November 13, 2007 Archives
I should point out that Adorno later changed his mind, but the taboo persists -- some Holocaust experts have never done more than glance at Maus because the medium does not appeal to them, and the U.S. Holocaust museum publishes a document that contains a warning against the use of simulations and games in the teaching of the Holocaust. Adorno was making a comment about how recent events changed the medium of poetry, and the museum presented its "no games or simulations" warning in order to prevent teachers from dividing kids up into guards and prisoners, both statements have been applied to warn artists away from using a particular artistic medium to represent a human experience, referred to in Hebrew as Shoah ("disaster; upheaval").
This article quotes Spiegelman as saying, "As they say, there's no business like Shoah business."
This article is the length of a sizable book chapter, so for Tuesday we are reading pages 1-15 (up to the subheading "News That Stays News").
The predicament facing newspaper book reviews is best understood against the backdrop of several overlapping and contending crises: the first is the general challenge confronting America's newspapers of adapting to the new digital and electronic technologies that are increasingly absorbing advertising dollars, wooing readers away from newspapers, and undercutting profit margins; the second is the profound structural transformation roiling the entire book-publishing and book-selling industry in an age of conglomeration and digitization; and the third and most troubling crisis is the sea change in the culture of literacy itself, the degree to which our overwhelmingly fast and visually furious culture renders serious reading increasingly irrelevant, hollowing out the habits of attention indispensable for absorbing long-form narrative and the following of sustained argument.
These crises, taken together, have profound implications, not least for the effort to create an informed citizenry so necessary for a thriving democracy. It would be hard to overestimate the importance in these matters of how books are reported upon and discussed. The moral and cultural imperative is plain, but there may also be a much-overlooked commercial opportunity for newspapers waiting to be seized.