Category Archives: Novel

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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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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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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Filed under Asia, Australia, Austria, Britain, Capitalism, Colonialism, Conservatism, Economics, Ethics, Europe, European, Germany, Government, History, Imperialism, Indonesia, Law, Left, Liberalism, Literature, Modern, Neoliberalism, Netherlands, Novel, Philosophy, Political Science, Politics, Regional, SE Asia, Socialism, USA, Vietnam War, War

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

Robert Stark Interviews Rabbit about Heinlein

Here.

I enjoyed this interview by Rabbit. Rabbit is the main other Alternative Left blogger besides yours truly. However, Rabbit takes a much more strongly pro-White view than I do. In fact, he hobnobs quite a bit with overt White nationalists like Matt Parrot and Greg Johnson, something I am quite loath to do as I really do not want to be associated with these people. People call me racist enough as it is!

Nice interview. I always thought that Heinlein was some sort of a libertarian prick, and it is true that a lot of these young men taking up “Internet Libertarianism” do seem to have read too many Heinlein books. But possibly they took away the wrong message from them. I had no idea that Heinlein started out as a Leftist. In fact, I believe that he he never removed himself from the Left.

Even in his later libertarian phase, he seemed awfully Leftist for a libertarian. Face it, libertarianism is a rightwing movement. I know that libertarians like to say that they are neither right nor left, but that’s crap. They’re just saying that to get liberals and Leftists to vote for them. I have not met a leftwing libertarian yet. I do not believe there is such a thing, unless it’s someone like Heinlein.

Science Fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein was an influential and controversial author of the genre in his time. Robert Stark and Rabbit discuss his work as well as his philosophical and political views.

Topics include:

How Heinlein is difficult to pigeonhole ideologically, having been associated with leftism, libertarianism, and fascism.
How one can interpret his work with their own ideology (ex. libertarians: The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, hippies: Stranger in a Strange Land).
Rabbit’s view that Expanded Universe best demonstrates Heinlein’s outlook.
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, which is about a lunar prison colony revolt.
Counter-Currents article Heinlein for Right-Wingers.
Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold about Whites being enslaved by Blacks in the future and how the book has been interpreted as being both racist and anti-racist.
Heinlein’s “contradictory” views on race.
How Heinlein was an advocate of sexual liberation.
Sex in Heinlein’s work and how he explored sexual taboos such as incest.
Heinlein’s rejection of liberal democracy, and his belief that people must prove they are vested in society in order to participate in democracy.
Heinlein’s economic views and advocacy of social credit.
Heinlein’s support for space exploration and belief in an infinite universe.
Heinlein’s Red Planet about a colony on Mars.
Heinlein’s experiences with censorship.
The vision of the future in Mid-Century science fiction versus that of today
Mid-Century Space Age aesthetics.
Trad Youth’s critique of Rabbit’s Alt Left.
Greg Johnson’s West Coast White Nationalism and how it is similar to the Alternative Left.
How Rabbit was part of the early hipster scene and how he saw its decline into trashy pop culture.

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Filed under Conservatism, Economics, Government, Left, Libertarianism, Literature, Novel, Political Science, Pop Culture, Race/Ethnicity, Racism, Sex, White Nationalism

Paris, 1938

Eugene Jolas was the American responsible for publishing in his journal transition, slowly and in small segments, what would become James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake in 1940. While the Wake was slowly being published, much of the circle around Joyce were already seeing advanced copies of the drafts (which would be much modified over the next 15 years, becoming increasingly complex).

They published a book of criticism of the work that had not yet been published that is now a classic, although scarcely anyone has heard of it: Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress. This remarkable work, really a pre-Wake, is well worth digging in to if you are into James Joyce and especially if you are into the Wake.

Clearly the Wake is an acquired taste. A casual inspection reveals it to appear to be nothing but utter nonsense incapable of being read by any human being. However, there was a method to the madness, and this is actually a highly complex work with very little fluff and nonsense about it. People are still piecing together the crossword puzzle today.

Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress contains essays by Samuel Beckett, Marcel Brion, Robert Sage, William Carlos Williams, Frank Budgen, Stuart Gilbert, Eugene Jolas, Robert McAlmon, Thomas McGreevy, Elliot Paul, John Rodker, and Victor Llona.

