By Teddy Corcoran
Knowing I would have to write this post before our Praxis 2/13 meeting, I read The Invisible Committee’s Now several weeks in advance. The results were mixed. I found the book itself to be dangerous, direct, cynical, compassionate, immoral, misguided, funny, and always very fast. Which is to say, I enjoyed it. But I also didn’t know what to write. And even if I did, I wouldn’t know how to write about it. So after a few hours of false-starts and puttering around, I forgave myself, put the book down, and gave my mind a rest.
A week later, I returned. I went through my many underlined sentences and paragraphs, re-read several long passages, and wrote more notes in the margins, optimistic that through this process a surefire idea would emerge. It did not. Though I gained a better understanding of the text, I still had no clue how to write this post. Puzzled, I put the book down again.
The next day? I went back at it. That same day? Still nothing.
At this point, more confused than angered, I felt myself release any expectations for what my post might look like. “I give up,” I half-heartedly said to myself. Shortly thereafter, something clicked for me. I realized that I not only did not know how to write about the book, but that I did not want to write about the book. My task then switched, at that point, from writing about the book itself, to understanding why, exactly, it was that I had such reluctance any such writing in the first place.
This proved more fun to think about. Here are my initial thoughts:
The more obvious reason for my reluctance was the faint sound of laughter I could hear in my apartment whenever I even thought about writing. The laughter was that of cynical disbelief. It was the laughter of the committee.
“What’s that?” I could hear them say, “You’re critiquing our book? You’re writing about it? Parcing it’s words? Debating its usefulness and historical significance? Ha! That is your response? That is your response? Did you understand nothing at all that was written? Did you not see, at the very beginning, the-”
The more subtle explanation for my aversion to this post, I think, is because I see Now, at its root, as book about feelings, intended to create feelings. Because of this, to parse words and go through and critique this line or that would feel forced, false, and almost beside the point.
Put it another way: I saw this book more a work of fiction while reading it. I think it more a painting in hindsight. In effect, writing about this book felt like writing a piece of art criticism. And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t want to write any such piece. I hate art criticism.
So rather than discuss how I think the pervading mindset of Now is one of rejection, or how the feeling the authors are chasing after is that of being human being, I’ll instead offer a few salient quotes for our Praxis 13/13 series. I leave them untouched because they speak for themselves.
“This world no longer needs explaining, critiquing, denouncing. We live enveloped in a fog of commentaries and commentaries on commentaries, of critiques and critiques of critiques, of revelations that don’t trigger anything, other than revelations about the revelations.” (p. 8)
“One can talk about life, and one can talk from the standpoint of life. One can talk about conflicts, and one can talk from the midst of conflict.” (11)
[On the world’s fragmentation]: “One can deplore it and try to swim back up the river of time, but one can also begin from there and see how to proceed.” (40)
“Being on the left or on the right is to choose among the countless ways afforded to humans to be imbeciles.” (40)
“For us, it’s not a matter of ‘doing politics differently,’ but of doing something different from politics.” (52)
“The true richness of the action lies within itself.” (80)
I look forward to our discussion on Wednesday, even if The Invisible Committee is laughing.