If you’re from my generation, you grew up with the American heroics epitomized by John Wayne in The Sands of Iwo Jima. As a very young man my two favorite books were Battle Cry by Leon Uris and Valhalla by Jere Peacock. This idealist propaganda approach was effectively destroyed by exposure to the journalistic approach to the obscenity of the Vietnam War. Blame television. Add to this the Stanley Kubrick film—Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb—and generally I avoided war stories in text or film for the next fifty years.
Oh, there were certainly exceptions: I did read War and Peace … twice. War and Peace, however, was not a jingoistic American fairy tale.
Continue reading “Two Novels, No John Wayne”
Gary bounced from college to college, from the Ivy League to relative obscurity in West Texas. He could always find a new school because he played football and he was good at his game. But Gary also loved to study mass destruction, warfare, and the slaughter of innocents.
Don DeLillo’s early novel, End Zone, somewhat heavy-handedly makes the metaphorical connection between the controlled violence of football and the blood and bone violence of modern warfare, especially as being established in Indo-China (although mentioned only once). Is it a read-out of the playbook or the details of a thermo-nuclear attack plan? Is it the play-by-play of the football game or is it a scenario of the escalating destruction of a winless war of destruction?
Continue reading “Throwing the Long Bomb In the End Zone”
Mark Karlin wrote:
Members of the white working class need someone to hate in order to feel a sense of self-esteem, because otherwise, they would be on the lowest rung of the social and economic ladder.
Right now, there is a significant segment of the US population that is so full of a self-eviscerating hate — due to the need for feeling affirmation and empowerment from an Anglo Saxon ruling class — that their bilious loathing may fatally wound a nation founded upon the resilience of an evolving democracy.
When you realize the Republican party has a small base, albeit very wealthy, it stands to reason that they would encourage other portions of the population to bolster their ranks. What could be better than to play to the hate and fear prevalent in this country? Racism wins elections for the Republicans. Greed wins elections for the Republicans. Mendacity wins elections for the Republicans.
Frank Rich writes of the Obama era:
Continue reading “Fear, Hatred, and The Eastern Canon”