Today’s lesson, dear worst-reader, deals with You Can’t Win by Jack Black.
I see the world as a stage on which different actors are assigned different roles.
And I have no fucking idear what that means in the context of this book. In the context of Burroughs, on the other hand, it is yet another literary acclimation regarding the birth of a genre which is probably called: Just Write… No Matter What… Just Write.
You Can’t Win influenced Burroughs. And I think I worst-know why. Jack Black wrote a book about his trials and tribulations as a common crook living off the whore-teat of a struggling land. Like Black, Burroughs uses his powers of observation to glorify a lifestyle that is out of the/a norm. For Burroughs it was drug abuse and addiction. For Black is was a drug of another kind: crime. Yet of all the words I’ve read by Burroughs, I do not recall him ever really, truly, condemning the choices he made in his life. Black, on the other hand, does more than condemn. In fact, You Can’t Win is more like a motivational (or dare I say Demotivational) book intended for youthful minds in the form of a robust and fulfilling story with utterly brilliant characterizations about how-to and why you should NOT become a common criminal. At the end of the book Black even provides a neat and concise explanation of the cost of crime and he casually concludes that working as a stiff in the machine of life (Automaton?) is actually more profitable. This was indeed a very worthwhile read and I’m happy to finally mark it off my worst reading list.
One of my favorite quotes and passages from Black is in a article Black wrote that was published in 1929 in Harpers. Ironically Black’s mindset fits right in with today’s overzealous greed-mongers that have turned American’t into a mafia run gambling casino. (What am I saying! America was always that way, right? So maybe there’s not so much irony here after all. Nomatter.)
Perhaps there should be more vocational guidance directing the youth in undermanned trades instead of overcrowded professions.
Overcrowded professions! What does that mean, dear worst-reader? Could there have actually been a problem at the beginning of the 20th century with over educated numbskulls all being nothing more than common crooks? How much education do bankers, politicians, bureaucrats have today? And how many of you automatons have contemplated higher education to better your “careers”? Indeed. We can all finally stand up to the society thievery we have built. And there’s more:
Any intensive study of the population of any American prison will show that most of them are men who have not been trained for the job of living or making a living. During my time at San Quentin a notice was tacked on the bulletin board asking for ten accountants to apply at the Captain’s office to help on the annual reports. When the day came forty prisoners applied for the work, and all of them were qualified to do it. There were college men in San Quentin, lawyers, doctors, dentists, bookkeepers, accountants, mathematical experts, inventors, writers, lecturers, and one poet. Later in the winter when a brick factory chimney was damaged by storm, a bulletin was posted calling for bricklayers. None appeared, although the job carried privileges including “three squares a day” and possible parole if it were well done. A search of the register disclosed several “bricklayers,” but on inquiry it developed that they were just plain crooks who had “thought it looked better to give some kind of a trade.” The best the Captain could find was a man who had once served as bricklayer’s apprentice. It took him three months to mend the big chimney, and he ate his three meals a day in the guards’ quarters and got an immediate recommendation for parole.
Wow. 90 years ago is a long time. But then again, it’s not very long if you are incapable of progress.
Time to go shopping.