Archive for the ‘Classics on America’ Category

HST on America, Not the First Time

January 29, 2017

Assorted self-described liberals are up in arms against President Trump’s recent executive order banning refugees and nationals of certain countries.

But really this is nothing new and, what’s more, something very insignificant compared to what some of his predecessors were able to get away with.

To illustrate, here is a quote from Kingdom of Fear by Hunter S. Thompson.

But this is not the first time civil liberties have been eroded in the face of national crises. Abraham Lincoln suspended the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus, Woodrow Wilson had his Palmer raids and Franklin Roosevelt interred Asian American citizen for no reason, other than their national origin.

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Smother Party

January 16, 2017

To continue my series of posts titled Classics on America or Britain, here is a quote from Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs, in which he describes a time-honored English custom.

This is a rural English custom designed to eliminate aged and bedfast dependents. A family so afflicted throws a “smother party” where the guests pile mattresses on the old liability, climb up on top of the mattresses and lush themselves out.

Nice, isn’t it.

I guess, what with the current sorry state of the NHS, this type of entertainment may well be on the rise in the UK.

The American equivalent is known more prosaically as the “Mattress Party” which actually might also become more prevalent once Obamacare gets truly repealed by the Reptilians… ahem… Republicans.

And, while I am at it, here a quote on America (meaning the USofA) from same:

America is not a young land: it is old and dirty and evil before the settlers, before the Indians. The evil is there waiting.

Well, nothing new here.

Henry Miller on America

December 27, 2015

Here is another installment in my Classics on America series, courtesy of influential author Henry Miller coming from his book Tropic of Capricorn.

The one thing they did not want to hear about was that life is indestructible. Was not their precious new world reared on the destruction of the innocent, on rape and plunder and torture and devastation? Both continents had been violated; both continents had been stripped and plundered of all that was precious — in things. No greater humiliation, it seems to me, was meted out to any man than to Montezuma; no race was ever more ruthlessly wiped out than the American Indian; no land was ever raped in the foul and bloody way that California was raped by the gold-diggers. I blush to think of our origins — our hands are steeped in blood and crime. And there is no let-up to the slaughter and the pillage, as I discovered at first hand traveling throughout the length and breadth of the land. Down to the closest friend every man is a potential murderer.

 

HST on America

April 17, 2015

I am reading Kingdom of Fear by Hunter S. Thompson… and coincidentally am updating my Classics on America series with this post.

So here goes… Hunter S. Thompson on the United States of America in select quotes from Kingdom of Fear chosen by me:

It would be easy to say that we owe it all to the Bush family from Texas, but that would be too simplistic. They are only errand boys for the vengeful, bloodthirsty cartel of raving Jesus-freaks and super-rich money mongers who have ruled this country for at least the last 20 years, and arguably for the past 200. They take orders well, and they don’t ask too many questions. The real power in America is held by a fast-emerging new Oligarchy of pimps and preachers who see no need for democracy or fairness or even trees, except maybe the ones in their own yards, and they don’t mind admitting it. They worship money and power and death. Their ideal solution to all the nation’s problems would be another 100 Year War.

***

A. came rushing around the corner with a computer printout in her hands. “The President is threatening to seize the Saudi Arabian oil fields if they don’t help us wipe out the Evil of Terrorism — seize them by military force”. The look on her face was stricken, as if World War IV had just started. “This is insane!” she wailed. “We can’t just go over there and invade Saudi Arabia“.

I believe, in fact I am very sure, there was such a plan which came very near to being implemented, and it still exists as a fully detailed war plan.

… The fat is in the fire. Today’s pig is tomorrow’s bacon.

Very true and topical as of now in particular.

Bobby Fischer: Another Way of Seeing (America)

August 9, 2011

The U.S. is based on lies, is based on theft…You have to look at the history of the country: Get something for nothing. Take and kill. That’s the history of the U.S. A despicable country, you know…

Democracy is just a load of bullshit. It is just a cover for the criminal nature of the U.S. But I’m hoping for the Seven Days in May scenario, where sane people will take over the U.S., military people…

And ultimately the white man should leave the U.S., the black man should go back to Africa, the whites back to Europe, and the country should be returned to the American Indians who lived there for who knows how many tens of thousands of years. They kept the land crystal clean. It was a beautiful country when the white man came. This is the future I would like to see for the so-called U.S.

