The Excitement of Apocalypse

For those who take offence, and take offence second-hand and too readily, these are not cardinal principles of life, literary or otherwise. A Jacques Derrida, apprehended by the Prague police after they had planted drugs in his bag, could take his lawyer's advice and look at it as "a literary experience". Perhaps any experience is good for a writer and the more terrible the better. But for every writer who left JLF 2013 chased by the experience of a controversy triggered not by a novel or a poem or a play, there are hundreds of us who were there to listen, who must now, in the words of Jacobson, feed on the "excitement of apocalypse". If that apocalypse of offenders and offended doesn't come, we can wait for next year's Rushdie moment.

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