F&LILV Question #17 - Fitz & HST

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F&LILV Question #17 - Fitz & HST

Unread postby Liz » Thu Sep 22, 2005 8:52 am

The final lines of The Great Gatsby: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . And then one fine morning— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

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Hunter repeatedly mentioned F. Scott Fitzgerald in his letters, often comparing himself to “Fitz”. He even gave Juan “Fitzgerald” as a middle name. He has also made references to The Great Gatsby in regards to F&ILV. In reading an analysis of The Great Gatsby I uncovered that Fitzgerald, as did the narrator, Nick, found the new lavish lifestyle of the Jazz Age seductive and exciting. On the other hand, he saw through all the wealth and glitter to the moral emptiness and hypocrisy underneath. He longed for the absent moral center. The Great Gatsby is seen as Fitzgerald’s attempt to confront his conflicting feelings about the Jazz Age.

Does Raoul Duke struggle with a similar internal conflict?


*Thanks, Theresa, for going out and renting the movie in order to make us a screencap of Gatsby's Green Light.
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Unread postby Veronica » Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:41 am

Hunter repeatedly mentioned F. Scott Fitzgerald in his letters, often comparing himself to “Fitz”. He even gave Juan “Fitzgerald” as a middle name. He has also made references to The Great Gatsby in regards to F&ILV. In reading an analysis of The Great Gatsby I uncovered that Fitzgerald, as did the narrator, Nick, found the new lavish lifestyle of the Jazz Age seductive and exciting. On the other hand, he saw through all the wealth and glitter to the moral emptiness and hypocrisy underneath. He longed for the absent moral center. The Great Gatsby is seen as Fitzgerald’s attempt to confront his conflicting feelings about the Jazz Age.

Does Raoul Duke struggle with a similar internal conflict?


Im trying to focus on the character in the book and separate him from Hunter and to me I dont think Raoul focused on wealth and glitter. Living the high life. He watched people and wondered what they were there for what was he there for. Was he just a walking around in a drug frenzy or did he have a purpose? I think the fact that he didnt talk about making a buck and tried to glorify himself as anything other than a reporter there to tell a story tells me that he didnt long for that life style. He cared more about his friend, having a good time and getting Gonzo away from the hoopla. And, of course, getting the scoop of what was going on around him.

I havent read the Great Gatsby but I do have it. Its on my list thanks to you Liz because it affected you so much that I had to read it.

Not sure I answered the question right or not. Another tuffy ladies!
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:54 am

Veronica wrote: Not sure I answered the question right or not. Another tuffy ladies!


There is no "right" answer, V. Besides, F&LILV has not been analyzed to death like The Great Gatsby. You won't find Cliff Notes and Spark Notes on F&L.

I would comment on your answer; but I want to let others go first at this point.
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Unread postby Endora » Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:27 pm

A very hard question, though I think the answer is going to be yes. It's a age since I read Gatsby, but oddly enough I was talking to an English teacher last week about a student's application to Oxford, and what he should read in the run-up, and he mentioed Fitz as a precursor of Kerouac in the sense that he presented an insight into the social and political tone of an era,and the development of a genre, which seems to apply equally to HST. But Gatsby and some of his other novels are about shallowness, aren't they, the purposeless existence of those who look to posessions to define who they are. Maybe F and L is about peoplewho avoid the possessions thing and aim for sensation achieved by more chemical means. Roaul certainly likes his possessions, the cars etc, but he seems to know they are transient.

Ramblings, I know. Like you said above, tricky.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Sep 22, 2005 1:19 pm

Endora wrote: Maybe F and L is about peoplewho avoid the possessions thing and aim for sensation achieved by more chemical means. Roaul certainly likes his possessions, the cars etc, but he seems to know they are transient.

Ramblings, I know. Like you said above, tricky.


Ramblings create a path to the answers, Endora. And I agree you. I get the feeling that Raoul sees Vegas as transient, too. It's transient in the people who visit. And so is the money that slips through their fingers.
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Unread postby Veronica » Thu Sep 22, 2005 2:59 pm

aim for sensation achieved by more chemical means.


Sensation is a polite way of putting it but I think you are right!
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:03 pm

V wrote: He watched people and wondered what they were there for what was he there for. Was he just a walking around in a drug frenzy or did he have a purpose? I think the fact that he didnt talk about making a buck and tried to glorify himself as anything other than a reporter there to tell a story tells me that he didnt long for that life style. He cared more about his friend, having a good time and getting Gonzo away from the hoopla. And, of course, getting the scoop of what was going on around him.


