Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Atlas in Detroit
photo of Lee Lawrie’s Atlas: ThreeOneFive (talk)
Yesterday’s front page Times story recounted a touching and also very telling anecdote. “13 Deaths, Untold Heartache, From G.M. Defect,” 5/27/14) began by recounting the tragic story of
Candice Anderson whose boyfriend Gene Mikale Erickson was killed in a car
accident back in 2004. Anderson, who the Times explained "had a trace of Xanax in her blood," was the driver and always blamed herself for something which turned out to be caused by a defective ignition switch which was the
fault of G.M.The whole G.M. scandal
will go down in the annals as one of the worst cases of corporate depravity on
the record. Yet the notion of blame the case illustrates is also very
instructive. Criminals and sociopaths refuse to take responsibility for their
acts and there is a whole gray area of people who take responsibility for their
deeds while at the same time fueling their denial with defensive behavior.
These are the kinds of people who excuse harmful actions by blaming them on the
culture and saying that everyone does it. There is a little bit of larceny in
everybody is a common expression that is used in discussing the kind of
hanky-panky that goes on with expense accounts. But the average person may be a
little like Atlas, trying to climb up the mountain of life bearing the weight of the world on his or her shoulders. Such is the case of Ms. Anderson who had
unwittingly taken the burden off of G.M.’s shoulders and laid it on her own.
Blame can be like a hot potato. Everyone is always trying to pass the buck.
However in this case, a past history of recreational drug use, which
might have been used to explain the incident, not only caused unjustified
individual suffering, but also served to divert from a truthful reckoning of G.M.’s culpability—and one which would inevitably lead the carmaker to revamp their corporate checks and balances.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.