Friday, January 28, 2005

H.G. Wells, Kurt Vonnegut, and Now

The class war of the Technological Revolution is the major unwritten story of the past 20 years. It's scantly been written about in novels, and not covered by the mass media, because Overdogs who would write about it haven't been touched by the change. They hardly know it exists.

I wrote about it in 1994 in an essay for Robley Wilson at North American Review: "Detroit: Among the Lower Classes." That the published essay which contained my most passionate writing had zero impact even on the lit world was one factor in my incentive to help create the ULA. I realized writers like myself needed a larger platform from which to address this great and awful civilization.

With jobs across the society transformed by computer technology, the bar of qualifications was suddenly and drastically raised for the average worker. I can testify that those jobs which weren't eliminated became harder, more hectic, the worker required to do more work at a vastly quicker speed.

Millions of decent-paying jobs were eliminated; the lives of millions of individuals and families destroyed. As a result, the industrial working class in America has nearly vanished. The prospects for unskilled workers, for those at the lower end of the socio-economic scale, has become frighteningly bleak-- one reason for the growth of the underclass, which exists today in worse condition and with poorer prospects than at any time since the 1940's. (Even given the millions of people warehoused in this nation's prison system-- people no one wants to see.)

The choice is stark: Compete from Day One by becoming an absolute slave to the technological beast, or fall by the wayside. The mantra of the modern workplace the past decade: "Change or Die." This is not meant by those who say it to be taken metaphorically.

Even shitty $7 telemarketing jobs are now being outsourced overseas. When they vanish: nothing. Revolution or starvation?

Our totalitarian media over the past year has convinced us of a phony split between "Red" and "Blue" people in this country. It's a divide which exists mainly for the Overdogs of the Left and the Right IN media. Their split is on the order of an intramural dispute, a conflict between elites over social mores more than anything. They're still fighting the battles of the debate halls of Harvard and Yale over attitudes toward dating. (On REAL issues, such as NAFTA and the global economy, the elites of Right and Left are on the same side.)

The real divide in this country is between the affluent and the rest of us-- a divide which grows greater by the day. (The fight of the ULA against the Overdogs of literature is a true reflection of this reality.)

One of the ironies of change is that Detroit, the great creation of the Industrial Revolution, has been destroyed by the Technological one. THERE is a good place to view the economic disaster that's been wreaked on large unseen segments of this nation.

It's ironic that I write these words on-line. (Sorry if I've decided to fight; that I've refused to die.) I'm reminded of the scene in Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano when men put out of work by machines eagerly volunteer to fix them when they break. We humans have an innate love of gadgets, even when they make us obsolete.

I'm reminded also as I write this essay of another novel, Food of the Gods by H.G. Wells. Well's novel is a metaphor for the change of the Industrial Revolution. Its quirky narrative captures well the feeling of sudden dislocation and change; the realization that the world is no longer the same.

The theme of the book applies even more to the ongoing Technological Revolution-- and to what lies ahead. Within a couple decades geneticists will be able to change man himself. By manipulating human codes, they'll manufacture people with superbodies and superbrains.

Will there be any doubt that the affluent Overdog class will partake of these Frankenstein benefits-- that they'll eat the "food of the gods," and so leave far behind everyone else, who'll they'll view with inevitable and increasing contempt? America and the world will then be divided not into two classes, as is happening today, but two species.

The result, based on the products of our current Overdog writers, is not promising for literature. A great writer is made not by a giant overpowering brain but by the empathy of a giant heart and the ability to recognize and speak the truth.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Evil Journalista has read today's stories, on Drudge Report-

"Warren Buffett Makes $776 Million in One Day"

"Oprah's Six-Year Long Retirement Party"

"American Nazi Party Adopts Road"

"Media Knocks Cheney's Outfit During Auschwitz Ceremony"

It is small wonder Evil Journalista has high blood pressure! His doctor has advised him to stop reading such news. But his doctor is drop-out from veterinary school, in Kiev.

Anonymous said...

Any chance you have that essay, "Detroit: Among the Lower Classes," available online somewhere where your new fans (me) can read it? I currently live in Detroit area and love the city despite the physical ruins that inhabit it. I know, King, you live in Philly now, but aren't there times you miss this place? It's a great, great town, filled with so many passionate people and (believe me, I'm not trying to kiss your ass here) your writing reflects that passion. I'm eager to read this essay because it is the exact year, 1994, when I moved here. Thanks.

Noah Cicero said...

January 28, 2005
The Day the American Class-War was officially announced to the world and why it is exists. The ULA will not only be in the literary books a hundred years form now, but will have a section in the history books as well.
I've looked from Marxists sites to Green sites and NO ONE will mention what Wenclas just said. The Marxists are just Greens now, and The Greens are Dave Eggers/Rick Moody hipsters.
Thank you Wenclas for announcing it. I knew I joined the right group.

Anonymous said...

This is Dave Eggers, George Plimpton's Heir.

I don't normally post in forums as I'm too busy running children's foundations, writing fake reviews, and putting out plagiarism fires started by Dr. Tom Bissell and Sven Birkets.

But congrats King, on hitting the nail on the head!

It's all a big goddamned joke!!

The cowards, imbeciles, conformists, greedy, evil fail upward.

The talented, integrity-filled, honest poets succeed downward.

Last night I was at a dinner party at the Julavits, and Mr. Julavits farted and blamed it on his wife. And when she was out of the room, he took credit ofr her magnificent tuna caserole.

And I realized that I too keep women, children, and Bissells around so that I can blame my shortcomings on them, and take credit for all their successes.

The funniest part of the party was whenI laid a turd in the brownies and watched Bissell eat it. When he heard that Heidi had baked them, he choked the whole thing down, and said it was the most excellent brownie ever.

Then Rick Moody came on my decaf cafe mocha vendela, and Franzen thought it was whipped cream--salty whipped cream, but whipped cream all the same.

The funny thing was when Bissell tried to take credit for the whipped cream, saying that'd made it. Maud Newton nodded her head as Bissell pinched her ass. "Yes--it taste's like Tom's." She said. "Mmmm mmm good--definitely Tom's original whipped cream."

So then it was decided for good, and Moody didn't mind too much, as Bissell is one of his favorite useful idiots.

And Moody walked away with the state-funded Julavits award.

Anonymous said...

Noah, About your comment on class war, the folks at ZNet have for decades been articulate and active about working against the class war, long since launched by the wealthy. And they are far from alone. That's what the annual World Social Forum, currently ongoing, is all about:
http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0128-12.htm

Also, the idea that liberal elites represent the political left is wholly inaccurate. Roughly speaking, liberals are sort of in the middle of the political spectrum because they do not seek an end to capitalism but simply its reform. Republicans and Democrats represent two branches of the establishment business party. Very little difference between them. This is common knowledge in left/progressive circles, as Karl knows. No defintion is pure. Some otherwise conservative religious folks get involved in the occasional progressive action. Some Democrats/liberals especially do as well, occasionally and selectively. But mainly they are of and for the mainstream establishment.

The leading online progressive/left/anarchist base is probably Znet. And they are linked to literally tens if not hundreds of thousands of left/progressive individuals, organizations, and actions here in the U.S. and all over the world who are extremely aware of the class issues and are deeply involved in the struggle.

Frankly, the ULA is not even as far left committed as the Znet core and others in some ways. ULA seems like it is so way to the left and revolutionary, in part because it is, but also, because so very much of the literary world is so deeply embedded in the establishment. The literary world, in the U.S. at least, is almost wholly absent from the large scale class struggle, though some of it does involve itself in selective progressive actions. And so the ULA remains one of the leftmost literary organizations in a number of ways, in some ways the leftmost organization.

Tony Christini

King said...

Please keep in mind that I don't wish to narrow the ULA's appeal by having it considered exclusively "Left." Frankly, that's suicide. Left and Right are archaic concepts. I prefer populist and elitist. Also, without question we've appealed to folks across the spectrum. Our attacks on grants corruption, for instance, appeals to anyone with common sense. (One of our early advisors, btw, was Richard Kostelanetz. How does one classify that guy?) Categories are very limiting. . . . We're trying to move beyond that.
Expressing the truth-- nothing more than that-- that's the Underground Literary Alliance.
(It might be worthwhile to know the makeup of the Six original founders of the ULA: three Fred Woodworth-style anarchists; two libertarian conservatives; and Steve Kostecke I'd call a left-leaning pragmatist, if he has anything resembling politics in his make-up.)
Yes, the ULA is NOT a political organization. We strictly want to takeover literature-- then decide what we're doing. (Politics is a dead end for changing anything. That even a moderate like Ralph Nader has been shut out of the process says it all. We want to change the culture. ps: Real radicals are quickly imprisoned or destroyed. They end up conveniently committing "suicide." All these inflamed individuals with something to live for committing suicide! The San Jose guy; the suthor of the Soft Skull Bush book. Funny, isn't it? Of course, they were "troubled" and "disturbed." The fact that a person bucks the System instantly paints them as disturbed! I mean-- you have to be crazy to try to change anything, right? Ergo, the demi-puppets.)

