Showing posts with label literary correctness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label literary correctness. Show all posts

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Poet's Corner- William Butler Yeats' "Leda And The Swan"

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of a recital of William Butler Yeats' Leda and the Swan.


Leda And The Swan- William Butler Yeats

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still

Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed

By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,

He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push

The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?

And how can body, laid in that white rush,

But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?



A shudder in the loins engenders there

The broken wall, the burning roof and tower[20]

And Agamemnon dead.

Being so caught up,

So mastered by the brute blood of the air,

Did she put on his knowledge with his power

Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The American Literary Canon- The View Of The Late Norman Mailer

Click On Title To Link To Norman Mailer "New York Review Of Books" article mentioned in commentary.

Commentary

Regular readers of this space know that over the past year or so I have done more than my fair share of book reviews of the journalistic and literary works of the late Norman Mailer. It is hardly a secret that in my youth (and later, as well) I devoured anything of his that I could get my hands even as we parted political company in the late 1960’s. With that in mind, I took full note of a recent three-part series concerning Mailer’s correspondence with fellow writers, editors, erstwhile critics and an occasional literary lumpen proletarian in the New York Review of Book. In the third part (dated March 12, 2009, page 28) there is a letter by Mailer to and editor of “The Reader’s Catalogue”, Helen Morris, listing his ten choices for inclusion into a project whose aim seemingly was to provide a who’s who of the Western literary canon. I list those choices below:

“U.S.A.” John Dos Passos; “Huckleberry Finn” Mark Twain; “Studs Lonigan” James T. Farrell; “Look, Homeward, Angel; Thomas Wolfe; “The Grapes Of Wrath John Steinbeck; “The Great Gatsby” F. Scott Fitzgerald; “The Sun Also Rise” Ernest Hemingway; “Appointment At Samarra; John O’Hara; “The Postman Always Rings Twice” James M. Cain; and “Moby Dick” Herman Melville.

Now Mailer, when all is said and done, is a man of the Great Depression/ World War II generation, the so-called ‘greatest generation’ so that his choices reflect an earlier literary tradition that stressed his beloved male muscularity in writing, and much else in that pre-woman’s liberation world. Here is the twist though, with the exception of “Huckleberry Finn” that I would replace with Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” reflecting a generational shift on the search for the meaning of America story, Mailer’s list is the same that I would give if asked. This from a man of the “Generation of ‘68”. Go figure.

The ‘go figure’ part is actually very easy. His list or mine, these works are very strongly representative of the best in the American literary tradition. The literary canon, if you will. They DESERVE to be read, and re-read. Where the late Mr. Mailer and I would, perhaps, part company is on the questions of who else should be included, under what criteria and how expansive the canon should be. Not inconsequential questions if, however, they are really beyond the scope of what I want to say here. If one pays careful attention to his list (or mine for that matter) it is filled with the names of dreaded dead white males so feared by the literary political correctness squads. So here is a list, by no means extensive or exclusive, of a few of the ones that I would add to that list today and that I wished I had read earlier in life. Hell, though, read them all:

Richard Wright("Native Son" and "Black Boy" are a must); Langston Hughes (if you love the blues you need to read his poetry; Willa Cather; Edith Wharton (ya, I know that old Algonquin Roundtable crowd); Russell Banks; Allen Ginsberg Is there a better modern, modern poem than "Howl"); William Burroughs; Toni Morrison; William Styron; August Wilson; Joan Didion; Flannery O’Connor (she is starting to get some well deserved attention from the academy, please read her "Wise Blood"; Jimmy Breslin; Harper Lee (a million kudos for "To Kill A Mockingbird"), Lorraine Hansberry; Gertrude Stein; Eudora Welty; and, Tennessee Williams (read every play you can get your hands on starting with "Street Car Named Desire").

