Category Archives: Literature

Pio Baroja

Where’s this guy been all my life? The name sounds familiar, but I didn’t really know anything about him. Another Generation of ’98 writer who barely made it through the Spanish Civil War.

Federico Garcia Lorca, the doomed gay poet, one of the finest poets of the 20th Century, of course was assassinated in this war, but he was from the next generation of Spanish writers, the Generation of ’27. They were much more avant garde than the ’98’ers.

The Generation of ’98 were a whole new crop of Spanish writers who popped up at the turn of the century in Spain. Spain was still a monarchy back then and these were times of fervent. The monarchy was trying to balance between the desire of the people to modernize the humanize their country and the desires of the Church conservatives to keep things as static as they were.

At the same time, in 1898, Spain was reeling from its defeat in several wars around the globe. Thousands of Spaniards were dead, and Spain lost all of its colonies. This was a time of great upheaval in Spain. The ’98’ers attacked traditional culture and the monarchy which they say as conformist and undemocratic. In this sense, they were like the liberal protest movements that arose in Germany after World War 1 who attacked German culture and ways of thinking in the light of their painful defeat in the war.

These liberal movements were met with a conservative backlash or mostly demobbed soldiers who formed gangs called the Brownshirts who fought socialists and communists in the streets of Germany. These conservatives felt that the liberals had “stabbed the country in the back” and been traitorous during the war, leading to the nation’s defeat. One of these demobbed soldiers was an angry, wounded soldier named Adolf Hitler and it was from this Right vs Left firestorm in the streets that the Nazi God of Destruction arose a decade later. The Phoenix rising from the ashes, the regeneration of the illustrious nation of blood and soul, which is fascism in a nutshell. Fascism can best be seen as palingetic revolution of the Right. The word palingetic brings to mind the Phoenix rises to glory from the ashes of defeat.

Baroja was a liberal like most of that generation. He grew up in the Basque Country. He wrote a number of trilogies, including The Sea, The Cities, The Struggle for Life, The Basque Country and a few others. The Struggle for Life is a gritty, harsh trilogy about life in the slums of Madrid. John Dos Passos was very fond of this series. Probably his most famous book is The Tree of Knowledge. Baroja was a pessimist and a nihilist who soured on life at a young age.

I do not mind reading downbeat authors though, even if I am an optimist. Really the optimistic and pessimistic views of life are both true and equally valid.

Baroja was influenced by Nietzsche, but below almost looks like Heidegger. I like the elaborate, ornate, very descriptive prose of the 19th Century. I love the long, fancy sentences where the tail of the sentence almost seems to be the head. I don’t mind getting to the end of a Henry James sentence, commas and all, and then wondering what the start of the sentence was about. It’s fun to decipher fancy writing. People don’t write like this much anymore as it is considered to be too elaborate and difficult for its own sake. I believe some of the finest writing in English was done in the 19th Century though. I can’t get enough of those $64,000 sentences. They’re so good you could almost take them to the bank.

Most of Baroja has not yet been translated into English, though he has been famous in Spain for a century.  Hemingway was heavily influenced by Baroja, although this fact is little known.

Isn’t that some fine writing?

The individual is the only real thing in nature and in life. Neither the species, the genus, nor the race, actually exists; they are abstractions, terminologies, scientific devices, useful as syntheses but not entirely exact. By means of these devices we can discuss and compare; they constitute a measure for our minds to use, but have no external reality. Only the individual exists through himself and for himself. I am, I live, is the sole thing a man can affirm.

The categories and divisions arranged for classification are like the series of squares an artist places over a drawing to copy it by. The lines of the squares may cut the lines of the sketch; but they will cut them, not in reality but only in the artist’s eye. In humanity, as in all of nature, the individual is the one thing. Only individuality exists in the realm of life and in the realm of spirit.

Pio Baroja, Caesar or Nothing, 1903

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Reading List (Anyone Else Read Like This)?

I am a voracious reader, and lately at least, I am often reading between 20-40 books all at once. I pick up one, read 20 pages or so, and put it down. Then I pick up another one, read another 20 pages or so, and put it down too. It’s not really a problem for most nonfiction books and it works fine for books of essays and short stories. The poetry I read is often long narrative poetry where you have a single poem that goes on for an entire book of 200-300 pages. This method works well for these poetry books.

It is a bit of a problem with novels. I will admit it. You do tend to lose your place a bit and sometimes I just have to go back and start all the way over again. I think I am going to need to restart War and Peace and the Brothers Karamazov because I forgot what I read.

I do not know if this way of reading is stupid and sensible. It’s just the way I do it. It’s actually rather fun to read this way.

The list:

Total

  1. 33 books

Novels

  1. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
  2. Feodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
  3. Robert Stone, A Flag for Sunrise
  4. Joyce Carol Oates, Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart
  5. Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land
  6. Tom Robbins, Still Live with Woodpecker
  7. John Rechy, Bodies and Souls
  8. John Updike, Until the End of Time
  9. Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
  10. Herman Melville, Moby Dick
  11.  Chuck Pahalunik, Invisible Monsters
  12.  Franz Kafka, The Trial
  13. John Irving, Son of the Circus
  14. James Joyce, Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man

Short Stories

  1.  Joyce Carol Oates, Night-Side
  2.  Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness
  3.  Ernest Hemingway, The Complete Stories of Ernest Hemingway
  4. Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories
  5. Daniel Francis Howard, The Western Tradition: An Anthology of Short Stories

Poetry

  1. John Milton, Paradise Lost
  2. Steven St. Vincent Benet, Western Star

Essays

  1. Loren Eisley, Night Country (science)
  2. Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire (nature)
  3. Edward Abbey, Down the River (nature)
  4. Adam Gopnik, Paris to the Moon
  5. Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tuscon
  6. Doug Peacock, Grizzly Years (nature)
  7. Malcolm Gladwell, Blink (cognitive science)

Unclassified Nonfiction

  1. Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or (philosophy)
  2. Showan Khurshid, Knowledge Processing, Creativity and Politics (political science)
  3. Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy (philosophy)
  4. John Colapinto, As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl (gender studies)
  5. John C. Greene, The Death of Adam: Evolution and Its Impact on Western Thought (science)

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Filed under Literature, Novel, Poetry

Books All White Men Own

Books all White men own.

I read 29 of 79, which 38%, or more than a third of them. If you include the ones where I saw the movie or read another book of the author’s, it’s up to 44 or 57%, more than half. All told I have read 89 books by the 78 authors below.

See how many of these you have read. 

If you are a white man and you think you do not own one of these books, try looking under your bed, it’s probably there.

1. Shogun, James Clavell NO, but saw the movie

2. Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut YES, and also read Player Piano; The Sirens of Titan; Mother Night; Cat’s Cradle; Breakfast of Champions; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater; Slapstick; Welcome to the Monkey House; Happy Birthday, Wanda June; and Wampeters, Foma and Grandfalloons.

3. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole YES

4. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace NO

5. A collection of John Lennon’s drawings. NO

6. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway YES, and also read The Sun Also Rises, The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories, The Green Hills of Africa, In Our Time, Men without Women, A Moveable Feast, For Whom the Bell Tolls, To Have and Have Not, Across the River and into the Trees, The Old Man and the Sea, and Death in the Afternoon.

7. The first two volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin NO

8. God Is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens NO

9. Catch-22, Joseph Heller YES, and also read Something Happened.

10. I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell, Tucker Max NO

11. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand NO, and never will!

12. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Oliver Sacks YES

13. The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger YES, and also read Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories, and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters.

14. The Godfather, Mario Puzo YES

15. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald YES

16. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov YES, and also read Bend Sinister

17. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk NO, but read another one, Invisible Monsters.

18. The Master and Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov NO

19. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown NO, and never will.

20. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck YES, and also read Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat.

21. The Stand, Stephen King NO

22. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson NO

23. The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer NO, but read An American Dream, The Armies of the Night, Of a Fire on the Moon, and The White Negro.

24. Tuesdays With Morrie, Mitch Albom NO

25. It’s Not About the Bike, Lance Armstrong (definitely under the bed) NO

26. Who Moved My Cheese?, Spencer Johnson NO

27. Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth YES, and also read Goodbye Colombus.

28. Seabiscuit, Laura Hillenbrand NO

29. John Adams, David McCullough NO

30. Ragtime, E. L. Doctorow YES

31. Lucky Jim, Kingsley Amis YES

32. America: The Book, Jon Stewart NO

33. The World Is Flat, Thomas Friedman NO, and never will! But read From Beirut to Jerusalem.

34. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell YES

35. The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time, Mark Haddon NO

36. Exodus, Leon Uris (if Jewish) NO

37. Trinity, Leon Uris (if Irish-American) NO

38. The Road, Cormac McCarthy NO, but own All the Pretty Horses.

39. Marley & Me, John Grogan NO

40. Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt YES

41. The Rainmaker, John Grisham NO

42. Patriot Games, Tom Clancy NO, and never will.

43. Dragon, Clive Cussler NO, never will.

44. Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond NO

45. The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone NO

46. The 9/11 Commission Report NO

47. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John le Carre NO, but read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

48. Rising Sun, Michael Crichton NO, but saw Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain.

49. A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson NO, but read Made in America.

50. Airport, Arthur Hailey NO

51. Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki NO, but saw the movie.

52. Burr, Gore Vidal NO

53. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt NO

54. The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan NO

55. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer NO

56. Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer NO

57. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson NO, and never will!

58. Godel, Escher, Bach, Douglas Hofstadter NO

59. The World According to Garp, John Irving YES, and also read Setting Free the Bears and A Son of the Circus.

60. A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking NO

61. The Tin Drum, Gunter Grass No, but saw the movie and read Dog Soldiers.

62. On the Road, Jack Kerouac YES, and also read Visions of Gerard.

63. Lord of the Flies, William Golding YES

64. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien YES

65. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe NO, but read The Hells Angels, The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, The Painted Word, The Right Stuff, Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, The Candy-Colored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby.

66. Beowulf, the Seamus Heaney translation NO

67. Rabbit, Run, John Updike NO, but read Toward the End of Time and Hugging the Shore.

68. The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie YES

69. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle NO

70. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler NO, but read The Maltese Falcon.

71. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey NO, but saw the movie, and read The Demon Box.

72. A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess YES

73. House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski NO

74. The Call of the Wild, Jack London NO

75. Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon YES, and also read The Crying of Lot 49, V., Vineland, and Slow Learner.

76. I, Claudius, Robert Graves NO

77. The Civil War: A Narrative, Shelby Foote NO

78. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis NO

79. Life, Keith Richards NO

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Filed under Humor, Literature, Novel, Race/Ethnicity, Whites

Please Don’t Be an Insufferable Ass

Are you insufferable, Bob ?

Santoculto perfectly fit this definition.

I agree that Santoculto could definitely be an insufferable ass. But he also had some nice, concise and brilliant views on a lot of things, particularly human psychology.

Recall that he is gay. Gay Politics won’t let us talk about this, but many gay men are narcissistic. That is one of the reasons they used to think it is a mental illness. No one quite knows why they are like that. If you think about the very shallow gay male scene in the US with its emphasis like good looks, youth, polymorphous perversion, out of control promiscuity, endless brief, near anonymous and loveless relationships, you can see how it would create a lot of narcissists. Of course it’s horribly homophobic to bring this up,  so I guess I will be a big fat homophobe and share this with you all right now.

The gay novelist John Rechy is profoundly narcissistic.

Novelists Jerzy Kozhinski and Philip Roth are notoriously narcissistic. Kozhinski actually made a vast phony history for himself full of many things that never happened. He didn’t get called out on it for a long time, and when he finally was, he simply denied it. His books are good, but he is a bit of a literary fraud as he plagiarized and made up lies about his life. In fact, his entire life could be accurately described as a gigantic fraud.

VS Naipaul in a recent biography comes across extremely narcissistic and it is generally agreed that he was a perfectly awful person.

Kiss frontman Gene Simmons is one of the most insufferable narcissistic asses in all rock and roll, and he has a lot of competition. He is probably one of the most hated people in rock music and for very good reason. Salvador Dali was extremely narcissistic, but he was so weird that it never bothered anyone. Pablo Picasso was a huge asshole, whether he was a narcissist I am not sure, but he probably was. He had a massive ego and treated a lot of his female models like crap. He had a habit of screwing his young female models, making babies with them and abandoning the girl. He did this over and over. He was a great painter, but a lot of people who knew him well said he was an awful human being.

Many actors are narcissistic. If you think about it all of the performing arts, especially film, lend themselves to narcissism. They attract narcissists and then the nature of being a performer on a stage of some sort in and of itself drives a lot more narcissism. If they get famous, that drives even more narcissism. At some point it is probably an endless feedback loop. My mother said all actors are narcissists and she said you have to be narcissistic to be an actor. There is an old joke where the journalist has been interviewing the actor. It has gone on for 45 minutes of the actor going and on about himself enjoying the sound of his own voice. At some point, he realizes his violation and tries to rectify it.

After 45 minutes:

“But anyway, enough about me. Let’s talk about you now. What did you think of my latest movie?”

Get it?

Am I insufferable? God no! I am not an NPD! I don’t even think I am all that narcissistic. I cannot stand pathological narcissists. The idea that I might be one of these people I hate so much pisses me off. I have a not of problems, but that ain’t one of them. Nobody calls me that. I used to get called arrogant, but I have been working on that one really hard. I have to work on that a part of the time when I am around people, but I cannot manage it pretty well by faking it and getting underneath people.

