27 Jun

The Great Gatsby, A Commentary On Our Ruling Elites

                                       

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All right…I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.

The Great Gatsby

Chapter 1, Daisy on her newborn girl.

There has been renewed discussion of Fitzgerald’s book and the recent movie, The Great Gatsby. Although it would take a beating with a rubber hose to get me to sit through DiCaprio playing Jay Gatz, I consider Fitzgerald one of the great American wordsmiths, not just of the last century but for all time.

In my opinion, Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby to portray the dehumanization and decadence of the entitled or privileged classes during the Roaring Twenties. However, the book has become more relevant in the twenty-first Century if it is applied to our ruling elite class in DC and especially the RINOs who proclaim to represent Conservatism, but seem to be striving to join the ranks of the nouveau riche of perpetual politicians.

Hopefully, most of you have read Fitzgerald’s tragedy; if you haven’t, maybe this essay will convince you to invest a few hours reading a gifted American author’s intriguing story about the vapidity and utter disdain America’s entitled classes have for the welfare of others, and the destructive forces of ill-gotten wealth.

Jay Gatz was a mid-western farm boy with a limited education and no future, but WWI came along and he became an infantry officer, in Europe he became a bona fide hero, and was awarded citations for conspicuous gallantry by numerous countries.

The officer status allowed him limited entry into the world of privilege. During this glimpse into the world of wealth and privilege, he had a brief and tempestuous love affair with the beautiful, wealthy, but typically shallow Daisy.

It excited him, too, that many men had already loved Daisy – it increased her value in his eyes.

The Great Gatsby

Chapter 8.

Jay was smitten and lost in love. Neither of them were innocent, Jay found the many previous lovers of Daisy to be exciting, since she was desired by so many wealthy men, yet his experience seemed limited to with coarser women of the night, who loved professionally on the other side of the tracks.

He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete.

The Great Gatsby

Chapter 6, Gatsby on his first kiss with Daisy.

Jay went to war, and Daisy married an extremely wealthy polo player, Tom, who considered people of lower economic status, little more than playthings to be used and destroyed for amusement or pleasure.

The story is told through Nick, another mid-western country boy, who finds it easy to sacrifice his principles for the opportunity to love the beautiful but mysterious Jordan, a woman of extreme wealth who seems to have a soul. Although she is vacuous and incredulous toward Nick and his struggle to “Make It” in the world of finance; sadly, Nick learns after he has given up on his new friends and Jordan’s love, that she was truly falling in love with him.

Nick befriends Tom, Jay, Jordan, and his distant cousin Daisy and we are given a tour among the both the nouveau riche and members of the “Old Money” class of the Roaring Twenties, who, strangely enough, seem vaguely similar to our own wealthy classes of elites.

Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry.

The Great Gatsby

Chapter 5.

Nick suspects, that Gatsby has acquired his extraordinary wealth through nefarious means after meeting Jay’s unscrupulous benefactor, a professional gambler and swindler, who brags about “Making” the Great Gatsby, a suspicion that is confirmed at the end of the book.

Gatsby used his great wealth to throw lavish parties for people who only knew of Gatsby by reputation. Remaining aloof and in the shadows at his own parties, in his own naive way, Gatsby hoped to impress and win the heart of Daisy by showcasing his wealth and extravagance, but Daisy, who was from “Old Money” considered the parties to be contemptuous and beneath her station. After all, his mansion was located on the poor side of town and only contemptible lower class people of dubious breeding attended his parties.

The physically imposing Tom, took Nick on a day excursion and introduced him to his mistress, Myrtle, the wife of a local car mechanic, and a whole new group of friends.

He thinks she goes to see her sister in New York. He’s so dumb he doesn’t know he’s alive.

The Great Gatsby

Chapter 2, Tom, on Wilson and his wife Myrtle, with whom Tom is having an affair.

Later on that day, Tom became irritated with Myrtle’s insistence on being a more prominent presence in his life and as the day and drinking progressed, an argument argument became heated between Tom and his lover. Tom ended the argument by breaking Myrtle’s nose and as Nick comforted the woman, he began to have doubts about the morality of his new friends.

