Sunday, March 12, 2017

Hate Mail - Anthony McCarthy Can't Say That, Can He?

It is a vanity of vanities but I do take some low pleasure in the fact that most, almost all of those who send me poison pixels aren't very bright.  Some of them manage to get by by that most telling of habits of the ignorant who desire to pass as informed, repeating what they heard the once and current smart set saying about stuff they either don't now at all or know in only the most superficial way. Often their knowledge of it extends to what they heard the smart set say on TV or in some rag or, so often, when the movie of it gets made.

A good friend of mine from college, a really smart, well-read and funny gal,  once made a remark that her education was mostly useful for her to insert cultural references into conversations and letters.  In her case it was selling herself short, for most of those who wouldn't make that self-criticism for fear of giving away their game, it's more than spot on.

I will confess that a lot of my dissing of cultural idols is done for the unworthy pleasure of seeing people like them get huffy.  Though I never say anything I don't believe to be true.  If its my opinion instead of based in fact I try to point that out even as I grant other people their compete right to have their own opinion.  What I won't do is pretend that I don't have a right to come to my own conclusions about such stuff and to state them, especially when I think the real, right way to think about something is fashionable nonsense refuted by fact.  

It was a mistake for me to read Farewell My Lovely because the book is a giveaway of what Chandler was up to and it will almost certainly make it impossible for me to read him again.  There are writers who, the more you read them, the deeper they go and others who on far less reveal themselves to be simply shallow.  Chandler is mostly interesting in how his mostly cynical, sociopathic, sometimes empathetic, even sentimental hero reveals the sexually screwy, weak drunk that Chandler knew himself to be and who he hated being.  His inability to seriously address emotion in the books is a revelation to Chandler's own life.  I think it's one of the reasons he was such an appalling drunk.  

Since much, most, really, of the genre is really an obsession of, mostly men, with male sexuality, there is Chandler's bizarre mommy-issues sex life that one suspects, like his and her drinking, relieved him of having to have sex with his wife.   I think his real revelation of his sexual nature is in the hostility with which he deals with gay characters.* The horror of self revelation is one one of his foremost obsessions.  Otherwise, why wouldn't he have just left them out?   

Some of his critics have remarked on how many times Marlowe turns down women who want to get him into bed, I think Chandler couldn't much stand to write him into bed because Chandler couldn't stand the idea of having to share him with a woman and he couldn't stand, even more, to write him into bed with himself.  Terry Lennox.   I think a lot of straight men get a vicarious charge of same-sex sexual content while being able to deny it through the violence, the queer bashing and the alpha-male misogyny.  

Chandler was one seriously messed up guy and his undisciplined writing doesn't do a very good job of getting far from that.  I think the things Chandler needed most were a serious commitment to A.A. and a boyfriend.  Unlike Marlowe who can go from a fight or drinking episode that would put someone in the hospital or in the grave to driving his car to his next wise-guy encounter, Raymond Chandler was a real person.   

What his books needed was some serious and expert editing by people who could whip them into some form without killing his admitted talent.  I think it's obvious that more discipline would have made far more of his talent than he managed to do without it.  I wonder if that's the reason that they seem to be more often consumed through theatrical condensations of them than in the raw, as it were.

If his books would have benefited from Chandler being happier is unknowable but he would have benefitted.   I think a lot of people love the spectacle of bad boy self-destruction in the books.   See the last paragraph above.    But I'll have to read their alleged thinking and I really don't much want to.  Especially such people as the dope who went nuts yesterday.   For the lowest level of kulcha vulchas I don't think it's about much of anything except the fear at seeing my violation of the mandatory, required POV .  If I want that, I'll go over to Duncan's place. It's the house ideology there. 

Not me, I don't enjoy it and now I can't deny what I'm seeing in his books.  I've seen enough of that in real people for it to not be attractive.  Any day now I expect to bury another sibling who has drunk himself into self-destructive dementia.   

There, I said it again. 

*  I don't think it's far removed from racists who reveal their fear of black people and other "others" in their dismissive, racist depictions.  Turning people you fear into sub-humans or, in a true homophobe, a gay man into less of a "man" is a dead giveaway of insecure anxiety.   Chandler pretty much was afraid of everyone, it would seem.

Update:  Oh, stop. you're making me feel too smug.  Here I tell you my base motives and everything and you still can't stop with the stupid.  

Update 2:  That's one of the problems with your kind of smattering of ignorance,  Edmund Wilson, while a dupe of communism during the 1930s, was never a communist himself.  And, after his trip to the Soviet Union he, like such others as Andre Gide learned, first hand, that it was a totalitarian fascist hell hole and that the same Stalin who American commies like your heroes praised, propagandized and spied for, was the worst of the Czars.  By the time he'd written the frippery I quoted - in nothing like complete agreement - he was an anti-communist, which you might have guessed if a. you had any background knowledge instead of the non-knowledge you've gotten from your Hollywood based non-education and b. if you'd bothered to read the link where he makes a offhand remark about how he was getting the kind of flack from commies that I get from kulcha vulchas of the most vulgar variety. 

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