Archive of Issues
Archive of Narrations
Syndic Literary Journal




Getting By (Another 4th of July)

[Excerpt from Fake Novel by Lee Foust]

Although Alex Jones has warned his Republicans listeners that Democrats were going to rise up and start the Second Civil War today, the streets of San Francisco feel typically calm and apathetic. This wooden, Victorian, Gold Rush city feels like it’s partially under glass nowadays. It’s become a preserved relic of several bygone eras, as if its tenure as a living and breathing entity were over and done.

How does anything new come out of places so old? Of places so steeped in wealth? For the power of wealth is the most addictive drug of all. It’s the strongest form of anesthesia and the most dehumanizing high that humankind has yet discovered. Wealth, or the amassing of credit, acts as a kind of moral insulation around the addict—one doesn’t have to talk to the chauffeur through the glass partition. Wealth is the great escape from the dual horrors of a moral conscience and self-examination. It creates all the same symptoms as psychopathy. Wealth kills empathy and, consequently, the ability to love or even look beyond petty self-interest.

The usual sea breeze and the midsummer fog nips at my heels as I creep along Waller Street. In one sense this novel has become a journal of my growing political disaffection and the United States of Trumpistan’s slow descent into divisional chaos. The Trump brand is simultaneously the most despised US presidential brand of all time and the most popular brand ever among its Republican base. As I’ve long suspected, there’s a wide swatch of fascism, racism, and xenophobia running through conservative “ideals.”

(Another possible chapter title: The Fucks I Prefer to Give to Literature or, The Failure of Social Media to be Social.)

Only here in this fake/real novel can I force Donald Duck Drumpf to his lying sociopathic mafioso knees. And I do—over and over again. Here I win every rhetorical battle, reduce all failed beliefs and prejudices to dust, and kick against the pricks with the pleasure of composition in a vacuum—no outside variables disturb my annihilation of evil for good through words. Day after day I write with gleeful disdain of Drumpf’s bungling absurdities—all of which, for him, seem to turn to gold. And I always get it both ways: whatever I say is either true/false or satirical. Falsity/truth doesn’t exist here. There’s no such thing as a lie or a truth in fiction. “Even this sentence is false.”[*]

Two lives are better than one: and the better of the two that I’m living this summer lies in this novel. At fifty-five, I’m living both lives to the hilt and enjoying my freedom to say, in this nasty novel, whatever I want to say. This is the upshot of my near total disenfranchisement by the capitalist world into which I was born.

This is how slaves get by. This is the consolation of the artist in the age of inconsequentiality.

I light another “intellectual” cigarette and get down to business: the work of literary infection, freedom of thought, and the pure delight of writing mischievous words about all the transparent assholes in the government who take themselves so seriously they think the tax money that they skim and steal from us is their rightful reward for their disservice to humanity. Fuck ‘em.

*          *          *

How sorry my parents must be to know that I feel compelled to destroy the world they so carefully preserved for my generation—one word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time. Even so, how many pages will I manage to fill before I go? How many books will I be permitted to write before the world runs out of paper or I run out of time? The moment in which you read this chapter doesn’t care, but the hand writing it yearns to get to the end of the chapter, then finish the novel and move on to another—in sum, to write on into infinity.

This, too, is the lot of the artist. (See: Edgar Allan Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death.”) But my eventual inevitable silence also gives the whole process a thrilling aspect. It gives the literary game some stakes. Even if I get to live twice, both of me are still, in a sense, mortal.

*          *          *

Sometimes I’m nostalgic for a time when we anarchists had a monopoly on terrorism. Oh, I know such a time never actually existed, but—when I was a young man—it was the state’s PR against radicalism that attracted me to anarchy in the first place. I mean, if the crooked suits and uniformed, corporate goon squads were afraid of the red and black—even more than the Commies—the Anarchists must have had something going for them, right?

We’re the interior threat to your armchair capitalism: your own children—the scariest of all foes, the people in the basement.