King said...

Re NAR essay: Another one I did for NAR about minor league baseball (Toledo) used to be listed on line. Now I can't find even that. You might want to check the periodicals sections of libraries and see what they have saved. (NAR is still going but seems to be incompetent in their use of the Internet. That university life support just doesn't give one incentive to be good, does it?)

King said...

Side note to Evil Journalista: Please understand my reluctance to have any dealings with anonymous or pseudonymous persons. My attitude toward such only gets worse. Look at the Bissell thing. I was hammered over the delay in bringing this to light. The person who should've was the unknown person who originally posted about it on Amazon. Then, "Ranger West" was supposed to do a Monday Report on it, but that fell through-- in part maybe because I chewed "Ranger" out for posting under phony names on a zine newsgroup. So eventually it's me making noise and taking the heat for exposing Bissell's misdeeds. I stand behind everything I said-- it's the only way to fight things. Not skulking behind the stage scenery! As someone mentions, that's Eggers-style behavior. We're above that.
Ever see the movie "Ride the High Country."
"Head up and straight-on" is how they battle the bad guys at the end.
E.J.: We need all the help we can get. I have you pegged as one of only four possible individuals (and am probably wrong!), so why don't you just put aside the charade and this time contact me under your real name. No questions asked. Where business or the ULA are concerned I don't hold grudges. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

When I use words like left and progressive, I mean in principle--people of whatever background, as I pointed out, acting in ways that counter oppression or help extend humane and free conditions to those in need, and to everyone ultimately--and that is what is at the base of all popular/populist acts and movements worth supporting: "left" principles, many of which are valued by those who consider themselves to be of the center or of the right. Of course ULA must be a popular, as in populist, movement (however unpopular doing so will be among regressive forces).

Just to clarify: it makes sense to think of the political spectrum as extending from freedom on one end to tyranny on the other--that is, from left to right. Thus, all popular acts and movements worth supporting are in this sense "left".

The ULA is political if it is anti-corruption, which it is. If it is not based on just principles, it's not worth supporting. If action on just principles is not political, nothing is. The ULA is populist, and that's political. The forces of capitalism are doing their best to crush what is populist--and that's political too.

About the journalist: I think you are referring to Gary Webb who was no more radical, and far less, than many other folks. In its coverage of whether or not Webb was "suicided by the CIA," Alternative Press Review provides information that notes he comes from a conservative military family. So this guy was no radical, as he was the first to acknowledge. And there are plenty of other folks doing work as deeply opposed to entrenched power, and far more opposed, as Gary Webb. They are doing it openly and have been doing it for decades--many of the ZNet folks, for example.

Finally, apparently the World Social Forum--the largest populist movement the planet has ever seen, and massively expanding--is going to be held all over the world next year rather than in just one place. The ULA might do well to consider what role it can play. It only makes common sense. Trying to stay neutral on a terminally bound train is suicide, especially when another train, the people's train, is headed for far greener pastures. Somehow standing between these trains with writings in hand seems to me to be impossible and also seems far from what the ULA stands for, at its best.

Tony Christini

Noah Cicero said...

Tony

I looked at the site you suggested. I saw no difference between them and The Marxists or The Greens. All the articles were on Bush, iraqi war and racial problems. First Bush is just a symtom of a greater economic problem, europe had the same problem America is having now when they switched from a feudalist economy to a capitalist one with nationalism and conservativism i.e 1848. The Iraqi war resembles the Seven Years War France engaged in with England and Russia's War with Germany in World War 1. Just a distraction to create nationalism. Black people in America and the redneck/white trash in America have the same problems. The white trash get classism which is the same as racism. If you are white trash in America you can't work at a mall, a fancy coporate anything store i.e. barnes and nobles and Olive Gardedn and are treated like children by the upper classes, and in the media shown to be useless dumb assholes, i.e Boys Don't Cry and Monster and Cops for perfect examples of how the media and upper classes very lower class white people. They are in the same boat of prejudice and oppression and no one will say it.
No one wants them united, the media and the govt. pits them against each other while there is no difference between them.

"With jobs across the society transformed by computer technology, the bar of qualifications was suddenly and drastically raised for the average worker. I can testify that those jobs which weren't eliminated became harder, more hectic, the worker required to do more work at a vastly quicker speed.

"Millions of decent-paying jobs were eliminated; the lives of millions of individuals and families destroyed. As a result, the industrial working class in America has nearly vanished. The prospects for unskilled workers, for those at the lower end of the socio-economic scale, has become frighteningly bleak-- one reason for the growth of the underclass, which exists today in worse condition and with poorer prospects than at any time since the 1940's. (Even given the millions of people warehoused in this nation's prison system-- people no one wants to see.)

The choice is stark: Compete from Day One by becoming an absolute slave to the technological beast, or fall by the wayside. The mantra of the modern workplace the past decade: "Change or Die." This is not meant by those who say it to be taken metaphorically.

Even shitty $7 telemarketing jobs are now being outsourced overseas. When they vanish: nothing. Revolution or starvation?"

No one has said what Wenclas did with these three paragraphs, NO ONE. I did not see the ZNET people even come close to these concrete observations.
What no one is saying but what must be said is that the liberals did everything they possibly could to get Kerry to win, they wrote a hundred books, got their own radio show, got millions registered to vote, did everything under the laws of Freedom of Speech to get Bush out of office, and he still stole the election. it obvious and self-evident that the reactionary Bush Bulldozer is going to be stopped only one way, that freedom of speech has no value to him and his cronies. There is only one option left, the people know it and more learn everyday. I meet The Vengences everyday, The U.S govt. is breeding The Vengences and Madame Defarges. As Sartre showed in The Critique of Dialectical Reason violence is caused by scarcity, the scarcity is getting more intense daily. When a depression is this bad it needs something just as climatic that made it to fix it. What will be that climatic event that fixes it?
Until I see an article about how the white trash/rednecks and urban ghetto trash (because a good amount of people that live in poverty in the projects and section eight housing are white are in the same boat and I've also met a good amount of black rednecks) it is all just high-fashion circle jerks.
I'm done, lets get back to literature, anybody read The Tales of Two Cities or The Posessed lately?
If no one feels like talking to me after this I'll just be one the mexicans Sal watched play baseball after this.

Anonymous said...

Noah, Please take another look at the Znet site and use the search link for what you are interested in. It’s a massive site and covers far more than “Bush, iraqi war and racial problems” obviously. Your lines of thought that “Bush is just a symptom of a greater economic problem” and that “Black people in America and the redneck/white trash in America have the same problems” are realities that hundreds of Z writers understand to be common knowledge--although “same” is going too far, given that blacks have to deal with plenty of racism that is institutionalized. Many Z writers also provide plenty of evidence that address your concerns and what Karl mentions. Do you think Karl just divined this from thin air, or traveled the whole country to see it all in person? He certainly doesn't imply this, or that he is solely speaking out on this, at least in the post. See most anything written by Holly Sklar for example. That working class/impoverished whites “are in the same boat of prejudice and oppression” is again commonly understood (although of course there’s a lot more racism, especially institutional, against blacks than against whites--Tim Wise documents this in detail); thus, many of the articles on economics and labor focus on multi-racial class oppression, and not only is it not true that “no one will say it,” plenty say it, plenty take it for granted as common knowledge--thus, plenty of articles on economic oppression don’t mention race because it is taken for granted that the oppression cuts across race (although it is simply a fact that, in addition to racism, minorities suffer comparatively more economic oppression than whites)--and I don’t know of anyone who writes for Z who has ever, or would ever, deny it. In fact, again, a lot of the writers are either outspoken about these concerns of yours, or more commonly simply take it for granted because it is so obvious. It’s not obvious, however, if you’re taking your cues from the mainstream media. For an objective independent view, take a look at Noam Chomsky’s interviews with David Barsamian, Keeping the Rabble in Line, and also Class Warfare, and other such works. Again, I encourage you to take a close look at Znet and affiliated sites, let alone what the progressive labor movement is doing. Check out Michael Albert's Parecon site, or write to him and get his views firsthand on the concerns you mention, if you like.

