A master of everything

The title of Bukowski’s second novel is actually stolen property, pilfered by the English, like so much else, from Latin. The implications are worth noting for a factotum is a “master of everything” and in the case of Henry Chinaski this means not just repairing bicycles and factory work, it means gambling, drinking and womanising. Just as Karl Marx viewed production as a sensuous human activity, as much a part of our species-being as it is our alienation, Bukowski seems to take a more literal line – he is production. Henry Chinaski makes his way across the States often penniless … Continue reading

Self-service is a disservice

The predominance of so-called ‘self-service’ machines in supermarkets should worry those concerned by the depredations of the market. The ‘self-service’ machines turn us into unpaid employees for a Tesco, or a Morrison’s, or a Sainsbury’s, and even a wholesome Waitrose. The fact of the matter is that it is a service to Tesco, not ourselves, for the most part, to man the till in the place of a paid worker. It is another way in which the rinsing of people, as workers and consumers, to amass huge profits – and it means worse and worse working conditions and job prospects … Continue reading

A Dirty Old Man

Bukowski-2-1024x770

The poet and self-described dirty old man Charles Bukowski died twenty years ago. He passed after a battle with leukaemia in which he finished his novel Pulp (1993). He gave up the ghost with a sigh of relief. He was the American equivalent of Céline. He lived his work. It was the end of the Beatniks and the Hippies when Bukowski burst onto the scene, having been crowned King of the Little Magazines, and churned an incredible bulk of poems and short stories from the 1940s onwards. It was a hard struggle, writing from the gutter, mainly for others who found themselves there … Continue reading