Saturday, 29 April 2017

How Americans highjacked modern culture

Now, because that's how it's been for the last 150 years – and ironically the last great painter actually came from US - unless it sells like crazy, it can't be good. And it can sell like crazy in Europe, but that just means it's pompous sanctimonious shit, right - unless it's big in US. If it's big in the US, then it's BIG. Then it's goooood. Oh, man, if it's on the New York Times Bestseller list, like the latest Madonna autobiography or Fifty Shades of Fuck Me Never, you're IT. You've got it. How could a Slovenian poet ever be good, right? Or a Ukrainian? Aren't those just communist propaganda poets? How could an African nation's poet ever be any good, can those even write?

Today, while walking through the tremendously magical sunny-morning forest-after-heavy-rain, Drej introduced me to another baffling concept: we spoke of someone being so little read, so under-educated in language, they cannot - LITERALLY - explain how they feel. And henceforth understand what they are feeling. That there is a difference between exhausted and depressed. That when you're happy you can be concerned at the same time; or if you're crying there can still be a part of you ambitious beyond all reason to live and love. In my family it would be rude to talk of money, of profit, it would be summat vulgar, but we talked about opinions, emotions and correspondence between the two all the time. Heck, I'm fit to explain to a total stranger how I can be soul-crushingly terrified and absolutely unbelievably excited about diving in at the same time. 

Americans, whose movies are their biggest mouthpiece, will celebrate sad, lonely, confused, detached, alienated writers who won't care about the fame, they'll just care about 'the truth'. Yeah. For sure. Marilyn Monroe bent herself into a pretzel for fame and fortune because she just wanted to be loved.
It's easily because many people are sad, lonely, confused, detached and alienated and this means they can become famous writers, too, if they own up to that sum. You won't see movies about NORMAL people, professional writers, having normal emotional responses, relationships and processes... Because that would mean there's a method to the madness and that method is very difficult to achieve. Same as being a nuclear physicist or - an Olympic medalist. One of my favorite essayist on the subject of creative writing states on the very first page: learn the rules, it won’t cost you your ‘genious’.

But that’s not sexy. Education. Very few can achieve that. Books written by educated people are shit, right? Well…  Yes, if American bestseller lists are anything to go by. The writers who write the really good books, unfortunately for ‘the sexy’ are not crazy, lonely weirdos. That's just an image that sells, the James Dean appeal. They are actually people who have arranged their lives to be perfect for them and slightly detached from the rest. There is no suffering in it. Mary Oliver isn't a crazy old hag. Tove Janssen wasn't a miserable old drunkard. Toni Morrison isn't a deranged old street-corner prophet. These are all very educated, decent, hard-working, level-headed, loved and respected, and normal people with a lot to say and a rich enough vocabulary to say it simply. 

You need to be interesting FIRST, educated later and THEN you need to be consistent. That's how a great author is done. That pompous, decadent shit, a 16-year old Rimbaud shooting his gay lover and then writing a love song about it? That's myth. That's the propaganda you're so afraid of, the sellable fiction of never-happened character. 

The sexy. 

Unless there's titties, possibly abused in some sense, it's not going to be a bestseller. Unless a famous person "wrote" it or ‘twas written of them – someone famous enough to be easily recognized, like Jesus or Elvis or Nixon or something.  Do you have ANY idea how many extraordinary pieces of literature there are, written by people who would wipe their arse with the New York Times bestseller lists, had they now been to civil? There are so many. So many. 

There's a word to describe this horrid/awesome feeling you'll never be able to read all the good books there are - I forget now what it is, but there is one. I'm not the first person to reminisce on it.