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Nearly Relevant
Nonsense, Fiction, and Miscellaneous Things

A Tenet of Aesthetic
     Harold Bloom postulates a principal footing of aesthetic value.  I tend to agree.

    "The cardinal principle of the current School of Resentment can be stated with singular bluntness: what is called aesthetic value emanates from class struggle.  This principal is so broad that it cannot be wholly refuted.  I myself insist that the individual self is the only method and the whole standard for apprehending aesthetic value."1

     It seems to me the idea of class struggle creating the particulars of an aesthetic is a case of mistaken identity;  A block of agreement has been mistaken for an aesthetic.  More than one individual valuing an aesthetic does not bring into existence the aesthetic but rather produces an agreement.  Alternative aesthetics are not negated by a lack of agreement. The particulars of alternative aesthetics - whether held communally, individually, or by any other manner of modification distinguishing the aesthetic as alternative - still exist as an aesthetic.  The lack or presence of  a supporting mob whether that mob is elitist or high brow, common or low brow, popular or avant-garde, neither defines nor negates an aesthetic and its facets.  
     It's not unlike the admonition, 'Throwing the baby out with the bathwater.'  A grouping of baby with bathwater - no distinguishment between the 2 - leads to throwing the baby out with the bath water.  Likewise, group support of or aversion to an aesthetic
- which a group support seems endemical to aesthetics defined by class struggle - is not in and of itself the aesthetic.  Rather, group support or aversion relates to the idea of agreement or disagreement with aesthetic and not the aesthetic itself.

The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages, Harold Bloom
Pg. 22  Riverhead Books 1995, New York, New York,

'The Road', Cormac McCarthy

     In Cormac McCarthy's The Road©1, a father and child negotiate a dystopic land in order to escape the coming winter.  Day by day, tin of food by tin of food, they travel southward. 
     The Road© was disappointing.  Plotwise, An occasional nihilist survivor appears only to seem more enervated than threatening.  Themewise, the protagonist's greedless integrity seems more a luck of the draw than a choice for he is stuck in an environment lacking  things of which to be greedy thus the non-covetous with it's embedded integrity becomes a default condition.  Stylewise,  the narratives melancholic pinings miss a sense of perspicaciousness.  The cumulative effect of the pinings is one of decoration. The desiderations seem as necessary to a post-apocalyptic land as decorative Santa Clauses and decorative snowflakes are necessary to Christmas.  The effect of these disappointments was to give the book the ill luck of seeming sentimental and something of a didactic fable.
     I had been looking forward  to the dystopic setting but it was less adventuresome than I'd hoped.  McCarthy's dystopia is characterized by the freely mobile, lack of enforcing authorities, and the negation of a status-quo.  Wandering,  hunger, exposure to the elements - none of which are necessarily boring or false - mark  the day to day existence.  Under this set of conditions, the mannered civility of the protagonists seems too far-fetched. To some degree, the characters - both major and minor - are portrayed as peons to a physical universe.  Their autonomy, as well as most of the qualities which are part of the living human condition, are dulled by suffering.  Admittedly, staying fed - and preferably warm - are understandable demands of a post-apocalyptic portrayal but the kinetic potential of the anarchical setting deflates with each grudging step of the the characters journey toward warmth.  Pampering the reader with a didactic saw of civilized melancholy as the means by which fearsome facts of a post-apocalyptic land can be successfully negotiated seems at best sentimental and almost certainly not literary.  The saw dowily pokes the readers' dire concerns with an heedless urging of civilized sensibleness in a time when civilized as a modification equates with disaster.  McCarthy's replacing aesthetics with a morality play doesn't seem to me as literary . . . except possibly as literary disaster. 
     Nor does McCarthy's tools and techniques for creating and enhancing a dystopic mood save the unfortunately weak story.  The Road becomes, at best, a story for courses about stories rather than a story for courses about the human condition.  The tools, the analytics, the skilled representation become the 'story' to be talked about. 
     In the end - what  I had expected would be an adventure novel with a literary bent - seemed, instead, a product by a contemporaneous author attempting a modern day fable written on, of all things, parchment paper.  Maybe the book started out as a writing prompt which got out of control. 
     Had the movie Mad Max©'s plot been as didactic and fortuitous as The Road, the whole of post-apocalyptic, dystopian fiction, probably, would have ended before it had ever begun.

     1The Road, Cormac McCarthy,
Vintage Books, ©2006 M-71, Ltd.
Cancellation of 'Interview'
     Fox News® reported the cancellation of the Sony® movie Interview©.  From what I gather, Interview is a so-called comedy 'about' - but not necessarily 'influencing' - the assassination of Kim Jong un, the leader of North Korea.  North Korea isn't too happy.
     Apparently the problem with this cancellation isn't the storyline continuously hammering a narrative of an assassination which is certainly by any sane person's judiciousness 'comic', but that Sony® will lose millions of dollars.  Ka-Ching! 
     If that much money is at stake, I suggest we claim the movie is harmless and free speech.

