Alt Left: In Russian Lore, Ukraine Has Always Been the Land of Thieves, Bandits, and Savagery

Polar Bear: East of Dniper or Galicia was bandit land in Russian lore? I think you mean West of Dniper. This is fascinating, so I’d like to be 100% sure.

He didn’t say, but I assumed he was talking about the area west of the Dniper. It was in a novel written around 1917 by Bulgakov, and the East was only stuck onto Ukraine by Lenin in 1917, so no way is he talking about the East because that was never Ukraine. It was always just Russia. Those are Bulgakov’s words from his novel.

Also, the soil in the West is low in iodine and iodine deficiency affects the brain, lowering IQ. A lot of the anti-Bandera people say the people to the West of Kiev are retards, and that is due to the low iodine in their food.

Between the Dniper and Kiev is Central Ukraine. It’s in between the Nazi West and the Russian East. There’s a difference between west of the Dniper, which it all is, and west of Kiev, which only part of is. But Central Ukraine is full of thieving oligarchs too. That’s where (((Kolomoisky))) comes from. Central Ukraine is Ukrainian and quite anti-Russian but not as fanatically anti-Russian as the West.

What I’m Reading

Mostly just lots of short stories these days. They’re all considered classic literature. One book is a set of French short stories by writers who are considered to write classic literature.

The French book was published in 1960, so we are dealing with dated material here, all over 60 years old:

Charles Baudelaire: Paris Spleen (1869). “Prose poems or proems,” an odd literary form. Very nice. I have read The Flowers of Evil (both are books of poetry), and I cannot recommend them highly enough, especially Le Fleurs du Mal. French Symbolist literature, or more properly, Decadent literature, from the late 1800’s. He hung out with Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud and Stéphane Mallarmé, all of them haunting Parisian bars in drunken ecstasy.

He as actually straight, unlike some of those other guys who were homosexuals. He was sickly, nuts, erratic, a drug-addict, flake, dilettante, gambler, spendthrift, and heavy drinker who lived his whole life in poverty. He attempted suicide once. Dead at 46. Marcel Proust said Baudelaire was the greatest poet of the 19th Century. He was also praised by Edmund Wilson and T. S. Eliot, who actually referred to himself as a “Baudelarian.” He  was claimed by both conservatives and liberals. On the left, Walter Benjamin praised him.

Francois Mauriac: The Grand-Lebrun (1933). First thing I ever read by this guy. Has a James Joyce feel about it, especially Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.

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In the other book, published in 1968, so these stories are all over 50 years old:

Anton Chekhov: Misery (1885) and Rothschild’s Fiddle (1894). These are better than either of the French stories. This is the first Chekhov I have read. He’s 19th Century Russia, so I warn you, these stories, like most Russian lit from that time, are depressing and gloomy as Hell. Someone either dies, has just died, or will soon die, or all three at once. Nevertheless, his style is truly amazing and heartrendingly beautiful and sad. He is said to be one of the masters of the short story.

Ernest Hemingway: Big Two-Hearted River (1925). This one also is almost perfect. Classic Hemingway understated yet perfect prose. He doesn’t waste a sentence or probably a word. His writing is based on the Iceberg Theory. I’ve also read a number of his novels A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, and The Sun Also Rises. I also read Death in the Afternoon (nonfiction) along with In Our Time and Men without Women, short story collections.

William Faulkner: Dry September (1930). Nice little story, terrible subject matter. He catches the South in all of its casual brutality. I also read Light in August, and it is excellent. Can’t recommend it enough. It’s written a lot in stream of consciousness, so you have to pay attention to whose mind he is in and who’s talking at the time. Also a lot of it is in dialect.

Vladimir Nabokov: First Love (1943). This story is just gorgeous, but it’s not an easy read at all. He’s one of my favorite writers ever, truly one of the greats. However, he is not an easy read at all. Like Hemingway, his work is full of hidden details, references, clues, puns, on and on. I’m not sure if it’s possible for the non-intellectual to read his stuff on an entertainment level.

I’ve also read Lolita and Bend Sinister. Both are good, but Lolita, the story of a pedophile (or hebephile) child molester and relationship with the extremely precocious, gum-smacking 12 year old sexpot Lolita, is out of this world, one of the greatest books of the 20th Century. I do know that it can be read on different levels though, and even at a basic level, it is incredible. If you wish to go hunting for the endless Easter eggs peppered all through this symbolism-shot book, you can do that too. If you haven’t read it, do so. Don’t worry about the disturbing subject matter. It’s something we talk about all the time anyway. We just don’t talk about it like this.

Richard Wright: The Man Who Lived Underground (1944). This is the first I have read of this author, the famous Black writer of the classic Native Son, which I probably need to read sometime. He’s very angry and all of his writing is about racism and Whites’ unjust treatment of Blacks. His writing is cold, vicious, cruel, and often horribly violent. But if you can handle him, he’s quite good. And to be fair, Blacks were treated terribly back when he was writing.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: EPICAC (1950) and Next Door (1955). Both of these were great! Both of them are as good as a Chekhov or Borges short story, and that’s the gold standard. There’s often a wild twist at the end.

I’ve read quite a few books of his. I’ve read Breakfast of Champions or Goodbye Blue Monday!; Cat’s Cradle; God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Pearls Before Swine; Happy Birthday, Wanda June; Mother Night; Player Piano; Sirens of Titan; Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death, all novels. I’ve also read Welcome to the Monkey House, a book of short stories (now rereading it). In addition, I read Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons (Opinions), nonfiction.

Vonnegut is very nice. He’s quite simple and anyone can read him. But his work is nevertheless absolutely brilliant. Because it’s so simplistic, there’s a tendency to see him as overrated, until you read him again and you realize just how brilliant he really is. If you like easy reading, I’d recommend any of the books above. They’re entertaining and funny, too, often in a self-deprecatory way. As a person, he was a huge asshole to just about everyone, but again, that’s not unusual with these genius types. They’re out to lunch in a lot of ways, and socially can be one of them.

Carson McCullers: The Sojourner and The Jockey (both 1955). First I have read of her too. Interesting writer. Sort of Hemingway-like, understated stuff. Overtones of melancholy.

James Allen McPherson: On Trains (1961). I had never even heard of this author before and at first I thought it was just the author trying to be antiracist by throwing in some Black (or other designated oppressed minority) author to get woke points. I was shocked. He’s excellent. If you like Black writers, check this guy out.

He writes about race a lot, but in a subtle, understated, matter of fact way, sort of like Faulkner. But he also deals with the reality of Black-White sexual relationships, which was probably controversial in his day. When he went to Yale, he had already experienced quite a bit of racism, but he seemed more philosophical and “I’m going to show those White boys how good I am” about it. He’s not nearly as militant and angry as Wright.

John Updike: A & P (1962) and The Doctor’s Wife (1962). A & P is one of the all-time greats. Then again, not much happens. But that’s true of the best short stories of all.

Consider For Esme, with Love and Squalor by J. D. Salinger. What happens? Not a whole lot. But it’s one of the best short stories of its time. And Updike is rather like Salinger in that way. His writing is very subtle and to figure it out properly, you need to get down below the basic writing to figure out what he’s really getting at. He shows. He doesn’t tell.

And dialogue is very important. He deals well with shades of emotion, feeling, and mental states that are often pretty hard  for us to put our fingers on, and we would probably deny them even if we could. There can be a sense of lost opportunity or hypocrisy. His male characters are often gross sexists.

Misogyny is often apparent. I’m reading a recent novel of his, Towards the End of Time, and the same thing is going on. In many cases, this has to do with the author’s relationships with his ex-wives. But the lyrical Melvillean prose dancing off the pages of of this much later novel is joyous to read just for style alone..

I also read Hugging The Shore, a book of his book reviews and literary criticism. It was very good.

Donald Barthelme: Margins (1961) and See the Moon? (1966). This is literally some of the strangest and weirdest fiction I’ve ever read. It’s like this new fiction style called Weird. That’s about the only way to describe it. However, as an author, he is absolutely brilliant in a lot of different ways. You wonder how one man carried all this knowledge and insight in his 10 pound brain. I liked these stories, but they sure were weird all right. Plus which not much happens, but apparently that’s the idea.

I’ve read Amateurs; Come Back, Dr. Caligari; Forty Stories; Great Days; Sadness; Sixty Stories; Snow White; and Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts, all short story collections. There was a time in the 80’s when I was binging on that stuff.

Jorge Luis Borges: The Secret Miracle (1962) and Funes the Memorious (1967). Borges is the great Argentine writer, one of the best writers of the last century. Nevertheless, he’s not for everyone and he’s a bit hard to get into. This writing is similar to Barthelme’s, but it is on a whole different level. It has been called magical realism. It has been called a lot of things. But there is no writing quite like it anywhere else.

It’s a bit like Gabriel Garcia Marquez of 100 Years of Solitude fame. After all, they are both South Americans and magical realism was birthed on the continent. He’s also rather like Ray Bradbury in terms of showing us fantastic and otherworldly visions of our world which are at once our own world and then again, something else entirely. I’ve always felt there was a bit of Franz Kafka in there too. There’s often a sense of tragedy in his writing, and usually someone dies. Death is always waiting around the corner. I’ve Ficciones and Labyrinths, both short story collections, during my time at university from 1978-1981.

John Barth: Life-Story (1968). John Barth wrote in The Literature of Exhaustion in 1967 that the novel form was used up and there was not much to do anymore as it had all already been done. It caused quite a stir on the lit scene. It appeared around the time that Roland Barthes, a literary critic, wrote The Death of the Author. Both are considered to be seminal texts in the emerging movement of postmodernism. Much literary criticism now continues to echo Barthes in positioning “author” and “reader” as completely different battling entities. It spends a lot of time mining the interplay between the two.

In 1980, he wrote The Literature of Replenishment in which he singled out Borges and Nabokov (see above) as two writers who were indeed doing new things with the novel instead of the same old same old.

Barth’s writing is self-consciously postmodern. After The Floating Opera and The End of the Road, things started getting weird. He became known for metafiction, that is fiction about the writing of fiction. The “writer” of whatever piece you are reading will often make an appearance, say a few things, and disappear.

Perhaps he will remind you that you’re only reading a book. Perhaps he will say that the story you are reading is really a story about an author writing a story. Which is about an author writing a story. And on and on. Get the picture? He was the first professor of Creative Writing in the US in 1953, although that is hard to believe. Now these departments are everywhere and all of their graduates are churning out at least a novel or two. To say we are swamped is an understatement.