Also, a half dozen years ago, I wrote on the very topic you mention, drawing on many sources from Z and my own experiences regarding plant closings, policy, and poverty in Appalachia, south Texas, and the Navajo Nation. See my site here: http://www.politicalnovel.org/can'tblametheweather.html along with another briefer article a few months old, The Country-City Split that is somewhat connected as well, and references another important article along these lines at Z (by Andrej Grubacic and on my site): http://www.politicalnovel.org/city-country.html

Of course Karl did not state that he personally witnessed all the “millions of decent-paying jobs [being] eliminated” etc. and so on. He sure saw/sees some part of it though, and is stating what is commonly and importantly understood among socially conscious folks, including the folk, especially the folk, who write for Z who study and publicize these issues and who most importantly are out there pushing for change.

No doubt more could be done along the lines you are interested in (while there is precious little to be gained from belittling folks who are doing important work in other pressing areas). Even more than most groups, white males continue to vote against their own class interests. Democrats are at least marginally better on class/labor issues than Republicans, yet a majority of white males has not voted for a Democrat since 1964 when the Texan Lyndon Johnson ran and won. So there’s a lot of work that a person with concerns like yourself could do in speaking for and to/with impoverished and working class white males, white folks, and the impoverished and working class in general.

I've not read the vast majority of Dostoyevsky's The Possessed but like so many things would like to get to at some point.

I would also like to add regarding Karl's post, that I see your (Karl's) concern is to keep the ULA from becoming sectarian, some ideologically narrow splinter group, which of course as you state would be suicidal, and, well, narrow. But there seems to me to be every reason to continue to be political as the group often has been and where possible to expand the political, that is popular/populist, scope of operations and outreach, right along with the literary scope of operations and outreach. The two would seem to go in many ways inevitably and appropriately hand-in-hand.

Tony Christini

Noah Cicero said...

Tony

I've looked at the site and a million others and I still don't think they come close to the realism of what Wenclas said.
Concerning blacks and white trash: By the liberals focusing so much on black problems which are not black problems but lower class problems it creates racism, they are participating in the creation of racism. It appears to the white trash that you are neglecting them. Maybe if the liberals or leftists wrote more about the troubles of the white trash maybe they would change their voting habits. The two people that embody a message of the lower class whites and blacks coming together are Eminem and Fifty Cent, but those sites don't mention them. When those are the two people that could make it happen.
Wenclas got these observations from his own life, because HE IS one of the people bulldozed over by the information age and he has seen many other people who have too. You don't need the news to tell you it's bad, it's right in front of you, you can't ignore it, and at least I can't. Wenclas can't ignore it because he is IT, as most writers of the ULA are. You don’t need much mainstream news to know how bad things are, it is right there.
"although of course there’s a lot more racism" that I will disagree with. Blacks were brought up to the same level of human degradation and consciousness as the white trash and rednecks in the late eighties to early nineties. We are on an even playing field of getting shit on now. It is the media and govt. that keeps this shit up. It can be seen in Dr. Dre's album The Chronic and people like, Tupac, Dennis Rodman and Andree 3000, and TLC that the black consciousness and circumstances transcended to a new level. The consciousness and circumstances of individuality, alienation and to be equal to be unequal. And at the same time the consciousness and circumstances of the white trash were brought down. They met somewhere between those two points. Talking to different people I hear, “Rap has become so miserable, Rock music is so miserable, and country music is so miserable.” That ain’t a coincidence.
And Bush's depression has fucked us all; Bush didn't let any race or gender get free from his wrath except the rich of course. I was thinking about my other lower class friends today and I noticed we are all losers, it’s a 100% ratio, does that mean we are lazy and no good, no that implies we NEVER had a chance anyway!
I don't like your phrase "white males." White males take up a pretty large category of classes. Lower class whites have voted democrat many times. The 40% that don't vote have a lot of white males, what platform do you think they would vote for? I'm a white male; don't ever place me into the same category as a rich white male doctor or CEO again!
I wouldn't belittle those "folks" if they attacked pressing issues with the right solutions. and if they were attacking the notion of ownership, which is the primary cause for racism, gender bias, class-division, rape, and religious stupidity. The psychology of an ownership based country is that everyone is trying to own other people and at the same time they are trying to be owned by other people, which implies everyone is turned into an object. All humans in capitalism are turned into objects and at the same time little businesses. Which is just sick.
And the justification for capitalism is that God rewards those who are good. I don't see why people are surprised about the new religiosity in America, our whole economic system is based off of God, they didn't care about that before. A lot of political commantators who are on the left are rich, they don't want God to be in the schools but they want God in the banks, that's really heroic And I don't know why people are surprised by outsourcing; the first law of the capitalist business owner is to find the cheapest labor possible. From African slaves, to Southern Europeans, to Okies, to Mexicans, to over the ocean to China, America has been built upon cheap labor. No one addresses that. And if they do it, it is all flowery, with no balls, no spit, no hell, no fury, none of the anger the subject deserves and has earned. The left will not gain any power in America until it gives the subjects the voice, lexicon, and behavior it deserves, that of anger!
The left's protests, comedic books, and documentaries will do nothing until they give the subject the anger it deserves because the people are angry. And if you don't show anger they will not believe the left, they will think them only posturing. The factory worker and the drunk covered in tattoos will not say the word posturing, but they will know that is what they are doing. One of the biggest faults of the left is that they think the poor are much stupider than they actually are and will not treat them with respect.
Another thing about the liberals is their love of pacifism which annoys the lower classes. Jim Chapman once said to me, "The genetic make-up of a conservative is that they think the day before they were born was great and beautiful." I agree with him here, want to add this, "The genetic make-up of a pacifist is a person that thinks that when they were born history started." Pacifists are usually petty bourgeois humans that were raised by their parents to be “above that” or they do it to be hip. If you are of the lower class, hang out with other lower class people, and go to lower class locations you are constantly confronted with violence and you know that violence can break out at any time. (I like the phrase “violence broke out,” that implies the violence is always there.) And if you study history violent revolts and violence is started by those in need from mobsters, gangs, to revolutions. How many bars do these political people go to if they look into someone's eyes on accident, this phrase is yelled, "You eye-fucking me motherfucker!"
Wenclas I think you're right; The ULA should not be political. From reading Hall and Nowlan's writing they make political statements but in the context of the story. I personally don't want anything to do with politics, I've done the political article writing thing and it showed no results. Sartre said his function was as a writer. Our function is to be the best writers as possible by showing the world how it is and giving something back to the reader. That's our function.
I want to mention this: In Every Which Way But Loose Philo Bedoe is in The Palomino hitting on a female. The female says she is from USC and is studying the Country Music male's listener mentality and she says. "It is between dull and dumb." She goes and gets a light and Philo puts fake dentures in her soup. And she comes back she starts eating her soup finds the dentures and runs out. That's all.

Anonymous said...

Noah, For ease of response (and I hope reading) I’ll intersperse a few comments at the arrows (-->) after some of what you write below, at the N:

N: Concerning blacks and white trash: By the liberals focusing so much on black problems which are not black problems but lower class problems it creates racism, they are participating in the creation of racism. It appears to the white trash that you are neglecting them. Maybe if the liberals or leftists wrote more about the troubles of the white trash maybe they would change their voting habits.

--> Sure, identity politics can be divisive. But take a leftist like Noam Chomsky, one of the main Z writers, who frequently writes about class without mentioning race. He has been criticized by liberals for doing so, but thinks his approach is appropriate, as do I, though not the only approach.

N: The two people that embody a message of the lower class whites and blacks coming together are Eminem and Fifty Cent, but those sites don't mention them. When those are the two people that could make it happen.
Wenclas got these observations from his own life, because HE IS one of the people bulldozed over by the information age and he has seen many other people who have too. You don't need the news to tell you it's bad, it's right in front of you, you can't ignore it, and at least I can't. Wenclas can't ignore it because he is IT, as most writers of the ULA are. You don’t need much mainstream news to know how bad things are, it is right there.

--> Agreed. How bad things are is right in front of anyone who cares to look. And of course mainstream news often tries to mask what is fundamentally wrong while exaggerating problems that stigmatize and stereotype minorities and those of low income (and foreigners) often. And that is institutional racism and institutional classism both, and there is a ton of it.

N: "although of course there’s a lot more racism" that I will disagree with. Blacks were brought up to the same level of human degradation and consciousness as the white trash and rednecks in the late eighties to early nineties. We are on an even playing field of getting shit on now. It is the media and govt. that keeps this shit

--> And that was my point, that the main racism today is institutional. Thus from the overwhelmingly white establishment it falls most heavily on people of color, as Tim Wise continues to document in extensive detail.

N: I don't like your phrase "white males." White males take up a pretty large category of classes. Lower class whites have voted democrat many times. The 40% that don't vote have a lot of white males, what platform do you think they would vote for? I'm a white male; don't ever place me into the same category as a rich white male doctor or CEO again!

