Saturday, January 21, 2017

“This American carnage”: Trumplandia and the Ultimate Rise of “Careless People” | radical eyes for equity

“This American carnage”: Trumplandia and the Ultimate Rise of “Careless People” | radical eyes for equity:

“This American carnage”: Trumplandia and the Ultimate Rise of “Careless People”

Do an Internet search for “carnage” now and the first matches are from Trump’s inauguration speech, in which he invoked “[t]his American carnage” to launch into his standard use of false claims to speak to his misinformed and misguided base.
Setting aside whatever anyone may assume is Trump’s intent—if “intent” even is applicable anymore—this use of “carnage” sends a message I am certain is lost on Trump and his “America first”/”Make America Great Again” crowd.
A century ago, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby dramatized a scathing message that the American Dream was a wonderful ideal that Americans mostly allowed to slip through their fingers, as novelist John Gardner examined:
That idea—humankind’s inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—coupled with a system for protecting human rights—was and is the quintessential American Dream. The rest is greed and pompous foolishness—at worst, a cruel and sentimental myth, at best, cheap streamers in the rain. (p. 96)
Gatsby is new money in the novel, and portrayed by the mesmerized narrator Nick as the embodiment of the American Dream, as “cheap streamers in the rain”; Gatsby’s money is ill-got and he is a very delusional man.
Having taught the novel for nearly two decades, I think far too often studying the novel (what we do in formal schooling, as opposed to reading the work) becomes lost in idealizing the novel’s technical achievements against the rules of New Criticism (much as Nick idealizes Gatsby)—and as a result, we are apt not to pay adequate attention to the carnage.
The Great Gatsby is a novel about carnage as much as a work deconstructing “This American carnage”: Trumplandia and the Ultimate Rise of “Careless People” | radical eyes for equity:




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