ALL BLOG POSTS AND COMMENTS COPYRIGHT (C) 2003-2016 VOX DAY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

John C. Wright explains the gatekeepers

It probably didn't surprise you to see that the SJWs at Amazon claimed the best books of 2014 included an incestuous child molester's chronicle of a nonexistent rape and a biography of a celebrity that contained no reference to the biggest scandal of the celebrity's life, or that their list was topped by a derivative, paint-by-numbers, race-based lamentation of life in America by a female minority. (The irony involved in calling a member of the most populous race and nationality on the planet a "minority" does not escape me, but this is the parlous state to which our language has been reduced in 2014.)

John C. Wright explains this bizarre inverting of literary quality, where excellent books are ignored and the literary equivalent of finger-painting with one's urine, excrement, and menstrual blood is praised as being not only exceptional, but the very best on offer:
Democracy also has a drawback: our liberty allows for such license, that no accomplishment is needed ere one is called accomplished. Eve our elitism is democratic: Anyone can be a snob!

All you have to do to achieve the paramount of the modern Decalogue is dishonor your father and mother; to be the modern version Horatio, all you need do is betray the ashes of your fathers and the altars of your gods. Hegelian evolution says that whatever comes later is better, right? Well, you come after your forefathers, and you are younger than your teachers, so you must know more.

To be a snob in the Old World you had to be born to a high family, or in the New, to earn a high place. But all you have to do to be a snob in the world of no-fault modern snobbery is look down on the giants who founded and fought for this nation.

The only way to look down on a giant is to turn your soul upside down, can call evil a type of good (tolerance, diversity, choice) and good a type of evil (intolerance, divisiveness, bigotry). And all you need to do to switch the labels on things, change the definitions so that the north arrow of the moral compass reads south, is to be a damned liar.

Yes, I do mean damned. So picture the modern Progressive as a dwarfish figure, head firmly wedged into a chamber pot, who looks down (what we call up) sees the clouds and stars underfoot, and sun and moon, and proudly imagines he is trampling heaven. And when he seeks to soar to higher places, overhead is a blank and cold earth, merely a roof of matter, impenetrable to his wit; and when he dreams of spiritual things his thoughts ascend to hell. The harder he tries to live up to what he thinks are higher ideals, the lower toward the central fire he sinks.

The short answer is that the elite of our culture are not a high elite at all, but the low dregs.

They do not sneer at us as their inferiors despite their embarrassing retardation in experiential, intellectual, philosophical and theological matters, not to mention their bad manners and sexual perversions: they sneer at us as their inferiors BECAUSE of their retardation.
Instead of the books recommended by Amazon, let me recommend a very good and seasonal book you may wish to consider in their stead, indeed, one by the very critic cited. But don't take my word for it, consider what some of the readers of Mr. Wright's The Book of Feasts & Seasons have had to say about it.
  •  There is really no way to rate this book with Amazon stars; Amazon does not have a way to indicate books which point to eternal truths and transcendent beauty. Speaking solely in terms of composition, the book has its flaws; shifting from more or less pure sci-fi with wit and much satire at the beginning to a conclusion full of sacred and solemn joy - while leaving in the sci-fi elements - and successfully carrying off each step without occasionally having your normally divergent themes try to separate like oil and water might be impossible anyway. That Mr. Wright on the whole pulls off this balancing act is a testament to his skill as a writer. I am giving it 5 stars because most of the stories within deserve 5 stars, because several of them are the closest thing I have ever read to a 21st century G.K.Chesterton, and also because that is the most emphatic way I can recommend this volume to your attention.
  •  I have read many of Mr. Wright's other works and in many of them, he hides his Christianity in parable. A parable is a tale that tells of Truth, but is veiled in a way that only those who know the author's intent can discern its deeper meaning. In THE BOOK OF FEASTS & SEASONS, Mr. Wright alternately dons and throws off the disguising cloak of parable and allegory, writing as plainly as an honest man is able and with an elegance that only a master of prose can manage.
  • This is a marvelous collection of John C. Wright's seasonal short fiction. Especially notable stories are "Pale Realms of Shade," a ghost story with a noir sensibility and a very satisfying twist (for Easter), "The Ideal Machine" for the Ascension, "Eve of All Saints' Day" for--well, you know what holiday that one is for! Finally, the two Christmas-themed stories, "Nativity" and "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus," are also especially good. At their best, these stories remind me of G. K. Chesterton.
  • A brilliant collection of mind-bending short stories. I liked all of them, loved three of them, and one of the three I loved stands as one of the best short stories I think the esteemed Mr. Wright has written (That's "Pale Realms of Shade", by the way). "The Meaning of Life" was hysterical. "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds" was an extremely clever parable story, something I very rarely see
I feel, on the other hand, that "The Parliament of Beasts and Birds" is the best short story that Mr. Wright has yet written, although there is one story that will be published in a collection next year that may surpass it. For me, it is a remarkable tale that combines the very best of Tanith Lee with CS Lewis in his Narnia mode. 

