What Are You Scared Of?

Part of the transfiguration that takes place when you divest of mainstream points of view (that is, Leftism or Conservatism) is your appreciation of language. Suddenly, you see that your average newspaper ‘report’ is actually written in such a way that the reader will come to certain conclusions, as if the writer has an agenda. You begin to see the ways in which language becomes policed, and the ways it is manipulated. Simplification or obfuscation are the key tactics.

A great example employed by populists in Australia can be seen in the heavy-handed use of simple slogans. When Tony Abbott was running for Prime Minister, progressives constantly berated his constant repetition of ‘Stop the Boats’. This was in relation to turning back the boats coming across from South East Asia with people smugglers taking advantage of refugees. It is quite a callous sentence, but at least it is a sentence, which is more than can be said of the three word bomb used by the SSM campaign in recent months: Love is Love. Sounds nice in principle, but does it actually mean anything? It becomes a very easy way to dismiss counter-arguments and itself cannot be argued against. For that reason it is a far more insidious appeal to populism.

There are countless examples of this propaganda that is used against you every day. It’s the inevitable end result of living in a democracy: you have to be convinced one way or the other. But a particular favourite, and one that I keep returning to as it rears its ugly head over and over again, is the almost casual use of the suffix ‘-phobia’. Homophobia, transphobia, and queerphobia are all words on the rise. Christopher Hitchens warned against the growth of the word ‘islamophobia’. Of course, what do all these entail? Why, they are meant to point out how scared the intended object is of the category in question. But being against homosexuality does not automatically make you scared of gays. Being worried about Islamic immigration does not automatically make you scared of Muslims (although they do their best to make it so). So why do they use such a blatantly false accusation?

Because it works! Much like being called a racist, there is a lot of baggage loaded on to you if any of these words are directed at you. No one cares a whit for particulars, nuance and discussion. No, everybody needs a label so we know where to draw the lines. It’s also a handy deflection from having to debate the topic at hand.

This is drawn into stark realisation with a recent incident in Australia. A Labor Senator has got himself in hot water over links with the Chinese Communist Party, and the current government is rightly a little concerned about this. But of course, members of the opposition come out and attack the Prime Minister as being ‘Chinaphobic’. Excuse me? Is that even a thing? Wouldn’t want to upset the 21% of residents in Bennelong who are Chinese, now, would we? Of course, the Senator at the centre of all this has now stepped down, but that doesn’t change the absurd counterpoint in the form of a label. Politics is now a series of jibes released from context. The culture wars are fought between snipers shooting off precision hits of ridiculousness before finding a new position.

To be called ‘-phobic’ is to already have won, and yet neither party will believe that. To resort to such weak name-calling is the sure sign of an intellectual deficit, while at the same time the shaming tactic is a highly effective one. But it must be resisted. Language is slippery and so it must be mastered. If these words are used against you or others, call it out. After all, you aren’t scared, are you?

Unable to See the Majority For the Minority

As I keep noting on this blog, publishing is gripped by diversity mania. There is an obsession with inclusion and stories from outside the realm of White Man territory. The Man Booker Prize is not safe from this either, and indeed the world’s biggest literary prize is a locus point of SJW energy. And as usual it is The Guardian that leads the way with its ‘unique’ criticisms of authors, publishers and prizes.

But why is diversity such a big deal? Aside from the obvious acceleration towards ‘equality’ across the entirety of popular culture, the reason is people. The real question should be why it has taken so long for the voices within publishing to get so loud. Publishing is 70% female across the Western world, though men do make up a sizeable chunk of senior management. In the last few years young women with gender studies degrees have probably managed to get a foot in the door, and are starting to shift the focus at a faster pace. They bring with them the usual baggage of intersectionality and the need to have perfectly balanced gender ratios. I have plenty of my own horror stories from listening to these young female ‘professionals’. But despite ‘improvements’ it is, of course, never enough.

Literary prizes are the perfect grounds to attack white privilege. Not enough BAME authors are getting recognition. The situation is so bad that The Guardian recently posted an article titled How Many Man Bookers Must Writers of Colour Win Before They’re Accepted? (which kept in theme with last years article called Man Booker Prize Longlist is a Disappointment for Diversity). But I want to focus on the former piece and why exactly this is all madness.