--> I thought of this category in the way you are thinking of it when I wrote that and there certainly are problems with it. But it does help point out that given the white male voting patterns and given that the most wealthy and institutionally controlling folks are white males, there is bound to be plenty of institutional racism (again, as Tim Wise documents in detail) and which plenty of whites from all classes have a hard time seeing, which in part is to be expected since it's not necessarily immediately obvious, and there are many attempts to cover it up.

N: I wouldn't belittle those "folks"

--> Folks is a loaded term apparently. People don’t buy it when used for rich people and often resent it when used for people of low or moderate income. I use it for everyone, but maybe I should stick with the duller and monotonous “people.” About Eminem: I’ve got a political article about him on my site, and I got it from the liberal/progressive site Commondreams. I think it's true though that leftists could do a better job of allying across all races and classes. It's a criticism that leftists often bring up among themselves, against themselves. Are you choosing to opt out of politics, out of social change, and not form alliances?

N: if they attacked pressing issues with the right solutions.

--> The anti-war efforts have reduced the damage done in Iraq and Afghanistan both. The post 9-11 Afghanistan bombing was going to be wholly indiscriminate but was mitigated by protest and more aid groups consequently were able to get in. That’s real saving of lives, a lot. Similar results have been achieved by anti-war groups getting needed medecines to Iraqis and so on. Those are opportunities to directly spare a lot of lives from U.S. aggression, and they are well worth taking, and have been often successful.

N: and if they were attacking the notion of ownership, which is the primary cause for racism, gender bias, class-division, rape, and religious stupidity. The psychology of an ownership based country is that everyone is trying to own other people and at the same time they are trying to be owned by other people, which implies everyone is turned into an object. All humans in capitalism are turned into objects and at the same time little businesses. Which is just sick.

--> The folks at Znet have been writing about this and working against it for decades. That’s what Michael Albert’s (the founder of Znet) parecon work is all about: a large component of Znet. Also Dollars and Sense collective, and others.

N: And the justification for capitalism is that God rewards those who are good.

--> The capitalist’s justification for capitalism is that “private vice [greed] leads to the public good,” which is a fallacy.

N: I don't see why people are surprised about the new religiosity in America, our

--> Who is surprised? Certainly not Noam Chomsky, who has been writing at Z for decades that the U.S. is one of the most fundamentalist countries in the world, perhaps the most, and that the belief in God, heaven, hell, the devil is off the scale compared to other industrialized countries. He writes that it’s the sort of thing that would be expected to be found in a country that has been totally devastated by war or plague….

N: whole economic system is based off of God, they didn't care about that before. A lot of political commantators who are on the left are rich, they don't want God to be in the schools but they want God in the banks, that's really heroic

--> Again, you are talking about some supposed left that I’m not talking about. Chomsky has said forever that he considers faith (irrationality) to be dangerous. I wholly agree. The leftists I’m aware of either sensibly reject “faith” or sensibly understand that it must be subservient to truly democratic politics. You’re mainly talking about liberals--that is, those of the mainstream. Z is not a liberal site. It’s a left site, very much so. I share many of your critiques of liberals. Folks at Z make many of these same critiques nonstop. One of Chomsky’s earliest books is The Menace of Liberal Scholarship…which tolerates a system that creates unrelenting poverty and has lead the country into one criminal aggression after another.

N: And I don't know why people are surprised by outsourcing;

--> Again, who is surprised? Certainly not the folks at Z. In fact they’ve essentially predicted it and have railed against the phenomenon for years.

N: the first law of the capitalist business owner is to find the cheapest labor possible. From African slaves, to Southern Europeans, to Okies, to Mexicans, to over the ocean to China, America has been built upon cheap labor. No one addresses that.

--> On the contrary, leftists frequently write about it and act against it, as do I in my article that I supplied you the link to in my last post: "Can't Blame the Weather: Class Aggression, Post-NAFTA." Ever looked in Howard Zinn’s bestselling The People’s History of the United States? One of Chomsky’s most powerful books, published in 1992, is Year 501: The Conquest Continues. A 500 year account of the European conquest of much of the world you mention, particularly the western hemisphere, dating from 1492, the year Colombus “sailed the ocean blue”--and the centuries of exploitation, economic and otherwise, that followed.

N: And if they do it, it is all flowery, with no balls, no spit, no hell, no fury, none of the anger the subject deserves and has earned.

--> Again, you are talking about liberals again, generally, and not the leftists like Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn and Dave Dellinger and Kathy Kelly and Jennifer Harbury, etc., etc., and so on who are viciously and unjustly attacked, death threats a normality, also bombs that have killed and wounded multiple people and other physical attacks, etc., and so on.

N: The left will not gain any power in America until it gives the subjects the voice, lexicon, and behavior it deserves, that of anger!
The left's protests, comedic books, and documentaries will do nothing until they give the subject the anger it deserves because the people are angry. And if you don't show anger they will not believe the left, they will think them only posturing. The factory worker and the drunk covered in tattoos will not say the word posturing, but they will know that is what they are doing.


--> Surely, what I mentioned above is enough to convince anyone of the seriousness of these leftists. And remember, though my very immediate family was not impoverished, I was born and raised and have purposefully lived and worked in areas of serious poverty for most of my life. And it's evident to me that you come quite close to stereotypes of impoverished and working class people, plenty of whom are quite gentle by-and-large and want and will have little if anything to do with this verging-on-stereotype of anger that you describe. It's probably also worth pointing out that such gentleness and anger both has some fairly deep roots in virtually every class.

--> Also, ever seen or heard the leftists Michael Albert or Amy Goodman speak much? They are not known to hide their anger. Nor am I, always, I suppose I might add; ask the people who heard me read my poem News from Little Rock last week at an MLK commemmoration--or go to my site and read it yourself and see what it sounds like. Chomsky often uses withering scorn and satire and sarcasm and some anger, which is eveident in much of his writing too. Others have different styles, which is appropriate. I've lived in regions and locals of poverty (some of it deep poverty, the deepest, at least in the U.S.) most of my life. And many of the impoverished don't value such anger at all. Though of course many do.

N: One of the biggest faults of the left is that they think the poor are much stupider than they actually are and will not treat them with respect.

--> The folks I mentioned above, and many others, are about the last people who would do such a thing. There is plenty of “liberal” condescension, and “conservative” pandering, that’s evident.

N: Another thing about the liberals is their love of pacifism which annoys the lower classes.

--> Lots of “liberals” are pro-war. Leftists are a different story. Chomsky for example is not a pacifist, and his position is the most common left position that I am aware of. The proper reaction to 9-11 he notes is international police work, with use of force when necessary to make apprehensions--not an indiscriminate and in any case ineffective deluge of bombs from on high. You’re attacking 1) liberals (in which you make some good points) and 2) what amount largely to right wing stereotypes of “leftists,” which doesn’t represent reality by and large, and so I can’t agree mainly, except in some cases where some of these problems do exist among some left folks and actions.

N: Wenclas I think you're right; The ULA should not be political.

--> The ULA is highly critical, even interventionist. No one denies that. If ULAers don’t want to call that political, that’s their choice. If they don’t want to align themselves with the left on principle and/or in action that’s also the ULA’s choice. It’s not my preference, and I think it’s a mistake. I think it also amounts to somewhat of pulling a fast one. After all, what is an anti-war reading that ULA engaged in if not political? But be that as it may. I’ve also noted that I think ULA has some worthwhile non-political aspects that are worth preserving, promoting, expanding.

N: Our function is to be the best writers as possible by showing the world how it is and giving something back to the reader. That's our function.

--> As I’ve noted, I think the ULA should and would benefit by being open to these functions and to a variety of functions beyond them as well. The arguments against this fuller inclusion to me don't sound very convincing, since I don't see anything that's a turnoff and since I think there is strength to be found in standing on principle both literary and political. But again, the principles and strategies that the ULA chooses to go with are the business of the ULA, and at least as far as strategies go, often little is very clear, and so the only way to proceed is by trial and error.

N: I want to mention this: In Every Which Way But Loose Philo Bedoe is in The Palomino hitting on a female. The female says she is from USC and is studying the Country Music male's listener mentality and she says. "It is between dull and dumb." She goes and gets a light and Philo puts fake dentures in her soup. And she comes back she starts eating her soup finds the dentures and runs out. That's all.

--> The USC student sounds asinine to me, as the “leftists” and populists I’m aware of and respect would no doubt agree. Also, "hitting on," doesn't exactly have positive connotations either.

Tony Christini

Noah Cicero said...