I have to admit that I read Gatsby EONS ago and don’t remember it very well at alll. From reading the question and what you all have written I agree V. I don’t think Raoul was interested in that life style for himself but he certainly enjoyed studying it and writing about it.

Endora wrote: I was talking to an English teacher last week about a student's application to Oxford, and what he should read in the run-up, and he mentioned Fitz as a precursor of Kerouac in the sense that he presented an insight into the social and political tone of an era, and the development of a genre, which seems to apply equally to HST.


Endora, I had never thought of Fitz as a precursor to Kerouac. I like your comparison though because, from what I remember about Gatsby, it was definitely a commentary on the social and political climate of the era and HST was certainly a chronicler of that.

Liz wrote: On the other hand, he saw through all the wealth and glitter to the moral emptiness and hypocrisy underneath. He longed for the absent moral center. The Great Gatsby is seen as Fitzgerald’s attempt to confront his conflicting feelings about the Jazz Age.


I think Raoul’s and Gonzo’s trip to Las Vegas was definitely about moral emptiness. Isn’t that term rather synonymous with Vegas? :lol: Others have mentioned the Viet Nam war and how HST viewed America at the time. On pgs 72-74 Raoul is reading his newspaper while in the airport. He juxtaposes stories on drug abuse at home and in Viet Nam, the persuction…or not for those offenses, and then ends with an incredible zinger about Muhammad Ali being prosecuted for not killing. I think Raoul was definitely upset about the moral decay of America. Conflicted? Maybe not, only because he wasn’t really attracted to the “glitter”.
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Unread postby Raven » Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:18 pm

Well as much as I hate to admit it, it has been way to long since I read the book and discussed it! I remember doing the discussion in class just not what was said.

:bawl:

to old and to late now!

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Unread postby Theresa » Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:48 pm

Forgive me if this doesn’t make any sense today…

I think he does struggle with the internal conflict of wealth and glitter versus moral emptiness and hypocrisy. The sheer grandiosity of Las Vegas, the massive amounts of drugs, the flashiest cars…things embraced by Duke yet ridiculed by him at the same time. Even in the midst of everything, he saw how futile it all was. Vegas was flashy and rich, yet it was “formica”, plastic and veneer. The drugs were seductive and fun, but Duke saw the ugliness behind them. Even the cars, which he seemed to really enjoy, were easily destroyed.

On page 178, he writes, But what is sane? Especially here in “our own country” -- in this doomstruck era of Nixon. We are all wired into a survival trip now.
All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours, too.


And on pages 179-180, The orgy of violence at Altamont merely dramatized the problem. The realities were already fixed,; the illness was understood to be terminal, and the energies of The Movement were long since aggressively dissipated by the rush to self-preservation.

I think Duke was mourning the loss of the “change the world” generation that had become the “me” generation. “Love your neighbor” had turned into “what’s in it for me?” And what better place to epitomize the gimme generation than in Vegas?

And I think I may have dipped into the Wave Speech...so I'll stop here.

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Unread postby Still-Rather-Timid » Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:52 pm

I just love the juxtaposition of the two green lights! Wasn't it an ONBCer who at some point in our discussion here made the connection between the green light at the end of Daisy's dock and the green light at the end of Hunter's 150-foot cannon? Or has there been any information circulating that Gatsby's green cynosure (there's a word for ya, DITHOT) was actually the inspiration for the green peyote button?

Anyway, both Gatsby and F&LILV seem to be about the impossibility of some illusory American dream that the disillusioned cynics among us (Raoul Duke and perhaps Fitzgerald, who does present his Romantic Gatsby as a naive dreamer) recognize as being corrupt and crass and materialistic and shoddy, anyway--so I guess I am adding my two cents to what you said, DITHOT. But for those of you who don't remember Gatsby all that well, I will share the image that I remember best (well, a close second is Daisy crying over Gatsby's beautiful shirts, as we all do over Johnny's!), even though I don't remember much else about the novel at this point, either. Those images of corruption in both F&LILV and Gatsby are embodied in the metaphor of the wasteland. Here is the image from Gatsby that I remember oh so well, of the landscape corrupted by materialism that has become a wasteland:

About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of gray cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-gray men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure operations from your sight. But above the gray land and the spasms of bleak dust which drift endlessly over it, you perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg. The eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg are blue and gigantic—their irises are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a nonexistent nose. Evidently some wild wag of an oculist set them there to fatten his practice in the borough of Queens, and then sank down himself into eternal blindness, or forgot them and moved away. But his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless days, under sun and rain, brood on over the solemn dumping ground.

