Not supposed to read Amis on anything, especially not for chrissakes the “Islamic World,” but I was bored in the hospital and so I did, and found something intriguing right at the end:
As for apocalyptic Islamism, in all its forms, I cannot improve on the great Norman Cohn. This is from the 1995 foreword to Warrant for Genocide (1967), where the subject is the Tsarist fabrication The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and what Jewry calls the Shoa, or the Wind of Death:
“There exists a subterranean world where pathological fantasies disguised as ideas are churned out by crooks and half-educated fanatics [notably the lower clergy] for the benefit of the ignorant and superstitious. There are times when this underworld emerges from the depths and suddenly fascinates, captures and dominates multitudes of usually sane and responsible people, who thereupon take leave of sanity and responsibility. And it occasionally happens that this underworld becomes a political power and changes the course of history.”
It’s interesting that Cohn (and by affirmative citation Amis) offers here a genealogy of such ideologico-political developments as Nazi anti-semitism as a sort of genre fiction – the sort of thing devised by the ill-educated who give their pathologies the run of the house, the sort of thing that the “ignorant and superstitious” devour off the bookracks of our not-so-better booksellers. The higher clergy, the sleekly educated, keep their fantasies clean and aboveboard.
Reading Bourdieu (more to come, more to come) feels a bit like taking a drug that permanently alters, as if automatically, everything that you come across in the wake of the trip. Everything take the shape of cultural class war, lumpens vs. undead aristocrats. (It’s only more interesting that the primary front of said class war is located within the individual artist herself or himself). What Amis quotes takes the same shape, but here aesthetico-politically instead of politico-aesthetically. But of course, the truth is that the high priests of these businesses design their genocides to be pablum palatable rather than gothicky and sickelven. That’s right – I’ve not read enough Bourdieu to figure out if this is boring to say, but would be interesting to examine the cast of characters of the 20th Century Horror Show in the same way that he reads the literary players of Mid-19th Century Paris.
Starts to feel like Disney itself is the missing link that keeps America all things to all people, especially those that it slaughters for spoil. No one sanitizes the dark fairy tale, the ur-stuff of fantasy fiction, like their cartoonists. As one genius knew very very well as he finished burning down the Beckton Gas Works…