His writing is full of a lot of self-conscious talk about novel-writing, how to write a novel, the components of a novel, the various ways one can choose in which to write a novel, the levels on which you can write them, characterization, plot, background, conflict, on and on. He often starts talking about this right in the middle of your reading, so you are reading along and then this “author” guy pops up and tells you there’s going to be a big plot change coming up ahead, so get ready for it. It’s weird and jarring but it’s very interesting.

This stuff is very hard to read and can be quite confusing at times. It’s also frustrating. But if you like to bend your mind a bit, this is a good place to do it.

I have read The Sot Weed Factor. That’s considered to be his best book.

You either like this writer or you don’t. I assure you that he is absolutely brilliant. But he’s not for everyone and some may find him a bore or end up throwing the book at the wall. Caveat emptor.

Saul Bellow: “A Father to Be” (1953): Interesting little story. In his early novels and short stories, the wild goings-on in the heads of his characters, who all have very rich and complex fantasy and emotional lives, is matched by the world, which is about as strange and active as the material in their heads. This can be seen in Dangling Man, The Victim, and even in The Adventures of Augie March and Seize the Day. After that, things start getting really weird and the outside world or the plots start veering way off course from the character’s inner lives. The mismatch between the two offers a lot of the conflict.

I have read Humbolt’s Gift at university, but I found it a bit of a chore honestly, and it was also rather boring. But then, I was 22, so hey. Maybe if I read it again at my age, I might get a lot more out of it.

It’s about the poet Delmore Schwartz, whose live was as wild as his poems. He wrote Under Milkwood, a Play for Voices. I’d never read it but maybe it’s not supposed to be read with your eyes. Maybe as the title implies, it’s supposed to be heard with your ears. I heard it on the radio one and the genius and brilliance of it was almost impossible to fathom. It was as good as Ulysses. Really. I don’t even know how he did it? How can one man do such a thing.

He drank himself to death at an early age like so many of these guys do. The story is he went to a bar and asked how many drinks he would have to drink to die and people at the bar estimated 17. So he proceeded to then drink precisely 18 drinks of alcohol. You know how this story ends, right? He died. Call it a suicide. Or a parasuicide. Anyway, it’s a typical way for this types, men as well as women, to take their final sleep.

I think the most common cause of death in poets must be suicide. And so many of them are depressives or manic-depressives. But it’s a fine line between creativity and mental illness and that’s why so many of us artistic types are so nutty. Yeah, I consider myself an artsy type. If I’m not, sue me. Anyway, it’s a great excuse for being crazy!

Also, an unbelievable number of poets are more or less gay. A lot of the women are lesbian or bi and often dykey or mannish. Gay male poets are almost a stereotype. But then the link between the Arts and Homosexuality was noted as far back as Antiquity. Some have even suggested that should a cure for homosexuality or genetic testing show up, we might want to keep gays around just for their creativity. As with so many questions of some but not great importance, I’m inclined to leave that up in the air or for the Gods to work out, which is basically the same thing.

A while back I was going through a bunch of poets because I had nothing better to do with my time and I kept running into this Gay-Suicide-Poet thing. A lot of the women’s dykeyness was turning me off, and I was terribly sad to find out that some of my favorite male authors were batting for the other team.

Then I achieved an epiphany. I don’t really if so many of these poets are faggots, dykes, and suicides or some combination of first two and the third, their lives were worth it and glorious and beautiful and perfect just for leaving us that sublime silver prose that sings off the pages as we read it. They did not die in vain. And perhaps there’s a place in the world for folks  like that. It takes all types to fill the freeways.

Alt Left: Sexism and Misogyny in Famous Modern Male Authors

The feminists hate Ernest Hemingway and call him a sexist macho pig, but that’s a bum rap. His women are often very good, and it’s not uncommon that they are stronger than the men. In fact, a lot of his men are rather weak and pussy-whipped and the woman is wearing the pants. Considering Hemingway’s macho demeanor, this is odd.

Philip Roth has a reputation for drawing shrewish, screeching harpies for his female characters. Presumably, his wives or ex-wives figure into this. However, an ex-wife of his was interviewed and she said he was more boring that sexist or misogynistic. He wrote a solid four hours a day and then spent eight hours reading literary fiction. 12 hours a day, all used up. He was pretty much inaccessible during those periods. Roth was also a massive narcissist, but that’s not uncommon in famous male writers. Come to think of it, a lot of male artists of all kinds are narcissistic. Sort of goes with the territory.

Saul Bellow had a similar reputation when he wrote about wives and ex-wives, but he married four times. I think it’s a bit of a bum rap in his case.

Henry Miller was grotesquely and ridiculously misogynistic. He was the classic misogynistic player who spent his life drowning in pussy even though he was a huge asshole and he was pretty mean to boot. Anais Nin, who was very close to him, once called him on his misogyny, and he protested that he loved women, after all, he was surrounded by them all the time. But all misogynistic playboys are like this. They look down on or possibly even hate women, don’t treat them well, and women reward these semi-sociopathic misogynists by drowning them in pussy.

There’s also the player or womanizer who loves women or ladies’ man. He simply can’t get enough of them and even prefers to spend his time with women instead of men. He even thinks like a woman, somewhat. He’s often very goodlooking and he’s a bit softer than the other kind. He doesn’t treat women very well either, but he does love them.

Bukowski was a serious misogynist. A drunken raging creep. I remember one interview in his home where he drunkenly picked up a chair and hurled it at whichever Young Woman Writer Groupie Du Jour was staying with him, and he added in a ton of abuse. And she hadn’t done much to deserve it. In addition, he was a proud alcoholic and he was also probably the ugliest man that ever lived, yet he got lots of women his whole life. Go figure.

William S. Burroughs

A lot of people really hate this writer. He’s gay as Hell and his books are just drenched with the grossest scenes of gay male sex. It’s a bit hard to take. With regard to the latter stuff, I used to just sort of skim over them though. They didn’t really bother me. It wasn’t so much gross as I simply felt nothing at all. It was like I was reading something boring about water.

I’ve always felt this way about gay stuff. I saw naked boys in the shower room every day in high school for years. Of course I used to look at them sometimes, more out of curiosity than anything else. I was wondering if guys turned me on. I already knew that females turned me on like crazy. They were on my mind 24-7 back then, and it’s barely let up since. But sometimes you wonder if you want to double your chances of getting a date on Saturday night, you know?

Mostly I was sort of phobic around those male bodies, and I think the other guys might have been too. You would be showering and changing around all these guys, and you pretended you didn’t see them. It was like they weren’t there. I don’t think a gay boy could do that. I looked at boy’s bodies in the showers. I felt nothing at all. Looked at them changing next to me. Felt nothing at all. It’s always been like that.

I wonder how other straight guys feel about being around naked men. Most of us don’t really like it, and it tends to make us uncomfortable, though it probably shouldn’t. Do other men feel disgusted looking at guys’ bodies, or do they feel uncomfortable, yucky, and phobic? Or do they just feel zero, nothing, zip, nada, nope, nothing there at all.

Nevertheless, I always loved Burroughs’ prose. He was one of great writers of the later half of the 20th Century, and he was conceivably a genius. There is something about the style and themes of his writing. He was a master. I remember in The Western Lands where there’s this part when they are on some centipede expedition in the jungle of South America. This goes on for 20-30 pages. All of Burroughs’ genius and style vanishes, and now he is writing the way any ordinary guy with ordinary writing skills writes: good enough but not particularly well. And he keeps this up for 20-30 pages, never missing a beat, all in this lower, less competent register. It was simply amazing.

Burroughs is widely read by straight guys. He’s one of the few gay writers who has an audience outside the gay ghetto other than Gide, Proust, Wilde, Mann, Forster and the other old guys. But they didn’t write about homosexuality much, so they were easier to take.

He was also a king of the beats, so everyone who was into the beat movement read him.

I’m not sure about the hippie movement, but it wasn’t unusual to find a stoned-out long-haired young man in his 20’s backpacking across Europe with a copy of Nova Express in his pack in the 1970’s. It was almost a cliche, you know?

Burroughs was always hip.

And when punk rock came around, all of the punks loved him, and he quickly became king of the punks for whatever reason. His novels were rechristened as punk novels.

I don’t think he’s much read anymore, and the gay sex along with the horrible violence and depictions of death and other disgusting things makes his books a very hard read. The books are also drenched with drugs and crime. A lot of his characters are drug users, often junkies, and criminals of various types from thieves all the way up to the big guys. The books are full of street slang and criminal cant.

I’d say Burroughs is still read, by those who can bear him, let’s put it that way. There’s been an attempt by the gays to “gay ghetto” him like they do to all of their kind, but it didn’t work. Homosexuality is not a very important part of those books anyway. It’s certainly not why I read them.

He received much praise. Norman Mailer said he was

The only American author who could be conceived of having genius.

Samuel Beckett didn’t talk about other writers once, but he was once asked about Burroughs. The day was long and the light was going out of the room. As it got darker, Beckett didn’t turn on any lights or do anything to let more light in. The room just got dimmer and gloomier while he seemed to relish in this change. Of course that’s just like his books.

William Burroughs? William Burroughs is…a writer.

Like a real writer. The real deal. The real McCoy. To be good enough to be called a real writer by Beckett was an accomplishment.

He had great taste in literature, and he read all the time. I recall one interview when they asked him what he was reading:

“Well, Conrad (Joseph Conrad) of course. And Proust (Marcel Proust). I always read Proust. And Chesterton (G.K. Chesterton).

I would say you can see the influence of Conrad for sure in his prose. I can’t say much about the other two because I’ve never read Proust, and I’ve only dipped into a bit of Chesterton, a short nonfiction book he wrote very early in his career in 1903 about 19th Century poet Robert Browning, noted for his difficulty. The book is called Robert Browning.

What’s interesting is that all of those men wrote from 1890-1930, probably 50-80 years before the interviewer asked Burroughs that question. Of course those are three of the greats of the 20th Century, but when you ask someone what they’ve been reading, how often do they list any of those three? How often would they have listed those three when that question was asked of Burroughs, probably in the 1980’s? Same answer. No one reads any of those writers, not anymore, anyway.

On the down side, Burroughs also hated women. He was not afraid to say so, either. This is not unusual in gay men, especially in the more masculine ones like Burroughs. They simply don’t like women. This type of gay man is a lot more common than you think.

Here’s a bit of his prose:

They lounged around Singapore and Rangoon smoking opium in yellow pongee suits. They sniffed cocaine in Mayfair and they penetrated forbidden swamps with a faithful native boy and lived in the native quarter of Tangier smoking hashish and languidly caressing a pet gazelle.

– William S. Burroughs, from an essay written in 1985.

Isn’t that just perfect, glorious, and beautiful? I love the way those sentences slide across the page. I like the way the scenes jolt around from one faraway place to another within a single sentence. It’s like we took a world tour in two sentences.

