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This report is taken from PN Review 180, Volume 34 Number 4, March - April 2008.

A New Waste Land by Michael Horowitz Daniel Weissbort

The Waste Land
is with us and has been for a long time. When Michael Horovitz thrust into my hands his long poem, or collage, lavishly illustrated, called A New Waste Land, I was at least curious. It seems to me now, to generalise, that this is a work of disappointed idealism, the kind of idealism that appealed to many in the 1960s, along with humanistic psychology, early feminism and so forth, an idealism which, albeit not without regret and some guilt, I have eschewed, even though I wish I had been able retain more of it. It is replete with a kind of benevolence, whereas I am replete with the kind of gall which it so easily becomes if its flow is impeded. Horovitz's poem did, however, send me back to Eliot's landmark work, the contention being, I guess, that what was a gleam in Eliot's eye has become a hideous actuality in our time. There can be little doubt of that and we hardly need Michael Horovitz to point it out or drum it in.

But what of the Left's favourite whipping boy, the United States? I lived for several decades there and, perhaps out of Jewish (?) contrariness, find myself among the few defenders of that country. In my youth, it was almost de rigueur to ascribe all cultural ills to the United Steaks (as Brodsky called it), meaning Hollywood films, swing (Frank Sinatra, Bing) ...


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