I do not have a lot of disdain for the people I meet in day to day stuff. Most of them seem like decent enough people even if I do not wish to make personal friends of them. There are some lowlife ghetto types around here who I dislike, but they deserve to be hated, and I do not waste time thinking about them anyway.

I have been called a lot of things, but insufferable is not one of them. However, people do remark that I have a big ego, that I have have some egotism, etc. I have had some complaints that I am vain, conceited, self-impressed, etc., but that is just a vibe you will get from my mind. You will not find me talking like that because I am not a braggart and a showoff and I hate people like that. If I do have some impressive accomplishment I wish to divulge, I have the art of false modesty down to a T, so I can relate things that would normally seem like bragging, but nobody gets upset because it seems like I am embarrassed or ashamed of this accomplishment of mine. It’s an act, but so what?

I do not care if people dislike the vain, conceited, self-impressed vibes I give off. As far as I am concerned, they should feel that way too! Everyone should think they’re great! Start being great today! What are you waiting for?

I hate insufferable people. They are often quite impressed with the sound of their own voices too and they can be downright soporific when they go on one of their endless narcissistic monologues. It’s all just too much, the whole thing. It’s way over the top and typically even offensive. You often want to leave the room when they are going on and on. Of course they cannot see anything wrong with their behavior and they will barely even notice if you walk out. You’re not part of the Me Show anyway. You’re the audience. Some of the audience is leaving before the performance is over. No big, this happens all the time. They have for all intents and purposes little to no insight into their behavior.

I think narcissism is a tendency a lot of us have to watch out for. Just go look at some pathological narcissists, figure out why you can’t stand them and use that as a model for how not to be. Watch yourself on a regular basis to make sure you are not falling into that lousy mindset. Narcissists suck, and a lot of people hate them for good reason. Do you want to suck? Do you want to be widely hated for being an insufferable ass? That’s terrible! I would be ashamed and embarrassed if I acted like that.

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Bob Dylan, “Rainy Day Women # 12 and 35”

In honor of Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first time a singer-songwriter even won this literary award normally given to literary authors of poetry and prose, especially novels and short stories. This decision was controversial, but I agree with it.

Blonde on Blonde, double album, 1966. Possibly his best album ever.

One of the greatest stoner songs ever.

Thank you Robert Zimmerman!

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Love and Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy of course is the great Victorian novelist, short story writer and lately appreciated poet. Many of his works deal with men and women and their love affairs. If you have never checked him out, I urge you to do so. He is well worth it. He was admired by writers like D. H. Lawrence (who wrote a book about it), the great John Cowper Powys, W.Somerset Maugham, and the great misanthropic poet Philip Larkin. He was a follower of the Naturalist School made famous by Emile Zola.

The Naturalists were a follow-on to the Realists such as Gustave Flaubert (proto-realist) and Anthony Trollope (classic realist). It was supposed to be an improvement upon realism, but I am not sure how. Both of these were reactions against the overly florid, unrealistic and overwrought stories of the time. Zola in particular sought to be almost scientific in his descriptions of the people in his books. Both sought to simply portray characters, humans and scenes as they actually are and let readers draw their own didactic or moralistic conclusions if they so wished.

As far as Hardy himself in love, he was famously married a couple of times. He was described as an unhappy husband. When his second wife died in 1912 after they were estranged for over 20 years, nevertheless, Hardy become a distraught widower and produced some of his finest poetry in Satires of Circumstance published two years later. These are considered to be some of the saddest, most powerful and finest poems about death ever written in English.

And so we have Thomas Hardy:

  • Unhappy husband, and then
  • Distraught widower

He was miserable while he was married to her, but he was even more miserable when she was dead. There is a lesson in here somewhere, maybe:

  • The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, or simply
  • People are never happy

I prefer the latter.

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Filed under Literature, Novel, Poetry, Psychology, Romantic Relationships

Was Joseph Conrad a Neoliberal? Are We? A Contemporary Reading of Victory

I participated in a session with this fellow on Academia.edu. I believe the author is a professor at a university somewhere in the UK. I really liked this paper a lot. It’s a bit hard to understand, but if you concentrate, you should be able to understand. If I can understand it, at least some of you guys can too. It is an excellent overview of what exactly neoliberalism is and the effects it has on all of us all the way down to the anthropological, sociological and psychological.

Was Joseph Conrad a Neoliberal? Are We? A Contemporary Reading of Victory

by Simon During

Over the past decade or so “neoliberalism” has become a word to conjure with. It is easy to have reservations about its popularity since it seems to name both a general object — roughly, capitalist governmentality as we know it today — and a particular set of ideas that now have a well-researched intellectual history.

It also implies a judgment: few use the term except pejoratively. I myself do not share these worries however, since I think that using the word performs sterling analytic work on its own account even as it probably accentuates its concept’s rather blob-like qualities. Nonetheless in this talk I want somewhat to accede to those who resist neoliberalism’s analytic appeal by thinking about it quite narrowly — that is to say, in literary and intellectual historical terms.

I begin from the position, first, that neoliberalism is an offshoot of liberalism thought more generally; and second, that we in the academic humanities are ourselves inhabited by an occluded or displaced neoliberalism to which we need critically to adjust.1 Thus, writing as a
literary critic in particular, I want to follow one of my own discipline’s original protocols, namely to be sensitive to the ways in which the literary “tradition” changes as the present changes, in this case, as it is reshaped under that neoliberalism which abuts and inhabits us.2

To this end I want to present a reading of Joseph Conrad’s Victory (1916). To do this is not just to help preserve the received literary canon, and as such is, I like to think, a tiny act of resistance to neoliberalism on the grounds that neoliberalism is diminishing our capacity to affirm a canon at all. By maintaining a canon in the act of locating neoliberalism where it is not usually found, I’m trying to operate both inside and outside capitalism’s latest form.

***

1 Daniel Stedman-Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2014, p. 17.
2 This argument is made of course in T.S. Eliot’s seminal essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” (1921).
Let me begin with a brief and sweeping overview of liberalism’s longue durée.3 For our purposes we can fix on liberalism by noting that it has two central struts, one theoretical, the other historical. As generations of theorists have noted, the first strut is methodological individualism: liberal analysis begins with, and is addressed to, the autonomous individual rather than communities or histories.4

Methodological individualism of this kind is, for instance, what allowed Leo Strauss and J.P Macpherson to call even Thomas Hobbes a founder of liberalism.5 Liberalism’s second strut is the emphasis on freedom as the right to express and enact private beliefs with a minimum of state intervention. This view of freedom emerged in the seventeenth century among those who recommended that the sovereign state “tolerate” religious differences.

