It's the ultimate reward for any writer—a character's designation as the mascot for an entire region? Right? Or is the ultimate reward for a writer to change the way people think at a fundamental level? A la Nietzsche, Darwin, Freud?
I found a copy of Mr. Muo's Traveling Couch by Dai Sijie at the local bookstore for $1.98. The frozen north on the edge of nowhere is where unsuccessful fiction, even by previously bestselling novelists (for Balzac and His Little Chinese Seamstress) goes to be remaindered, but it's a boon to those of us trolling for contemporary novels in print. It's a beautiful hardback edition (making me question, more than ever, how in the world publishers are making a go of it) all about Freud and a Chinese devotee of his dream analysis. How could we have forgotten about Freud?
Darwin and Nietzsche both told us God was dead, at least as we understood him. [As did Galileo before them, but that's another post entirely.] Freud told us that sex was our new god. As it remains in our digital age.
One can argue that Poe, too, changed the face of literature. Changed the way we thought about the supernatural, and it's his heritage that gives us things like, still, Twilight. But having a football team—that's the clincher. Who else can say that? There's no New Bedford Moby Dicks. Or Athens Ulysses. To my knowledge.
“Everyone knows quite well that, being unique, he will be in the world only once and that no imaginable chance will for a second time gather together into a unity so strangely variegated an assortment as he is.”
“What is it that constrains the individual to fear his neighbor, to think and act like a member of a herd, and to have no joy in himself? ...With the great majority it is indolence, inertia.”
“Men are even lazier than they are timid, and fear most of all the inconveniences with which unconditional honesty and nakedness would burden them. Artists alone hate this sluggish promenading in borrowed fashions.”
“They dare to show us man as he is, uniquely himself to the very last movement of his muscles... Be yourself! All you are now doing, thinking, desiring, is not you yourself.”
So maybe that's why we like Poe better than Nietzsche. He's a lot easier to swallow. Especially in purple tights.