Lethem on abundance

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I was just reading an essay by the novelist Jonathan Lethem in which he argues against the temptation to canonize only a few great novelists (the "Rushmore" impulse, he calls it), since there are so many other varied fiction writers worth reading. Of course this resonates with the "without any gaps" approach of the podcast. I was particularly struck by the following passage which, if applied to the history of philosophy, expresses better than I ever could my feelings about trying to narrow our focus to a canon of major figures:

"What matters, in reading, is discernment and engagement, not the size of the field on which those occur. It matters even less that the field be shrunken to assuage dumb anxieties that we're missing something worthwhile. (Trust me, we're missing something worthwhile.) How on earth can abundance damage anything for anyone, unless what's damaged is some critic's pining to control what shouldn't be controlled, or to circumscribe what shouldn't be circumscribed?"

The quote is from "The Ecstasy of Influence," p.371.

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