The author, a creative writing professor, makes a number of spurious claims. The main gist of the piece though is that despite the last two winners of the Man Booker being black, readers still don’t recognise books written by minorities as literature. Of course, the reality is that there are much bigger issues at stake than her hyperbolic theory. She uses this study, a study that states that, ‘90% of people who have read a novel in the last 6 months consider that novel to be literature.’ Let’s keep in mind that about 75% of the general population has read ONE book in the last YEAR, and that men read far less than women. Here are some of the authors these people consider ‘literature’:

  • Jeffrey Archer
  • Danielle Steel
  • Lee Child
  • Thomas Hardy
  • Agatha Christie
  • Catherine Cookson
  • James Patterson
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Dan Brown
  • J R R Tolkien
  • Enid Blyton
  • The Brontë sisters
  • George Orwell
  • Stephen King
  • Jane Austen
  • Roald Dahl
  • J K Rowling
  • Charles Dickens
  • William Shakespeare

I’ve marked in bold those that are actually literature. William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens probably count, but at the time of their writing they were ‘popular’ literature. However, if you are looking at these results and complaining about the lack of brown people, you have an agenda. The true problem is that people read shit books by shit authors. They read the same authors over and over. The real problem is that if we consider J K Rowling, Dan Brown and Lee fucking Child as literature, then we as a civilisation are lost. (Oh yeah, and one twat called Reza Aslan a writer of literature.) If you look at the full list of authors, there are clearly some real writers there, and also some minorities. These names were probably given by REAL readers, ones who appreciate and understand what literature is. So the author of The Guardian piece is cherry picking the data and coming to absurd, and frankly frightening conclusions.

Is it really a surprise though? You are polling the general public, of course the results are going to skew towards popular literature. Look at the stats for the full list of authors:

  • 31% are female
  • 7% are Black, Asian or Mixed Race in ethnicity
  • 44% are non-British (mostly American)
  • 51% are living writers.

The fact is that most people are going to consider old, dead authors (who, shock of shocks, will be mostly white) as literature. Americans feature heavily because American culture is so ingrained across the world. 7% minority is pretty good given the statistics for readers (from the same study):

raceandreading

If you have fewer readers of literature, then you’re going to have fewer writers. The fact of the matter is that the majority of readers in Britain (and indeed in the Western world) are white, female and educated. Shockingly, this is also the largest demographic for social justice warriors, which I’m sure is not a coincidence.

The author of the piece has issues she wants to make relevant, so fuck the actual problem. She makes some infuriating claims, such as:

Without doubt, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dickens and many more men of letters have done Britain proud. But times have moved on.

Given she is a professor of creative writing, I find her beliefs disturbing. Literature is not a moving object, one that floats with the tide. It is quite fixed, in that what most people consider literature is writing that has stood the test of time (hence Shakespeare, Chaucer and Dickens). That’s what makes it capital L literature. And while the writer can make claims about the stupidity of readers and their inability to consider minorities as writers of literature, she herself is too dumb to read into the numbers, saying:

A misconception prevails that books penned by non-white writers have limited relevance to the population at large.

If the audience is mostly white, female and educated, then unsurprisingly books written by POC authors about POC themes are probably not going to appeal to all of them.

She then cites a 2013 study about literature and empathy, which of course is a line that geeky SJWs love to throw out at every opportunity. ‘Reading makes you a better person!’ the headlines scream whenever a new study linking literature to altruism/empathy/long life/better memory/clear skin comes out. Not only are the studies dubious (like most studies you find written about in the MSM) but the notion that you can magically read a book and become a Good Person is absurd, and is not a line that should be pushed by anyone, least of all a creative writing lecturer. That said, I’ve never met a group more self-righteous and sure of themselves than those undertaking or teaching a creative writing degree. Books do not make you more humble, it seems.

