brian 's Reviews > Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
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's review
Jan 11, 2009

really liked it
Recommended to brian by: michelle, mindy, sandi, jessica treat, dfj, yvette, ruth, alisa,

my second toni morrison. and, again... wow. song of solomon. kind of impossible to do an all-encompassing book report, so this: while reading i returned again and again to the recent genocide in the former yugoslavia. to the first time rape had been charged as a war crime; to rape as a means of ethnic cleansing. now think about this: to cast such shame on the women who were raped and the men who were powerless to act so as to prevent continuation of the family. to leave behind a legacy of tragedy and brutality so deep it'd trump the biological and natural imperative. to introduce a new member into the family, a product of rape, a child with the blood of a rapist, of the enemy, running through his/her veins.

now imagine a common and relatively benign scene in which a young black girl in 19th century america is lawfully taken from her family and sold off. the girl’s family is destroyed: the heartbreak, the powerlessness and impotence, after much self-hatred, is inevitably directed outwards -- at one’s family, at god, at country, at society, at life itself. but let’s focus on the girl: imagine a girl in our time ripped from her parents and placed in a hostile environment. whatever pop-psych scenario one tosses out, it ain’t too good. but back then? as a familyless commodity to be worked and fucked and discarded and sold at one’s whim? and now imagine her children. and theirs. and theirs.

although morrison never explicitly describes the aforementioned lineage, the characters in song of solomon (set in the early 1960s) are the descendants of any one of a number of girls such as the one described above. which doesn’t mean that morrison simply reduces a person to a walking manifestation of his/her people’s history. but a person is undeniably shaped by this, as is the very family that shapes the individual. and this is where morrison’s interest lies, this is what she more ably and tragically depicts than any other novelist.

oh. and yeah. i almost laugh to myself that one of my chief complaints is that morrison is almost too much of a good storyteller... at times the accumulation of tales and backstories and myths and explanations that zig-zag about are almost a bit too much. but, shit. ruth and her father’s corpse? the 'seven days' (OMFG! THE SEVEN DAYS!)?, the origins of milkman’s name? jake’s flight over the cotton fields? goddamn, woman. space it out. really. you’re making everyone else look bad.

okay. on to #3. jazz.

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Comments (showing 1-50 of 90) (90 new)

message 1: by Meen (new)

Meen Yay, I love when people love the same authors I do!

Jazz is not so sweeping, if I remember correctly. I still say go for Paradise.

brian   not to worry, mindy, i'll work my way through 'em all. :-)
almost done with jazz.
paradise is on deck.

message 3: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Wow, great review! I think I need to read some Toni Morrison soon.

Ademption Sula! Sula! Sula!

message 5: by Meen (new)

Meen Yeah, Sula is good, too. Shit, there's just nothing of hers that isn't good. She and Alice Walker are my two favorite writers, but Morrison is hands down the superior novelist.

Ademption Word, about Morrison being the superior of the two.

message 7: by Meen (new)

Meen Yeah, the superior novelist, for sure.

(But I love Walker more as a total human package. Poetry, activism, Buddhism, sexuality, politics.)

message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I think Walker isn't even close to Morrison's league; not even close. She's child's play. And while people always rave about BELOVED, as they should, I've long thought SONG OF SOLOMON was not only Morrison's finest but one of the five or so finest American novels written since WWII. I remember the first time I read it, I gasped with that last paragraph.

message 9: by Meen (new)

Meen I totally agree with you about Walker as a novelist, but I like her for a million other reasons. I don't actually know that much about Morrison other than her novels. Maybe I need to read Song of Solomon again, b/c I just really liked Paradise so much more...

message 10: by Jessica (new)

Jessica Mindy: Is Paradise the one set in Jamaica?

