Here’s a title that will reap the whirlwind;
‘Artaud Meets Max the Nazi’
Before I can go on with this Doomsday narrative, I have to make my readers aware of a couple of things. Why you may ask?
“If the world is coming to an end, who give’s a rat ass?”
‘Capturing Beauty’ is being written for the survivors of the Apocalypse, not that they may find beauty once again in a world made extremely ugly, but, don’t bother. For the sake of survival, don’t set yourself up for another defeat. They are REAL, the self-righteous, destructive mother-fuckers like my brother, who do not pretend to be self-righteous, but employ self-righteousness like a tool, a club, a means to destroy the weak enemy, just because they can; just because we are there, and are not armed with the same mechanism.
The Seed of destruction was planted in the German Turnveriens, where very intelligent Jews and German co-mingled, and got along famously, because they both admired BIG BRAINED PEOPLE. There was one big difference between these men – NATIONALISM! Truly smart people should avoid nationalism like the plague, because it deceives them into thinking they do good things for the good of the people. This leads to punishing people – FOR THEIR OWN GOOD -when they misbehave, because, they are stupid, and don’t know better. Need I point out the jealous God in the Torah.
Read Alice Miller’s ‘For Your Own Good’ and be set free!
Mary Ann and Tom are a decade older than me, thus they were children when America went to war with Hitler. Being children with big brains, they could not help but examine both sides, and even find the enemy, attractive in some ways. The word SUPERIOR and SUPER is key. Looking down on small-brained people, came naturally. I detected a Nazi lurking in Mary Ann.
This critique nails the Nazi lurking in Tom to the barn door, when it comes to Tom’s…..LOFTINESS, he not able to bring himself down to the level of the Marx Brothers, because he is a WASP, and not a Jew. The Marx brothers, and their counterparts in Hollywood, ate WASPS for breakfast, then laughed all the way to the bank!
“As a complement to Miller’s criticism about tragedy, Adam Kirsch sees comedy as undercut as well, although parody remains:
The gaudy names Mr. Pynchon gives his characters are like pink slips, announcing their dismissal from the realm of human sympathy and concern. This contraction of the novel’s scope makes impossible any genuine comedy, which depends on the observation of real human beings and their insurmountable, forgivable weaknesses. What replaces it is parody, whose target is language itself, and which operates by short-circuiting the discourses we usually take for granted. And it is as parody — in fact, a whole album of parodies — that Against the Day is most enjoyable.
Consider Charlie Chaplin in ‘The Great Dictator’. Thomas makes fun of, and dismisses real Beats and Bohemians, renders them palatable for fellow untalented Yuppies, who retreated from life, and who should be similarly named. How about, Adamsapple Necktie the third, and Ms. Flushbottom Goldcard, patron of the arts.
Hitler was surrounded by gaudy degenerates, cartoon characters. However, Albert Speer, was the real deal, as was that German Rocket Scientist, Werner Von Braun. One designed beautiful cities, and the other the means to destroy them. These lions at the entrance of utter madness, represented Hitler’s rage at being kicked out of art school. How did he rise to power? Well, big-brained people aren’t really fond of nationalism, it meant for the dumb masses, so, they couldn’t sell it without a sneer coming on, that lifts a corner of their lip, and expose the white teeth of a disgusted fellow meat eater. This is why Pynchon dare not appear in public. This is why Hitler became a vegetarian.
I will render the cover for my book, that will have a half-painted rainbow at the top, with red streak, that ends at the paintbrush in my hand, red pouring from my head after my brother, Mark Presco, kicked me off the ladder, and bashed my head in with a rock. My brother wanted to rule the world, but he did not own an ounce of charm.
At the bottom are some characters from Max Brother’s films that belong in Pynchapedia. Most of the actor’s name are invented also.
Driftwood Fiorello Tomasso
Degeneration (Entartung, 1892), is a book by Max Nordau in which he attacks so-called degenerate art and comments on the effects of a range of social phenomena of the period, such as rapid urbanization and its perceived effects on the human body.
Nordau begins his work with a ‘medical’ and social interpretation of what has created this Degeneration in society. Nordau divides his study into five books. In the first book, Nordau identifies the phenomenon of fin de siècle in Europe. He sees it as first being recognised, though not originating, in France, ‘a contempt for the traditional views of custom and morality.’ He sees it as a sort of decadence, a world-weariness, and the wilful rejection of the moral boundaries governing the world. He uses examples from French periodicals and books in French to show how it has affected all elements of society. Nordau accuses also society of becoming more and more inclined to imitate what they see in art. He sees in the fashionable society of Paris and London that ‘Every single figure strives visibly by some singularity in outline, set, cut or colour, to startle attention violently, and imperiously to detain it. Each one wishes to create a strong nervous excitement, no matter whether agreeably or disagreeably.’