Tony

Everything you wrote was pretty much language games, and those are too hard to respond to. This is an example of the language games I'm speaking of, "He has been criticized by liberals for doing so, but thinks his approach is appropriate, as do I, though not the only approach."
See I understand what it conveys but it goes in so many different directions like a lot of the statement you've made, I can't disagree or agree with it or go what about this? it just seems like you are really afraid of condemning certain ideas and taking a total stand.
This I will respond to though.

"And it's evident to me that you come quite close to stereotypes of impoverished and working class people, plenty of whom are quite gentle by-and-large and want and will have little if anything to do with this verging-on-stereotype of anger that you describe. It's probably also worth pointing out that such gentleness and anger both has some fairly deep roots in virtually every class."

First I don't come close to the stereotype of a lower class person, I am a member of the lower class, always been, always will be and total white trash till the bitter end baby, got a broke car in the driveway and a tattoo of a buffalo skull on my forearm. Tonight I went back to my home town bar and there was at least eight people there who I grew up with who were on crack and everyone else was on coke or on weed. White trash that grew up in a town of about 1000. Yes, crack heads are gentle. Then a cop hassled me for being in a car in a parking lot, probably because I was in an old crappy buick, and I was drunk too which really sucked, lucky he didn't give me a DUI. At the bar I got eye-fucked once, but it didn't result in anything. One of the crack heads at the bar who is white trash is suspected of killing another crack head over money. This one kid I know gunned down another kid for drug money. Quote from guy I know the other day, "My dad is scary, he threw a power drill at my mother's head." Yes, these people are so gentle, so nice. Deceive yourself some more, keeping telling yourself that, maybe you'll make it true.
"some fairly deep roots in virtually every class"
Yes, the rich are so sad, today I heard some rich person bought a car for three million dollars at an auction, I give a fuck that a rich person is sad, I wouldn't give a shit if they all turned into ham sandwiches and got eaten by a rhino.
That thing about "hitting on" and its connotation. You are just like the USC female, bitching about how we talk. They talk about our lives like we are parts in an engine or a biological experiment. "Like if they were only given the right social program, took away their cigarettes and guns and candy and beer and sports and basically everything they love they would be so much better off, they would be just like us, socially conscious and have really good PC phrases and grammer." I ain't even tryin to hear that.
Tony I looked through that website, and sometimes I was like yeah that's great but they always end up saying something totally absurd. Most of those articles if they were brought into a white trash or a bar in the ghetto full of normal everyday people, they would start laughing and tell the reader they were an ass. Wenclas said it perfectly, "Their split is on the order of an intramural dispute, a conflict between elites over social mores more than anything." Most of the things those people are fighting for are just social mores or bourgeosie notions, Bush's God, the Iraq War, gay marriage, and it was shown beautifully in Ralph Nader's rant about junk food and beer. A lot of Americans don't have health care and if they do not good health care, don't make even eight dollars an hour, are driving shitty cars that break all the time, have horribly deranged parents that aprenticed them to be horribly deranged, and are living pay check to pay check. Those people don't care about social mores like Bush's God or candy bars, or about oil, they don't have the time to care about those things, caring about those things requires liesure time which they don't have. They have too many problems themselves to be worrying about those things.
There's one thing I want to know, why won't you say the phrase "white trash?" That's the only thing I'm interested in, why won't you write "white trash."

Anonymous said...

Liberals have destoryed while males by destroying their women.

Top Ten Reasons American Women Suck

Post By VladTepes

1) Selfish - to the point where they don't know the difference between love of self and plain downright greed--and drilled into believing that whatever happens is the fault of whatever man is in their life because of the feminist crud drilled into them by the cadre of asexual closet cases called "therapists" who appear on "Ricki", "Oprah" or other such electronic drivel

2) Deluded - into thinking they "deserve" a rich, model-handsome husband who will "take them away from all of this"--whatever the "this" might be--and leading to resentment when they discover that the universe does NOT revolve around them

3) Angry - ALL the damn time about things which are so far out of their control as to be nonsensical--and constantly wanting to "discuss" this mind numbing drivel ad nauseam

4) Psychotic - multiple personalities in the same woman - as "Nomad" put it in the "Star Trek" episode: "Woman...a mass of inconsistencies...", and also when the feminist voices in their heads start with the regrets and victim acculturation

5) Worthless - anything that does not immediately resolve itself in her favor or to her benefit is meaningless to her, especially husband and family

6) Lazy - drilled into their head that they "deserve" a maid, nanny and personal slave to take care of every detail - and that their husband/boyfriend is REQUIRED to cater to their each and every mindless whim

7) Resentful - especially of other women who have things that they do not, in material, spiritual and esoteric senses

8) Greedy - to them, "housekeeping" means getting the house in the divorce (thanks to Zsa Zsa for that immortal line) and sucking the guy for every last cent, even if they had nothing to do with the building of the nest egg

9) Mindless - constant, irritating, idle prattle about topics they read about in some women's magazine and then become instant experts--particularly pop psychology and the latest crap they see on "Oprah" or "Ricki"

10) Vain - believing that they are irresistible to everything in pants and therefore are allowed to behave sluttish and without any honor

Grr....

Post By LatinasOnly

The problem with modern American feminism is the inability of this political and social movement to effectively adapt to the differing expectations of American women. American women are caught in the relentlessly changing cultural expectations. Career? Family? Marriage? Independence? American feminism seems to only present one answer – career and independence at the cost of marriage, healthy relationships with men, family. Yet when an American woman’s biological urges for procreation and domesticity surface (as they almost always do), the women are caught in an ugly vice. The jaws on one side are the needs to be a wife (and possibly mother) the jaws on the other are the feminist ideals of career and independence. American women lack the cultural and emotional sophistication to deal with this.

A female friend of mine recently tried to join a local political group that seeks to be mentors to teenage girls. However, this friend of mine lacks the advanced professional credentials that this group wants. My friend works in an office during the day and works in a restaurant at night – perfectly reasonable jobs and both worthy of respect.

However, the group of women she wanted to become involved with – spearheaded by a local female TV news reporter – made it clear that the group of women mentoring young girls would be made up of CEOs, doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. Are these the only role models for girls? Should there not be a whole bevy of options for American girls? How about a happy, stay-at-home mom or a contented wife in a childfree relationship as role models? Apparently these options are not viable for young American girls, if this group of modern feminists is to be believed.

Feminism also teaches women that men are the enemy, that we are brutish and foul creatures whose only point in life is to subjugate women with our sexual urges. So, the lesson continues, there can be no compromise with the enemy for that is losing the battle. God forbid that an American woman would want to make a man happy. That would be treasonous to the cause! When American women get together to compare notes, the peer pressure is not about happy relationships, but more about swapping stories of how they acquired the trappings of status regardless of state of their relationships. There is almost glee when women denigrate their boyfriends and husbands. “Oh, I really don’t care about making him happy, as long as have my (insert status symbol here)”.

I have an anecdote about my ex wife. I recently corresponded with her just before a hurricane was to strike where I live. She offered that I could stay with her in the event of evacuation. It was a gracious invitation. Yet, in her email she stated, “I’m sure my boyfriend won’t mind”. It was that one sentence revealed her true nature. It summarized everything that is so unappealing about American women and was a stark reminder of the reasons behind our divorce. Imagine, she invites her ex husband to stay with her but does not ask her boyfriend? Has she no respect for his feelings in this matter? That one sentence in her email is damning of her and insulting to him. I wish him luck.

The worst lessons of feminism – and the lessons that almost all American women have learned too well – is that women deserve it all without commensurate levels of sacrifice. It is the lesson that compromise is weakness. It is the lesson that they deserve affluence, the perfect family, the perfect man, and a life of entitlement without any cost to her.

Men know better. We knew that there is no “having it all”. There is no free lunch. We know that corporate success requires great sacrifice. Friends, relationships, hobbies, all play second fiddle to the climb up the corporate ladder. This we know. This we accept. We know that being an involved father usually means not getting all the promotions at work. Frustratingly, American women have not learned this lesson. So, they vent their frustrations at home and in the workplace, making for both difficult colleagues and second-rate mothers.

Feminism cannot accept that women cannot both be strong and independent while at the same time being the perpetual victim. Oh righteous feminist, which is it? Are women strong? Or are they weak? Do we hold open to door for the strong female executive? Do we not help a mother with young children by helping her with her grocery bags? You, righteous feminist, have recast the cultural rules yet you refuse to follow them. Is it any wonder why so many millions of men eschew marriage and relationships with American women? Can you not see the unintended consequences of your actions? Perhaps we are asking too much of you.

When an American man pitches woo to a foreign woman, it is a direct and bold statement that the man is not going to play the game that the American feminists so desperately want. A foreign woman is not (yet) burdened by the clash of expectations that American woman cannot cope with. A foreign woman typically has no problem with making a man happy because her culture tells her that a man’s happiness reflects well on her own success as a woman. Foreign women know that if they give love, they will receive love. They know that the unintended consequence of independence is loneliness.

