Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Indigenous view of Wall Street crisis

One more thing. This is worth reading. It's from the Mohawk Nation News, and it's headlined "Indigenous Peoples Celebrate Failed Scam 'Bailout'." Click on the link:


Political art

It's been a very busy day at work and I can take only a short break. I've been trying to write some more about what I want this blog to be, what I think about when I think about literature and the class struggle. But the sentences keep coming out all sort of puffed up and pompous. Which is crazy, and isn't me (crazy though I may be). So I'm trying again.

Sheesh. It's no brilliant new insight to say that under capitalism art is a commodity industry. Everybody knows it. Hell, every week brings a new article decrying the demise of the genteel old-school houses (which may or may not have been any better for working-class or class-conscious writers) and the ascendance of the corporate megamonopoly that is destroying publishing.

But what is rarely if ever acknowledged is how thoroughly all of literary culture--in particular what gets published, what gets marketed, what gets reviewed, who reviews and what the reviews convey--is imbued with bourgeois ideology. It could not be otherwise. As Karl Marx long ago pointed out, the culture of any country is determined by its ruling class. But it does seem to me that bourgeois ideology has a stronger chokehold in this country than anywhere else. I'll no doubt do some ranting about why I think this is so and what I think it means in practice for readers and writers who would like to break free.

For now, for a start, I'll just note the absurd dictum that art and politics are inimical to each other. That in fact there is no such thing as political literature. That if it's political it can't be literature, it can only be cant. Nowhere else would this be taken seriously. In this country it's recited like the lord's prayer. When in fact precisely the opposite is true: all literature is political. All writing takes sides.

I hunger to read, and write, books that take the side of the workers and oppressed. I don't think I'm alone.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Just what the world needs

I know, I know. Like the world needs another litblog. There are already some excellent ones (Maud Newton and Tayari Jones are my favorites) that I read just about every day. There are others that I check in on pretty often. When I finish constructing this site I'll post links to them, as well as to websites of some other writers and artists I admire, of activist organizations, and of alternate news sources.

But here's the thing, as Adrian Monk would say. I haven't yet come across a blog whose purpose is to look at literature from a class-struggle perspective. So I'm going to give it a shot. This will be words about words read through red-tinted glasses.

I'll go into more detail about what I mean by that, what I hope to do here, soon. My lunch hour's almost over now, so this first post will be brief.

Speaking of which, I'm probably nuts to think I can pull this off. I've been wanting to try a red litblog for a while but kept concluding that I didn't have the time. Well, I don't have the time. As it is, it's an ongoing and often losing battle to try to find the hours to write. I'm only a little way into my second novel; I may or may not need to hunker down for yet another round of revision on my first novel; I have at least a half-dozen stories waiting to be finished or revised.

Boy, do I admire people who can write any time, any place, and for however short a piece of time they can grab. Me, I can't do it. Not on the train riding to and from work. Not on a coffee break or in the dentist's waiting room. To write fiction--to enter into that nether zone where the dreams unfurl and imaginary characters speak their minds--I have to have a solid block of time and a quiet space without distraction.

To stew, on the other hand? To spew? Hey, that comes easily. And so, when I found myself one morning this weekend doing what I do almost every weekend--reading the New York Times Book Review and alternately jotting down book titles to add to my to-read list based on intriguing reviews and cursing the same organ for a million reasons, which I'll also elaborate on in upcoming posts--that little litblog voice started up in my head again. Do it, the voice said. When, came my witty riposte. Fast as a flash the response: On your lunch hour.

There's another immediate impetus. As I've been blabbing about to anyone who will listen, over the last three weeks I've had two cataract surgeries. The results are shaping up amazingly well. I'm seeing better without glasses than I'd seen with glasses for years. Look out the window at that tree across the street. It has leaves, individual veiny leaves! Who knew? The downside: my close vision is completely gone. Which means -- gulp! gasp! ack! -- I can't read. OMG, and might I add, LOL at the sight of me, Shelley E., nerd girl supreme, sitting on the subway simply staring into space rather than reading a book. That's right. For the first time since I learned to read at age 5, I am not currently reading a book. Even though I got a pair of so-called reading glasses at the drugstore, they're not really right and I can only use them in a pinch. So until my eyes finish healing and the vision is stabilized enough to get a prescription for reading glasses, let me say again OMG I cannot read.

What I can do is work on the computer by dialing up the font size. Another good reason to get this blog going now.

So okay then. I'm a Red. I read. I have some things to say about the red reading life. So maybe it won't pan out. So sue me. I'm going to try.

More soon. In the meantime, here's a great expose of what the Wall Street bailout is really all about, and a clear presentation of the class-struggle alternative:


After you read it I hope you'll want to go sign the petition against the bailout of Big Capital and for emergency action to defend the workers and poor from foreclosures and evictions: