Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Passionate Politics Applied to U.S.! (Intro, Ch. 2, Ch. 12)

Bachelder was born in 1971, and Upton Sinclair lived from 1878 to 1968. An important date to note when discussing Sinclair and Bachelder's relationship would be when McCarthyism was occurring in the United States, which was around 1950 to 1956. Another important period of time in history to note would be the Socialist Revolution which was right around the corner in the 1960s. In the 1950s, socialism was affected by McCarthyism, but in the 1960s, it was revived by the general radicalization brought by the New Left and other social struggles and revolts. At the time Bachelder wrote, he was already looking back on this history from a perspective where he can take a step back and see the big picture. At the time Sinclair lived, he was living in the midst of everything that was happening and happened to be an outright supporter of socialism.

Of course, when discussing this issue, knowing the strong opinions of both sides and the conflict from reading history, Bachelder is aware of the emotional highs of the time period, and is unafraid to used emotion to convey to a new generation of readers the ideas of Sinclair and society at the time through a satirical piece titled U.S.!

Bachelder uses the idea, “the “strength” of an identity, even a cognitively vague one, comes from its emotional side” (Goodwin, Jasper, Polletta 9), to convey a memorable Sinclair by exaggerating all aspects of Sinclair's character. Additionally, he helps convey this by making all supporting characters emotion-provoking, either by making them hilarious or extremely bitter. Huntley, one of Sinclair's assassins is recorded saying "I aimed for Sinclair's heart, and by accident I hit him in the head" (Bachelder 99).

“One of the advantages to taking emotions seriously is to see better how moral norms and injunctions come to have force. This helps us thus to distinguish the compelling from the good –– in either the sense of interests and their many goods, or of morality as only an abstract ideal” (Calhoun 50). Bachelder takes it upon himself to distinguish between what is compelling about Sinclair and what is "good". He shows that Sinclair's work is extremely biased and flawed (e.g. The Jungle) because Sinclair picks and chooses which parts of the picture to show, but at the same time, points how why Sinclair is nevertheless compelling.

He also further points out that Sinclair is emotional about the issue of socialism which can make him less legitimate. "The animal rights activists [talked about in Passionate Politics] use the term emotional to describe those individuals whose approach to animal protection they consider to be less legitimate" (Groves 213). By pointing this out and separating the emotion from the issue, Bachelder is indirectly supporting Sinclair and helping him convey his ideas to a newer generation.

1 comment:

  1. I think that Jenny focuses on emotion from the reading in Passionate Politics. She notes that emotions were high during Sinclair's time, and Bachelder recognizes this and plays off the same emotion. She also recognizes that Sinclair's works are compelling due to the high emotions, but his novels are still flawed. I think this is an interesting point to make. Especially in the midst of a crisis, judgements can be biased and flawed, but nonetheless effective. This can either be beneficial or detrimental. I also think it's interesting that Jenny associates Bachelder's novel with socialism in a newer generation. I wouldn't have ever really thought about a major socialist movement occurring now, but I can see how Bachelder helps to communicate Sinclair's ideas to a present audience and may be able to sway their opinions.


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