Bukowski’s Enlightening Observation

On the face of it, Charles Bukowski’s Women is simply a conglomeration of the author’s myriad encounters with sex hungry groupies; umbrella’d by an even more preponderant amount of alcohol. However, one must only scrape slightly below this surface façade to find true value in this author’s flowing prose. Many negative remarks can be said about Bukowski’s alter-ego Henry Chinaski – from his misogynistic depiction of women to his lackadaisical approach to life – but no one could argue that he is not 100% congruently grounded in his beliefs. This is a man who fell for many a woman, but never for the temptress ‘Fame’ herself. The following paragraph is taken from one of his many sojourns to the boxing ring, observing as:

“The crowd screamed and roared and swilled beer. They had temporarily escaped the factories, the warehouses, the slaughterhouses, the car washes – they’d be back in captivity the next day but now they were out – they were wild with freedom. They weren’t thinking about the slavery or poverty. Or the slavery of welfare and food stamps. The rest of us would be all right until the poor learned how to make atom bombs in their basement” (pp. 101).

Having survived for so long at the bottom of the food chain before finally escaping his Post Office days, Bukowski manages here to portray a vivid picture of how mainstream society operates and behaves through a mere side-noted observation. Were an alternative life-form to land on our planet today, having never before observed human nature, how would they interpret the sight of millions of people cramming into trains and cars every morning to then sit in office blocks until daylight crept beyond the horizon? ‘Captivity’ indeed! The sharp reminder at the end of this paragraph however is that nothing is sempiternal…


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