Labels: ,

41 Comments:

Blogger Mr.MantraMan December 14, 2014 8:55 AM  

Conservatives make the huge mistake of debating the libtards, that merely lifts them up, libtards must be interrogated, and thru their own evil silly rhetoric they delegitimize themselves to the broader audience. The libtard rhetoric is a hard shell covering a nothing middle, pierce the shell and the collapse is quick.

Anonymous AlteredFate December 14, 2014 9:14 AM  

That quote of Mr. Wright's is epic. It is becoming very clear that the left as a whole suffers from a sort of mental disease, a cognitive deficiency, that does to the mind what near sightedness does to vision. Everything is fuzzy and inexact, and that beyond arms length might as well not exist for they can not see it; God, history, logic, reason, prophecy, even their interpretation of the thing they experience themselves is perceived incorrectly.

Anonymous AmyJ December 14, 2014 9:16 AM  

Mr. Wright's blog posts alone make for better reading than most (if not all) of the garbage that wins awards nowadays. Purchasing Feast and Seasons now!

Anonymous PA December 14, 2014 9:21 AM  

It is becoming very clear that the left as a whole suffers from a sort of mental disease,

It's a little-noticed blessing of our time that our enemies are more like Pajama Boy than like Che Guevara.

Anonymous trev006 December 14, 2014 9:28 AM  

You've never been given to over effusive praise before, but- Tanith Lee and CS Lewis? Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see that baby, assuming it wasn't a horrific marriage of darkness and light. Is it that good, after reading it for about the fifth time?

Anonymous VD December 14, 2014 9:51 AM  

Is it that good, after reading it for about the fifth time?

Yes, I think so. But Tanith Lee of Paradys and The Tale of the Cat, not the heroic stuff or the later YA stuff. Which I happen to think is the best Tanith Lee.

Anonymous Will Best December 14, 2014 9:52 AM  

I would have thought if you weren't lumping the SE Asians in with the NE Asians the Indian subcontinent Asians would have outnumbered them by now owing to negative population growths in China and Japan.

Conservatives make the huge mistake of debating the libtards, that merely lifts them up, libtards must be interrogated

I stopped debating liberals in person a while ago. I just keep asking questions until the logic falls apart, at which point I get a "Well that is just the way I feel" out of them. And then I say "Well everybody has feelings" and walk away.

Blogger MendoScot December 14, 2014 10:03 AM  

I just found a review of a Chesterton novel, The Flying Inn. It appears that the man anticipated the Islamicization of England a good century ago - and predicted that it would be brought about by an elite too jaded to believe in its own culture.

Anonymous maniacprovost December 14, 2014 10:10 AM  

Instead of "everybody has feelings," you need to demand to know"Why are your feelings more important than mine?" Of course that pretty much acknowledges a relativist worldview where feelings impact physical reality, but it functions rhetorically.

Blogger MendoScot December 14, 2014 10:17 AM  

And, of course, it's not as if the church is immune to this kind of moral inversion.

