Re: RARA-AVIS: Re:Art and Morality

Date: 24 Feb 2007

Jim wrote:

"The difference is that William 'Andrew Macdonald' Pierce wasn't just telling a story; he was trying to inspire converts. McBain and Cornwell clearly didn't want readers duplicating the acts of their villains. Pierce, just as clearly, DID want his readers to duplicate the actions of his 'heroes.'
"And, just so there's no misunderstanding, I confidently make these comment about THE TURNER DIARIES without having actually read it."

So you're basing it on other people's opinions about the book and its author, not the work itself. Not that it's likely someone COULD read The Turner Diaries without knowing Macdonald was actually Pierce, Pierce's role in the White Power movement (since the book is not currently very readily available other than though the National Alliance's website), and the book's alleged role in the Oklahoma bombings (which said website denies as liberal media hype meant to discredit Pierce; of course, many of his followers say the same about the Holocaust), but would a reader know from the text alone that it was trying to inspire followers? Now, Pierce certainly meant for his book to convert readers, but is the preferred reading the guaranteed reading? In much the same way as The Passion of the Christ, the book could confirm and renew faith (to very different ends, of course; I'm not trying to take a cheap shot), but also like The Passion, it's a very different work if you consume it without that pre-existing knowledge and faith.

From what I read of The Turner Diaries (before putting it aside, mainly because it was not very well written; l knew what I was getting into, was reading it out of curiosity after having read about its influence), it is possible to read it as nothing more than a somewhat dystopian vision of the future. So is the morality in the work, or in the minds of the writer and reader, and the contexts in which the writing and reading occur? And is the intended message necessarily the same as the received message?

Out of curiosity, Jim, what do you make of the Parker series in this context? I know you're a fan, but how does it fit into your moral schema? As I read the series, Stark presents Parker's amoral/immoral actions -- robbing and stealing, among other things -- without disapproval, without moral judgement. Same with Marlowe's The Name of the Game Is Death.

"Dimitri Gat's NEVSKY'S DEMON, by way of contrast, is not immoral because it argues for a hateful ideology, but because the author plagiarized JDMacD's THE DREADFUL LEMON SKY. And, though I haven't read it, I have read NEVKSY'S RETURN, and enjoyed it, so I suspect that NEVSKY'S DEMON is also a good read, for all that it's the result of a theft."

By the way, Nevsky's Return plagiarized another Travis McGee -- Empty Copper Sea, maybe?


ps -- do you know where I could get more information on the serial killer who piggybacked Postmortem? I'm always interested in crimes that were "caused" by books, music, film, etc.

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