Nick was later coerced into setting up a liaison between Gatsby and Daisy, at his rented house, a small bungalow next to the Gatzby mansion, under a false premise of a private tea party with just Nick and Daisy.

At the tea party, Daisy was introduced to Gatsby and realized he was her former lover Jay Gatz. (Gatz adopted the name Gatzby, because he thought it sounded more aristocratic) Old flames were rekindled, and Nick was once again drawn into a network of deceit and adultery.

Tragedy struck in the form of an argument between the mechanic and his wife. He assumed she had an illicit lover and she looked with scorn at her husband the mechanic. The argument precipitated over the fact that Myrtle was distraught over the image of Tom with Daisy at a fancy party, while she was stuck with her mechanic husband in an apartment over his garage. In desperation, she announced her intention to leave and ran out of their home and into the street.

Daisy and Gatsby had just left the party together, at Tom’s insistence. Tom had confronted the two of them about the affair and their deceit was now in the open.

I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife. Well, if that’s the idea you can count me out.

The Great Gatsby

Chapter 7, Tom Buchanan on Gatsby.

It was Tom’s way of showing contempt for the lovers and their illicit affair in front of their friends by insisting they leave together. Daisy was distraught, and Gatsby catered to her emotional state, against common sense, by letting her drive his car, despite the fact that she was a terrible and inattentive driver.

Fate caused Myrtle and Daisy to meet, but instead of an emotional greeting, Daisy accidentally drove over the hysterical Myrtle and killed her with Gatzby’s distinct yellow car.

It was a hit and run, since Daisy refused to stop. Later that evening, Nick confronted Gatsby with a sense of moral outrage, he learned Daisy had been driving, but Gatsby wanted to take the blame to shield Daisy.

Tom had seen Daisy driving and once he learned of the hit and run car’s unusual coloring, he surmised the real cause of the accident.

The next day, he visited the distraught mechanic, who he knew through minor business dealings, and told him it was Gatzby’s car that had killed his wife.

The mechanic, now in a state of extreme grief, shot and killed Gatzby, and then turned the weapon on himself.

Nick tried to get people to come to Gatzby’s funeral, but the only man who showed up was Gatzby’s father, who told of a son who had shown benevolence to a father who had been abusive in the past.

Nick’s fascination with the lifestyles of the fabulously wealthy began to diminish as he realized the shallowness and inhumanity they exhibited to the people around them. Nick’s realization was written to expose the empty vessels of the Elites of the Roaring Twenties, but our ruling elites in DC have the same disdain and contempt for everyday Americans who aren’t rich and aren’t at the controls of power.

Just as Tom and Daisy resumed their lives of conspicuous consumption and decadence, our own former Secretary of State resumed her life as if nothing had happened after Benghazi; in fact, she even tried to advance her career with photo ops next to the coffins and grieving loved ones. Lies, deceit, unscrupulous behavior mean nothing, for image helps determine power, control, and ill-gotten wealth.

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

The Great Gatsby

Chapter 9, Nick on the Buchanans.

Epilogue:
Fitzgerald provides excellent insight into the psyche of the wealthy and powerful, but he can also inspire us to write more effectively, for in order to write well, it is imperative to read authors who write well.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

The Great Gatsby

Chapter 9, Nick.

It is easy to visualize Daisy at a court hearing being asked to explain the facts concerning the night of the accident, and under duress to tell the truth blurts out, “What difference does it make now?”

About Skook

A professional horseman for over 40 years, Skook continues to work with horses. He is in an ongoing educational program, learning life's lessons from one of the world's greatest instructors, the horse. Skook has a personal website skooksjournal.com featuring his personal writings and historical novel type stories.
This entry was posted in Book Review, Culture, Daily Distraction, Deception and Lies, Freedom, Hollywood Limousine & Learjet Liberals, The Clintons and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Thursday, June 27th, 2013 at 12:07 pm
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9 Responses to The Great Gatsby, A Commentary On Our Ruling Elites

  1. Brother Bob says: 1

    Loved the closing comment – great way to wrap up, Skook!

