Literature and Film as Modern Mythology

By William K. Ferrell | Go to book overview
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Chapter 12
Politics and the Public
by Jerzy Kosinski

Being There

This 115-page novel was published in 1971, prior to the resignation of President Nixon, but certainly after the impact television had on the 1960 as well as subsequent presidential elections. As All the King's Men reflects the nature of politics prior to television, Being There gives us a glimpse of the role television may play in the selection of political leadership. The power structure of the old boys' network so active in King's Men is still in place, in that power brokers are still present and calling the shots. It is just that television provides for them a new outlet that might be more powerful than they. Kosinski makes no attempt at realism. This novel is pure satire from beginning to end, which may, in fact, make it all the more frightening. John W. Aldridge in Saturday Review writes:

Kosinski's vision is primarily philosophical. He is interested not in making a satirical indictment of modern society--although satire is an abrasive secondary feature of his point of view--nor in attempting to explore in the French manner the various possible ways of dramatizing individual consciousness. He is concerned rather with understanding the nature and meaning of the human condition, the relation quite simply of human values to the terms of existence in an essentially amoral and surely anarchistic universe. ( SR25)

Kosinski ventures into the ontological base of humanity in an attempt to find the true nature of his being. What he seems to find there does not elevate humans to any noticeable degree.

This story is told by an anonymous narrator who possesses complete

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