Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Home Run Hitter

Larry Cutler is a former minor league baseball player whose name is immortalized in the City College Hall of Fame for having hit .429 as a second basemen in 1954, making him the leading hitter in the Metropolitan Collegiate Baseball Conference that year. Larry has also been a political activist and Marxist, and most recently a reader of the great works of world literature. He has read Remembrance of Things Past, Anna Karenina, Don Quixote and Finnegan’s Wake. He's probably one of the only former professional baseball players who is now grappling with Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. He takes what can only be called an anti-capitalist approach to literature, claiming that the attempt to look for results distracts a writer from the project at hand. He recently asked why Gravity’s Rainbow and Finnegan’s Wake are so hard to read. It seems like a simple point, but it epitomizes some of the key questions of so-called modernism in writing and painting.  His point about difficulty recalls the famed Bauhaus equation: form follows function. Form follows function the way style follows content. Euphuistic or overly ornate prose is an affectation that can have comic results. The writer affects profundity by self-consciously creating gnarled sentences that are hard to figure out. This form of reticulated prose is disconcerting since it deceives both the reader, who thinks he is missing something, and the writer, who is under the delusion of saying something, even if he would be hard put to explain it. Joyce, for one, was up to something else. His difficulty derives from the attempt to mimic the workings of the human mind, which is no mean feat. This is the kind of discussion with which Mr. Cutler is intimately acquainted, as he is with the careers and earned-run averages of almost any significant baseball player you can think of. He also knows a thing or two about a manifesto called What is to Be Done by one V.I. Lenin.


  1. ...much as ts eliot admonished us that the "poet must be difficult..."



  2. Is this the one who announced Babe Ruth the year before Ruth's death? Also, Marxism does not work.


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