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America, Where Great Literature Kicked the Bucket
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Once in a while, people ask me: “Why did you accept the US citizenship, many years ago?” “After all,” they say, “now you are one of the most vocal critics of the United States, and of the West in general.”

Perhaps I never explained, or I did, some time ago, and now it is forgotten. So, let me try again, now that the world is facing destruction, and an unpronounced but real “new cold war” is ruining millions of lives.

First of all, let me clarify: I am a novelist. That’s what I am, essentially, no matter what other stuff of mine you are reading, and no matter what films of mine you are watching.

Really, seriously, you did not know? Of course, you did! Journalists do not write like this.

As a novelist, since my childhood, I was in love with the literature that used to be written in the United States. I am talking about North America about which people hardly know much, now.

The America of Huckleberry Finn, of Captain John Yossarian from “Catch 22”, or Robert Jordan from “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.

Commercialism, Western propaganda and so-called political correctness, made that country of daring, rebellion, dreams, and yes – depth – almost disappear from the ‘cultural radar’, all over the world. Selfishness, narcissism and lately, the inability to even listen to others, has made American culture basically ruin itself, and in the process, to ruin its literature, its society and what was positive about its very essence.

Also, it has managed to destroy the image of itself, all over the world.

 

“My America” was actually a country which we knew, loved and cherished in Leningrad and Prague, perhaps even much more than in Chicago or Atlanta. A country of giants such as Faulkner and Hemingway, Nathanael West, Steinbeck, Dreiser, Heller, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene O’Neill.

This America is now thoroughly unknown in the neo-colonies, from Jakarta to Guatemala, and from Nairobi to Riyadh.

The America that is renowned nowadays is that of the cheapest pop, of Hollywood blockbusters, sitcoms, junk food and junk clothing. An America of a pathetic narrative, of dumb slang, predictable humor and feel-good rubbish.

Yet, it was that deep, unknown, and mysterious America full of powerful and often dark narratives, as well as of brave voices, with which I fell, decades ago, deeply in love.

I fell in love with it, got enormously inspired by it, but when it changed and lost most of its strength, when it gained the excessive amount of aggressiveness and ignorance, I had no choice but to leave it behind.

I always loved Faulkner, but suddenly there was no figure of his magnitude.

I loved Hemingway, but he has been smeared by the mainstream critics, clearly because he fully supported the Cuban Revolution and despised imperialism. In the end, he got essentially murdered by the U.S. regime.

I loved the naughtiness, madness, aggressive anti-establishment humor of Joseph Heller. Yes, his books used to be bestsellers, although they were trashing everything from U.S. militarism, to the U.S. corporate culture. In his era, and when I was a child, his novels sold like hot potatoes. In the United States, there are no writers like him, now. Nobody dares to write as he did. Writers are silenced by “political correctness”, by self-censorship, and by the desire to please increasingly oppressive publishers. Intuitively, they know what is expected from them. They play the game. It is huge business. Like journalism, and, as in academia.

Now, in the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom and Germany, there are numerous literary awards, which reward mediocrity, but there are hardly any literary giants.

 

North American writers were well ahead of their time. At least some of them were.

Recently, when I was visiting my friends at the “Left Word” publishing house in New Delhi, India, I was surprised to find a Mark Twain book about the crimes against humanity committed by King Leopold II of Belgium, in Congo! Part of the Belgian establishment is still denying these crimes, to this day. A hundred years ago, Mark Twain rose in defense of a destroyed African nation.

Hemingway clearly understood the enormity of Mark Twain, as he also understood Africa. In his “Green Hills of Africa”, he wrote, in fact he smashed America with one powerful thought:

All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. If you read it you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. But it’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.”

Hemingway also clearly understood his times. Quoted in Look in May of 1954, he said:

There is nothing wrong with Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin that a .577 solid would not cure”.

Now, wouldn’t you love the literature of a country, which dares to drop such verbal bombs? These days, such a statement would land you in the Guantanamo camp. Of course, Hemingway, according to several declassified FBI files, was given an overdose of electric shocks, at a mental clinic, when he was seeking help for depression; something that later drove him to suicide. But he dared, and others dared, as well.

