Monthly Archives: September 2013

Obey, obey, obey

While I take¬†Karl Taro Greenfeld’s point about all that homework, lost in all the details is the primary assumption that he shares with his daughter’s teacher, and (presumably) his daughter: the justification for the very homework treadmill upon which is daughter is running, breathless, itself. Why do all that homework? Because she’s in an elite middle school, that’s what elite middle schools do. Why send your daughter to an elite middle school? So she can get into an elite high school. But why do that? So she can get into an elite college, duh. Why? So she can get an elite job and live in New York City and stick her own kids on the homework treadmill so they can …. etc. Within the scope of this article, Mr. Greenfield seems unable to conceptualize of any other mode of existence.

I know this isn’t true of Mr. Greenfield himself, since he wrote, among other books, SPEED TRIBES, a book about various Tokyo lowlifes. Indeed, as he says, he himself was busy getting high in 8th grade, not doing 3 hrs of nightly homework. He turned out alright. I guess I’m just wondering, why not move out to Wyoming and take his daughter camping on the weekends and deer hunting on the weeknights and go to state college instead, where she can drink beer in the stands on football Saturdays and come home to run the local Natural Resources District? Or some other – any other – less conformist path? Because based on this article, it would seem what the system he is describing really teaches is Obey, Obey Obey – if you want the Golden Carrot of Eliteness. Otherwise you’re going to be stuck down with the hoi-polloi eating pork & beans, bowling, and going to NASCAR. Is the “elite” path so elite that we are not to question it at all? LINK:

“Cormac McCarthy’s novels are as innocent of theme and of ethical reference as they are of plot. On the other hand, each of them constitutes a densely created world as authentic and persuasive as any that there is in fiction. The worlds are convincing not because the people in them do normal and recognizable things, or represent us metaphorically, or even inhabit identifiable time and space, but because McCarthy compels us to believe in them through the traditional means of invention, command of language, and narrative art. To enter those worlds and move around in them effectively we are required to surrender all Cartesian predispositions and rediscover some primal state of consciousness prior to its becoming identified with thinking only. There is a powerful pressure of meaning in McCarthy’s novels, but the experience of significance does not translate into communicable abstractions of significance. … Ethical categories do not rule in this environment, or even pertain: moral considerations seem not to affect outcomes; action and event seem determined wholly by capricious and incomprehensible fates. His stories are lurid and simple; they seem oddly like paradigms without reference and are all the more compelling because of that, since the matter of the paradigm does not lose its particularity in abstraction. The characters–without utilitarian responsibilities to well-made plots and unrelated to our bourgeois better natures–are real precisely to the degree that they resist symbolization.” (Vereen M. Bell)

Haha, too right, Mr. Crumley, sir, too right

Interviewer: Do you think you offer a “surreal vision” of Montana, as one writer commented in a review in Time?

Crumley: Surreal?! I think part of the trouble is that nobody on either coastd really knows much about what goes on out here, so that it *seems* surreal to them. … I have a notion that New York and Washington and Los Angeles are really provincial places, that the true sophisticated cosmopolitan American lives somewhere in between. I find it difficult to think of people as civilized who don’t know how to change a tire. I don’t *like* to change tires, but at least I can.

Mr. James Crumley: “Oh, they had a buncha crap to say, but it sounded like television to me.”

Upon a re-read, I was surprised to discover just how plain mediocre TO HAVE & HAVE NOT is. I mean, I knew it wasn’t among Hem’s best novels, but I guess I still though Hem’s worse is still better than almost anyone else’s best. Nope.


Ah, Waylon

I love how Waylon only thought this outlaw bit had done got out of hand after he got arrested for cocaine possession. Also, that he blamed it on the music.