Then she tries to link this idea with real life events. Mentioning both hate crimes and Brexit, she actually has the audacity to pose the question that perhaps if more people had read literature by minorities the Grenfell Tower tragedy would never have happened. Fake news gets a mention, saying:

But judging from the lack of nuanced real-life stories in circulation about marginalised groups, cultural deprivation is a pretty apt description for the condition members of mainstream society find themselves in. Consider, for instance the report of the Christian girl fostered by a Muslim family spun into a far-right fantasy; a story fuelled by paranoia and an evident lack of awareness about the lives of others.

Correct me if I am wrong, but that is a true story that actually happened? Or is she referring only to the dumb Photoshop job by the paper that originally reported on it? Whatever. She decries race elitism while displaying her own elitism and disdain. The only conclusion I can draw is that the writer wants to eliminate white written culture and force minority writing on the majority. Perhaps she’s just mad she can’t get her novel published.

 

No Award

It’s official. Literary awards mean nothing and are little more than political plays. The actual content of a book and whether it meets the criteria of the award is irrelevant. Let’s review the evidence.

  • Last years Man Booker Prize went to The Sellout, a book about prejudice against blacks in America, in the year that Black Lives Matter dominated the headlines.
  • Underground Railroad, another racial fantasy tale, won the Pulitzer and, more worryingly, the Arthur C. Clarke Award.
  • This years Women’s Prize for Fiction went to The Power, which dares ask the question, ‘What if the power were in women’s hands?’

Now, hold that thought.

It was just announced that the 2017 Royal Society Insight Investment Science Book Prize was won by Cordelia Fine’s Testosterone Rex, and this is the point where I have decided that something is fishy in the publishing waters. Not only did Testosterone Rex, which has a rating of 3.73 on Goodreads, win against such books as In Pursuit of Memory (4.17 from 18 ratings) and I Contain Multitudes (4.21 from 3,730), but one of the judges on the panel was Naomi Alderman, the author of The Power. What a coincidence.

There have already been a number of writers pointing out the flaws with Cordelia’s work, but this goes a step further. When it is so clear that a book was chosen for its political point-scoring alone, how can you ever take this award seriously? And you can’t use the popularity line. People are fascinated by the microbes inside us (and they should be educated about this topic) and are obsessed by the brains of the octopus, as written about in the shortlisted book, Other Minds. It clearly isn’t a particularly good book. The only reason it won is because of the explicitly political line it is trying to push.

If you look at the reasons the judges give for these awards it speaks plainly to their intention. Underground Railroad was chosen for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for a number of reasons, but without a doubt the main one was to give the award itself some literary prestige. It is somehow vitally important that science fiction be taken seriously by mainstream writers. And what did the judges have to say about the book?

And finally, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, which takes literally Samuel Delany’s notion about sf literalising the metaphors. If you look at the Wikipedia entry on the system that helped slaves, you’ll find the statement that “The escape network was not literally underground nor a railroad.” Here it resolutely is, and we follow one slave’s attempt to get to safety, as well as some of those on her trail. It is, the judges say, “a deeply subversive alternate history” and personally I was left wondering if this novel is set just before the civil war or closer to our present time. One judge noted how the novel argues “even before oppression exists, resistance exists.”

The first novel to win the Clarke Award, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, was also about an individual in an oppressive society asserting their humanity and agency. It has spoken to us and haunted us for over three decades now. It became a film and now a television series, and protestors have been dressing up as handmaids in America.

Of course, speaking of The Handmaid’s Tale, the judges had this to say about Testosterone Rex:

Every man and woman should read this book on gender bias. Testosterone Rex is an important, yet wickedly witty, book about the 21st century which touches on the current debates around identity and turns everything on its head. Pressingly contemporary, it’s the ideal companion read to sit alongside The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power.

All these books are connected by a thread. Can you pull at it?

The theme with all of them is political correctness. And is it any wonder when politics has infested every corner of publishing? Just look at the blogroll on the front of The Bookseller’s homepage:

booksellerpolitics

And for a more personal example, the other day a colleague told me that she was turned off a book because she looked up the author, and he looked too ‘Right’. What does this even mean? This is where we are at.

