YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

September 16, 2012

Thought Crimes

During the High Holy Days, Jews are supposed to engage in strenuous self-examination. Even as a secular Jew, the solemnity and moral obligation of this time impels me to look inside and make reparations to those I may have neglected or lied to or otherwise misled as to my deep inner beliefs or opinions.

My thought crimes that everyone already knows about:

a. The subject of antisemitism is only partly understood, even by Jews and their friends;

b. The exact techniques of populist demagoguery always rely on an underlying antisemitic set of assumptions about “the money power.” If we knew even the basics of finance and economic history, the bogey man of Wall Street would disintegrate;

c. I enjoy Ayn Rand’s novels with some reservations (masochistic sex), but given her particular history, I brush them aside;

d. Even if there was “school choice” there is no guarantee that students would be prepared for citizenship, given the curricula in vogue, which do not begin to teach freedom of thought, dominated as they are by authoritarian, under-educated, or wimpy progressives;

e. Progressivism and communism are now so interpenetrating that it is hard to tell where Democrats leave off and hard leftists begin. Those scholars who have studied communist influence in the US and who think that the Reds are no longer relevant are mistaken;

f. Although left-wing anarchists and right-wing anarchists would appear to be immiscible, they are both counter-culture and probably acting out rebellion against the rules set by their parents. Anti-capitalism vs. anarcho-capitalism may not be as significant as enjoyment in prolonged tantrums;

g. Much of what passes for high art is primitivist, or at times, expresses nostalgia for an agrarian past that lacked cities, machines, and annoying Jews who make you think too much;

h. The sexual revolution of the 1960s on has been a disaster for most women, who have bought into the regnant masochism and degradation of our gender;

i. Freud is more relevant than ever, yet rarely understood: though a professed atheist, he is still too Jewish;

j. Many workers continue to be exploited and/or have boring, even dangerous jobs.

Thought crimes that nobody knows about:

a. People should not have children if they can’t support them. If marriages break down, the couples should stay together in most cases for the sake of family stability: children hate change and often are caught between parents, with bad life-long after-effects;

b. Some of the authors and artists I most admire are turning out to be either romantic rebels or reactionaries or downright offensive and I don’t care: I will defend their freedom of expression as long as I am breathing;

c. Being at odds with most of the world is downright fun. John Dos Passos admitted this in his old age (see Century’s Ebb), and I recognized my own proclivities. Call me joyfully alienated; (One relative through marriage rightly suspects me of these contrarian tendencies.)

d. As long as I am on hot on the trail of a new (for me) miscreant or set of ‘em, I am happy;

e. Nothing more exciting than changing my mind or reconfiguring a picture of the world: to see with fresh eyes. While I was making radio documentaries, was heard to say that a good edit was way better than sex. Collage will do that for you;

f. I was invited to submit a proposal for a class I would teach in the Los Angeles Woman’s Building. I submitted this title and nothing else: “PUNS KEY TO SECRET ORDER IN THE UNIVERSE.” No one signed up and I didn’t care.

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July 29, 2012

GIRLS, or, the new lost generation

Lena as shown by her mom

If you have time, watch http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/video/lena-dunham-first-season-girls-338688.

HBO’s new series, GIRLS, has been nominated for three Emmy awards. In this blog, I raise some questions about the writing and what it tells us about the so-called Millennial generation (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Y) . They remind me of the decadent world made familiar to us by Ernest Hemingway in his first novel The Sun Also Rises (1926).

Lena Dunham comes out of the “indy” film world, having made a film entitled Tiny Furniture, which seems to refer to her artist mother’s work. (Dunham’s mother is Laurie Simmons, while her father is the well-known artist Carroll Dunham.  See http://www.moma.org/collection/artist.php?artist_id=1652.) I have now seen that first film, and was simply appalled by its defense of an entitled generation, demanding and yet submissive to male desire, literally taking it in the ass.

I must say that my resistance to this set of seemingly aimless and apolitical young women as depicted on HBO, is partly shaped by the high seriousness of my own generation, for we were the offspring of fathers and mothers who were one way or another shaped by the second world war, and before that, the Great Depression. Hence my impatience with those young people who grew up in comparative affluence, and without a compulsory draft or the Viet Nam war that politicized the Baby Boomer generation, leading to permanent political changes in our country, and moving the Democratic Party sharply to the Left. I can’t understand why the four girls are not talking about important books, or feminism, or the civil rights movement, let alone engaging US foreign policy. Their attention is all on sex and relationships, an attention that is also typical of the touchy-feely ideology promoted in progressive schools and in the media today. (It must be said that many feminist artists of the 1970s focused on sexuality, not to speak of lesbianism.)

Lena Dunham has been praised mightily by John Podhoretz in the pages of The Weekly Standard (see http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/girls-are-all-right_647320.html?nopager=1.). He thinks that she is a marvel of accomplishment in her generation, while I see her and the three others as overly self-absorbed. And to be fair, the script does allow for such a view, to her credit. And as one of my children observed, she makes herself vulnerable in a way that is rare for any of us.

Many have enjoyed these ten episodes, and as I continued to watch them, I must admit to being drawn into their world. But I still question two things:

  1. The “indie” film world produced Lena Dunham. But what does “independence” signify to the young filmmakers who send their work to Sundance and similar showcases for the    more “spiritual” film auteurs? Much of what I have seen of their work is boring, horribly written and, as we used to say on the left, “self-indulgent.”  The main virtue, as I read the situation, is the “independence” from [Jew-ridden, Big Money] Hollywood. One thinks of “community radio”, similarly liberated from ‘corporate greed’.

2.Lena Dunham was educated at progressive Oberlin, and before that, in a progressive artsy school, St. Anne’s in Brooklyn. She must have been exposed to the “postmodern” world of academe that touted transgressiveness as the standard for high art or moral seriousness. In other words, a true rebel once again shouted “Merdre” at the [‘Jewified’] bourgeoisie (see Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi). This cri de coeur is old and tired, and in a world where the vanguard has yielded to primitivism, minimalism, and other forms of moral suicide masquerading as self-sacrifice, or a leap into the unknown, or worse, pseudo-solidarity with the oppressed, I wonder what mores remain to be flouted? For more on this theme, see https://clarespark.com/2012/10/03/the-sexual-revolution-2/.

Lena’s father

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