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Book Review September 4, 2003
 
Smut for the Pious
By John Dolan Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 4
 
If it does, it's because Orizio, like every other dullard who tries to be deep, is using the "banality of evil" cliche promulgated by another great hypocrite, the mid-century preacher Hannah Arendt. Orizio parrots Arendt's line about the ordinariness of these bloodsoaked dicators without noticing that some of them were creatures of legend, anything but banal. Idi Amin in particular is actually living proof that evil can be hilarious and brilliant. Amin wasn't Eichmann. He wasn't "all too human." Hell, he was an ogre out of fairy tales -- literally a giant and cannibal, hilarious and gross.

And off course, Orizio and his readers are all deeply in love with Amin the cannibal ogre, Milosevich the Balkan Slasher, and Bokassa the African Maniac. It's the quasi-sexual excitement of exotic murder that sells books like this, yet we're all supposed to pretend we read them only for moral improvement. Sure...and the Japanese kill Sei Whales only for research purposes.

Damn it, why can't all you S&M groupies out there -- and that's nine-tenths of the population -- just admit you like the rough stuff?

Brooding on all this dreary hypocrisy brought home to me how very great Hunter Thompson really was -- and still is, reports of his speed-senility always proving to be wishful thinking by vindictive Beigeists. Only Thompson could write about thugs like the Hells Angels without descending to Mailer machismo, while admitting that it was violence carried out with style and humor which attracted him to them.

Most people would name Orwell as the prototypical courageous journalist, but I'll take Thompson any day. Thompson was smarter, funnier, and a far better prose stylist. Orwell never transcended the tribal bigotries of the British Isles nearly as well as Thompson did those of the American South. Orwell hated the Scots, despised the Irish, considered Northerners barely human, took it for granted that women were fools...come to think of it, when you factor in his Socialist hatred of the rich, and the fact that he also hated all Socialists other than himself, it's difficult to see who would have escaped the firing squad in a dictatorship of the Orwelliat, other than the author himself.

Thompson's curse is that he works so hard and writes so fluently that he makes it look easy. The stiffs in academia prefer hardworking, untalented tryhards like Pynchon, who always show their work at tedious length. Thompson is also hated by ordinary "working journalists." These guys wouldn't dream of telling the truth in print, and are driven to frenzy by the sight of someone else doing so and surviving. It makes them feel ashamed...as it should. Thompson -- let's face it -- is a hero.

Orizio, alas, is not merely a coward and a fool but a boor. I allude to taste. As in, he ain't got none. Now, we all know that speakers of Romance languages are handicapped where pop music is concerned, and no one wants to draw cruel attention to their disability -- but quoting, as Orizio does, two entire verses of a lyric by Manhattan Transfer, an arch little a cappella gimmick act beloved of supper clubs of the 1970s...that is mere disability-exhibitionism, like a spastic stripper. (Except that a spastic stripper might be interesting, and Orizio isn't.) Here are the Spastic Verses:

The rule of the tyrants decline [sic].
The year, 1979
From Uganda to Nicaragua
It's bombs and bullets all the time
So they corrupt, they vile [sic]
So it's coup after coup all the while
Human rights they violate
They think they too damn great
So in disgrace now they live in exile.
Gairy is now a wanted man
Idi Amin is a wanted man
Shah of Iran tried so hard to survive
He too was wanted dead or alive.

One realizes that such lyrics exist, but one prefers to draw the veil.

One also gets the impression that the lyricist, one "Slinger Francisco," was not a native speaker of English. A countryman of Orizio's, perhaps?


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dolan@exile.ru
 
 
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