message 11: by brian (last edited Jan 13, 2009 08:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

brian   wow erik! i might not agree that song of solomon is one of the five best post-ww2 novels, but it's good enough that (debate-whore that i am) i don't necessarily feel compelled to dispute that opinion. it's pretty amazing stuff. and, yes, that last paragraph is astonishing. i strongly recommend dropping by the bookstore and reading morrison's introduction to the newest edition.

i must say, though, her most recent, a mercy, is (of the three i've so far read) the one that most destroyed me. i can't get it out of my mind. and within the context of the book the final chapter is amongst the finest i've ever read.

i started paradise today, mindy. brutal stuff, eh? will report on it when i'm done.

message 12: by Meen (new)

Meen NOOOO! In Oklahoma. In an all-black town. In a convent. Much exploration of masculinity/femininity, which is probably why I loved it so much.

Is there one set in Jamaica? I know Walker's By the Light of My Father's Smile has some tropical setting for parts of it...

message 13: by Jessica (last edited Jan 13, 2009 08:28AM) (new)

Jessica There is one set in the Carribean, I forget the name. It is the slightest of all Morrison's novels. Surprisingly slight...

I should try Paradise.

(edit: should have know that it wouldn't have been Mindy's fave!!)

brian   is it love, jessica?

i keep hearing that's one to stay away from.

message 15: by Meen (last edited Jan 13, 2009 08:29AM) (new)

Meen Yes, brutal.

Yes, Chairy, do it.

Man, I need to read A Mercy now. All this Morrison lovin'! I miss her!

And the Carribean one must be Tar Baby, Chairy. I think that's the only one I haven't read. Wow, do you know she's only written nine novels in almost 40 years? No wonder they are so exquisite.

Edit: I haven't read Love.

message 16: by Jessica (new)

Jessica No. I looked it up. It's 'Tar Baby.'

message 17: by Jessica (new)

Jessica cross-post Mindy!

(I forget what the ritual we're supposed to engage in now is...)

message 18: by Meen (new)

Meen Foot rubbing?


message 19: by Jessica (new)

Jessica mmmm....maybe.
but I can't expose my feet to anyone, even you!

message 20: by brian (last edited Jan 13, 2009 08:34AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

brian   mike reynolds gave tar baby a fiver. a recommend from reynolds is golden.

completionist maniac that i am, i'll inevitably hit 'em all, but now i'm particularly excited about getting to that one.

message 21: by Jessica (new)

Jessica well it's an easy-breezy read brian.

Ademption I agree with Erik. Sula knocked me to the ground. Song of Solomon did me in. I conjecture that Beloved's acclaim was mostly due to Oprah digging Morrison's earlier works, calling the novelist up, and saying "Whatever you write next is going to sell big. The world needs to know how great you are." O was definitely right, but the consequences are that a lull-book was turned into a gateway-book by Oprah. Thus, her legion always lauds Beloved as the best work ever, because for the bulk of them, it was the sole Morrison that they read. Probably because O fundamentalists rigidly interpret her pronouncements. So stripping out O's marketing distortion, the consensus on Beloved wouldn't rate much more than a decent book by an amazing novelist.

I met Walker, and I have more sympathy for Mel Leventhal, her ex-husband. Take The Way Forward is with a Broken Heart on for size. The premise of the book is that Mel was working too hard for the civil rights movement while Alice was at home working on her writing. The pair didn't nurture their relationship, and they eventually divorced. She puts both sets of work on equal footing within the civil rights movement. I'm not knocking their division of labor, but the product of his work was taking on civil rights cases for little pay, hers was a book that turns their dreary personal lives into an accusatory pean of "Why did you do your work? You should have stayed home with me because I was lonely." One can't produce self-absorbed writing, and then dub it literature of the civil rights movement.

Walker's claims of being personally wise is like me giving myself an awesome nickname, artfice that shouldn't stand up in the face of the crowd. In the past, whenever I began a Walker novel, I unfortunately had the occasion to hear her speak or read an interview of her. I would always then ditch the book, because of how off-putting she was. I felt she fobbed her baby-boomer sense of entitlement off as civil rights entitlement. Also, Walker is New Age Wise in the same way that Sarah Silverman is Edgy: self-described and trying a bit too hard.

