A Tragicomical, Unsophisticated Blog about the Weird, the Absurd, and the Banal

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Priveleged Ass

A few weeks ago I purchased a Beautiful, three-volume collection of Steinbeck's novels from the Library of America.  It was a weird and uncharacteristic splurge on my part, since I usually buy all of my books second-hand so I don't have a guilty conscience about beating them up and writing in the margins.  I haven't read Steinbeck in years, but he's always had a special, troubled place in my heart.  There's a line in The Grapes of Wrath (spoiler alert) that never fails to move me: Reverend Casy pleads with thugs hired by a local plantation slum lord telling them, "You fellas don' know what you're doin'. You're helpin' to starve kids."  He isn't afraid of them.  He isn't even angry with them.  It's heartbreaking because he doesn't die heroically trying to save the victims, but the perpetrators instead.
Anyway, I was reflecting on my Very Expensive Purchase (okay, so I got them on discount because I'm a Cheap Bastard, but I'm now obligated to buy a $30 book every few weeks… they're So Gorgeous!) after reading this article from the BBC, "Where Are Today's Steinbecks?" by Michael Goldfarb.  The author points out that the unemployment rate is higher than it has been since the Great Depression and that if you include people like the author himself (and people like the author, who are scraping together a wage that is a fraction of what they used to earn) the numbers are Much Higher.  It should be pretty clear what my political leanings are by now, but I have to echo Goldfarb and ask everyone (readers, appreciators, and artists): Why isn't there more art out there depicting our current situation?  Maybe there is and I just haven't been looking in the right place, but I think that I agree with Goldfarab that it's not getting enough attention.

That said, I'm scraping by between two minimum wage jobs after spending several months unemployed and searching fruitlessly for salaried work; if it weren't for my family and social network I'd be in a bind.  Many of my friends are in similar situations.  Several of my intimates have suffered crippling blows to their household incomes.  It seems weird to me that even I have a pathological optimism about my situation and those of the people around me.  I'm not Tom Joad and I'm in a far better position than Billions of People out there.  I'm a poor, recent college graduate (oh, woe is my Privileged Ass) and that's pretty normal.  But should it be?  Still, comforting oneself with "It's not that Bad" doesn't mean a story about how much our shared circumstance Bites isn't uncalled for.

No comments:

Post a Comment