The sad stereotype of the shrill, unfriendly, independent American career woman is becoming stronger and stronger. The equally repellent stereotype of the overwrought and unfriendly soccer mom shuttling her kids around while trying to keep her independence is also becoming part of our cultural landscape. The scowling American woman is all too common. It’s not men making her scowl. It’s her inability to see reality and choose appropriately that is making her scowl.

I am not angry with American women. I merely pity them. I pity them for embracing feminism without any critical thought. I pity them for making men the enemy and not loving partners. I pity them for their unsuccessful struggle with their own rules. I pity them for not understanding that life is about compromise and that compromise is not weakness.

When an American woman asks about my job, my car, my home I can only sigh in dismay. Men are not simply wallets to be looted. Nor are we all rapists and gorillas. We are complex and interesting humans who need respect and love, as do women. Pathetically, American women have been brainwashed into thinking that giving love and respecting men is somehow evil and wrong. No matter, American women can wallow in misery as much as they want. I will happily and respectfully court my Latin girlfriend and let independent and unfriendly American women enjoy their cats.

Anonymous said...

"Who the fuck is Dave Eggers?"

Post-punk superstar Jack White (of the White Stripes) on his upcoming interview with Dave Eggers' soon-to-be-published magazine, The Balloonist:
"Dave Eggers … ?"
"The guy who wrote A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," his publicist told him.
"Oh, O.K.," he said. He still didn’t know.
[Ed. note—Somewhere someplace, in a dark room, Dave Eggers sits fuming...]
Elephant in the room: White Stripes hit New York [Observer]

Anonymous said...

Dave Eggers' Payola

This is the bullshit Eggers has to manufacture to win insider MFA support.

Heartbreaking Blurbs

From the jacket copy for The Coast of Akron by Adrienne Miller:

"At last, The Coast of Akron! Adrienne Miller is one of the wittiest and most humane writers we have, bringing to mind at once Dorothy Parker, Mary McCarthy, and M.F.K. Fisher."

—Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Oh the Glory of It All by Sean Wilsey

"Holy moley this is a great read—probably the most compulsively readable book I’ve picked up in years. At one point I had to burn the second half of it so I didn’t distract myself from my own dumb deadlines. Again and again I asked myself, ‘Is my obsession with this book due to the fact that I have known Sean Wilsey for a few years?’ And the answer is, unequivocally, no. I read plenty of true-life sorts of books by people I’ve met, and this is the No. 1 most intriguing, most hilarious, most jaw dropping, most reckless and brilliant and insane."

—Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Nice Big American Baby by Judy Budnitz

"Thank god that Judy Budnitz is Judy Budnitz and no one else, and that no one else is Judy Budnitz. This collection is singular and unforgettable and utterly affecting …. Budnitz has a way of investing so much soul in her stories that you buy it all, completely and utterly, and you can’t turn the pages fast enough. Judy Budnitz is one of the most consistently brave young writers we have."

—Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

I Got Somebody in Staunton by William Henry Lewis

"There is greatness here, all over the place, plain and simple. Sentence by sentence, this deeply felt and lyrical collection proves that Lewis is one of the best young writers we have. I Got Somebody in Staunton has more warmth than almost any recent book I can remember; I’d urge it on anyone."

—Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Love and Hydrogen by Jim Shepard

"This is one of the most important collections in years, because Shepard does so many things that are all too rare in the medium. He gives us red-blooded characters who leave the living room and fly, kayak, dive, search, and emerge from swamps to devour unwitting campers. Stories about dissolving marriages are fine, but how about two gay engineers on the Hindenberg? Or a 19th century man searching for a giant half-shark/half-whale? These are uniformly bold and exhilarating stories. Let’s hope Shepard becomes as influential as he should be. He’s the best we’ve got."

—Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

God Lives in St. Petersburg by Tom Bissell

"There’s no more gifted and exciting young writer in America than Tom Bissell."

—Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

"Curtis Sittenfeld is a young writer with a crazy amount of talent. Her sharp and economical prose reminds us of Joan Didion and Tobias Wolff. Like them, she has a sly and potent wit, which cuts unexpectedly—but often—through the placid surface of her prose. Her voice is strong and clear, her moral compass steady; I’d believe anything she told me."

—Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Dogwalker by Arthur Bradford

"Arthur Bradford is very tall, but this does not seem to have hampered his writing. His perfect, perfect stories remain in your head, much like, say, a severed torso might remain under the tracks of a train (see Bill McQuill). Please: you should read Bradford because his stories run on childlike wonder, mitigated by the many mutations of adulthood, which is how we all feel, yes? His world appears, at first, to be a happy one, where people collect large slugs from the glove compartments of wrecked cars, hoping to sell said slugs for large sums. But then something dark and slithery happens, and his simple sentences and seemingly banal observations give way to the illumination of more desperate lives and venal motivations. Always there are good people and conniving people, and the good people try hard to remain good. Also, there are mutants. Why is Arthur so fascinated by mutants? The scarred and severed? Why is he so cheerful about their plight? How can he seem so nonchalant when describing chainsaws touching skin, small men birthed by dogs? How can stories such as these be, still, so funny, so full of something like joy? These are questions we may never, ever answer. If you don’t like Arthur’s stories you are not my friend."

—Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Anonymous said...

Noah, We'll have to agree to disagree. Everything you take issue with that I wrote, I simply disagree with--as I've explained. A few points though:

1) Everything I wrote was straightforward, including the sentence you cited. If at the end of the sentence you cited I had written "appropriate approach" instead of just "approach," it would have been even more clear.

2) When I brought up stereotypes, I wasn’t referring to you personally. I was referring to how you characterize others, including those you choose to call white trash. Contrary to your characterizations, people react to poverty in a variety of ways--from ways violent, ill and despairing, to their opposite. No one should need a study to know this. Nevertheless, those studies have been done, and of course show this.

3)Obviously, people of privileged classes have a serious responsibility to work toward eliminating inequality and the harsh conditions others live under. And that extends to injustices that you (and people at Z) sensibly note working class people very often do not have the time and resources to work on. Many of the people involved with Z work on one or the other or both, as is evident to anyone who cares to look.

4)The people I’ve heard use the phrase “hitting on” are middle class. A lot of middle class people, etc., obviously, listen to country music--in spite of the stereotype.

5)I don’t think that impoverished white people are white trash, in the literal sense of the word. I don’t think you mean the phrase in any mean spirited way. But, regardless, that’s your business. I’m basically middle class. How appropriate do you think it is for someone of middle class to refer to anyone of working or impoverished class as white trash? By the way, one of my favorite books is Dorothy Allison’s Trash. I think it is her greatest book, that and Two or Three Things I Know for Sure. Of course, by Trash, she means white trash. I hope that satisfies you!

Tony Christini

Adam Hardin said...

Great American Novels

Huck Finn-Twain

The Grapes of Wrath-Steinbeck

Invisible Man-Ellison

The Jungle-Sinclair

Great Gatsby-Fitzsgerald

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius-Eggers

You Shall Know Our Velocity-Eggers

The Mineral Palace-Heidi Julavits

The Girl in the Flammable Dress-Aimee Bender

The Lovely Bones-Alice Sebold

I do not want to hear anymore complaining that there are no more great American Novels being written today.

:)

King said...

Too much here to respond to all of it, other than to make a few remarks.
- Isn't Adrienne Miller an editor at Esquire? If so, then Eggers praising her book is a shrewd move-- from his corrupted viewpoint.
- Tony, the problem I have with a lot of what you say is that you often come across as the voice of the Institution (academia), as if the very stones and ivy were talking. It's always an open question whether the individual molds the institution-- or the institution molds the individual.
For opinion on zine culture you go not to zinesters themselves,those who've been creating their new culture for years, but instead to a New York City academic who studied the movement from the outside before giving his conclusions from on high.
There are many reasons for taking a "non-aligned" position-- not least of which that the "Left" has been afailure in this country. New words, new categories, new ideas are definitely called for, rather than jumping onto a train that's going nowhere.
I also have my share of problems with "the Left" and what it stands for (besides such things as that it's invariably dominated by the upper-middle class-- or in the case of The Nation, by a billionaire heiress). Leftist solutions have invariably come down to the embrace of government, institutions, bureaucracy-- reliance on the very levers of hierarchy and authority.
Your spectrum with the Left unequivocally equating to freedom is the direct opposite of how the Right would draw their spectrum. Both can't be correct. It's more likely that both are wrong.
What DIY thinking by definition rejects is any tops down approach of "experts" telling us how to act or think. Spontaneous DIY activity instead has been culture as an organic process-- from the people up, which is what real culture is about.