Toni Morrison is the genuine article. Wise people don't claim how wise and political they are. They just do what they do, and hope it catches on and that someone notices.

message 23: by Meen (new)

Meen We'll leave the lights off, Jess!


And now, it's official. I HAVE to read some Toni Morrison as soon as possible. I'm going to the library to rent A Mercy this evening!

brian   nice post, evan.
i have sula on order...
and yup. i haaaate sarah silverman.

message 25: by Meen (last edited Jan 13, 2009 08:56AM) (new)

Meen Wow, I didn't interpret The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart that way at all, Evan, but we all read through different lenses. But, like I said, I wholeheartedly agree that Morrison is the superior novelist.

Edit: I also adore Sarah Silverman!


message 26: by Ademption (last edited Jan 13, 2009 09:07AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ademption I have a continual axe to grind with Walker. She always comes highly recommended, and then she un-recommends herself before I can dig too deeply into her works. Such is life. I'll definitely give The Color Purple a third go if can avoid the actual woman.


Edit: For me, Silverman is a young Mel Brooks. Scattershot, as often dead-on funny as completely unfunny back-to-back with a generous dose of taboo prodding.

message 27: by Meen (new)

Meen I loved The Color Purple, but I think The Third Life of Grange Copeland is my favorite of hers. But then again I have little girl/Daddy issues, so old men redeeming themselves gets to me more than it might folks from functional families.


Jason Evan wrote: "For me, Silverman is a young Mel Brooks. Scattershot, as often dead-on funny as completely unfunny back-to-back with a generous dose of taboo prodding."

Wow--that nails it; I love Silverman, then groan and wonder how I got seduced, then love her again. The connection to Brooks is perfect.

I give Walker far too little attention. I made the judgment Erik and others have noted--namely that her work didn't engage me, much--and then I kind of stopped paying attention. But I hear, often, from many I trust, what Mindy is arguing: that Walker as a broader critical force matters to them. Still, Color Purple leaves me cold, every time I give it another go.

I don't tend to compare her to Morrison. However, I do a lot of intra-Morrison ranking, the way I continually arrange and rearrange my favorite Scorsese films. I'm not sure I'd trust my Tar Babyrec entirely, Brian, but it was the *first* one I read -- and gathers to itself all that positive blush of the amazing new. But I've read more than once the two I'd put at the top of the list, Paradise and Song of Solomon. (And Song is the book I recommend most often to people who come asking about what great contemporary fiction to read.) A Mercy may yet creep up. I love Beloved the way I love Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore: reflective of their artists' strengths and weaknesses, and by almost any criterion other than comparison to the artists' other works outstanding.

message 29: by Richard (new)

Richard Fulgham Toni Morrison? She's terrific but not really MY kind of woman, like the broad I met in Neuvo Laredo, Mexico, back when women's suffering meant PMS and baby shit on a new sweater. You think Toni knows suffering!?

I was in a similar situation to one of Toni's tales once and the stranger turned out to be a Mexican cantina girl trying to get her green card and then become a citizen of the USA. I knew she was for me when we were in the bar UNO with some other whores and amigos and she said she wanted to lick my nose and pulled out her left teat to show me how the nipple was three inches long and cork-screwed -- man that turned me on! She took me somewhere in a cab and I think I might of married her. I thought the place we were was a whorehouse but this skinny old dude came to me and her and had us mumble some Spanish and sign a paper.

She grabbed the paper, folded it up and stuck it way down in her purse. I didn't care. I was Jack Kerouac anyhow and had at last found my thing to love, a cork-screw nipple.

