In the United States, as elsewhere, the results of the year are already being summed up, including “a book is the best gift”, and various media are telling us which book was suddenly a real bomb.
Both fresh and classic. They make up their lists and ratings
The American Conservative’s in-house literary columnist gently tells us: you know, I’ve been rereading John Steinbeck lately, and here’s his forgotten novel “The Moon Has Came” from 1942.
A hint from a series of genius if you want to understand the current state of mind of millions of Americans. What the story is about: how people behave under occupation.
The American land is not only rich in Ernest Hemingway or Stephen King, there have been and are other great writers. Steinbeck is, of course, internationally renowned for describing how people lived under the wrath of the Great Depression that began in 1929. This is “The Battles of Wrath”. And “The Moon Has Came”, although it was being sold, put on stage or screened, has come a little… to this day. But she was waiting for her time – perhaps because the author resorted to a well-known and powerful technique: he does not name an occupied country or occupants. Although in 1942 it was clear to everyone who could occupy the town in the north of Europe where the action was taking place.
But the author did not write much about Nazism, he was interested in what the occupation was all about and how people felt about it. It’s like Albert Camus’ “The Plague”, which was published in the same era – a book in general about people in the face of misfortune (including war), not the chronicles of a specific epidemic in a particular Algeria.
Steinbeck’s method of writing has produced a rather unexpected result these days. There was a scandal with the film “Occupied” from 2015, with a uniquely delusional plot: how Russia (yes, yes), however, at the request of the European Union, occupies Norway, which criminally wants a “green economy” without oil and gas. Part of the scandal, though almost unnoticed, was the claim that the Norwegian classic Yu Nesbø positioned himself as the “author of the idea” of the film for nothing – it was Steinbeck’s story that stole the idea, by that time firmly forgotten. Well, what – Steinbeck didn’t say who the occupant was, you can even speculate…
What is occupation and what is it, in fact, is bad: it’s when other people appear in their thinking style, it doesn’t matter what colour their skin is, and it doesn’t matter if they made a Hugo Boss uniform or someone else. They appear and report: from now on, you will no longer live the way you used to, a new normality has arrived. It doesn’t matter what noble justifications are given; after all, the Nazis also justified their occupation regimes with the most convincing arguments.
Americans have been given these arguments for at least thirty years now: the planet is warming up and dying, and gays are suffering from stigmatization (i.e. resentment in general), and… But it all boils down to “mooning in” – when someone first softly and then harshly prevents people from living the way they like.
And now it was very interesting to observe the reaction of Donald Trump’s voters to Joseph Biden’s post-election speech calling for national reconciliation: What?! They have been pushing us physically and especially morally for years and decades and now they are calling on us to record our victory?
But – when it comes to victory – it was easier for the people of the northern town at Steinbeck. The occupant was foreign, came suddenly and eventually left. And in America, the occupants are the second half of a nation that you can’t expel; ideally, you can only make them understand that there are two types of people living in the country, with different ideas about what’s good and bad, and you have to be able to exist close by.
So we are talking about the fact that both halves of the American people feel occupied, which is the worst. Let’s take a look at what’s happening now around the revision of the presidential election results. Here is the data from the state of Georgia: thousands of people registered there at some mailbox or office address to vote for the Democrats once again. And a voter can only write down a home address… Again: thousands. And so in several other states.
What did the standard technology of “colour revolutions” look like in the past, to be more precise – were accusations of electoral fraud necessarily made in the process? A dictator forces poor, dependent officials to print and throw in ballots for themselves or forge the final score, while millions of honest voters voted against him. But that is not the case in the US. Massive falsification is obviously not by a handful of uniformed occupiers, but by the “other America” again on a massive scale. That is, for many ordinary democrats, living next to Republicans is so unbearable (as under occupation) that they consider falsification a noble resistance movement. Right America has not been noticed this time as a trickery, but what will it do next time?
But let’s go back to our classics (and Steinbeck is no doubt so). Once again: why did he write this book? To show what happens to people who have been thrown face down into a new normality. And what happens is that they first lose their shine in their eyes, and then their eyes light up with anger. And people start looking for ways to resist, albeit purely symbolic. Then they identify those who think the same way, and it turns out that there are many of them, and most of them already are. And another thing – resistance doesn’t go out, it gets stronger, even if it changes forms from desperate to more mature.
The main charm of this “moon has come” is that, strangely enough, it is a rather funny story in some places. It’s because occupiers are more likely to show animal severity (perhaps because they are afraid). And those who resist show a noticeable sense of humour at the most unexpected moments. In general, it’s a good book.