Death to the U.S. They are the worst liars and bastards. This is a wonderful day.

Thus spoke one Bobby Fischer some ten years ago. He of course was and remains America’s greatest chess grandmaster ever and their only world chess champion and one of the very few genuine Americans who came to be known for intellectual achievements.

Undoubtedly he had his reasons for speaking out like that against the country of his birth (which he later renounced).

At one point, already the World Chess Champion, he was detained by American police officers in Pasadena for no good reason, then beaten and otherwise mistreated for two days in a police station cell. At another time, the long grabby arm of the American government tried to rob him of his championship winner’s purse.

Things like that — they do make people bitter…. and honest — make them tell the truth and speak their mind. Bobby Fischer did.

Anna Seward on George Washington

January 17, 2009

Anna Seward saw right through George Washington, the No. 1 revolutionary, terrorist, traitor and murderer of many, the Osama Bin Laden of the 18th century and the founder of the United States:

Oh Washington! I thought thee great and good,

Nor knew thy Nero-thirst of guiltless blood!

Severe to use the power that fortune gave,

Thou cool determin’d murderer of the brave!

Lost to each fairer virtue, that inspires

The genuine fervour of the patriot fires!

(…)

Remorseless Washington! the day shall come

Of deep repentance for this barb’rous doom!

(…)

Then, when each hope of thine shall set in night,

When dubious dread, and unavailing flight

Impel your host, thy guilt-upbraided soul

Shall wish untouch’d the sacred life you stole!

And when thy heart appall’d, and vanquish’d pride

Shall vainly ask the mercy they deny’d,

With horror shalt thou meet the fate thou gave,

Nor pity gild the darkness of thy grave!

For infamy, with livid hand, shall shed

Eternal mildew on the ruthless head!

By Anna Seward

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The “ruthless head” of George Washington, a “cool determin’d murderer of the brave”

I really like this poem. It’s so good I think it should be recited with feeling at Obama’s forthcoming unveiling ceremony as America’s new leader.

Kurt Vonnegut on America

November 14, 2008

In this section (Classics on America) I continue my quest to describe the United States of America with words of great writers, that is, as seen through the eyes of classics of literature (hence the name).

Now it’s Kurt Vonnegut’s turn. Below is a passage by same taken from his book Slaughterhouse Five. I read the book with some interest many years ago, and now remember almost nothing about it (the plot, the characters, etc.), except that it definitely read like a Kurt Vonnegut book and was centered around the infamous Dresden firebombing crime of the century. However, even then I noted this interesting and revealing passage about America which rang very true. I have been thinking about using it on my blog which is dedicated to the exploration of the darker side/s of America, and I have been thinking about sharing it with others, and I have just re-found it. Here is the passage in question and I quote:

“America is the wealthiest nation on Earth, but its people are mainly poor, and poor Americans are urged to hate themselves. To quote the American humorist Kin Hubbard, ‘It ain’t no disgrace to be poor, but it might as well be.’ It is in fact a crime for an American to be poor, even though America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: ‘If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?’ There will also be an American flag no larger than a child’s hand – glued to a lollipop stick and flying from the cash register.”

And it continues…

“Americans, like human beings everywhere, believe many things that are obviously untrue… Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for an American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times. Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.”

Now, there may be some argument as to whether Mr. Vonnegut really meant what he wrote. Because in the context of the book this passage is supposed to be a part of a lecture on America delivered to a groups of American POWs in German captivity by a turncoat American who is working for the Nazis. I understand the same character, Howard W. Campbell, Jr., makes an appearance in one other Vonnegut’s novel almost in the same but yet more pro-American role — in that novel he is supposed to be an American spy working amidst the Nazis. Reach your own conclusions but, while accepting that nothing is straightforward where Vonnegut is concerned, I think the words are his own and are a faithful and true-to-life reflection on America.

