Saturday, July 18, 2015

Go Kill A Watchman

If you haven't read the just-published Harper Lee novel Go Set A Watchman (a quasi-sequel of To Kill a Mockingbird), please listen to it first, specifically the spoken audio version read by Reese Witherspoon. This is a novel about what people think, not about what they do, and Reese really gets inside Jean Louise's head.
It seems most literary critics have rushed to express that Go Set A Watchman is an unworthy successor to To Kill a Mockingbird. I hope that you, as I, disregarded their self-appointed gatekeeper role and made up your own mind.

So you didn't like it? This suggests to me that:
  1. you can see only in black and white,
  2. you are an idol worshipper (whether it be Atticus Finch or Harper Lee),
  3. you need the approval of people "better" than you (such as literary critics),
  4. you love humanity but hate real humans.
  5. you find fiction and "literature" boring.
True confession. I was forced to read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school and thought it was boring. The book went on and on about a child's thoughts, which I being recently a child myself was in no further need of. The movie was much better, but my teacher didn't want to hear that. I grew up in a liberal Catholic family in California, so it was fun to ridicule the South for its backward ways, but did Ms. Lee really need so many anecdotes of childhood? I could have summarized my view of the South much more succinctly: "You were wrong then, you're wrong now. You lost the war, get over it already!"

And then I grew up, went to U.C. Berkeley (a privilege that I as a smart white middle-class male accepted as birthright), and began to see things in color, grew fond of cognitive and moral dissonance, and was ready to have my idols upended. In 1986 I saw, and joined, young people rising up against old men accommodating apartheid in South Africa to maximize profits for employee pensions. The struggle had a wonderful Les Miserables quality to it, including the building and brief habitation of a shantytown in front of the administration building. In the end, we won (I mean of course that South Africans won), and we celebrated ourselves and indeed the old mens' pensions were perfectly fine -- they had lied to us, and respect for authority died a little after that. Sadly, the on-campus naval museum died too, apparently a victim to the self-righteous arrogation through arson of a few overzealous anarchists angry about the military's role in ROTC on campus. Respect for righteous indignation died a lot for me that day as well.

So where could Harper Lee have gone after Mockingbird? She could have published Watchman soon after Mockingbird, perhaps at the cost of her own fame, moral clarity, and effectiveness. But she did not. Some moral courage!

But then, where did we student protesters in the thousands go after "freeing South Africans from political bondage"? Certainly not to north Oakland to picket an unscrupulous nursing home sweatshop where workers were being paid less than minimum wage. Or I should say, at least the lucky ones...I and a handful of others not yet equipped to say no to a direct plea from moral authority to our moral superiority to do our moral duty found ourselves whisked away in a white van, and I was condemned to a hot afternoon pushing a large fat man in a wheelchair around in circles: he waved his sign and I pushed him uphill and braked downhill. I can no longer remember what the sign said, only that the man stank of ripe sweat and I consoled myself that since he was black, I could at least relieve myself of some white guilt I was feeling and hopefully get some Filipina caregivers a 50-cent raise. Sadly, as fate would have it, neither came to fruition. I did not feel more noble, and despised myself for wanting to. The workers did not get their raise. No media came to document the futility of our labor action, and no one wrote the Great American Screenplay where Gregory Peck played me playing Norma Rae. Real life has a remarkably unromantic and mundane quality to it.

Still, I was stubborn and unwilling to let go of the dream, so I went into the Peace Corps upon graduation and lived two years in the Central African Republic, where my students still stank of ripened sweat, I grew even more cynical, and left no lasting legacy: instead of the neocolonial subjugation they enjoyed when I was there, they now have machetes and religious war. As yet I have not been called to write the Great American Novel about my time there. What I had was better than fiction because I lived it, but I cannot share it with others because I have not learned from it anything worth sharing.

But Harper Lee has. Go Set a Watchman is not a Great novel, but it is a good one, with good people with good intentions, perceived grievances, and self delusions struggling to be moral individuals in a world that prefers group labels. The prose is sufficiently rough and at times wordy that we can dispense with the straitjacket of author worship. Atticus finally gets the right to a third dimension. The black characters can stop stepping-to, because (being written from a white point of view) they have almost no presence anyway. Even in its boldness, the novel is racially self-serving, but at least white readers are well served.

By which I mean that Harper Lee gave me a fleeting chance to experience the dissonance of knowing that white privilege is loathsome and in any case unsustainable, yet somehow wanting to mourn its loss. It is an uncomfortable feeling which maybe I brought to the book myself, so your mileage may vary. Thanks to a novel written 40 years ago, I finally have a clue why the Tea Party lives on and has staying power, and how people saying overtly racist things about President Obama seem earnest in professing that it's not about his race. Indeed it is not about his race: it is about their race, and the intersection of race and identity cannot be understood unless at some point you are willing to temporarily accept its validity and empathize with hate dressed up as victimization and animated by fear and loss. The sandbox of fiction in Watchman gave me enough permission to do this where I would not in real life.

For moral answers, I will always have Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn, but to form moral questions I prefer Watchman and Billy Budd. I still don't like literature, but it seems to like me.

36 comments:

ShermanBryan said...

Sebelum kamu https://ultiqq.com main-main mix parlay.

John Mattie said...

Semakin tidak sedikit tim yg kamu https://asik99.co pasang maksimal betnya serta bakal semakin sedikit.

