A review of Shit Magnet: One Man's Miraculous Ability to Absorb the World's Guilt by Jim Goad
Los Angeles: Feral House, 2002 $16.95
by J.P. Nash
Jim Goad is a brilliant stylist, satirist, and social commentator. His first book, The Redneck Manifesto (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997) not only contains more insights about society and politics than a dozen dry academic tomes, it is compulsively readable and downright hilarious. Goad seems to know the score on race and the Jews, but refuses to identify himself as a White racist. Ultimately, I think that he is too self-centered, too irresponsible, and too alienated from any community, much less a racial one. And for all his transgressive posturing, he is just too conventional to cross that line. This is a major disappointment, because it would be great to have a satirist of Goad's talent on our side. But The Redneck Manifesto still has much to offer to White nationalists.
Goad's new book Shit Magnet is disappointing. The style, as usual, is brilliant, and the satire is cutting. But Goad is in a rut, and that rut is named Jim Goad. The book is all about Jim Goad, Jim Goad, Jim Goad. We learn about Jim's abusive parents, the abusive nuns at Catholic school, his teenage cocksucking, his nose job, his hair implants, his every fist-fight and black eye, the birth of his infamous 'zine ANSWER Me! and the associated controversies. He shares all the details of his twelve hellish years with Debbie, a neurotic Jewish bitch with an IQ of 86, now mercifully dead of cancer, and his one hellish year with Ann, the psychotic White trash who sent him to prison, including every scratch he received and every black eye he inflicted in his fights with both women. His tiresome rants addressed to both women (Debbie is dead, Jim) indicate, amazingly, that he still has not gotten over the bitches. Goad shares every little detail of his arrest, his plea-bargain, and his two-and-a-half years in prison. We learn that prisoners always suffer more than their victims. That apparently applies to the various serial killers he met behind bars. We also get to share every little tear Jim cried along the way. And for all his skills at satire, he's deadly serious.
Why does Jim insist on sharing all this with us? Has he no shame? Is he not embarrassed to share episodes like the following with perfect strangers?
Some skinny black kid with glasses paid me five bucks for the privilege of letting him suck my cock on the concrete stairwell to a fluorescent-lit Norristown subterranean parking lot, and he had his eyes closed all worshipfully slobbering all over it and said I could fuck him if I wanted to but I said no, and the way he fawned over my bone was the same way Ardea that fat clothing-industry fag hag knelt down and prayed to it and said it tastes great when she swallowed and she'd be cute if she lost a hundred pounds, and I've never had a steady girlfriend or anyone tell me they love me and thinking about all this makes me want to put a bullet in my head. Or someone else's." (p. 46) (Goad also writes about fucking she-coon prostitutes in his puerile, pornographic online 'zine Exotic.)Jim may well have some shame, but he has another motive that always overwhelms it: the desire to justify himself. To whom? Why, to any and all of us. To the vast, anonymous herd of strangers he pretends to despise. To the morons he insists he is so superior to. We have to like him, you see, or he cannot like himself.
Goad's strategies of self-justification change as the book plods on. At first, he takes a standard Jean-Jacques Rousseau/Karl Marx/Oprah Winfrey line: All men are naturally good. Every baby is naturally innocent. There is a little rosebud of sweetness in every heart. What makes us bad? Why, other people make us bad. Society makes us bad. This is why we have to hear about Jim's abuse at the hands of his parents, teachers, and peers. The only reason he grew up violent with others is that others were violent with him first. The only reason he made such rotten romantic choices is that other people didn't give him the right kind of love.
Near the end of the book, however, he changes his tune. However innocent he once was, he is thoroughly fucked-up now. It is not his fault of course. But fucked up as he is, he is better than the rest of us. Why? Because we are all fucked up too. We are all guilty. We all deserve to go to prison. But we are in denial about it, and Jim is honest about it, so Jim is better than us. He has no illusions, and we do. That is why Jim was sent to prison: not for his crimes, but for ours. He is no more deserving of prison than the rest of us. We sent him to prison to silence his brutal honesty and avoid facing the fact that we are just as bad as he is (and, presumably, the child rapists and serial killers he was incarcerated with).
Well, Jim, it does not wash. I do not believe in original sin, but I do not believe in Rousseau's "natural goodness of man" either. I do believe that character is destiny, and that more of our characters than we like to admit is shaped by purely genetic factors. And Jim, from your own description of your family, you really are White trash. That means that you are from the shallow, stupid, violent, alcoholic, emotionally unstable end of the White gene pool. You were not just from a bad seed, you were from a bad egg and a bad sperm. Through some genetic kink, you are smart White trash, but White trash nonetheless. And in my book that pretty much explains everything about you. Like attracts like, Jim. That's why you're a Shit Magnet.