Nordau establishes the cultural phenomenon of fin de siècle in the opening pages, but he quickly moves to the viewpoint of a physician and identifies what he sees as an illness. ‘In the fin-de-siècle disposition, in the tendencies of contemporary art and poetry, in the life and conduct of men who write mystic, symbolic and ‘decadent’ works and the attitude taken by their admirers in the tastes and aesthetic instincts of fashionable society, the confluence of two well-defined conditions of disease, with which he [the physician] is quite familiar, viz. degeneration and hysteria, of which the minor stages are designated as neurasthenia.’
The book deals with numerous case studies of various artists, writers and thinkers (Wilde, Ibsen, Wagner and Nietzsche to name but a few) but its basic premise remains that society and human beings themselves are degenerating, and this degeneration is both reflected in and influenced by art. Hannah Arendt, in her The Origins of Totalitarianism, refers to late 19th Century French society as embracing unusual or exotic types or individuals, such as criminals, Gypsies and Turks, and certain others formerly not seen as socially acceptable, so Nordau’s position is not novel or isolated as social criticism.
The original article’s text comports quite closely to, Howard Fertig, NY 1960. When Nordau was writing, physical, physiognomic, or mechanical factors were still being regarded as causative in mental aberrations and malfunctions. The symbolic or mythic approached later implemented by Freud and Jung made no part of Nordau’s understanding of the human psyche.
The Politics of Degeneration
Nordau did not himself coin the expression or the idea of Entartung; it had been steadily growing in use in German speaking countries during the 19th century. The book reflects views on a degenerating society held by many people in Europe at the time, especially throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire. By the early 20th century, the idea that society was degenerating, and that this degeneration was influenced by art, led to somewhat hysterical backlashes, as evidenced by the conviction of Austrian artist Egon Schiele for “distributing pornography to minors”.
This was given legitimacy by the branch of medicine called psycho-physiognomy. Degeneration was accepted as a serious medical term. Not until Sigmund Freud, and the ushering in of a new age of psychoanalysis, was this idea seriously contested. Sigmund Freud remarked rather drily in his 1905 work Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, “It may well be asked whether an attribution of ‘degeneracy’ is of any value or adds anything to our knowledge.”
Although Nordau’s work certainly reflects a reactionary strain of European thought, he also condemns the rising Anti-Semitism of the late 19th Century as a product of degeneration. At the time of his writing, Europe was undergoing unprecedented technological progress and social upheaval. The rapid industrialisation and accompanying urbanisation were breaking down many of the traditional structures of society.
Nordau’s views were in many ways more like those of an 18th Century thinker, a belief in Reason, Progress, and more traditional, classical rules governing art and literature. The irrationalism and amorality of philosophers such as Nietzsche or the flagrant anti-Semitism of Wagner, was seen as proof that society was in danger of returning to an era before the Enlightenment.
NBCC member Dale Peck presented this apologia at the NBCC’s “Critics Revise and Recant ” event this fall, as part of Litquake’s 3rd annual NYC LitCrawl:
Before it’s read, a book is a closed box only incidentally filled with words—a doorstop, a replacement for the broken leg of a couch. Literature has no value, no meaning even, until it enters what my friend and fellow novelist Calvin Baker calls “the cultural conversation.” A manuscript is just so much kindling (or more likely, a few hundred kilobytes of data, smaller than an mp3 or a jpeg of your new puppy) until it’s disseminated and interpreted, argued about, passed on. It’s an anxious business, not just for writers, but for readers as well. In the twentieth century, an increasingly self-aware bourgeoisie demanded a greater say in what it should read (as opposed to what it would read, where the taste for sex and violence has remained unsated since Paris ran off with Helen, and Achilles dragged Hector’s corpse thrice ’round the walls of Troy). Academics and critics, fellow writers and privileged patrons, talk show hosts and bloggers and the mass of ordinary readers represented by the phrase “the New York Times bestseller” participate in an increasingly populist (and increasingly unruly) parliament, anointing a few books literature while the rest remain mere poetry or fiction, memoir or history.
