[Marxism] Chávez, the New Oprah, Makes Another Bestseller
milongonsinga at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 20 12:02:46 MDT 2009
Never read "Open Veins", but, fresh out of the Army, I read these three: Genesis, Faces and Masks, and Century of the Wind. I strongly recommend them as an alternate and poetic way of understanding the history of the Americas.
A student asked Soen Nakagawa during a meditation retreat, "I am very discouraged. What should I do?" Soen replied, "Encourage others."
----- Original Message ----
From: Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com>
To: milongonsinga at yahoo.com
Sent: Monday, April 20, 2009 10:22:06 AM
Subject: [Marxism] Chávez, the New Oprah, Makes Another Bestseller
April 20, 2009, 12:35 pm
Chávez, the New Oprah, Makes Another Bestseller
By Robert Mackey
Demonstrating a heretofore unknown capacity for speed-reading, Americans
rushed to Amazon.com over the weekend to post new reviews of the
317-page book — Eduardo Galeano’s “Open Veins of Latin America: Five
Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent” — President Hugo Chávez of
Venezuela gave to President Obama at the Summit of the Americas on
Saturday. As one of the readers engaged in the discussion of what is now
the second most popular book on Amazon’s Web site noted:
Who would have believed that so many people could order the book, get it
delivered, and read it overnight! Who says Americans have become a
nation of illiterates?!?
Then again, as some other reviewers of the reviewers on Amazon have
suggested, it just might be that some of the people flooding Amazon with
negative evaluations of the book saved time by not actually reading it
before speed-writing their responses to it. There is no doubt that
people have been ordering the book from Amazon — the BBC reports on
Monday that it was Amazon’s 54,295th most popular title on Friday but
had shot up to number two on the company’s bestseller list by Monday
morning — but, given that the online bookseller estimates that it takes
one to three weeks after an order is placed for this book to be shipped,
it seems unlikely that any of the newest reviews were based on careful
evaluations of the arguments put forth by the Uruguayan author.
The book’s new popularity has even spawned a separate discussion thread
on Amazon headlined: “What’s With All The New Reviews? Did A Bunch Of
People Read It In The Past Couple Of Days??” One of the book’s haters
responded there by arguing that it was unnecessary to read the book to
form an opinion about it:
Basically, it sounds like another ‘All evil comes from
European-descendant white people’ and Latin America would be a paradise
if we’d never arrived (never mind the human sacrifices going on at the
time of the Spanish arrival and the massive corruption that is currently
ongoing in utopias like Venezuala). I haven’t read it, though; why read
Karl Marx through another ethnic lens when I have the original source on
the bookshelf, along with a few other filtered versions?
On the other side of the argument, a reader identified as one of
Amazon’s top 500 reviewers wrote on Sunday that while he thinks “Chavez
is a boor and a buffoon, and it could be taken as a gesture of supreme
condescension that he gave the well-educated American president one of
the standard texts of Latin American studies,” he still hopes that Mr.
Obama will read an English translation of the book since “Even English
readers who will dismiss his analysis as ‘economic determinism’ should
be ready to meet Galeano, on his own terms, as a vivid example of the
Latin American world-view.”
This is not the first time that an endorsement from Mr. Chávez has had
this sort of effect on a book’s fortunes. In 2006, as Motoko Rich
reported in The Times, days after Mr. Chávez held up a Spanish
translation of Noam Chomsky’s “Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for
Global Dominance,” during a speech to the United Nations General
Assembly, the English version “hit No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list”
in the United States.
North American readers may be less aware of the fact that Mr. Chávez
apparently likes giving and getting books from other world leaders, and
has also been photographed exchanging reading material with the
presidents of Yemen, Russia, Cuba and Colombia in recent years.
While “The Open Veins of Latin America” itself is not available to read
online, Isabel Allende’s introduction, which accompanies the English
translation and was written in the 1990s, is on the Web, and that may
give a better sense of what the book means to its proponents is about
beyond the simple “anti-capitalist” handle that has been attached to it
in the last few days.
You can also see and hear the Uruguayan writer speak for himself in a
long interview with Mr. Galeano conducted by Amy Goodman and Juan
Golnzalez in 2006, which is available in both video and audio versions
on the Web site of the program “Democracy Now.”
Not having read it myself, I am unable to offer readers any better
review of this work by Eduardo Galeano — although his book about the
game that dominates many lives in Latin America, “Soccer in Sun and
Shadow,” is a great read. Samples of that book’s English translation are
available online, in Google Book Search. One version of a chapter of
that book published in an academic journal gives a sense of how Mr.
Galeano writes, and sees the world:
The history of soccer is a sad voyage from beauty to duty. When the
sport became an industry, the beauty that blossoms from the joy of play
got torn out by its very roots. In this fin-de-siecle world,
professional soccer condemns all that is useless, and useless means not
profitable. Nobody earns a thing from that crazy feeling that for a
moment turns a man into a child playing with a balloon, like a cat with
a ball of yarn, a ballet dancer who romps with a ball as light as a
balloon or a ball of yarn, playing without even knowing he’s playing,
with no purpose or clock or referee.
Play has become spectacle, with few protagonists and many spectators,
soccer for watching. And that spectacle has become one of the most
profitable businesses in the world, organized not for play but rather to
impede it. The technocracy of professional sport has managed to impose a
soccer of lightning speed and brute strength, a soccer that negates joy,
kills fantasy and outlaws daring.
Luckily, on the field you can still see, even if only once in a long
while, some insolent rascal who sets aside the script and commits the
blunder of dribbling past the entire opposing side, the referee and the
crowd in the stands, all for the carnal delight of embracing the
forbidden adventure of freedom.
YOU MUST clip all extraneous text when replying to a message.
Send list submissions to: Marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
Set your options at: http://lists.econ.utah.edu/mailman/options/marxism/milongonsinga%40yahoo.com
More information about the Marxism