I lived with her and her family in a Mexican hovel about a month. This gave her time to give me some goodies to butter me up. Actually, she didn't need buttering up. She had some strange disorder so she was always "buttered up" -- I mean WET down there -- and in bed she seemed to have a faucet in her water-logged womb. The discharge tasted salty. But it didn't have that syphilis tang to it. This was in 1980 and before the AIDS epidemic. So I didn't care -- at worst it might be the galloping claps.

She was a killer -- looked like a young Jennifer Lopez. I couldn't speak Spanish, so I used the little two-way dictionary to ask what happened to her husband. She got this tragic look on her face and made a stabbing motion to her chest with her arm. She seemed to have a dagger in her hand. "Stab! Stab!" she said.
All at once she dropped the knife and draped herself body over mine like a sheet of flesh. She put her cheek on mine and the tip of her tongue rimed my ear lobes.

Then she whispered "trabahar! tralbahar!" and kissed me, biting my lower lip so bad it bled on my Eat-More-Bananas shirt. She sucked the blood out of the cotton with this manical look in her eye, staring without blinking right into my own eye.

As we walked home, arm in arm, she leaned over and whispered in my ear, "I got a hairy ass". That really turned me on!

Anyway, be careful with such women. You might not be as lucky as me. Her name was Gloria but everyone called her "Glodiah" because she had a front tooth that stuck straight out of her mouth and that's how she pronounced her name. That tooth got me in trouble when I tried to light it the first time we met. I thought it was a cigarette.

When we went to the cafe she would take an olive
out of the salad and stick it on that tooth. People looked but we let them Laugh! I nuzzled her nose as I used my pliant lips to pluck that olive . . . .

Oh Glodia . . . . Time is running out so I must end this, though it is a longer story indeed. Anyway, one morning she began pounding on my chest again and shouting "Tabalhar! Trabalhar!"

She wept copiously and let me carass her left breast. (The right one had withered up.) When she finally got off me, I took out my little two-way dictionary and looked up "trabalhar".

Imagine my shock and horror when I discovered it meant JOB! A jolt of electricity shot through my spine! I was trembling! I could hardly breathe!

I rushed back to our apartment, threw my things in a seabag, and ran to the Greyhound station -- to catch the next bus to Kentucky, where I had the room my dear old Mom always kept ready for me.

It took me 14 hours to get to my Mom's place, where I hugged her, went into my room, turned on the TV, fell into my over-stuffed chair, filled the bong with thumb-sized Burmese red marijuana buds shimmering with glassy THC oils, took a huge lungfull of black smoke, got high as the moon and watched for philosophical nuggets of wisdom on a rerun of "I Love Lucy" . . . . Man, that Ethyl can be funny!

Brian -- and you others I have come to call friends -- learn from my example. For years afterward I had a phobia of Spanish women because I would have a panic attack if they said "trabalhar" . . . . A Job! A Job! A Job! But now I'm cool with them. But I have not yet found that dark brown, four-inch, cork-screwed nipple of my wettest dreams . . . .

message 30: by Meen (new)

Meen Well, I was about to come post all giddy-like that I had just gotten A Mercy from the library and that I had read Love after all, but yeah, it weren't so great, but it just feels kinda lame after corkscrew nipples and shiftless hillbilly potheads.


message 31: by Richard (new)

Richard Fulgham Hi Mindy,
Allow me to apologise if I've upset you. I was playing Devil's advocate. It's like a tea party when people start talking about how tender are their hearts, et al, so I rush in an do an Indian dance to stir things up. Nobody gets hurt. And you can go right back to the tea party if you want.
When a bunch of people start dancing like Indians, then I rush in with a tea cup and am very, very proper . . . .

message 32: by Meen (new)

Meen Hi Richard, I wasn't upset. Just any comment after yours seems... bland.