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  2. Skook says: 2

    @Brother Bob: That line should be Hillary’s political epitaph.

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  3. Tom says: 3

    Excellent article, but do we really need to drag timeless literature through the gutter of our contemporary politics? Let’s be honest, the most devastating critique in this novel that could be considered ‘political’ is that of the class of people represented by Tom and Daisy Buchanan,old money inherited wealth. These are people who haven’t worked a day in their lives for what they have, therefore they don’t value it. As quoted above, they are careless people, who let other people clean up their messes. Tom Buchanan is a reactionary racist, who ignorantly pontificates against any manner of societal change that might upset the apple cart upon which he fortuitously finds himself poised at the top. Luckily for the Tom Buchanans of the world, there are still a lot of regular Americans willing to prop him up and give him every possible legal and political advantage over his fellow citizens, to fight for his wealth not to be redistributed down to those people who clean up his messes in the form of livable wages, while he lives his empty life upon the backs of people much better than him. We call those people Republicans, and the Tom Buchanans of the world love them dearly.

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  4. Skook says: 4

    @Tom: I thought of mentioning “Tom’s” racist philosophy, but it was ugly and seemed a little off center for the thrust of the essay.

    Civilization’s going to pieces. I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things… The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged… It’s up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.

    Real racists are careful to make such statements in guarded circumstances. Surely it was Fitzgerald’s purpose to portray Tom as the most unappealing character in the novel, and since this is the only reference to his racism, it wasn’t crafted all that well, in my opinion.

    Although, I and many conservatives are aghast at the behavior of our RINOs, no one can say I didn’t apply prejudicial scorn toward them. Most of us will agree, Democrats should run as Democrats and quit posing as Republicans to get elected.

    It is this sentence that directs the full contempt many Americans are feeling to the perpetual politician who is becoming extraordinarily wealthy feeding at the public trough.

    However, the book has become more relevant in the twenty-first Century if it is applied to our ruling elite class in DC and especially the RINOs who proclaim to represent Conservatism, but seem to be striving to join the ranks of the nouveau riche of perpetual politicians.

    If doing something to acquire wealth includes nepotism, crony capitalism, and corruption, it is hardly a badge of distinction. I am at a loss to decide the lesser of two evils: is it the nouveau riche politicians enjoying the corruption and immense wealth available to those who play the game of con the public or the Old Money types like our recently departed Uncle Ted?

    ReplyReply
  5. Darkwater says: 5

    @Tom: Wake up, your stereotype is far too outdated. Do you really think that the chattering class of the Sophisticati is Republican?

    It’s been decades since I read The Great Gatsby, and I abhorred what little I saw of Moulin Rouge, but it all comes together in this movie quite nicely. Luhrmann hits just the right note, and while I agree that I have a knee-jerk reaction against DiCaprio, I was lured by the fact that he did quite well in The Aviator and The Departed. At first, watching his portrayal of Gatsby, I was put off until I realized that he was supposed to be that way. He got it juuuust wrong. I quite enjoyed the movie.

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  6. Tom says: 6

    @Darkwater:

    I haven’t seen the movie, but from what I’ve read about it (please correct me if I’m wrong) it glorifies the empty decadence of the Gatsby parties. I agree with Skook’s insight that Fitzgerald was hardly celebrating the emptiness that Gatsby surrounded himself with. My only issue with Skook’s excellent essay is the idea that it can somehow be connected with today’s liberal establishment, which seems like a stretch. You say Ted Kennedy, I’ll raise you Donald Trump. Not every embarrassing reality has to be assigned 100% to one ideology.

    All respect to Skook’s opinion in #4 on the character, but I will, however, stand by my assertion that Tom Buchanan is perhaps the finest portrayal in literature of the entitled, rich, conservative, (some might say) dick-wad. What’s puzzling about Skook’s quote above in #4 is that he leaves out one the most germane points Fitzgerald was making, the influence of crack-pot ideas upon crack-pot ideologies. Let’s review:

    “Civilization’s going to pieces,” broke out Tom violently. “I’ve gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read ‘The Rise of the Colored Empires’ by this man Goddard?”