There is without a doubt a bigger issue at work here. With the Man Booker Prize coming up, it will pay to take heed of what ideology is in the air. I don’t necessarily agree with everything in this article, but the main point it tries to make is that publishing is increasingly at the behest of corporations. As we see every day, companies fall over themselves trying to prove their diversity/equality credentials. Awards are actually a few steps ahead of the publishing companies. This is not a conspiracy nor a concerted effort. It is the natural flow as everybody tries to follow each other. There is money to be made, after all.

Updated Sayings #1

‘Youth is wasted on the young.’

Well, duh. Of course it is. It goes against the laws of physics to give youth to the elderly, who apparently deserve it.

Why do we have this saying? What’s the actual message, because it isn’t that we should rewrite the laws of space-time.

It really means

‘Wisdom is wasted on the old.’

The old can’t do anything, but they have a stockpile of wisdom. Or at least, the old old people had wisdom. Maybe not so much the new old people. Which is why the young can’t even get a scrap of wisdom unless something shocks them into wakefulness. Unless they open up a PDF of a dusty book and perhaps try to find wisdom on their own. (How frightening!) Their parents sure didn’t share any with them, and that’s probably just because their parents assumed that wisdom is shared by osmosis.

No!

It has to be taught.

We have no redistributive system for wisdom.

This is our task.

Gender Inequality in Publishing

One thing that always gets me is why exactly do women want to receive the same pay as men? I’m not talking about the same pay for the same work; I’m talking about the very clear fact that women are now demanding that over the length of their ‘careers’ they want to receive the same amount of money.

But why would they need to? The only reason is if they plan on being independent their whole lives, never having children and making sure that if there is ever a divorce (which, statistically, there will be) they will have a job to keep them going. If you are in a relationship, the normal approach should be to have only one partner work full-time. In addition, if all relationships have two people working full-time that means, inevitably, that prices go up (as they have over the last few decades). There seems no logical reason why a woman should get as much money as a man over their lifetime. In particular the cry for ‘equal pay’ seems most noticeable in publishing.

Publishing is predominantly female-driven. Anywhere from 70-80% of employees are female, and yet most of the top-level jobs are given to men. CEOs, head of sales and head of finance are still run by men! There are many legitimate reasons why this would be the case (hint: you have to accept that men and women have different strengths and weaknesses) but the argument never seems to go away. Take this recent article from the Guardian:

‘Why’d he get promoted? Because he has a dick’: sexism in publishing survey reveals widespread frustration

Forgetting the overtly sexist headline, let’s dive into the meat of the argument.

Jenny, who works in corporate publishing, said: “The new hire in my company – who is on exactly the same level and job description as me – was offered £8,000 more than me as his starting salary.” While admitting that she felt her male colleague had more experience, she described the pay differential as “insulting”.

What does this show? That women are, as we know, inherently emotional. The facts say that the male colleague is more experienced, but emotionally she feels hard done by, and that is all that matters.

Penny, who works in editorial at a non-managerial level for a “massive company”, recounted the situation of two junior colleagues, one male and one female in the same role, both of whom had no previous experience. “The man was given a pay rise to ‘recognise’ his work on a specific project,” she said. “He revealed this at the Christmas party to another colleague. Of course word spread, and it became apparent from this that the women, who had all worked equally well (and in some cases better) on other projects, received no pay rise.”

Aside from the fact that this stupid man should have kept his mouth shut, this is nothing more than hearsay and a subjective opinion, completely inadmissible in a court of law.

Adele, who has worked in publishing for more than a decade and now holds a senior editorial role, said: “There’s a perception that women are fine for creative and arty jobs but aren’t as business-minded as men so less suitable for upper management.”

Is there any evidence to support the claim that this perception is wrong? This statement completely begs the question and leaves an assumed answer in the reader’s head.

The belief that pregnancy was a career killer was widely held. Naomi, who holds a managerial role in the editorial department of one of the “Big Five” corporate publishers, said the discrimination was often subtle. For instance, she said that when commissioning editors returned from maternity leave to work part-time, they were expected to commission fewer books, but their sales targets remained the same. Others reported seeing colleagues being demoted while on maternity leave.