Alt Left: Fate Versus Necessity or Free Will Versus Determinism: Why Moby-Dick Is One of the Greatest Books of the Last 200 Years

The three greatest novels in the English language in the last 170 years are the following:

Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.
Ulysses, by James Joyce.
Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon.

I’ve read the first and the last and only read a tiny bit of the second. However, I have read Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man twice, and I’ve also read Dubliners, his collection of short stories. Both are highly recommended. I’ve dipped into Finnegans Wake, but it makes no sense to me, sorry. Nevertheless a copy sits on my shelf for the last 40 years, mocking me for being too stupid to understand it.

Of the first, I have also read Bartleby the Scrivener, a novella. Highly recommended.

Of the third author, I have also read three of his other novels V., The Crying of Lot 49, and Vineland. I’ve also read a collection of short stories called Slow Learner, a nonfiction piece called A Journey into the Mind of Watts, and a couple of book reviews.

If you have read anything by any of these three authors or have anything to say about any of them, feel free to let us know in the comments.

If you want to know why Moby Dick makes the list, simply consider this passage below, which also has echoes in much of Pynchon’s writing. It’s pretty incredible that he was writing like this in 1851. I can now understand much more of what he was getting at than when I first read this. As a hint, replace “necessity,” the 19th Century use of which correlates to our determinism.

I suppose Wikipedia should explain it pretty well, but fate, mixed with a notion of genetics, biology, universal culture, the constancy and cycles of history, human nature itself, and Natural Law, or the laws of God on this planet, all play a role. Positioned against determinism is the wild card of free will, about which endless discussions flow, mostly about just how much of it we have anyway.

The nature/nurture debate comes in here too, but nature can be as determined as biology, though I object to the strong determinist theory about life events.

All sorts of different events effect all sorts of different people in all sorts of different ways, often having to do with your culture. For instance, we now have behaviors which for 99% of human history were considered completely normal and non-pathological. These things happened to people, and everyone assumed it was the same state of affairs, so no one was especially damaged in any particular way, since claiming you were damaged by completely normal behavior makes you seem like a kook.

Now, this behavior, which never damaged a single human ever, is seen to be, in a deterministic sense, completely damaging in the same way to all who undergo it, and furthermore, the damage is permanent and lifelong. This behavior that was considered harmless when I was growing up 40 years ago is now thought to cause horrendous damage. Whole industries are set up to deal with the fake damage caused by this harmless behavior.

Humans are not real complex.

You tell people an experience is completely normal, and most will think of it as such, even if it is traumatizing.

You take the same behavior and tell the same people that is now terribly damaging for the rest of your life, and you now produce millions of people with fake damage from a harmless behavior.

Now this damage is quite real, but we must note that the person only got damaged because you told them it was damaging! The person experienced the behavior, thought little of it, the behavior was uncovered, everyone around the person screamed about what a terrible and traumatic crime had been done to them that would cause them horrible damage, and the person simply decided of their own free will to create damage in themselves. But even this is somewhat determined because it’s determined by society, as the free will with which they created their own damage was in a sense determined by society.

True free will is a wild card and does not exit. It says I can walk out into the world and do anything I am capable of and have people react the way I want them to. That won’t happen now, and it never would have in the past. Further, many of the things I think I should be good at, I’m not good at anymore, probably because my behavior has become determined as a result of whatever biology and experience has done to my brain, which has created a rather limiting brain that is pretty limited in the behaviors it can pull off and get away with. I’m hamstrong by genes and biology. I don’t have free will at all. I can’t do what I want.

Anyway, this is something like what Melville was getting at here, a long 170 years ago, and it shows why his book makes my best three list for the last 200 years:

I was the attendant or page of Queequeg, while busy at the mat.

As I kept passing and repassing the filling or woof of marline between the long yarns of the warp, using my own hand for the shuttle, and as Queequeg, standing sideways, ever and anon slid his heavy oaken sword between the threads, and idly looking off upon the water, carelessly and unthinkingly drove home every yarn: I say so strange a dreaminess did there then reign all over the ship and all over the sea, only broken by the intermitting dull sound of the sword, that it seemed as if this were the Loom of Time, and I myself were a shuttle mechanically weaving and weaving away at the Fates.

There lay the fixed threads of the warp subject to but one single, ever returning, unchanging vibration, and that vibration merely enough to admit of the crosswise interblending of other threads with its own. This warp seemed necessity; and here, thought I, with my own hand I ply my own shuttle and weave my own destiny into these unalterable threads.

Meantime, Queequeg’s impulsive, indifferent sword, sometimes hitting the woof slantingly, or crookedly, or strongly, or weakly, as the case might be; and by this difference in the concluding blow producing a corresponding contrast in the final aspect of the completed fabric; this savage’s sword, thought I, which thus finally shapes and fashions both warp and woof; this easy, indifferent sword must be chance – aye, chance, free will, and necessity – no wise incompatible – all interweavingly working together.

The straight warp of necessity, not to be swerved from its ultimate course – its every alternating vibration, indeed, only tending to that; free will still free to ply her shuttle between given threads; and chance, though restrained in its play within the right lines of necessity, and sideways in its motions directed by free will, though thus prescribed to by both, chance by turns rules either, and has the last featuring blow at events.

Thus we were weaving and weaving away when I started at a sound so strange, long drawn, and musically wild and unearthly, that the ball of free will dropped from my hand, and I stood gazing up at the clouds whence that voice dropped like a wing. High aloft in the cross-trees was that mad Gay-Header, Tashtego. His body was reaching eagerly forward, his hand stretched out like a wand, and at brief sudden intervals he continued his cries.

To be sure the same sound was that very moment perhaps being heard all over the seas, from hundreds of whalemen’s look-outs perched as high in the air; but from few of those lungs could that accustomed old cry have derived such a marvelous cadence as from Tashtego the Indian’s.

As he stood hovering over you half suspended in air, so wildly and eagerly peering towards the horizon, you would have thought him some prophet or seer beholding the shadows of Fate, and by those wild cries announcing their coming. There she blows! there! there! there! she blows! she blows!”

Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville (1951)

How Art Creates Beauty of the Most Horrible Things

Art is capable, perhaps uniquely so, in finding beauty or maybe better yet “perfection” in the sense of “excellence” in most horrible things. The ending of Moby Dick and Gravity’s Rainbow (two of the greatest books of the last 200 years) both come to mind. Both end with a terrible death, in the former of an entire crew of a whale-hunting ship and in the latter of a hapless boy strapped into a V-2 missile to be shot by the Germans at Pennemunde at London in 1944.

In a more modern sense, we can see this in Tarentino’s movies, where he portrays a stylized form of aestheticized violence that is both beautiful, terrible and “perfect.” I mean perfect or “excellent” in its “beauty” in a Platonic sense of the Greek word arete.

Aesthetics, the Philosophy or Art, Beauty, and Taste

The section of philosophy that deals with beauty, what it is, what it means, how to define it, its purpose, etc. is called Aesthetics. This school of thought was probably started by Plato. The actual study of Aesthetics itself dates from Hegel.

In the 19th Century, John Rusk made some great contributions to the genre in his works on art or art criticism. Kant, Nietzsche, Confucius and the Buddha all had important things to say on this subject, so you can see that the philosophical discussion of beauty extends to theology too, as Buddhism and Confucianism are seen as marriages of philosophy and religion or, I would argue, using Heideggerian language, “philosophy-as-religion.” Hume and Kant both linked art to the ability to produce pleasure in its consumer.

John Keats argued in Ode on a Grecian Urn that truth was beauty and vice versa, so here Tarantino’s hyper-realized violence is beautiful in part in its sheer graphic nature. In Hinduism, Satyam Shivam Sundaram makes the same statement – “Truth is God and God is Beautiful.” This sense of art as truth + beauty could be called a “mathematical conception of art” as we see in concepts like complexity, simplicity, and symmetry (symmetry in particular seems linked to art and beauty both) that mathematics itself can be both artistic and beautiful.

In the modern era, Freud  (the “Uncanny”, John Dewey (connection between art and ethics), Theodore Adorno (the Culture Industry), Marshall McLuhan (making the invisible visible), and in particular Arthur Danto (modern art as kalliphobia or anti-beauty), Andre Malraux and Walter Benjamin (the Renaissance and recent definition of art and beauty).

Modern Philosophy as the “Progression” from the Intelligible to the Unintelligible

Lyotard, Merle-Ponty, and Lacan are as usual much less intelligible. If we can see philosophy as the development of a social science, it seems to be “developing” from intelligibility towards unintelligibility. Kant and Nietzsche started it, Sartre turned it into an art form, and in the modern era, philosophy has ceased to have much of any meaning at all. See the French School starting in the 1970’s. The object here is apparently to make as little sense as possible.

A Few More Longest Books

Susan Howatch “The Wheel of Fortune” (1,171 pages). Fantasy.

Brandon Sanderson “Rhythm of War” (1,232 pages). Fantasy. Helped to complete Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” novel cycle.

Roger Zelazny “The Great Book of Amber” (1,258 pages). Fantasy series but often seen as a single work and sold as such.

C .S. Lewis “Chronicles of Narnia” (1,288 pages) – Very famous, often considered one book and sold as such.

John Dos Passos “The U.S.A. Trilogy” (1,288 pages) – An all-time classic from 100 years ago, very popular with the Paris crowd around Hemingway, Joyce, Pound, and Gertrude Stein. Often considered a single book and sold as such.

Isaac Asimov “The Foundation” (2,680 pages) – A few books in this group, as in the title work, are very famous. Often considered a single work and sold as such.

That’s all I can think of right now. I will see if I can come up with some more.

 

What Are the Longest Novels?

From the Wikipedia page here.

Interesting discussion on the Talk Pages. Here is their criteria:

From the article: What counts as a novel is another variable. For the purposes of the list, a “novel” is defined as a single work in print or electronic form that has been published through a mainstream publisher and that has acquired publishing rights from authors. A “single work” includes works thought of as one novel by the author but published in multiple volumes for reasons of convenience.

Excluded are self-published, printed-on-demand, and vanity works, unpublished novels like Henry Darger’s, novel sequences like the Chronicles of Barsetshire, novel cycles such as those set in the James Bond universe, and record-grabbing stunts written solely for the title of the longest work.

In addition, there is no bottom limit for page count, but anything over 1,300 pages is bound to get on the list and many above 1,100 pages will make it on. Instead, the criteria is word count, and a novel needs a word count of over 500,000 words to get on the list. Which rules out a lot of doorstops like Pynchon’s novels.

Problem here is that they have allowed many novel sequences and novel cycles on their list while saying novel sequences are banned. Well, which is it?

For instance, the list includes the following novel sequences of novel cycles:

James Fenimore Cooper “Leatherstocking Tales.”Probably the first novel sequence from the 1820’s.

