Comes the blind Fury

MiltonWhen I was studying literature many many years ago, I loved poetry. It was the sixties so William Blake was very popular (along with J. R. R. Tolkein) but my favorites were Alexander Pope, John Keats, and John Milton. You might wonder how a devout Atheist with tendencies toward anarchism and a penchant for bizarre fiction can even read John Milton, let alone declare that Milton is a favorite poet. To keep it simple: Milton is a great poet.

Even if I don’t exactly agree with his religious or political practices or even find that he was a nice guy: his poetry is great!

I was looking up something earlier and ran across a copy of Milton’s Lycidas. I read through it three times and each time became more and more aware of my life-long love of literature and a certain regret for all the aspirations I had in my early twenties that are now just a fading memory. You might have your Prufrock or your Howl, but for me it’s Lycidas. Remember how it goes …

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The Great American Novel

TGANLike the myth of American Exceptionalism, we are routinely belabored by the myth of The Great American Novel. There is no such thing: never was and never could be. Why?

First, the entire idea begs the question that a novel would in some way be the vehicle to glorify America. A novel? Is that actually a serious option? Maybe it should be a poem … Howl perhaps. But the second question is the deal breaker: would The Great American Novel expose everything that is America? Would greed and self-agrandizement be depicted alongside altruism and freedom? What epitomizes the American Way? Is it wage slavery or upward mobility? Is it crime and drugs or bribery and cheating?

If someone actually wrote The Great American Novel and told the true story of America, would we accept it? Of course not. The Great American Novel would have to continue the fiction, expand on the myths, cover up for all the lying, deception, and international skullduggery.

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