So given this, how do I claim Christian faith and LGBT support? I claim it because I don’t center my faith on the historical construals of Jesus and the Bible, the church, and the majority of religious communities. I try to center it on what I understand God to be, the source of transformation (to use John Cobb’s language). God as the source of our growth, development, integrity and well being as individuals.

Anonymous Will Best December 14, 2014 10:41 AM  

Instead of "everybody has feelings," you need to demand to know"Why are your feelings more important than mine?"

Because they care about others and you don't. They aren't heartless/evil/etc. You aren't going to convince them of anything, the goal is to demonstrate how silly they are to 3rd party observers, and the last thing you want to do is give them an opening to disqualify you.

Anonymous Sarcophilus December 14, 2014 10:45 AM  

Ellsworth Toohey (Ayn Rand)

no illusions about the price or the purchase."

"What do you ... want ... Ellsworth?"

"Power, Petey."

There were steps in the apartment above, someone skipping gaily, a few sounds on the ceiling as of four or five tap beats. The light fixture jingled and Keating's head moved up in obedience. Then it came back to Toohey. Toohey was smiling, almost indifferently.

"You ... always said ... " Keating began thickly, and stopped.

"I've always said just that. Clearly, precisely and openly. It's not my fault if you couldn't hear. You could, of course. You didn't want to. Which was safer than deafness — for me. I said I intended to rule. Like all my spiritual predecessors. But I'm luckier than they were. I inherited the fruit of their efforts and I shall be the one who'll see the great dream made real. I see it all around me today. I recognize it. I don't like it. I didn't expect to like it. Enjoyment is not my destiny. I shall find such satisfaction as my capacity permits. I shall rule."

"Whom ... ?"

"You. The world. It's only a matter of discovering the lever. If you learn how to rule one single man's soul, you can get the rest of mankind. It's the soul, Peter, the soul. Not whips or swords or fire or guns. That's why the Caesars, the Attilas, the Napoleons were fools and did not last. We will. The soul, Peter, is that which can't be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it — and the man is yours. You won't need a whip — he'll bring it to you and ask to be whipped. Set him in reverse — and his own mechanism will do your work for you. Use him against himself.

Anonymous Sarcophilus December 14, 2014 10:48 AM  

Cont'd

one? See if I ever lied to you. See if you haven't heard all this for years, but didn't want to hear, and the fault is yours, not mine. There are many ways. Here's one. Make man feel small. Make him feel guilty. Kill his aspiration and his integrity. That's difficult. The worst among you gropes for an ideal in his own twisted way. Kill integrity by internal corruption. Use it against itself. Direct it toward a goal destructive of all integrity. Preach selflessness. Tell man that he must live for others. Tell men that altruism is the ideal. Not a single one of them has ever achieved it and not a single one ever will. His every living instinct screams against it. But don't you see what you accomplish? Man realizes that he's incapable of what he's accepted as the noblest virtue — and it gives him a sense of guilt, of sin, of his own basic unworthiness. Since the supreme ideal is beyond his grasp, he gives up eventually all ideals, all aspiration, all sense of his personal value. He feels himself obliged to preach what he can't practice. But one can't be good halfway or honest approximately. To preserve one's integrity is a hard battle. Why preserve that which one knows to be corrupt already? His soul gives up its self-respect. You've got him. He'll obey. He'll be glad to obey — because he can't trust himself, he feels uncertain, he feels unclean. That's one way. Here's another. Kill man's sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognize greatness or to achieve it. Great men can't be ruled. We don't want any great men. Don't deny the conception of greatness. Destroy it from within. The great is the rare, the difficult, the exceptional. Set up standards of achievement open to all, to the least, to the most inept — and you stop the impetus to effort in all men, great or small. You stop all incentive to improvement, to excellence, to perfection. Laugh at Roark and hold Peter Keating as a great architect. You've destroyed architecture. Build up Lois Cook and you've destroyed literature. Hail Ike and you've destroyed the theater. Glorify Lancelot Clokey and you've destroyed the press. Don't set out to raze all shrines — you'll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity — and the shrines are razed. 

Anonymous Sarcophilus December 14, 2014 10:51 AM  

last excerpt, but go read the chapter.

