From Democracy Now!:
JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, John Cusack, obviously you’re dealing with weighty and tragic situations, but you’ve chosen satire. Why the satire approach, did you feel was necessary?
JOHN CUSACK: Well, I think, you know, all satire or absurdism does is take current trends to the logical conclusion, you know, if you follow it a couple weeks or a couple years down the road. And some would argue, I think rightfully so, that we’re already there.
War Inc. magnifies that which we already know and that which we are being forced to play along with…. Think for a moment of the real-life desert of the real that we live in. The Bush administration and their paid proxies, for example, attack those who disagree with them on the Iraq war as not supporting our soldiers. The term “irony” is not remotely strong enough to convey the horror of this rhetoric given that it is pouring out of the mouths of the very people who have lied to and exploited the troops, our troops. The same people – the Bush administration and their proxies – sent thousands of US soldiers to their death through willful lies and abandoned the broken rest to a hell-hole wasteland of medical neglect -have the arrogance to actually lecture us on supporting the troops. Worse still, the corporate press echoes these same talking points. Yet we see right through all of this, don’t we? It goes in circles and never stops. Is this not excruciatingly absurd? How does one find the logic of this chaos and maintain some semblance of sanity?
There is a scene in War Inc., which quite literally takes this perverted propaganda and puts it on stage in the form of a chorus-line of women whose legs have been amputated. Watching them kick up their metal prosthetic legs all the while smiling in thanks to the fictional defense contractor who has made their dance possible is bone-chilling. Yes, I laughed at the absurdity, but a sort of nervous laughter because crying long seized to relieve the tension. This scene captures perfectly that which we know about the twisted way in which the crimes of the Bush administration have actually hurt our troops and turns inside-out the talking points of the corporate press, directly aiming the sewage back against its origin.
The media is full of articles stating that Iraq war movies and films (the fiction features) have not done well at the box office, but compared to the relative lack of, say, Hurricane Katrina movies, or, say, the ongoing national slaughter of the impoverished by the impoverishers movies, the growing numbers of Iraq war movies, by their very existence alone, are doing extremely well.
Far more such movies have been made now than were remotely ever made about the Vietnam war at a comparable time. And far more people see most any of these movies than see most any such documentary. But it’s no cause for celebration, far from it, because these movies are very careful not to be too “antiwar,” too revealing of the basic illegality and immorality of the US conquest of Iraq.
Continue reading Footnotes to the Conquest: Iraq War Novels and Movies
On the left in North America, the novel kind of died or was killed a long time ago, if nowhere else. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was not only first published in serial form in a left periodical, his research for the novel was funded by it – by the socialist newspaper, The Appeal to Reason. I’m aware of no left news periodicals that are regularly running partisan liberatory fiction. Liberation Lit is one of the few left journals of any type that runs much progressive partisan fiction, and that consciously seeks it out.
Left periodicals might find it ever more to their benefit to run Lib Lit type fiction because, at least compared to nonfiction, it reads better in print than online. Moreover, a lot of nonfiction is actually more useful online than in print, by far; whereas, probably the opposite is true for fiction, with the exception of microfiction. Plus, running liberatory fiction would give left news outlets a comparative advantage over the many news outlets that don’t run any fiction at all, or very little.
Continue reading Fiction and the Left
Haitian repression inspires Danticat
An immigrant author must be brave enough to “create dangerously,” said Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat, who delivered the second annual Toni Morrison Lecture last night in Richardson Auditorium and received a standing ovation from the audience.
Danticat discussed how dealing with injustice in her native Haiti inspired her writing and cultivated her belief in the importance of art in coping with oppression and conflict.
Continue reading Edwidge Danticat on Art and Injustice
Some brief excerpts:
(1903) Frank Norris, The Responsibilities of the Novelist: “[The novel] may be a great force, that works together with the pulpit and the universities for the good of the people, fearlessly proving that power is abused, that the strong grind the faces of the weak, that an evil tree is still growing in the midst of the garden, that undoing follows hard upon unrighteousness, that the course of Empire is not yet finished, and that the races of men have yet to work out their destiny in those great and terrible movements that crush and grind and rend asunder the pillars of the houses of the nations.”
Continue reading Political Literary Criticism: 1903-2003