When I was young, revolution looked like a valid antidote to uniforms, polyester, wide lapels, and dandruff. I mean, even a cursory glance at Dan White and Harvey Milk is enough to tell you which one of them should have been strangled in the crib, no?

Looks are not nearly as deceiving as they tell you.

I can only write this shit because the suits have worked so tirelessly to disenfranchise me. They’ve succeeded so fabulously in my marginalization—and that of most of my kind (intellectuals), my generation, and we anarchists—that I feel free, at this point, to write whatever I please, no matter how offensive or politically incorrect.

You guessed it: I ain’t got nuthin’ to lose.

After a whole century of corporate control, the once revolutionary aspects of literature and music have been diluted until they’re as innocuous as cotton candy. Nobody believes what writers write or singers sing anymore. There aren’t any “messages” in works of art much anymore. Western Union’s been out of business for years. As William Gaddis proclaimed on his deathbed, literary agapē  is more agape than ever.

How lucky I am never to have gotten paid to write anything and to have lived at the very fringe of poverty my whole life. In other words, how lucky I am to be free, disenfranchised, and outraged enough to spew all my frustration back at the unjust world my ancestors created for me. They’ve taken away any need for me to compromise with either my nonexistent audience’s conformity or the corporate establishment’s controlling purse strings. The suits’ decision not to offer to corrupt me has rendered me incorruptible. I’m the last honest novelist. I can give the finger to the lot of them.

I expect to go out in a blaze of glory. I’ve crossed the line, fascists—come and get me. I will sit in glory with Pasolini, shitting on and shaming fascist politics for all eternity.

*          *          *

Scott Pruitt resigned today—having filled his coffers adequately with filthy lucre, I can only assume. I guess he wants to get out of the human centipede administration before the investigations unearth their crimes and the mass arrests get underway.

But how much money is enough for these crooks? How will good (powerlessness) ever defeat their evil (power), the evil of the corporate takers, the collaborating politicians, the war mongers, and the real estate mafia (all of their off-shore investments and tax dodges) and let the rest of us inherit the Earth, as Jesus promised? (There’s a little Saint Francis in me yet.)

Perhaps this novel won’t be enough, on its own, to end the sham of politics, save the Trumpistani from themselves, or destroy the United States of Trumpistan’s particularly crass homegrown rich man’s fascism. Maybe nothing will ever be enough to accomplish any of these things. Probably the best we can do is come to a tenuous accord with the sociopathic bastards in a war of words, an endless battle of competing cable news stations, a never-ending he said/she said of mutual contempt, insults, and fake/real memes.

Of course that means I won’t ever be able to finish writing them into ridiculousness and shut up—I’ll never get out of this novel alive.
But there’s no actual passage of time in a novel, no end to the words already written or to the chapters to come. The lotta continua is vital, and a calling I’m suddenly proud to have heard.

The breezy San Francisco summer air whispers: don’t let the bastards get you down.

I’m going to put this notebook aside now and go to Lucky 13 for a beer. I feel compelled to note that I have more friends now that the government is once again a menacing horror show of graft, stupidity, and abuse. I thought I missed the Reagan years before the Trump brand brought them back with even greater horror than that moron-actor-turned-corporate-shill ever imagined, but maybe I’m getting too old for such committed outrage.

I suppose I did miss the excitement and the sense of urgency that the tightening noose of a fascist regime forces on its informed populace. A camaraderie forms among the thoughtful in the face of the xenophobic eruptions of the uneducated, ignorant, and faithful Right—the very same feelings of persecution to which the white supremacists cling against their imaginary enemies. Maybe that’s how we always manage, in the end, to defeat fascism: by making the fascists themselves into the social infection they project upon outsiders from the pedestal of their so-called “white” “European” “culture.”

(From Fake Novel, by Lee Foust)

[*] Kathy Acker, My Death, My Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini.


Compiled/Published by LeRoy Chatfield
History of Syndic
Write Letter / Contact Publisher
© all photos/text

Archive of Issues

Archive of Narrations