It is on

  • At Metafilter, readers and writers discuss writing, literature and political change.
  • If you need some help moving from shock and denial into the unbridled rage phase of post-election grief, Andrew O’Hehir says David Rees’ Get Your War On II is just the thing:

    I’ve been grateful to have his new collection “Get Your War On II,” including cartoons from late 2002 through July 2004, available over the past couple of days — in bathrooms and hallways, on the subway, while “working” at my desk — as a way to ventilate juvenile, nihilistic anger that might otherwise have been inflicted on friends, spouse and co-workers. . . .

    nobody would claim [Rees’ work is] subtle. But it sure is cathartic. (“Fuck! FUCK!!” says Desktop Man in a December 2003 cartoon. “Motherfuckin’ fuckers fucking up every fuckin’ thing they can get their fuckin’ hands on! Fuckin’ FUCKITY FUCK!!! … Whew … that’s better.”) Even at Rees’ moments of maximum hectoring — such as the presence of Uzbekikitty, a cartoon cat designed to remind us of our alliance with the torture regime in Uzbekistan — what carries his work beyond political rant and into a territory I might hesitantly call art is its essential strangeness and loneliness.

    And at his own website, Rees posts a call to arms: “Chin up. Because it’s on, motherfuckers. It is on.”

  • Philip Pullman argues that the U.S. is becoming a theocracy that offers only “stupefyingly banal and witless” books for children. As proof he offers My Pet Goat, the story Bush continued reading to a group of Florida schoolchildren as planes barreled down on the second World Trade Center building. (That book is now memorialized in the video for Eminem’s ‘Mosh.'”) Says Pullman:

    Young people brought up to think that that sort of thing is a real book, and that that sort of activity is what reading is like, will be in no position to see that, for example, it might be worth questioning the US National Park Service’s decision to sell in their bookstores a work called Grand Canyon: A Different View, which claims that the canyon was created, like everything else, in six days.

    Now, I agree with some of Pullman’s sentiments, and Lord knows I think Bush is a raving lunatic, but the book is essentially a modern-day Dick and Jane reader. Those never were the stuff of great literature.

  • A Globe & Mail review of Ronald Wright’s A Short History of Progress sings a different verse of Pullman’s song: bad times should elicit great art, but no new Gore Vidal, Voltaire, or Jonathan Swift has emerged because the U.S.:

    has dismissed higher education on the whole as unproductive, made the term “intellectual” a pejorative (the post being easily filled by Bill O’Reilly and similarly loud-mouthed, empty-headed vulgarians), and ensured itself the posthumous title “Those Who Refused To Learn From The Lessons of History,” since such lessons are difficult to absorb when most high schools have redefined history as America since 1776.


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