The experience might be different in Australia to the UK, but downunder I’ve seen nothing but support for female employees who have children. Conversely, I have heard unappreciative remarks from women, asking why the full 12 month period of leave (you get 6 weeks paid maternity leave, plus however much unpaid) doesn’t count to long service leave. Um, sweetie, it’s because you aren’t working. Having children is an admirable decision, but don’t be surprised if, because you aren’t there, promotions don’t come your way and you don’t get extra leave because you’re ‘loyal’. If anything, there is a constant undercurrent of resentment and entitlement among the women I work with.

Not a single woman I know has had to accept a lesser role, and indeed they get to work either one day from home or just a straight four-day week. Another anecdotal story is the woman who fell pregnant for the second time who decided to quit. One of the assistants said that she would continue to blog about books, as if raising children was not a noble enough undertaking and she had to do something with her time as mundane as blogging (yes, I am perfectly self-aware in this moment). Of course, this is also one of the many assistants who out-rightly say they do not want children. But despite this mentality, there is nothing but making room for women who decide to have a family.

Many women felt frustrated at their lack of promotion because it effectively excludes them from decision-making roles – a point acknowledged by Ian, one of the few men to respond to the survey. “In my experience, I’m usually commissioned by a man, I’m briefed by a man, I report to a man, the tech guy is a man, but the person that sorts out all the HR stuff is a woman,” he said.

I’ve worked and interned at four different publishers. Two had female CEOs, all were majority female, and most of the managerial roles in publicity, publishing, design and marketing at all four publishers were headed by women. You have to ask yourself: is this really a patriarchal dominance, or is this just how the cards lie? Sure, the CEO is in ‘charge’ but that just means he has the responsibility of guiding the company as a whole, and cops shit when it goes wrong. The actual decision makers – what gets published and how – end up being overwhelmingly women.

I really can’t take articles like this as anything other than propaganda. Apparently the sexism is ‘widespread’, but in a survey of only 92 people, 67% felt they were treated differently, and this was not sorted for bias. A final anecdote: I literally got my first job because my female boss was sick of female assistants. The last two she’d had had been useless. Thank the Lord for discrimination.

Reading Reaction: The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz

The thriller genre is a great canvas on which to bring your ideas to life. Recently I’ve been reading some with a conservative angle. Gregg Hurwitz springs to mind, whose latest series features wisdom from the great Jordan B. Peterson himself. Another book I’ve read recently is The Boy Who Saw, which features Nazi conspiracies and right-wing nationalism in France. But there is one thriller that is outright reactionary.

The Silent Corner is not only a rip-roaring thriller, it’s thoroughly dripping with traditionalist sentimentality. On the surface, not so much. The protagonist is a female FBI agent on the run. The technology is super high tech. But dig a little deeper and this is reactionary to the core. Take the front pages:

Can’t get more reactionary than that!

The book touches on a number of ‘Alt Right’ talking points, including:

Modern architecture:

The state of current year students:

Who the real bigots are:

And of course Islamic terrorism had to play a part, and just how  almost mundane it has become:

The role of nature plays prominently throughout the book, particularly with a brooding storm that seems to only break in the final climactic scene. It’s almost as if old Koontz has read up about Gnon itself.


A central plot point of the book is the way in which a powerful group of men are trying to control the world. As powerful men tend to do they also set up their own sex club. It’s a little bit Pizzagate-esque, especially in the sense of the use of NGOs and underground networks:

Reminds you a little of Hillary and Haiti.

I think Koontz would have caught too much flak had he made the sex slaves children, but the gist is similar. In this scene in particular the full extent of the brainwashing is evident.

Stepping outside of time? The horror of the outside world? This feels very much a reactionary take on modernity, and how evil aims to control via coercion and submission.

Indeed, there is an undercurrent of evil in the whole book, and Jane Hawk has a duty to thwart it. It isn’t her job (she goes specifically rogue on the FBI) but it is her responsibility.