Thomas Mann “Joseph and His Brothers.”

Anthony Powell “A Dance to the Music of Time.” His masterpiece.

Henry Williamson “Chronicles of Ancient Sunlight.”

Marcel Proust, “À la Recherche du Temps Perdu or Remembrance of Things Past.”A roman-fleueve. his masterpiece, in fact, he wrote little else.

Jules Romains, “Les Hommes de Vonne Volonté or Mean of Good Humor.” A roman-fleueve. His masterpiece.

Roland Romain, “Jean-Chistophe”. A roman-fleuve. His masterpiece.

All of these are listed on the Wikipedia page about novel sequences, novel cycles, and roman-fleuves. Roman-fleuve was coined by Romains about his novel, “Men of Good Will.” It means “river-novel.” Proust’s work is considered a classic example of a roman-fleuve.

I think they need to make up their minds. Either allow all novel sequences or ban all novel sequences. Right now they are allowing novel sequences, except in cases where you are disallowing them! You can’t do that.

So I set about thinking up all of the novel sequences, novel cycles, roman-fleueve, and long standalone novels I could think of and this is what I came up with. Of course I had to look up how many pages (to see if they should be included, or if so, the number of pages) or in a few cases how many words they had.

If they are going to allow the seven novel sequences above, the works below ought to be considered as additions to the list if the word count is high enough.

List follows. Let me know if you can think of any more.

******

Novel series, novel cycles, and roman-fleuves:

Mervyn Peake, “The Gormenghast Novels” (1,173 pages). Fantasy.

John Galsworthy “The Forsyte Saga” (1,200 pages). Classic, listed as a family saga, the predecessor to the roman-fleuves

Eirik Gumeny, “The End of Everything Forever” (1,233 pages).

Doris Lessing “Canopus in Argos: Archives” (1,288 pages). Science fiction.

A. N. Wilson “Lampitt Papers” (1,300 pages).

Naguib Mahfouz “The Cairo Trilogy” (1,313 pages). Classic set in Egypt.

David Eddings “The Malloreon” (1,346 pages). Fantasy epic considered one work.

Lawrence Durrell, “Avignon Quintet” (1,350 pages). A classic.

Georges Dahumal, “Chronique des Pasquier” (1,400 pages in French). Listed as a roman-fleuve.

Yukio Mishima “The Sea of Fertility” (1,400 pages). Another classic.

Ford Madox Ford “Parade’s End” (1,500 pages). A classic, written 100 years ago.

Grant Morrison, “The Invisibles” (1,536 pages).

Jan Kjærstad “Jonas Wergeland trilogy” (1,536 pages). Modern Norwegian work.

Olivia Manning “The Fortunes of War” (1,611 pages). Classic, often referred to as a single work, her masterpiece.

David Eddings “The Belgariad” (1,635 pages). Wiki describes it as a “a five-book fantasy epic,” which implies a single work.

John Updike “Rabbit Angstrom” (1,650 pages). Classic.

John Crowley “Ægypt Cycle” (1,700 pages).

Arnold Bennett “The Clayhanger Family” (1,703 pages). Listed as a family saga – the precursor to the roman-fleuves. Famous series from 100 years ago.

Roger du Gard “The Thibaults” (1,879 pages). The Thibault books were not meant to be read as standalones and the series is listed as a roman-fleuve. Very famous classic, his masterpiece.

Henryk Sienkiewicz “The Trilogy” (1,913 words). Classic Polish work, his masterpiece.

Pramoedya Ananta Toer “The Buru Quartet” (1,995 page). A novel cycle, not a novel series. Indonesian.

Paul Scott “Raj Quartet” (2,000 pages).

Dorothy Richardson “Pilgrimage” (2,002 pages). Well-known British classic from 100 years ago.

Doris Lessing “Children of Violence” (2,200 pages).

Meg Cabot “The Princess Diaries” (2,400 pages). Children’s book.

Sergei Lukyanenko “Watch Series” (2,457 pages). Fantasy novel cycle, all part of a single story.

Larry McMurty “The Lonesome Dove Series” (2,624 pages). Classic Westerns, possibly seen as a single book, follows the same characters through the series.

Neal Stephenson “The Baroque Cycle” (2,628 pages and 1.1 million words). Modern and well-known science fiction, conceived of beforehand as a single work.

Compton MacKenzie “The Four Winds of Love” (2,836 pages and 1 million words). A forgotten classic from ~1940. A masterpiece considered be a fictional chronicle meant to be taken together and seen as a whole, compared to Proust’s book;

David Eddings “Belgariad and Malloreon” (3,000 pages). Considered two parts of a single work. A modern fantasy cycle.

Peter F. Hamilton “The Night’s Dawn Trilogy” (3,000 pages and 1.2 million words). Modern fantasy epic.

C. P. Snow “Strangers and Brothers” (3,040 pages). Arguably a single work, narrated by a single character. His most famous work.

Ken Follett “Pillars of the Earth” (3,049 pages). Historical novel.

Gore Vidal, “Narratives of Empire” (3,320 pages). Historical novel, considered to be a single work. Follows two families through time

Anthony Trollope “Chronicles of Barsetshire” (3,403 pages). Very famous classic from the late 1800’s.

Tad Williams “Otherland” (3,500 pages). Fantasy.

Louis Aragon “Le Monde Reel” (3,900 pages). Roman-fleuve, considered a single work.

Anthony Trollope “Palliser novels” (4,184 pages). Also famous work from the 1800’s.

Steven King “Dark Tower (4,250 pages and 1,278,088 words). Horror, can be seen as a single work.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn “The Red Wheel” (4,769 pages for 7/8 of the series, mostly in English, one volume in Russian). Very famous, not completely translated yet, arguably intended by the author to be a single work. His masterpiece.

George R. R. Martin “A Song of Ice and Fire” (5,600 pages and 1,736,054 words). Modern fantasy classic, very famous, conceived as a single work. It was only broken up into sections to make it easier to read;

Patrick O’Brien “The Aubrey-Martin Series” (7,000 pages). Very famous and well-loved books about seamen, roman-fleuve along the lines of Proust, also generally seen as a single work.

Emile Zola “Les Rougon-Macquart” (7,717 pages). Extremely famous French classic from 150 years ago, a family saga or novel cycle, the precursor to the roman-fleuve.

Benito Pérez Galdós “Episodios Nacionales” (8,560 pages in Spanish).  Generally considered to be a single work and listed as a single work in five volumes by Wikipedia.

Robert Jordan “The Wheel of Time” (9,685 pages and 3,430,682 words) Very well-known modern fantasy, arguably a single work.

*******

For standalone novels, it should be a lot easier. These ought to be considered for the list if the word count is high enough.

*******

Standalone novels:

Colleen McCullough, “The October Horse” (1,110 pages).

Edward Bulwer-Lytton “My Novel; Or, Varieties in English Life” (1,115 pages).

Peter F. Hamilton “The Reality Dysfunction” (1,120 pages).

Roberto Bolaño, “2666” (1,128 pages). Modern classic.

Geir Angell Øygarden, “Baghdad Indigo” (1,132 pages).

Leon Forrest, “Divine Days” (1,135 pages).

Tom Clancy “The Bear and the Dragon” (1,137 pages).

Steven King “It” (1,138 pages). Well-known modern horror novel.

Margaret George, “The Memoirs of Cleopatra” (1,139 pages).

M. M. Kaye “The Far Pavilions” (1,139 pages). Famous historical novel.

Roman McClay, Sanction III, (1,143 pages).

Neal Stephenson “Cryptonomicon” – part of the Baroque Cycle (1,152 pages).

Steven King “The Stand” (1,152 pages). Famous horror novel.

James Clavell, “Shōgun” (1,152 pages). Very famous work.

Edward Rutherford, “London” (1,152 pages).

S. Yizhar, “Days of Ziklag” (1,156 pages in Hebrew, hopefully soon to be translated into English).

Pak Kyongni, “Land” (1,172 pages).

George R.R. Martin, “A Storm of Swords” part of the Song of the Fire and Ice cycle (1,177 pages).

Rebecca West, “Black Lamb and Grey Falcon” (1,181 pages).

Peter Weiss “The Aesthetics of Resistance” (1,195 pages in German, not fully translated into English).

Steven Erikson, “The Bonehunters” – part of Mazalan Land of the Fallen series (1,203 pages).

Anne Rice, “The Witching Hour” (1,207 pages).

Péter Nádas, “Világló Részletek” (1,212 pages in Hungarian).

Julia Navarro, “You Shall Not Kill” (1,212 pages).

Charles Palliser “The Quincunx” (1,221 pages).

James Clavell “Whirlwind” (1,231 pages).

James A. Michener, “The Covenant” (1,240 pages).

Edmund Spenser, “The Faerie Queene” (1,248 pages). Famous classic work from centuries ago.

Brandon Sanderson, “Oathbringer” (1,248 pages). Fantasy.

Jiang Zilong, “Empires of Dust”, (1,256 pages). Chinese epic.

Roger Zelazny, “The Great Book of Amber” (1,258 pages). Science fiction.

Javier Pedro Zabala, “The Mad Patagonian” (1,268 pages). Recent work, well-regarded, a friend of Bolano’s.

Steven Erikson, “Dust of Dreams” – part of the “Mazalan Land of the Fallen” series (1,280 pages).

Norman Mailer “Harlot’s Ghost” (1,282 pages).

Alberto Laiseca, “Los Sorias” (1,328 pages in Spanish). Modern work.

Frank Schätzing, “Limit” (1,328 pages in German). Modern thriller.

Heimito von Doderer “The Demons” (1,340 pages). Classic.

William T. Vollmann, “The Dying Grass: A Novel of the Nez Perce War” (1,356 pages). Modern historical novel.

Peter F. Hamilton “The Naked God” (1,360 pages).

Evelyn Scott, “A Calendar of Sin” (1,367 pages).

Alberto Arbasino, “Fratelli d’Italia” (1,371 pages in Italian).

James Clavell, “Noble House” (1,376 pages). Historical novel set in Japan.

W. Paul Anderson, “Hunger’s Brides: A Novel of the Baroque” (1,376 pages).

Herman Wouk, “War and Remembrance” (1,382 pages). Famous.

Marija Jurić Zagorka, “Plameni Inkvizitori or The Flaming Inquisitors” (1,396 pages in Croatian). Classic Croatian novel.

Anna Lee Waldo “Sacajawea” (1,420 pages and 597,270 words). Recent and well-regarded historical novel.

Mikhail Sholokhov, “And Quiet Flows the Don” (1,428 pages). Very famous classic.

William Safire, “Freedom: A Novel of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War” (1,437 pages).

