Bukowski in World War 2 (1 Viewer)

I've read the Tales of Ordinary Madness and other bio information, but what did Bukowski have to say about the US involvement in WW2 - the fact that he was dodged the draft in some form or fashion would have been Massively against the Grain of the times(but who else but Buk would be that?).

I've search the threads and can't find any deep discussion on Buk and WW2.
 
Bukowski was dismissive of the war. And yes, this was massively against the grain. He makes a few comments about it in Ham on Rye and Factotum.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
http://www.academia.edu/1003348/4-F_Charles_Bukowski_and_World_War_II

This is a pretty good paper on the subject of Bukowski and WW2....] .

Enjoyed reading that paper, but disagreed with this bit: "Bukowski certainly was no pacifist. Nor was he necessarily anti-military. After all, had participated in ROTC during high school...."

Yes he did, albeit reluctantly: "I got stuck in the ROTC because I didn't want to be an athlete and they put me in a manual of arms competition and I didn't want to win and I won and they gave me a medal and I threw it down the sewar..."
from Dangling in the Tournefortia " I didn't want to".

I think he was such a loner and anti-authoritarian that it's impossible really to see him functioning effectively as part of a military group, just wouldn't have happened.

Nor do I think it was because of the German connection - Had the U.S declared war on Brazil, I think his attitude would have been the same.
I keep adding bits to this, I need to stop. Just to say also - ( this debate I'm having with myself) even though he was being a contrarian and espousing "fascist" arguments at college I think he was doing it to be controversial. But he must have felt the pressure and stigma of not joining up, can be seen by his wandering around during this time.
 
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Skygazer

And in the end...
I don't think his "wandering" had anything to do with the war, but more to do with his age.

I don't think it was just his youth that made him up sticks and leave Los Angeles, it didn't seem like a particularly happy pilgrimage "off to to see the world" it seems more of an escape, from his family, friends and maybe pressure about the war.

You see a little of that in the short story: The Life of a Bum ( Septuagenarian Stew) in which he describes Harry being jeered at by soldiers (it's 1943) and a little later in the barber shop he says- on thinking about himself - " He was without honor, a dog without a day" although that isn't a reference to the war or signing up, it shows his state of mind a little. There just seems a lot of self dislike and wanting to disappear.
 
The Life of a Bum is a phenomenal short story, almost like a condensed Factotum. I always wanted more from
Buk about Moyamensing. What little there is just not enough.
 
I agree with you Skygazer on the ROTC. Buk never volunteered for anything conventional

I reason I posted the question: I'm thinking of the many WW2 generation men (and women) that i knew(and a few i still know, including my grandfather at age 90) and none of them could dream up a any kind of anti war attitude or even an anti establishment view.

Buk - as with everything he did stood out from the rest.
 

mjp

Founding member
There was less "anti-establishment" thinking around WWII partly because there was also no such thing as youth culture at the time. An anti-establishment sentiment wasn't common among people of draft age until the 50s, when they started being treated differently (and marketed to). Once that started, an anti-establishment point of view could be dismissed as "something those crazy kids go through." Before that there was much less of a defining line between the young and their parents.
 
I think we all agree with the above. It just highlights how different his views and philosophies were even in his younger years. You'd have to search far and wide to find someone from that generation in the '40's like Bukowski. Speaking against the the war effort, even in a passive way - well, that was damn rare at that time. We all know this - it's part of the reason I like Buk. His general 'Fukyouness'
 

mjp

Founding member
Some West coast resistance doesn't massive anti-war sentiment make. You need to get the people who don't live on the coasts involved (because they think everyone on the coasts is crazy anyway), and that didn't really happen until the younger generation became know as "teenagers," and their pop musicians started singing about not marching on to a boat/plane headed for Vietnam.

There had anti-war sentiment in folk music for decades, but again, that was big city communist stuff, and the rest of the country wasn't really listening.

