Discussion in 'All things Bukowski' started by cirerita, Jan 8, 2008.
Thanks for the low-down on the down-low.
Martinez has been writing for the Times for as long as I can remember. I think he's a just-bang-it-out-for-today kind of guy by now. When you have to be "creative" on a daily schedule like that you must miss as many as you hit.
I thought it was good in the context of the articles that have come out re: Bukowski the Nazi, since Martinez took an actual position and didn't just dryly report what The Angry Gnome and the current owner had to say. He said, essentially, "the idea that he's a Nazi was perpetrated by a jealous man, and is likely bullshit," and for that alone I would single him out among the print media types.
Do we have to admire Bukowski to honor his Poetry
We don't have to admire him...... But I respect where he came from.
His Isolation as an Immigrant. His Isolation as an only child. His alienation from a cruel father. His Isolation from women due to his skin condition. His alcohol problem, his depression, his mental frailty.
I don't admire him for breaking Lynda King's nose, or ostracizing himself from many friends or masturbating whilst watching a 9 year old skate....
But I admire his honesty, putting himself on the front-line in terms of Literature for exposing himself to so much scrutiny.
I admire him for having the guts to do that and to push literature to another level.
Bukowski has a lot of differing sides to him, he wasn't perfect - he was just BUK!
Plus, he was quite good at combining truth and fiction to produce very readable stories.
I've watched people, during the Blogging mentality of the Twenty First
Century, move from a sick Self Centeredness (as evidenced by titles of
magazines . . . SELF comes to mind) to this outward, projection view of the
world as evidenced by the reality shows, and by reading Blawgs. It's on the
internet, it has to be true, correct? What I'm reading is written in stone, I
mean it's on the internet, so it's true, isn't it? And it's on television on a reality
show, so it's real, right?
I'd comment more, but wrestling is on. I never miss it. It's real, you know.
If we're talking narcissism, its been with us since Adam grew hairs around it.
If we're talking voyuerism, its been around since Eve grew tits.
And if we're talking credulity, well take a look at some of them ancient
rock paintings. Women with tits the size of watermelons. I betchya young cavemen
put in a good part of their lives looking for that tribe.
And 30 years ago, before we all got online, how many of us were warned
by tired old heads (who'd heard enough to know shit from clay)
to be careful what we believed? Lest some spruiking bullshit artist
plays on our blind faith in mass media to bring us the 'TRUTH'
and spins us a yarn, like Lennon is a man of peace
and the Vietnamese have to be crushed cos otherwise there'd be nothing stopping the yellow hordes
taking over the world.
The medium may change but in the end it's the same river, different cunt.
I'm talking about not taking Bukowski literally.
i don't know what you're talking about.
You mean not believing all that you read or presuming its literal truth? Bukowski or not?
That's some good sh*t right there
wasn't she just 6 or 7?
Do we need to admire Buk to honour his poetry?
I certainly don't accept everything I read as truth. I'm also aware the Buk used 'Poetic License' in his Novel and poems.
The incidents I mentioned are in Sounes's book - 'Locked in the arms...'
I don't 'honour' wife/girlfriend beaters, although I found his portrayal of Linda King in 'Women', and the to-ing and fro-ing of the sculpture really funny.
Buk never mentioned breaking her nose and blacking her eyes in the novel?
Maybe he wasn't that poud of it? But we're all human.
I once chucked an alarm clock at my missus...... but made sure I missed!
(Although I'm a crap shot!)
Absolutely right. The fact is, intentional or not, he has written a piece which contains homophobic sentiments. The issue is not whether he is homophobic, the issue is that if it gets published it will be offensive to homosexuals and the writer himself should show more humility and realise this. If it is pointed out to him, as it has been, and he refuses to accept the unintentional claim he has made, then I would argue he is infact guilty of (albeit unwitting) homophobia.
I thought exactly the same as you when I first read the article. In no way can you compare Wilde's conviction (the fault of the society) with Pound's (the fault of himself). To do so is to implicitly accept either the facism of Pound as acceptable now, or the homosexuality of Wilde as unacceptable now.
Back to the point of the topic, I don't think we need to admire a poet in order to admire their poetry. T.S. Eliot, Pound, Hamsun, and many more that have been mentioned, are all guilty of prejudice in one way or another, but their works (at least their major works) stand by themselves as works of art. Whoever said we can forgive the greats their humanity is wrong though, we should not forgive them.
