Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Robert Calasso's Ardor / interim report


Is Ardor by Roberto Calasso merely incondite or is it resolute mystagoguery. The book is a series of essays of varying lengths on esoteric topics such as yajna and tapas. In the normal way, like Alice, you start at the beginning and go on to the end and then stop. Fundamental concepts are unfolded on the basis of which more complex elaborations ensue. Calasso starts in the middle goes on to the beginning and then stops. This has the mien of elaborate befuddlement. The last essay which purports to be a codicil is entitled Antecedants and Consequents and this last should be first and as to where the first , Remote Beings, should be is a matter of conjecture. The advantage to the jumbling of the order of development is that the later simpler exegesis becomes masterly exposition.

After skipping to this ‘epilog’ I am working my way through the book abiding by its sequence. One third to go yet so I will delay an examination of particular omissions
and elision and yes 'overrated’ hangs as inconspicuous as a Graf Zeppelin. For the moment consider him tethered to the post and smudged.

2 comments:

skholiast said...

I am partial to starting in media res so I probably won't be as irritated. I've liked his other forays into India. But there's no denying he wears it on his sleeve.

ombhurbhuva said...

I remember we had a very interesting discussion about sampad arising from ‘Ardor’ in 2010. You were an early adaptor, I have come late to the Calasso cult as I see it. ‘Whom the Paris Review has called a literary institution’, there I’ve said it too. But who would want to live in a literary institution? As a place to fire my own pea-shooter, pop-gun, to react to: an institution is useful. Sometimes I have come around to see some value in those I traduce.