Snippets 110

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This Side of Paradise-F. Scott Fitzgerald

“No, its isn’t silly. It’s quite plausible. If you’d gone to college you’d have been struck by the fact that the men there would work twice s hard for any one of a hundred petty honors as those other men did who were earning their way through.”
“Kids–child’s play!” scoffed his antagonist.
“Not by a darned sight–unless we’re all children. Did you ever see a grown man when he’s trying for a secret society–or a rising family whose name is up at some club? They’ll jump when they hear the sound of the word. The idea that to make a man work you’ve got to hold gold in front of his eyes is a growth, not an axiom. We’ve done that for so long that we’ve forgotten there’s any other way. We’ve made a world where that’s necessary. Let me tell you”–Amory became empathic–“if there were ten men insured against either wealth or starvation, and offered a green ribbon for five hours’ work a day and a blue ribbon for ten hours’ work a day, nine out of ten of them would be trying for the blue ribbon. That competitive instinct only wants a badge. If the side of their house is the badge they’ll sweat their heads off for that. If it’s only a blue ribbon, I damn near believe they’ll work just as hard. They have in other ages.”
“I don’t agree with you.”
“I know it,” said Amory nodding sadly. “It doesn’t matter any more though. I think these people are going to come and take what they want pretty soon.”(312)

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Snippets 109

Fitzgerald,_Saturday_evening_post

This Side of Paradise-F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Well, my first point is that through a mixture of conditions of which the family is the first, there are these two sorts of brains. One sort takes human nature as it finds it, uses its its timidity, its weakness, and its strength for its own ends. Opposed is the man who, being spiritually unmarried, continually seeks for new systems that will control or counteract human nature. His problem is harder. It is not life that’s complicated, it’s the struggle to guide and control life. That is his struggle. He is a part of progress–the spiritually married man is not.”
The big man produced three big cigars, and proffered them on his huge palm. The little man took one, Amory shook his head and reached for a cigarette.
“Go on talking,” said the big man. “I’ve been wanting to hear one of you fellows.” (310)

Snippets 107

 

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F.Scott Fitzgerald-This Side of Paradise

He paused only to get his breath.

“And that is why I have sworn not to put pen to paper until my ideas either clarify or depart entirely; I have quite enough sins on my soul without putting dangerous, shallow epigrams into people’s heads; I might cause a poor, inoffensive capitalist to have a vulgar liaison with a bomb, or get some innocent little Bolshevik tangled up with a machine-gun bullet–”

Tom was growing restless under this lampooning of his connection with The New Democracy.

“What’s all this got to do with your being bored?”

Amory considered that it had much to do with it. (244)

This Side of Paradise With Holden Caulfield

Poor Butterfly-Judy Garland & Bobby Cole

I’ve been meditating on the Lost Generation, and associated alcoholic flapper girls with tiny mouths. I thought I saw myself, my position in the world with this wandering brigade of writers and artists, stuck between wars and civilizations, who were born too late in nineteenth, to early in the twentieth century, to really get either. Vestiges of a Victorian past. Knowledge of a present debauchery, excess, fluidity of rule and standard.

I’m currently reading Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise, didn’t like Amory Blaine, or F. Scott hiding behind him. Obviously biographical while reading, this was confirmed later with Wikipedia backstory. Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda had a notorious relationship. He stole tidbits of her diary for this work, got married on the hustle, the come-up off it. They called her schizophrenic, or whatever, and she wasted away in the asylum until an early death, a prototype of the grungy, burnout pop celebrity. I think the class-consciousness of Amory Blaine is what bugs me, probably out of protection of my own ego. It’s not fun to think of yourself as lower class, less than. Their wealth and opportunity of experience makes it that way though. More over the rampant materialism of my own 1980s Mid-West upbringing carries these same understandings and systems, which I have to acknowledge. I had no Nikes, no shiny new cars, no expensive trips to Disney Land, just Pepsis, and Cosmopolitan magazine, frozen pizzas and box macaroni and cheese.

I think 80s and 90s kids are again a Lost generation, the last of the pre-internet artificial-intelligence/reality generation. We got to see the end stages of the twentieth century, the highlights of that age, cable television, cheap food, shock and awe, GI Joe, Michael Jordan. Music and the Arts in fantastic death flourishes, party like its 1999, before the big reset, the next battle, the next mountain. We get the first glimmers of artificial intelligence and all that, but by the time it arrives we’ll all be on insulin drips, humming the melody of Hit Me Baby One More Time in our State sponsored tiny apartments. The Lost Ones are tired before they start. We want it to stop for a second, take a look around, sentimentalist, romantics, call it whatever the fuck you want, let’s just stop, gorge on each other, engage in an orgy of self. Fine booze, whatever you need, I need. Fine, yes take it away, that’s fine. Watch the glasses. Okay, Christ, sure yes. What version? Baptist, Lutheran? Sorry, I’m a Catholic. Fuck all that, bring the booze back, and can we get the band swinging again. Ignore the rowdies. The poor and the starving. Is there a dusty book to be read somewhere quietly?

I’d like to be in a pit fight with F. Scott Fitzgerald, and JD Salinger. Hemingway could be the ref (and potential traitor at the end) and we would be in a death fight for the love of Zelda Fitzgerald. I would manhandle both with pure animalistic rage, set-off by shared percolating Daddy issues. I’d spit in Fitzgerald’s eye and then choke out Salinger, while I whispered, go to sleep phony, in his ear. Victorious, but bloody, I’d whisk Zelda away, away from the man with the pills and the paddles, away from the screams of desperate people. I would hide her on a farm, like Goldie Hawn in Overboard, give her some healthy babies that ground her, show her the fantastic and the real in another. Let her get the wild out under the moonlight, to dance and make love with a cold night’s breeze, among wild flowers and fireflies; no booze.

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