What no now departed John Updike? And no John Cheevers? No, but that is what makes the literary name game so much fun. Who makes your literary pantheon?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The 50th Anniversary Of The Summer Of Love, 1967- Elegy For A Los Angeles Man- The Trials and Tribulations of A Literary Man-Charles Bukowski

The 50th Anniversary Of The Summer Of Love, 1967- Elegy For A Los Angeles Man- The Trials and Tribulations of A Literary Man-Charles Bukowski




Zack James’ comment June, 2017:

Maybe it says something about the times we live in, or maybe in this instance happenstance or, hell maybe something in the water but certain things sort of dovetail every now and again. I initially started this commentary segment after having written a longest piece for my brother and his friends as part of a small tribute booklet they were putting together about my and their takes on the Summer of Love, 1967. That event that my brother, Alex, had been knee deep in had always interested me from afar since I was way too young to have appreciated what was happening in San Francisco in those Wild West days. What got him motivated to do the booklet had been an exhibit at the de Young Art Museum in Golden Gate Park where they were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the events of that summer with a look at the music, fashion, photography and exquisite poster art which was created then just as vivid advertising for concerts and “happenings” but which now is legitimate artful expression.

That project subsequently got me started thinking about the late Hunter Thompson, Doctor Gonzo, the driving force behind a new way of looking at and presenting journalism which was really much closer to the nub of what real reporting was about. Initially I was interested in some of Thompson’s reportage on what was what in San Francisco as he touched the elbows of those times having spent a fair amount of time working on his seminal book on the Hell’s Angels while all hell was breaking out in Frisco town. Delved into with all hands and legs the high points and the low, the ebb which he located somewhere between the Chicago Democratic Convention fiasco of the summer of 1968 and the hellish Rollins Stones Altamont concert of 1969.     

Here is what is important today though, about how the dots get connected out of seemingly random occurrences. Hunter Thompson also made his mark as a searing no holds barred mano y mano reporter of the rise and fall, of the worthy demise of one Richard Milhous Nixon at one time President of the United States and a common low-life criminal of ill-repute. Needless to say today, the summer of 2107, in the age of one Donald Trump, another President of the United States and common low-life criminal begs the obvious question of what the sorely missed Doctor Gonzo would have made of the whole process of the self-destruction of another American presidency, or a damn good run at self-destruction. So today and maybe occasionally in the future there will be some intertwining of commentary about events fifty years ago and today. Below to catch readers up to speed is the most recent “homage” to Hunter Thompson. And you too I hope will ask the pertinent question. Hunter where are you when we need, desperately need, you.       
*******
Zack James comment, Summer of 2017 

You know it is in a way too bad that “Doctor Gonzo”-Hunter S Thompson, the late legendary journalist who broke the back, hell broke the neck, legs, arms of so-called objective journalism in a drug-blazed frenzy back in the 1970s when he “walked with the king”’ is not with us in these times. (Walking with the king not about walking with any king or Doctor King but being so high on drugs, your choice, that commin clay experiences fall by the way side. In the times of this 50th anniversary commemoration of the Summer of Love, 1967 which he worked the edges of while he was doing research (live and in your face research by the way) on the notorious West Coast-based Hell’s Angels. His “hook” through Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters down in Kesey’s place in La Honda where many an “acid test” took place, where many walked with the king, if you prefer, and where for a time the Angels, Hunter in tow, were welcomed. He had been there in the high tide, when it looked like we had the night-takers on the run and later as well when he saw the ebb tide of the 1960s coming a year or so later although that did not stop him from developing the quintessential “gonzo” journalism fine-tuned with plenty of dope for which he would become famous before the end, before he took his aging life and left Johnny Depp and company to fling his ashes over this good green planet. He would have “dug” the exhibition, maybe smoked a joint for old times’ sake (oh no, no that is not done in proper society, in high art society these days) at the de Young Museum at the Golden Gate Park highlighting the events of the period showing until August 20th of this year.   


Better yet he would have had this Trump thug bizarre weirdness wrapped up and bleeding from all pores just like he regaled us with the tales from the White House bunker back in the days when Trump’s kindred one Richard Milhous Nixon, President of the United States and common criminal was running the same low rent trip before he was run out of town by his own like some rabid rat. He would have gone crazy seeing all the crew deserting the sinking U.S.S. Trump with guys like fired FBI Director Comey going to Capitol Hill and saying out loud the emperor has no clothes and would not know the truth if it grabbed him by the throat. Every day would be a feast day. But perhaps the road to truth these days, in the days of “alternate facts” and assorted other bullshit would have been bumpier than in those more “civilized” times when simple burglaries and silly tape-recorders ruled the roost. Hunter did not make the Nixon “hit list” (to his everlasting regret for which he could hardly hold his head up in public) but these days he surely would find himself in the top echelon. Maybe too though with these thugs who like their forbears would stop at nothing he might have found himself in some back alley bleeding from all pores. Hunter Thompson wherever you are –help. Selah. Enough said-for now  





DVD REVIEW

Bukowski: Born Into This, Charles Bukowski and others, directed by John Dullaghan, Magnolia, 2003

Back in the early 1970’s, well- before he became a cult figure of some stature, someone, somewhere directed me to some articles written by the king of “gonzo” journalist, the late Doctor Hunter S. Thompson for the then radical political/musical “Rolling Stone” magazine. Readers of this space are well aware of my affection for the writings of the good doctor. Around that same time the same person who “turned me on to” Thompson, as the expression of the day went, also mentioned that if I liked Thompson then I would definitely go for the then emerging Los Angeles literary cult figure under review here, Charles Bukowski.

I then read some of Bukowski’s stuff, mainly poetry from the various “little” presses like "City Light" but I was not that impressed at the time. Later, in the late 1980’s, when the movie “Barfly”, starting Mickey Rourke as Bukowski, came out I again tried to read his work, this time mainly the novels. Still no sale. Now, however, with this rather well done documentary that details the ups and downs of this literary figure who may have had the same kind of feel for the dispossessed, the “street people” of L.A., that his near contemporary Nelson Algren had for Chicago I think I have to take another look.

This documentary puts together the various aspects of Bukowski’s life (and incidentally demonstrates how tough it is to be an avant guarde artist in America) from his broken childhood to his struggle to find work, but most importantly, his struggle to write with the deck stacked against him. Add in a mercurial personality, some physical facial deformities (due to severe facial acne) and a very heavy drinking problem, including periods of abusive behavior to his girlfriends and others, to help drown his sorrows and one does not get a pretty picture. The film also gives enough snippets of his work (including some readings by Bukowski himself) to intrigue me to go back and check him out again.

But here is the kicker. I am always on the lookout for those who will speak for the dispossessed (like Algren, James T. Farrell, the young Dos Passos, etc.) even if there is no direct political linkage. Maybe I missed something before. Moreover, the “talking heads” that naturally populate a documentary like this included Tom Waits, Sean Penn, Bono, and Harry Dean Stanton. These are the same guys who provided commentary on a couple of Hunter Thompson documentaries that I have reviewed in this space recently. So, maybe I did miss something. Who would have thought?

BEER
from: Love is A Mad Dog From Hell


I don't know how many bottles of beer
I have consumed while waiting for things
to get better
I dont know how much wine and whisky
and beer
mostly beer
I have consumed after
splits with women-
waiting for the phone to ring
waiting for the sound of footsteps,
and the phone to ring
waiting for the sounds of footsteps,
and the phone never rings
until much later
and the footsteps never arrive
until much later
when my stomach is coming up
out of my mouth
they arrive as fresh as spring flowers:
"what the hell have you done to yourself?
it will be 3 days before you can fuck me!"

the female is durable
she lives seven and one half years longer
than the male, and she drinks very little beer
because she knows its bad for the figure.

while we are going mad
they are out
dancing and laughing
with horney cowboys.

well, there's beer
sacks and sacks of empty beer bottles
and when you pick one up
the bottle fall through the wet bottom
of the paper sack
rolling
clanking
spilling gray wet ash
and stale beer,
or the sacks fall over at 4 a.m.
in the morning
making the only sound in your life.

beer
rivers and seas of beer
the radio singing love songs
as the phone remains silent
and the walls stand
straight up and down
and beer is all there is.