Most of these fine men of letters are buried in memory today, and only Williams and especially Beckett are still well-known and widely read.

By the way, if you are into Beckett, you really need to check out Joyce. A look at Beckett’s little known first novel just published recently reveals that at least at the start of his career, Beckett was very heavily influenced by Joyce. That first novel is almost too Joycean, an imitation or near-imitation.

Beckett would later branch out in his own direction pursuing what was later known as John Barth’s literature of exhaustion or simply the utter reduction of all of life to the coffee grounds of utter minimalist negation and nihilism.

As Joyce expanded literature the novel to its furthest possible dimensions, Beckett squeezed literature in the opposite direction, towards sheer barren minimalism.

So you see, Beckett and Joyce were doing the same ting but in different directions, one expanding literature to its universal extension and the other crunching all of it into the tiniest, weakest and most pathetic proton of nothingness.

Eugene Jolas is another great writer lost to the mists of time, though if you go to the West Bank of the Seine and dream yourself to the edge of the last Great War, you may still catch a whiff of his former presence in a cafe or two. If you find him, say hello to the wisps of Henry Miller, Djuna Barnes, Anais Nin, Albert Camus, Samuel Beckett and Jean Paul Sartre. They may still be astir.

Jolas was a fine writer. Check out this fantastic little forgotten gem titled Vertigralist Pamphlet. This piece can be found in another buried treasure, Spearhead: 10 Years’ Experimental Writing in America, edited by James Laughlin by New Directions Press, the Dalkey Archive of its time.

The contributors alone are a gallery of greats, some forgotten, others remembered: Anaïs Nin, James Laughlin, Delmore Schwartz, Oscar Williams, Paul Goodman, Parker Tyler, Robert Lowry, José García Villa, Djuna Barnes, and Marianne Moore. Presently Moore, Schwartz, Nin, Goodman, and Barnes are still well known.

The book includes an excerpt of Djuna Barnes’ great novel Nightwood from 1938. This remarkable novel is one of the greatest books of the 20th Century. It makes it onto many Top 100 Novels of the Century lists.

Jolas’ short work has also been reprinted here in Eugene Jolas: Critical Writings, 1924-1951, published only several years ago in 2009 by Northwestern University Press. As casual glimpse through that work on Google Books shows that much if not all of the work is about on the same level as this rare metal below.

Here is a page flapping in the wind from an excerpt of the work, merely the last page but fine enough for a lingering taste like an expensive wine.

Vertigralist Pamphlet

by Eugene Jolas

We may be passing through an inner mutation which, eventually, will give us the capacity for a new vision, the third eye, the zenith vision, the gift of peering into eternity, which will permit us to comprehend the idea of Psychic Time, the multi-dimensional stratification of Time, cosmic Time.

This will probably be the human being foreshadowed by the great scientist and visionary, C. G. Fechner, in his astonishing book, Zend-Avesta: the man who will participate in the collective consciousness, with the “world-soul”.

This eternal principle can no longer be found in the creative arts today.

I am convinced, however, that the creative instinct should be identical with the instinct of ascension. The arts are analogous to existential mysticism and, as such, should once more become conjuration, a mantic means of liberation or exorcism.

Their role should be to emancipate the human being from the obsession of fear in the world of matter.

They should mirror the expansion of consciousness in a migration to higher space, to the supernatural, to “the divine dark”.

For this a cosmic expression and form, a planetary imagination, are needed:

The cloud glass city.

The skyscraper-cathedral of New York.

Monumental sculptures as ritualistic symbols of a communal celestial aspiration.

Polyphonic music as hymnic expression, pan-rhythmic liberation, the chorus mysticus. Synthesis of the terrestial and the celestial emotion. The human being participating in a seraphic chant. This music to be executed not only in concert-halls, but diffused in the open, or in gigantic buildings that are adequate to its architectonic universalism.

Absolute painting giving the colour-vision of the bridge between the finite and the infinite.

Poetry taken in the universal sense of Dichtung, or the sacred logos.

A new art of the word in a constant interweaving of lyric and epic expression.

Pan-logos.

Invention of new languages to voice the inter-linguistic sense of unio mystica.

The word as rune, as liturgy, as a hymnic eulogy, as incantation.

The phantasmatic metaphor.

