New Bukowski blog

Johannes

Founding member
Interesting and intelligent stuff there, looking way beyond the whore-boozing-racetrack imago.

Keep this up, it's good.

Some thoughts:

Let's not confuse the iconic wordsmith with the unions of our nations who have brought us true equity and fair treatment in our factories!
A bit fancy worded but still the right idea: the working-class-hero image does not work with Bukowski or his literary alter ego because he (or it) is completely apolitical. He represents the typical lower-working-class perfectly, almost deliberatly filling in every stereotype, but at the same time completely transcending ... ah, fuck the language barrier, he's simply not stuck with it. If he (or his literary alter ego) wants a revolution for the working class or something like that its a human revolution, starting with the individual and ending with it and not through unions and etc.

You will find many quotes concerning this.

Homosexual acquaintances were also in the firing line of verbal degradation and extreme prejudice. One might go so far as to say homophobia.
This is a simplification and does not fit the rest of your well thought (and obviously well read) text. Keep on reading, you will find that to be untrue. Homosexual men and homosexual sex are often topics of satire in Bukowskis work, but so is everything else.

Sorry for possible erros, not my mother tongue.
 
Thanks for your thoughtful and concerned feedback. Upon reflection, I wonder if the homophobic comment may be a result of placing a modern understanding of the term on him and his work, which of course would be a fallacy. For us in 2011, mere exclusion of people who choose to love others of the same gender can qualify has homophobia. In pre-1990's , the term would require a more aggressive stance. You are correct. I will look further into this issue. He does seem to vacillate between acceptance and name calling on this one. And, there is the same mixed message in his biographical data.I hope you choose to follow the blog! I may have a few fancy words, but I am not a fancy person. lol.
 
Have you come across any dissent amongst academics for your choice of critiquing Bukowski? It seems that many of my lecturers only advocate the discussion of works that need sparknotes to understand them. Here's looking at you, Pound. I enjoyed reading your blog by the way.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
One of Bukowski's best friends was gay. He accepted him and his partner into his house often. He may have used people in satire, but to say that he was homophobic is completely off base given what we know about him. He certainly was not politically correct by today's standards, but in the 60's - 80's, for a straight man to have openly gay friends makes him more of a renaissance man than an Archie Bunker-style homophobe.
 
Have you come across any dissent amongst academics for your choice of critiquing Bukowski? It seems that many of my lecturers only advocate the discussion of works that need sparknotes to understand them. Here's looking at you, Pound. I enjoyed reading your blog by the way.
Thanks so much for reading my blog. Thus far, I've not encountered any dissent. Part of my reason for choosing Bukowski is because, among being one of my favourite writers, he has, relatively speaking, little critical attention. I like your reference to sparknotes authors, that about sums it up! My MRP advisor is very supportive and very excited about walking taking this journey with me. I hope you will enjoy my future blog entries.

I dislike blawgs in general but this blog
is pretty good. Thanks for the link.
Wow, that's saying something! Thanks!

One of Bukowski's best friends was gay. He accepted him and his partner into his house often. He may have used people in satire, but to say that he was homophobic is completely off base given what we know about him. He certainly was not politically correct by today's standards, but in the 60's - 80's, for a straight man to have openly gay friends makes him more of a renaissance man than an Archie Bunker-style homophobe.
bospress,

I urge you to give the blog entry another read. I am not constructing an argument that Bukowski is homophobic, rather that he does not 'fit in' well. As part of my argument, I refer to his documented discomfort with the homosexual lifestyle, which often materialized as degrading discourse. I assure you that a close and careful reading of the piece will clear up your concern.
 

bospress.net

www.bospress.net
Hi Erica,
Really, I'm not concerned. Bukowski has been called a homophobe before and he has been accused of being bi-sexual. A lot of this is probably because Bukowski created many myths about himself. He also gave many of his readers the idea that Chinaski IS Bukowski. This has blurred the line between fact and fiction.

The truth is that Bukowski wrote honestly about many of his friends. Some of these stories were hurtful and probably should not have been published. Case in point being the stories about Jon & Lou Webb, William Wantling, John Bryant. These stories probably should not have seen print while the parties were still alive. He seemed to write like he was writing only for himself, but had legions of readers who peaked into his life through his words. He could be cruel, but I find no evidence that he was more cruel to gay folks than he was to straight ones.

Having a discomfort at seeing two men kiss is not homophobic. I would guess that a straight couple making out may be uncomfortable to a homosexual, but would that mean that the homosexual had extreme prejudice against straight people? People's being cannot be boiled down to a sex act. He could have no problems with homosexuals (Again, he had many openly gay friends), while still not wanting to see them get it on. Calling a straight man with many openly gay friends a homophobe just seems odd.

