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Rebecca Solnit on Donald Trump and The Great Gatsby

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message 1: by Gary (last edited May 30, 2017 03:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary From her article/essay "The Loneliness of Donald Trump: On the Corrosive Privilege of the Most Mocked Man in the World"
“They were careless people,” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of the rich couple at the heart of The Great Gatsby. “They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” Some of us are surrounded by destructive people who tell us we’re worthless when we’re endlessly valuable, that we’re stupid when we’re smart, that we’re failing even when we succeed. But the opposite of people who drag you down isn’t people who build you up and butter you up. It’s equals who are generous but keep you accountable, true mirrors who reflect back who you are and what you are doing.
Full article:

Geoffrey Aronson Monty, this is more evidence that Daisy was behind the wheel. Nick is convinced she is the culprit and places blame on her and her husband.

PaulESchilling Trump has spent most of his life protected from his numerous mistakes by lawyers. He got away with so much because the press wasn't playing close enough attention. Now they are, and he hates it. If there is justice in the world, he will go to prison, but then, I've said the same about Nixon and Reagan.

Gary PaulESchilling wrote: "Trump has spent most of his life protected from his numerous mistakes by lawyers. He got away with so much because the press wasn't playing close enough attention. Now they are, and he hates it. If..."

Trump is the product of decades of manipulation of American culture and politics. He was born into the kind of wealth that meant he could never truly "fail" in life economically; if he should risk it all and lose then the tax code is arranged so that the public will finance him back to wealth, and he appears to have done just that upwards of half a dozen times. Further, he's got access to a legal system of the economic overclass that means he needn't abide by the terms of his contracts, let alone obey the laws that the rest of us do. What's more American culture has devolved into a strange, almost 19th century servility towards celebrities, turning them into royalty in a way that I, personally, find completely mystifying. Trump is famous for being famous, and though I knew that aspect of American culture existed, I had no idea it could or would translate from pop music to politics with so much ease.

Fitzgerald never imagined something quite like that. To him, the wealthy were different, but they were different in a way that we can still recognize as human. When it gets right down to it, there is no Donald Trump. There is only an actor who plays Donald Trump on TV, and one who has lost himself in the part. There is no there there. Only an bottomless hole of the baser instincts.

Trump is both Tom and Daisy writ large or, probably more accurately, he is their cartoon; a cartoon that knows it's a cartoon, but knows little or nothing else.

message 5: by Feliks (last edited Sep 07, 2017 10:56PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Feliks "this is more evidence that Daisy was behind the wheel. Nick is convinced she is the culprit and places blame on her and her husband. "

Of course she was behind the friggin' wheel, that's the pinch-point in Act III at which the entire plot culminates. Gatsby--who HAS good character--covers up for the-love-of-his-life, who has NONE. What other way makes sense? I'm talking here about genuine sense, not the far-fetched jibber-jabber of conspiracy-theorists. Throughout whole novel, FSF delineates that these socialites are careless and irresponsible; NOT that they are fine human beings. So, do they suddenly break character at the novel's climax? Would any novelist suddenly split his characters off from their theme at the finale? Make their actions inexplicable and inconsistent? What kind of sap would even bother speculating along these lines?

message 6: by Monty J (last edited Sep 10, 2017 10:51AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monty J Heying Feliks wrote: "So, do they suddenly break character at the novel's climax? ."

The novel's theme of corruption* is clearly stated on page 7 of Chapter 1:
Gatsby turned out all right at the end it is what preyed on Gatsby , what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
Character? What person of character lies about his origins and wealth to impress someone (Nick) he's bent on recruiting into sales of illicit bonds, then uses him as a go-between for access to a target of seduction; makes a living by illegal means (bootlegging); consorts with mobsters (Woofsheim) to sell worthless securities to unsuspecting party-goers; seduces a married woman without the slightest concern for her young daughter; and runs over and kills a someone without stopping to render aid and tries to pin it on his passenger?

