Monday, October 21, 2013

Coincidance, Week Six

"Introduction to Three Articles from the Realist"

This is one of Wilson's longest discussions of his antiwar philosophy. He also talks about sadism and masochism, and says that anxiety over the apparent desire of the masses to suffer "run through all my novels and even haunt the one play I have written." Wilson's antiwar beliefs also run through many of his works. That's why I have links to, Come Home America and Peace Exchange Bulletin up on the right side of the page; it seems like a continuation of RAW's efforts to support antiwar movements.

"The Doctor With the Frightened Eyes"

Wilson's article about the "sharkishness" of reality seems like the key to the end of Illuminatus!, the attempt by the American Medical Association to immanentize the eschaton. It also reminded me of the policeman at the beginning of the book, the expert on Egyptian mouth-breeding fish, James Patrick Hennessy, who "had a five-year-old retarded son whom he loved helplessly; you see a thousand faces like his on the street every day and never guess how well they are carrying their tragedies."

I suppose it doesn't make any difference to the rave review of the "Suddenly Last Summer" film Wilson's essay, but the Wikipedia article on the film notes that many people associated with it attacked it: "Several people involved with Suddenly, Last Summer later went on to denounce the film. Despite being credited for the screenplay, Tennessee Williams denied having any part in writing it. He thought Elizabeth Taylor was miscast as Catherine, telling Life magazine in 1961, 'It stretched my credulity to believe such a 'hip' doll as our Liz wouldn't know at once in the film that she was 'being used for something evil'.'Williams also told The Village Voice in 1973 that Suddenly, Last Summer went too far afield from his original play and "made [him] throw up". Gore Vidal criticized the ending which had been altered by director Joseph Mankiewicz, adding, 'We were also not helped by ... those overweight ushers from the Roxy Theatre on Fire Island pretending to be small ravenous boys.' Mankiewicz himself blamed the source material, describing the play as 'badly constructed ... based on the most elementary Freudian psychology'."

The article goes on to note that the film was a box office hit and garnered two Academy Award nominations. It didn't win, but Liz Taylor picked up a couple of Golden Globes.

"Thirteen Choruses For the Divine Marquis"

Wilson's thesis that many Americans are devoted to sadism would seem to track well with the success of Fifty Shades of Gray and the lack of success of the antiwar movement in convincing anyone that it's a problem when America keeps killing innocent people with drones.

Ninth Chorus -- This would seem to be another way to discussing the SNAFU principle from Illuminatus!, e.g. communication is possible only between equals.

Eric Frank Russell, mentioned in the Fifth Chorus, was a science fiction writer who penned a classic work of libertarian SF, "And Then There Were None." It's part of a novel, The Great Explosion, which won the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award from the Libertarian Futurist Society (the same award won by Illuminatus!)


supergee said...

Some of the stuff shows its age, like Mean Mom turning Junior queer and yelling at Rita Hayworth for being represented on the bomb as if it were something she did.

Eric Wagner said...

The film/play "Marat/Sade" seems to have had a big influence on the Divine Marquis piece and on Wilhelm Reich in Hell.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@supergee, Kind of reminds me of when Michael Moore confronted Miss Michigan in "Roger and Me." Good movie, but what did Miss Michigan have to do with it?

Oz Fritz said...

I like this bit from p.110:

"The great writer creates situations so true and so urgently significant that he himself often doesn't "understand" them. I mean that very seriously."

I wonder if he intended that as a pun?

Wilson makes a great literary critic in my book.

michael said...

I agree with Oz Fritz about RAW as lit critic. I hope we discover more in our digs. I just found out he reviewed Edmund Wilson's book _The Cold War and the Income Tax: A Protest_, in a 1964 ish of The Humanist.

Peter Weiss's play "The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat Under the..." most definitely infl 13 Choruses and WRIH. Weiss was in turn infl by Brecht and Artaud.