AS CRAZY AS I EVER WAS
from: Love is A Dog From Hell


drunk and writing poems
at 3 a.m.

what counts now
is one more
tight pussy

before the light
tilts out

drunk and writing poems
at 3:15 a.m.

some people tell me that I'm
famous.

what am I doing alone
drunk and writing poems at
3:18 a.m.?

I'm as crazy as I ever was
they don't understand
that I haven't stopped hanging out of 4th floor
windows by my heels-
I still do
right now
sitting here

writing this down
I am hanging by my heels
floors up:
68, 72, 101,
the feeling is the
same:
relentless
unheroic and
necessary

sitting here
drunk and writing poems
at 3:24 a.m.

ANOTHER BED
from: Love is a Mad Dog from Hell


another bed
another women

more curtains
another bathroom
another kitchen

other eyes
other hair
other
feet and toes.

everybodys looking.
the eternal search.

you stay in bed
she gets dressed for work
and you wonder what happened
to the last one
and the one after that...
it's all so comfortable-
this love making
this sleeping together
the gentle kindness...

after she leaves you get up and use her
bathroom,

it's all so intimate and strange.
you go back to bed and
sleep another hour.

when you leave its with sadness
but you'll se her again
whether it works or not.
you drive down to the shore and sit
in your car. it's almost noon.

-another bed, other ears, other
ear rings, other mouths, other slippers, other
dresses

colors, doors, phone numbers.

you were once strong enough to live alone.
for a man nearing sixty you should be more
sensible.

you start the car and shift,
thinking, I'll phone Jeanie when I get in,
I haven't seen her since Friday.

SHE SAID
from: War All the Time


what are you doing with all those paper
napkins in your car?
we dont have napkins like
that
how come your car radio is
always turned to some
rock and roll station?do you drive around with
some
young thing?

you're
dripping tangerine
juice on the floor.
whenever you go into
the kitchen
this towel gets
wet and dirty,
why is that?

when you let my
bathwater run
you never
clean the
tub first.

why don't you
put your toothbrush
back
in the rack?

you should always
dry your razor

sometimes
I think
you hate
my cat.

Martha says
you were
downstairs
sitting with her
and you
had your
pants off.

you shouldn't wear
those
$100 shoes in
the garden

and you don't keep
track
of what you
plant out there

that's
dumb

you must always
set the cat's bowl back
in
the same place.

don't
bake fish
in a frying
pan...

I never saw
anybody
harder on the
brakes of their
car
than you.

let's go
to a
movie.

listen what's
wrong with you?
you act
depressed.

THE ALIENS
from The Last Night Of The Earth Poems


you may not believe it
but there are people
who go through life with
very little
friction of distress.
they dress well, sleep well.
they are contented with
their family
life.
they are undisturbed
and often feel
very good.
and when they die
it is an easy death, usually in their
sleep.

you may not believe
it
but such people do
exist.

but i am not one of
them.
oh no, I am not one of them,
I am not even near
to being
one of
them.
but they
are there

and I am
here.

BAD TIMES AT THE 3RD AND VERMONT HOTEL
from: You Get So Alone At Times that It Just Makes Sense


Alabam was a sneak and a theif and he came to my
room when I was drunk and
each time I got up he would shove me back
down.

you prick, I tole him, you know I can take you!

he just shoved me down
again.