Anonymous said...

Karl, the one example you give of how I “come across” supports my populist perspective, since the conclusions of Stephen Duncombe--who abundantly quotes zinesters and who comes, in part, from that background--echo many of the zinesters own conclusions. So, no problem there.

The left that I speak of is another word for anarchism. This doesn’t cover everyone involved with Z but a lot. And the people at Z are not only deeply involved with working and impoverished classes, many of them are from and of these classes. So, no problem there. Of course, I agree that any populist movement dominated by upper-middle class has big problems and can scarcely be called populist.

Political spectrums can be drawn any way anyone wants to draw them, and many will have validity. I said nothing about my view being “right.” But it sure is useful, and makes sense. So, no problem there.

I have never mentioned any support for a “top down approach of ‘experts’,” nor would I because I abhor it. Again, no problem there. My own personal experience is working in the streets with New Party alongside ACORN, a national group founded by welfare recipients for the impoverished and working class; also working with impoverished and working class students; working with a low-income based community co-op; and most recently participating in an event organized by a low-income literacy organization, etc. and so on.

Tony Christini

Noah Cicero said...

Tony

I did not agree!
You have finally shown your true colors. This comment, "We'll have to agree to disagree." That is the main idea of your ideology that the lower classes can't stand and why they find you useless to them. The lower classes live rough lives and they want rough people with rough firm ideas to lead them. A lot have attached themselves to Bush not because of what he believes in but because he is firm and rough. As in the case of Al Sharpton at the Democratic debates, I heard moderate racists go, "I would vote for AL Sharpton but he mentions race a little too much, but he won the debates by far." And we all know how Al Sharpton debates, loud, fierce, angry, and to the point. The compplete opposite of your debating technic.
Why is it such a bad thing to be angry, there are things to be angry about? What are you afraid of? The reason there is so much violence amongst the lower classes is because no one will show up and tell them who to be angry at, no one tell them who is hurting them!
"contrary to your characterizations, people react to poverty in a variety of ways--from ways violent, ill and despairing, to their opposite."
So some of the poor react with joy, happiness, and placid elation to poverty. That is like saying when you say "oppisite" that some slaves in 1850 enjoyed being slaves and found it charming and wonderful.
"Nevertheless, those studies have been done, and of course show this."
studies done by the bourgeoisie don't mean shit, they're all researched with government money. By the fact alone negates them as worthy.
"Obviously, people of privileged classes have a serious responsibility to work toward eliminating inequality and the harsh conditions others live under"
Thank you for showing your God Complex, magalomania and delusions of granduer to all of us. Can we not help ourselves, it is obvious that you view us as little children. But technology like computers and television, and things like libraries, scholarships, and grants have put us on an even playing field of intelligence. But you don't want to accept we are not a project for you anymore, we are equal and the only thing standing in the way of it is the language games, bourgeoisie notions, and archiac institutions you maintain and play, you no longer have a monopoly on knowledge or information. You do not own information anymore! It is that access to information that has caused this "stereotypical" anger. You know that phrase ignorance is bliss, WE ARE NO LONGER IGNORANT! But you are still treating us like we are.
How can you make the equality? You are the inequality! You think of it as a charity, a present you can give us, no, it already exists. You people and the acedemia are the institutions standing in our way!

Some of the sentences above were ranted at me by Citizen Mullins. This may seem kind of stereotypical but she seemed angry after I read her your post even though she's very gentle.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Christini,

Maybe I'm just beating a dead horse, here, but there a few things I just had to ask you. I was very unnerved by some of your semantic decisions in one of your earlier posts. Namely your positioning "angry" and "gentle" as opposites. Anger is an emotion. It is a reaction to wrong-doing. Gentleness, on the other hand, is a personality trait, a general state of being. Am I to assume from your sentences that you believe that a gentle person does not get angry? Might not a gentle human get severely pissed if he is, say, kicked in the shins over and over? Even the tamest, most gentle dog will bite if it is kicked.
Perhaps I took it the wrong way, but to me, "gentle" in the context you used it, sounds a lot like "tame." You sound at times, like you are talking about animals, rather than people. You write about "impoverished classes" like it's a species in a zoo you're touring. You pause by the glass and marvel at their crude tools. You speak to a fellow visitor, "Some of them are quite gentle, you know. I read a fascinating article on them. Very interesting creatures." In short, you speak as though you have nothing to do with what is going on. A member of the semi-semi-upper class who operates under the mistaken impression that you are neither oppressed nor oppressing. Not a slave, or a lion, but just a spectator watching the gore safely from the stands. And while you may admire the strength of the lion or the cunning of the warrior, both of them are just animals to you. You seem almost afraid to state your own opinion, you have sited web sites and linguists and poets. Your opinion on humans seems to have developed as if you believe you aren't one. Not necessarily above them, but apart from them in some way. It is this illusion of being somehow separate from everything that disturbs me the most.
With respect to your comment on the obligation of the upper class to assist with the problems of the lower classes. The reason the hand of the philanthropist is slapped away or spit on so often is because we know that we wouldn't need their charity if they had not claimed divine right and taken it all. Our economic, and academic systems are based on the assertion of the idea that those who have are blessed, and those who have not are being punished by an invisible creator. Donating money to a cause without changing any of the systems that created the unbalance is like painting a house that's falling down; silly and more than a little spiteful.
Bernice Mullins

Anonymous said...

Ms. Mullins,
At this point, we’re all beating a dead horse. Your characterizations of what I write are unfair, in my opinion. You’ll have to trust that this actually is my opinion and not the result of some study that has been done of my writing. Much else that you write I disagree with as well. But to me it’s part of the same dead horse and so I’ll leave it lie.
Tony Christini

Anonymous said...

Noah,
You’ve taken a pass on much that I’ve written and so I find it appropriate to do the same here, especially since you’re going on with self-described “rants,” and the horse has long since died. You don’t have my agreement in regard to much in this post, at the least--that’s certain.
Tony

Anonymous said...

Going back to Karl's original post, here's a prose poem I wrote about my home area, a poem that to me has obvious connections to my fiction and non-fiction and to plenty of the discussion on this weblog. -Tony Christini


What I knew

but did not understand growing up in Sullivan County Pennsylvania is that the county is part of Appalachia, that we called it “the mountain,” that I had classmates who lived in a cabin through winter with only a woodstove for heat, no electricity, a deer strung up for food, no parents either, that the little county was part of the United States, barely, and that much of the United States was part of the United States barely, that something was really wrong but we all said the Pledge of Allegiance anyway, that to do such a thing was nationalistic, that one student, Emma, who wore beaded jeans was shy and awkward, that she had permission from her parents to not say the Pledge of Allegiance, and she didn’t, that Jenna was not baptized and we were all shocked at how matter-of-fact she was telling us, that school made people hate each other and that it was the law, that the Amish got away with stuff the rest of us did not, that corporations brought almost no money into the county and took almost all of it away, or more than all, that to be Catholic meant you were Christian too, that Maggie was kidnapped by her mother, twice, but they got her back each time, that Abel had no food in the house, which he had to tell the teacher in front of the whole class after she yelled at him for not having his books covered, that he said he didn’t have any covers, that the teacher said well grocery bags then, that he hollered back he didn’t have those either because there was no food in the house and he didn’t know when his parents were coming home, that Abel was the smartest kid in the grade, that Abel never graduated, that every single kid was white, that you could be hit so hard in the shoulder in the hall by a kid five years older than you that you lost consciousness before you hit the wall but regained it after you bounced off, that poverty existed big time, that my parents had escaped it, that almost all the coal had been taken away and the money with it, that all the virgin trees had been cut and all the indigenous forced out or killed, that there were twelve people per square mile, that the deer-to-person ration was nearly three-to-one before hunting season, two-to-one after, that a single stoplight flashed bright yellow at night, that it seemed to flash in warning and peace, that what we meant in high school by getting off the mountain was leaving the county for fast food and a movie and the rest of the world, that the forest, streams and small mountains were beautiful, that my grandmother once lived nearby in what was now a ghost town--this is what I knew but did not understand growing up in Sullivan County Pennsylvania.

Noah Cicero said...