It marked a conceptual break in freedom’s history since freedom was now conceived of as an individual possession and right rather than as a condition proper to “civil associations” and bound to obligations.6 We need to remember, however, that methodological individualism does not imply liberal freedom, or vice versa. Indeed neoliberalism exposes the weakness of that association.

Early in the nineteenth century, liberalism became a progressivist political movement linked to enlightened values. But after about 1850, non-progressive or conservative liberalisms also appeared. Thus, as Jeffrey Church has argued, Arthur Schopenhauer, the post-Kantian
philosopher who arguably broke most spectacularly with enlightened humanist progressivism,

3 Among the library of works on liberalism’s history I have found two to be particularly useful for my purposes here: Domenico Losurdo’s Liberalism: a Counter-History, trans. Gregory Elliot. London: Verso 2014, and Amanda Anderson’s forthcoming Bleak Liberalism, Chicago, University of Chicago Press 2016.
4 Milan Zafirovski, Liberal Modernity and Its Adversaries: Freedom, Liberalism and Anti-Liberalism in the 21st Century, Amsterdam: Brill 2007, p. 116.
5 Van Mobley, “Two Liberalisms: the Contrasting Visions of Hobbes and Locke,” Humanitas, IX 1997: 6-34.
6 Quentin Skinner, Liberty before Liberalism, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1998, p. 23.

can be associated with liberalism.7

Likewise Schopenhauer’s sometime disciple, Friedrich Nietzsche, no progressivist, was, as Hugo Drochon has recently argued, also an antistatist who prophesied that in the future “private companies” will take over state business so as to protect private persons from one another.8 Liberalism’s conservative turn was, however, largely a result of socialism’s emergence as a political force after 1848, which enabled some left liberal fractions to dilute their individualism by accepting that “a thoroughly consistent individualism can work in harmony with socialism,” as Leonard Hobhouse put it.9

Conrad himself belonged to this moment. As a young man, for instance, he was appalled by the results of the 1885 election, the first in which both the British working class and the socialists participated.10 That election was contested not just by the Marxist Socialist Democratic Federation, but by radical Liberals who had allied themselves to the emergent socialist movement (not least Joseph Chamberlain who, as mayor of Birmingham, was developing so-called “municipal socialism” and who haunts Conrad’s work).11

The election went well for the Liberals who prevented the Tories from securing a clear Parliamentary majority. After learning this, Conrad, himself the son of a famous Polish liberal revolutionary, wrote to a friend, “the International Socialist Association are triumphant, and every
disreputable ragamuffin in Europe, feels that the day of universal brotherhood, despoliation and disorder is coming apace…Socialism must inevitably end in Caesarism.”12 That prophecy will resonate politically for the next century, splitting liberalism in two. As I say: on the one side, a

7 Jeffrey Church, Nietzsche’s Culture of Humanity: Beyond Aristocracy and Democracy in the Early Period, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2015, p. 226.
8 Hugo Drochon, Nietzsche’s Great Politics, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2016, p. 9.
9 L. T. Hobhouse, Liberalism, London: Williams and Norgate, 1911, p. 99.
10 It was at this point that one of neoliberalism’s almost forgotten ur-texts was written,Herbert Spencer’s Man against the State (1884).
11 For instance, he plays an important role in Conrad and Ford Madox Ford’s The Inheritors.
12 Joseph Conrad, The Collected Letters of Joseph Conrad, vol 1., ed. Frederick Karl and Laurence Davis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1983, p. 16.

 

progressivist, collectivist liberalism. On the other, an individualist liberalism of which neoliberalism is a continuation.

By around 1900, liberalism’s fusion with socialism was often (although not quite accurately) associated with Bismark’s Germany, which gave anti-socialist liberalism a geographical inflection. Against this, individualistic liberalism was associated with Britain. But this received British liberalism looked back less to Locke’s religiously tolerant Britain than to Richard Cobden’s Britain of maritime/imperial dominance and free trade.

Which is to say that liberalism’s fusion with socialism pushed socialism’s liberal enemies increasingly to think of freedom economically rather than politically — as in Ludwig von Mises influential 1922 book on socialism, which can be understood as a neoliberal urtext.13 By that point, too, individuals were already being positioned to become what Foucault calls “consumers of freedom.” 14

They were now less understood less as possessing a fundamental claim to freedom than as creating and participating in those institutions which enabled freedom in practice. Crucially after the first world war, in the work of von Mises and the so-called “Austrian school”, freedom was increasingly assigned to individual relations with an efficient market as equilibrium theory viewed markets. This turn to the market as freedom’s basis marked another significant historical departure: it is the condition of contemporary neoliberalism’s emergence.

Neoliberalism organized itself internationally as a movement only after world war two, and did so against both Keynesian economics and the welfare state. 15 It was still mainly ideologically motivated by a refusal to discriminate between welfarism and totalitarianism — a line of thought already apparent in Conrad’s equation of socialism with Caesarism of course. As
13 See Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: an Economic and Sociological Analysis, trans. J. Kahane. New Haven: Yale University Press 1951.
14 Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 63. One key sign of this spread of this new freedom is Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous appeal to the “free trade in ideas” in his 1919 dissent in Abrams v. the US, a judgment which joins together the market, intellectual expression and the juridical.
15 See Philip Mirowski and Dieter Plehwe (eds.), The Road from Mont Pèlerin, Cambridge: Harvard University Press 2009.

 

Friedrich Hayek urged: once states begin to intervene on free markets totalitarianism looms because the people’s psychological character changes: they become dependent.16 For thirty years (in part as confined by this argument), neoliberalism remained a minority movement, but
in the 1970s it began its quick ascent to ideological and economic dominance.

Cutting across a complex and unsettled debate, let me suggest that neoliberalism became powerful then because it provided implementable policy settings for Keynesianism’s (perceived) impasse in view the stagnation and instability of post-war, first-world welfarist, full-employment economies after 1) the Vietnam War, 2) the collapse of the Bretton Woods agreement; 3) OPEC’s cartelization, and 4) the postcolonial or “globalizing” opening up of world markets on the back of new transportation and computing technologies.17

In the global north neoliberalism was first implemented governmentally by parties on the left, led by James Callaghan in the UK, Jimmy Carter in the US, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating in Australia, and leading the way, David Lange and Roger Douglas in New Zealand.18 At this time, at the level of policy, it was urged more by economists than by ideologues insofar as these can be separated (and Hayek and Mises were both of course).

As we know, neoliberals then introduced policies to implement competition, deregulation, monetarism, privatization, tax reduction, a relative high level of unemployment, the winding back of the state’s participation in the economy and so on. This agenda quickly became captured by private

 

16 Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, p. 48.
17 This history is open to lively differences of opinion. The major books in the literature are: Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the College de France 1978-1979, London: Picador 2010; Philip Mirowski, Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown, London: Verso 2014; Stedman-Jones, Masters of the Universe; Joseph Vogl, The Spectre of Capital, Stanford: Stanford University Press 2014; David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2007. My own understanding of this moment is informed by Stedman-Jones’s account in particular.
18 It is worth noting in this context that the left had itself long been a hatchery of neoliberal economic ideas just because liberalism’s absorption of socialism was matched by socialism’s absorption of liberalism. See Johanna Brockman, Markets in the name of Socialism: the Left-wing Origins of Neoliberalism, Stanford: Stanford University Press 2011 on the intellectual-historical side of this connection.