 

I spent time in the deep south of the country, when I was young. I used to drive around, tempting fate with my New York license plates. I listened to countless stories in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas. It was all depressing, as it was all enormously powerful.

The United States is a segregated country. If they tell you it is not, they lie. It was, when I lived there, and it still is, now. They hit you with political correctness in order to shut you up, so you don’t say it, write it, or even hear how deeply it is divided.

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But in the past, you could park yourself in a bar, somewhere in Louisiana, and take it all in. It was dangerous, unsettling, but it was true life, and if you were young, and had guts, it was the best school for writing fiction: the stories, the people, all raw, exposed, painful, and in a very twisted way, beautiful.

Paris was an escape for many. If you were born an American, and you were black, you just couldn’t live in the United States. It would crush you, humiliate you, kill you. Unless you were chasing awards, and were willing to soften things up, like Toni Morrison did at some point. But if you were like Richard Wright, one of the very best, one of the greatest, and the author of Black Boy and Native Son, you simply had to go: say it all and leave in total desperation.

I became an American, because I read Twain and Hemingway and Faulkner. And then, after I read and understood, I mean truly understood Native Son, I couldn’t, anymore; I couldn’t even live in the country. Native Son and Another Country by James Baldwin, broke me into pieces. I read and cried, drank myself silly, vomited, and felt as if being hit in my abdomen. It was tremendous, precise, fatal. It was the end of America: it exposed the true America, and it put a cross on top of it; a funeral cross.

 

Why am I writing all this now?

It is because America (or as they always correct it south of the border – The United States – because America is everything, from Canada to the austral tip of Argentina and Chile), with all its horror that it has spread to all corners of the world, should be and has to be understood.

Not because “it deserves to be understood”, but because the countries that were horrendously hit by it, deserve to know, what is it, that has been tormenting them, for years and decades?

But this deep, perverse, fatal United States, so well described by its tremendous writers of the past, is now totally unknown in Africa, Asia, the Middle East. Perhaps it is, to some extent, in Latin America and Europe, but almost nowhere else.

What is exported are primitive beats and computer-generated images, falsely described as films. It is that toxic food, sold in chain eateries. It is the plastic cartoon production of soulless movies for children, as well as theme parks which are destroying the imagination and ability to dream.

There is a reason for all of this.

The great literature, music and cinema of the United States, have become indigestible in the United States itself, and in the colonies. The great arts of the U.S. are actually “dangerous”, as they unveil the collapse of the country, its rotten roots, hypocrisy, arrogance and aggressiveness.

The greater the writers, the more decisive, more horrifying is their description of the Empire.

In John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, a woman who lost her child during the Great Depression, gives her breast, still full of milk, to a man, a stranger who is dying from hunger. She does it on the road. She is a mother. He is her child, a fellow American. That moment is as big as life itself; it feels like those endless open spaces of her country.

That is the America that I wanted to know. The America of which I still managed to catch a glimpse of, before it disappeared like a mirage.

But this is not America that the Western regime wants us to know.

In Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, an American high school teacher, Robert Jordan, is waiting, rifle in his hand, for the advance of fascist troops in Spain. The love of his life, Maria, a brave Spanish woman, had her head shaved; had been gang-raped. And Robert Jordan is there, to fight and to die for a socialist Spain. As Hemingway was ready to live and to die for Cuba, no matter what the Western regime has been telling us about him.

 

The thing is, if you live elsewhere, outside the United States, the chances are that you will know nothing about the real United States. You will know close to zero about the writers who stood by it, were defending its people, and were constantly confronting it, when the country turned into an empire and began behaving like a monster.

Even those writers that you know, will be fed to you in a small dose. If it is William Styron, chances are that you will be directed to his Sophia’s Choice, but not to Set This House on Fire, a novel about the deep south and its monstrous racism.

Now, frankly, the great US literature is dead. The enormous North American novel has been choked, murdered. With it died my love for American letters.

Stories are gone. People talk; they talk a lot, but I hardly hear powerful stories. Our planet is being ruined, and dozens of nations have their governments overthrown by the Empire. But where are the stories?

