Thursday, December 11, 2014

U.S.! and Passionate Politics

     The central issue of Passionate Politics seems to be finding the balance between the importance of rationality and the importance of emotion in social movements.  The book's introduction questions the dichotomy drawn between emotion and reason, and suggests that in recent years emotion has not been given adequate attention as a factor in social movements.  Chapter 1 emphasizes how people, without having a painstakingly thought-out, intensely passionate stake in an issue, will still participate in a movement to enjoy the emotional connection with other people who are participating in the same movement.  Chapter 12, however, says that emotional appeals are often seen as "amateurish," or negatively associated with the feminine.  
     It is interesting to see how Bachelder attempts to walk the line between emotion and reason.  In keeping with introduction to Passionate Politics, he does seem to recognize the importance of emotion in the way he develops characters.  Sinclair, for example, evokes a great deal of pity, not only for constantly getting assassinated, but for constantly being torn apart by book reviewers, and having his quest for socialism repeatedly fail.  By having us feel this pathetic old man is being wronged, Bachelder leads readers to think that his cause is being wronged, too--that socialism deserves more of a chance.
     Bachelder seems to recognize the claims of Chapter 1 in the way he makes his book so openly humorous.  He realizes that many people are not interested enough in social conditions to read a serious work of nonfiction or a blunt Upton Sinclair novel on the subject.  Therefore, he writes a humorous book that many people would be willing to read whether or not they cared about the cause of socialism in the least.  However, in the process of reading the book, and perhaps discussing it with friends, he may hope they will be influenced to support the socialist cause.
     Bachelder's novel coincides with the message of Chapter 12 in more than one way.  First, as Chapter 12 emphasizes how emotions are seen as more legitimate coming from men than from women, the main characters of U.S.! are all male.  Sinclair in particular seems to be somewhat uncomfortable with women, especially with being intimate with them.  Second, just as Chapter 12 discusses how overly emotional appeals are not taken seriously, U.S.! emphasizes how Sinclair's overly emotional novels, with their pitiable characters and excessive exclamation points, are laughed at by serious critics.

1 comment:

  1. I feel like in terms of emotion, Bachelder does try to use humor and criticism to take out the emotion in Sinclair's political views to make them more logical and acceptable. He draws out the logical in Sinclair's words by making fun of it. However, I think Bachelder does definitely walk this line, and I'm not sure if he is successful. As I was reading U.S.!, I just found myself finding it entertaining and laughing at a lot of what Bachelder was writing. I never really stopped and sat down and thought about it seriously. Satire and parodies are difficult because you walk the line between someone taking it as a joke and simply laughing at it and someone actually taking it seriously and seeing your point. I honestly don't really think Bachelder is very successful doing this, anyone else have an opinion?


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