I think its an interesting question, and it depends on how you read poetry. I think there is a tension at the moment as to whether to read the poem only as a poem, not as a poet's work, which would be to suggest that we can ignore the poet's personal flaws OR to read the poem with biographical and historical context considered. I suppose a question like this could be central to that debate. With a poet like Bukowski the image of the writer standing behind his work is absolutely essential to his poetry, therefore if he was anti-semitic it would pose a problem. We can't admire that, it is definitely wrong, and if Bukowski is standing behind his poets as an anti-semite, we have to question the value of his work.
I, however, feel that I do not admire Bukowski as a person. It is easy to get caught up in his own self-created image because, naturally, it is a fairly appealing one. However, his greatness came from the fact that he showed humility and was self-depricating. I always feel with Bukowski, no matter how posteured he is or self-aggrandizing, there is an undercurrent of his humanity and his own cynicism of the 'Bukowski' he has created. I think this is most powerfully felt in Women.
More importantly, he never made an issue of anything close to anti-semitism in his work as far as I can see. I doubt Bukowski would ever go as far as to commit himself to something so close to being a political belief!
Well said. Martinez may have unintentionally made a poor analogy by lumping together such a diverse group of scribblers. Pound was definitely a nutter who was very fortunate to escape the hangman's noose at the end of WWII for activities that were very much against the ethics of Bukowski.net. His incarceration was well-deserved.
Wilde, on the other hand, was a victim of ignorance and prejudice.
I also agree with you that Pound CAN NOT be forgiven. Perhaps some of you agree with me that justice would have been served had Pound been punished more severely. Make his works available, by all means, but send Fascists to jail where they belong!
This of course begs the following question: To what extent does one separate the man from his work? Take the following statement: "GIVE PEACE A CHANCE". Is it valid regardless of who states it? Is it more meaningful if uttered by a pop star rather than a penniless hobo given to staggering out of cheap dives?
Here's some stuff on HAMSUN from WIKIPEDIA, a lousy source but hell, it's so readily available.
"...Hamsun was a prominent advocate of Germany and German culture, as well as a rhetorical opponent of British imperialism and the Soviet Union, and he supported Germany both during First and the Second World War. Despite his immense popularity in Norway and around the world, Hamsun's reputation for a time waned considerably because of his support of Vidkun Quisling's National Socialist government. Following a meeting with Joseph Goebbels in 1943, he sent Goebbels his Nobel Prize medal as a gift.
While in his 80s, and largely deaf, Hamsun met with Adolf Hitler. His audience with him is recorded to have been mostly him complaining about the Nazi depredations against Norwegians. Hamsun tried to have him remove Josef Terboven from the position of Reichskommissar of Norway.
According to Bennett Cerf's book Try and Stop Me, after Hamsun's alliance with the Quislingites became widely known, angry Norwegians sent copies of his books back to his hometown in such numbers that the small post office in the town had to hire temporary workers to assist in handling the volumes of books arriving.
After Hitler's death, Hamsun wrote an obituary in the leading Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, describing him as a "warrior for mankind". It has been argued that his "sympathies" were those of a country that had been occupied. He sometimes used his status as a man of fame to improve the conditions of his area during the occupation and criticized the number of executions. Still, following the end of the war, angry crowds burned his books in public in major Norwegian cities. After the war Hamsun was confined for several months in a psychiatric hospital. A psychiatrist concluded he had "permanently impaired mental abilities", and on that basis the charges of treason were dropped. Instead, a civil liability case was raised against him and in 1948 he was fined 325,000 kroner for his alleged membership in Nasjonal Samling, but cleared of any direct Nazi-affiliation. Whether he was a member of Nasjonal Samling or not and whether his mental abilities were impaired is a much debated issue even today. Hamsun stated he was never a member of any political party. Hamsun himself wrote about this experience in the 1949 book, On Overgrown Paths, a book many take as evidence of his functioning mental capabilities.
The Swedish author Thorkild Hansen investigated the trial and wrote the book The Hamsun Trial (1978), which created a storm in Norway. Among other things Hansen stated: "If you want to meet idiots, go to Norway", since he felt that treating an old man like that was outrageous...".
Here's something from the people who administer the NOBEL prizes:
"...Hamsun's admiration for Germany, which was of long standing, made him sympathetic toward the Nazi invasion of Norway in 1940..."
If any of this stuff above is even remotely accurate, and HAMSUN was indeed a supporter of the Hitlerites, then he's a scum-bag. A collaborator. A traitor to his own people. Of course, I'm liberal enough to not advocate the banning of his books because if you do that, then the Hitlers and the Hamsuns win.
