Saturday, December 20, 2014

Passionate Politics and US!

Bachelder’s US! is a satirical novel that simultaneously praises and pokes fun at the life and beliefs of novelist and socialist Upton Sinclair. Sinclair, famous for his novel The Jungle about the meatpacking industry in the early 20th century wrote hundreds of political novels aimed at creating social change. As a political writer, Sinclair’s writing is melodramatic by nature. Passionate Politics is a book that seeks to argue that emotions play an extremely important role in politics and political movements. The authors argue against the scientific notion that emotions are connected to irrationality. In many ways, Bachelder’s US! embodies this idea. Bachelder uses a type of emotional transformation described in the first chapter as, “transmutation of the initiating emotion into something else: the emotion which arises out of consciousness of being entrained within collective focus of attention”, in order to simultaneously criticize and praise the work of Sinclair. Passionate Politics also states that “emotions help sustain movements in their less active phases”. In a sense, the constant killing and resurrection of Sinclair does just that; it is a constant reminder of the importance of the constant struggle of society and the role of political writers. Bachelder seeks to show how consistently hopeful Sinclair was that his work was useful and that in a way is emotional and tied to his identity, as Passionate Politics explains, “the strength of identity comes from its emotional side”.

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