I want to hear stories from the occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, from the Rust Belt, from inner cities! I want to read tremendous novels exposing these topics.

Historians look back, into the past. Revolutionary writers are preoccupied with the future. I definitely belong to the second category.

I am endlessly grateful to American literature. But it is gone. I come to its tombstones, and I mourn. But after laying down some flowers in front of great names, I know that it is time to move on.

There is not one single giant of letters presently working in the United States. Full stop. Culturally, the country has collapsed. It is exporting garbage all over the world, lowering the standards of our humanity, awarding mediocrity at home and in all corners of the globe. It has choked criticism, and now it glorifies nihilism and passivity.

This is not the America that I loved and admired. That is why I do not live there, anymore, for many years. That is why I cannot create there!

 

[First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook – a journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences]

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Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Five of his latest books are “China Belt and Road Initiative”,China and Ecological Civilization” with John B. Cobb, Jr., “Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism”, a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire”. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and Latin America, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website, his Twitter and his Patreon.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Literature 
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  1. Replaced, with Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood (Canada), Maya Angelou. It’s the future the Left chose.

    • Replies: @Curmudgeon
    , @niteranger
  2. Nigga cat says:

    You’re a nerd.

    If that literature couldn’t stop America from becoming what it is..

    Books about some American kid alone in the wilderness encroaching on native land are so passé

    Maybe it reminds you of your own country’s colonial past and settler expansionism

  3. The Scalpel says: • Website

    ‘There is not one single giant of letters presently working in the United States. Full stop.’

    Agreed. Last one was Kurt Vonnegut IMHO

    According to Emerson, the most “American” was Thoreau, but Twain, Hemingway, etc. I agree are excellent examples

  4. I largely agree with the sentiment of the article. The US has lost its soul entirely. But I would contend that Cormac McCarthy is a genuinely great writer, and he’s still alive and well. He’s simply surveying the wreckage.

  5. @The Anti-Gnostic

    It’s the future the Left chose.

    They aren’t “Left”, they are globalists. The real “Left” is nationalistic.
    As for Vltchek’s reference to waiting for the fascists and his “raped” girlfriend, it wasn’t the fascists raping and killing nuns in the USSR and Spain, it was “Uncle Joe’s” crowd, and they weren’t “Left” either. Communism is the flip side of the coin of capitalism.

  6. ricpic says:

    Gosh, America let Vltchek down. My grandparents escaped “Holy” Russia to come to America in order to live decent lives. And they did, they did live decent lives here. Millions did. Millions do. Not good enough for Vltchek? A pox on his heartbreak.

  7. anon[191] • Disclaimer says:

    “Hemingway also clearly understood his times. Quoted in Look in May of 1954, he said:

    “There is nothing wrong with Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin that a .577 solid would not cure”.

    Now, wouldn’t you love the literature of a country, which dares to drop such verbal bombs? These days, such a statement would land you in the Guantanamo camp. Of course, Hemingway, according to several declassified FBI files, was given an overdose of electric shocks, at a mental clinic, when he was seeking help for depression; something that later drove him to suicide. But he dared, and others dared, as well.”

    McCarthy was hated by the leftest media in the 1950’s and Hemingway got away with saying that because he was not directly threatening the senator. It was protected free speech.

    As for today, as long as you are not directly threatening the life of a public official you can usually still get away with saying things like that. Comedienne Kathy Griffin showed a picture of herself holding a mask of Trump covered in blood implying that his head had been severed. That was two years ago and she’s not in Guantanamo but it ruined her career because of the negative public outcry. She thought that the majority of the public hated Trump as much as Hollywood did.

    Criticizing Israel, Jews or saying anything deemed as racist or politically incorrect will get your career ruined too and possibly jail time with the new repressive laws today.

    Saying that Hemingway was “overprescribed” electric shocks which led to his suicide is really pushing it because he had suffered from depression for much of his life and he was a heavy drinker. Seven members of the Hemingway family have committed suicide, from Ernest Hemingway’s father up to the last one, Margaux Hemingway in 1996.