I finally caught him a good one, right over the
temple
and he backed off and
left.
it was a couple of days later
I got even: I fucked his
girl.

then I went down and knocked on his
door.

well, Alabam, I fucked your women and now I'm going to
kick you all the way to
hell!

the poor guy started crying, he put his hands over his
face and just cried

I stood there and watched
him.

then i left him there, i went back to
my room.

we were all alkies and none of us had jobs, all we had
was each other.


even then, my so-called women was in some bar or
somewhere, i hadn't seen her in a couple of
days.

I had a bootle of port
left.

i uncorked it and took it down to Alabam's
room.

said, how about a drink,
Rebel?

he looked up, stood up, went for two glasses.

THOSE GIRLS WE FOLLOWED HOME
from: You Get So Alone At Times that It Just MAkes Sense


in junior high the two prettiest girls were
Irene and Louise,
they were sisters;
Irene was a year older, a little taller
but it was difficult to choose between
them;
they were not only pretty but they were
astonishingly beautiful
so beautiful
that the boys stayed away from them;
they were terrified of Irene and
Louise
who weren't aloof at all;
even friendlier than most
but
who seemed to dress a bit
differently than the other girls;
they always wore high heels'
silk stockings,
blouses,
skirts,
new outfits
each day;
and'
one afternoon
my buddy, Baldy, and i followed them
home from school;
you see, we were kind of
the bad guys on the grounds
so it was
more or less
expected,
and
it was soomething:
walking along ten or twelve feet behind them;
we didnt say anything
we just followed
watching
their voultuous swaying,
the balance of the
haunches.

we liked it so much that we
followed them home from school
every
day.

when they'd go into their house
we'd stand outside on the sidewalk
smoking cigarettes and talking.

"someday". I told Baldy.
"they are going to invite us inside their
house and they are going to
fuck us."

"you really think so?"

"sure."

now
50 years later
I can tell you
they never did
-never mind all the stories we
told the guys;
yes, it's a dream that
keepds you going
then and
now.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

***Detective Novelist Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe Meets Leon Trotsky- “On The Quest For The New Socialist Persona”

Click On Title To Link To Leon Trotsky's "Literature And Revolution" Webpage.

Commentary


In a recent posting I reviewed detective novelist supreme Raymond Chandler’s late work (1958), “Playback”, the last in his series of Philip Marlowe stories. (See archives, September 20, 2009.) In that review I mentioned (as I have in several previous reviews of other books in Chandler’s Marlowe series) a number of positive attributes about Marlowe that I found appealing. For starters: his sense of personal honor in a modern world (the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s) that laughed at such old-fashioned notions; his gritty intrepidness in search of ‘rough’ justice in a messy world; his amazing, almost superhuman, ability to take a punch or seven for the good of the cause; and, his minimally class conscious and sometimes barely hidden contempt for the traditional social hierarchy and its police authority. In response, I received an e-mail from a reader, an ardent socialist-feminist fellow admirer of Leon Trotsky, who took me to task for my characterizations and argued that I had it all wrong both as to Marlowe’s virtues and to his so-called (her description) anti-authoritarian posture.

In passing, the reader deeply discounted those attributes where I put a plus, deplored even the idea of the possibility that a future socialist society would have room for such attributes as mentioned above and that Marlowe’s attitude toward women was ‘primitive’ (her description). While one would be hard pressed, very hard-pressed, to include Marlowe, with his very quaint but macho attitude toward women reflecting the mores of an earlier age, as a champion of women’s emancipation and he became over time a little shopworn in his sense of honor, common sense, ability to take a punch and lay off the booze the reader missed the point of my critique. Or rather she is much too dogmatic in her sense of “political correctness” as it applies to the literary front. Thus this little commentary is intended not so much to clear the air as to posit several ideas for future discussion.

