James Drought

Around 1968, a copy of THE ENEMY caught my eye in a Boston bookstore, primarily the title, partly because it had a white cover with simple lettering, not the flashy slickness of best sellers.

THE ENEMY impressed me as Ayn Rand did others. (Years later, I read the Fountainhead, found it devoid of direction and remain puzzled as to its influence.)

THE ENEMY addressed me personally, like Henry David Thoreau's "Essay On Civil Disobedience" and Charles Ives's Second Symphony. It was as if Drought had pulled it out of my brain. I distributed copies of the book to friends, who were not impressed, perhaps because Drought stated the obvious, contrary to media custom. "Everything is simple once it's been thought up. What's simpler than a wheel, or a pin?"

Often, I'd asked myself if I was crazy or if the world was totally messed up. Drought answered the latter.

I read all of his books, despite having plenty of assigned reading. Receiving an inscribed copy of DRUGOTH with the author's encouragement was thrilling. Over the years, I've often felt guilty about letting him down – not to mention myself.

    Recognize, when someone is exhorting you to war, that
    the brave man fights war itself, since war is death, and if
    they send you off to war you have already lost your fight.
    from THE SECRET, 1963

Drought's books vanished from stores and I lost track of him. A recent Google search yielded a couple of hits. The writers seemed most impressed that one of his books inspired a movie, as if Hollywood validated his work. I read THE GYPSY MOTHS and enjoyed the film, based on Drought's most narrative work, certainly not his most important.

James Drought's nomination for a Nobel Prize suggests he wasn't as obscure as I believed, although I've never equated fame with value, which I suspect ties me to Thoreau and that whole "majority of one" thing.

Thoreau correctly identifies government as miscreant, there being no greater impediment to freedom. And it does not matter what type, as he observes, "That government is best which governs not at all." Imagine his reaction to today's virtual totalitarianism masquerading as democracy.

Drought explains how repressive institutions like government survive. I've regarded this phenomenon as "Inertia." Easier to follow the crowd than assert your individuality against family, government-run school, even peer, antagonism. Far easier. Art becomes an imitation of whatever passes for art, unlike true art, which comes from within.

"..it was better for the system if all information were fantasy contrived to justify its continued existence and growth."

The frustration of young persons urged to compromise their goals and beliefs for a job is described by Drought. Somewhere down the line, supposedly they will have the experience and influence to break free, unless they become rabbits attempting escape, eventually requiring no locks to seal their captivity.

James Drought (4 Nov 1931–3 June 1983) grew up in Illinois, settling in Connecticut in 1960. He was nominated for the Nobel Literature Prize by European critics in 1973. Maybe it's another case of non-Americans's greater discernment. For a wealthy country, the US has a surfeit of imbeciles.

For more, information see DROUGHT.COM.

©2003 gt slade

Only when an artist controls his work, initially, creatively, financially, and even on the market, does he have the basis for granting himself long-standing time for free play of his brain and hands. He must create his own vehicle if he is to move freely into the future that he dreams of.
    from THE ENEMY

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