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Archive for September 2nd, 2004

Nicholson Baker, Checkpoint

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Interesting stuff in Nicholson Baker’s Checkpoint, toward the end. Make of it what you will.
JAY: There will be no veering. We’ve lost every war we’ve fought. Winning is losing. We lost the Second World War.
BEN: I think it’s widely agreed that we won World War II.
JAY: Well, we didn’t. It was the beginning of the end.
BEN: In what way?
JAY: We bombed all those places – we bombed Japan, right down to the islands, cities turned into grave sites. The crime of it began to work on us afterward, it began chewing on our spleens and rotting us out inside.
BEN: Ugh.
JAY: The guilt of it squeezed us and it twisted us and made us need to keep more and more things secret that shouldn’t have been kept secret. We tried to pretend that we were good midwestern folks, eating our church suppers – that we’d done the right thing over there. But it was so completely, shittingly false.
BEN: Yes, in a sense, but –
JAY: And so we lost that war. We didn’t win it. We were corrupted by it, and we became more and more warlike and secretive, and we spent all our money building weaponry and subverting little governments, poking here and there and propping up loathsome people, United Fruit. And the gangrene spread through the whole loaf of cheese.
BEN: Oh, please.
JAY: And Japan couldn’t do that. Their best people spent their days and nights thinking about how to make beautiful things, tools, machines that just felt good to hold. Which they did with such artistry. They couldn’t make fighter planes, we didn’t let them. And so they won the war. We lost (61-2).
More on Checkpoint when I get a chance….

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September 2, 2004 at 12:11 am

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