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Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
E.F. Schumacher

The Iron Heel (Rediscovered Classics)

The Iron Heel - Jack London, Matt Soar Jack London?

The guy who wrote White Fang that stars a half-wild wolf-dog hybrid who is living around Yukon somewhere and who will probably never get a break in its miserable life?

Yup, it's the same guy, and no, his publisher should never have agreed to publish shite like White Fang.

However for some reason I once did start to read it (it being a "classic" after all) until at some point I reminded myself again that I am still only reading a story about how it must feel to be a goddam wolf-dog who's had it bad.

My point: why on Earth would anyone waste time reading even one line about a fictional animal having fictional thoughts and feelings? And why would any of this matter the slightest?

I dumped the book then and there. Dear Sir or Madam I strongly advise you to not read about fictional wildlife either. Ever.

***

Unfortunately, last summer I finally grabbed Jonathan Livingston Seagull from the bookshelf after it had been lying there unopened for years in my former room in my elderly parents house. I decided to read it because I had some time to kill and I suppose I also wanted to give the book a chance if only to ponder why my mother, who had bought it for me as a birthday or christmas present many years ago, might have considered it fitting for my taste.

I reckon it is because she still likes to picture me as a more tender soul than average person simply because I'm almost always either reading something, thinking about something, writing about something or talking about something that I have read from somewhere. When in fact the opposite is closer to the truth: the more I read (or listen to music, or watch movies), the lower tolerance I have for putting up with mediocrity.

So, in other words, more exposure tends to rise the bar ever higher until you hit the limit where you can only stomach listening to the wind. This would explain why people, who for example say they like or listen to any music, do not really listen to music at all in a traditional sense: they haven't had enough exposure to music to be able to appreciate any finer distinctions.

They might hear something, for sure, but they're not really paying attention to the music. Next time you could ask such a person to articulate what exactly it is that they like about in this or that piece of music. You can bet your ass that they can't say jack shit.

Plus what they're implying is a blatant lie anyway. One could easily call their bluff every time just by playing a couple of minutes of aggressive grind metal or extremely "innovative" modern classical music. Of course they could always insist that they liked that, too, but I'm pretty sure that their body language would prove otherwise. Try it, could be heaps of fun.

I don't know if it's ever been empirically tested but I wouldn't really be surprised at all if it would turn out that these anything-goes-type-of-folks suffer more likely from difficulties of concentration than compared to those who readily admit to prefer particular style of music over some other style of music.

Anyways, the minute I began reading that idotic story about talking seagulls I knew it was going to insult my intellect. But I ploughed through, often times reading it aloud in mock voices. It turned out to be the worst piece of literature I have ever laid my eyes on.

And parents all over the world have been pushing something like this to their kids for more than 40 years now maybe thinking it's harmless, or worse, constructive? The scientist in me screams in horror. The teacher in me sheds a lonely tear. The killer in me wants to tear this guy's heart out. And the sadist in me wants seagulls to feast upon his still warm carcass.

All I can say is: J-F-C !!!

How come a book that is so openly hippie manages to somehow convince so many is beyond me. I mean they even turned it into a film! Seriously, what the f*ck is the matter with people? I'd really like to know. The writer in me is truly puzzled, how could a simplistic, repetitive, condescending and generally dull brain fart ever take off so majestically that it's still in the air flying somewhere, somehow?

I suppose one can't ask a hippie writer to be coherent, for if he or she were, they wouldn't call him or her a hippie anymore. Are there anymore writers left except hippies? This is one of the reasons why authors are not taken seriously by almost anyone anymore. Who in their right mind would ask for an author's opinion these days when any moment they could start talking about Harry f*cking Potter or something as vitally important.

This is what the public gets because there are no longer publishers left, only marketers who will gladly sell us shit because shit is always easy and never hard, and that is what we like the best. Just wrap that f*cker in a shiny package and tell people it's a rough diamond and they come flocking. Nothing else to it.

The weirdest thing is that the guy who wrote the book was apparently once deemed fit for flying a real fighter-bomber in the US airforce. So, just what the hell happened to this guy? Was it the last turn in his plane that finally fried his brain? Or did he drop acid and somehow that trip never ended? This is a story that should be written.

***

I used to think for a long long time that if someone has taken the time to write a book (music, movie, whatever) the least I can do is to read it. To this day I never skip a page if I can help it. Until quite recently it was almost unheard of for me to fast-forward a movie, let alone cut it short. I've even watched movies that have been pretty much complete shite from the get-go. I've needed to know how things end to be able to draw a "legit" conclusion.

Because of this self-inflicted disease I've spent countless hours of watching poor quality movies, listening to poor quality music and reading poor quality literature - and that's how I can tell whether something is good, mediocre or just plain bad.

I've endured listening to music albums from the first track to the last one thinking that's how the band wants me to hear it without truly acknowledging the fact that record labels tend to have their say about which songs get to be in the album and in what order.

These days I have no problem admitting that most albums are indeed full of fillers, and I embrace the fact that we have effectively returned to the age of singles. And these days my heart bleeds ever so lightly, if at all, whenever I eject a DVD from my laptop prematurely because I refuse to waste anymore of my time to watching half-assed films. If in doubt, just toss it out.

***

But back to Jack London.

The Iron Heel might very well be the earliest of the modern dystopian novels, which you gotta give props for. But it is by now so outdated dystopia and not even particularly well composed either that it really begs to ask whether it's worth anyone's time to plough through particularly because it is more or less a chore to read.

It's way too long considering the subject matter, hopelessly one-sided, and far too preachy. The reader gets to hear plenty of Jack "the agitator" London reciting in a boastful manner well-worn socialist catchphrases which were probably already well-worn some hundred years ago when London was writing his novel.

I actually read a translated version which included a fine introduction to the book, to the author and to the political turmoil around the turn of the century. It's safe to assume that for many a working man, woman and child the era before organized labor must have felt like having to live in a real dystopia.

So, I am actually puzzled as to why anyone would consider - now or then - London's dystopia as being a fresh, let alone, unique take on the matter of class struggle by the time he got his book out. It was only the hottest potato around the planet, and a topic of which anybody who ever opened their mouths at all certainly voiced their own opinions about where and when it all's going to end.

So, in this context I fail to see how the Iron Heel and the man who wrote it was more "prescient" (a term many like to associate with London and/or TIH) than any average Joe in the States or elsewhere...

I assure you I can appreciate the fact that the man tried to give more power to the working (wo)man, and I do think it was pretty clever idea to try to tell a story the way he did. I just think, it didn't really pan out.

Believe me, nothing saddens me more than a missed opportunity. What could have and ought to have been one of the most important pieces of literature of all times, came out as amateurish, tedious, naive and shockingly biassed, well, tantrum.

That aussie fella (can't remember his name nor the name of the book) tried somewhat recently to tell his updated version of how megacorporations will take over the society, but that didn't really do it for me either.

I dunno, maybe novels about how evil corporations will take over the whole world are bound to fail because the modern life has always depended on the ability for corporations to do business - at all times. At least in my eyes it's a dystopia we've been living in since day one and the problem is - for me personally, that is - that most people seem to be fine with it, and quite a few actually enjoy the situation immensely.

What can you do? Nada.

Okey-dokey, peace the f*ck out.


PS. The book in question is Jennifer Government.