    • Agree: Mr McKenna
  8. SafeNow says:

    Yes, we live in a literary dark age. But the works of the great writers of the essay and others still exist. The worst part is that academia has “refreshed” this traditional canon; many or most of the great writers of The U.S. and the rest of Western literature are no longer assigned. I believe this dark age is now irreversible. I am ancient and remember reading Updike and Roth and thinking, ah, it goes on, it will go on forever; but it did not. I thought the same about music.

  9. Biff says:

    All good stuff Andre. Instead of literature, I’m a music buff, and in particular Blues and rock and roll, and everything necessary to play that kind of music well was invented by 1959. It was utilized to its musical height by the end of 1969, and by September 1970 the greatest ever had passed(JMH). Some of my most cherished possessions is my vintage Fender gear.

    Today’s Music scene consists of 50 yr old song writers producing tunes for non-musical twenty year olds, and then have sound engineers alchemize it into a wall of sound for the corporate marketers do the rest. Have you tuned into American radio lately? It’s vomit inducing crap. And then there are the musical shows – astronomical prices(ticket master) for lackluster talent, and in today’s America, anywhere people gather in large groups the government goons are there to grope and shakedown the populace.

    The day the music died.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Sin City Milla
  10. Thanks Andre.
    You bring back memories. Catch 22, Catcher in the Rye, As I lay Dying, The Great Gatsby, the Sun Also Rises, so many… and even Mad Magazine (pre – 75′).
    Can’t over emphasis the influence of this USA on me. Such richness.

  11. TG says:

    Great American literature, dead? But what about “Neoliberal Economists Must Die!” by Timothy J. Gawne, Ballacourage Books (available on Amazon, of course). What about that? 🙂

    But seriously, I think one of my favorite quotes of all time is from Heller, Catch 22B: “They can do anything you can’t stop them from doing.” I find myself saying that at least twice a week.

  12. The death of great literature is another casualty of man’s constant technological “progress”. Reading requires effort, and most now would rather watch a movie than read a book. I suppose we must thank Thomas Edison for this. Video is a very powerful medium, tailor-made for today’s mass man and propaganda. Reading anything other than blurbs on social media is becoming a lost skill. Of course, it’s not the only thing that’s being lost, particularly here in America, the heart of the empire. Totalitarian, anti-human trends are everywhere evident in modern life, which has promoted and continues to promote increasing levels of mediocrity and conformism in all areas. There are very good reasons for this that have to do with the nature of technology itself, which can only be produced in an orderly environment, and functions best only under controlled conditions. The more “advanced” technology becomes, the more it requires precise control, particularly of the human element. Thus, “progress”, while it increases material wealth, incrementally erases human freedom. The loss of an ability to produce or appreciate beauty is subsidiary to this. Maybe soon, within a century or so, humans will merge with their technology, as Kurzweil and other futurists predict. If that happens, the problem will evaporate, as humanity as we know it will effectively have ceased to exist. Oh, brave new world, that has such “people” in it!

    • Agree: Adûnâi
  13. The only really good living American author is John Norman. He is threatening to publish more novels.

  14. @The Anti-Gnostic

    That’s a good list and it results from the Jewish Marxist Theory that everyone is equal and all cultures and civilizations have contributed the same.

    The Marxist Left considers Rap Music the equivalent of Bach or Beethoven. Morrison, Angelou and others were total frauds. The 50 Shades author was nothing more than a pimp for the sick Jewish Universe and was widely promoted by Orthodox Jews. Parallels of what the Jews did in Weimar Germany that led to the rise of Hitler. The Jews now define what is allowed whether it’s literature, music, speech or whatever and it’s getting worse everyday. Anytime …anywhere this type of stuff happens you can immediately trace it to those who have tried to control every civilization and culture they have come into contact with. The Jews have 24 hour attack on everything that made us great and they will never quit. It’s something the author fails to discuss.

  15. Anonymous[166] • Disclaimer says:
    @Biff

    Pop music nowadays is mostly a non-white “art” form, most of it is either Negro rap type music or Hispanic sounding music. There are increasingly few talented and highly popular white musicians, white people are mostly not that into music these days, it’s just background noise to most whites.

