Tom McCarthy: “All Writing Is Conceptual”

From Tom McCarthy’s essay “Transmission and the Individual Remix”:

All writing is conceptual; it’s just that it’s usually founded on bad concepts. When an author tells you that they’re not beholden to any theory, what they usually mean is that their thinking and their work defaults, without even realizing it, to a narrow liberal humanism and its underlying—and always reactionary—notions of the (always) “natural” and preexisting, rather than constructed self, that self’s command of language, language as vehicle for “expression,” and a whole host of fallacies so admirably debunked almost fifty years ago by the novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet.

6 thoughts on “Tom McCarthy: “All Writing Is Conceptual””

  1. More please. For some reason I have never been able to understand Robbe-
    Grillet’s In the Labyrinth and Jealousy has continued to haunt me as no other books have. Is it the repetition with difference, the invisible horror, I am guessing.


  2. Tom McCarthy’s non-fiction is a lot more interesting than his fiction. I have found all three of his novels rather prosaic and inert.


    1. From Baudrillard I learned about political indifference. From Foucault I learned about resistance which is local. And can be very effective. Politics from the level at the top, dealing in DC is ineffective for any real change. Of course as Baudrillard points out, the gains are mostly convoluted and turned back against those they were designed to help. I’ll check at the other site. I think you would like my movie review of Monsieur Lazhar. It’s at These days since I moved to Sprigfiled MO I feel the Grid tightening only in different ways from Seymour MO. Philly was much more free but also more dangerous.


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