Sunday, August 26, 2007

More Joseph Conrad


This novel of Conrad's could be a depiction of the United States now with its castes and exploitive monopolists. Of New York City, multi-colored and segregated with vast differences between rich and poor, most of all.

The book is from the point-of-view of the educated blancos, aka the oligarchs. The narrative is with them as they shoot rifles from windows at revolutionaries in the streets below. To them, the rest of the population of their country is an unthinking mass; an indecipherable mob.

The young blancos may be cynically ironic dilettantes like Martin Decoud, or narcissistically ambitious careerists like the newly arrived British engineers. What unites them is their inability to see anyone outside their privileged circles.

What protects them is the layer of white workers insulating the oligarchy from the underclass; most particularly, the Italian boss of the stevedores Nostromo. By the end of the novel this admirable hero realizes he's been used; that in saving the wealthy but weak aristocrats, squelching the uprising against them, he's destroyed himself.

The ULA has encountered modern-day Nostromos who in fighting against us have really fought against themselves. They obtained from the oligarchs of the literary establishment as a result only crumbs. (Should I name them?) We've also seen divisive stratagems used against us, by duplicitous slumming oligarchs, as they're used against the rebels in the book. Their goal: to push all thought of literary revolution out of the heads of underground writers-- to have them absurdly renounce rebellion!-- keeping them compliant and powerless members of a little-seen herd. Literary peasants with no seat at the tableof literature; unacknowledged and unheard.

I wonder: how do today's literary oligarchs, grouped around elite "silver mine" power centers like PEN or the conglomerates-- making pronouncements of cluelessness at their clubby parties and salons-- view themselves? Does a Francine Prose have a trace of self-knowledge? What do they see when they read Conrad's book?


Jeff Potter (of said...

I don't mind being on the fringe. It's a decent place. Our work may well never replace Stephen King's. Then again it may burst out like On the Road first did. Still, there's room for everyone. And that's our point. We don't mind the fringe. We only insist on a place at the table. When writing is discussed we say that a real writer has to be included every time. Ha. Let's make that a underground writer---we won't be offended. If there's a literary panel or roundtable or board just make sure to include a writer or two who isn't a position-holder, isn't credentialed, is DIY. I mean, if you're already including what you might label marginal writers---women, minorities, gays---who today aren't that marginal since they're part of most academic dept's, and publisher lists, etc., and you're likely to get a tasty credential or academic position along for the ride---let's just be sure to go one step further and include at least one truly indy, truly marginal writer of whatever type. We're just making sure that this voice is included in the mix.

I gotta check out this Nostromo story!

Lostcheerio said...

Interesting analogy. I'd like to see it drawn out with anecdotes. But maybe that would be naughty for a blog. Maybe if we stand next to each other at a party, you can shout it at me.

Marisela said...

Interesting to know.