Diana Gabaldon, The Fiery Cross (1,443 pages).

James A. Michener, “Texas” (1,472 pages).

Louis Aragon, “Les Communistes” (1,500 pages in French).

Ben Ames Williams, “House Divided” (1,514 pages).

Péter Nádas “Párhuzamos Történetek or Parallel Stories” (1,520 pages and 600,000 words).

Ken Follett “World without End” (1,840 pages). Well-known.

Kirk Allen, Lustmord: Anatomy of a Serial Butcher (1,926 pages). Possibly not notable.

Brandon Sanderson “Final volume of The Wheel of Time” (2,555 pages and 978,460 words).

Châteaubriand “Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe or Memories from Beyond the Grave” (3,300 pages) – Memoir but largely falsified and works like a novel. Famous, his masterpiece.

Javier Marias “Your Face Tomorrow” (3,500 pages). Modern work, already a classic.

Marija Jurić Zagorka, “Grička Vještica or The Witch of Grič” (4,040 pages in Croatian). Croatian classic.

Honore d’Orfe “L’Astrée” (5,399 pages in French). His masterpiece from the 1600’s.

Marianne Fritz, “Naturgemäß or Naturally” (6,900 pages in German). Regarded as her masterpiece. Little known.

*****

The last 16 surely qualify as 500,000 words on length alone.

Madeleine de Scudéry’s “Artamène” is one of the longest novels on the list. It has an incredible 13,000 pages!

However, Madeleine de Scudéry wrote a number of other novels exactly like “Artamène.” “Cliele” was about as long as “Artamène.” Two others were shorter but would clearly make it on the list; one of those was 4,000 pages.

Current Reading List – Others by the Same Authors I’ve Already Read

A previous post discussed the books I am currently reading. Somehow there are around 50 of them. How did that happen? This is how I read. Pick up a book, read 20-100 pages, put it down, go back to it later. It works fine with essays, short stories, poetry, and most nonfiction, but it’s pretty hard with novels, and I wouldn’t really recommend it. You have to keep 5-10 different plots all going in your head at the same time, and that is hard. So at times when you go back to pick up a book, you have forgotten what you have already read.

I listed a number of authors on there. Here are the other books I have read by those authors. Turns out I’ve read another 36 books by these authors – One nonfiction book, seven books of short stories, five novellas,  and 23 novels.

If you have read any of these books or any others by these authors, feel free to comment on it. Otherwise you can use the thread for any book you happen to be reading now and any book you read recently.

Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness, The Secret Sharer (novellas). Two novellas.

Pat Conroy: South of Broad (novel). One novel.

Franz Kafka: Metamorphosis (novella). The Trial – 40 pages (novel) Two books: one novel and one novella.

Tom Robbins: Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Another Roadside Attraction. Still Life with Woodpecker – 49 pages (novels). Three novels.

Ernest Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Farewell to Arms, Winner Take Nothing – 20 pages (novels). The Old Man and the Sea (novella). The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories, In Our Time, Men without Women, The First Forty-nine Stories, The Fifth Column and Five Stories from the Spanish Civil War. (short stories). Ten books: Four novels, five books of short stories, and one novella.

Joyce Carol Oates: Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart (novel). Night-Side (short stories). Two books: one novel and one book of short stories.

Kurt Vonnegut: Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat’s Cradle, Breakfast of Champions, Mother Night, Player Piano, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (novels). Wampeters, Foma, and Granfaloons (nonfiction). Welcome to the Monkeyhouse (short stories). Eight books: six novels, one book of short stories, and one nonfiction book.

Books I Am Currently Reading

Believe it or not, this is how I read. It works out just fine except for the novels. You really can’t read much more than one novel at once. Maybe two. I’m not sure. But more than that and things really start to bog down hard. Everything else is fine to read concurrently – essays, nonfiction, short stories, poetry, social sciences, etc.

Looks like I’m currently reading 47 books. Actually it’s more than that because there are a lot of others that I just dip into and put away without even getting 10-15 pages into them. Anyway, if any of you have read any of these books or have heard of them or their authors, feel free to discuss!

Fiction – 20

Novels – 11

Joseph Conrad: Lord Jim, 90 pages, classic.

Pat Conroy: Beach Music, 18 pages; The Death of Santini, 16 pages.

Joanne Harris: Coastliners, 18 pages.

Franz Kafka: The Trial, 48 pages, classic.

Robert Heinlein: Stranger in a Strange Land, 38 pages, classic.

Khaled Husseini: A Thousand Splendid Suns, 134 pages, half-finished.

Jean Rhys: Wide Sargasso Sea, 15 pages, classic.

Tom Robbins: Still Life with Woodpecker: A Sort of a Love Story, 48 pages.

Richard Russo: Empire Falls, 20 pages.

Robert Stone: A Flag for Sunrise, 54 pages.

John Updike: Toward the End of Time, 66 pages.

Poetry – 2

John Milton: Paradise Lost, 156 pages, half-finished, classic. Hard to read.

Steven St. Vincent Millay: The Western Star, 17 pages.

Short Stories – 7

Ernest Hemingway: Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, 420 pages, 2/3 finished, classic.

Daniel F. Howard: The Modern Tradition: Short Stories, 180 pages, classics.

Alice Munro: Runaway: Stories, 48 pages.; Too Much Happiness: Stories, 34 pages.

Flannery O’Connor: A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories, 22 pages, classic.

Joyce Carol Oates: Night-Side, 34 pages.

John Steinbeck: The Long Valley, 19 pages, classic.

Kurt Vonnegut: Welcome to the Monkey House, 21 pages (reread).

General Readers: Fiction and Nonfiction – 1

George Murphy: The Key West Reader: The Best of Key West’s Writers, 1830-1990, 28 pages.

Nonfiction -27

Biography – 1

Isaiah Berlin: Karl Marx, 20 pages. Hard to read.

Environmentalism – 2

Edward Abbey: Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness, 142 pages, half-finished, classic; Down the River, 130 pages, half-finished.

Essays – 3

Loren Eisley: The Night Country: Confessions of a Bone-Hunting Man, 15 pages.

Adam Gopnik: Paris to the Moon, 19 pages.

Barbara Kingsolver: High Tide in Tuscon: Essays from Now or Never, 150 pages, half-finished.

General Nonfiction – 3

John Colapinto: As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, 14 pages.

Malcolm Gladwell: Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, 156 pages, half-finished.

David Halberstam: The Powers That Be, p. 22.

History – 1

Tom Reiss: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo, 32 pages.

Humor – 1

James Thurber: Is Sex Necessary?, 35 pages.

Law – 1

Ralph Nader and Wesley J. Smith: No Contest: Corporate Lawyers and the Perversion of Justice in America, 46 pages.

Linguistics – 1

Derek Bickerton: Language and Species, 122 pages, half-finished. Hard to read.

Philosophy – 2

Soren Kierkegaard: Either/Or, 26 pages, classic. Hard to read.

Frederich Nietzsche: The Twilight of the Idols, 24 pages, classic. Hard to read.

Political Science – 7

Cicero: Select Political Speeches, 48 pages, classic.

Joe Conason: Big Lies: The Rightwing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth, 14 pages.

Alexis de Tocqueville: Memoir on Pauperism, 37 pages, classic.

William Grieder: Who Will Tell the People? The Betrayal of American Democracy, 38 pages.

Showan Khurshid: Knowledge Processing, Creativity, and Politics: A Political Theory Based on Evolutionary Theory, 10 pages. Hard to read.

Eric Walberg: Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games, p. 32.

David Woodward and Carl Bernstein: The Final Days, p. 22.

Psychology – 1

Julian Barnes: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, 22 pages.

Science – 1

John C. Greene: Evolution and Its Impact on Western Thought: The Death of Adam, 19 pages.

Sociology – 2

Carolina Maria de Jesus: Children of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus, 17 pages, classic.

Emile Durkheim: Suicide: A Study in Sociology, 58 pages, classic. Hard to read.

Travelogue – 1

Anthony Daniels: Coups and Cocaine: Travels in South America, 34 pages.

Wildlife – 1

Doug Peacock: Grizzly Years: In Search of American Wilderness, 158 pages.

“Sleeping It Off in Rapid City,” by August Kleinzahler

This is a really nice poem, plus you can understand everything in it for a change. This guy is a modern poet, but he’s also quite a good one.He’s a bit of an enfant terrible, hates all the other poets. Spends his time in San Francisco and New Jersey where he grew up.

He was a good friend of Thom Gunn’s in San Francisco. He also knew Allen Ginsberg pretty well. And yep, Peter Orlovksy is just as nuts as everyone says he is. I saw Ginsberg read once and Orlovsky was with him. He looked pretty crazy even back then in 1982. Met Ginsburg too. Didn’t like him. He refused to talk to me. Just glared at me with contempt while some self-hating gay in my English Department kept trying to worm his way into Ginsburg’s lap. Ginsburg refused to talk to anyone in the bar except his one fat guy who everyone hated and was called “The Bore of Long Beach.” They talked about astronomy. That’s all the bore liked to talk about.

Ginsberg, Orlovsky, and Gunn were all gay. Ginsberg is gay and I think Gunn died of AIDS. Gunn was a very good poet. He wrote a nice book about having AIDS, brutal stuff. Ginsberg was great of courser, but he was also a huge asshole in my opinion, but a lot of artists are pretty insufferable.

I assume Orlovsky is dead too or locked in an asylum somewhere. It’s hard to put into words how gay the beatniks were. At least the hippies and punks who came afterwards weren’t a bunch of homosexuals, for God’s sake!

The Italian lines below are from Dante, in case you were wondering.

