gall and gumption

Friday, October 08, 2004

A Lesson From Stanley

It's really awful how little I have done on this thing since I started it. But I guess I could just lay it at the door of getting settled into life back in California.

If it's any comfort to any surviving readers out there, my online reading has been rather constrained as well, but I think I may be pulling out of that. One problem has been that when you read in the blog world (I promise I will not start writing about blogging as I have NO expertise on the subject) you can find yourself in sort of subject pockets that it is hard to break out of. The subject pocket that I've been confined in lately, I am ashamed to say, is politics, current affairs and media gossip.

I think politics as an art form is on a level with monster truck rallies. Doesn't have a whole lot to tell you about how life is lived from one minute to the next, and the spectacle of the larger-than-life vicious blowhards is debasing to one's image of human life. It is unedifying. Just know who not to vote for and don't give the brutes any more headroom. As I said to Mary P. recently, when they succeed in blowing up the planet I intend to be listening to Don Giovanni and not thinking of them at all.

Most of the things I really LIKE to read -- long works -- I don't find comfortable reading online.

The challenge has been finding a pocket or nest of readable book stuff. Well, progress might be beginning to be made. So I found Beatrice for a start, granted it's literary gossip which is only a step or two up from politics. Mud up to your chest instead of up to your eyeballs. And I may find that Beatrice's overall sell by date is short, short, short, as I get impatient after a while with smart-aleckyness on the subject of books.

Simone Weil says that good is not the opposite of evil, or the counterpart of evil, it's in another category. Smart-aleckiness is the counterpart of stupidity -- maybe. At any rate it is fine for dealing with stupid people (politicians, celebrities, etc.), I say, but it isn't intelligence. Intelligence like goodness is in its own category. I remember in The Tradition of the New, I think it was, Harold Rosenberg got really irritated with Dwight MacDonald for saying that art was the counterpart to kitsch.

The bit that amused me was Beatrice's little run-in with Stanley. Where was I when Stanley slapped Dale Peck for writing the funniest book review I ever read since Marvin Mudrick died?

Here is a sad bit of trivia: If you are a black person (all shades up through yeller and passing) who gets known to be of a scribbling persuasion, sooner or later some hipster will feel compelled to try to earn your admiration and gratitude by telling you how much he likes Stanley Crouch.

I won't spend time on all the social, moral and political reasons why these flatfooted attempts at ingratiation are just wrong, wrong, wrong (such as, for starters, how dare you assume that you know what I like to read when I've never said three words to you?). What I will address is the idea that there would be any reason on earth why someone would take me for an admirer of the writing of Stanley Crouch. If anyone out there is thinking of laying that tribute at my feet, let me just spare you the trouble right now. Take your bouquet of compliments and your urn full of gush and just get that mess away from me. I'm sure you can find someone who has use for it.

Long before he wrote the novel that prompted Dale Peck's review, I found Crouch's writing unreadable -- unperceiving and crass, and phony phony phony. It is all about status. That a publication with the pretensions to gravitas of the New Republic took him as an authentic voice of Afro-American culture had me wondering about the state of race relations there and among the large number of liberal-professing people who were so ready to accept such mediocrity and bullying as the best that could be expected of black intellectual writing at the time. Then I realized it's pretty much on a par with the New Republic's nonblack writers. You know, every once in a while they had something really good in their books section. But it has been a long while for me since that happened. No reason to expect or require him to be any better, really.

The sort of people, moreover, who usually come to flatter you with their offerings of praise for Stanley, were the sort of people who, before I got to be in my way a published writer with some small shortlived local renown, would never have admitted me into their little cliques that posed as intellectual but were actually about status and the art of composing a personality. Hence, no doubt, the passion of their expression of kinship with Stanley.

Now you understand something of the delight with which I read Dale's review of Don't the Moon Look Lonesome. (Think of that title, for God's sake! It sounds like a line out of Porgy and Bess or Cabin in the Sky.) Everything I suspected about Stanley was confirmed by Peck's account of his book, which quotes from it liberally. More than confirms. But for most of the reading of the review I was baffled. The narrator of the book (a jazz musician with issues) has a white girlfriend who has an unusual anatomical feature: she has a black ass, and a big concern of the story is how this black ass somehow justifies the musician's having a relationship with the white woman at all (yes, we are at that level of discourse), but that the rest of her which is white is calling into question the authenticity of his blackness. He was, we are told repeatedly, really attracted to this woman's strange rear end.

This is where I was so stupid, you see, because I kept thinking he meant that the woman's backside was black in color while the rest of her was white and for the life of me I couldn't understand how that could look attractive to anybody. So that spoiled the whole idea of the relationship from the get-go, as they say.