while The Da Vinci Code, a book whose leaden prose makes Eggers’s writing seem positively euphonious, is less a novel than a cottage industry, one that just happens to be a worth a few billion dollars. At such moments we would do well to remember that literature—in which category The Da Vinci Code and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius belong, however much we may wish it weren’t so—is a fundamentally irrational enterprise, one whose psychological exigency is undisputed even as its social utility remains the subject of fretful contention. It is for precisely this reason that the critical process is often more concerned with a writer’s place in society than the meaning of his books. Kurt Vonnegut railed (ineffectually, and quite possibly disingenuously) against the “sweetly faked attention” with which his writing has been cultishly misread since the publication of Slaughterhouse-Five almost forty years ago, while J.D. Salinger ultimately felt compelled to flee readers who had come to revere him as a quasi-religious crusader against “phoniness.” “We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Joan Didion famously wrote at the beginning of The White Album, yet this is the one sentiment that seems to have escaped critical exploration in the reaction to The Year of Magical Thinking, not just because it’s voyeuristic or unquantifiable, but because it’s irrelevant
And so we come to the real problem of Against the Day: not its text, which is pretty much perfect, but the context into which it’s been published. Critics have always tried to make Pynchon’s work appear socially engaged, because that’s what art is supposed to be, at least in the bourgeois conception, but the truth is novels such as Gravity’s Rainbow and Mason and Dixon are more concerned with escaping the restrictions of everyday life than investigating them. At the same time, an ambivalence—Pynchon is nothing if not a product of the bourgeoisie—hampers this flight, just as it mars the work of Pynchon’s heirs, who, like their master, can neither depict reality accurately nor offer something purely fictional in its place. To me, Against the Day is the first of Pynchon’s novels bold enough to posit the real world as the lens through which it views the ineffable human condition—what Pynchon himself called, in the introduction to Slow Learner, “an attitude toward death”—rather than the other way around. Yet ironically enough, when the writer has at last managed to perfect his technique, critics see only self-parody and self-indulgence.
“There is the feeling that the magician has fallen in love with his own stunts,” Louis Menand wrote almost contritely in the New Yorker, “as though Pynchon were composing a pastiche of a Pynchon novel.” The Times’ Michiko Kakutani was less conflicted, declaring Against the Day “the sort of imitation of a Thomas Pynchon novel that a dogged but ungainly fan of this author’s might have written on quaaludes,” an opinion Laura Miller took a step further: “Slogging through the underbrush of the vast and quintessentially Pynchonian new Thomas Pynchon novel,” Miller pontificates in Salon, “it’s hard not to think, almost with the turning of every page, of all the other writers who now do this better.”
The wife, on the contrary, was a very beautiful woman, a magnificent
type of the Magyar race. She was tall, powerful, only perhaps a trifle
too broad-shouldered. Her intensely dark hair and sparkling black eyes
suited the warm bronze hue of her plump face, which, with its little
mouth filled with magnificent teeth, its fresh full lips, the
transparent, enamel like crimson of the firm, round cheeks, and the
somewhat low, but beautifully formed brow, suggested a newly-ripe
peach. This unusually healthy countenance, overspread with a light
down, involuntarily produced in the spectator the impression that it
must exhale a warm, intoxicating, spicy fragrance; it looked so
tempting that one would fain have bitten it.
Hammer Chico Harpo Jamison
Animal Crackers 1930 Captain Geoffrey T. Spaulding Signor Emmanuel Ravelli The Professor Horatio Jamison
The House That Shadows Built 1931 Caesar’s Ghost Tomalio The Merchant of Weiners Sammy Brown
Monkey Business 1931 Groucho Chico Harpo Zeppo
Horse Feathers 1932 Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff Baravelli Pinky Frank Wagstaff
Duck Soup 1933 Rufus T. Firefly Chicolini Pinky Lt. Bob Roland
A Night at the Opera 1935 Otis B. Driftwood Fiorello Tomasso
A Day at the Races 1937 Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush Tony Stuffy
Room Service 1938 Gordon Miller Harry Binelli Faker Englund
At the Circus 1939 J. Cheever Loophole Antonio Pirelli Punchy
Go West 1940 S. Quentin Quale Joe Panello Rusty Panello
The Big Store 1941 Wolf J. Flywheel Ravelli Wacky
Stage Door Canteen 1943 Harpo
A Night in Casablanca 1946 Ronald Kornblow Corbaccio Rusty
Copacabana 1947 Lionel Q. Devereaux
Love Happy 1949 Sam Grunion Faustino the Great Harpo
Mr. Music 1951 Himself
Double Dynamite 1951 Emile J. Keck
A Girl in Every Port 1952 Benjamin Franklin ‘Benny’ Linn
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? 1957 George Schmidlap