Garbage People, Mr. Kafka, Hansel and Gretel Get Guns, and more
Excerpts and curios from around the web:
- “I am one of your garbage people,” said Charles Manson in 1970, somewhat ahead of the now popular trend of referencing humans as living refuse. The term has come a long way since then. In “The Linguistic Appeal of ‘Garbage Person,’ the Internet’s Favorite Insult,” Cara Giamio at Atlas Obscura traces the slur from the sixteenth century satirist Thomas Nashe all the way up to the Internet Age and Broad City: “‘Garbage person,’ like ‘bloodsucker’ or ‘Neanderthal,’ is the type of descriptor that pretty much defines itself. In the interest of clarity, though, the term as used here does not refer to a sanitation worker, or a person made from actual detritus. It is, instead, someone terrible beyond belief, but in an everyday sort of way.”
- In related news: “The greatest myth about authoritarian society is that most people are active resisters of oppression,” writes Benjamin Cunningham in a new review of the recently translated story collection by Bohumil Hrabal, Mr. Kafka: And Other Tales from the Time of the Cult. Hrabal, a Czechoslovakian writer of the Stalinist period, achieved considerable acclaim in Eastern Europe during his lifetime, yet most of his works have yet to be translated into English. Hrabal “neither emigrated nor overtly took up the dissident’s baton, and thus lost out on the international fame enjoyed by contemporaries like Kundera or Havel.” As a result, Cunningham argues, Hrabal’s legacy as an artist—at least to Westerners more comfortable with traditional narratives of dissidence and exile—is complicated. Hrabal “did not rebel against his surroundings. His writing does not attempt to make sense of it, but rather observe in a manner that alternates whimsy and melancholia.” Hrabal died in 1997, less than ten years after the Velvet Revolution transitioned the country from communist to democratic rule. “When communism collapsed in 1989, the cloud that had followed Hrabal for decades lifted. He was no longer restricted in what he could say, do, or write. His fame grew, but like an inmate after a long prison sentence, he struggled with unchecked sovereignty. He drank more, and wrote less. By the time Hrabal stopped writing in 1994 at age 80, he was a sort of caricatured cult figure in Prague, sharing beer with Bill Clinton when the US president paid a visit to town. In 1997, Hrabal died under mysterious circumstances, either falling or jumping from the fifth floor of Prague’s Bulovka hospital.” It was a death foretold in particularity in several of his works.
Lead image: Dewey Caddell of New York competes in the 2013 Stella and Stanley shouting contest.