 That's one way. Here's another. Kill man's sense of values. Kill his capacity to recognize greatness or to achieve it. Great men can't be ruled. We don't want any great men. Don't deny the conception of greatness. Destroy it from within. The great is the rare, the difficult, the exceptional. Set up standards of achievement open to all, to the least, to the most inept — and you stop the impetus to effort in all men, great or small. You stop all incentive to improvement, to excellence, to perfection. Laugh at Roark and hold Peter Keating as a great architect. You've destroyed architecture. Build up Lois Cook and you've destroyed literature. Hail Ike and you've destroyed the theater. Glorify Lancelot Clokey and you've destroyed the press. Don't set out to raze all shrines — you'll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity — and the shrines are razed. Then there's another way. Kill by laughter. Laughter is an instrument of human joy. Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer. It's simple. Tell them to laugh at everything. Tell them that a sense of humor is an unlimited virtue. Don't let anything remain sacred in a man's soul — and his soul won't be sacred to him. Kill reverence and you've killed the hero in man. 

Blogger Vox December 14, 2014 11:15 AM  

I tweeted a paraphrased and updated version: "Build up John Scalzi and you've destroyed SF. Hail Anita S. and you've destroyed game review. Glorify Lena Dunham and you've destroyed TV."

Blogger Ken December 14, 2014 12:14 PM  

MendoScot: C.S. Lewis also anticipated that Western Civilization (and many Christians) would fall for the lie that Allah and YHWH are the same in his book, "The Last Battle."

Anonymous zippo December 14, 2014 12:16 PM  

I wish you'd bring out some of JCW's books --like this one, say-- in print. I'm just too old-fashioned, I can't bring myself to read e-books, which means I'm probably missing out on some really good stuff here.

Blogger Vox December 14, 2014 12:28 PM  

I wish you'd bring out some of JCW's books --like this one, say-- in print. I'm just too old-fashioned, I can't bring myself to read e-books, which means I'm probably missing out on some really good stuff here.

We have. We've sold exactly 75x more AWAKE IN THE NIGHT LAND ebooks than hardcovers. It costs us more and takes more time for us to do a hardcover.

So why on Earth would we focus our efforts there? We always see people saying this sort of thing, but the fact is that most of them aren't actually going to buy the print editions. So, while we will do them whenever we can get around to them, they are very unlikely to ever be a priority for us. The main reason we do them is because a) we like having them, and b) our authors like having them.

Basically, if you want more hardcovers, buy the ebooks. If we sell enough ebooks, we can hire someone to do the layouts and covers.

Anonymous zippo December 14, 2014 12:33 PM  

"It costs us more and takes more time for us to do a hardcover."

Sounds like you don't want to do paperbacks. Is there a reason?

Anonymous Laz December 14, 2014 12:42 PM  

While I do read e-books there's nothing like a good 'ol paperback. They're easier to carry than hardbacks and more on par with e-book prices. As much as I read I can't afford $20-30 per hardback.

Anonymous VD December 14, 2014 12:54 PM  

Sounds like you don't want to do paperbacks. Is there a reason

They are probably the worst value proposition in terms of cost and effort. I have nothing particularly against them, but it's the same amount of work as a hardcover for less money and not vastly better sales. The paperback market is the one that has largely moved to ebooks.

Anonymous Sheila December 14, 2014 2:03 PM  

While I found "Atlas Shrugged" overlong and often find Rand's prose turgid, those are excellent quotes, Sarcophilus.

John Wright's explanation is spot on ("The only way to look down on a giant is to turn your soul upside down, can call evil a type of good (tolerance, diversity, choice) and good a type of evil (intolerance, divisiveness, bigotry). And all you need to do to switch the labels on things, change the definitions so that the north arrow of the moral compass reads south, is to be a damned liar."). I, too, will be buying "The Book of Feasts and Seasons."

Anonymous Corvinus December 14, 2014 2:24 PM  

Hat-tip to Mr. Wright for that smack at the progs. Most enjoyable.

Anonymous kfg December 14, 2014 2:44 PM  

What a piece of work is Man.

