WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Kitsch as kitsch can

Just the other day I noticed that I’m not reading as much political material lately. I think I overdosed last year on books like Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, Matt Taibbi’s The Divide, and Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny. Old news like Michael Lewis’s The Big Short only confirmed what was already pretty clear. Our society’s made the shift to oligarchy.

Online I used to hit several websites every day to get my fill of political meth. Now when I check them I just skim the headlines and say to myself, “Same-o same-o,” because nothing is different. I might be encouraged by the Parkland students’ protests against gun violence, or by teacher walkouts in various, usually red states (West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma), indicating that complacency isn’t the problem now. But if we’re going to go par for the course, these movements will fade and grow silent, just like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. God knows I’ve seen a lot of movements come and go, but what the last eighteen months have revealed is that there’s always room for backsliding.

So now I’m reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a book I’ve read several times and always get something new and unexpected out of. Since Kundera was writing in the context of a repressive society, Czechoslovakia in the ’60s through ’80s, he touches on some ideas that are becoming dangerously familiar now. One of them is the idea of kitsch. It’s not just cute little curios for your mantel. Kundera tells us that kitsch is the absolute denial of shit, and in a political sense it’s the tendency of each party or faction to live for its own fantasy of the ideal society.

That seems to be where we are these days. Each side has its impossible fantasy but we’re all pretending the fantasy can be achieved – at the expense of the half of the population that believes in the equal/opposite fantasy.

So I’m steering clear of political writing for a spell because it’s all so much kitsch in 2018. Instead, I’m getting off on all the great stuff coming in at The Disappointed Housewife.

Talk about the absolute denial of shit!

9 comments on “Kitsch as kitsch can

  1. Carrie Rubin
    April 4, 2018

    Sounds like a wise decision. I’ve been avoiding all things political lately too. I think I’m saner for it.

  2. eschudel
    April 4, 2018

    I’ve never read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but I think I better!

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 4, 2018

      Definitely worth reading. Unique too, if you like the idea of an intrusive author.

  3. Ilona Elliott
    April 4, 2018

    Sounds like a good read Kevin. And a good strategy, for the time being. I guess we are really into recycling–like you said, same old same old.

  4. Sha'Tara
    April 4, 2018

    Had to look that word up: Kitsch (/ k ɪ tʃ /; loanword from German), also called cheesiness or tackiness, is art or other objects that appeal to popular rather than high art tastes. Such objects are sometimes appreciated in a knowingly ironic or humorous way. (Wikipedia) Hey, that’s how they get the sheeple to follow the leader, no matter where it leads to.

    • Kevin Brennan
      April 5, 2018

      It’s interesting how Kundera makes the case that kitsch in and of itself isn’t so bad, but when totalitarians get a hold of it, watch out!

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This entry was posted on April 4, 2018 by in Et alia and tagged , .
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