Аким Базылевич said...

Menang sekitar maupun https://mdominoqq.biz takluk sekitar itu konsisten dapat di perhitungan ya.

Illarion Akimenko said...

Semakin tidak sedikit tim yg kamu https://murah99.net pasang maksimal betnya tambah bakal semakin sedikit.

Вадимир Виноходов said...

Pada rumus 1 tim https://campionqq.co berlutut setengah.

resakila lokamisa said...

Bila telah menggabai terhadap https://ahli99.co akhir permainan kamu dapat serta-merta melaksanakan all-in jikalau kamu percaya dgn card anda.

resamika lomasikaja said...

Soalnya pada biasanya https://masterdominoq.co jika mereka yang sudah mendapatkan kartu yang bagus.

ewasalioa lokijsada said...

Sampel( 5-5-5-8-9) straight yaitu Poker pembauran card yg nilai/angkanya mesti beruturan.

Nicholas Rico said...

Bagi rumus 1 tim https://atomqq.com angkat tangan setengah.

John Caballero said...

Singkat main-main https://sahqq.com argresif permainan poker.

Carter Rawls said...

Sample( j-j-8-8-6) three of kind http://pelangi99.cc ialah card yg mempunyai koalisi 3 angka yg sama.

Aiden Mckenna said...

Justru kamu juga satu http://mandiri99.me orang pemula yg main judi poker online duit asli.

Jackson Mena said...

Soalnya untuk kebanyakan Website indosahabat bila mereka yg telah meraih card yg bagus.

Kevin Fife said...

Sample( a♣-6♣-8♣-4♣-5♣). full house http://pasarqq.co card penggabungan ini merupakangabungan semenjak one pair dan masih three of kind.

Alexander Pope said...

Pedoman menyuarakan Agen memberqq card fusi buat pemula.

Alexander Pope said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jackson Paredes said...

Apabila memang lah kamu meraih http://rajawali99.cc card yg keren maka kamu cuma butuh lakukan call saja hingga untuk akhir putaran permainan.

Боголюб Вишня said...

Bila kamu tak tahu http://bandarjud1qq.com bagaimanakah memanfaatkan teknik.

Злата Гостенов said...

Sampel( 5-5-5-8-9) straight http://raja99.cc yaitu konsolidasi card yg nilai/angkanya mesti beruturan.

Мирослава Лобков said...

Tentu saja elemen ini telah http://ratu99.me kamu ketahui sebab sejak lama pastinya.

Gabriel Christopher said...

Bagi main-main argresif kamu http://indo99.cc semula tak dapat jalankan borok dalam bermain.

ChristopherRainey said...

Soalnya untuk rata-rata https://asikqiu.co kalau mereka yg telah meraih card yg bagus.

Thomas Cordes said...

Sampel( 6♦-7♦-8♦-9♦-10♦) serba banyak flush http://qqahli.net ialah tata konsolidasi card paling tinggi yg diliat alamat kategori dan angka yg tertinggi.

LeonardAllen said...

Namun kepada hal http://janjiqiu.com peraturan merger card poker ini.

Russell Saldivar said...

Dikarenakan resikonya pass http://ikanqqiu.net agung seandainya kamu laksanakan kesalahan.

James Perez said...

Tidak sedikit semenjak pemain http://jadiqq.me poker yg tidak jarang memunggungi ke-2 elemen ini ketika udah sejak mulai memperoleh card yg bagus.

James Stamm said...

Seperti misalnya kamu sanggup http://Murahqq.cc memanfaatkan cara bluffing (menggeretak).

PhillipMorgan said...

Sampel( k-k-k-k-4) straight http://campionqq.me flush yakni bauran awal merger straight dan flush.

Велизар Крымов said...

Permainan poker mempunyai 10 penggabungan http://masterdominoqq.cc kaidah card yg mampu kamu temukan kepada meja permainan.

Michael Wortham said...

Rumus menghitungnya http://mdomino99.cc yaitu : mengkalikan odds tim yg menang saja.

Android iPhone Indonesian Service said...

Distributor Kuota
PT Lampung Service
Service Center HP Indonesian
Service Center iPhone Indonesian
Service Center Acer Indonesian
PT Lampung Service

Michale David said...

Your auto title is used as collateral to receive title loans Atlanta a loan, enabling you to quickly pay off loans when you're strapped for cash!

Unknown said...

Seguidores reales en Instagram - Enfocados en tu ciudad y país - Interesados en tu cuenta - Crecimiento conseguir seguidores reales en instagram legitimo-Seguidores orgánicos y genuinos.

Michale David said...

Black Rock is a group of cybersecurity experts that fund recovery helps with stealth investigation services, firewall security database and fund recovery from various investment scams like Binary options and forex scams.

Unknown said...

pasarqq
warnetqq
honda qq
dewaqq
lipoqq
heloqq
asikqq

Unknown said...

Tentang sisi lain, dalam poker online, maka dimungkinkan untuk bertaruh di setiap belokan. Jumlah taruhan seseorang kemungkinan bergantung pada jenis poker yang Anda mainkan. Entah itu tetap, batas pot, tanpa batasan. Selain itu, jika Anda tidak ingin bertaruh, Anda mungkin memiliki lipatan tetapi ini tidak memungkinkan
asikqq
dewaqq
sumoqq
interqq
hobiqq
rajawaliqq
http://192.254.236.33/sumoqq78/