“Sleeping It off in Rapid City”

On a 700-foot-thick shelf of Cretaceous pink sandstone
Nel mezzo …
Sixth floor, turn right at the elevator
‘The hotel of the century’
Elegant dining, dancing, solarium
Around the block from the Black Hills School of Beauty
And campaign headquarters of one Jack Billion
(‘Together we can move forward’)
The exact centre of the Oglala known universe
Cante wamakoguake
Or only 30 miles or so away, south-west, off Highway 87
I waken to the sound of the DM&E
Rattling through this sleeping town
Sounding its horn as it snakes its way through
Hauling coal from nowhere, through nowhere, and then some
Old rocks and distance, a few hawks overhead
4 a.m. – per una selva oscura
– Kwok, kwok, kwok, shrieks the Velociraptor
In the closed dinosaur shop
– Vroooom
Roars the Triceratops, like Texas thunder
They keep the tape-loop going through the night
Always have done, no one knows why
The Bible Store respires in its sanctum
As if in an outsize black glass humidor
This is a sacred ground, a holy place
4 a.m. in a sacred place
I can tell this is a sacred place, I needn’t be told
It’s in the air
I feel it
This old heritage hotel, this is a sacred place
The tour buses are lined up outside it
Awaiting the countless pilgrims
On the floor, my shoe, under the bed
Even my shoe is blessed
The Lord’s blessing is everywhere to be found
The Lambs of Christ are among us
You can tell by the billboards
The billboards with foetuses out there on the highway
Through the buzzing, sodium-lit night
Semis grind it out on the Interstate
Hauling toothpaste, wheels of Muenster, rapeseed oil
Blessed is the abundance, blessed the commerce
Across the Cretaceous hogback
Hundred-million-year-old Lakota sandstone, clays, shale, gypsum
And down through the basins of ancient seabeds
Past the souvenir shops and empty missile silos
The ghosts of 98-foot-long Titans and Minutemen
150,000 pounds of thrust
Stainless steel, nickel-alloy coated warheads
Quartz ceramic warheads, webbed in metal honeycomb
Eight-megaton payloads
Range 6300 miles
Noli me tangere
God bless America
We’re right on top of it, baby
This is why you’re here
Close enough, anyhow, just 11 miles west of Castle Rock
In a pasture, right off 79
The middle of the middle of the heart of this great land
There’s a sign
This is a sacred place
Up there in the hills, the vast, ponderosa-feathered batholith
You can see it from space
Two-billion-year-old exposed rock, rising from the prairie
A faint blue shape on the horizon
When approaching from a distance
But seen close at hand ‘grim and black’
Paha sapa
‘Savage cliffs and precipices … fantastic forms
Sometimes resembling towns, some castellated fortresses …’
A sacred place
Custer once came through, in the summer of ’74
With that moustache and golden hair
And espied here the multitude of flowers
17 varieties in a space of 20 feet
One could pick seven different kinds at dinner
Without ever leaving one’s seat
– It was a strange sight, he wrote
To glance back at the advancing columns of cavalry
And behold the men with beautiful bouquets in their hands
A sacred place
The Great White Fathers dwell in these hills
Noses and foreheads blasted out of granite
Crazy Horse, too, 30 stories high
An enormous pod of migmatite glowering east
Big chiefs everywhere
On every street corner in town
Life-size bronze likenesses
See the chicana brushing President Van Buren, bless her
Bless the chicana in pink rayon, the dutiful city worker
Brushing the statue with a toothbrush in the night
There’s Nixon at St Joseph and 5th
Seated, hands folded on his lap, the way he did
In the midst of ‘delicate negotiations with Mao’
This is what it says at the base
Bless them, Nixon and Mao both
Men of peace, soldiers of God
The bronze is cold in the High Plains night
The eyes they gaze out of are holes
Here, at the exact dead centre of America
Or close enough, just north of here, off Highway 79
The buffalo roam in these hills
Paha sapa
The bison graze in the shadow of these hills
One angry bull tosses a Harley 30 feet in the air
A big fat biker, attached to it, 30 feet as well
The sacred bison
He would have ridden among the sacred bison, the biker
Ridden as if he were one of their own
– Tatanka, Tatanka, cries Kevin Costner
– Tatanka, concurs Kicking Bird
– Tatanka, agrees Wind In His Hair
Bless Kevin Costner
I saw that one on the wide screen, in Dolby Surround Sound
Kevin Costner stayed in this hotel
Babe Ruth and Calvin Coolidge, too
This is a sacred place
I have come here from far away
After many years of wandering
Disillusion
And found surcease here from all my cares
Surcease here from doubt
Here, at the centre of it all
On a great slab of Mesozoic rock
This sanctified ground
Here, yes, here
The dead solid centre of the universe
At the heart of the heart of America

Hemingway Was an Introvert

Yep, he sure was. Underneath all of that macho bravado, he was just another one of us pathetic introverts. First of all, he wrote every morning from 6 AM – 10 AM. All alone in his writing cottage of course. All of us have to write alone. You can’t write if other people are around. Well, at least you’ve got to shut the door. Admittedly, it’s not a very sociable hobby. After that, he had lunch, then he’d go off to the bar or wherever and drink or rabble rouse with the boys.

What nobody knows is that Hemingway was actually painfully shy. See all that boozing? That’s called liquid introversion, folks. That’s why he drank so much, to kill his shyness. It works for some of us if we’re not too far gone.

We think of Hemingway as carousing it up in wild and dangerous men’s bars, right? Try again. Let’s walk into one of his favorite bars right now. Maybe it’s in Italy, or the Alps, or Paris, or Key West, or best of all, Havana. Sure it’s wild at the main bar where the bartender’s serving up drinks. So where’s Hemingway? Damn! There he is, off in a darkened corner of this particular clean, well-lighted place, drinking alone in the dim  light. Which is usually exactly how you found him.

Finally, one more algebraic proof and we will be off. How do we know Hemingway was an introvert? Well, he was a great writer, no? That’s all the evidence you need. All great writers are introverts. No exceptions, ever. Extroverts can’t be great writers. They’re just not wired up that way. For one, they hate being alone. That’ll kill it right there.

Television, “See No Evil”

Very, very good music. Early punk rock out of New York. Television, “See No Evil,” from Marquee Moon, 1979. The lyrics are poetic, reminiscent of symbolist poetry like Baudelaire and Verlaine. In fact, the lead singer took his stage name, Tom Verlaine, from the famous French poet. Truly fine music from a beautiful era that was defined by its very special and timeless music. Damn this takes me back.

“Paint It Black,” The Rolling Stones

“Paint It, Black” by the Rolling Stones, off the Aftermath album, their fourth album, 1966. The lyrics are about grief, death, and sex. Hey, I like that combo. The Stones always were pretty dark and evil to the Beatles sunny day stuff. But that’s ok. The world’s pretty dark and evil anyway, might as well sing about it, no? This is actually raga rock, or rock music with an Indian influence. This song does sound Indian, doesn’t it? Wow, I never knew that, and here I am, listening to this song for 45 years and I finally figure this out. This was one of the first songs to use a sitar, the Indian instrument.

Jagger said he based the song on James Joyce’s Ulysses, from which the line, “I have to turn my head until my darkness grows” with its theme of desperation and desolation. Well, at least he reads the classics.

I see a red door
And I want it painted black
No colors anymore
I want them to turn black

I see the girls walk by
Dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head
Until my darkness goes

I see a line of cars
And they’re all painted black
With flowers and my love
Both never to come back

I’ve seen people turn their heads
And quickly look away
Like a newborn baby
It just happens everyday

I look inside myself
And see my heart is black
I see my red door
I must have it painted black

Maybe then, I’ll fade away
And not have to face the facts
It’s not easy facing up
When your whole world is black

No more will my green sea
Go turn a deeper blue
I could not foresee this thing
Happening to you

If I look hard enough
Into the setting sun
My love will laugh with me
Before the morning comes

I see a red door
And I want it painted black
No colors anymore
I want them to turn black

I see the girls walk by
Dressed in their summer clothes
I have to turn my head
Until my darkness goes

I wanna see it painted
Painted black
Black as night
Black as coal

I wanna see the sun
Blotted out from the sky
I wanna see it painted, painted, painted
Painted black, yeah

ZZ Top, “La Grange”

“La Grange” by ZZ Top, off their great third album, Tres Hombres. Their first two albums, ZZ Top’s First Album and Rio Grande Mud, didn’t sell real well, but this one really hit the spot. They were these sort of hippie redneck freaks from Texas playing this weird country/blues/jam boogie Southern rock.

The lyrics to the song are about a famous brothel in La Grange, Texas called The Chicken Ranch. This brothel was also the theme of the play Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. After all these years, I had no idea the song was about that!

This music jams like Hell! They just don’t make music like this anymore.

Rumor spreadin’ a-’round in that Texas town
’bout that shack outside La Grange
and you know what I’m talkin’ about.
Just let me know if you wanna go
to that home out on the range.
They gotta lotta nice girls ah.

Have mercy.
A haw, haw, haw, haw, a haw.
A haw, haw, haw.

Well, I hear it’s fine if you got the time
and the ten to get yourself in.
A hmm, hmm.
And I hear it’s tight most ev’ry night,
but now I might be mistaken.
hmm, hmm, hmm.

Ah have mercy.

Black Admixture and Presence in North Africa

James Schipper: Many people believe that the Moors, that is Northern Africans, are black. Of course, the Moors are the Berbers and Arabs, who are definitely not black. Before the Arab conquest of all of Northern Africa, there were various people white peoples there and they were all Christianized.

The Romans possessed all of Northern Africa. They didn’t refer to that part of their Empire as black. Were the inhabitants of Carthage black? Was Cleopatra black?

If we look at the inhabitants of the 5 Northern African countries today, we will find that they vary between white and brown. Anwar Sadat could be described as brown, and el-Sisi could easily be Italian or Portuguese. This is surprising since the Arabs imported so many slaves from black Africa.

I believe moor just meant “dark.” And the Berbers were quite probably darker than the average Spaniard. They average 13% Black blood. They basically just look like Arabs.

Egypt has quite a bit of Black blood. 30% overall. 20% in the north and 40% in the South in Lower Egypt.

Libya also has a lot of Black blood, especially in the south. The south of Algeria is very Black, as is the south of Morocco. Most of those countries get a lot Blacker as you get into their southern regions.

The Sheltering Sky is an excellent movie by Bernardo Bertolucci, adopted from a novel by the great Paul Bowles.

In the movie, a European couple go to Tangier. The husband gets sick of some disease, maybe cholera, and dies. The wife becomes lost and takes up with a camel caravan heading south. They head down into lower Morocco, Algeria, and Niger. In the movie, that area is very Black. It’s also deeply Islamic. The photography and the movie in general is spectacular. Highly recommended.

Anyone here read Paul Bowles?

I read a book of his short stories. They’re too much! He was basically gay and his wife Jane Bowles was basically lesbian. Nonetheless they stayed married for a long time. Jane Bowles only wrote one novel and a book of short stories, but they are both said to be excellent. He spent his time picking up teenage Moroccan boys to have sex with.

William S. Burroughs lived in Tangier too for quite some time. In fact, that was where he wrote the famous Naked Lunch. Anybody read it? It’s bad, man!

Burroughs also spent his time smoking hashish and picking up teenage Moroccan boys to have sex with. This behavior is somewhat tolerated in Morocco because women are not accessible to most men, hence there is a lot of situational homosexuality. Nevertheless, the neighbors didn’t take kindly to Burroughs having sex with all those teenage boys, and they used to yell and throw things at him when he was out in the street.

There’s a lot of situational homosexuality in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Syria. Homosexuality is very much proscribed in the region, especially in the Shia parts of the Middle East. Nevertheless, in many Sunni countries, if you keep it on the “down low,” people look the other way.

