Author Topic: Mike's Book Club  (Read 4190 times)

mnstrfrc

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Mike's Book Club
« on: August 30, 2016, 12:17:52 AM »
I saw it mentioned on twitter not so long ago that there is some kind of ap mike book club and the current selection is the heart is a lonely hunter by carson mccullers. I happened to pick it up and am about half way through. Is anybody else reading this? I find it interesting enough but not completely engrossing. I see the two mute characters as laurel and hardy in my head, they are my favorite thing about the book so far.

B_Buster

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2016, 02:28:38 AM »
You don't like Mick Kelly?
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mnstrfrc

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2016, 09:36:49 AM »
To this point Mick hasn't been that interesting to me. I'm much more amused by Biff and his penchant for buying anybody freakish or missing a limb a drink as soon as they come into his place, and his embarrassing surprise birthday party incident is hilarious. I'm very curious where Biff's fascination with Mick is going, but to me she is kind of like background music behind these other wacky characters and intense incidents (her kid brother playing with the rifle e.g.)

What do you make of all of the communist stuff? Do you think she is preaching it? making fun of it? just presenting it as part of the picture? A good chunk of the book is like a class on Marxism. I was not expecting that.

B_Buster

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2016, 12:52:31 PM »
What's not to like about Marxism?
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mnstrfrc

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2016, 11:25:15 PM »
Too much work. I retired from it.

Kurz

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2016, 05:18:52 PM »
The book, or Marxism?

fonpr

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2016, 09:04:18 PM »
What's not to like about Marxism?
Billy Bragg described it as organized compassion.
"Like it or not, Florida seems dedicated to a 'live fast, die' way of doing things."

mnstrfrc

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2016, 10:41:11 PM »
The book, or Marxism?
Still reading the book. I meant that having Marxist beliefs is one thing, but being a Marxist requires building your life around class struggle and I tried to do that like in college and for a few years after but I eventually faded out. I meant the retiring thing as sort of a joke. I was never that good at it anyway. Some of the smartest/hardest working people I ever knew were commies. Two of the characters in the book are hardcore marxists and it beats them up pretty bad.

mnstrfrc

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2016, 11:01:45 PM »
What's not to like about Marxism?
Billy Bragg described it as organized compassion.

The same could be said of Buddhism. The two philosophies really jibe. I would also add that one other thing that's not to like about Marxism is that the 20th century wasn't a great advertisement for it overall.

Kurz

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2016, 08:28:20 PM »
I would also add that one other thing that's not to like about Marxism is that the 20th century wasn't a great advertisement for it overall.
I don't know what particular interpretation or misinterpretation of Marxism is in that book, but aren't most of the supposedly Marxist revolutions of the 20th century more Leninist in nature?

doctor klopek

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2016, 10:31:05 AM »
I would also add that one other thing that's not to like about Marxism is that the 20th century wasn't a great advertisement for it overall.
I don't know what particular interpretation or misinterpretation of Marxism is in that book, but aren't most of the supposedly Marxist revolutions of the 20th century more Leninist in nature?

Yes - almost all were rooted in party apparatuses with a democratic centralist system that kind of ignores the whole dictatorship of the proletariat concept.  And Lenin even called the USSR's economic model "state capitalism."

mnstrfrc

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2016, 10:24:48 PM »
"For in a swift radiance of illumination he saw a glimpse of human struggle and of valor. Of the endless fluid passage of humanity through endless time. And of the who labor and of those who-one word-love. His soul expanded. But for a moment only . . ."


I ended up finishing the book and I'm glad I did. I got bogged down in the middle but all of the set-up led to a satisfying third-act where pretty much everybody ends up fucked. Except maybe for Biff Brannon who presides over "A Clean Well-Lighted Place" (I felt the final chapter evoked the Hemingway story quite heavily), who has the above revelation. He shakes it off and goes back to his routine while the rest of the cast are either on the run, being displaced, or having the last bits of their souls crushed.