It was a lonnggg time afterwards -- days afterwards -- that I finally understood that the woman had a behind that was black in its form, not its pigmentation. That is, it was black in shape but white in color. Didn't I feel stupid though. Well, I was glad to be clear of the notion that the protagonist of the novel went in for women the color of marble cakes; that only left me with the book's implicit compliment to black women: that the seat of their intelligence and mystery is in their ass, provided that the ass is the right shape of course, and what makes a black man black is his ability to appreciate and value this intellectual asset. Thank you Stanley. You can kiss mi -- on second thoughts, no.

Now, I don't know whether he slapped Dale Peck for the writing of the review. Peck seems like a person with a certain gift for finding the squishy underbelly of hyperinflated literary egos. It could have been anything. I'm reading Proust right now, and am ready to believe that Peck might have blinked or failed to smile at exactly the critical moment, a lapse that carried the original insult deep into that underbelly and prompted Stanley to swing that big hammy hand.

Well if you google Dale Peck Stanley Crouch you can read all about it. The most interesting thing I know about Stanley Crouch is the story I just told you about me.

As for Dale Peck, well, a man is judged by the company he keeps. There are some critics out there who think that Dale has been corrupted by high life among all those literary New Yorky magazine types. It may well be true. But I'd say that's mostly a case of the pot calling the kettle black hahahahahahahaha.

Stanley wrote a silly book. Dale called it a silly book. Most of the discussion of this episode will not be about the book. It will be about status. The silliness of Stanley's book will not affect Stanley's status, because Stanley is a made man. All the bookbodies gather round Stanley and rumble that Dale has gone "too far," in effect, doesn't play well with others. Not like Stanley. "God dammit, he's our hag-ridden geeky black intellectual!" Dale, if he has any sense, will let the full implications of all this intellectual cowardice wash over him so that he understands just exactly what it buys for you. Status does not write books. Status, for artists, is radioactive excrement. Do not play in it, do not seek it, do not hang out with people who are talking about status when they think they are talking about ideas.


At 11:46 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

prada outlet, ray ban sunglasses, tiffany jewelry, louis vuitton, ugg boots, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet, replica watches, louboutin outlet, nike air max, michael kors outlet, michael kors outlet, ray ban sunglasses, nike air max, uggs on sale, ugg boots, michael kors, jordan shoes, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses, nike outlet, tiffany and co, michael kors outlet, replica watches, longchamp, oakley sunglasses, gucci outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, louboutin, longchamp outlet, oakley sunglasses, tory burch outlet, ugg boots, christian louboutin outlet, louboutin shoes, ugg boots, kate spade outlet, louis vuitton outlet, burberry, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, prada handbags, louis vuitton outlet, nike free, louis vuitton, polo ralph lauren outlet

At 11:48 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

true religion jeans, sac longchamp, michael kors, coach outlet, longchamp pas cher, hollister, vanessa bruno, air jordan pas cher, new balance pas cher, nike free, air max, lululemon, louboutin pas cher, michael kors, mulberry, nike air max, kate spade handbags, nike free run uk, abercrombie and fitch, true religion outlet, north face, coach purses, true religion jeans, ralph lauren uk, burberry, sac guess, ralph lauren pas cher, true religion jeans, hollister pas cher, tn pas cher, hermes, nike blazer, nike air max, hogan, michael kors, north face, nike roshe, ray ban uk, coach factory outlet, lacoste pas cher, air force, michael kors, nike roshe run, converse pas cher, nike air max, oakley pas cher, timberland, coach outlet, vans pas cher, ray ban pas cher

At 11:49 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

celine handbags, lululemon, soccer jerseys, longchamp, asics running shoes, p90x workout, iphone 5s cases, chi flat iron, herve leger, ipad cases, mcm handbags, hollister, nike trainers, hollister, vans shoes, instyler, timberland boots, ferragamo shoes, babyliss, wedding dresses, iphone 6 plus cases, north face outlet, s5 cases, nike huarache, nfl jerseys, north face outlet, birkin bag, iphone 6 cases, valentino shoes, mac cosmetics, iphone 6s plus cases, insanity workout, bottega veneta, nike air max, new balance, giuseppe zanotti, jimmy choo shoes, ghd, louboutin, baseball bats, nike roshe, beats by dre, iphone cases, soccer shoes, oakley, reebok shoes, iphone 6s cases, mont blanc

