Some books grab a part of your head that you didn't know existed,
and you carry that book's message with you for the rest of your
life. It's a life-changing thing. Some books pierce your heart, and
leave you crying for weeks, wondering how you could ever have got
it so wrong. Yet other books leave you laughing at your own idiocy,
and have you punching the air for the joy of knowing where you got
it wrong. This book fits into none of those categories with any
degree of comfort, but would have to figure in all three lists.
Art Black wears his middle-aged rage against a crazy world that
has failed and screwed him over on his shirtsleeves. Nothing is
hidden. Here, writ large, are his angst, his failures and his
half-successes, and underneath it all, and underpinning his
anti-philosophy, lies a tacit love of some vague and half-formed
sense of humanity. Black, with all the essence of his being, rails
against the injustice that is our daily bread, and his contempt for
all that is serves to send us into apoplexy. "I've done that " we
scream. "That's how I feel " we shout.
Despite its flaws, its grittiness, its overwhelming sense of
immediacy, and never even mention the fact that there's no obvious
plot, Rat on the Wheel shows us the empty futility of life in
twenty-first century capitalism. If life is a post-modernist
nightmare, Art Black can guide us through the terrors.
Back's existential nightmare is, in the final analysis, our own
nightmare. In his work of flawed genius he has highlighted (almost)
every social ill that plagues us. We are left with a profound
feeling of misery about our place in the Universe, and yet, there
is a vague sense of hope. Towards the end of hislengthy attack on
life, and how it cannot be but a debilitating process, we see a
faint glimmer of something that might get into the Night Club of
Hope with some ingenious fake ID.
Art Black speaks to us all about the fundamental emptiness of human
existence. He is the Albert Camus of our time. The man who is so
outside that we hear him knocking at the back-door of our
collective psyche. Buy the book. Just don't buy it for your
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