The schemes to set up blacks in cleaning stores, gas stations, hamburger stands and fried-chicken franchises, all the low-profit, low-capital enterprises, will rivet the Black man to the least remunerative section of the economy forever. The best such prospects offer are the dissatisfactions of blue-collar life. The big money ain't in pumping rationed gas in an Amoco station leased in your very own name, but in having stock in Exxon.
Louis O. Kelso
But the fantasy kingdom and trappings of success soon lost their luster, as I discovered that the most prestigious and remunerative of my resume's way stations was also the most tedious and unfulfilling I had ever experienced. This paradox only made me more morose about modernity. Why was I going to watch my hairline recede in front of two-thousand-line spreadsheets staring at me from cold, glowing monitors? Why was everyone in my office apparently so happy to be spending so many hours there, when the things they really cared about - people, pets, pastimes - were all relegated to a few photographs on their desks? That seemed to be the formula: spend the best years of your life in an office with photos of what you really care about.
The modifications of the family structure by this state of affairs is important. The couple feels isolated, surrounded by children who cost them a great deal in many ways. Sometimes they live in harassing conditions. Work in the factory which increases nervous tension has replaced the more natural work in the fields which was perhaps more tiring physically and less remunerative. In seeking a means to reduce financial insecurity, the couple has created moral and affective insecurity. The woman is constantly in constantly in contact with other man and thus less dependent on her husband. She is in a situation where she can become deeply attached to another. The husband's insecurity can incite him to become jealous and aggressive, and the wife feeling this developing possessiveness may in turn become aggressive. The couple becomes a little universe of growing tension and latent hostility. The spirit of this new family is no longer conservative; the pater familias no longer exists, even the ties between parents and children are totally different. There is either a complete abdication of all authority and even of responsibility, or relations within the family may often take on a more fraternal, supple manner.
When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. If a writer can make people live there may be no great characters in his book, but it is possible that his book will remain as a whole; as an entity; as a novel. If the people the writer is making talk of old masters; of music; of modern painting; of letters; or of science then they should talk of those subjects in the novel. If they do not talk of these subjects and the writer makes them talk of them he is a faker, and if he talks about them himself to show how much he knows then he is showing off. No matter how good a phrase or a simile he may have if he puts it in where it is not absolutely necessary and irreplaceable he is spoiling his work for egotism. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over. For a writer to put his own intellectual musings, which he might sell for a low price as essays, into the mouths of artificially constructed characters which are more remunerative when issued as people in a novel is good economics, perhaps, but does not make literature. People in a novel, not skillfully constructed characters, must be projected from the writer's assimilated experience, from his knowledge, from his head, from his heart and from all there is of him. If he ever has luck as well as seriousness and gets them out entire they will have more than one dimension and they will last a long time. A good writer should know as near everything as possible. Naturally he will not. A great enough writer seems to be born with knowledge. But he really is not; he has only been born with the ability to learn in a quicker ratio to the passage of time than other men and without conscious application, and with an intelligence to accept or reject what is already presented as knowledge. There are some things which cannot be learned quickly and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man's life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave. Every novel which is truly written contributes to the total of knowledge which is there at the disposal of the next writer who comes, but the next writer must pay, always, a certain nominal percentage in experience to be able to understand and assimilate what is available as his birthright and what he must, in turn, take his departure from. If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an ice-berg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing. A writer who appreciates the seriousness of writing so little that he is anxious to make people see he is formally educated, cultured or well-bred is merely a popinjay. And this too remember; a serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.