Bowles spent a lot of time smoking hashish, or kif, as it is called. I had some kif for a while and I was selling it, of course. What else does a drug dealer do with any dope he gets? It was a light green powder, unlike most hashish which comes in blocks that have the consistency of extremely hard chocolate. You carve off pieces of the stuff with a knife and put it in a  “hash pipe.” I had a special hash pipe like the kind they use in Morocco.

The stuff’s practically legal in Morocco. If you go to the Atlas Mountains in the north where the Berbers grow the stuff, you will find it everywhere. Photos of Berbers in that part of Morocco show that they are very White.

The  Bowles’ both lived in Morocco, mostly in Tangier. This was during a time when Tangier was an “international city” under some sort of “international administration.” As such, there was not much police presence, and it was a haven for drug users and addicts, smugglers, and other low level criminals, street people, beatniks, fugitives, etc. It was a pretty shady place!

The Beats, including Ian Summerville, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, and Burroughs, used to go to Tangier in the 1950’s to visit Paul Bowles. Most of those men were either gay or bisexual. Burroughs and Ginsberg were gay, Kerouac was definitely bisexual, and Ian Summerville looks suspect to me. The Beats were gay as Hell! Far gayer than the hippies, most of whom looked down on homosexuality.

139 Great Difficult Books to Crack Your Brain

The original list was derived from a very interesting topic in reading group on the Goodreads site called Brain Pain. It looked so fascinating that I wrote all the authors and books down because really these are same of the greatest books out there. If you read anything on this list, you’re reading a great book. A lot of them are absolutely classics. It’s not a list of easy reading books though, as the books were specifically chosen for their difficulty. Looking down at the 16 books I’ve read on the list, most of them weren’t that hard, and some were downright easy reads.

Have you ready of the books below? Have you heard of any of them? Heard of any of the authors? Which books would you like to read below, assuming you had the time. Are there any errors in my list below. Gimme some feedback, you slackers.

139 Great Difficult Books to Crack Your Brain

  1. Renata Adler, Speedboat, novel.
  2. Renata Adler, Pitch Dark, novel.
  3. Theodor W. Adorno, “The Culture Industry:  Selected Essays on Mass Culture,” book chapter.
  4. Aeschylus, The Oresteia, play.
  5. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, “Rashomon,” short story.
  6. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, “In a Grove,” short story.
  7. Isabel Allende*, Eva Luna, novel.
  8. Apuleius, The Golden Ass, play.
  9. Aristotle, Poetics, non-fiction.
  10. Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric, non-fiction.
  11. Aristophanes, Lysistrata, play.
  12. Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye, novel.
  13. Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, non-fiction.
  14. Jane Austen, Emma, novel.
  15. Gaston Bachelard, Air and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Movement, non-fiction.
  16. Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, non-fiction.
  17. Djuna Barnes, Nightwood, novel.
  18. John Barth*, Giles Goat-Boy, novel.
  19. Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du Mal Read
  20. Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen
  21. Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, non-fiction.
  22. Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project, non-fiction.
  23. Jorge Luis Borges*, “The Cult of the Phoenix,” short story.
  24. Jorge Luis Borges, “The South,” short story.
  25. Richard Brautigan*, In Watermelon Sugar, novel.
  26. Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, novel.
  27. Susan Buck-Morss, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project, non-fiction.
  28. Mighail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita, novel.
  29. Dino Buzzati, The Tartar Steppe, novel.
  30. James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce, novel.
  31. Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, novel.
  32. Albert Camus*, The Plague, novel.
  33. Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, short stories.
  34. Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel, novel.
  35. Robert Coover*, The Public Burning, novel.
  36. Julio Cortazar*, Hopscotch, novel, Read.
  37. Mark Z. Danielewski, House Of Leaves, novel.
  38. Marie Darrieussecq, Pig Tales: A Novel of Lust and Transformation, novel.
  39. Marie Darrieussecq, My Phantom Husband, novel.
  40. Don DeLillo, The Body Artist, novel.
  41. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes From Underground, novel.
  42. Rikki Ducornet, The Stain, novel.
  43. T.S. Eliot*, The Waste Land Read
  44. Euripides, The Trojan Women (The Women of Troy), play.
  45. Euripides, Medea, play.
  46. William Faulkner*, Absalom, Absalom!, novel.
  47. William Faulkner, The Sound and The Fury, novel.
  48. Juan Filloy, Op Oloop, novel.
  49. Charles Fourier, The Social Destiny of Man, or Theory of the Four Movements, non-fiction.
  50. Paula Fox, Desperate Characters, novel.
  51. Sigmund Freud, The Uncanny, non-fiction.
  52. William Gaddis, J R, novel.
  53. William Gaddis, The Recognitions, novel.
  54. Gabriel Garcia-Marquez, 100 Years of Solitude, novel, Read
  55. William Gass*, Middle C, novel.
  56. William Gass, Omensetter’s Luck, novel.
  57. William Gass, The Tunnel , novel.
  58. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust I & II, play.
  59. Gunter Grass*, The Flounder, novel.
  60. H. D., Helen in Egypt
  61. John Hawkes, The Lime Twig, novel.
  62. Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, A Romance, novel. Read.
  63. E. T. A. Hoffman, The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr, novel.
  64. Siri Hustvedt, The Blazing World, novel.
  65. James Joyce*, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, novel, Read.
  66. James Joyce, Ulysses, novel.
  67. Franz Kafka, Josephine the Singer, or The Mouse Folk, short story.
  68. Franz Kafka, The Metamorphosis, novella, Read.
  69. Anna Kavan, Asylum Piece, novel.
  70. Anna Kavan, Ice, novel.
  71. Yasunari Kawabata, Beauty and Sadness, novel.
  72. Comte de Lautréamont, The Songs of Maldoror, novel.
  73. Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook, novel. Read
  74. Clarice Lispector, Água Viva, novel.
  75. Clarice Lispector, Near to the Wild Heart, novel.
  76. Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano, novel.
  77. David Mamet, Faustus, play.
  78. Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkühn, Told by a Friend, novel.
  79. Christopher Marlowe, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, play.
  80. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto , non-fiction, Read.
  81. Colman McCarthy, Blood Meridian, novel.
  82. Joseph McElroy, A Smuggler’s Bible, novel.
  83. James Michener*, The Novel, novel.
  84. Toni Morrison*, The Bluest Eye, novel.
  85. Nicholas Mosley, Impossible Object, novel.
  86. Harumi Murakami, 1Q84, novel.
  87. Harumi Murakami, Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, novel.
  88. Vladimir Nabakov*, Ada, or Ardor, novel.
  89. Vladimir Nabakov, Invitation to a Beheading, novel.
  90. Vladimir Nabakov, Lectures on Literature, non-fiction.
  91. Vladimir Nabakov, Lolita, novel Read
  92. Vladimir Nabakov, Pale Fire, novel.
  93. Vladimir Nabakov, Pnin, novel.
  94. Vladimir Nabakov, Speak, Memory, novel.
  95. Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds, novel.
  96. George Perec, Life, a User’s Manual, novel.
  97. Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquietude, novel.
  98. Robert Pirsig, Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, non-fiction, Read
  99. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, novel.
  100. Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time, novel.
  101. Thomas Pynchon*, Against The Day, novel.
  102. Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow, novel, Read
  103. Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon, novel.
  104. François Rabelais, Gargantua & Pantagruel, novel.
  105. Dorothy Richardson, Pilgrimage, Vol. 1: Pointed Roofs, novel.
  106. Alain Robbe-Grillet*, The Erasers, novel.
  107. Philip Roth*, The Breast, novel.
  108. Juan Rulfo, Pedro Páramo, novel, Read
  109. Salman Rushdie*, Midnight’s Children, novel.
  110. Ernesto Sabato, The Tunnel, novel.
  111. William Shakespeare*, Hamlet, play,  Read
  112. William Shakespeare, Macbeth, play,  Read
  113. Susan Sontag, Death Kit, novel.
  114. Susan Sontag, On Photography
  115. Susan Sontag, The Benefactor, novel.
  116. Sophocles, Antigone, play.
  117. Sophocles, Oedipus the King, play.
  118. Sophocles, Electra, play.
  119. Gilbert Sorrentino, Mulligan Stew, novel.
  120. Lawrence Sterne, Tristram Shandy, novel.
  121. Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels, novel. Read
  122. Enrique Vila-Matas, Dublinesque, novel.
  123. William Vollman*, Argall: The True Story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith, novel.
  124. William Vollman, Europe Central, novel.
  125. William Vollman, Fathers and Crows, novel.
  126. William Vollman, The Ice-Shirt, novel.
  127. William Vollman, The Dying Grass, novel.
  128. William Vollman, The Rainbow People, non-fiction.
  129. William Vollman, The Rifles, novel.
  130. William Vollman, The Royal Family, non-fiction.
  131. David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest, novel.
  132. David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System, novel.
  133. Edmund White, The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris, novel.
  134. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, novel.
  135. Virginia Woolf, Orlando, novel.
  136. Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out, novel.
  137. Virginia Woolf, The Waves, novel.
  138. Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse, novel.
  139. Marguerite Young, Miss Macintosh, My Darling, novel.

I’ve read 16 out of 139. That works out to 12%. Not bad at all.

Other Works by the Authors Above That I’ve Read Which Were Not on the List

The entries with an asterisk mean that I’ve read other works by them. This list includes 21 of the authors above, and adds 38 more works to the list, this time of works by one of the authors above that I have read that are not listed in the main list.

  1. Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits
  2. John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor and “Life-Story”
  3. Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones and Labyrinths
  4. Richard Brautigan, A Confederate General in Big Sur and Trout Fishing in America
  5. Albert Camus, The Stranger
  6. Robert Coover, “A Pedestrian Accident”
  7. Julio Cortazar, “Blow Up”
  8. T.S. Eliot, All poetry
  9. William Faulkner, Light in August
  10. William Gass, “In the Heart of the Heart of the Country”
  11. Gunter Grass, The Dog Years
  12. James Joyce, Dubliners
  13. James Michener, The Bridges at Toko-Ri
  14. Toni Morrison, Beloved, Jazz, and The Sound of Solomon
  15. Vladimir Nabakov, Bend Sinister and “…If in Aleppo Once”
  16. Thomas Pynchon, “A Journey into the Mind of Watts”, Slow Learner, The Crying of Lot 49, V, and Vineland
  17. Alain Robbe-Grillet, Pour un Nouveau Roman (For a New Novel), Dans le Labyrinthe (In the Labyrinth), La Jalousie (Jealousy), Projet pour une Révolution à New York (Project for a Revolution in New York); Souvenirs du Triangle d’Or (Souvenirs of the Golden Triangle), Topologie d’une Cité Fantôme (Topology of a Phantom City), and Le Voyeur (The Voyeur)
  18. Philip Roth, Goodbye, Columbus and Portnoy’s Complaint
  19. Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Voices
  20. William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
  21. William Vollman, Poor People

Books I Want to Read by the Authors in the First List

Both lists combined gives us 160 authors and 176 books. I’ve now read 54 out of the combined 176 books, which gives us 34%, a much better figure! Except it’s cheating. But oh well.

