So I've just read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for the fifth time - what a beautiful piece of writing this book is.
It employs any literary technique HST felt like using to develop itself to the fullest, its language is hot and rhytmic and tangential to the issue at hand while still being teleologically pointed to what is wants to convey or excite to/in the reader (that's prose for you, in a nutshell) and its plot, holy shit. Have I ever read a more accomplished contemporary work of profoundity and ALLEGORY. A new Knight, a new Quest. Also Kierkegaard and shit but I posted that elsewhere.
What do you think? How do you feel about it? What isn't as well as I think it is? Also, would you recommend the gonzo papers?
It's a work knee deep in Allegory for sure, but I feel like it had a lot of redundancy and baggage in getting across its central point. Too much stuff to tell too little.
However, as a work of comedy I rank Fear and Loathing among the greatest books ever written. Every one of Hunters little observations he makes throughout the book is an insightful and cutting political comment and makes him feel like a very real person at least to me, as I know a few people like that, with strong opinions expressed entirely through the medium of jokes. I feel like you have to read Raoul Dukes strange rantings as Hunters sense of humour being expressed in the way he would express it in real life, as opposed to the ravings of a madman, which it may look like.
Also, when the book shys away from the comedy and gets serious, boy does it hit home.
I'm very tired and that on a second reading this comment appeared a little incoherent. I'll continue discussion in the morning, as I am heading to bed, but my opinion is as follows: Fear and Loathing primarily succeeds as a work of comedy, accomplishing all of its political and social commentary through that, and I feel that the book must be viewed through that lens to really shine. It's almost like Jonathon Swift (in A Modest Proposal in particular) but with the more modern use of everyday sarcasm.
Of course, that's also one of the great tragedies of Fear and Loathing: that Hunter, once the idealistic activist that he was, is now reduced to nothing but drug fuelled sarcasm in a shitty hotel room in Vegas.
I'll try and keep this thread alive until morning anon, as you seem to know your shit and are willing to discuss, which is pretty rare combination in this site of ours.
I'm with you on the comedy. This may be one of the funniest books ever written - both in humor and in HST's ability to describe situations and deliver his thoughts on a topic. I'm sure I'm not alone when I write this, but there is such a thing as joy for the free, wild and awesome use of language. Here, it can be found in its (maybe) purest examples. The only other English language writers I know to be like this are Joan Didion, Hakim Bey and (maybe) DFW.
Now, to the allegory. I can't bring myself to agree with your statement, so I'll just ask: what did you find to be unnecessary? What part? I may be a bit stoned and drunk myself and I may have used the words Knight and Quest somewhat freely, but the more I think about them the more I feel they're right. Duke IS on a quest, and his character rides every tidal movement of a knightly narrative, every flow and ebb: the christening as a doctor of journalism (and it happens again and again, iterative vows as an antidote to hollowness), the (multiple) bestowing of a purpose, the polymorphous helpers, the tide and crash of faith,the wasteland of hope and the final, terrifying plunge into happiness once more. Now that I'm writing about it, I can really see how HST wrote a new hero for us, a postmodern Ulysses polytropos, the perfect, hedonist Promeetheus for this too purposeful era.
To end my insane, Nietzsche-and-Kierkegaard fueled rant I'll agree with you on one thing again. Those feels, when shit got real.
Well I meant to. I know you're memeing but it's something I'll do briefly - as soon as I can find a not too overpriced physical copy.
Have you got something serious to say about that book? Something persuasive, if you know what that word means and from where it comes?
Dude okay, I may have been a bit douchier than I wanted but what I meant was: there's this philosopher, Michelstaedter, from Gorice. He wrote a book about persuasion and rhetoric, and he said persuasion is derived from the Ancient Greek word pistis, which means (literally, kindof) faith - to say that to persuade you must have faith in what you're saying yourself, first. What it kindof maybe as-I-see-it means is, the act of persuasion is firstly an act of the persuader on himself, to understand what he really believes (which is accomplished by trying to convince the other party and looking again at one's arguments) and then on the persuasee (and that's me inventing words because English isn't my native language and I'm drunk) to bring him the "Gospel" of one's own truth. Here you go.
Yes, I do--while some authors--Pynchon, for example-- dangle their prose in front of us like keys to distract us from their lack of content, the depth of Gass' writing seeps through the very spaces between the words: he explains what things like war are at their very core, tackles fundamental philosophical problems, and shows us the inside of history. However, I don't say this to defend some sort of issue with his prose, which is, in addition to being full of content, among the finest of anything ever written. The sheer musicality of it is astonishing, and, at one point, he even goes so far as to compose a fugue of words. If any author is worthy of Joyce's throne, it's Gass.
Making one last post before I go to sleep.
I definitely agree with you on the free wheeling, wild language. It was a joy to read. I almost found myself get excited as I read it, it just bred that kind of enthusiasm.
Hmm, you know you've swayed me to some extent on the allegory. I was a little stuck on political statements I suppose. If I consider your point of view on the Knightly and creation of a modern hedonist Prometheus there's a lot more substance to it than before I might have thought. I was very quick to read politics, not quick to read myth into it, which is to my own detriment as a reader, I'll try to consider it more in future readings. I guess my main thought with regards to not enough actual meaning behind the allegory, was that I thought he was really driving the same point in over and over again throughout the book, which is that existence in modern America is somewhat empty of meaning, and people are very quick to throw themselves at just about every vice that will present itself to them. However if we regard it in a mythic light (as you've suggested) Raoul Duke takes on a new, almost Quixotic aspect, which I think is really fucking cool.
Also, holy shit yeah was this a depressing book in amongst the laughs.
I'll post once before going to bed too as it is like 4.30 am here and shit am I tired.
I'm happy if my perspective opened you up to new re-readings and reinterpretations of the book - it's what I constantly try to do, on this site and elsewhere.
And well, you're not wrong about repetition in this book - thematically, it IS the recreation of the same scene and/or theme over and over and over again, but I feel like there's merit in it. I'm not really able right now to write about it, but I feel like the American Dream itself is an iterative, endless enacting of some scene long lost in the subconscious - which HST tries to bring to light throughout the book.
Shit, I'll just write about it in the morning. If this ain't up, I'll make another thread.