Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Abandoned Aristocrat

A strong believer in the reactionary strength of nobility like Susan Nagel, who exists in a melodramatic world where wealth and unearned entitlement are supremely virtuous, must be sorely disappointed that no one has arisen to defend her book against the onslaught of truth. Where are today's Scarlet Pimpernels to put me swiftly in my place?

Alas, they no more exist now than they did then. Aristocracy implies parasitic weakness.

The last U.S. literary aristocrat of any character and courage was George Plimpton-- Pimpernel Plimpton!-- who in his latter days bravely met the literary Rebellion face-to-face, but has since gone on to the big Versailles palace in the sky.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


of established literature today is tragic. The flaw is that the participants don't know and don't want to know. They can't see their true situation-- and so they imagine that our literature is vibrant. They cling to inaccessible novelists like William Vollmann who'll never attract a major audience, using this to proclaim their success, while corrupt concoctions of propagandistic garbage about royalty or rich people pays the bills.

Think of the Soviet Union in the 1980's; a closed system in slow collapse, whose engineers were unwilling to face the dustiness of their dead regime. A few things worked, but they couldn't get rid of the dust.

The goal of this blog is to announce that American literature can be exciting, relevant, and great again. First its mandarins have to acknowledge its true condition. They have to take that first step out of the dusty room; to grab the door knob and wrench open the door, to step into the new world of literature beyond.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lit-Blogger Sycophancy

INSTEAD of becoming independent alternatives, most lit-blogs are now mere shills for the powerful publishing conglomerates.

Two examples of this are the hapless interview of Susan Nagel by Elena Maria Vidal at

and the advertisement masquerading as a post by Marshal Zeringue at

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Disturbing Trend

A book like Susan Nagel's Marie Therese, Child of Terror-- reactionary propaganda masquerading as history-- wouldn't have been published and hyped twenty years ago or more in this country, when there was still a concern that history be history. This was back when the U.S. was a democracy, not an Empire. The hallmark of the literature of our American Republic was radical populism, from Melville to Harriet Stowe to Mark Twain; Stephen Crane, Frank Norris, Jack London, Dreiser, up to John Steinbeck, who wrote the screenplay for "Viva Zapata!" which starred Marlon Brando in 1952. Our literature was populist and was also about the search for truth; telling the TRUE story.

The big publishing houses in New York now are distorting and discarding history and especially OUR history.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

1,195 Horses

In her book, Marie Therese, Child of Terror, Susan Nagel makes much of the fact that in the two years before revolution, Louis XVI engaged in modest cost-cutting measures. For instance, the number of horses in the King's stables "shrank" to 1,195. This at a period when people throughout France were starving.

"Let them eat cake"? Nagel's analysis of the situation is the intellectual equivalent.

We should keep in mind the context within which Bloomsbury has published Nagel's ultra-reactionary book. The U.S. government is bankrupt. Real prices (not a dummied-up CPI) are skyrocketing across the board-- for food, energy, medical care, and education. Wages are stagnant at best, in many places in decline. The housing industry is near collapse. In Detroit, there's an ongoing strike in which workers are asked to cut their wages in half. IN HALF. Meanwhile, the high school graduation rate in the city is 25% and declining.

In short, the gap between rich and poor in America continues widening, mimicking France in 1789. As this happens, the N.Y. publishing industry issues celebrations of privilege and weeps about royalty of bygone days.

The good news is that with these egregious happenings are also opportunities for change-- beginning with the nation's philosophy; starting perhaps by overturning the mentality of the literary industry-- or relocating that industry to another city.

1,195 horses indeed!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tina Brown and the New Aristocrats

We're seeing the result of having so many upper-class Brits in high positions in print-media and publishing in New York. The Marie Therese, Child of Terror book receiving a big push in Manhattan by British based publisher Bloomsbury is only the latest in a full scale cultural assault; yet another "British Invasion," but this time the invaders aren't Liverpool working class mop-tops, but the aristocrats themselves, accompanied by rattling jewels. (See my review at; also check out for a look at Aristos in their natural habitat.)

How many movies and TV shows have been made from Jane Austen novels alone in recent years? Or boring filmed paeans to privilege like "The Queen"?

In the lit realm, Marie Therese follows in the path of Antonia Fraser's Marie Antoinette and Amanda Foreman's Georgianna: Duchess of Devonshire.