And as for this "we're all guilty but I have the guts to admit it" crap: I know a lot of people, and not one of them is as fucked up as you are. For all my faults, I'm better than you, and for all their faults, so are all my friends. You went to prison for repeatedly punching the psychotic bitch you insisted on returning to again and again. You went because of your deeds, not your words. For your brutality, not your honesty. For your guilt, not mine.
If I had to describe my political philosophy, I would say: "Libertarianism now, fascism later." We need to preserve our civil liberties now in order to take them away from the morons later, when we create a healthy White society: an organic state with no parties, no elections, no demagoguery, and no politicians -- a society where the best rule for the good of all -- a society that takes eugenic measures to drain the Goad end of the gene pool forever -- a society where the degrading filth of Judeo-Afro-Homo-Chomo-Pomo popular culture is rolled up by a giant dung beetle and plopped into the bottomless pit of oblivion. (Thanks for that last image Mr. Tsun.) And when that day comes, I am afraid that ANSWER Me!, with its special issues on suicide and serial killers and rape, and Exotic will be kindling for the fire.
Thus I feel conflicted when I read Goad's chapters on the controversies surrounding ANSWER Me!: the obscenity trial in Washington state because some dizzy broad somehow imagined that "Let's Hear It for Violence Against Women" might promote violence against women, the unwelcome publicity he received when White House shooter Martin Duran was "linked" to ANSWER Me! like Tim McVeigh to The Turner Diaries by a quote scrawled on a sheet of paper, and the further unwanted publicity when three depressed and impressionable English neo-Nazis killed themselves under the influence of the suicide issue of ANSWER Me! On the one hand, I want to maintain civil liberties. But on the other hand, I applaud the healthy instincts of my fellow citizens and think that maybe we should speed up the clock and let the cleansing begin.
It is amusing to see the hard, transgressive, Devil-may-care Jim Goad ducking and weaving to maintain his innocence amid all the 'zine scandals. After all, gulp, some stranger might think ill of him. It is amusing to see the brutally frank Jim Goad hide behind the pretense that he bears no responsibility when he markets magazines glorifying rape, serial murder, and suicide to mentally unstable, marginalized people, and then those same mentally unstable, marginalized people leave a trail of broken, violated, dead bodies in their wake. Perhaps the most repulsive episode in Shit Magnet is when Jim tells us of the tears he cried over Jane Greenhow, the gifted but depressed English neo-Nazi who put a bullet in her brain after mailing all of her money to Jim with a note saying that he only writes about suicide, but she is going him one better by actually killing herself. In my book, Schopenhauer ranks as a greater psychologist than Freud for proving that every tear we cry is a tear of self-pity. So I'm sorry Jim, but your tears do not absolve you of your guilt, they convict you. You obviously nudged her over the edge. Perhaps if you had recommended pumping depressed brains with Prozac instead of lead, Jane Greenhow would be alive and loving Hitler and playing her cello today.
Shit Magnet is the most repulsive exercise in self-pity and self-justification by a narcissistic, borderline personality since Rousseau's Confessions, and from a literary standpoint it is almost as brilliant. Much as I loathe Christianity, books like Shit Magnet demonstrate that it is still far better than its secular replacements. There is something infinitely more manly and psychologically realistic about Augustine's Confessions. The man believes in original sin. He believes he is guilty and rotten by nature. He believes that he deserves hell, not heaven. He believes that forgiveness is a gift of God, not an entitlement. This is a lot of metaphysical cant, but it is far more conducive to intellectual honesty and personal responsibility and genuine repentance for one's crimes than Rousseau's (or Goad's) aggrieved sense of innocence and pouting sense of entitlement to the good opinion, not of someone exalted like God, but of the perfect strangers who read his books.
Most artists are narcissistic. And, as Alex Linder pointed out to me, there seems to be a law that when an artist receives attention for his work, he begins to fixate on himself as well. The narcissism takes over, and he ceases to develop as an artist. This is exactly what happened to Goad. Shit Magnet was written in prison. Since his parole, even his best essays have been marred by a juvenile smuttiness that seems positively Jewish. Work on your scat jokes Jim and you could be writing for Hollywitz as well as Hustler.
For all its flaws, Shit Magnet does have something noble about it. It is a secular search for the redemption of a failed life. But you don't cleanse yourself by crawling inside your own colon then turning it inside out for all the world to see. You cleanse yourself by dedicating your life to something bigger and better than yourself in the hope that some of that bigness and goodness will rub off. Until then Jim, you'll not be just a Shit Magnet. You'll be a shit factory.