Just finished Child of God

This topic contains 16 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Peter Josyph 2 years, 10 months ago.

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  • 23 Jan 2015 at 4:21 pm #6270

    jasonp
    Member

    And let’s just say Lester Ballard won’t be getting nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year. That’s one crazy sumbitch.


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    23 Jan 2015 at 5:44 pm #6271

    puremultiple
    Member

    That’s an interesting statement to make in a world in which Barack Obama received that revered distinction of peace. Obama, of course, is responsible through executive direction, for the execution by drone strike of innocent folks in Afghanistan, Iraq, &c.
    That is just to say that the brilliance of McCarthy’s depiction of Lester is such that one is forced to reconsider the sort of world that condemns someone like Ballard. He is systematically excluded by society, in the name of common decency, and is by effect the very cause of the sort of non-Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning behavior that occupies most of the more appalling text.
    Just a thought.


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    23 Jan 2015 at 5:53 pm #6272

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    Obama can go on “executing” terrorists and those who provide them with support and shelter from now till doomsday. I suppose you would rather have been at that Kosher market or magazine office in Paris when a couple of your “innocents” came to work, or do you think war is child’s play and that we’re not actually at war after all?

    Now if you really want to blame someone, howsabout Obama’s dimwitted messianic lush of a predecessor who dragged us into the region with his war of lies and corruption and destabilized everything in the first place, slaughtered not dozens but hundreds of thousands of genuine innocents (by Red Cross estimates, conservative ones at that) and left him with this huge mess on his hands?


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    23 Jan 2015 at 7:55 pm #6274

    puremultiple
    Member

    1) Bush is no friend of mine. I have no sympathy, and harbor enmity, for the ignorance, greed and vitriol that fueled the clusterfuck centered around the contemporary issues in the Middle East. Just because one acknowledges the severe failings of the Obama administration doesn’t mean that one is allied with the conservative war hawks.
    2) The situation in France is a bit more complicated than a simple slaughter of innocent journalists. Yes, it was tragic. No, those folks who were “just doing their jobs” didn’t in any way deserve to lose their lives. Yes, violent politico-theological ideology of any sort (not just Islamic jihadism) is vile. On the other hand, the situation in France is complicated. I lived there for a while. Ethno-relations are fucked up. French White Nationalism is, in many ways, more ideologically problematic than radical Islamism. Racist anti-Islamism seems to make events like the Chalie Hebdo massacre a rule rather than an exception (cf http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/14/are-all-terrorists-muslims-it-s-not-even-close.html). Getting back to Obama, no, the sort of extremist violence that characterizes Al-Qaeda or ISIL ideology does not condone the sort of indiscriminate violence characteristic of the Deh Bala Wedding Party, or the Azizabad airstrike, or the Sangin airstrike, or the Granai airstrike, or the Wech Baghtu wedding party, &c. &c.. Thinking that the Obama administration (through perhaps no fault of its own) is any less violent, imperialistic and racist than the Bush administration is to succumb to the same kind of ideological myopia that allowed conservatives to justify their missteps during the post-9/11 shitstorm. Which brings me to my third point.
    3) All I meant to say was that when we read Child of God, we have to keep in mind that the “unthinking” violence of Lester Ballard always emerges within a culture that fosters it. The genius of McCarthy is his ability to simultaneously allow us to distance ourselves from Lester (“I would never do anything so vile”), which isn’t so far from the violence that we partake in as a culture, especially in a post-9/11 world, and at the same time give us the space to view his violence and debauchery as a thing that we can in some foreign manner understand.


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    23 Jan 2015 at 8:03 pm #6275

    puremultiple
    Member

    p.s. my apologies, I didn’t expect such a comment to be so controversial. I was just looking to make a point of the continuing role of society in the understanding of violence. Benjamin and Zizek are both deeply influential on my reading of McCarthy in this sense.


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    23 Jan 2015 at 8:15 pm #6276

    puremultiple
    Member

    p.p.s.And to say that those folks (like Obama) that we’ve held up as paragons of pacifism, through venues like the Nobel peace prize, are not as laudable as we might hope.


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    23 Jan 2015 at 10:19 pm #6278

    cantona
    Member

    Well, I for one think it’s possible to disagree ( though my own disagreements would only be of the quibbling kind) with the above post/s and yet still applaud the call for a much more political reading of Child of God.


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    • This reply was modified 3 years ago by  cantona.
    24 Jan 2015 at 6:46 am #6283

    jasonp
    Member

    Mmmkay.


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    24 Jan 2015 at 7:27 am #6286

    jasonp
    Member

    It’s obvious that Ballard’s desperation is one of the factors that turned him into a homicidal necropheliac.

    The other part of the equation is Ballard’s meanness he had had since childhood.

    As for the desperation, I pity him.

    As for the meanness, I hate him.

    He’s an interesting character.

    How he became a crazy sumbitch doesn’t change the fact that he is a crazy sumbitch.

    You can either pity him or hate him.

    I tend to have both feelings at once about him.

    (And he has nothing to do with Obama.)


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    24 Jan 2015 at 12:31 pm #6288

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    I only wish I had a recording of Peter Josyph and Raymond Todd performing the jingle they wrote for a television series based on COG. They played it at the Menger Hotel in San Antonio for one of our conferences a good ten or more years ago – The show was to be called Where’s Lester? and the chorus ended with “He’s just like you and me!” Hilarious.

    A few observations on the above:

    – A very good sustained “political” reading of McCarthy can be found in Dave Holloway’s book The Late Modernism of Cormac McCarthy. It’s a primarily Marxian critique, as it would have to be since Marxist critics like Dave, Raymond Williams, Frederick Jameson, Michael Rogin and Terry Eagleton have established the only viable toolkits for evaluating literary texts on the bases of their economic and political contexts. One cannot really envision a practical “Capitalist” criticism, since the capitalist ethos is as committed to self-obfuscation as the Marxian is to revelatory demystification. You’d only wind up with the textual equivalent of Dinesh D’ Souza, and we need that about as much as we need a more resistant strain of shingles virus.

    – Just for the fun of it, I am currently working on a Marxian study of some of Ed Wood Jr.’s films for a lecture I’m presenting next week at the world famous Luna Star Cafe in North Macondo, entitled “You Earthlings are Stupid! – The Inadvertent Genius of Edward D. Wood, Jr.” In the spirit of Roland Barthes, I will also be arguing that Wood’s dialogue was strongly influenced by Yogi Berra.

    – As far as l’affaires Obama, (a) when you import a wholly gratuitous comment about contemporary politics into a discussion about a forty year old novel, you open up a rift in the discussion that could be expected to fill with “controversy” as naturally as a roadside ditch would fill with stagnant rainwater, and (b) I don’t know of, and have never encountered, any popular conception that Obama is some great bringer of peace in the first place – except when constructed as a straw man for the sake of posing gratuitous discussions. As I indicated above, he is a commander-in-chief who inherited a war. Cormac McCarthy once did note, in the famous 1992 New York Times interview, that the belief that men are morally perfectible and the desire that they be so “will make your life vacuuous.”


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