By the way, people, I just finished A Mercy, and I'm not sure yet how I feel about it. I know that I didn't like it as much as I liked Paradise. I know that much. But yes, Morrison is exquisite.

message 33: by Jessica (new)

Jessica man Mindy, you read fast. I'm impressed.

message 34: by Meen (new)

Meen All they had at the library was the large-print edition, so that helped me. (Less squinting!)

message 35: by Richard (new)

Richard Fulgham I have the utmost admiration for Toni Morrison and have enhanced my sense of humanity by reading her.

As you can see, I feel guilty for giving the impression that I'm blind and heartless to the sensitivties of her work. But really, don't we all need a laugh now and then in this sensitized society? And don't we need to laugh now and then about the elitism of the politically correct?

Eventually our literature will rise above the elitistsm and soft-heartedness that defines it today. Hemingway and Mailer made a good point when they said we all die and we always die alone, and we'd might as well suck it up and face it bravely before it gets us -- rather than lament the misery so prevalent in the world? It's the quality of our life that counts, not the commonality of our death.

Really, now that I'm older, I wish I had been killed in Vietnam, in uniform with real buddies around me, at my prime -- never to know the humiliation and disintegration that comes with aging.

Please give it a little thought, you of the elite sensitive generation who (like my generation) are going to save the world. Toni Morrison has a good point that we should be good people and help others in distress. But isn't it still true that we're all going to die, so we'd might as well be the adventurer, soldier, mountain-climber, bull fighter, football quarterback or whatever MAKES A MAN OR WOMAN FEEL REAL AND ALIVE -- as be a beating heart with an open wallet to help those poor pot-bellied starving children in Biafra?

I was called a "shiftless hillbilly" for going to Mexico. Actually, I was hunting for Mayan artiacts to illustrate a magazine article -- when I had that adventure with the cantina woman. Are there any adventurers among you?

Or do you all read writers like Toni Morrison, then weep about things as they are, and gutlessly send money to charities to assuage your conscience?

Why not go to Africa or where ever, and lend a REAL hand -- and in the process BECOME A REAL MAN OR A REAL WOMAN -- instead of a poltically correct ant in this electronic society called the American far left?

message 36: by Jessica (last edited Jan 14, 2009 07:41AM) (new)

Jessica one can have adventures, be an adventurer AND read & admire Morrison. They are in no ways mutually exclusive...

message 37: by Jessica (last edited Jan 14, 2009 07:57AM) (new)

Jessica some of us are adventurers offline & some of us are adventurers on and offline...

and i feel no need to go into more detail, on my own account--.

message 38: by brian (last edited Jan 14, 2009 08:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

brian   whaaaat? you replace your bong with a crackpipe, richard lee?

morrison does anything but simply "weep about things as they are"... that's what you're getting out of it? by morrison's philosophy, it ain't so simple as to just get into the ring, climb that mountain, jump that hurdle... one must discard the baggage one carries around. think back to faulkner's biggie quote, "the past isn't dead. it's not even past." in having read four morrison books over the past few weeks i strongly assert that morrison says YES! we must live and explore and adventure and invent... but her genius lies in exploring the tension between our desire for freedom and the burdens placed on us by the past, by society, by ourselves, by others, that prevent us from being truly free.
re-read your shit, richard lee...

i dig your line about quality and commonality, btw. you can come off like a real crazy bastard sometimes (i say that with love), but then you throw out something like that and all is good...

message 39: by Meen (last edited Jan 14, 2009 09:02AM) (new)

Meen When you said "faulkner's biggie quote," I thought of Notorious B.I.G. (He's on my mind b/c the movie's coming out this weekend. Yay!)

Birthdays was the worst days, now we sip champagne when we thirstay!


(Oh yeah, and ditto what you said about Morrison's take on the human condition.)

message 40: by trivialchemy (new)

trivialchemy I am totally unqualified to comment on this thread, not only because I have refused to read any Morrison since the genesis of an irrational vendetta against her in May of '06 when the Times slighted McCarthy's Blood Meridian Or the Evening Redness in the West in favor of Beloved in their list of the "Best Work of Fiction of the Past 25 Years," but also because I always associated Morrison with Chinua Achebe and his ilk who write mediocre novels which are then fawned over by white-guilt leftists who wish to excuse their participation in a historically repressive, classist system in which they are the passive beneficiaries by condescending to adore any work with such catch-phrases and buzz-themes as colonialism/imperialism/black mores/gay/AIDS/suburban homophobia/genocide/revisionist history/white racist subjectivity/etc.

