Danger: Inflammatory Literature


Fifth Estate # 387, Summer, 2012

A review of Scratching the Tiger’s Belly by Ron Sakolsky, 2012, Eberhardt Press, Portland, Oregon, 160pp., price listed as, “Until we achieve a world free of currency, this book is $9.95,” eberhardtpress.org.

Even the mailing envelope containing Ron Sakolsky’s latest collection of essays and poems announces a subversion of the expected. The publisher’s return address label has a traditional red “DANGER” oval above the words “INFLAMMATORY LITERATURE.”

Opening the package one discovers a cover displaying the fantastic (in the precise meaning of the term) art work of Maurice Spira, whose illustrations and paintings appear in this issue.

Then to the writings which are, indeed, inflammatory as their intent is to inflame the passion for revolution and lives of intensity and adventure. Right from the start of this gorgeously designed book, you know you’re in for a ride.

Sakolsky exhorts us, “Create an uproar! Intoxicate the politics of everyday life…” And, the pace only picks up from there.

Riots, revolutions, and remembrances of late anarchist/surrealist comrades, Franklin Rosemont and Don Lacoss, to whom the book is dedicated, thread through his essays and poetry that trip from “Unheard Soundscapes” to Chicago’s history of an IWW/Surrealist alliance; from pirate radio to Haymarket. None give any mercy to the rulers or to those too faint of heart for resistance to authority.

In the lead essay which forms the book’s title, “The tiger,” Sakolsky reminds us, “takes what it needs, and defends what it loves.”

Several of these writings have appeared previously in this magazine, but reading them again doesn’t diminish their impact. The ones I haven’t seen previously, from a host of other publications, all informed by a wild sense of surrealism and anarchism, are more than just precise in their critiques, and inventive in their ideas.

They are agitational in the classic sense. They make you want to do something in response to the emotions they bring forth.

Sakolsky says, “Head boldly into the eye of the storm.”

Let’s go!