Still, it would be unfair to harp on one line in a blog entry. I just think that it is wrong, but it is certainly open to different interpretations. Plus, as people like to let me know, I am often full of shit anyway!

Best,
Bill
 

cirerita

Founding member
Well, you have the "macho" Bukowski and the "marshmallow" Bukowski -and everything that's in between, which is a handful, too. There are a few controversial references to homosexuals in early interviews and stories -you'll find them here if you're lucky enough to dig them up.
As Bill said, I think it's all part of the Bukowski/Chinaski myth. Bukowski liked to clown around -especially when drunk- and some of his gay "friends" (Cherkovski or Norse) would afterwards tell stories about Bukowski's supposed bisexuality. But, then again, those friends were openly gay, and their stories are far from being objective -if there's such a thing as being "objective".
Just my two 2 cents.
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
Founding member
a Master's MRP focusing on the sexual poetics of Charles Bukowski. I invite you to take a look.
Erica:
Sexual poetics? :-( What does that mean?
I won't say b-shit, but I'm tempted.
I strongly recommend dropping the "gender studies" or "queer theory" approach to Buk's s writing. Its a dead end, a blind alley, like sucking wind thru straws. I did my own thesis on Buk's poetry and my (butch) advisor tried to get me to link Buk to gender studies.
But this is something ppl who haven't read Buk do. They fall for the Buk macho wild man myth, and overlook the words. Focus on the words!

Sure, it might go down well with a lot of academics (who haven't read Buk), and bolster your academic career, but it will sidetrack you from the real greatness of Buk's (and anyone else's) poetry.

I strongly recommend: reconsider!

You can start by telling us what you like about Buk's poetry. We aren't interested in his sexual preferences - or your's for that matter (aint got time to read your blog just now...).
 

cirerita

Founding member
Master's MRP focusing on the sexual poetics of Charles Bukowski...
I'm not home now and I can't double-check this, but I'm pretty sure there's a MA devoted to Bukowski's sexuality. Actually, I think it was a MA about the sexuality of three or four authors, not only Bukowski's.
 

hoochmonkey9

Art should be its own hammer.
Moderator
Founding member
Erik, normally I'd agree with you, but after reading Erica's blog I think she's on the right track.
 

Erik

If u don't know the poetry u don't know Bukowski
Founding member
OK, skimmed trhu the blawg, and my instincts were dead on:
As my degree program continued, I found myself interested in the work of Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva and Simone de Beauvoir.
This was exactly what my advisor (or whatever you call it) wanted to push my Buk-study into. And don't get me wrong, me and her got, and get, along swell. It's just that her line of work on literature (Kristeva, Irigarary) bores me to death. They focus on extremes like: "unflaggingly, like an inescapable boomerang, a vortex of summons and repulsion"(Kristeva, 1982)", but in doing so miss the point. Yes Buk' life was extreme at times, but that's not the main thing. The main thing is that he was in full control of his art despite the "vortex of summons and repulsion" his life often touched.

Do you get it Erica? The vortex may be interesting, and easy for an academic to think is flashy and important. But the real important thing is the clear cut words Buk put down on paper despite everytthing else (childhood, drink, women, gambling, work). Plenty of people are dragged into the vortex, but poetry they do not write. Its so easy to mix the two things up. OK so maybe Van Gogh was crazy, and boy! he even cut off his ear because of a woman (body politics, symbolic castration, woman as the other), but when he painted those paintings he was saner, and saw things clearer, then most of us.

So hey, if studying "a vortex of summons and repulsion" is what turns you on to Buk's poetry, then knock your socks off. There's plenty of other academics out there doing it too, so have fun. But is this really what you want to do with your time?

PS: you write: "Where does Bukowski fit in?", but it's not about Bukowski, or the vortex he was in, it's about the poems he wrote, so lucidly.

PPS: and the same goes for you, Erica, I'm not criticizing you personally. I'm criticizing your words. Or the words you've borrowed from I & K.

Good luck to you, I'm sure you'll have fun despite the vortex of gripe I've cast you into...
;-)
But now I have to get back to my very own "vortex of summons and repulsion"...
 
"The main thing is that he was in full control of his art despite the "vortex of summons and repulsion" his life often touched."

"Do you get it Erica?"
Erik,

I think the interpretation of "vortex of summons and repulsion" you've centred on is much more literal than intended. The quote, as used in the blog, directly refers to Kristeva's theory of abjection which I explain in full at the beginning. This quote is not used to refer to the lifestyle or various 'ups and downs' in Mr. Bukwski's life. I apologize for the ambiguity and will re-visit the blog to see if I need to further clarify.