Not saying that this is the category into which Morrison falls, mind you. Just explaining my own prejudice.

So when I read Mr. Lee's corkscrew tit tale, I actually thought it was fairly clever. Because I knew where he was coming from. The man is clearly an experientialist, which is a term I just made up to describe someone whose whose value system, sense of self-worth, understanding of the universe and one's place in it, is generated not by textuality (which can be understood as fixation on the inexistent, the passed, and the possible) but by activity. Participation, not observation. Paul Bowles preaches this mode; I consider myself a student.

Anyway, like I said I'm not fit to judge Morrison because I have not read her. But I can certainly understand a knee-jerk reaction to the Morrison hoopla, because it's one I (unjustifiably) have myself.

message 41: by Jessica (last edited Jan 14, 2009 11:28AM) (new)

Jessica thanks for weighing in Isaiah...I think you've helped clarify some things.
I suppose I too am an enrollee in the Bowles' school of experiencialism (& expatriotism)--or have been for much of my life.
but Morrison is not Achebe.
On the other hand, Achebe's novel, while seemingly mediocre, was the first to look at colonial Africa from the inside...and that is not a mediocre achievement.

message 42: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 14, 2009 12:01PM) (new)

Okay, I've been seeing this thread chatter recurring on my update feed, and I have the irrepressible urge to pull the following rant, gingerly, outta my skinny, white Polack ass, even though it -- like much of what I say -- is only tangentially related to the matter(s) at hand.

I realize it's chic, trendy, fashionable, and terribly "with-it" in self-determinist boho circles to discard and to despise "political correctness" (a phrase I've never really comprehended) reflexively, as an axiom, but to reject all ostensibly doctinaire liberalism as, ergo, cheap, mind-numbing, and soul-destroying is every bit as moronic and conformist as political correctness itself is. The problem with knee-jerk reactions is, of course, that they're knee jerk; i.e., there's no thought involved; it's all attitude, and intestinal attitude at that.

It's all very well to hold up a Hemingway or a Mailer as a paragon of rugged, primitive realism (or whatever the fuck people want to call it these days), but it reeks of the selfsame religiosity that the political correct ilk are often accused of.

I guess what I am saying is that there are a hell of a lot of people who just get a thobbing boner (in the gender-neutral sense) from opposing the status quo without thought or merit. Usually we grow out of the triteness of this position when we grow up, but an entire knee-jerk coffee house culture has been founded on the premise of preserving -- nay, bolstering -- this adolescent impulse.

Whatever. I don't even know what I'm saying anymore, but I feel it in my gut. So there.

message 43: by trivialchemy (new)

trivialchemy David, I agree with you here for sure. Two comments.

One, I'm fairly certain no one has "reject[ed:] all ostensibly doctrinaire liberalism as . . . cheap, mind-numbing, and soul-destroying." On the contrary, the comments made by both Richard and myself (though they hint at a larger and more nuanced problem) pertain only to a very specific leftist impulse, one that I attempted to characterize in a fairly explicit manner. This was never about doctrinaire liberalism. It was about Toni Morrison, and an interrogation of how that novelist's critical reception was or was not (I made no conjecture) related to the problem of white guilt and condescension.

The reason that I characterized my reaction as "knee-jerk" was not to imply that I "feel it in my gut," but rather to confess that my application of a certain (fairly explicit) leftist impulse to Morrison in particular was unfounded. But it is not therefore the case that the reaction is unreasonable. On the contrary, everyone has general systems of belief, into which new information is filed. I was simply stating honestly where I automatically filed Morrison when I read about her, and noting that perhaps this was a bad filing system.

