Mar 12, 2006

Tom Wolfe, an American Patriot

The Wall Street Journal published an interview with Tom Wolfe this weekend. Here’s a sample:
"I really love this country. I just marvel at how good it is, and obviously it's the simple principle of freedom. . . . Intellectually this is the system where people tend to experiment more and their experiments are indulged. Whatever we're doing I think we've done it extremely, extremely, extremely well." Silence. "These are terrible things to be saying if you want to have any standing in the intellectual world."
Amazing that Jay Bennish and Ward Churchill would have a happier meeting of the minds with the intellectual elite than Tom Wolfe, isn’t it?

Wolfe is a true patriot who manages to make legitimate and searing criticisms of his country. He has a “death-clamp on the American Zeitgeist” and so can honestly expose the repulsiveness of the celebrity culture (“Bonfire of the Vanities”) and the hyper-sexualization of college campuses (“I Am Charlotte Simmons”). He says:

"I Am Charlotte Simmons," particularly in its notice of the coarse sexuality governing campus life, is a book a liberal would never write, as corroborated in the many negative reviews: "'Oh, big deal, they're having sex in college, yawn, yawn, what a surprise,'" as Mr. Wolfe puts it. "I do not disallow the possibility that they just didn't like it," he continues, but he was frankly taken aback by those who took it "as a counterrevolutionary attack on the sexual revolution. . . . Then it really dawned on me that so many people are proud of the sexual revolution, you know, 'We freed ourselves from those damned religious people and this Puritanism.'" "At least in the story," he pains to note, all this "has a very deleterious affect on a very innocent albeit egotistical girl -- and that's I think what's there." Sign of the times, I suppose, when you're considered conservative for exploring the very real consequences of cultural change.
Isn’t it refreshing to hear a criticism of America that has nothing to do with Enron, Halliburton, CO2 emissions, racism and imperialism? And I find it so much more credible coming from someone who has a deep and abiding love for his country:
"I also believe in the United States. I think this is the greatest nation that ever existed, still is. It's really the only really democratic country in the world. Find me one country, just one country in the entire world that would let a foreign people -- different culture, different language, and in many cases different color than the majority of the native stock -- take over politically an entire metropolitan area in less than one generation. I'm talking about the Cubans in Miami . . ."
I doubt that Mr. Wolfe would label himself conservative, but the following certainly exiles him from the liberal camp:

George Bush's appeal, for Mr. Wolfe, was owing to his "great decisiveness and willingness to fight." But as to "this business of my having done the unthinkable and voted for George Bush, I would say, now look, I voted for George Bush but so did 62,040,609 other Americans. Now what does that make them? Of course, they want to say -- 'Fools like you!' . . . But then they catch themselves, 'Wait a minute, I can't go around saying that the majority of the American people are fools, idiots, bumblers, hicks.' So they just kind of dodge that question. And so many of them are so caught up in this kind of metropolitan intellectual atmosphere that they simply don't go across the Hudson River. They literally do not set foot in the United States. We live in New York in one of the two parenthesis states. They're usually called blue states -- they're not blue states, the states on the coast. They're parenthesis states -- the entire country lies in between."
He also has this to say about the internet: "Using the Internet is the modern form of knitting," he continues. "It's something to do with idle hands. When you knitted, though, you actually had something to show for it at the end. So on that note, I’m off to do something productive! Blog on – if you dare!


S11 Republican said...

Great post as always, Western. You inspiried me to watch "The Right Stuff" again. What an uplifting and patriotic story!

Cathy said...

Thank you for this wonderful post Western Chauvninist. I'd missed this interview and enjoyed it immensely. Wolfe has got moxie - dividing himself so thoroughly from the 'glitterati'. AND: I'm a genius. Just in the last couple weeks I made precisely the same statement about status (how do I measure up?) as the driving force behind most human endeavors to my husband. Wolfe said:"I think every living moment of a human being's life, unless the person is starving or in immediate danger of death in some other way, is controlled by a concern for status," - Now, I think many of us do manage to move beyond this, at least for periods of time but, oh my, this is a huge statement. Watch people behaving badly and apply this theory. Makes things a great deal clearer.

Unfortunately I think he's simply wrong about the internet. Wrong, wrong - wrong :0D

Signed: Google-Junkie Duck