I hate to invoke the name of Leon Trotsky, the intrepid Russian revolutionary, hard-working Soviet official, well-regarded political pamphleteer, and astute literary critic into this discussion but in that last role I think he had some useful things to say. Without a doubt Trotsky could have made his mark solely on the basis of his literary criticism, witness his Marxist masterpieces “Literature and Revolution” and “Literature and Art”. What makes Trotsky’s literary analysis so compelling is not whether he is right or wrong about the merits of any particular writer. In fact, many times, as in the case of the French writer Celine and some of the Russian poets, he was, I think, wrong. But rather, that he approached literary criticism from a materialist basis rooted in what history, and that essentially meant capitalist history, when he analyzed characters, the plausibility of various plots and the lessons to be drawn about “human nature” put forth by any given writer.

This is no mere genuflection on my part to a revolutionary leader whose work I hold in high regard but a recognition that capitalism has given us some much distorted concepts of what human nature is, or can be, all about. That is the core of the genius of Trotsky’s sharp pen and wit. That is why he is still very readable, for the most part, today. Unless it is question of political import, like the struggle inside Russia in the early 1920’s over the preferential establishment of a school of “proletarian culture” supported by the Soviet state that was bandies about by likes of fellow Bolsheviks Bukarin and Zinoviev, Trotsky did not spend much time diagramming any but the most general outline of the contours of what the future socialist society, its habits, manners and morals would look like. He did, and this is central in this discussion, spend a great deal of time on what capitalism had and would bequeath a socialist state. Including both vices and virtues.

Not to belabor a point this is the link between Leon Trotsky and one fictional Philip Marlowe. Trotsky accepted that personal honor had a place as a societal goal and as a matter of social hygiene. The parameters of that sense of honor naturally would be different under a social regime that was based on use value rather than the struggle for profit margins. Certainly Trotsky’s biography, particularly that last period in the 1930’s when he appeared to be tilting at windmills, demonstrates that he had a high moral code that drove him. Certainly the word intrepid is not out of place here, as well. Hardworking, hard-driving, a little bit gruff, but in search of some kind of justice. Those, my friend are the links that are the basic premise of a socialist society as it evolves out of capitalist society. As well as individual initiative, a sense of fairness, and well-placed scorn for established authority and the time-worn clich├ęs about the limits of human nature.

Do I draw the links here too closely? Perhaps. Although Marlowe has his own version of ‘tilling at windmills’ in search of some kind of rough justice and vindication for all those knocks on the head one cannot deny that he does not challenge bourgeois society except in the most oblique way. He will not rail against General Sternwood’s oil derricks. He will not lead a crusade against the old order in his search for the elusive Velma. He is if anything very Victorian in his attitude toward women, good or bad. (Chandler’s Marlowe and Trotsky are both men of another era in their personal attitudes toward women, although Trotsky was light-years ahead on the political front). Nor is Marlowe the prototype for the ‘new socialist man’. But he remains a very appealing fictional character nevertheless. Who is your favorite fictional character, detective or otherwise? Let the discussion continue.

Monday, April 05, 2010

*Books To While Away The Class Struggle By-James T. Farrell’s “Studs Lonigan”-Ain’t Got Not Time For The Corner Boys

Click on the headline to link to the "Literary Encyclopedia" entry for Irish-the American writer, James T.Farrell.

Recently I have begun to post entries under the headline- “Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By” and "Films To While Away The Class Struggle By"-that will include progressive and labor-oriented songs and films that might be of general interest to the radical public. I have decided to do the same for some books that may perk that same interest under the title in this entry’s headline. Markin

Book Review


The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan, James T. Farrell, Random House, New York, 1934

Over the past several years, as part of re-evaluating the effect of my half-Irish diaspora heritage (on my mother's side) on the development of my leftist political consciousness I have read, and in some cases re-read, some of the major works of the Irish American experience. Of course, any such reading list includes tales from the pen of William Kennedy and his Albany sagas, most famously "Ironweed". And, naturally, as well the tales of that displaced Irishman, the recently departed Frank McCourt and his "Angela's Ashes", a story that is so close to the bone of my own "shanty" Irish diaspora upbringing that we are forever kindred spirits. That said, here to my mind is the "max daddy" of all the American disapora storytellers, James T. Farrell, and his now rightly famous trilogy, "Studs Lonigan" (hereafter, "Studs").