It's an interesting subject, because had there been widespread resistance to WWII in the U.S., we might be living in a very different world now. Instead most of the country got behind it, scrapped and scraped and died in large numbers. I don't think we'll ever see that kind of effort again here in America. You know, until the aliens attack.
 

mjp

Founding member
Classic propaganda! That worked a lot better in those days, before people became more cynical. Though it's still being used everywhere to turn us against each other, and people continue to wave their flags and their holy books around. It's unlikely that will ever change.
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
But given that dictators tend to be one sandwich short of a picnic, whatcha gonna do?
There is the perception that ww2 was a "just" war and basically I can't find an argument against that, unlike the slaughter and the carnage of ww1. Maybe if earlier action had been taken the larger losses would have been avoided, but there was an obvious reluctance in view of ww1, to have it repeated all over again.
George Orwell on the Spanish Civil War:
[ ‘Here we are, soldiers of a revolutionary army, defending Democracy against Fascism, fighting a war which is about something, and the detail of our lives is just as sordid and degrading as it could be in prison, let alone in a bourgeois army.’ Many other things reinforced this impression later; for instance, the boredom and animal hunger of trench life, the squalid intrigues over scraps of food, the mean, nagging quarrels which people exhausted by lack of sleep indulge in...(People forget that a soldier anywhere near the front line is usually too hungry, or frightened, or cold, or, above all, too tired to bother about the political origins of the war.)
...War is evil, and it is often the lesser evil]


Erich Maria Remarque's 1929 novel: All Quiet on the Western Front should be compulsory reading in high school.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
George Orwell on the Spanish Civil War

Anybody interested in the subject should read George Orwell's book, "Homage To Catalonia", in which he describes his participation in the Spanish Civil war. He was fighting in the Marxist POUM militia at the Aragon front where he got hit by a bullet in the neck. He later said had he known more about the political situation in Spain he would have joined the Anarchists instead. It's interesting to read his description of Barcelona, a city for a large part controlled by the Anarchists and other revolutionaries. Not all people are aware of the fact that a social revolution took place during the civil war especially at the beginning of the war with the Anarchists and their organisations, CNT and FAI, at the forefront. Some people say it's Orwell's best book.
Wikipedia have a great article on the book and a summary of each chapter:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homage_to_Catalonia
 
For Whom the Bell Tolls.
by papa Hem
One of the greatest novels ever written on any subject.
The story of an american Spanish professor who joins a band of gypsies behind fascist lines in order to blow a bridge in the Spanish mountains.
Written in English with Spanish syntax. Genius.


on WWI nothing beats Celine.
 
Americans were extremely gullible during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt told the public that he had seen a "secret map" for Nazi conquest of South America. It was complete bullshit but people swallowed it up.
 
His position is pretty much summed up in the final parts of Ham On Rye. His friend who is in the military responds with urgency when he and Chinaski are in a bar and hear a news bulletin about Pearl Harbor. His friend rushes back to his base and Chinaski just hangs around and plays a game in a penny arcade. He pretty much didn't care at all.
 
New member here! Bukowski addressed his "indifference" to living or dying in a great book of two Bukowski interviews by Fernanda Pivano (Ital.) called CHARLES BUKOWSKI: LAUGHING WITH THE GODS. And I quote:
"Pivano: And why did you want to go to the war?
B: Well, I figured it would be interesting. You know, men would be killed for no reason at all, and maybe I would be killed, maybe I would kill somebody. I had no beliefs at all, it would be kind of a circle, you see. I wouldn't mind the killing, being killed won't bother me. The main reason I didn't want to go was because I don't like to be in a large room of confined with many men. It's...ah... I lose my individuality. I just didn't want to match with the fellows up and down; I didn't want to get drunk with them on leave; I didn't want to go out with them and look for a piece of ass. But to kill or be killed wouldn't bother me."
 
That sounds more like Chinaski speaking than Bukowski speaking. Notwithstanding the aforementioned (elsewhere) issue of double-translation of phrases such as "...I don't like to be in a large room of confined with many men..."
 

Skygazer

And in the end...
[...B: Well, I figured it would be interesting. You know, men would be killed for no reason at all, and maybe I would be killed, maybe I would kill somebody. I had no beliefs at all, it would be kind of a circle, you see. I wouldn't mind the killing, being killed won't bother me. The main reason I didn't want to go was because I don't like to be in a large room of confined with many men. It's...ah... I lose my individuality... "

That may be a similar conversation to the one Bukowski had with the military physicians on being assessed after his wrongful "draft dodging" arrest. Where he said he would fight if he had to, but he didn't believe in the war, probably for number of reasons.There was a certain degree of admiration and empathy for Germany, which I think makes him human, given his background - not a nazi - despite the rhetoric at college.
He was deemed unfit for psychological reasons, same as Jack Kerouac. There are good reasons, I don't think either had the right temperament to function in a military group, taking orders. But it must have been a very messed up, difficult time for him, I think.
 

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