    In the past a lot of talented, artistic white people went into music, these days most of those people go into the video games industry. I would say that video games are the closest thing there is to a white art form these days.

  16. Anon[112] • Disclaimer says:

    It’s hard to pen a response to this. I agree with the idea that historical guilt has ruined the ability to feel positive feelings towards the USA.

    I am rather annoyed that the USA takes all of the blame for ME wars. Firstly, the USA is not the only country that was involved. Secondly, few of us understand really the reasons behind these wars, or whether they were good. Many US leaders believed that they were stopping the next Holocaust. Maybe they were wrong, but how can you hate them for this?

    Furthermore, the US has not conquered any land in the time frame that ANDRE VLTCHEK is mourning, which is the latter 20th century when our military (he says) “got aggressive.” Our recent operations are complex and surgical things that involve far fewer casualties than wars in the past. But it goes without saying that they are not far-right in nature, as even Obama dropped many bombs.

    No, it was during the days of Mark Twain that the USA was conquering. That is when the USA was really aggressive.

    When the USA got really liberal and became good, in the eyes of this writer, the literature failed. The US media establishment is run by super-liberals who would stand by Vltchek on every cultural issue. THEY are creating and exporting the modern garbage. Sorry. It is not Whites from the Deep South who are doing this. They do not have any hold in Hollywood. People from Mississippi do not own and run fast food chains. They were all created in the goodwhite, anti-racist Midwest.

    But ANDRE VLTCHEK, like most ignorant foreigners who think they know everything, have no knowledge of this.

    Interesting to note that PC culture is imagined by leftists (such as ANDRE VLTCHEK) to be a right-wing thing. They think it is about stopping liberals from saying what they really feel about Southerners (as if Southerners don’t already know, as if it would be of any value to reiterate for the zillionth time).

    I cannot stand reading ignorant articles like this which just rag on the USA for “being so bad,” but propose no solutions. The USA is run by goodwhites. We have high interracial marriage rates (Yay no more white people, if only whites had chosen to race-mix away sooner!), much higher than any Eastern European country. Whites in the South have little wealth and less power. Whites are miserable because of historical guilt, and cannot escape, and it drives them insane. Black people are miserable because of chronically low trust and high fear of whites, and they cannot escape, and it drives them insane.

    The solution is to escape. Maybe to move to another country and put it behind. To do that, mass migration would be needed, because individual migration is difficult. But no, we cannot do that, because the world hates us, and we are hated wherever we go by people like ANDRE VLTCHEK, for unsolvable problems we have inherited.

  17. JimDandy says:

    “Writers are silenced by “political correctness”, by self-censorship, and by the desire to please increasingly oppressive publishers. Intuitively, they know what is expected from them. They play the game. It is huge business. Like journalism, and, as in academia.”

    I don’t think literary fiction is actually huge business, which is why it is the most banal and bland and free of exciting exceptions. Literary fiction is a boutique write-off at the big houses, and a clique-based vanity orgy at the small-press level. Literary fiction at the top level is controlled by the wives and daughters of powerful liberals. They published what speaks to them–leftwing, P.C., “Diverse” drivel, in other words. Back when the great writers you mentioned were getting published, they were writing for money. There was an honest market.

  18. Twain is replaced by “The Strain”
    Hemingway by the popinjay
    Heller by Rockefeller
    Salinger by Kiplinger
    Faulkner by Kushner
    Pynchon by Bolton

    Hawthorne by Osbourne
    Wallace by malice
    O’Neill by O’Reilly
    Dick by Wick
    Vonnegut by “Du Riechst So Gut”
    Baldwin by Baldwin

  19. @Biff

    Music has indeed died. Wherever I go, gym, restaurant, grocery, coffee shop, I hear the exact same inane drivel they dare to call music. This noise pollution can no longer be escaped. Each is almost identical to the next. And just try to change the station or ask that it be silenced. Impossible, they reply. The music is set by corporate and nobody can change it.

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