At 11:51 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

moncler, replica watches, canada goose uk, louis vuitton, gucci, sac louis vuitton pas cher, ray ban, louis vuitton, moncler, pandora jewelry, montre pas cher, ugg boots uk, canada goose, doke gabbana outlet, pandora charms, swarovski crystal, canada goose outlet, pandora charms, canada goose outlet, supra shoes, doudoune canada goose, canada goose, nike air max, ugg pas cher, vans, canada goose, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, swarovski, lancel, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, hollister, canada goose, links of london, moncler, moncler, barbour jackets, louis vuitton, pandora jewelry, moncler, marc jacobs, moncler outlet, toms shoes, barbour, karen millen, converse, wedding dresses, hollister, juicy couture outlet, converse outlet, thomas sabo, bottes ugg

At 8:16 PM, Blogger mmjiaxin said...

cheap soccer jerseys
puma outlet
christian louboutin outlet
oakley sunglasses
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet online
louis vuitton handbags
rolex watches
toms outlet store
links of london jewellery
nike roshe
ugg boots
ugg boots
ralph lauren polo
ralph lauren polo
instyler ionic styler
michael kors outlet
ralph lauren outlet
thomas sabo outlet
ferragamo outlet

At 9:53 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, kate spade outlet, oakley sunglasses, burberry outlet, nike air max, louis vuitton outlet, replica watches, prada outlet, ray ban sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, gucci handbags, replica watches, michael kors outlet, christian louboutin outlet, burberry handbags, oakley sunglasses, christian louboutin shoes, christian louboutin uk, michael kors outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, nike free, chanel handbags, louis vuitton, ugg boots, longchamp outlet, uggs outlet, jordan shoes, uggs on sale, tory burch outlet, michael kors outlet online, nike air max, polo outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet online, tiffany jewelry, longchamp outlet, oakley sunglasses wholesale, tiffany and co, nike outlet, uggs outlet, ugg boots, prada handbags, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin, louis vuitton, michael kors outlet online

At 9:55 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

north face, sac vanessa bruno, true religion jeans, michael kors, vans pas cher, nike blazer pas cher, nike roshe, kate spade, mulberry uk, air max, hollister pas cher, nike air force, oakley pas cher, true religion outlet, michael kors outlet, longchamp pas cher, nike air max uk, ray ban pas cher, abercrombie and fitch uk, nike roshe run uk, polo ralph lauren, nike tn, ralph lauren uk, nike free run, lululemon canada, guess pas cher, coach outlet, converse pas cher, hogan outlet, north face uk, hollister uk, true religion outlet, nike free uk, michael kors pas cher, timberland pas cher, coach purses, replica handbags, coach outlet store online, sac longchamp pas cher, louboutin pas cher, nike air max uk, sac hermes, burberry pas cher, michael kors, ray ban uk, new balance, polo lacoste, true religion outlet, jordan pas cher, nike air max

At 9:58 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

giuseppe zanotti outlet, nike air max, north face outlet, timberland boots, valentino shoes, north face outlet, babyliss, iphone 6 cases, iphone 5s cases, mac cosmetics, reebok outlet, ferragamo shoes, celine handbags, abercrombie and fitch, louboutin, nike huaraches, lululemon, soccer shoes, hollister clothing, new balance shoes, iphone 6s cases, mcm handbags, jimmy choo outlet, iphone 6s plus cases, s6 case, hermes belt, longchamp uk, ipad cases, wedding dresses, mont blanc pens, hollister, nfl jerseys, bottega veneta, iphone 6 plus cases, ghd hair, herve leger, ralph lauren, chi flat iron, instyler, p90x workout, oakley, soccer jerseys, beats by dre, nike roshe run, vans outlet, iphone cases, nike trainers uk, baseball bats, insanity workout, asics running shoes

At 10:01 PM, Blogger oakleyses said...

canada goose uk, supra shoes, pandora jewelry, louis vuitton, canada goose, thomas sabo, toms shoes, barbour uk, barbour, hollister, pandora jewelry, wedding dresses, canada goose, moncler outlet, canada goose outlet, moncler, canada goose jackets, juicy couture outlet, coach outlet, marc jacobs, moncler outlet, links of london, louis vuitton, replica watches, louis vuitton, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, karen millen uk, ugg, montre pas cher, pandora uk, canada goose outlet, ugg pas cher, doke gabbana, ray ban, converse outlet, converse, lancel, swarovski crystal, moncler, vans, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, pandora charms, juicy couture outlet, ugg uk, louis vuitton, doudoune moncler, swarovski, hollister, gucci, canada goose outlet, nike air max, moncler


Post a Comment

<< Home