And in his storytelling of his people, the Chicago Irish, Farrell does not let us down. "Studs" is only marginally concerned with political issues, and then only of the bourgeois kind rampant amount the Irish in the early part of the 20th century when they were taking over local politics in a number of cities from their WASP guardians. However, he has hit so many "hot buttons" about "lace curtain" Irish sensibilities and the struggle against "shanty" Irishness that he, Kennedy, and McCourt could have easily compared notes for their respective works.

The story line for this second book of the trilogy is reflected in the headline to this entry, at least ironically. In the first book we leave our daydreaming, wise guy- affecting, just-hanging out with the guys "Studs" in his late teen years in the 1920s, a time when he is trying to figure out life's short-cut angles but, mainly, has, in fact, plenty of time for the corner boys. He works a little for old man Lonigan as a painter but, for the most part, he hangs around pool halls, speakeasies, and cat houses. Oh Studs dreams alright, or rather day dreams about being a great athlete, a war hero, a ladies' man, and the like but does not take step one to do anything about it. By the end of this second book it is clear that the struggle between his gentile "lace curtain" home life and his "shanty" ways that surfaced in the first book ("Young Lonigan") has tilted decisively toward the latter. "Studs" has, moreover, settled in as primarily a man of the neighborhood, the Irish neighborhood as it shifts in place in Southside Chicago with the migration of blacks, the hated 'n----rs', that appear as the main enemy to the narrow world view of the inhabitants of the Irish diaspora way of life then, and now. We'll pick up the story in the third book and see which ethos, in the end, wins the battle.

Note: Toward the end of the second book "Studs" and his cohorts attend a Catholic Church-sponsored mission. For those who have been through that process I need give no explanation but for those who have not this mission idea is to give one an extra chance to gain grace by attending meetings, ceremonies and the like over several days, usually conducted by an itinerant priest. Here the character is named Father Shannon and Farrell goes into great detail about the subject matter of his sermon at one night's session. That sermon exemplifies everything that the Roman Catholic Church stood for, and mainly still stands for: anti-abortion, anti-premarital sex; anti-marrying outside the religion; anti-raising the children outside of the religion; the necessity of avoiding about seven hundred sins, large and small; also alcohol, pool halls, rough talk, etc. Just about everything that "Studs" stands for in his young life. My point in making this note, however, is this: this sermon could have been delivered, and maybe was delivered, by some itinerant priest when I was young and went to such missions in the 1950s. Hey, they must go to school for that, right? If you can stand it, that sermon section alone is reason enough to read this book.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

*From "The American Insurgency" Blog- Widom (Oops!) For The Ages

Click on the headline to link to an "American Insurgency" blog entry on the travails of Teabagger 'education'.

Markin comment:

I agree with "American Insurgency" on that troublesome problem of fighting with the quirks of the "spell check". Oh, yes, and on the Teabagger problem as well. Nice job.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

*From The Pen Of Early Soviet Culture Commissar Anatol Lunacharsky- On Pushkin

Click on title to link to the Anatol Lunacharsky Internet Archive's copy of his essay on the great Russian writer Pushkin. Lunacharsky may have been a 'soft' Bolshevik and conciliatory toward Stalin, when the deal went down and the Russian Left Oppposition was defeated, but he certainly has some interesting and thoughtful insights on the "culture wars" of his day.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

*From The Pen Of Early Soviet Culture Commissar Anatol Lunacharsky- Early Soviet Writer Pavel Bessalko

Click on title to link to early Bolshevik Culture and Education Commissar Anatol Lunacharsky's profile of early Soviet writer Pavel Bessalko from his 1923"Revolutionary Silhouettes". Lunarcharsky may have been a "soft" Bolshevik but he had insights into the early Soviet "cultural wars" that are always interesting and thoughtful.