6
interests, and from the eighties on, it was woven into new, highly surveilled and privatized, computing and media ecologies, indeed into what some optimists today call “cognitive capitalism”.19

In this situation, more or less unintended consequences proliferated, most obviously a rapid increase in economic inequality and the enforced insertion of internal markets and corporate structures in non-commercial institutions from hospitals to universities. Indeed, in winding back the welfare state, renouncing Keynesian and redistributionist economic policies, it lost its classical liberal flavor and was firmly absorbed into conservatism — a transformation which had been prepared for by Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.20

But two more concrete conceptual shifts also helped animate this particular fusion of conservatism and liberalism. First, postwar neoliberalism was aimed more at the enterprise than at the individual.21

Largely on the basis of van Mises’s Human Action (1940) as popularized by Gary Becker, the free, independent individual was refigured as “human capital” and thereby exposed instead to management and “leadership.” At the same time, via Peter Drucker’s concept of “knowledge worker,” which emphasized the importance of conceptual and communication skills to
economic production, postsecular management theories for which corporations were hierarchical but organic communities also gained entry into many neoliberal mindsets.22 At that

 

19 Yann Moulier Boutang, Cognitive Capitalism, trans. Ed Emery. Cambridge: Polity Press 2012.
20 Nietzsche and Schopenhauer’s influence is no doubt part of why neoliberalism emerged in Austria. Indeed the Austrian context in which contemporary neoliberalism emerged is worth understanding in more detail. In their early work, Hayek and Mises in particular were responding to “red Vienna” not just in relation to Otto Bauer’s Austromarxism but also in relation to its version of guild socialism associated with Hungarians like Karl Polanyi, with whom both Hayek and Mises entered into debate. See Lee Congdon, “The Sovereignty of Society: Karl Polanyi in Vienna,” in The Life and Work of Karl Polanyi, ed. Kari Polanyi-Levitt. Montreal: Black Rose Books 1990, 78-85.
21 Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 225.
22 Drucker was another Austrian refugee who turned to capitalism against totalitarianism in the late thirties and his profoundly influential work on corporate management shadows neoliberal theory up until the 1970s.

 

7
point, neoliberalism also became a quest to reshape as many institutions as possible as corporations.

At this point too Foucault’s consumers of freedom were becoming consumers full stop. To state this more carefully: at the level of ideology, to be free was now first and foremost deemed to be capable of enacting one’s preferences in consumer and labour markets. It would seem that preferences of this kind increasingly determined social status too, and, more invasively, they now increasingly shaped personalities just because practices of self were bound less and less to filiations and affiliations than to acts of choice.

This helped the market to subsume older gradated social and cultural structures of identity-formation, class difference and cultural capital. At this juncture, we encounter another significant unexpected consequence
within liberalism’s longue durée: i.e. the sixties cultural revolution’s reinforcement of neoliberalism.

This is a complex and controversial topic so let me just say here that, from the late seventies, neoliberal subjects who were individualized via their entrepreneurial disposition and economic and labour choices, encounters the subject of post-68 identity politics who had been emancipated from received social hierarchies and prejudices, and was now attached to a particular ethnicity, gender or sexuality as chosen or embraced by themselves as individuals. These two subject formations animated each other to the degree that both had, in their different ways, sloughed off older communal forms, hierarchies and values.

Governing this ménage of hedonism, productivity, insecurity and corporatization, neoliberalism today seems to have become insurmountable, and is, as I say, blob-like, merging out into institutions and practices generally, including those of our discipline. And it has done
this as a turn within liberal modernity’s longer political, intellectual and social genealogies and structures rather than as a break from them.

Nonetheless, three core, somewhat technical, propositions distinguish neoliberalism from liberalism more generally:

  1. First the claim, which belongs to the sociology of knowledge, that no individual or group can know the true value of anything at all.23 For neoliberals, that value — true or not — can only be assessed, where it can be assessed at all, under particular conditions: namely when it is available in a competitive and free market open to all individuals in a society based on private property. This is an argument against all elite and expert claims to superior knowledge and judgment: without prices, all assessments of value are mere opinion. In that way, market justice (i.e. the effects of competing in the market) can trump social justice. And in that way, for instance, neoliberalism finds an echo not just in negations of cultural authority and canonicity but in the idea that literary and aesthetic judgments are matters of private choice and opinion. In short, neoliberalism inhabits cultural democracy and vice versa. By the same stroke, it posits an absence — a mere structure of exchange—at society’s normative center.
  2. There is a direct relationship between the competitive market and freedom. Any attempt to limit free markets reduces freedom because it imposes upon all individuals a partial opinion about what is valuable. This particular understanding of freedom rests on the notion of the market as a spontaneous order — its being resistant to control and planning, its being embedded in a society which “no individual can completely survey” as Hayek put it.24 Not that this notion is itself original to neoliberalism: Foucault’s historiography of liberalism shows that, in the mid eighteenth century, this property of markets was thought of as “natural” and therefore needed to be protected
    from sovereign authority’s interference.25 But as Foucault and others have argued, neoliberalism emerges after World War 2 when the spontaneous market conditions of freedom are no longer viewed as natural (even if they remain immanently lawbound) but as governmentally produced.26
  3. Neoliberalism has specific ethical dimensions too. While it generally insists that individuals should be free to “follow their own values and preferences” (as Hayek put it) at least within the limits set by those rules and institutions which secure market stability, in fact individuals’ independence as well as their relation to market risk, provides the necessary condition for specific virtues and capacities. Most notably, in Hayek’s formulation, a neoliberal regime secures individuals’ self-sufficiency, honor and dignity and does so by the willingness of some to accept “material sacrifice,” or to “live dangerously” as Foucault put it, in a phrase he declared to be liberalism’s “motto”.27 This mix of risk-seeking existentialism and civic republicanism not only rebukes and prevents the kind of de-individualization supposedly associated with socialisms of the left and right, it is where neoliberalism and an older “Nietzschean” liberalism meet—with Michael Oakeshott’s work bearing special weight in this context.28 But as soon as neoliberalism itself becomes hegemonic in part by fusing with the spirit of 1968, this original ascetic, masculinist neoliberal ethic of freedom and risk comes to be supplemented and displaced by one based more on creativity, consumerist hedonism and entrepreneurialism aimed at augmenting choice.29

***

23 See Mirowski, Never Let a Serious Crisis, p. 55.
24 Friedrich von Hayek, The Road to Serfdom: Texts and Documents. The Definitive Edition, ed. Bruce Caldwell. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007, p. 212.