By the end of the novel, Gatsby's earned a one-way ticket to Sing-Sing. High character? Gatsby? It's his character flaws that cause his death and the destruction of his dream to have Daisy, who rejects him immediately after he's exposed as a criminal. I'd like to see what traits you deem to be those of low character.

Here's another post on Gatsby's Criminality:

*Further support for corruption as the novel's theme:
Corruption symbols abound in Scott Fitzgerald's timeless encapsulation of the American condition. The valley of ashes appears in every chapter, mentioned eight times outright and poetically invoked more than fifty with terminology such as "wash," "dust" and "powder." Six more counting references to Nick's Finnish housemaid, an alliterative back-flip to remind readers of ashes. The judging eyes of Dr. Eckleburg and the owl-eyed man are mentioned no less than nine times. Crime boss Meyer Wolfsheim's name crops up thirty-two times. Chicago, Al Capone's headquarters, twenty.

The main characters are all adulterers. Tom Buchanan has an affair with Myrtle Wilson. Tom's wife, Daisy, has an affair with Gatsby. Nick, the narrator and Daisy's cousin, enables Daisy and Gatsby's affair and has a gay tryst with McKee while dating Daisy's confidant Jordan Baker, a cheating professional golfer who is a careless driver and habitually lies. The only honorable character is Michaelis, proprietor of the cafe next door to the Wilsons. The hard-working, henpecked and cuckolded George Wilson is honest until, driven insane by grief, he guns down Gatsby in his pool for running down Myrtle in his Rolls and failing to stop. Both Michaelis and George saw a man driving, but Nick chooses to believe his "gorgeous" criminal neighbor Gatsby's lie that Daisy was behind the wheel.

Despite the mountain of evidence of Gatsby's low character, Nick believes him--bootlegging, securities fraud, his failure to stop and render aid after his yellow Rolls hit Myrtle. Gatsby uses Nick to get to Daisy and even tries to recruit him to sell his illicit bonds. It wasn't his social class that made Daisy reject Gatsby; it was his criminality, revealed to her by Tom at the Plaza Hotel. In front of Daisy, Jordan, Nick and Tom, Gatsby mocks the man he cuckholded: "'I used to laugh'--but there was no laughter in his eyes--'to think that you didn't know.'"

Criminals must avoid the law at all costs and the lie about who was driving was so easy, the way Nick trusted him. Besides, a heroic pose might sway Nick enough to join his sales team. Gatsby's execution by Wilson is the righteous result of Gatsby's failure to stop his yellow Rolls--a bullet for running down Myrtle. At the end, Gatsby stunk so badly only a handful of people came to his funeral, not even the ungrateful Wolfsheim, who "made him."

Readers idolize Gatsby for his determined pursuit of a dream to be a millionaire and reclaim Daisy. Yes, Gatsby dreamed, of riches, but those lofty ambitions were evident long before he met her. Did he love? In Nick's naive romantically charged mind he did. But how much can we trust Nick's judgment after he fawned over Gatsby, calling him "gorgeous," and swallowed his lies about family wealth and being educated at Oxford? Daisy could be just a trophy, like the castle and the Rolls Royce that ferried gullible guests like moths to his glittering parties through the valley of ashes. Love? If Gatsby truly cared about Daisy he would have asked Nick if she was happy in her marriage before approaching her.

As if to obliterate any doubt as to his message in The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald alludes in the final jaded line to the Jazz Age's current of corruption: So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Yes, we keep repeating the same mistakes. Ivan Boesky. Bernard Madoff. There have been dozens like them. In the Twenties it was counterfeit bonds. More recently, sub-prime mortgages and credit default swaps. What will tomorrow bring? We can pursue dreams, but it is a morally bankrupt grail if we are corrupted in the process.

Karen Feliks wrote: ""this is more evidence that Daisy was behind the wheel. Nick is convinced she is the culprit and places blame on her and her husband. "

Of course she was behind the friggin' wheel, that's the pinc..."

Lol. I read it for the third time this summer- Daisy was driving!

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