Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike Is Dead

And with him, goes a piece of me. In all honesty, I can't say that Updike's style of writing ever truly won me over. Too spare, too intellectual, too Waspy, too many things that taxed my average intelliegence. But secretly I admired him for speaking a language I could never grasp. Rabbit Run was one of the first novels that I ever read in high school and did not enjoy but was proud to tell all of my friends that I had actually read. Ironically, "Rabbit" Angstrom, with his constant search for truth and peace of mind, has turned out to be a character I appreciate more as I get older.

We live in a day and age where words seem to count for so little. Where numbers are the new words, and all that matter anymore. How old are you? How much do you make? What zip code do you live in? What's your portfolio worth? Will this $825 billion stimulus package do anything more than recapitalize the banks that got us in this mess in the first place? John Updike stood for the integrity of words. Words that soared, and sometimes sunk, but always captured the complexity of human nature. America is infinitely poorer off without him today. I hope it takes a moment to remember.

4 comments:

thwany said...

so true... no wonder i've never been a numbers person.

Rob said...

Let's face it, until Obama's election, about half of America seemed happy enough with a bumbling idiot for President!
That was a sad reflection of popularity of anti-intellectualism in the U.S. where common wisdom and folksy politicians seemed to be very electable.
Hopefully more people come to realize true literacy and a minimum level of writing skills are fundamental if the U.S. is to keep high living standards.

J.T. said...

While I am loathe to admit that an idiot could have served as president of the United States for 8 years, Bush was definitely not one of your more articulate individuals. Nor do I think there's anything inherently wrong with being folksy and wisdomy as long as it's not serving as a cover for vapidity (which I sensed was the case with Sarah Palin.)

Sadly, in this Information Age of ours, information no longer needs to be conveyed in an articulate manner to be of value--just ask Jessica Simpson who was so sure that chickens lived in the sea. All you need is a gimmick or a pair of boobs.

coffee said...

John Updike's conventional wisdom seems to have affected a lot of people -- I see little quotes of his all over