25 Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 19.
26 This is argued in Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval’s The New Way of the World: on Neoliberal Society, London: Verso 2014. For the immanent lawboundedness in Hayek, see Miguel Vatter, The Republic of the Living: Biopolitics and the Critique of Civil Society, New York: Fordham University Press 2014: pps. 195-220. Vatter’s chapter “Free Markets and Republican
Constitutions in Hayek and Foucault” is excellent on how law is treated in neoliberal thought.
27 Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, p. 130. Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 66.
28 See Andrew Norris’s forthcoming essay in Political Theory, “Michael Oakeshott’s Postulates of Individuality” for this. We might recall, too, that Foucault argues for similarities between the Frankfurt school and the early neoliberals on the grounds of their resistance to standardization, spectacle and so on. See The Birth of Biopolitics, p. 105.

 

I have indicated that Conrad belongs to the moment when socialist parties first contested democratic elections and which thus split liberalism, allowing one, then beleaguered, liberal fraction to begin to attach to conservatism. In this way then, he belongs to neoliberalism’s deep past (which is not to say, of course, that he should be understand as a proto-neoliberal himself). Let us now think about his novel Victory in this light.

The novel is set in late nineteenth-century Indonesia mainly among European settlers and entrepreneurs. Indonesia was then a Dutch colony itself undergoing a formal economic deregulation program, which would increase not just Dutch imperial profits but, among indigenous peoples, also trigger what was arguably human history’s most explosive population growth to date.30

Victory belongs to this world where imperialism encountered vibrant commercial activity driven by entrepreneurial interests, competition and risk. Thus, for instance, its central character, the nomadic, cosmopolitan, aristocratic Swedish intellectual, Axel Heyst, establishes a business— a coal mine — along with a ship-owning partner, while other characters manage hotels, orchestras and trading vessels. Victory is a novel about enterprises as well as about individuals.

But Conrad’s Indonesia is other to Europe as a realm of freedom. Importantly, however, its freedom is not quite liberal or neoliberal: it is also the freedom of a particular space. More precisely, it is the freedom of the sea: here, in effect Indonesia is oceanic. This formulation draws on Carl Schmitt’s post-war work on international law, which was implicitly

 

29 The history of that displacement is explored in Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello’s The New Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Gregory Elliott. London: Verso 2005.
30 Bram Peper, “Population Growth in Java in the 19th Century”, Population Studies, 24/1 (1970): 71-84.

 

11
positioned against liberal and neoliberal theory. In his monograph The Nomos of the Earth (1950), Schmitt drew attention to the sea as a space of freedom just because national sovereignties and laws did not hold there.

But Schmitt’s implicit point was that liberal freedom needs to be thought about not just in terms of tolerance, recognition, rights or markets, but
geographically and historically inside the long history of violent sovereign appropriation of the globe’s land masses so that elemental freedom was enacted on the oceans where law and sovereignty had no reach. From this perspective, piracy, for instance, plays an important role in freedom’s history. And from this perspective the claim to reconcile radical freedom to the lawbound state is false: such freedom exists only where laws do not.

The sea, thought Schmitt’s way, is key to Conrad’s work. But, for him, the sea is also the home of economic liberalism, free-trade and the merchant marines by whom he had, of course, once been employed, and whose values he admired.31 Victory is a maritime tale set on waters which harbor such free trade at the same time as they form a Schmittean realm of freedom — and violence and risk — which effectively remains beyond the reach of sovereign law.

Let me step back at this point to sketch the novel’s plot. Victory’s central character Heyst is the son of an intellectual who late in life was converted from progressivism to a mode of weak Schopenhauerianism or what was then call pessimism.32 Heyst lives his father’s pessimism out: he is a disabused conservative liberal: “he claimed for mankind that right to
absolute moral and intellectual liberty of which he no longer believed them worthy.”33

Believing this, Heyst leaves Europe to “drift”— circulating through Burma, New Guinea, Timor and the Indonesian archipelagoes, simply gathering facts and observing. But, on an

 

31 For Conrad and trade in this region, see Andrew Francis, Culture and Commerce in Conrad’s Asian Fiction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2015. For Conrad’s affiliations to free trade proper see my unpublished paper, “Democracy, Empire and the Politics of the Future in
Conrad’s Heart of Darkness”. This is available on this url.
32 Joseph Conrad, Victory, London: Methuen 1916, p. 197.
33 Conrad, Victory, pps. 92-93

 

12
impulse, while drifting through Timor he rescues a shipowner, Morrison, whose ship has been impounded by unscrupulous Portuguese authorities, and through that act of spontaneous generosity, becomes obligated to Morrison.

The two men end up establishing a coalmine in the remote Indonesian island of Samburan, backed by local Chinese as well as by European capital. The company soon collapses. Morison dies. And, living out his Schopenhauerian renunciation of the world, Heyst, the detached man, decides to stay on at the island alone except for one Chinese servant.

He does, however, sometimes visit the nearest Indonesian town, Surabaya, and it is while staying there in a hotel owned by Schomberg, a malicious, gossipy German, that he makes another spontaneous rescue. This time he saves a young woman, Lena, a member of a traveling “ladies orchestra,” who is being bullied by her bosses and in danger of abduction by Schomberg himself.

Heyst and Lena secretly escape back to his island, causing Schomberg to harbor a venomous resentment against Heyst. At this point Schomberg’s hotel is visited by a trio of sinister criminals: Jones, Ricardo and their servant Pedro. Taking advantage of Schomberg’s rage, they establish an illegal casino in his hotel. To rid himself of this risky enterprise, Schomberg advises them to go after Heyst in his island, falsely telling them that Heyst has hidden a fortune there. Jones and his gang take Schomberg’s advice but disaster awaits them.

The novel ends with Jones, Ricardo, Heyst, Lena all dead on Heyst’s island.
The novel, which hovers between commercial adventure romance and experimental modernism, is bound to neoliberalism’s trajectory in two main ways. First, it adheres to neoliberalism’s sociology of knowledge: here too there is no knowing center, no hierarchy of expertise, no possibility of detached holistic survey and calculation through which truth might command action. Heyst’s drifting, inconsequential fact-gathering, itself appears to illustrate that absence. As do the gossip and rumors which circulate in the place of informed knowledge, and which lead to disaster. Individuals and enterprises are, as it were, on their
13
own, beyond any centralized and delimited social body that might secure stability and grounded understandings. They are bound, rather, to self-interest and spontaneity.

This matters formally not simply because, in an approximately Jamesian mode, the narrative involves a series of points of view in which various characters’ perceptions, moods and interests intersect, but because the narration itself is told in a first person voice without being enunciated by a diegetical character.

