Hey it’s been a while since we spoke with Stephen Elliott about The Rumpus, the awesome online magazine he runs. So I thought that this would be a good time for us to check back in and see what the site’s up to this week.
“Winston Smith is 39” by James Warner.
Winston Smith is 39.
And, rereading 1984 for perhaps the fifth time, so am I.
I notice now how conscious he is of being middle-aged. Orwell tells us early on that Winston has a varicose vein above his left ankle and has to take his time walking up seven flights of stairs. He has difficulty touching his toes when instructed to do so by the instructress on the telescreen.
What we thought fascism would look like was that it would have two faces: the face to black people was going to be increasing depression, increasing economic hardship, and the murder of Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X. That’s what fascism looks like. That’s exactly what it looks like. Targeted assassinations. Terror against communities. I was in Detroit during the riots of Detroit, I was in Cleveland during the riots in Cleveland, I was in Chicago during the riots in Chicago. And what that looked like was fascism. They were lining up bodies in Cleveland like cordwood. It was disgusting.
The face of fascism in the white community would be conspiracy trials. What we envisioned for ourselves were endless trials, endless prison sentences, conspiracy indictments. And it was all happening. I was indicted on two federal conspiracies. My wife was on the Ten Most Wanted list. That’s what fascism was going to look like. That’s what it did look like.
Even Sugar, the advice columnist, gets in on the social meltdown action!
How in the fuck am I going to survive the econopocalypse? Seriously. What’s your plan? Do you have a plan? What should my plan be? Holy. Fucking. Shit. I am so scared.
[…]The long dream of American consumption is over. Gil Scott-Heron told us this would happen 25 years ago. Nobody listened. That’s our national specialty, it turns out. That and porn. You can count on the government to keep printing money – it’s what they do when the tea leaves read “busted” – but the real recovery program will be taken on by you, brother. Your personal economy is just about to wave bye-bye to the inefficiencies of abundance.
Speaking of porn, one of the (relatively) more upbeat pieces currently on the site is this addition to The Rumpus Oral History Project, featuring porn performer Lorelei Lee.
Porn was an incredibly therapuetic thing for me. I got to go into rooms with people and experiment with being vulnerable in a place where I had no emotional responsibility. I went into work and people said, “What do you want to do today? What don’t you want to do today?” Nobody ever asked me that before in terms of sex. I could decide at any time that I never wanted to go back. I had to be there for four hours for the shoot and I got to deal with whatever the emotions were afterword on my own.
Not that everything in LL’s essay is sunshine and simultaneous orgasm, but it’s a fascinating insider’s take on an endlessly complicated subject. Also, fyi, the link to LL’s piece is SFW but several of the links from the piece are not.
February 23rd, 2009 / 1:13 pm