Friday, December 15, 2006

Projects Best Aborted

I dabbled in a little project for the past year or so, something of a pulpy dystopian thriller--a civil war between the Reds and Blues: feminazis ally themselves with radical Muslims, homosexuals, atheists, Marxists and inner city gangstas high on crack cocaine to do battle with megacorporate cyborgs and rural Christianists brandishing shotguns and rattlesnakes, themselves cranked up on crystal meth. Largely incapable of either fending for or defending themselves, suburbanites find themselves caught in the middle, huddled in their McMansions, attempting to master backyard agriculture in order to survive (the gas tanks of their SUVs are of course empty), but are quickly dismayed to learn that their genetically modified seeds were only good for one season.

For a while it was great fun, but though it was largely a cautionary tale I eventually realized I could not possibly write such shit, and certainly no one would want to read it.

And then I learned of this. Orson, to claim your little book is an admonition to both sides regarding political fault lines is sadly disengenuous. I'm disappointed in you. If you now prefer the role of propagandist to novelist, then accept the mantle with the gusto of Mr. Hannity, and stop this incessant whining regarding your supposed ostracism from literary circles. You're welcome at my house again anytime so long as this unbecoming braying ceases.

The fact is that much of the supposed divisiveness that exists amongst our fellow citizens is manufactured and perpetrated by a tiny group of politicos whose looks and talents were insufficient for employment elsewhere in the entertainment industry. They serve up bellicose insipidity for an audience that opts for the news channels, talk radio, and blogs rather than an acerebral program elsewhere on the tee-vee or (better) proper edification via a good book. Whilst we should not risk understating the stupidity of the average American, the vast majority of the populace remains largely non-partisan and simply wishes to be left alone. If a citizen votes (a big if), it is generally for the party he or she perceives to be more likely to keep them from being bothered, whether by the government, big business or self-appointed adjudicators of morality. Such animosity as would lead to actual armed conflict exists largely in the minds of a very few. The rest of us may look with some dismay upon the yard signs displayed by our neighbors, but we nevertheless exchange pleasantries over the fence as we accept from them a sackful of rhubarb in exchange for zucchini. Which is why, in the end, such works as Orson's do serve a momentary purpose before they become dated curiosities, unintelligible to anyone happening upon them a few years hence: they shock us out of the now. And then they go in the trash.


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