I'm sure there are lots of descriptions of Las Vegas in F&L that have a similar effect.

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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:45 pm

I just love the juxtaposition of the two green lights! Wasn't it an ONBCer who at some point in our discussion here made the connection between the green light at the end of Daisy's dock and the green light at the end of Hunter's 150-foot cannon? Or has there been any information circulating that Gatsby's green cynosure (there's a word for ya, DITHOT) was actually the inspiration for the green peyote button?


It was a matter of synchronicity srt. The question was in the works when one of our astute Noodlemantras made the same connection. LIz and I are thinking the green peyote button was no accident. :cool:

green cynosure(there's a word for ya, DITHOT)

Made me look! :-O :cool: I found a couple of definitions that sort of morph into one.

The polar star; the observed of all observers…. the word "cynosure" is used for whatever attracts attention, as "The cynosure of neighbouring eyes" (Milton), especially for guidance in some doubtful matter… Anything to which attention is strongly turned; a center of attraction.. something that strongly attracts attention and admiration… something that provides guidance


This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.


I am udone. What a fantastic painting that creates in my mind.
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Unread postby dharma_bum » Fri Sep 23, 2005 12:14 am

Absolutely beautiful SRT…

Not all treasure is silver and gold, mate.

If the Jazz Age was awash in the seductions of wealth and the freedom wealth brings, the sixties had it’s own set of seductions that were no less alluring on the surface and ugly underneath. There was the sense—LIZ and DITHOT forgive my wave reference—“of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not is any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail.” Just how was that going to happen, really?

There’s an expression I picked up somewhere along the way: “Let’s not drink our own Kool-Aid.” (Jim Jones… People’s Temple, Guyana… mass suicide from poison Kool-Aid.) I think it is very easy to become enraptured by a mythology—especially a lovely, utopian one—to the degree that you cannot imagine anyone else might feel or believe any differently, when of course, someone always does. Perspective in life is a great gift, and I think that FALILVis Duke/Hunter’s (I won’t even TRY to separate them) one to us.
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Unread postby Liz » Fri Sep 23, 2005 12:24 am

OMG. Look what happened while I was at dinner. Yippee. You guys are on a roll.

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote:
SRT wrote:I just love the juxtaposition of the two green lights! Wasn't it an ONBCer who at some point in our discussion here made the connection between the green light at the end of Daisy's dock and the green light at the end of Hunter's 150-foot cannon? Or has there been any information circulating that Gatsby's green cynosure (there's a word for ya, DITHOT) was actually the inspiration for the green peyote button?


It was a matter of synchronicity srt. The question was in the works when one of our astute Noodlemantras made the same connection. LIz and I are thinking the green peyote button was no accident. :cool:


Actually it was in the recent article by Douglas Brinkley in Rolling Stone, if I’m not mistaken. Deep In Depp posted it. But then Kate the Elder, found the green light quote from the end of Gatsby.

Theresa, actually it was another question you got into, LOL. But that’s OK. It is SO difficult to avoid these issues. They are all so related. I had a heck of a time trying to respond today because everything I thought of saying was going to lead into another question.

SRT, woo hoo, you brought up the ashes. I’m thinking that in HST’s mind this could represent to him Vietnam, too.


DITHOT wrote:
green cynosure(there's a word for ya, DITHOT)

Made me look! :-O :cool: I found a couple of definitions that sort of morph into one.

The polar star; the observed of all observers…. the word "cynosure" is used for whatever attracts attention, as "The cynosure of neighbouring eyes" (Milton), especially for guidance in some doubtful matter… Anything to which attention is strongly turned; a center of attraction.. something that strongly attracts attention and admiration… something that provides guidance


Wow! What a find, SRT and DITHOT!

“neighbouring eyes” = the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg in Gatsby

“something that provides guidance” = Forgive me here - “Counselor”
Last edited by Liz on Fri Sep 23, 2005 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby Still-Rather-Timid » Fri Sep 23, 2005 12:36 am

For cynosure, my dictionary has 1) something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance and 2) something serving for guidance or direction. The light at the end of Daisy's pier certainly serves as both for Gatsby. And wouldn't it be fitting, as rumored, for Johnny to have a similar cynosure--for us--on his island?!

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Unread postby Liz » Fri Sep 23, 2005 12:41 am

:-O OK. Between you two, SRT and Dharma, my head is :-) . I think I need to sleep on all of this. :lol: I feel like I am deppinately in
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