That first person, then, functions as the shadow representative of a decentered community, largely focused on money, that is barely able to confer identity at all, a community, too, without known geographical or ideological limits just because the narrator, its implicit representative, has no location or substance. This narratorial indeterminacy can be understood as an index of liberalism at this globalizing historical juncture: a liberalism divesting itself of its own progressive histories, emancipatory hopes and institutions. A bare liberalism about to become neoliberalism, as we can proleptically say.

More importantly, the novel speaks to contemporary neoliberalism because it is about freedom. As we have begun to see, Heyst is committed to a freedom which is both the freedom of the sea, and a metaphysical condition which has detached itself, as far as is possible, from connections, obligations, determinations. This structures the remarkable formal
relationship around which the novel turns — i.e. Heyst’s being positioned as Jones’s double.

The generous Schopenhauerian is not just the demonic criminal’s opposite: he is also his twin. Both men are wandering, residual “gentlemen” detached from the European order, and thrown into, or committed to, a radical freedom which, on the one side, is a function of free trade, on the other, a condition of life lived beyond the legal and political institutions that order European societies, but also, importantly, are philosophical and ethical — a renunciation of the established ideological order for independence, courage and nomadism.

To put this rather differently: Heyst and Jones’s efforts to live in freedom — to comport themselves as free individuals — combines economic freedom — a freedom of exchange, competition and

 

14
entrepreneurial possibilities— with a state of nature as a line of flight (or emancipation) from received continental laws, values and social structures. Freedom, that is, which combines that which Carl Schmitt and the early neoliberals imagined, each in their own way.

The novel’s main point is that there is, in fact, nothing in this freedom to sustain true ethical substance. It is as if Schmittean freedom has smashed both liberal freedom and pessimistic asceticism, along with their ethical groundings. Or to come at the novel’s basic point from another direction: it is as if the absence at the heart of a free society has transmigrated into these characters’ selves. It is at that level that individual freedom cannot be separated from violence and risk and good from evil.

Without an instituted social structure, Heyst cannot stay true to himself: his commitment to freedom and renunciation is compromised because of his spontaneous acts of generosity and sympathy which lead to his and Lena’s death. On the other side, Jones, a homosexual shunned by respectable society, is afflicted by those key nineteenth-century affects, resentment and boredom as well as a quasi-Nietzschean contempt for “tameness”, which drive him towards living outside of society, at contigency’s mercy, and towards reckless, malevolent violence.

Heyst and Jones die together almost by accident, in deaths that reveal them not just as entangled with one another at existence’s threshold, but as both attuned to death, even in life. It now look as if while they lived they wanted to die. In that way, the novel makes it clear that the risk, disorder and emptiness which inhabit their striving for a radically liberal practice of life corrode distinctions not just between violence and renunciation, not just between good and evil, but also between life and death.

We can put it like this: the freedom that these characters claim and the risks that it entails and which bind them together are inclined more towards death than towards life, just on account of freedom’s own conditions of possibility, namely radical autonomy, absence of sovereign power, and maximum choice.

***

15
As I say, this is a reading of the novel which, at least in principle, helps to canonize Victory just because it claims that its form, plot and characters address versions of our current neoliberal social condition, and does so in metaphysically ambitious terms. Victory is a critique of freedom, I think.

Conrad is insisting that even in a liberal society devoted to free trade,
enterprises and markets, the law — and the sovereign state — comes first. It is, if one likes, beginning the work of detaching liberalism from freedom. To say this, however, is to ignore the most pressing question that this reading raises: to what degree should we today actually accede to Conrad’s ambivalent, pessimistic and conservative imagination of radical freedom?

How to judge that freedom’s renunciation of established hierarchies, collectivities and values whether for adventure, risk and spontaneity or for violence and death? It is a condition of the discipline’s neoliberal state that the only answer we can give to that question is that we can, each of us, answer that question any way that we choose.

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Robert Stark, Rabbit, & Alex von Goldstein talk about Radical Centrism, Cultural Elitism, & Gore Vidal

Here.

Great new show. It looks like Rabbit of the AltLeft website will be one of Stark’s regular guest-hosts now, so it looks like Stark’s show is becoming at least in part an Alt Left (and Radical Center, see below) site in addition to being the Alt Right site that it has long been known as. I don’t think Stark himself is all that Alt Right. He seemed too sane and liberal, I have known the guy a long time, and and he was never a very racist guy a far as I could tell. Stark is still Alt Right I think, but he leans more towards the Radical Center wing and maybe even towards the Alt Left sometimes.

Rabbit sort of has his own wing of the Alt Left as opposed to my wing. Rabbit is more into pro-White stuff and race and he doesn’t really care about the Cultural Left. It’s not that he’s a Cultural Left guy himself, but I think it is more than he just doesn’t care about feminism, gay politics, and whatnot. But Rabbit would surely reject modern anti-racism as should any sane person frankly.

Rabbit associates with open White nationalists on radio shows and honestly could even be seen as one himself, although he’s probably the nicest WN I’ve ever met. He seems to be somewhat lined up with Greg Johnson’s West Coast White Nationalism. If you don’t know what it is, go research it as I do not have time to get into it here.

Johnson is definitely a hardcore White nationalist. He’s also openly gay. And now there’s Milo. And Jack Donovan’s been here a while. What’s with all these gays being attracted to the Alt Right? Color me somewhat disturbed. There’s been a nasty reaction to the gay bar that’s opened up on the Alt Right. I listened to a very scary Nazi type woman do a podcast on Bathhouse White Nationalism, ranting on and on about faggots and queers and this and that. She was smart as Hell and funny as barrel of ticks, but she left me with a disturbed taste on my lips. I almost wanted some Scope.

My wing is more explicitly about economics and maybe even more Left in that sense. Contrary to popular lie, I really don’t care about race stuff or pro-White stuff.

Someone needs to explain to me why race of all things is the most important issue facing our society today. I don’t get it. Race is the thing I’m trying to spend most days trying not to think about, you know? It’s like “What the Hell you want to think about that for? At best it’s a sideshow and an ugly and often stupid one at that. Why shell out for the expensive ticket? And then there’s the other people in the audience all around you. I go to the fair to have fun, not to be terrified. I get enough of that in the quotidian grind as it is.

I am much more opposed to the Cultural Left. I am quite critical of feminism, gay politics, Baskin Robbins 31 different flavors of gender and the prosaic degeneracy of all the rest of the Cultural Left Freakshow, though I don’t think much of modern antiracism either. But I dislike modern antiracism more because it’s insipid, not because it’s the enemy. Violent opposition to modern antiracism seems cruel. It’s like beating up the retarded. There’s so dumb I almost very sorry for them.

About the show, I think Bay Area Guy and maybe also Dota came up with the idea of the Radical Center. Ann Sterzinger has also talked about the Radical Center a lot.

