Let me present a backhanded insult about Alex Ross. (Which is to say, a compliment.) Here's the thing that pisses me off about the guy.
If you're in New York and seeing You can't get there from here but you can get here from there, the show that Claire Bowen described in a recent post, you should also try to see another astonishing union of literary work and vivid display in the the seven hour production of Gatz at the Public Theater
The current show at apexart, a non-profit contemporary art gallery in New York, is made for readers. In part because it’s made of readings. The show is small. There are more words in its title—You can’t get there from here but you can get here from there—than there are works in the show.
When I was a kid I hated what I called I-books, first person narratives. It was not only that there was something unseemly about people telling the kinds of stories I liked (genre: heroic, adventurous, courageous) about themselves. There was also something just a little bit viscerally off-putting about them.
The suspension of aesthetic judgment can be liberating. Not having to worry at every moment about "how good it is" is a foundational gesture in contemporary literary and cultural studies. The raw material for many kinds of investigation would simply not be available if it first had to pass an acid test of judgment.