"epater le bourgeois" (was Re: Ceding ground to capitalistideologues)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at SPAMosu.edu
Thu Dec 16 22:13:33 MST 1999

>Actually, it was meant as a joke to begin with. I think the business about
>Schwarzenegger buying the movie rights to a flame war between Mark Jones
>and Doug Henwood is kinda funny. Of course, you have to see this in
>literary terms. Mark, the son of a Welsh coalminer and Communist...a
>Communist himself and self-described Stalinist...Spy novelist, Russian
>citizen for 15 years, married to a Russian woman of noble ancestry.
>Anybody who calls himself a "Stalinist" nowadays is obviously looking to
>create a bit of a shock. The only other person I know who does this is
>Richard Gott, the Guardian reporter who got in trouble for taking money
>from the Russians. Turns out that all this boiled down to was being paid
>for junkets to conferences in Bulgaria to stay at 3rd rate hotels. Richard
>is brother-in-law to my good friend Carole (Yoshie--you met her in
>Washington), who is a die-hard Lacanian. Everytime Carole comes back from
>London, she regales me with shocking tales about Richard's latest
>scandalous remarks. He was a big fan of the Shining Path--although I think
>90 percent of this was to "epater les bourgeoisie".

That's the problem, both for Doug and Mark.  I mean their fondness to
"epater le bourgeois."  That's very culturalist of them.

Mark writes to Michael Perelman:
>You have lost the plot, my friend.

And Doug says:
>Practically everything I write on political economy is influenced by
>Marx, but I rarely use the received language. (I do like throwing in
>"bourgeoisie" or "capitalist hyena press" every now and then, for
>shock value.)

The bourgeoisie couldn't care less whether Mark, Doug, or any other
intellectual given to modernist aesthetics is out to "epater" them.
Especially since, most of the time, the only people whom they are trying to
"epater" are their fellow leftist intellectuals like Michael Perelman.  The
only difference is that while Doug goes for playful irony, Mark is into
"apocalypse now."  (I rather prefer "Eli Moskowitz," if you know what I


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