Do we need to admire Charles Bukowski to honor his poetry? (1 Viewer)

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!)
:):):D:D:):):D:D
 
here is his response to me (cut and pasted), which I didn't respond to:

"I just don't readers to feel I'm homophobic. In 800 words or so you don't have a lot of room to explain; you do the best you can and move on. "

I do agree with this, and I don't think he's homophobic. Still, I don't think it's wrong to point out to a journalist when his writing has negative implications, even if unintended, and even if there are space limitations. This guy totally wants me to fuck off... why put your email address on, then? It's not like I launched into some tirade, and I even told him I wasn't going to press the point.

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!
 
M

MULLINAX

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?
 
M

MULLINAX

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?

..."GIVE PEACE A CHANCE" is it valid regardless of who states it?...

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?
 

Father Luke

Founding member
The fact is, intentional or not, he has written a piece which contains homophobic sentiments.

I disagree.

Dylan Thomas died in 1953 after proclaiming that he had just downed 18 straight whiskeys and wondering if it were a record.

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. . .

I mention them to emphasize that not all poets are whispering pixies.

These are men (where are the women! He is against women!), with whom he illustrates his point. . .

Do we need to admire Charles Bukowski to honor his poetry?

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.

- -
Okay,
Father Luke
 

mjp

Founding member
"GIVE PEACE A CHANCE". Is it more meaningful if uttered by a pop star rather than a penniless hobo given to staggering out of cheap dives?
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.
 
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.

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.
 
M

MULLINAX

Unpleasant truths...beautiful lies...

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?

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 know what GIVE PEACE A CHANCE means (& etc...)

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!!
 
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. . .

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.
 
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!)
 

Gerard K H Love

Appreciate your friends
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.
 
Centuries of science begs to differ with you.

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.
 

Gerard K H Love

Appreciate your friends
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.
 
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.

Well said!

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?:eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:
 

jordan

lothario speedwagon
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.

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.
 
To be fair, I called it a character flaw, but I'd revise that statement. It wasn't what I meant, what I was trying to get at is that alcoholism still has negative implications today, whether it is a psychological disease or whatever.
 
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.

His so-called Nazi sympathies would also have to be cast in the light of his being proud of his German roots. Nazism was not the widely known murder-machine in its early years that it later became. As for anti-semitism... well that was just par for the course in 'Christian' Europe... so no big deal at the time on that one.

As for the beer... of course he would've gone for the beer... do you have ANY idea of what a good German beer tastes like????
 
I agree with Sircha...I think he went to Nazi meetings out of temporarily misguided pride in his homeland, an un-ending urge to act against anything labeled off-limits by society and because he could.

As for Pound, the Irish wished the Nazis well in WWII because they loved anyone who inflicted pain on the British...perhaps Pound hated certain aspects of what the Allies stood for so much, he took things (way) too far?
 

Gerard K H Love

Appreciate your friends
I'd bet dollars to donuts they served Budwieser or Schlitz. At his age and at that time a beer was a buzz.
He was not anti-semitic or Jewaphobic, at least from I have read.
 
OK. I threw the beer line for a bit of a laugh.

Dunno whether he was anti-semitic or not Haven't heard that he had any particular anti-semitic feelings and I'm sure if he had it would've been done to death in the media by now.

But anyway, anti-semitism also has to be considered within the context of the times. Everybody hated Jews back then. The Kaiser, upon his abdication, blamed the Jew.. (although at the end of his life he came to bitterly despise Hitler and Nazism and vowed he would never step foot in Germany again nor would he will that he was buried there, reputedly saying near the end of his life, "For the first time, I am ashamed to be a German").
 
... the Irish wished the Nazis well in WWII because they loved anyone who inflicted pain on the British...

Yep. Even taking it to the extreme by sending condolences to the German Ambassador in Dublin after hearing of Hitler's death... (to Eamon De Valera's eternal disgrace).
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
The Swedish author Thorkild Hansen investigated the trial and wrote the book The Hamsun Trial (1978)

Thorkild Hansen was Danish, not Swedish! Another Wikipedia goof. Not that it matters. I'm just nit-picking...:)
 
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mjp

Founding member
I have been watching the six hour PBS documentary Jews in America, and it's really astonishing how common, widespread and generally accepted anti-Semitism was in America (and elsewhere, obviously) in the 1920's and 30's.

Henry Ford published a newspaper for almost two years that's sole purpose was to denounce and denigrate Jews. He only stopped publishing it when it looked like he was about to lose a million dollar lawsuit.

And that's just the tip of the Greenberg, er, iceberg.

I am not an apologist for these people, but you have to consider context when you look at these things 70 or 80 years after the fact. It's the only way to understand how they happened, and why, for instance, so many otherwise sane and reasonable German people participated in genocide.

Or why so many people in America want to build fences around the country.

We all have prejudices, and none of them are logical or attractive.
 
Sorry... I meant....

the sentiment of most....

if only more people would realize that addiction is not voluntary thing, a lack of restaint,.. a crime, or a...... skip it.


Please don't think I'm talking about Alcoholism when I talk of 'Restraint'.
What I meant was.... when he was drunk he lost some self restraint..... i.e...
breaking Linda King's nose, the kicking incident, his upsetting of many friends over the years, which is well recorded.

Actually, whilst Bukowski obviously drank a lot, and abused alcohol, I don't believe he had an addiction either Physically or psycologically. Buk had a drinking routine that aided his artistic skills, a positive side, to the one mentioned earlier.

:D:D:):):D:D:):)
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Thorkild Hansen was Danish, not Swedish! Another Wikipedia goof. Not that it matters. I'm just nit-picking...:)

Mullinax answered this post of mine. Now his answer is gone! How come? What happend? - Just curious...
 
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