Regarding whether or not I 'get it', I believe I 'get' a great many things. One thing that I 'get' is that the tone of this query (and it's following well wishes) are condescending and cross a line of respect between two equal individuals. On-line forums are, by their very nature, a place of vulnerability but one hopes a politic approach is held in high regards by people who engage in discussions.
 

mjp

Your Host
Moderator
Founding member
One thing that I 'get' is that the tone of this query (and it's following well wishes) are condescending and cross a line of respect between two equal individuals.
Sweetheart, I fear you may be too fragile to spend much time here.

For the most part, you've been treated downright deferentially, yet you seem to be very upset with mild disagreement. I fear that for you this place holds only the promise of heartbreak, and I would hate to see you leave in tears, clutching your Andrea Dworkin body pillow and tossing insults over your shoulder that everyone has to look up in a dictionary in order to be properly insulted by. Sadly though, I can assure you that that will be your fate unless you grow some balls, as Gloria Steinem famously advised Linda Hirshman to do in her acclaimed and oft-cited 1973 op-ed piece in the Wimmin's Worker Daily.

You have not joined an effete cathedral of intellectualism, neocolonialism and organic watercress on hand made artisan bread. You have entered Thunderdome, and as you know from your Critical Deconstruction of the films of Mel Gibson class, someone always dies in Thunderdome. It doesn't have to be you, but I'm afraid, Erica. I'm afraid. I would offer to pray for you, but I know that you're too smart to believe in God.
 

cirerita

Founding member
I was wrong, there are actually two MA dealing with B's sexuality:

-"Body language: The material bodily lower stratum in the poetry of Walt Whitman, Frank O'Hara, and Charles Bukowski" by Reid, Bradford Jordan, M.A., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2007.

-"Beaten, fagged and fucked" : constructs of masculinity in four novels by Charles Bukowski",
by Martha Mary Evans, M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2008.
 
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esart

esart.com
Founding member
"Body language: The material bodily lower stratum in the poetry of Walt Whitman, Frank O'Hara, and Charles Bukowski" by Reid, Bradford Jordan, M.A., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2007.

-"Beaten, fagged and fucked" : constructs of masculinity in four novels by Charles Bukowski",
by Martha Mary Evans, M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2008.

The 2nd one especially makes me throw up a little bit in my mouth. But add them both to the long list of jugheads that don't get Bukowski with or without a fancy degree, and with or without OCD and too much time on their hands. Stick them on Fantasy Island where they belong!


Erica, you can focus on Kristeva's theory of abjection all you want, if that's where you align, but keep in mind that Bukowski wrote Chanaski as a character. His works are fiction, and like all writers of fiction, many characters are based somewhere in reality to some greater or lesser extent. What you say about him and what you say about his characters should be differentiated, otherwise you will sound like a strange soap opera fan.
 
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jordan

lothario speedwagon
bukowski and chinaski being different people is a thorny issue, though... to the extent that the exploits and opinions of chinaski illuminate bukowski's views, it's not so cut and dry as it would be in a story where an author is clearly using a character to achieve a certain effect. i think bukowski/chinaski mirrors celine/bardamu fairly closely - which is interesting, because celine was going for the opposite of plausible deniability... even though bardamu doesn't express any racist/anti-semetic opinions in 'journey to the end of the night,' celine later said that the foundation for everything he himself came to believe was right there in the text. obviously it isn't one-to-one, but insofar as bukowski put a hell of a lot of himself into his works, i think it is legitimate to form conclusions about bukowski from the books about chinaski.
 

mjp

Your Host
Moderator
Founding member
It may be legitimate to form conclusions based on Chinaski, but about half of those conclusions will ultimately be based on fantasy. Examples of which we've seen here ad nauseum. As the kids say. Even in some of the "critical studies" and biographies.
 
The Chinaski/CB division is a complicated business. Would anyone want to hazard an estimate about the truth/untruth about the poems? I would say the poems are a lot more reflective of CB's views/situation (as we know them from biographies but also (especially) the letters) than the novels. The stories/columns are even more tricky to unpick. What does everyone think? It's a blurry line between truth/exaggeration/faulty memory/compression of true events/poetic licence/distortion/untruth/complete red herring. Even CB would not be able to divide all the events completely accurately. After all, ever discussed an event you witnessed with a friend and found you differed on certain details? Even eyewitness testimony is not infallible.
Work for biographers, I think...
CB is an autobiographical writer even if everything he did isn't autobiographical. Ultimately, it doesn't matter to enjoying the writing itself.
 
Wow, that's saying something! Thanks!
Isn't it just.

To write off an entire mode of expression which allows people who would never otherwise have a voice is obscenely oppressive, to me. Blogging has and will continue to change the world for the better.

Nice blog, by the way.
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Ignoring a blog is hardly the same as "writing off an entire mode of expression".
 
Confused, the person in question didn't say ignore, they said 'dislike'. Perhaps I read to much into it with "writing off an entire mode of expression". Apologies.
 
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