All the arts interpenetrating in the mutation from the frontier-world of the three-dimensional consciousness to the experience of a multidensional, frontierless cosmos.

All the arts, combining past, present and future, building the new myth of the heightened creative life.

Paris, 1938.

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Filed under Literature, Novel

Famous Opening Lines of Great Books

Below, match the famous opening line with the book it comes from. Most of these are quite famous, and most of you should be able to get at least some of them. Have fun!

  1. “Mr and Mrs Dursley, of Number Four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
  2. “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.”
  3. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
  4. “It was a pleasure to burn.”
  5. “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”
  6. “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”
  7. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
  8. “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
  9. “It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”
  10. “All children, except one, grow up.”
  11. “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
  12. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
  13. “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small, unregarded yellow sun.”
  14. “As Gregor Samsa awoke from a night of uneasy dreaming, he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”
  15. “He — for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it — was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters.”
  16. “All this happened, more or less.”
  17. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”
  18. “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins.”
  19. “’To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, ‘first you have to die.’”
  20. “It was the day my grandmother exploded.”
  21. “There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.”
  22. “Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women.”
  23. “Mother died today.”
  24. “Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.”
  25. “I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man.”
  26. “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
  27. “I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice – not because of his voice, or because he was the smallest person I ever knew, or even because he was the instrument of my mother’s death but because he is the reason I believe in God; I am a Christian because of Owen Meany.”
  28. “Call me Ishmael.”
  29. “There was me, that is Alex, and my three droogs, that is Pete, Georgie and Dim and we sat in the Korova milkbar trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the evening.”
  30. “No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were being scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”
  31. “The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”
  32. “The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children’s games from the beginning and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up.”
  33. “’When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets,’ Papa would say, ‘she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing.’”
  34. “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”
  35. “When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.”
  36. “For a long time, I went to bed early.”
  37. “Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden.”
  38. “Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex’s admonition, against Allen’s angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa’s antipodal ant annexation.”
  39. “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.”
  40. “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
  41. “I have never begun a novel with more misgiving.”
  42. “My lady and I are being shut up in a tower for seven years”
  43. “Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.”
  44. “The moment one learns English, complications set in.”
  45. “Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature.”
  46. “‘Barabbas came to us by sea’, the child Clara wrote in her delicate calligraphy.”
  47. “When I was three and Bailey was four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed – ‘To Whom It May Concern’ – that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o Mrs. Annie Henderson.”
  48. “Of Herbert West, who was my friend in college and in after life, I can speak only with extreme terror.”
  49. “What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings?”
  50. “Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu.”

 

1984 by George Orwell

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Alphabetical Africa by Walter Abish

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler

Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

Chromos by Felipe Alfau

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Herbert West: Reanimator and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things by Gilbert Sorrentino

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Middle Passage by Charles Johnson

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Murphy by Samuel Beckett

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Paul Clifford by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Scaramouche by Raphael Sabatini

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Crow Road by Iain Banks

The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham

The Debut by Anita Brookner

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G.K. Chesterton

The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

The Stranger by Albert Camus

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Waiting by Ha Jin

 

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Filed under Literature, Novel

What Attracts Women

I will go through these one by one here:

  1. Hypergamy
  2. Women’s dishonesty about what they’re attracted to being biologically hardwired because of them wanting one man to beta provide and another man to fuck her.
  3. Looks = Personality. Your personality and behavior are largely dictated by uncontrollable factors (how people reacted to you during upbringing, hormonal profile during puberty, your background, etc.).
  4. Social life and hence status being extremely affected by the way one looks.
  5. Men being more productive and contributing more to society and to general development throughout history, and how marriage and monogamy in the old days was a way to control and make sure that every man got his needs met and hence contributed to society. Basically one can easily conclude that female to male choice based mating selection is very bad for society overall.

Let’s start with 1 first.

Hypergamy

Yep, females are hypergamous by nature. The Blue Pillers, feminists, male feminists, etc. are absolutely furious about this notion. They say it’s all a great big lie. Are they really that clueless?

But yes, female hypergamy is real. It is also a big problem if unleashed. In order to keep it at least manageable (because you can never get rid of it altogether), institutions such as marriage with enforced monogamy are devised so you can have a halfway civilized society and restrain female hypergamy significantly.

