Is Hollywood West's subject, or does he mean to say--Hollywood has made a subject of us?
West's masterwork begins as it ends--with a shrill, in exhaustion, with a view of things as they are and as they are not. A forest of signs, and so on.
"Around quitting time, Tod Hackett heard a great din on the road outside his office. The groan of leather mingled with the jangle of iron and over all beat the tattoo of a thousand hooves. He hurried to the window.
"An army of cavalry and foot was passing. It moved like a mob; its lines broken, as though fleeing from some terrible defeat."
"Stage Nine--you bastards--Stage Nine!" he screamed through the small megaphone.
"Yes, despite his appearance, he was really a very complicated young man with a whole set of personalities, one inside the other like a nest of Chinese boxes. And 'The Burning of Los Angeles,' a picture he was soon to paint, definitely proved he had talent.
"It is hard to laugh at the need for beauty and romance, no matter how tasteless, even horrible, the results of that are. But it is easy to sigh. Few things are sadder than the truly monstrous."
This last, short paragraph of chapter 1 provides a core, a focus to West's overarching summation of California, Hollywood, us. "It is easy to sigh." And so on.
P.S. The photo above is the Parva-Sed-Apta Apartments in Hollywood--where West began his Locust.