A Gonzo Exploration of “The Waste Land”

October 14, 2010

Well, “The Waste Land” was so complicated it caused me to waste valuable time getting a blog up.  As such, I’ve deemed it fit to combat T. S. Eliot’s nonsensical stylings with a style based on a big influence on my writing and thought, Hunter S. Thompson! If you have a sensitive stomach, extreme constervative ideals or affiliations, or are under the age of ten, I suggest you just listen to Eliot’s droll reading of his poem and skip my wit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tqK5zQlCDQ

Now that I’m done with the riff-raff, I found the poem scouring on Google and taking a look through it.  Holy crap, that’s long! Is these T. S. Eliot or the Dead Sea Scroll?! Well, let’s get to it then.  And we’re starting off with an epigraph here.  Dear God, what is this jibberish? Greek? Is this crap in Klingon?!  I’m holding it up to a mirror and it’s still not making sense!!! Maybe it’ll make more sense listening to that audio link? After all, I provided it for you and it is the author’s work in his own words.  I may as well utilise my own resources.

And now I’m listening to the link.  Eliot’s voice sounds like a British Morgan Freeman.  Kinda soothing, really.  I could just tune out the words.  Though he sounds just as bored as I am trying to read it.  What does that say about his own writing?! Aaand now he’s sounding like a pretentious douchebag.  What a surprise! So deadpan… DEAR GOD MAKE IT STOP!!!! MAKE IT STOP, JESUS CHRIST!!!!!!!!!

I suppose that’s a punishment for attempting to take the easy way out, then? Truthfully, I can’t get past that epigraph any more than I can write like Thompson.  But if I could write like Thompson, this blog would be a lot more entertaining.  Similarly, if Eliot didn’t write like a pretentious twit then this poem would be less painful to read.  Unprofessional? You’d better believe it, but I can see why people lose hope in their declaration as an English major after even the first few lines.  Looking at the poem, it doesn’t get much better.  I’ve not lost faith in my major, just Eliot for now.  I’m sure I’ll appreciate it at some point later in life, but as a man whose roots lie in the beat and gonzo movemements, I can’t tolerate this cut and dry, art school schtick.  Many people believe that if God were alive today, he’s be a homeless person or a hippie.  I can’t tell you about Satan, but T. S. Eliot is the next best thing and he would be a hipster! I believe that the recent internet video “Interior Semiotics” (WARNING! EXTREME EXPLICIT CONTENT “FOR ART’S SAKE”.  LOOK IT UP YOURSELF, I’M NOT POSTING THE LINK HERE) comes closest to matching Eliot’s pretentious massacre of literature.  Guess who made that video? Hipsters.  If anyone says they understand “The Waste Land” or “Interior Semiotics” then they’re full of shit.

Heart Of Darkness as a Minstrel Show

October 4, 2010

Achebe presents an interpretation of Heart Of Darkness as a racist book, with its portraying Africa as a dangerous place and having the inhabitants referred to as “savages”.  Unfortunately Achebe is a prime example of someone who ignores social and historical context, crying “fowl” every time they are presented with something that doesn’t fit with the homogenized and politically correct revisionist image of the world that the modern age would like to lay out for us.  Art is open to interpretation and while my opinion on the story holds no more water than Achebe’s, I would like to remind my readers that the book is a work of fiction set in bona fide historical times! Europe has tried to expand its boundaries and influence much like the way it is described in this book, decrying people of other cultures as inferior and primitive.  Conrad did not write his story in order to encourage such behavior, but to show the folly of western expansion and the duality of European treatment of the African natives.

The behavior of Europeans in this story range from neutral (Marlow), bloodthirsty and insane (most everybody else), and downright kooky (Kurtz).  Marlow doesn’t buy into the colonization b.s. that his crew has been fed, wanting only to see the world and meet the enigmatic Mr. Kurtz that he has heard them speak about with such godly regard.  The other Europeans mostly mindlessly wish to overtake Africa and rape the continent of its goods.  They represent an ignorant mob mentality, making each utterance of Africans as “savage” ironic.  Finally, Kurtz is the man who has achieved a dominance over the Africans but at the cost of his sanity.  It’s not that Africa has driven him insane, but only himself which makes him a danger to everybody around him.  He has attained the stature above the Africans that the Europeans so badly want, in such unorthodox methods that he is seen as a threat to Europe and a god to the Africans.

As bad as that may sound, Conrad was not trying to create a tale of racism but rather a warning of imperialism.  I cannot say what Conrad’s personal feelings were towards Africans or black people as a whole (not African-Americans, I mean are there not blacks in Europe and Asia?), but to me the story has such a minor focus on the African natives as opposed to the Europeans that it would be like someone calling the sitcom All In The Family racist.  Is it politically incorrect? Yes.  Were words like “spade” and “gook” used by main character Archie Bunker? Countless times.  The point of the show was not to spread ignorance and racism, though; it was to put into a realistically absurd fashion the ridiculousness of such mindsets.  Conrad does the same thing with Heart Of Darkness showing how the European mob mentality affects everyone involved and what it ultimately can lead to.

English 170: The Mystery of Kurtz

September 6, 2010

Kurtz is the man at the centre of Heart Of Darkness, envied and revered for his achievements by the Europeans and Africans alike.  However, when Marlow meets him in the story he is just a dying man who wound up having grand rumors attached to him.  Kurtz is seen by the Europeans as a failure of their culture, because he is living amongst the African natives, but they see his ivory raids as highly successful.  Conversely the natives view him as a god and fear his power.  There is no true Kurtz in the book, only the projections of innuendo on a cunning man.  Anyone struggling with the idea of what Kurtz is like knows the feelings that drove Kurtz to become the madman that he is.  Kurtz has broken free of social norms and framework, becoming self-sufficient and adhering to no judge or power above his own.  Without working inside the system, he is not only the god of the natives but in a sense his own god.  He cannot be judged by anyone else’s standards but his own, which is what makes him dangerous.  Kurtz is not evil, but his rejection of boundaries and behaviors etched into European society pose a threat to himself and those around him.

Reposted from my comment on the blog’s first post

August 24, 2010

Reading for me is absorbing the thoughts of other people: their philosophies and fantasies; experiences and dreams. All these things are shared by an author in their writing, which is why I write. It is therapeutic, no matter how I feel, to express myself. It exorcises my negativity and reinforces my positive thoughts. Many people engage in forms of mental masturbation such as math in order to occupy their time; reading and writing are full on mental intercourse for me. I always take something away from these activities, whether they teach me or are simply something I enjoy for myself.

Spam prevention powered by Akismet

Skip to toolbar