John Updike, Jews And Literature

John Updike, Jews And Literature


R.E. Prindle

     This essay is inspired by Adam Kirsch’s article linked above concerning Jewish domination of literature.

     First let me say that in this age so enlightened by the internet that allows for the greatest possible expansion of the intellect and inter racial understanding it is regrettable  that the Jews have rejected this opportunity  in favor of a narrow parochialism.

     Not only does a fine intellectual endeavor such as Tablet Ezine (read Ten Commandments) refuse to allow me to comment on their site but they further discourage ecumenical participation by not allowing the printing of the first page of their articles necessitating a laborious work around.  Let us hope the Ezine reconsiders its obstructive policies for a more enlightened approach.  Come fellows, this the 21st century.  Let your mind expand.

     The reference to WASP in Adams title indicates the exclusivity of his attitude as does the entire article in which he separates his Chosen Jews from we ‘vulgar’ others.  I am really only concerned with Adam’s introduction that raises  interesting questions.  I quote:

     Cynthia Ozick’s story “Levitation,” first published in 1976, deals with a pair of married writers- the husband Jewish, the wife Christian- who throw a party for their literary friends.  The party turns out to be as middling as their careers- Ozick has them inviting all the literary celebrities of the hour (“Irving Howe, Susan Sontag, Alfred Kazin, Leslie Fiedler”) none of whom show up- and the star attraction turns out to be a professor who is a Holocaust survivor.  Inevitably, the Jewish guests all congregate in the living room to hear him relate the horrors he lived through.  Then, in a moment poised between satire and magical realism, the room full of Jews begins to float into the air, leaving the Gentile hostess behind:

     The room begins to ascend.  It rose like an ark on waters.  Lucy said inside her mind:  “This chamber of Jews.”  It seemed to her that the room was levitating  on the little grains of the refugee’s whisper.  She felt herself alone at the bottom, below the floorboards, while the room floated upward, carrying Jews.  Why did it not take her, too?

     “Levitation” is Ozick’s seriocomic attempt to imagine what it might be like to be a Christian in a midcentury New York literary world largely populated by Jews.  The Holocaust, in this sardonic fable, is an obsession and a badge of authenticity that the Jews, despite themselves, hold over the non-Jews; Jewishness and Jewish suffering become a kind of club to which outsiders would not necessarily want to belong, except for the nagging realization that they never can.  The Jews’ levitation is at once a concrete symbol of their spiritual loftiness and a frightening example of their vulnerability, their readiness to be severed from the Earth.  No wonder Lucy feels a mixture of envy and resentment when her guests take off for the sky.

     No wonder.  Lucy does ask a good question.  What made the Jews so special?  Little grains of a refugee’s whisper?  Suffering?  Good god, who hasn’t?  Hardly, but once again, beside the point.

     All the writers who rejected Lucy’s invitation, Howe, Sontag, Kazin, Fiedler were Jewish writers.  While Lucy herself was an Aryan her husband was Jewish, a mixed marriage anathema to orthodox Jews, and as Lucy was the only Aryan in this ‘Chamber of Jews’ either the Aryan guests also failed to show or because of her husband only Jews were invited.  Definitely a very bigoted situation.

     But, other than, perhaps, her husband’s bigotry why were only Jewish authors invited and why was the New York literary world largely populated by Jews?

     Certainly before 1920 Jews did not dominate literature in any way.  Aryans in what was considered Aryan society did.  Much of that literature was considered of the highest quality, indeed all of the great classics were written by Aryans, none by Jews.  How is it that Aryans apparently lost the ability to write while Jews suddenly blossomed?

     Do we have a stituation in which Aryans suddenly lost the ability to communicate while the Jews miraculously, as in the levitating chamber, found their tongue or is it perhaps a difference in the selection process favoring Jews?  While Jews stoutly deny the obvious the facts belie the denials.

     After the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 publishers quickly shifted toward the policy that all was permitted the Revolution while everything was denied others.  Regardless of Jewish denials the Bolshevik Revolution was Jewish inspired and led.  Jews in both Europe and the Americas beginning with the earlier Emancipation quickly seized control of publishing.  This was true before 1917 becoming more complete in the decades following.  In order to be published guidelines were established by Judaeo-Communists  as to what was politically correct and what was not.  Any other than politically correct opinions were unacceptable to publishers and rejected.  There go the Aryans.

      Many established writers of non-Judaeo-Communist points of view were censured and discredited.  In the thirties the income tax became a political weapon used to destroy recalcitrant publishers such as W.R. Hearst.

     Is it coincidence that New York City and its environs is a Jewish colony within the US?  Denials will not be listened to.

     ‘Then, in a moment poised between satire and magical realism, the room full of Jews begins to float, leaving the (Aryan) hostess behind.”   Yes, she was below the floorboards, in other words, Hell, while the Jews were floating towards Heaven.

      ‘Magical realism’ seems to be part of the ‘Jewish knowledge’ we hear so much about but is something beyond my comprehension being a humble Aryan scientist.  The term seems to be an oxymoron, reality and magic being completely dissociated in scientific minds.

     But then, perhaps Adam has unconsciously illuminated the Jewish problem.  Only magic can make the Jewish dreamworld come true.  And magic is all illusion.

     The truth is, rooms do not float, magically or not.  The Jews will have to learn to live with that reality.  Censoring reality will not make it happen.


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