Women’s dishonesty about what they’re attracted to being biologically hardwired because of them wanting one man to beta provide and another man to fuck her.

Yep. Women lie about what they want. They lie about what turns them on. They lie about a thousand things. Why they lie so much, I have no idea, but I suspect that women don’t even know what they want or what turns them on either.

I do not agree with women wanting one man to be a Beta provider and another to provide stud service. Ideally, I think most women would like to marry Chad, tame him so he’s monogamous, and hopefully have Monogamous Chad Dream Man be a great provider for her so she doesn’t need to settle with a Beta as a provider.

You will notice that women’s romance novels are typically about this totally unrealistic dream man who is this hunky male model stud who is a man’s man, masculine as can be but at the same time sensitive, loving and kind, who has women after him all the time but settles down with the heroine after she tames him.

My mother notes that the male heroes of romance novels are men that more or less do not even exist in real life. So women’s dream men are so fantastical that they probably don’t even exist. They’re pining for nonexistent entities!

The problem that Alphas are often lousy providers. Many Alphas are not employed. A lot of others work in the criminal economy, often selling drugs, etc. A surprising number work at low paying jobs and continue to live in cheap apartments and drive old cars into middle age. A stunning number of Alphas are in jails and prisons. Many Alphas spend most of their life essentially living off women in exchange for providing what boils down to gigolo service.

Even if a woman could pin Chad into a long term relationship or marriage, Chad makes a lousy boyfriend and an even lousier husband. He tends to be an incorrigible cheater, among other things. He is at least a little bit narcissistic/sociopathic, he is typically vain, conceited and egotistical and is often rather short on empathy. In other words, Chad is an asshole.

So women don’t need a Beta provider. They need a provider, period. Chad would be the #1 pick of course, but he’s not available, so she settles for Mr. Beta with the good job as a provider. But now she still needs Chad for sex. What’s a lady to do?

Looks = Personality, your personality and behavior are largely dictated by uncontrollable factors (how people reacted to you during upbringing, hormonal profile during puberty, your background etc).

This is very sad, but there is probably a lot to it. I do not think we are doomed by what happened to us in junior and senior high school, but those experiences are so important that it is hard to overlook them. While no one has a set in stone lousy personality, we all have a certain personality type, and it is set by the end of adolescence.

There is a healthy and unhealthy side of each personality type. Even the Sociopath has a healthy mirror image called Aggressive Personality. The Borderline has Sensitive Personality. The Dependent has Loyal Personality. The Narcissist has Confident Personality. And so on.

A man with good looks often has so many great experiences during these formative years that he ends up with a nice personality pretty much locked in place by the time adolescence is over. The man who had a rocky road all through middle and late school years has a huge hurdle to overcome in transcending these traumas and becoming healthy.

Social life and hence status being extremely affected by the way one looks.

This is sad as Hell too, but there is probably a lot to it. People need to consider that when they see people with great/poor social skills and high/ low status that quite a bit of how high someone scores on those variables may be due to uncontrollable factors like looks.

Men being much more productive and contributing much more to society and to general development throughout history, and how marriage and monogamy in the old days was a way to control and make sure that every man got his needs met and hence contributed to society. Basically one can easily conclude that female to male choice based mating selection is very bad for society overall.

Women are not going to like this one. But I would agree that men create civilization. There have been periods in history when most of the men left, often to wars, and the society was left with mostly women to run the show. Things fell apart pretty quickly. Women simply can’t create or run civilizations. They need men to do that for them. Women can help the men run things, but they can’t do it alone. This is quite all right. Women can’t do everything. The sexes tend to need each other.

But since civilizations needed men to create them in the first place and then to run them, marriage and monogamy was a way to control society such that most if not all men got their basic needs met. Once their basic needs were met, these men would be able to do a good job contributing to society. Bottom line is a totally free market in marriage where women’s choices set the tone is probably going to cause all sorts of societal problems, like maybe mass shootings for one.

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Filed under Borderline, Gender Studies, Heterosexuality, Literature, Man World, Mental Illness, Narcissistic, Novel, Personality, Personality Disorders, Psychology, Psychopathology, Romantic Relationships, Sex, Social Problems, Sociology, Sociopathy, Women