Topics include:

Rabbit’s Alt Left and how it’s similar to Radical Centrism.

How Radical Centrism relates to the Alt Right, which is a big tent movement for people who oppose political correctness and mass immigration but includes people with more Left and Center views.

How Radical Centrism can adopt the issues abandoned by the Left in favor of globalism and open borders (ex. civil liberties, the environment, workers rights, and anti-war).

How the left opposed the Brexit which stripped the world’s 400 richest people of $127 billion.

The Horseshoe Theory, and how the Radical Center is the part of the horseshoe drifting in nothingness.

Implementing Radical Centrism politically and which demographic groups it could appeal to.

Where Radical Centrism overlaps with the Left, Right, and Libertarianism.
What is the role of government vs. individual liberty.

Capitalism and how it can produce innovation but is disruptive when unfettered without zoning laws, environmental protection, protectionism, and financial regulation.

White liberal utopias such as Portland, Oregon and Boulder, Colorado, how they relate to the Alt Left, and how they contrast with “conservative” run regions such as Texas.

Pan-Secessionism and how it can offer every ideology and group self-determination.

Gore Vidal as a Radical Center/Alt Left Icon.

Gore Vidal’s controversial statements on issues including immigration, race, WWII, Roman Polanski, Ruby Ridge, and how he corresponded with Timothy McVeigh.

Gore Vidal’s cultural elitism.

Gore Vidal’s novels.

Homosexuality in Ancient Greece and Rome.

The importance of cultural elitism.

How our society has a hierarchy based on wealth and celebrity status  rather than cultural elitism.

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Filed under Anti-Racism, Britain, Capitalism, Civil Rights, Conservatism, Cultural Marxists, Culture, Economics, Europe, Government, Homosexuality, Immigration, Law, Left, Libertarianism, Literature, Novel, Political Science, Politics, Race/Ethnicity, Racism, Regional, Sex, Sociology, USA, White Nationalism, Whites

Robert Stark Interviews Ann Sterzinger about “In the Sky”

Here.

Ann Sterzinger is a novelist stranded on the Alt Right for God knows what reason. Sort of a a case of, “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like that?

I think a lot of folks, especially hipster and artistic types, are drifting around the Alt Right because they think it’s like the new hip bar in town where everyone goes to be seen. The Alt Right is hip, groovy and edgy and it’s great for the Permanently lost and those with late onset adolescent rebellion. You look at a lot of these hipster early adopter trendies over there and you think, “You’re a decent person. What the Hell are doing hanging around with all these damn Nazis?”

Maybe they don’t know what they’re doing. Maybe they do. Maybe they’re on glue. Maybe they’re camped at the Lost and Found. Maybe it’s all Performance Art. Maybe who the Hell knows.

Sometimes you just have to throw up your hands, shake your head and walk away.

Ann is also part of some weird thing called the Anti-Natalism Movement.

Anyway, this chick is an excellent writer, already having a few novels under her corset. She is also very, very smart. She used to have this shy nerdy girl look which was a bit attractive except it gets lost in a crowd too easily. One of those sorta cute faces that’s always fading into the wall, you know? Now she’s fixed herself up a lot for the dating market I guess, and she looks a lot better.

She seems me one of those super-brainy, (perhaps painfully) shy, introverted young brunettes who is actually kind of hot but usually worries she is ugly and has an inferiority complex about the ditsy blonds. fearfully envies the blonds. In that case, she should have been born Jewish. She’s about 40 years old, except she wishes she was never born. Like most goodlooking youngish intellectual women, I believe she needs to go out with me. You’re welcome, honey.

In the Sky (Dans le Ciel) was written by Octave Mirbeau in France in the 1890’s. Ann Sterzinger translated the first English edition published by Hopeless Books. It’s available on Amazon.

Topics include:

How Ann discovered the book from Pierre Michel, a French literary scholar specializing in the writer Octave Mirbeau.

How Mirbeau is best known for his book Diary of a Chambermaid but In the Sky was little known outside of France.

How Mirbeau was an anarchist and a Dreyfusard.

How Mirbeau was a major influence on Louis-Ferdinand Céline who shared his misanthropic outlook.

How Céline was marginalized for his support of the Vichy Regime, however he influenced many writers such as Jack Kerouac, John Dolan, Charles Bukowski, and Michel Houellebecq.

How the book reflects Mirbeau’s outlook towards life and society.

The main character X who is a depressed, misanthropic artist based on Vincent Van Gogh who Mirbeau knew.

The Narrator who discovers X’s manifesto after his death.

How X struggles to create his artistic vision.

X’s mentor, who loses his mind.

The post-Catholic concept of expressing spirituality through art.

How X struggles with sexual and romantic frustration, and when he finally meets a girl, he dumps her because she did not live up to his romantic ideals.

How the meaning of the title In the Sky involves both where X lives on top of a mountain where you can only see sky and a metaphor for being detached from society.

Mirbeau’s view on the family and how neurosis is passed down from parents to children.

How the book combines tragedy and comedy.

Matt Forney’s review Elliot Rodger Goes to Paris.

The genre “Loser Lit.”

Ann’s article Dead David Bowie, French Nationalists, Antinatalism, and the Meaning of Life.

David Bowie’s art & legacy.

Her article The Magical Bottomless Labor Pool which connects political themes to her book NVSQVAM.

Why I’m Scared of Widows & Orphans.

Applied Dysgenics.

In Defense of Beta Females.

Ann’s upcoming science fiction dystopia novel Lyfe, which needs a publisher that specializes in science fiction.

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Filed under Art, Conservatism, Europe, France, Gender Studies, Literature, Music, Novel, Philosophy, Political Science, Regional, Rock

25 Different Collectors

The Collector is a famous classic novel written in 1963 by the great British author John Fowles. It was immediately greeted with much acclaim, and the success of the book enabled Fowles to quit his day job and work full-time as an author.

I found versions of this book that had been translated into 25 different languages. I have grouped the titles according to language family, so many adjacent books are written in languages from the same family. See how many you can get!

  1. Коллекционер
  2. Колекціонер
  3. Колекционер
  4. Колекционерът
  5. Kolekcjoner
  6. Kolekcionar
  7. Zbiratelj
  8. Sběratel
  9. El coleccionista
  10. Colecţionarul, Colectionarul
  11. O Colecionador
  12. Il collezionista
  13. L’obsédé
  14. De verzamelaar
  15. Samleren, Offer for en samler
  16. Der Sammler
  17. Kolekcionierius
  18. Kolekcionārs
  19. Ο συλλέκτης
  20. Neitoperho
  21. Liblikapüüdja
  22. A Lepkegyűjtő
  23. Koleksiyoncu
  24. جامع الفراشات
  25. კოლექციონერი

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Filed under Linguistics, Literature, Novel, Spot the Language