" . . . Chesterton . . . It appears that the man anticipated the Islamicization of England a good century ago . . ."

Many of the intellectual progressive class were openly advocating it at the time. G. B. Shaw is an example.

Anonymous Mike M. December 14, 2014 4:57 PM  

Much as I've been resisting it, I may be forced to buy an e-reader. If nothing else, you can cram a large library into a very small volume.

But I still buy hardcovers. I cope with bleeding-edge technology at work. At home, I prefer the straightforward.

Blogger MendoScot December 14, 2014 5:03 PM  

MendoScot: C.S. Lewis also anticipated that Western Civilization (and many Christians) would fall for the lie that Allah and YHWH are the same in his book, "The Last Battle."

Aye, but Chesterton had it by half a century and placed it specifically in England. It might be that Lewis saw the same, or was following Chesterton, I'm just surprised that the idea was there at that time.

Blogger MendoScot December 14, 2014 5:06 PM  

Many of the intellectual progressive class were openly advocating it at the time. G. B. Shaw is an example.

Really? Shaw pushed many ideas, including the absolute equality between male and female - hardly an Islamic POV.

Anonymous kfg December 14, 2014 5:56 PM  

"I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capability to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age . . . it was in the 19th century that honest thinkers like Carlyle, Goethe and Gibbon perceived intrinsic worth in the religion of Muhammad " - Letter to the Reverend Ensor Walters

A partial quote and not outright advocacy, but keeping the idea in a positive light.

He did also voice some opposition to the idea of Europe adopting Islam, but did so from the point of view that, as it was non-native, Europeans weren't ready for it yet. So it might be more fair to say he was predicting, but unlike Chesterton didn't find the prospect a negative.

Or he may have just been careful with his language.

Blogger MendoScot December 14, 2014 6:24 PM  

My experience is that he was always very careful with his language. It was his ideas that were insane.

His fore- and afterword to Man & Superman show that he could not possibly adapt them to the "wonderful vitality" of the "religion of Muhammad".

Definitely one the "brights", the "smart set", deluded into believing that anything would be better than his own culture.

Anonymous kfg December 14, 2014 6:44 PM  

"His fore- and afterword to Man & Superman . . ."

I have always found his premise, that the tragedy of Man is that just as he is about to achieve maturity - he dies, to be sound.

His exposition of that premise is most peculiar. I find myself returning to it now and again to have a good head scratch.

Anonymous maniacprovost December 14, 2014 9:34 PM  

Sooo... the print on demand vendors take a lot more time and effort to use, compared to producing an e-book? Sounds like a business plan.

Blogger Shibes Meadow December 14, 2014 9:36 PM  

Mike M: You don't need to buy an e-reader. You can read ebooks on your phone. Just download the free Kindle app and you're in business.

I still prefer paper books, but ebooks are fine if that's all you can get (or afford). Watch out for DRM, though.

Blogger Markku December 15, 2014 3:29 AM  

Sooo... the print on demand vendors take a lot more time and effort to use, compared to producing an e-book? Sounds like a business plan.

I'd say about seven times the amount of time, and they also have setup costs and annual costs. The physical books are pretty unlikely to provide any profit. They exists only because the authors like them, and we have to keep the authors happy.

Every physical book we do, we do at a monetary loss, and the funds have to come from the ebooks.

Blogger Markku December 15, 2014 3:33 AM  

Or possibly five times as much now, that I've optimized the process somewhat from the first book.

Blogger Markku December 15, 2014 3:55 AM  

I'm already a bit frustrated by imagining the inevitable "why?" -questions.

So, let me level with you. I'm essentially Superman in this. The friggin' Uomo Universale of making these books. I happen to have a rare constellation of skills. On the one hand, you are expected to have gone to about four years of graphic design school to do this sort of a thing. To understand all those little things that make the difference between a Word document, and a professionally published book. And there are a lot of them. The normal person will look at the two, and know that something is a bit off in the former but cannot tell what.

