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“the conditions under which literary modernism appeared now lie behind us”

February 15, 2013

Lars narrates the trilogy, but he seldom expresses his own ideas. Instead he tends to report what W. says about everything – the state of nation, the state of philosophy, the state of Lars himself. “Don’t I know there’s a war on – a philosophical war, W. says.” The subjects always sit strangely; at times, it seems like W. is talking about himself. Was it your intention to make the two characters seem as one?

Lars, the first-person narrator of the trilogy, very rarely gets to speak for himself, seemingly being content to report the insults W. sends his way, along with W.’s other musings. Why this style? Well, as more than one reviewer has noted, it allows Lars to satirize W. – he makes W. look more than a little ridiculous in the hyperbole of his views. This is perhaps Lars’s way of taking revenge on W. But Lars’s taking the piss out of W. is as mingled with affection as are the insults W. directs at Lars. W. and Lars are frenemies, as are many male friends. My mode of narration is a new twist on various literary and non-literary double acts: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza; Vladimir and Estragon; Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.

The passage quoted above continues: “Why am I not marching to the philosophical front lines, like he is? Why am I not doing my bit?” Do you see Exodus as a political novel, an effort to do your bit on the philosophical frontlines?

The philosophical frontline demands a philosophical response to the crisis of neoliberalism – the crisis that so exercises W. and Lars – not a literary response. Exodus only describes that philosophical frontline, as it is imagined by two very isolated and marginal individuals; their frontline might not be real, or, at best, might be only an exercise in wistful thinking – that philosophy might really intervene in some way in our present condition.

Read More | “Lars Iyer Interviewed” | Kevin Breathnach | Totally Dublin