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PRINT November 1995

NEXT TO NOTHING: THE ART OF TOM FRIEDMAN

JANE BOWLES ONCE WROTE to her husband, her dearest Bupple, “I keep forgetting what writing is supposed to be anyway. ” She had already published a novel, Two Serious Ladies, which she decided “was after all not a novel. ” She forgot what a novel was and forgot marriage for mariage blanc. Later on, forgetting the grammar of present and future, she would sign a copy of her collected works as “Dead Jane Bowles. ” What did she learn from forgetting it all— did it burn or was it soothing as a final balm? Understand that she was not praising ignorance, that this is not in praise of ignorance, although it is in praise of something like learning to be ignorant. Or forgetting to remember.

Tom Friedman forgets what art is supposed to be anyway. Spaghetti, bubble gum, toothpaste, pubic hair, soap, aspirin, shit, masking tape. Maybe he doesn’t think what he does is art at all and everyone is mistaken

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