    “Why, no,” I answered, rather surprised by his tone.

    “Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”

    I’ve read the Great Gatsby many times, and share Shook’s high opinion of it. I remember reading it during the hub bub surrounding The Bell Curve and being blown away by how prescient Fitzgerald was about a certain type of conservative. The Bell Curve was released in the 1990s and he predicted it, and the reaction to it in certain quarters, fifty years earlier. I should say, he didn’t predict the event; he brilliantly captured the character of the persons who would precipitate these events over and over throughout time.

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  7. Skook says: 7

    The Great Gatsby is a didactic treatise on immorality, it has fascinated generations of readers because it follows Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy and his classic format for mythos or the plot.

    Tragedy, Aristotle:

    “A tragedy, then, is the imitation of an action that is serious and also, as having magnitude, complete in itself; in language with pleasurable acces­sories, each kind brought in separately in the parts of the work; in a dramatic, not in a narrative form; with in­cidents arousing pity and fear, wherewith to accomplish its catharsis of such emotions.”

    Faulkner relied on Aristotle’s method to develop mythos (plot) over ethos (character). Although, the reader or viewer is seduced by the thoughts of lavish parties, meaningless romance, conspicuous consumption, and immense wealth, we are drawn into the inner conflict of Nick, who possesses classic mid-western principles of morality that are in conflict with the decadence of the other characters.

    In turn, as Nick struggles with his morals, the reader or viewer ( I saw the movie decades ago with Bruce Dern as Tom) becomes part of the sequence of events by wanting Nick to consummate his love affair with the provocative and aloof Jordan. Inadvertently, the reader or viewer is seduced by the sequences of the plot and develops empathy for Nick, but Gatsby becomes the tragic hero for whom we feel pity by the end of the story. Thus the second seduction of the reader is complete; since, we logically assumed Nick to be the protagonist, but he is merely the vehicle used to convey the conflict between the spirit of morality and the universal attraction to the decadent carefree lifestyle of the wealthy dilettante.

    In the final pages, we learn that Gatsby was starving immediately after the war. Walking around New York with only his uniform on his back for three days without a dime, he was taken in by the gambler and shyster, Meyer Wolfsheim, who recognized the possibilities of a war hero with an honest face and a charming personality. Thus Gatsby was drawn into the lifestyle while on the verge of starvation, he remained aloof and distant to the lavish parties he threw, in a quixotic effort to gain the attention of the classic beautiful airhead, Daisy.

    In this life, we all make concessions to principle, Gatsby made his concessions to survive. Yet, it was his love for a woman that brought about his tragedy. His success in the underworld was merely a vehicle to attract this woman of extreme wealth; yet, her fleeting attentions were indifferent to his ostentatious displays.

    It is his mistakes and illogical clumsy moves that attracts me to the tragic figure of Jay Gatz. The Great Gatzby was an illusion, he and many of us were drawn into the illusion of the Great Gatzby. Death was Gatzby’s price to be paid for his indiscretions; while we the readers are left with our own catharsis of emotions.

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  8. Tom says: 8

    @Skook:

    Fantastic analysis. I am sure it’s been done, but it would be interesting to compare Jay Gatsby and Thomas Sutpen. Both came from humble beginnings and found themselves driven by a single-minded ambition that ultimately was their downfall.

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  9. Rosie says: 9

    Although it would take a beating with a rubber hose to get me to sit through DiCaprio playing Jay Gatz, I consider Fitzgerald one of the great American wordsmiths, not just of the last century but for all time.

    For me, it was a hell of a lot more pleasurable than watching Robert Redford or Toby Stephens portray Jay Gatsby.

    The story is told through Nick, another mid-western country boy, who finds it easy to sacrifice his principles for the opportunity to love the beautiful but mysterious Jordan, a woman of extreme wealth who seems to have a soul.

    Although Nick is from the Midwest, he was no country boy. Furthermore, he is a cousin of Daisy Buchanan and a member of the upper-classes. Even Tom Buchanan is from the Midwest – Chicago – and both Daisy and Jordan are from Louisville, Kentucky in the Upper South.

    ReplyReply

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