on the amount of LSD or hash consumed. But apparently not. Rather
than see a person they saw a white suit, a disguise and mask that
worked in every situation.
For an American writer he probably gets closer to genuine affectionate
irony in his writing, notwithstanding the exaggerated stylistic effects
that he sometimes employed; multiple exclamation marks, much capitalisation
and words elongated for special effect. Yet the impression he gave
was that he alone was capable of being the insider communicating to
the rest of the world. For the urban sophisticate he described the
other world – the rest of the country outside of New York with
its conservative values, religiosity and conservatism, and to the
rest of the world he described the precious elites and their occluded
And in the internet age nobody can do that again. And the ‘that’
is to take the time to fully and deeply investigate a subject in order
to both understand it and present it in a way that makes something
which has always existed, new.
But he signified that at about the same time that Paris was just about
to fail the middle class revolutionary test, America was apparently,
even though superficially, changing its values, subjecting itself
to some scrutiny and changing the old order. A new order that at least
looked like that it might be funny and inclusive; that the Beatles
generation might have some writers that understood what it was all
about in all its high-collared, two-tone shoed ridiculousness. That
of course was not true, the order dictated primarily by money and
power would not be moved by a handful of East Coast writers with a
deft satiric touch.
He was really quite a fine writer, and like most satirical writers
he was innately conservative. To quote The Guardian ‘he not
only supported Ronald Reagan, calling him “one of the greatest
presidents ever” but, much worse to the east coast liberal mind,
he praised George W Bush'. When people said they would leave the country
if Bush was elected, Wolfe said he might go to Kennedy airport to
wave them goodbye. He thought Donald Trump “a lovable megalomaniac”,
and, comparing him to Reagan, concluded that “brilliance is
really not a requirement for politicians”.
Perhaps we should see him not as a creature of the sixties but a creation
of the Southern States in the 1940s from where the White Suit originates
This points out an obvious conclusion, which is that most writers
are conservative and that most visual artists - most especially cartoonists
– are radical. If you want the truth, look at the cartoons in
“The Age’ which consistently sit happily way left of centre,
whilst the writers try for middle-of-the road centrism and reasonableness.
What we often see is that modernism is just well-written conservatism.