Since this piece - so many jesuses ago! - there has developed a large lit on S&M, and much of it says that people who get off on it seem to be "healthier" than others. It's a whole other topic, but, though RAW associates "seeks discipline" ads in personals as part of the war/thanatos impulse, when in other places he writes of domesticated primate status hierarchies...which I think is where the true sadomasochism of everyday life is most involved.

I think both the written play and the film Suddenly Last Summer profound, and RAW's take on it the best - most edifying discourse - I've ever read on it.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Michael: Kinda wish RAW had written more music criticism. The Beethoven piece in "The Illuminati Papers" is wonderful.

michael said...

There's - as you know - lots of insight about music scattered throughout the HIC. Most of it is not "criticism" per se, but we do gain a lot of insight about RAW's attitudes toward music.

In The Earth Will Shake alone: 214 and onomatopoeia; 224-225; 232 (sex like a sonata); 233 (Scarlatti); 234 (rationalism hinders superior music?); 257 (Platonic perfect music?); 273 (interesting to compare these passages with what Charles Rosen says of Schoenberg's autodidacticism in his book on AS, p.66); 277-278 (JS Bach); 282 (music can't be taught but only learned); 293 (Siggy "becomes" Bach for a moment); 306-312 (RAW riffs on criticism, influenced by Joyce's use of bad reviews); 321-325 (inspiration, sex and music); 339 (organ as the "most erotic" instrument?); 362 (math and yoga and music); 365 and 368 (sonata form compared to the "self" and now-current ideas of "embodiment"), etc, etc, etc. This is a mere smattering.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Michael, Yeah, the only bummer is that because of the setting, we don't get any comments about Beethoven!

gacord said...

The whole national sadomasochism thing, as RAW laid it out here, seems to have gotten even more extreme (good goddess I hope we begin a decline.) On the sadist side, now that it's no longer communists but we have the ubiquitous terrorists. On the masochist side, we have the militarized police and this perplexing (to me) war on women.

I wonder what RAW would say with the changes in just these few short years since he died.

Eric Wagner said...

I wonder if "The World Turned Upside Down" or its sequels would have included Beethoven. I think they would have. Bob once told me he once planned to take the Historical Illuminatus! Series all the way up to the time of Masks of the Illuminati.

I think Bob treats Arthur Miller a little harshly on page 110. I like Death of a Saleman.

Eric Wagner said...

Did you know the Department of Homeland Security has moved to the remains of St. Elizabeth's Hospital for the Criminally Insane, once home to Ezra Pound?

(I wonder if Carrie on Homeland has spent some time in the remaining campus of St. Elizabeth's.)

Eric Wagner said...

On page 114 Bob says "Ahab and whale destroy each other." I don't think Moby Dick dies in the book.

Clouds without Water has 114 sonnets.

Eric Wagner said...

The discussion of J. Edgar Hoover and of Rita Hayworth's picture on the bomb reminds me of DeLillo's Underworld, with J. Edgar as a character and the picture of Long Tall Sally on an airplane.

supergee said...

I sometimes wonder if the NSA in its new home occasionally ehars a ghostly voice saying, "Forget the Arabs. Worry about the Jews,"

gacord said...

Wouldn't it be fun to sneak in and write that on the wall? signed " -The Mgt." of course. Oh to fit in a coffee urn...

gacord said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oz Fritz said...

I love the way Wilson begins "The Doctor With the Frightened Eyes" especially the second paragraph (p.109)

A lion image turns up again (p. 111):

"The hospital in which Dr. Sugar works is called Lions View, for example."

A werewolf turns up again in the 8th Chorus of the Marquis de Sade piece in the form of "Lon Chaney as the Wolf-Man" and quotes the lines that describe the change from man to wolf.

Love the way Wilson ends this Realist article:

"'Quite simple', he replied, 'don't be afraid of the Cross. The fear of death is the beginning of slavery'

And the line went dead with a triumphant click like a barred door falling open."