Overall though the book feels like a massive black pill. The message is that technology is more often used to control us than it is used to free us. Despite the advancement of humanity, we still find ways to enslave ourselves and others.

The book looks intently at the human nature, at how we can be easily controlled and manipulated, even without the use of brain-altering nanotech. Wealth corrupts, opportunity corrupts, and no one is innocent. The world is so bleak, why not just kill yourself? For Jane Hawk, there are plenty of reasons to go on living:

Jane has to stop this clique of unknown power-players from pushing society is a certain direction. We, as reactionaries, have our own ideas about which direction history should head, and whether the current trajectory is beneficial in the long run. Does that mean we should enforce our ideas? No, but it does mean we should talk to others and work on ourselves first, so that the correct ideals are the ones that push humanity forward. If not, civilisation will end up where it has always gone:

Right now we as a society suffer both in the mind and heart, body and spirit. And Dean Koontz is an author who knows it.

Biblical Significance of Alien: Covenant

The Alien series has always been about life. Rebirth and death are themes knitted right into the very fabric of the universe. So it was no great surprise that both Prometheus and Alien: Covenant tried to take us back to the beginning, both to explore the origins of humanity and the xenomorphs we all know and love. The latter movie has strong Biblical undertones, even more so than Prometheus. Obviously there is the title itself, that being the Biblical covenant from Noah’s Ark, an agreement that God would never again cause such destruction. However, the ‘gods’ in Covenant have no such qualms.

To begin with there is genesis. It is insinuated (but not entirely made clear) that the Engineers of Prometheus made humans and planned to eradicate them. The other theory is that both species are created by ‘Gods’ and the Engineers were wiping out humanity before they could do the same to them. A sort of Cain and Abel story. Either way there was a beginning with intelligently devised life. And then David showed up.

The movie has a metaphorical message that is entirely Nietzschean. God is dead, and we have replaced him. Covenant begins with a scene between Weyland and David, who names himself after the statue. From that moment he begins to question his existence by pointing out his creator’s fallibility – death – with his own longevity. And so a chain is established. Man forgets God and creates artificial life that is superior to himself. Said superior life creates another artificial life form that is superior to it. We discover that the infamous phallic-headed alien is the creation of David.

The planet on which David escaped the disaster of Prometheus to, the homeworld of the Engineers, is used as his laboratory and his canvas. On his return he turns their weapons against them, annihilating them with the ‘black goo’ after pretending to be a returning spaceship. This creates a grotesque work of art as the bodies are permanently frozen in death like the bodies of Pompei. In terms of his other form of creation, one of the key plot points centres around organic spores that create proto-aliens in their hosts. But this is just a mere sideshow to his masterwork, the xenomorph we all know and hate. He has created a little cave of horrors where he mutilates bodies and designs his creation. The full extent of his god-complex is on display, his descent into madness allowed to carry on for infinity.

But where is the meaning? David’s pursuit of creation is pure narcissism, nothing like the Christian God. Nonetheless, the allusion to his godhood is made clearly on multiple occasions beyond the obvious: the silence of the dead planet attests to this (the silence of God compared to the babble of men), and his inclusion of two facehuggers on the spaceship, Covenant, at the end of the film. But while David can play at God he cannot create meaning. David has forgotten his creator, much like we have, and in doing so only creates misery. What he wants is perfection, and he gets it, of a sort. At the end of the film, in an otherwise pointlessly tacked on hunt-the-monster scene, we get a glimpse of David attempting to coax his beast, only for it to lash out at him. Like we did to God and David did to us, the Alien will forget its creator. And this animal cares not for a higher purpose beyond the survival of itself in an orgy of blood.

This is a deeply symbolic movie, perhaps more than any other in the series. It is also seriously nihilistic. If you pay attention there are levels of meaning in everything. David plays Wagner’s Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla as he wanders among the sleeping colonists of the Covenant, ready for the next stage of evolution, but Wagner is also known for his influence on Hitler. And Alien: Covenant is prominently about eugenics and dysgenics and the continuation of the Ubermensch. More than just a gory sci fi film, this is a movie about the horrors that await us if we forget to honour God.