Finance, like other forms of human behaviour, underwent a change in the twentieth century, a shift equivalent to the emergence of modernism in the arts - a break with common sense, a turn towards self-referentiality and abstraction and notions that couldn't be explained in workaday English.This is a quotation from John Lanchester's new book Whoops! about the crisis of capital as used in a review in this week's Times Literary Supplement. Perhaps it makes sense to a financier but it makes no sense to anyone with a feeling for Modernism, the revivification of art following the petrification of Romanticism; a petrification exemplified in literature by the Victorian ideal still idolised by contemporary commerical writers. Lanchester's makes more sense as a defintion of what Modernism is not. How about the notion of art as the search for truth at any cost? Workaday enough for you?
Following last Sunday's post, this is another small example of the abiding complacency at the heart of English literary culture. John Lanchester is a Contributing Editor of the London Review of Books.