Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Gatsby and Kurtz 5

I'm going to make a weird leap right here and talk about "The appeal of Don Draper". For many (most?) people, this would be an insane way to go but it's my search for virtue and Don Draper touched something deep within me and, so, it makes perfect sense for me to pursue this.

If you search that subject line, Google will give you 430,000 results. They range from A to B. That is to say, all the answers given are variations on two themes: 1) because women, or feminists, secretly love jerks no matter what they say to the contrary or 2) it's all because of his manly looks and his Brooks Brothers suits. I've even written on the subject before, and I'm happy to say that my post makes the top twenty of those 430,000 on Google. I didn't have a lot positive to say in that post beyond criticizing others:
Now a good suit and flattering lighting will do a lot for a man but these things will never be enough to make a woman think, "He looks like he would know how to throw me to the wall and do me right." 
There is another way to ask the question. Rather than saying, why do women like him despite his negative qualities, Suderman and Baker might well ask what positive qualities the guy might have.
And those would be? Well, a lot of my other posts, too many to link, touch on the subject but I've never tried to answer the question in any thorough-going way.

There is a reasonable comparison to be made between Gatsby and Draper. They both leave family behind, adopt a new name and achieve great success with the help of mentors.  Dan Cody and Wolfsheim in Gatsby's case and Teddy the Greek and Roger Sterling for Draper. Both showed a remarkable capacity for starting over from nothing and both had a dream that kept driving. To which we might add that both also inspire others to launch into attacks on the American dream.

None of that is true of Kurtz. Kurtz is a dark, dark man an anti-hero seen through the eyes of a man for whom the primary lesson is don't become what this man has become because you have this same propensity for evil within you. Neither Gatsby or Draper is an anti-hero. To the contrary, there is something both that goes way back to the ideals of classical masculinity and that is what makes him appealing.

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