Now, I didn't get a formal education in this, but, amazingly, I just happened to study it on my own. Without any idea that I'd ever have to use it. Simply because typography has almost sexual attraction to me. Don't ask. You wouldn't understand.

BUT! Producing a physical book that lives up to these standards the traditional way takes a LOT more than five times the time an ebook would. Probably more than twenty times, using traditional, graphical layout software.

Enter LaTeX. That's another thing that I just happened to study on my own, without knowing that those skills would ever be put to use. That saves absolutely huge amounts of time, but to really be able to massage the automatically generated LaTeX product into something that satisfies the expected graphical standards of a physical book, requires you to know all of the things you normally learn at school. To be able to see at a glance what's wrong with a page.

Through an amazing coincidence, I know both sides of this.

Do I have any actual confidence that someone will be able to take over the entire process from me, instead of just helping with certain mechanical parts of the process?

No. Just plain no. So, every physical book not only has a huge cost in terms of money and working hours, it has an opportunity cost due to me also doing Alpenwolf -related things.

Blogger Markku December 15, 2014 4:05 AM  

And after all the work is finally done and the final files are sent to the press, I can sit down, relax, and be happy with the knowledge that I have now made a monetary loss to my company. I can draw that delightful minus sign to the books.

Anonymous kfg December 15, 2014 4:49 AM  

Have you thought of trying to make it up on volume?

Blogger Markku December 15, 2014 5:38 AM  

Have I thought about selling more of our product? Well, I must say that the business plan has crossed my mind.

But what you need to understand is that the royalty we get per sold hardcover, or per sold ebook, is almost exactly the same, although the hardcoves is roughly five times as expensive to the customer. And they are both revenue of the same corporate unit. So, there is no difference from our perspective whatsoever, whether the customer buys a five dollar product, or a twenty five dollar one. And it just so happens that the five dollar product is immensely easier to market to the overwhelming majority of customers. So, that's where the effort goes.

Your next question will obviously be, why have we set our margin so small for the hardcover. Because that price is what the customer is used to, due to decades of history in selling books. There simply is no room to raise the unit cost. Almost all of the customer's money goes to the printing house and the shipping company, not to us or the author.

Anonymous kfg December 15, 2014 1:38 PM  

"But what you need to understand . . ."

. . . is that my comment is a play on an old joke.

"Yeah, I'm losing money on every unit, but I'm going to make it up in volume."

Anonymous Joe Author December 16, 2014 12:11 AM  

“It probably didn't surprise you to see…in America by a female minority.

No, it is NOT surprising. Absolutely expected…similar to “blue SF’s” authors touting their works as being “true” science fiction and lamenting how “their” genre is being infiltrated and poisoned.

Read what you want. Write what you want.


“The short answer is that the elite of our culture are not a high elite at all, but the low dregs.”

I would argue that the champions of “blue SF’s” AND the “pink SF’s” are the lowest dregs, equal to the task, with their penchant for labeling one another as “evil”, each claiming the moral high ground, both nose deep in their own confirmation bias. Elitism is the feature here, not the bug.

Read what you want. Write what you want.

Blogger Meiqing Xu July 22, 2015 9:14 PM  

15723meiqing
louis vuitton
louis vuitton outlet
coach factory outlet online
coach canada outlet
lebron 12
retro 11
ray ban uk
ray ban sunglasses outlet
louis vuitton outlet
burberry outlet
michael kors outlet
coach factorty outlet
kd shoes
polarized sunglasses
timberlands
coach outlet
hollister clothing store
louis vuitton handbags
ray ban sunglasses
gucci outlet
toms shoes
coach factory outlet
ray ban sunglasses uk
oakley vault
prada uk
gucci shoes
longchamp handbags
michael kors outlet online
jordan 13
longchamp bags
chanel handbags
abercrombie
burberry outlet online
kobe bryant shoes
hollister kids
abercrombie store
juicy couture
louis vuitton handbags
ralph lauren polo shirts
lv outlet

Post a Comment

Rules of the blog
Please do not comment as "Anonymous". Comments by "Anonymous" will be spammed.

<< Home

Newer Posts Older Posts