Advertisements

Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

WV

Bernie Sanders went to West Virginia. This is good. I believe all politicians should go there and not come back until they can tell us WTF is going on and how is it possible to have this kind of devastation and penury in the richest country on Earth. 

I was in West Virginia long before I knew anything about the region, the coal, the drugs, or liquid capital. It was one of the most poignant experiences of my life. Folks, it looked worse than Ukraine. Literally. In Ukraine, we obviously have a very good understanding of deindustrialization. We saw it happen in the late 1980s and all through the 1990s. But I’ve never seen anything this bad in Ukraine. 

And it’s not just poverty. Latin American countries are poor. But the people there are not defeated, they are not devoid of joy and life like I’ve seen in West Virginia. 

Since then, I read every article that mentions West Virginia. I live in a very pretty and well-to-do area now, but I feel that I can’t preserve my humanity if I pretend that what I saw doesn’t exist. 

Advertisements

Single Post Navigation

13 thoughts on “WV

  1. WV isn’t alone. Its part of the larger disaster that is Appalachia, which includes parts of eastern Ohio, eastern Kentucky and eastern Tennessee — all rural coal country and all devastated. Then we have the lower Mississippi River valley and Native American reservations especially in the northern Plains. This is what the NY Times call the “rural slum” and its bad. If we had mandatory voting in this country, our government would be different and would take care of these people. The poor in the US have no voice.

    Like

    • \ If we had mandatory voting in this country, our government would be different and would take care of these people. The poor in the US have no voice.

      Who prevents them from voting?

      Also, I am unsure your prediction is correct since the party of the poor working class underprivileged has blamed Trump’s success on “deplorables.” I am sure the term didn’t include upper middle class voters who desired lower taxes.

      I believe WV is hopeless – Clarissa, does Russo’s “Empire Falls” describe this environment? – but don’t see how it can be worse than a small town in Donbass area of Ukraine during my childhood in the 90ies where 90% of population were drunks, children knocked on doors and begged for a potatoe or a slice of bread, and people were not paid their salaries despite working. I am sure the latter, at least, doesn’t happen in America.

      Like

    • Just wanted to add for non-FSU people, Donbass was a center of coal industry, like WV.

      Of course, unlike WV, Donbass residents were not citizens of a rich, first-world country and have much less ability to move to a good place than residents of WV.

      Like

      • It’s not about poverty as much as about people being completely defeated. Look at the article I linked yesterday, for instance. A woman can’t figure out how to go for a walk in the most beautiful scenery in the country. Another takes out a loan for a car that eats half of her salary when she could just wait for two months and buy the darn car and never have to make a single payment. People can’t figure out a way to talk to neighbors if Wal-Mart doesn’t organize a meeting space. People don’t have enough to eat but they keep 11 dogs. And so on and on. It’s like people have collectively decided to self-destruct and can’t be convinced not to do it.

        Look also at the most recent post. That’s the beginning of the road that leads to West Virginia. People lose the joy of life, the feeling of potency, of knowledge of their power. It doesn’t matter how much money or cars or anything else they have. It’s not a material thing.

        Like

        • \ People don’t have enough to eat but they keep 11 dogs.

          They could be trying to earn money by breeding and selling puppies.

          Like

        • Shakti on said:

          Another takes out a loan for a car that eats half of her salary when she could just wait for two months and buy the darn car and never have to make a single payment.

          How do you think she makes it to her job that pays for the car and everything else? Do you think there’s public transportation in that area of West Virginia or busing to the prison where she works? Or that it’s even practical given that the nearest grocery store is an hour away by car? I’m pretty sure you cannot buy a car of any great reliability for $1200, so I’m not sure where that math comes from. I couldn’t even buy my present car with the exact same mileage for that much.

          Like

  2. I am from Appalachia. It is a mosaic; not everyone is poor. I have two friends who live in West Virginia who are not affluent but are happy, it seems to me.

    Aside: I hope everyone here knows that the third syllable of “Appalachia” rhymes with “latch” not with “lace.” I become angry every time someone mispronounces it.

    Like

    • Demotrash on said:

      Oh, but nobody ever agrees, even within the region. My dad is from Appalachia, and he says it the “wrong” way.

      Like

      • I always said “latch” but then I heard the other version on TV and now I don’t know how to pronounce it. I’m in enough trouble already with nobody understanding my pronunciation of Montreal.

        Like

  3. Wanted to share: I couldn’t force myself to read Doris Lessing’s “The Golden Notebook,” but now am enjoying her female bildungsroman “Martha Quest.” Now checked wiki and it turned out that this novel is the first in “a series of five semi-autobiographical novels [which] follows the life of the protagonist Martha Quest from adolescence until her death, which takes place in the future, in the year 1997. The first four novels are set during the 1930s and 1940s, in the former British colony of Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, in southern Africa, where Lessing lived from 1925 until 1949.”

    Have you tried reading them? So far, I’ve read around 160 pages but it’s beautiful. The writing style is beautiful too, even though I am reading the novel’s Russian translation.

    Like

    • I tried reading Martha Quest but couldn’t get past page 20. This is not my writer because it’s like that with all of her books.

      Like

      • Two other authors I loved and recommend (very different one from another and from Lessing):

        “Kristin Lavransdatter” by Sigrid Undset (The second novel after she marries her beloved despite her parents’ desires is when things start getting really interesting.)

        “Suite française” by Irène Némirovsky, a French writer of Ukrainian-Jewish origin.

        “All Our Worldly Goods” is less vast in scope than “Suite française”, but I loved it not less. Everything I could have said is expressed in this review (with quotes to let you see the beautiful language):

        http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/372669108?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: