Post of the Week

Post of the Week

Published April 21, 2000 3:25PM (EDT)

Man Slaughters Wife's Pet as Punishment for Abortion - - Their Baby is Due Next Month.

Mothers Who Think
Frarochvia - 06:08 pm PST - Apr 18, 2000 - #185 of 271

If you've never been systemically raped again and again and again by someone who says he loves you and cares for you and takes you out places and and even brings you roses, you don't know what you're talking about.
You don't understand how it feels to have mixed feelings day in and day out. You don't understand how hope surges in you when he suggests going out and doing something fun. You don't understand how it feels to find yourself in the same position again and again at night, when you're saying no, no, leave me alone, and to feel him go ahead anyway. You don't know how it feels to have a friendship with this person on one level, to have been friends with him for years. To even in some ways want to maintain this friendship somehow. And to fight with him all the time about the sex and to not simply understand.... or even tell yourself... that it never was an issue about how often. It never was an issue of how clean the place was. It was an issue of this person claiming he loved you hurting you and ignoring you and taking from you. Raping you again and again to the point you didn't see it anymore.
The human body has a great capacity for enduring a lot under duress. Don't dare ever blame the victim. Don't tell her she's not really a victim. Don't tell her she hasn't done enough. Don't tell her she was stupid. She feels horrible enough as it is.

Seder Talk

Mind and Spirit
Daniel Abraham - 07:28 am PST - Apr 18, 2000 - #1 of 14

For the last several years, I have been increasingly fascinated by the Haggadah, for it is less a document telling of the Exodus than a document of the time it was redacted in more or less the form we know it today. That time was after the small-h holocaust of the Bar Kochba rebellion.
The lack of mention of Moses in the traditional text, and the emphasis on redemption by God alone ("God and not an angel...not an intermediary") is a reaction to the crushing defeat of Bar Kochba, who had been hailed as Moshiach by Akiba and a number of other authorities. The text is trying, in the wake of the defeat and exile which followed the Second Revolt (and the still recent loss of the Temple in the First Revolt), to rally the people and refocus their attention on God, rather than on earthly saviors.
Recall too that after the Bar Kochba revolt Jews were banned from Jerusalem, renamed Aeolia Capitolina, on pain of death. The concluding line of the Seder, "l'shanah ha'baah b'Yerusalayim," is saying "Next year we will be back in our capital, under its true name." It is a cry of hope and rebellion from a time of complete despair.
The injunction to speak and discuss Pesach, Matzah and Maror, and the songs like "Echad Mi Yodeah?" are intended to provide a pretext, at least once a year, for the instruction of the young, so that even at a time of social disorganization there would be a means to transmit some basic knowledge.
I would like to see a greater general understanding of the Haggadah in its historical context, for dramatic as the Exodus story is (even without its Cecil B. DeMille overlay), the retelling of it which we turn to every year has a drama of its own, which at the remove of almost 2000 years is too often forgotten or ignored.

AMERICAN PSYCHO: Time For Re-Evaluation?(A risky thread)

Jazzhermit - 10:27 am PST - Apr 16, 2000 - #50 of 53

I re-read this book (finished it Monday). Saw the movie yesterday afternoon. I've registered my thoughts on the movie in its thread in Movies. So I will feel free, here, to speak for the book.
I liked the book. A lot. I think it's very well written, not at all clumsy or tedious. The litanies of brand names (designers, colognes, restaurants etc.) are meticulously deployed. Everything is seen from Bateman's viewpoint, therefore if that's all that he notices about his fellow yuppies, that's all we will be told about them. I had no problem with that at all.
Similarly I had no problem understanding why Ellis wrote in an often deliberately artless manner throughout the book. For example, Bateman describes no less than four and possibly six different sets of circumstances as "filling me with a nameless dread." This is not clumsiness on Ellis's part, but rather a deft illustration of the vacuity of Bateman's mind. Bateman believes that by deploying a cliched phrase like this his feelings will be made clear, when in fact the very repetitiveness of it (like the repetitiveness which is the continuous motif in the book) only serves to make the phrase, and the emotional state it strives to describe, meaningless. It's really very funny; the book as a whole is very funny. I laughed out loud a few times reading it on the train, and once a woman sitting next to me looked over to see what I was reading that made me laugh. She turned slightly further away after seeing the book's cover.
The violent scenes, far from being bright points in an otherwise drab narrative, almost for me slowed the book down. I felt that the detail of them, almost like the report of a pathologist, allowed the satire to come to a crawl when in fact the scenes run by implication, as when Bateman dismisses the two prostitutes without us ever finding out exactly what he did to them, are far more powerful.
I believe the very "tediousness" of the book (and again, I wasn't bored at all, I was riveted by it) is a stylistic choice on Ellis's part which serves to virtually goad the reader. Go on, he seems to say; pack it in. Yeah, yeah, it's boring; put it down. Go on, I dare you. It is only the reader who focuses his or her attention on the book and refuses to take the bait of its potential tedium who will be rewarded by it. This is true also of Glamorama, and in that case I must admit I failed the test. I quit Glamorama after about 145 pages, but I had recognized Ellis's tactics and quit anyhow.
In Glamorama, the brand names have been bolstered by endless litanies of celebrities' names, some real and some fictional (i.e. cartoon characters), tossed in a seemingly haphazard way into the narrative, and yes it does become quite brain-numbing after awhile. Which is exactly Ellis's point, and his way of sticking needles into the reader again.
Example: about 100 pages in, the narrator of Glamorama, male model/club promoter Victor Ward, is at a party and he describes a table at which celebrities are talking. The celebrities are Janeane Garofalo, Steven Spielberg, someone else, and David Koresh. At this point in the narrative literally hundreds of celebrity names have been deployed, almost without repetition, which not only makes a point about the sheer volume of 'celebrity' the culture can sustain, but also serves to numb the reader into no longer taking note of which celebrities are mentioned. They're just celebrity names, tossed about like confetti. So only a careful reader will catch this throwaway sentence, which betrays the entire story as potentially hallucinatory (a possibility which was being explored in more depth when I gave up on the book; Victor was discussing the film crew that was making the movie of the plot's events, as they happened).
Ellis is a very smart writer, and though I don't recommend all his books, I do unreservedly recommend Less Than Zero and American Psycho and I plan to revisit Glamorama again in the future.

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