Flipping back through the novel I found Biff thoughts on gender rather interesting for a middle-aged small-town restaurateur in the 1930's:

"By nature all people are of both sexes. So that marriage and the bed is not all by any means. The proof? Real youth and old age. Because often old men's voices grow high and reedy and they take on a mincing walk. And old women sometimes grow fat and their voices get rough and deep and they grow dark little mustaches. And he even proved it himself-the part of him that sometimes almost wished he was a mother and that Mick and Baby were his kids."

A great passage from one of the Marxists:

"For we were thinking of freedom. That's the word like a worm in my brain. Yes? No? How much? How little? The word is a signal for piracy and theft and cunning. We'll be free and the smartest will then be able to enslave the others. But! But there is another meaning to the word. Of all words this is the most dangerous. We who know must be wary. The word makes us feel good-in fact the word is a great ideal. But it is with this ideal that the spiders spin their ugliest webs for us."

Anyway, I thought the book was great and I am hoping for another selection.

mnstrfrc

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2016, 11:25:40 PM »
I would also add that one other thing that's not to like about Marxism is that the 20th century wasn't a great advertisement for it overall.
I don't know what particular interpretation or misinterpretation of Marxism is in that book, but aren't most of the supposedly Marxist revolutions of the 20th century more Leninist in nature?

Yes - almost all were rooted in party apparatuses with a democratic centralist system that kind of ignores the whole dictatorship of the proletariat concept.  And Lenin even called the USSR's economic model "state capitalism."

But Lenin was trying to be a Marxist and the other "supposedly Marxist revolutions" at least pretended to aspire to Marxism. Marx was monumentally important to these revolutions, even if they weren't by strict definition Marxist revolutions. The "state capitalism" that many of these revolutions eventually found themselves in was part of the plan to transition away from capitalism and you can find justification for this in Marxist literature.

You both make an interesting point. Basically the idea is that Lenin, by setting up "state capitalism" in Russia, set the model for Marxist revolutions the world over that then followed this flawed "Leninist" model. If you can blame all the horrors carried out by "Communists" on Lenin alone, then I guess Marxism is blameless. Is that what y'all are saying?

Kurz

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2016, 06:54:07 PM »
I was actually thinking more along the lines of Marx writing that the proletariat would rise up itself, perhaps even without violence, while disregarding the peasantry, while most Communist states were largely peasant states that became Communist due the actions of a small elite, or became Communist (at least partly) for other reasons, such as nationalism and colonialism, like in the case of Vietnam*. I'm not sure if a true Marxist revolution in the sense of the ever happened.

Then again, Marx himself denounced what he called Marxism, saying that he believed in many things but not Marxism... so what is even Marxism?

As for blame, that's a different matter. For instance, Stalins excesses were more rooted in his cult of personality, his paranoia and his prejudices than in his political beliefs, I'd say. Besides that, many of his policies went against Leninist ideals. And is the idea of democracy to blame for the Holocaust because the Nazi's were originally democratically elected? Or, if we accept Jesus as historical figure, is he to blame for all the horrors carried out by Christians? Or, taking that further, are the founders of Jewish monotheism to blame for everything bad done in the name of their religion, Christianity and Islam, being the root of all three? I'm just saying, this blame game is tricky business.

* = since this a book club, can I recommend Ho Chi Minh: A Life by William J. Duiker? I mean, if one's interested in that subject, it's a good book.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2016, 06:56:14 PM by Kurz »

mnstrfrc

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Re: Mike's Book Club
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2016, 11:23:17 PM »
I got ya. I was intrigued by the concept that Leninism could be detached from Marxism. I think everything post Lenin would be referred to as Marxist-Leninist, but I get the separate parts of the equation there and I see where you were coming from. I was just trying to say that the 20th century implementers of "Marxism" or "Communism," however these terms would be commonly understood, did a terrible job, generally speaking.

I've had that Ho Chi Minh book on my bookshelf since college and I'll definitely read it someday. Perhaps soon. My book club is currently reading Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora, and it is amazing. Derrick Bell's "The Space Traders" from 1992 portrays the racist under current in America getting it's chance to burst forth, and I found it uncanny how well it resembles recent events.