Thursday, December 03, 2009

Do the accidents of history make the classics?

From an interview with Cormac McCarthy (thanks to Patrick Ford):

CM: Well, I don't know what of our culture is going to survive, or if we survive. If you look at the Greek plays, they're really good. And there's just a handful of them. Well, how good would they be if there were 2,500 of them? But that's the future looking back at us. Anything you can think of, there's going to be millions of them. Just the sheer number of things will devalue them. I don't care whether it's art, literature, poetry or drama, whatever. The sheer volume of it will wash it out. I mean, if you had thousands of Greek plays to read, would they be that good? I don't think so.

JH: No, you're absolutely right. Just as an example, the Toronto Film Festival is one of the biggest in film festivals. They have made it, for the first time ever, much more difficult to submit a film. They charge an entry fee and they still had 4,000 submissions just this year and they boiled that down to 300.

CM: This is just entry level to what's coming. Just the appalling volume of artifacts will erase all meaning that they could ever possibly have. But we probably won't get that far anyway.

How many good Greek plays have been lost to us? (How many inspired writings?) We have a good idea of some of Aristotle's works that are no longer extant.

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