I said something pretty big earlier about Black people and white people being equal in suffering and prejudice now, I think I pin pointed the reason for that. The economic or Marxist reason why black people and the white trash are on an even playing field of getting shit on. In the eighties with the influx of Mexicans and the improvements of the civil rights movement. The rich were forced to consider black people in the same catagory of cheap labor as white trash. Black people and white trash will only work for eight dollars an hour but they could pay a hispanic five dollars an hour. So the rich view the white trash and black people on the same of Social Value. And by that fact equal in the eyes of the rich. If the rich view us as equal why don't the bougeois leftists? Aren't you exploiting the black and white population by having them think they aren't equal and somehow have different concerns. And the hispanics are gaining ground in Social Value because if they weren't Bush wouldn't allow so many guest workers on the border and the outsourcing wouldn't be so intense.
Tony if you want to help the people of America show them that, show the lower classes they are now equal, they are now intelligent because of the access of information. There is nothing you can learn in college that can't be googled, as I've learned college I tihnk why a lot don't go or finish is because it is a rites of passage to the bourgeoisie to condition the person like marine boot camp to be toadish and to be obsessed with impressing other people. Show them that they are more intelligent than they think they are, it is very hard though becuase the higher classes have been treating the lower classes like children since the day they were born and if you treat a person like they are a child they are going to believe they are one.
They don't need to be shown how poor they are, they know how poor they are. They need to be shown that their problems are the same as other races and the other gender. That the sameness they have with other people does not come from a title like American, black, white, female, male, that sameness and relation with with other people come through a similarity of circumstances. That their suffering comes from two sources, the rich who exploit their labor, minds, and lives and the petty bourgeoisie academia for being instruments of the ruling class notions or puppets i.e Eggers and Bellers. Basically throw out that John Stuart Mill shit that everyone opinions counts even if it is obvious that it is untrue.
Show the people, don't tell them. Don't take away their freedoms like guns and cigarettes and beer and sports. Sports are as important than the arts, for in sports group praxis is learned while in the arts narcissism and alienation is learned. I said that because most of the leftists I've met look down at sports as caveman like which is totally incorrect.
If you really want to help us, drop your job, health insurance and everything that is good about your life. Because you can't help us from up there, from up there it is charity, amongst us, it is one friend helping another. To the lower classes charity is just stealing without the chance of getting arrested.
I don't think you're a bad guy Tony, I just think you are going about it the wrong way.
And your comment about rants, rants are all we have Tony, the lower class has no media, we have no television channels, we don't work at the newspapers. The only time the lower classes get to speak is in internet rants, rap songs, and in the bar amongst friends. Our rants, zines, ezines, open mike nights, kareoke, pepper and tomatoe gardens, and sports are all we have to express ourselves. Don't take that away, we
are allowed so little, take those things seriously and if you don't, then you don't like us anyway so leave us alone.

King said...

A point I have to stress is that the ULA is not a monolith. There is no ULA orthodoxy-- nor will there be. That's why I say the organization itself is not political. BUT-- any member is free to be as political as they want! Which is the whole idea. (And IS a radical idea, believe me.)
Tony, I'd be more comfortable with your lobbying for znet if you turned things around. Why don't you tell them to find out about us. The fact is that I've sent Z magazine flyers and zeens over the years, and never saw a smidgen of interest from them. As with most of the "Left." (In many ways our biggest supporter in media was, of all people, the NY Post! Figure that out.)
Instead of urging that Steve Kos or Mike Jackman read this MFA writer or that one, you should be urging them to read Mike and Steve and the rest of our cast of characters. Denis Johnson cut his deal with the System a long time ago and is doing okay. (He's even been in McSweeney's!) He doesn't need any attention. The point of the ULA is to gain attention for writers-- like Wild Bill-- who've been completely overlooked. That's our mission. I frankly couldn't care less about these seminar/workshop AWP pets who are out there. They haven't shown themselves to be a threat to anyone. (Not one of them has mentioned the corruption in the grants process, for instance. While billionaire Jean Stein was receiving NEA grants for Grand Street-- which she bought and made herself editor-- not ONE of the many thousands of these wonderful pet shop animals said a word about it. I can give example after example.)
The ULA is going to get bigger and make more noise, and we're going to do it by keeping our focus on literature. We're going to remain grass roots. As we get bigger, I expect people to try to co-opt us, certainly. In a different context, look at what happened to Howard Dean's campaign. When he started winning, the "experts" got involved and took over his campaign-- and it lost any credibility it'd had.
I appreciate much your comments, Tony, believe me, but please understand we have a point of view and it's solid.
(Again-- I'm not the voice of the ULA-- just one voice of many in it. Maybe the loudest voice. . . .)

Jeff Potter said...

Two Bits

I think Noah and Bernice are basically saying that it has to start with art, heart, passion----and that Noah hadn't seen those vital first things given to the Class cause until he saw Karl's rant on it.

I'd seen plenty on Class before Karl's post, but only in niche zeens, from niche point of views, and not in recent Lit. It hadn't been brought to the biggest game. (And we of the ULA assert that Lit leads.)

Sure, there are lots of good things being done here and there, but I think that Noah and the ULA are looking for the home-run, and are saying that it can't come from Z and the like. We're saying that it will come from Lit. And that the ULA is the hope for Lit.

That's not putting down Z. That's saying Z has to look higher, to Lit. And Z not responding to the ULA's charges against the Lit establishment, not even answering the telephone, shows they're not people like us (courtesy John Goodman), shows they have a long way to go. Of course Lit isn't the be-all---it's just the best way to look even higher, to life.

You know what would happen if the ULA reported on its millionaire-grants-busting and populist-institution-crashing to mags like Utne Reader and even Mother Jones? --They wouldn't answer the telephone. I suspect King HAS informed them. I suspect they DO know who we are. And they're just showing their true condition: out of touch!!! Ouch...I hope there's more hope and relevance than that out there. Because we know that UR and MJ do good work for good causes. Hello, UR? MJ? You there? Whatcha think?

Yeah, and what Karl said.

King said...

Oh, I've sent flyers to Mother Jones and many flyers and zeens to UTNE.
It could be that the ULA is just too ungenteel and in-your-face for the bulk of the liberal "Left." UTNE's zine guy the librarian had to be prodded to link to our site-- and then he portrayed us as kind of neanderthal and too macho, which Jackman responded to, so that now the remark is something on the order of that we're trying to recruit more women undergrounders into our ranks-- as we are. But-- the fact of our crashing KGB and Housing Works definitely had an impact on the more gentle souls out there trying to change things. Such behavior is almost unforgiveable. Upsetting folks like that. Not done! It's, it's . . . it's almost like Republicans!
(There's a letter in the current Clamor magazine which addresses some of these issues-- if that issue is still out there on newsstands. Worth a look.)

Anonymous said...

Karl,
I’m not lobbying for Znet. When it is said that no one on the left speaks about class in this way and that, I point to Znet, etc., as an example of where they do. I’ve also posed the question as to whether or not organizations like ULA and Znet can work together. I’ve stated in passing that I think ULA and Znet could work together for mutual benefit. That’s not “lobbying for znet.”

Like you say, the ULA is in large part apolitical, doesn’t even consider itself a political organization, and you wonder why the corporate NY Post, rather than Znet, embraces you? Doesn’t seem too difficult to figure out.

Don’t know about your experiences, but I called up Znet blind once and the phone was picked up by the founder and system operator, Michael Albert, and we talked.

Also, you falsely assume that I haven’t communicated with Znet about ULA, or lobbied for the inclusion of political lit, which, remember, is my interest, which you say the ULA radically accepts. In fact, I have. Michael Albert was glad to hear that ULA is exposing corruption in the literary world and was encouraging about such work. Znet hasn’t posted anything of mine on art and lit that ULA hasn’t used. Zmag has turned down all my political lit. So I’ve made little headway with them along these lines despite trying for years. The point is, I have made some headway--they used the extended version of my “Notes” essay that ULA also used--and I’m still persistent. The disconnect is not total and I think could be and should be improved. That’s my opinion. But it will take work.

I have never “urged” anyone at ULA to read MFA writers. Since it has been repeatedly stated here that MFA writers produce no quality fiction, I simply pointed out the fact that some do--apparently especially in regard to particular ULAer’s backgrounds. That’s not urging. That’s my comment on the falsehood that no MFAers produce anything of quality, a ludicrous statement that has been all over this weblog. Surely Mike and Steve, etc., need no urging to read ULA zinesters. If they do, and if I’m the person who could nudge them in that direction, then that’s really bizarre, at best.

I recently read the two ULA fanzines and the three slushpiles and I enjoyed, appreciated a lot of it, a lot of great writing, plus news. And Jeff is shooting another set I ordered to a friend in Texas who I think will appreciate the writing too, another MFAer teaching at another community college in the Valley. Half of all college students attend community college and the percentage continues to grow. If the ULA is looking for a place to be a presence, it seems to me that that would be one good place among many. I think some of the students would greatly appreciate it, are looking for it. Regarding publicity, etc., if you're interested, I can supply contact information for at least one student lit publication at South Texas Community College.

Tony

Anonymous said...

Bottom Line:

You'd all be much, MUCH more credible if you'd limit your comments to 2 or 3 short paragraphs, max.

Yeah.