And I think it is generally true. America is a nation of the poor but for and by the rich.

True, within the past few decades, the United States may have gone a bit away from its destiny of abject poverty for most and some wealth for the very few. A number of technological advances helped as did certain political and economic concepts (such as Globalization, world trade, etc.) which enabled America to displace its poverty to the rest of the world while making it easier for America to hoover in some wealth.

However I fear (if fear is the word) this purple patch may have come to an end now — there are no major new technological advances in the pipeline and the political and economic opportunities have been exhausted. Hence America is likely now to be returned to its cradle of poverty. The same fate is probably awaiting America’s backstabbing ally, Britain.

Welcome back, America, to your old, dirt-poor self.

thought-for-food

Classics on America: Mark Twain

September 30, 2008

Food for thought served up by one of America’s greatest writers ever, Mark Twain:

“Citizenship? We have none! In place of it we teach patriotism which Samuel Johnson said a hundred and forty or a hundred and fifty years ago was the last refuge of the scoundrel — and I believe that he was right. I remember when I was a boy and I heard repeated time and time again the phrase, ‘My country, right or wrong, my country!’ How absolutely absurd is such an idea. How absolutely absurd to teach this idea to the youth of the country”.

“I left these shores, at Vancouver, a red-hot imperialist. I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific. It seemed tiresome and tame for it to content itself with he Rockies. Why not spread its wings over [omitted] I asked myself? And I thought it would be a real good thing to do.

I said to myself, here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which had addressed ourselves.

But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris, and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of [omitted]. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. . .

It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land”.

“The American flag should be replaced not with the stars and stripes, forget them, it should be the Jolly Roger, the skull and crossbones, because we bring murder wherever we go”.

The words of Mark Twain, a member of the Anti-Imperialist League until his death.

Classics on America: Charles Dickens

September 18, 2008

… she had learnt it from … her fellow countrymen, who in their every word, avow themselves to be as senseless to the high principles on which America sprang, a nation, into life, as any Orson in her legislative halls. Who are no more capable of feeling, or of caring if they did feel, that by reducing their own country to the ebb of honest men’s contempt, they put in hazard the rights of nations yet unborn, and very progress of the human race, than are the swine who wallow in their streets. Who think that crying out to other nations, old in their iniquity, `We are no worse than you!’ (No worse!) is high defence and ‘vantage-ground enough for that Republic, but yesterday let loose upon her noble course, and but to-day so maimed and lame, so full of sores and ulcers, foul to the eye and almost hopeless to the sense, that her best friends turn from the loathsome creature with disgust. Who, having by their ancestors declared and won their Independence, because they would not bend the knee to certain Public vices and corruptions, and would not abrogate the truth, run riot in the Bad, and turn their backs upon the Good; and lying down contented with the wretched boast that other Temples also are of glass, and stones which batter theirs may be flung back; show themselves, in that alone, as immeasurably behind the import of the trust they hold, and as unworthy to possess it as if the sordid hucksterings of all their little governments–each one a kingdom in its small depravity–were brought into a heap for evidence against them…

The great English master of letters himself, apparently at work or just thinking

…`What an extraordinary people you are!’ cried Martin. `Are Mr. …. and the class he represents, an Institution here? Are pistols with revolving barrels, sword-sticks, bowie-knives, and such things, Institutions on which you pride yourselves? Are bloody duels, brutal combats, savage assaults, shooting down and stabbing in the streets, your Institutions! Why, I shall hear next that Dishonour and Fraud are among the Institutions of the great republic!’…

….Why, I was a-thinking, sir,’ returned Mark, `that if I was a painter and was called upon to paint the American Eagle, how should I do it?’

`Paint it as like an Eagle as you could, I suppose.’

`No,’ said Mark. `That wouldn’t do for me, sir. I should want to draw it like a Bat, for its short-sightedness; like a Bantam, for its bragging; like a Magpie, for its honesty; like a Peacock, for its vanity; like an ostrich, for its putting its head in the mud, and thinking nobody sees it –‘

`And like a Phoenix, for its power of springing from the ashes of its faults and vices, and soaring up anew into the sky!

Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens


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