     Sometimes I think this country's society is so messed up over money that -  despite the country's admirable governmental documents and intent - it'll be our society not the government that gets us into a nuclear war.
     Thanks Sony® . . .  jerks.
What Up
     "Yo, Jelani."
     "Cleavon!" responded Jelani. "What up?"  Cleavon waved then started an energetic jog towards Jelani.
      Cleavon and Jelani were friends from the neighborhood.  The neighborhood encompassed a ghetto area of 6 or 7 blocks.  It was basically an overpopulated, crowded suburb of Paradise City; It was something of the 'black sheep' of the city.
     "You got any cigs?"
     "No man I don't."
     "Sh*t, man.  Come on.  We can hit the shop."
     Cleavon as a general rule wasn't self-assured but when he was high his esteem was higher . . . this time maybe too high.

     The door to the shop slowly, designedly closed behind them.  The shop owner who had glanced up at them and smiled was now looking down at some paperwork he had on the counter.  Cleavon and Jelani headed over to the display case holding the cigars and some smoking accessories. The case was positioned behind the counter and to the left . It had two knobbed, glass plates finishing the case as cabinet doors.  Cleavon opened one of the plates, grabbed a box of cigars, pulled them from the case and preceded toward the store door.  Jelani - knowing what Cleavon was doing - was surprised but not astonished by the act.  To be astonished Jelani would have had to have been wholly inculcated by the facade of Paradise City, County of Contented, in the State of Wonderment, of the USA.   Unlike Cleavon, Jelani had never been so impressed.
     The store owner quickly took to the other side of the counter giving chase of Cleavon.  Near the door, the owner brusquely brushed up against Cleavon, Cleavon swung an outraged arm practically knocking over the smaller man.  Jelani yelled 'Yo' but got no response from either man; The store owner and Cleavon continued the momentary scuffle before Cleavon was outside the store. Meanwhile the store owner was racing for the phone.
     Less than one-quarter mile from the store Cleavon and Jelani slowed their running as they heard the initial wails of police sirens.
     "These businesses are crazy." said Cleavon a bit winded. "A box of 3 dollar cigars and they can't do without it."
     "Same could be said of you Cleavon." replied Jelani.
     "Yea, well I don't have any alternative.  I've had it with this lying rhetoric that begins 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' and ends with 'Capitalism, Capitalism, Capitalism'.  If I wanted nothin' but to have a simpl'r lifestyle where could I go?  Michigan? Nebraska? Alabama?  Their all the same, every last one of them.  How is that freedom of choice?  The only choice I have is to sell my soul and liberties to capitalism.  And all for the desire of a $3 cigar. What kind of facade is this country selling?  I ain't buying it."
     "I don't know man but here comes a cop." A police car pulled up to them.
     Jelani stopped.  Cleavon approached the cop car and was told - as was Jelani - to stop and put their hands up.  Jelani raised his hands, Cleavon threw the box of cigars at the officer, yelled 'Here take the damn things' and ran. The police officer gave chase, tackled Cleavon and another scuffle began, with the officer suffering a blackeye, and Cleavon a bullet graze to the arm before Cleavon beat it around the corner of the next block.  A second responding police car, directed by the first officer,  pursued Cleavon around the block.
     The first officer went back to Jelani whereupon Jelani commented his friend wasn't usually this crazy.  "Cleavon" he said "had - most of the time - a peaceful facade . . . but today he was high."
     The bruised, shaken, officer thought about Jelani's attempt at exculpation.  The officer felt his swollen eye and exclaimed, 'Peaceful facade!  I wasn't hired to shoot at peaceful facades!!!!!'
     As Jelani was being guided into the back seat of the police car the two heard from the not too far distant a shot . . . then another.
Sports News

     Hoping to update Mets baseball, the New York Mets have instituted automated, movable outfield fences.  The fences, much like automated roofs which can be opened or closed automatically, will be movable from distances of 250 ft to 900 ft. 
     "The technology has been around for awhile," stated Mets Spokesperson Karla Johnson, "but financial reasons have kept us from implementing it.  But the time has come for admitting the inexorability of the  technology."
     When the Mets are coming to bat the fences will be moved to 250' from home plate.  When the opposing team is coming to bat the fences will be moved to 900' from home plate.
Between at-bats the fences can be moved ready for play without any significant delaying of  the game.", Karla explained.
     Asked about concerns that the plan seemed to give the Mets an advantage, Karla stormed out of the press announcement explaining before leaving, "We can't do anything to satisfy you people can we!"
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