Sunday, April 10, 2016

Loser Wins!

Don DeLillo, whom Harold Bloom calls one of the four best American writers of the late 20th century knows how to riff (which is probably why Uncle Harry has endorsed his fellow Bronx-native).

Following is but one example from DeLillo's first novel, Americana, which shows his easy-flowing, though fragmentary, style which preciously (and precociously) foreshadows the inviting depths of his modernist ouevre.

Presidential runners-up this season ought to take heart, because you don't have to be a Marxist to see the blister of truth embedded like a stone in the kishkes of this reality.


"I'll tell you a true story right out of one of the country's most distinguished scientific journals. They pulled an experiment on two monkeys. They gave them electric shocks every sixty seconds. Now the first monkey had a button and all he had to do was press it and he wouldn't get any shock. The second monkey also had a button but it was completely useless. Eventually monkey-A caught on to the gimmick and started pressing the button like mad to avoid that juice. Whereas monkey-B realized that his button wasn't worth shit and he just squatted in the corner, scratching himself and getting jolted every minute. So what happens? The first monkey gets stomach ulcers and kicks off in two weeks. The second monkey, who had resigned himself to the shocks, lives happily ever after. That little experiment is a moral for our time. It shows the price you have to pay for working yourself up to a decision-making post. I'll have to show you around the office sometime. You'll see sixty-five executive monkeys weeping into their telephones and pissing blood. But don't worry about me, kid. I've got a cast iron gut and I'm an odds-on favorite to pull through. In my heart I'm deeply conservative. I come from a long line of secret Presbyterian drinkers. My grandfather was a blacksmith in Sag Harbor. What was the point I was trying to make?"


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