Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Spillane, Steyn

You, The Jury - Judge Steve Holland presides over the case of the most vilified author ever to sell 200 million copies.

* "The dialogue and action leave little to be imagined." - New York Times, 3 August 1947.
* "Able, if painfully derivative, writing and plotting, in so vicious a glorification of force, cruelty and extra-legal methods that the novel might be made required reading in a Gestapo training school." - Anthony Boucher, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 August 1947.
* "Lurid action, lurid characters, lurid writing, lurid plot, lurid finish. Verdict: Lurid" - Saturday Review of Literature, 9 August 1947.
* "His novel is a shabby and rather nasty little venture from the indefensible logic of its opening scene to the drooling titillation of its final striptease." - James Sandoe, Chicago Sun Book Week, 17 August 1947.

Spillane interview :

But what if it were today and the American Way is a series of crooked Presidents...what happens to Mike Hammer then?

That's demoralizing...then how can you do this...there was a piece in our local paper the other day about girls, 12, 13, in school, they're practicing oral sex. And when someone tells them to stop they say, 'what's wrong, the President does it'.

This comes out in the paper, a big deal. This guy has no sense of shame. I can't get over how many of the vets voted for him, he's a draft dodger. You understand the Kennedys, everybody says 'they're good Irish boys' but the phoniness of it all.

And that poor Kennedy boy who crashed. I'm a pilot, I got 11,000 hours, I was a big fighter pilot during the war, I just passed my physical...they hate it, I'm over 80, they don't want guys over 80 flying, anyway, he had what, less than 100 hours? All the pilots I know knew what happened to him, he spun out, and he couldn't drop his what we say about this guy, 'he ruined a damn good airplane'. And took people with him.

Mark Steyn on a favourite liberal myth - the Noble, Peaceable Savage.

"Both Keeley and LeBlanc believe that for a variety of reasons anthropologists and their fellow archaeologists have seriously underreported the prevalence of warfare among primitive societies. . . . 'I realized that archaeologists of the postwar period had artificially "pacified the past" and shared a pervasive bias against the possibility of prehistoric warfare,' says Keeley."

That's Lawrence Keeley, a professor at the University of Illinois. And the phrase that stuck was that bit about artificially pacifying the past. We've grown used to the biases of popular culture. If a British officer meets a native -- African, Indian, whatever -- in any movie, play or novel of the last 30 years, the Englishman will be a sneering supercilious sadist and the native will be a dignified man of peace in perfect harmony with his environment in whose tribal language there is not even a word for "war" or "killing" or "weapons of mass destruction." A few years ago, I asked Tim Rice, who'd just written the lyrics for Disney's Aladdin and The Lion King, why he wasn't doing Pocahontas. "Well, the minute they mentioned it," he said, "I knew the Brits would be the bad guys. I felt it was my patriotic duty to decline."

Well, good on you, Tim Rice !

Lawrence Keeley calculates that 87 per cent of primitive societies were at war more than once per year, and some 65 per cent of them were fighting continuously. "Had the same casualty rate been suffered by the population of the twentieth century," writes Wade, "its war deaths would have totaled two billion people." Two billion! In other words, we're the aberration: after 50,000 years of continuous human slaughter, you, me, Bush, Cheney, Blair, Harper, Rummy, Condi, we're the nancy-boy peacenik crowd. "The common impression that primitive peoples, by comparison, were peaceful and their occasional fighting of no serious consequence is incorrect. Warfare between pre-state societies was incessant, merciless, and conducted with the general purpose, often achieved, of annihilating the opponent."

Why then, against all the evidence, do we venerate the primitive? And to the point of pretending a bunch of torturing marauders devised the separation of powers in the U.S. Constitution. We do it for the same reason we indulge behaviour like that at Caledonia, Ont. We want to believe that the yard, the cul-de-sac, the morning commute, the mall are merely the bland veneer of our lives, and that underneath we are still that noble primitive living in harmony with the great spirits of the forest and the mountain. The reality is that "civilization" -- Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian -- worked very hard to stamp out the primitive within us, and for good reason.

1 comment:

staghounds said...

Rousseau has a lot to answer for.