoral,” they are not writing about people less educated than the reader. They are writing about us.
To overhear an ordinary character thinking deeply, in complex sentences, about his or her life involves a new suspension of disbelief. This is one of the things I love about contemporary fiction at its best—that it makes us overhear, and believe.
The jumble inside our heads everyday sounds nothing like the written page. It would be interesting to analyze this in the Bible, where it seems to me that most thoughts that are expressed are short and terse – i.e. real.

The Interview Project

I’ve been watching the episodes of the Interview Project by David Lynch as they are made available. My impression of America from the project thus far is what a depressing wasteland much of our country is. Dirty, untended, barren, bleak, and forlorn. Most of the west and much of the midwest is flat, unappealing and dirty. I’m glad for the cultivated parts and for man taking dominion over this land. Now if only we all had the Dutch passion for cleanliness.