Do Novels Cause Old Person Terrorism?

A bunch of decrepit rednecks fantasizing about mass murder is a common enough occurrence in North Georgia (your Wonkette bookman knows this from lifelong experience). What’s different about the alleged plot by this AARP IRA is that they had the misfortune to run into an FBI informant who actually challenged them to put their brain-damaged program into action. Thus, a “bucket list” of gubmint/corporate/media folk to kill, plus an imaginary Knight Rider car that spits ricin all over I-85. It’s good to know that novels can still inspire people to change the world

Haha, you thought your reviewer actually took a look at Absolved by Mike Vanderboegh? Life is too short, sirs and misses. Let one make oneself clear, though. Your reviewer spends most of his time in the South’s largest and smoggiest outpost of anti-American librulism, faggotry and hippity-hop, and he strongly doubts he would have enjoyed a ricin attack.

This threat to our freedom/civilization/existence can’t go unanswered, even though the weaklings in our gubmint won’t do what is Necessary. A drone campaign against the counties of North Georgia, plus a decade-long occupation (with side excursions into random parts of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee), is the only solution. This is one’s informed policy advice, though it will probably go unheeded, and we’ll continue to fight this war with one I ADOPTED A LEMUR wrist-banded hand tied behind our back.

Oh, and we should outfit all old people with Gitmo jumpsuits. Your reviewer will be forming a think tank soon to discuss further Solutions to Terrorism. We’ve invited Newt Gingrich to be our mascot.

Now then. A new book you should actually read, maybe, is Vivian Gornick’s sharp new biography of the great Emma Goldman. Now there’s a lady who wouldn’t have seen the point of killing everyone with biological weapons, despise the State (and the corporates) though she did.

A snippet from Gornick:

The right to stay alive in one’s senses, and to live in a world that prized that aliveness, was, for [Goldman], a key demand in any struggle she cared to wage against coercive government rule. The hatred she bore for the centralized state was rooted in what she took to be the government’s brutish contempt for the life of the individual. Fellow radicals who exhibited a similar contempt were held to the same standard. Comrades were those who, in the name of the revolution, were bent on honoring the complete human being.

Although Mikhail Bakunin, that fiercest of Russian anarchists, was one of her heroes, his famous definition of the revolutionary as a man who “has no interests of his own, no feelings, no habits, no longings, not even a name, only a single interest, a single thought---the revolution” was as abhorrent to her as corporate capitalism. If revolutionaries gave up sex and art while they were making the revolution, she said, they would become devoid of joy…the world would be even more heartless than it had been before.

It’s interesting, even though it’s a bit silly, to imagine what Emma Goldman would make of the current scene. We’re pretty sure that 90% of the political bloggingsphere would despise her, as would 100% of mainstream journalists. She wasn’t respectful of the Achievements/Depredations of the Wealthy, nor did she care much for politicians from either of America’s two favorite parties, nor did she yearn to be part of any kind of majority.

Anyway, try Gornick’s biography, or even better, Goldman’s essays. They’re much more fun and valuable than reading comment threads on zeitgeist-y blogs full of stuff along the lines of “b-b-but the Occupy people can’t really be anarchists, can they? Let me be the first to tell you, anarchy is NOT KOOL, guys. What would our world be without the police? Horses rampant on the subway, pissing on strangers’ iPads, that’s what.”

Finally: your reviewer would like, if he may, to congratulate Tomas Tranströmer on that fancy Nobel Prize for Literature. A great poet and a deserving feller, we think. The Politics don’t come up too often in his poetry, but when they do, it’s usually in oblique or philosophical ways like this:

Radical and Reactionary live together as in an unhappy marriage,

molded by each other, dependent on each other.

But we who are their children must break loose.

Every problem cries in its own language.

Go like a bloodhound where the truth has trampled.


Emma Goldman: Revolution as a Way of Life (Jewish Lives) by Vivian Gornick, Yale University Press, 160 pages, $12.50

Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman, Dover Publications, 304 pages, $9.95

The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems by Tomas Tranströmer, New Directions, 288 pages, $12.21


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