Second, I think it's interesting (and it disoriented me a bit) that you characterized the rejection of doctrinaire liberalism as "chic, trendy, fashionable . . . in self-determinist boho circles," because I would generally consider "knee-jerk coffee house culture" as firmly in lock-step with doctrinaire liberalism. Difference of perspective, I suppose. But it's hard to be hip, to have a culture of knee-jerk without a doctrine, isn't it? I suppose you were referring to the doctrine of rejecting all liberal doctrine, but that's something I've never really seen, or I called it rightist, not boho.

On the other hand, a nuanced world-view, which considers propositions as they are received, which judges cases on their merits instead of ideology, which calls experience and reason to succor rather than idols and platforms, this has never been cool, and probably never will be.

message 44: by Jessica (new)

Jessica wow...we lost a comment in this thread, didn't we? a long one...

message 45: by trivialchemy (new)

trivialchemy My email says Brian pulled one. He was probably being mean to me. Meanie.

message 46: by Jessica (new)

Jessica no, he wasn't. it was a good post, thoughtful.

brian   maybe in the 90s this was true, isaiah:

because I would generally consider "knee-jerk coffee house culture" as firmly in lock-step with doctrinaire liberalism.

no more.

i find your viewpoint to be part of the mass pendulum swinging back in the other direction.

rejecting toni morrison (unread, no less) as her fame must be predicted on white guilt... that's where it's at. (to your credit, you admit it's unjustified) shit, slate just wrote an article on beloved in which they puke this viewpoint all over the reader.

it's dreadfully boring.
and as useless and as much an impediment to thought as all that other nonsense you justifiably condemn: "colonialism/imperialism/black mores/gay/AIDS/suburban homophobia/genocide/revisionist history/white racist subjectivity/etc."

edit: in re-reading david's post, i just couldn't agree more. if i had a nickel for every time, over the past 5 - 10 years, i've heard a liberal, democrat, progressive, student of cultural criticism, etc disparage 'politically correct'... i'd be well off.

message 48: by brian (last edited Jan 14, 2009 12:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

brian   i deleted it as david stated the same shit better that i ever could and i knew it'd be difficult to field two questions at once. i pm'd david to apologize.

meanie? me!?!?!

message 49: by Meen (last edited Jan 14, 2009 12:21PM) (new)

Meen It's probably repressed white guilt making Isaiah say all those things.

message 50: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 14, 2009 12:32PM) (new)

First of all, Isaiah, what I said isn't an explicit attack on you -- or Richard. Some of the things written here were just jumping-off-points for my own thoughts, which may or may not be relevant.

BUT... There needs to be some clarification about liberalism as used in this discussion. Only perhaps in America are leftism and liberalism used interchangeably. The coffee house types I have encountered in my misspent youth belonged mainly to two categories: (1) leftist; in other words, espousing some milquetoast version of Marxism (anti-bourgeois), which is often just a disguise for their Daddy and Mommy hang-ups, and (2) highly individualist; which may not translate to fascist political beliefs, of course, but certainly aligns with rightist ideologies of the self. I think many Americans (not necessarily you) are very muddled in their thinking about rightist-conservative-liberal-leftist categories. Besides, these categories aren't really very useful and just provide an monolithic ideology to blindly, blissfully conform to or to (equally as blindly, blissfully) oppose.

So YES I do think there is a reaction against liberalism in countercultural circles because it represents (to the constituents thereof) a watered-down, decidedly un-radical, unmotivated, complacent view of the world. It's no fun to be middle-of-the-road for these disaffected schmucks, so they accept a rightist view of themselves or a leftist view of the world. I am not discounting either of these views outright, but I am saying that, very generally speaking, most of the young, enthusiastic adherents of both views have little in the way of critical thought to back either up. They're just embracing their psychological hang-ups.

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