What kind of peace? Pax Romana? Pax Americana?
The statement "The sun will rise in the east tomorrow"
is true no matter who you are, whether you like it or not
(or even if you believe it or not).
As "Give peace a chance" is a moral imperative,
do you believe there is a direct relationship
between the morality of the sayer
and your understanding of what is meant?
and then your acceptance of what is said?
Is that an anti-alcoholic sentiment?
You see, the point isn't someone's orientation, someone's belief's or
someone's genetic make up. The point, in the authors own words is. . .
These are men (where are the women! He is against women!), with whom he illustrates his point. . .
I separate the two. Although intertwined, the Myths of Charles Bukowski, the
persona of Charles Bukowski, as written by him, is a magnificent Tour de
Farce. He is a writer. May I suggest The Comedian as Con Man. Excellent book
on the subject.
I don't need to rub Bukowski's feet to enjoy reading his literature.
I'll be off somewhere washing his socks, and cleaning out his cat boxes, if
anyone should need me.
Yes it is.
It doesn't matter what kind of man John Lennon or Martin Luther King or Bob Marley (to name a few pop culture peaceniks with less-than-saintly personal lives) were. What matters is that they inspired millions of people with a message of hope. That's meaningful.
If you don't separate the art from the artist, at the end of the day you will have nothing. Saints don't get into the entertainment business (and writing that is meant for public consumption is entertainment). Scratch the surface of any human that appears pure and righteous and you will find something distasteful. That doesn't necessarily dilute or discredit their message.
And generally speaking, dragging Nazism into a question like this (or any other argument that isn't about Nazism) is just sad clown bullshit. It's a tool idiots use to try to prove a point they don't have a real argument for.
Once you introduce Nazism or pedophilia or cannibalism or big signs that say GOD HATES FAGS into a discussion about something else completely, you are only demonstrating that your position is unsupportable and you need to resort to sensationalism and provocation to deflect and distract.
You know, in my opinion.
Yeah... I've read the warts and all on Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
He said this, did that...
screwed around till his dick fell off...
But then I hear his 'I have a dream'
and any 'evil' I ever heard about the man
is nothing more than meaningless drivel.
All hail you MLK. Ave, Ave Ave.
Unpleasant truths...beautiful lies...
Statements must stand on their own, otherwise we're locked into accepting 'authority' just because it's 'authority'. Any statement's effect, however, often depends on who makes it, for better or worse.
I know what GIVE PEACE A CHANCE means, and I believe in it, for example, even though I know that the sayer, like all of us, could be quite the hypocrite. That's my choice to make. It's also my choice to dismiss any statement, or any writer, based on any criteria I choose, so I could be a Buk fan even though I know the guy was a reprobate. Actually, from my point of view being a reprobate is not a negative thing.
I could also dismiss HAMSUN'S writings because he was a convicted pro-Nazi collaborator, but that could be my loss because I would be allowing my prejudice to interfere with my judgement. Ideally, I would read his works, form an opinion and then try to balance that with his later actions and then this might give me some sort of broader appreciation of HAMSUN. Or maybe not.
Likewise, NOT taking into account an artist's life and actions could lead one to blindly admiring artists like Leni Riefenstahl whose "but I'm apolitical" statement conveniently ignores her support for and from Adolf, which would be an error because it would divorce her ART from its societal context. Not that we necessarily have to have a clear understanding of any art's context because some art does stand on its own, but not in her, and many other cases.
Discussing Nazism in relation to Bukowski, Pound and Hamsun is valid because two of them were convicted of it and one of them had a silly adolescent (mock) infatuation with it. So he told us, so why not discuss it?
Since when is art created in a vacuum? Not separating ART from the artist is to do a disservice to that art.
I agree that you are the arbiter of what 'give peace a chance' means to you.
I suggest your understanding of the peace to which you're prepared to give a chance is influenced by your respect for the sayer who said it.
But back to Buk.
I don't need the Bukowski myth to respect and believe in the greater truths to which his poetry appeals.
I don't care whether he was really in Toeldo in 1948 or that he bullshitted us about ever being in New York at all.
I havn't been there myself and I don't give two turds whether he was there or not either.
I can understand natives of LA, admirers of Buk, feeling proud that he was one of theirs and who walk the very same streets that he did... And more power to you all here who work as hard as you do to preserve his memory.
I'm not offended in the least by those who don't like Buk (like my Mrs), despise him and malign him (although I believe that their opinions should always be challenged). But so bloody what if he had a violent fight with Linda in 19-whenever.
