Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Clancy Martin

Clancy Martin is Professor of Philosophy in the University of Missouri-Kansas City's College of Arts and Sciences, Professor of Business Ethics at the Bloch School of Management. His books include the Pushcart Prize winning novel How to Sell, and the newly released book of philosophy, Love and Lies: An Essay on Truthfulness, Deceit, and the Growth and Care of Erotic Love.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Martin's reply:
I’m always reading several books at the same time, like most of us. Right now I’m reading Patrul Rinpoche’s Words Of My Perfect Teacher, Junichiro Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows, Ottessa Mossfegh’s Eileen (a pre-release copy, I’m reviewing it), and Coetzee’s The Lives of Animals, as well as several others. (The ones I listed are the ones I’ve actually read from today). I love Tanizaki, because he understands that everything the artist should hold most dear is not true or false, black or white, on or off, but in the middle, in the murky, fascinating, elusive world of where real human thought and emotion actually takes place. Now that’s almost a cliché, but because we tend to slip into dogmatism so quickly and easily, because we are such natural hypocrites, because we are so quick to conclude that our own way of seeing the world is the best way of seeing the world, I don’t think shadows can ever be praised enough. Especially in the age of online comments and tweets and Facebook posts we tend to slip into this very superficial, unequivocal way of thinking so easily—and so stupidly! “We men of knowledge have lost the art of rumination” Nietzsche once complained, and I think shadows are the visual equivalent of that way of thinking.

Here’s how the very short book ends: “In the mansion called literature I would have the eaves deep and the walls dark, I would push back into the shadows the things that come forward too clearly, I would strip away the useless decoration. I do not ask that this be done everywhere, but perhaps we can be allowed at least one mansion where we can turn off the electric lights and see what it is like without them.” What a terrific manifesto for literature, for philosophy, for living a genuinely moral human life.
Learn more about Love and Lies at the Farrar, Straus and Giroux website.

--Marshal Zeringue