At the forefront of the assault is Tina Brown, author of The Diana Chronicles, who as Editor turned both Vanity Fair and The New Yorker into cesspools of class-based snobbery and celebrations of extreme wealth.

The question arises whether the east coast island of money is leaving the Union altogether and forming with another island a new Anglo-American British Empire, as advocated over the years by personages like Carroll Quigley and Winston Churchill. We do know that at the centers of print media monopoly, London and New York, the ideals of democracy are being shredded.

Time to bring out fife and drum!-- to sing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "The Marseillaise"! We need to restore media democracy and recapture our own culture.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not on List

"King Kong vs. Godzilla"
--did not make my "Ten Best Movies" list, unfortunately.

A Charlton Heston Quote

Likely the best line the actor ever recited, from "Ben Hur":

"When Rome falls there will be a shout of freedom such as the world has never seen."

This is how inhabitants of the world now view us.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Literary Mystery

who've yet to check out my Literary Mystery blog,
please do so. I've begun another narrative of the movie-serial novel, "Plutocracy USA." The novel is about clashes between literary gangs and is filled with such daring literary innovations as plotting and characters, devices which owe nothing to theorists like Robbe-Grillet!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

P.C. Criticism

The topic of women in movies was brought up. Curiously enough, this past Saturday afternoon I saw a free showing of a Mary Pickford flick, "Daddy Long Legs," at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which was accompanied by live piano.

In its way it's a great movie, for all its simplicity. It's a tale of a woman found in a trash can as a baby and raised in an orphanage. Made in 1919, when many countries, including this one, were on the verge of revolution, its theme from start to finish is class: the difference between rich and poor in America. The movie contains scenes of tremendous pathos, very real scenes-- Dickensian scenes-- of a kind not to be found in movies or in any art form today.

At the same time the movie has great humor-- Mary Pickford WAS a wonderful player-- and a joy of life about it, as in the brief scene when she plays Juliet in an outdoor performance of Shakespeare at the college to which a mysterious benefactor has sent her after her "graduation" from the orphanage. Literature was far more important in that world, ninety years ago. The Pickford character, Judy, gains her independence not through becoming a rock star, but by writing a novel!

What do the DIA brochure notes say about the film? "-- reflects both fascination and ambivelence (sic) toward women's expanding social prerogatives."

Say what? I looked very hard to find this in the actual movie, and couldn't.

The movie in fact shows the solidarity between lower class men and women, in the scenes of children's rebellion at the orphanage. Some university-trained robot puts a p.c. twist on the movie regardless.

It's frustrating to see this, as we live in a time when this America of ours is more of a plutocracy than ever before, yet our critics refuse to see it. They willfully wear blinders, tapping away at their keyboards about prism-distilled boozhie-approved subjects like "women's social prerogatives" while the real story like a giant monster looms unseen behind them.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

#6: "Bridge on the River Kwai"

"Kill him!"

This scream from William Holden's slacker character near the end of "Bridge" emphasizes war's contradiction; contradiction after contradiction after contradiction; the building of "a proper bridge" by British p.o.w.'s only the most obvious.

This may be the best example of movie-as-experience. The moviegoer is WITH Holden as he escapes through the jungle, WITH the commandos amid the gurgling water as they plant charges the evening before demolition, while prisoner Alec Guinness and Japanese commandant Sessue Hayakawa stroll on the just-completed bridge. Destruction and accomplishment are counterpoints.

The clash of mentalities and wills is everyplace: Guinness's stubborn Colonel Nicholson and Hayakawa's authoritarian officer at the outset; later, the Jack Hawkins and William Holden characters on the commando team. Holden has few lines but imbues them with eternal meaning, as the team cuts inexorably through the jungle, returning, madly, to the "madness" he'd already left.

With this flick, unlike even David Lean's equally great "Lawrence," there are no editing flourishes; no tricks. The adventure is seamless-- you lose yourself entirely within the story and setting.

The madness of war is the theme-- wonderfully highlighted by scenes of peace; the commandos bathing in a stream with pretty Burmese girls a few moments before that stream is stained by blood. Everything: tragedy.

Literate, intelligent, suspenseful, terrifically acted and beautifully photographed, this superb work of art has to rank near the top of any "Best Movie" list.