I can understand that the facts of the man's life have an interest value but for me they pale into insignificance compared to the metaphoric poignancy his work brings to my world in abundance.
For me Bukowski is an Australian experience because that is the world in which I live and I can tell you right now that he is just at home in the Australian bush as he is in Los Angeles, California, USA.
A friend of mine reads him in the extremely isolated Aboriginal community where he manages a store and he tells me that Buk's at home out there too.
For me Bukowski was one of those fortunate few whose thoughts transcend cultural barriers and speak directly to the hearts and souls of those who have ears to hear him.
Onya Mr Bukowski!!
Don't get me wrong, I see your point. I think he intended to place more emphasis on the flaunting of homosexuality, which would have been considered as "hell-raising" in his society, as opposed to the homosexuality itself. However, I do believe that his choice of examples undermines his argument, even in the case of Dylan Thomas. While I think your counter-argument ("Is that an anti-alcoholic statement?") is pretty much invalid, I agree with your choice to underline the inclusion of Dylan Thomas. There are many more examples the writer could have used. Dylan Thomas is questionable, though excusable, inclusion for me because his consumption of alcohol is his own character flaw and concerns mainly himself, though perhaps I don't know enough about alcoholism to make that judgement. Homosexuality, of course, is not a character flaw and was used against Wilde when it should not have been. Thomas's inclusion also links to the drinking and related exploits of Bukowski, as the facism and Nazism of Pound and Hamsun links to Bukowski's mock-sentiments.
And I know you're being ironic with your statement about the exlusion of women, but the fact is the writer is very much limited to masculine orientated figures in literature because throughout the history of literature male writers have been dominant, if not for the right reasons. We're not being overly pedantic or politically correct by highlighting this point like you seem to be suggesting. I know what the writer meant, but he shouldn't be too proud to acknowledge that the way he has written the article could be considered offensive.
Don't flatter yourself.
Centuries of science begs to differ with you.
If we need to have women writers in the line: How about blaming George Sand for excessive smoking? (she was even more damaging for her environment by smoking than any fag ever could be. [if that's possible at all. hehe.] - To hell with her!)
I still think Bukowski only went to the Nazi meetings for the free BEER. It's not like he went out and vandalized any Jewish owned businesses or anything.
Those Nazi morons thought that they could sell their ideals with beer. So I admire him for taking a chance and taking their FREE BEER. Bless Bukowski.
As I said, my ignorance on this topic is a flaw in my argument. But my main points I think are still valid. The quote we are discussing can be constrewed as homophobic, and I'm suprised it has been allowed to be published. The writer could easily demonstrate the same point with a more fitting example. Wilde just seems to come from nowhere, despite your reading that it is about the darkness of human spirit, which he has been victim to, that is what the article attempts to highlight. This may be so, but I maintain that the writer should have been more sensitive and more aware of the possible implications of his article. Wilde was subject to external prejudice, as opposed to harbouring prejudice himself or being the victim of alcoholism, which are both questions pertinent to Bukowski. Moreover, Wilde's position was beneficial to society. By grouping him with Pound and Thomas we overlook these points and implicitly group them together, which I think is what people may react to.
If we are to seperate the writer and the text, surely this is a prime example. The writer is not homophobic, but has produced something in which homophobia can easily, if possibly not correctly, be read into. It is clumsy, at best. (Edit: Sorry, this is in relation to the writer of the article, not Thomas, Pound, Wilde or Bukowski)
And I don't know what "hosed" means.
Homosexuals may have many definitions of the word "hosed". But, I don't think too many people who don't care to be gay are afraid of gay people. Bukowski sure doesn't come off like that, constrewed or not. I admire Truman Capote.
Don't know where the Homosexual discussion takes us actually......
Buk comes through as a very spiritual man to me.....
I guess the alcohol meant he lost his self restraint sometimes.
But the literary establishment still don't seem to accept his contribution!
that's maybe worthy of some discussion?
i agree with you on this... if anything, i think mjp's assessment of martinez is the best- he was under deadline and just grinding it out. but, and this thread has proved as much, his poor choice of authors to compare is really a major distraction to an otherwise good article.
and, i think the only person equating alcoholism to any sort of person flaw IS martinez; everyone else seems to agree that it doesn't constitute much of a flaw at all.
finally, centuries of science would have a hard time proving whether anything is or is not a personal flaw; that's more in the realm of sociology. however, science can prove whether or not something is unhealthy, and i'd be very interested to read a summary of centuries of scientific research that suggests that alcoholism doesn't have negative health effects.
Separate names with a comma.