Here are the books listed above that I would possibly like to read at some point. I left out books that I just don’t want to read right now, and no, I don’t care about Greek playwrights or Aristotle or all the Fausts, sorry.

Notes say how I feel about possibly reading it, whether I am familiar with the author or not and if so how much, a bit about the book or author, it’s status as a classic or not, the country of the author and the period or year when the book was written,  whether I’ve read anything else by the author, and finally, length was noted and tallied for very long books, more as a warning than anything else. If there’s no page length after the entry, the book has less than 500 pages and can at least be read by the average human in a reasonable length, unlike the doorstops, which violate that principle.

  1. Theodor W. Adorno, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”: Sounds heavy duty. German expat in the US, 1947. Never read him.
  2. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, “Rashomon”: Yes, classic, Japan, 1915. I know little about this writer. Never read him.
  3. Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, “In a Grove”: Maybe, Japan, 1922.
  4. Erich Auerbach, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature: Maybe, supposedly a classic of type, but sounds heavy duty. 625 pages. I don’t know much about him, just hear his name in passing. German expat in Turkey, 1946. Never read him.
  5. Jane Austen, Emma: Yes, a classic from 1847 UK. Never read her.
  6. Gaston Bachelard, Air and Dreams: Maybe, sounds intense. I know very little about this author, France, 1943. Sigh. Never read him.
  7. Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space: Same as above, France, 1958.
  8. Djuna Barnes, Nightwood: Absolutely! A classic from an American expat in the UK, 1936. Never read her.
  9. John Barth, Giles Goat-Boy: Quite possibly! I love Barth. But 700 pages! US, 1966.
  10. Charles Baudelaire, Paris Spleen: Oh yes. France, 1869.
  11. Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays: Maybe so, I love Baudelaire. France, 1863.
  12. Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project: Maybe sounds deep. German expat in Spain, 1940. 1,100 pages! I’m not real familiar with this man or his work. Never read him.
  13. Jorge Luis Borges, “The Cult of the Phoenix”: Probably, Argentina, 1952. I love Borges.
  14. Jorge Luis Borges, “The South”: Same, Argentina, 1953.
  15. Richard Brautigan, In Watermelon Sugar: Maybe, US, 1968. I love Brautigan.
  16. Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre: Yes, another classic from 1816 UK. Never read her.
  17. Susan Buck-Morss, The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project: I dunno, sounds so intense. 550 pages. US, 1991. Never read her.
  18. Mighail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita: Absolutely, all-time classic, USSR, 1936. Never read him.
  19. Dino Buzzati, The Tartar Steppe: For sure, a little known (in the US) classic from Italy 1940. I know almost nothing about this author, but you sure hear a lot about this book. Never read him.
  20. James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce: Probably, it’s a classic noir from the US 1941. Never read him.
  21. Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller: Oh yes, a classic for sure, Italy, 1981. Never read him.
  22. Albert Camus, The Plague: Definitely, famous classic from France 1946.
  23. Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories: Maybe. I don’t know much about this writer. US, 1979. Never read her.
  24. Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel: Definitely, classic from Argentina 1940, friend of Borges. Never read him.
  25. Robert Coover, The Public Burning: Absolutely, another classic from the US, 1977. 550 pages. Read a short story.
  26. Mark Z. Danielewski, House Of Leaves: Certainly, a recent US classic from 2000. Bizarre, baffling, and innovative. 700 pages! Never read him.
  27. Marie Darrieussecq, Pig Tales: A Novel of Lust and Transformation:  France, 1996. Never read her.
  28. Comte de Lautréamont, The Songs of Maldoror: Definitely, classic from 1869 France. Don’t know much about him, though. Never read him.
  29. Fyodor Dostoevsky, Notes From Underground: A classic of course from Russia 1864. When I finish Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. The only Dostoevsky I’ve read was 15 pages of The Brothers Karamazov. But those were some fine 15 pages!
  30. William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!: Sure, a classic, US, South 1931.
  31. William Faulkner, The Sound and The Fury: I should as it’s one of the greatest books ever, but it’s so intimidating, US South, 1929. Read the first page.
  32. Juan Filloy, Op Oloop: I really ought to, it’s a classic, out of Argentina 2009. Don’t know much about him other than being associated with the Oulipo School. Never read him.
  33. William Gaddis, J R: One of the greatest books ever, US, 1955. I need to but it’s so difficult! And 750 pages! Never read him.
  34. William Gaddis, The Recognitions: Another of the greatest books ever and just as hard as J R, US, 1975. 950 pages! See above.
  35. William Gass, Middle C: I really need to start reading him, but I hear he’s difficult. The short story I read by him (see above) was out of this world! US, 2013.
  36. William Gass, Omensetter’s Luck: Same. US, 1966.
  37. William Gass, The Tunnel: Same, except this one is one of his best. 650 pages! Supposed to be a classic, US, 1995.
  38. Gunter Grass, The Flounder: I should, his most famous work. 700 pages! Germany, 1977.
  39. H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Helen in Egypt: A classic, US expat in Switzerland, 1961. I should but I’ve heard she’s hard as Hell to understand. Never read her.
  40. John Hawkes, The Lime Twig: Another classic, UK, 1961. Never read him, would be a good place to start.
  41. James Joyce, Ulysses: One of the top 10 greatest books of the last 200 years, Irish expat in Paris, 1921. Been meaning to forever, got 10-15 pages into it over a period of 40 years. Maybe it’s that 1,000 pages part? Need to get off my ass.
  42. Yasunari Kawabata, Beauty and Sadness: Possibly, Japan, 1975. I know nothing at all about this writer. Never read him.
  43. Clarice Lispector, Água Viva: I’ve never read her but I should, Brazil, 1973. I know almost nothing about her. Never read her and might be a good place to start.
  44. Clarice Lispector, Near to the Wild: Heart: See above, Brazil, 1943.
  45. Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano: Yes, classic story of alcoholism. US expat in Mexico, 1947! Never read him.
  46. Colman McCarthy, Blood Meridian: For sure! Terrifying but classic. US, 1985. Never read him.
  47. Joseph McElroy, A Smuggler’s Bible: He’s great but I’ve never read him and this might be a nice place to start. US, 1966.
  48. Nicholas Mosley, Impossible Object: He’s supposed to be great but I’ve never read him, and this might be a nice beginning. I don’t know him real well. UK, 1968.
  49. Harumi Murakami, 1Q84: Yes, it’s a classic, Japan, 2010! But 950 pages! Never read him.
  50. Harumi Murakami, Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: Definitely, another of his great books. 600 pages. Japan, 1995.
  51. Vladimir Nabakov, Ada, or Ardor: Of course, I love Nabokov, especially this, one of his finest. It’s hard to understand though! 625 pages! A major classic, Russian expat in US, 1969.
  52. Vladimir Nabakov, Invitation to a Beheading: Yes. Russian expat in France, 1936.
  53. Vladimir Nabakov, Lectures on Literature: Sure. Russian expat in US, 1980.
  54. Vladimir Nabakov, Pale Fire: For sure, once again, one of his most famous, but it’s supposed to be hard to figure out. A serious classic, Russian expat in US, 1959.
  55. Vladimir Nabakov, Pnin: Yes. Russian expat in US, 1955.
  56. Vladimir Nabakov, Speak, Memory: Yes. Various places, Russian expat in 1966.
  57. Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds: Oh, yes, a little known classic, Ireland, 1939! He’s difficult, but he sounds fun, like Joyce. Never read him.
  58. George Perec, Life, a User’s Manual: A little known but great book, France, 1978. I know almost nothing about him except the association with the Oulipo Movement out of France. 650 pages! Never read him.
  59. Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet: One of the greatest books ever, 1935, Lisbon. Read bits and pieces, it’s intense! 550 pages. Never read him.
  60. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar: Really should, classic about mental illness, US, 1963. I’ve read some of her poetry, and it is out of this world!
  61. Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time: One of the top 10 books of the last 200 years, France, 1927. Why haven’t I read this yet? It’s only 3,200 pages. Slacker! Never read him.
  62. Thomas Pynchon, Against The Day: Absolutely, one of his best, US, 2006. But it’s 1,100 pages! I’ve read bits and pieces.
  63. Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon: Of course, another of his finest, US, 1997. 875 pages! I’ve read a few bits of it.
  64. François Rabelais, Gargantua & Pantagruel: Definitely, it’s an old classic from 1556 France, sounds like a blast, but 1,100 pages! Never read him.
  65. Alain Robbe-Grillet, The Erasers: I should, as I am almost a Robbe-Grillet completist, France, 1950.
  66. Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children: A modern classic, Indian expat in the UK, 1981. It’s about his best so I really need to.
  67. Ernesto Sabato, The Tunnel: Little-known classic. Hear great things about it. Argentina, 1948. Never read him.
  68. Susan Sontag, Death Kit: Novel, sounds intense, US, 1967. Never read her.
  69. Susan Sontag, On Photography: Said to be a classic work, US, 1977. Maybe more interesting then the above.
  70. Susan Sontag, The Benefactor: This one is a novel, so it might be more accessible, US, 1963.
  71. Gilbert Sorrentino, Mulligan Stew: This is an absolute must, an obscure recent classic, US, 1979. Never read him.
  72. Lawrence Sterne, Tristram Shandy: A classic from UK 1759 but one of the greatest books of all time. Mandatory reading. 750 pages! Never read him.
  73. William Vollman, Argall: The True Story of Pocahontas and Captain John Smith: I probably should read any or all of these. He’s a bit difficult but not real hard, US, 2001. Part of the Seven Dreams series. Very good book, 750 pages!
  74. William Vollman, Europe Central: See above, US, 2005. Part of the Seven Dreams series. Won the National Book Award. But 850 pages!
  75. William Vollman, Fathers and Crows: See above, US, 1992. Part of the Seven Dreams series. Said to be excellent. 1,000 pages, though!
  76. William Vollman, Ice-Shirt: See above, US, 1990. Part of the Seven Dreams series. Good book.
  77. William Vollman, The Dying Grass: See above, US, 2015. Part of the Seven Dreams series. Excellent book, 1,400 pages, though!
  78. William Vollman, The Rainbow Stories: See above, US, 1989. Book about prostitutes. Good book.
  79. William Vollman, The Rifles: See above, US, 1994. Part of the Seven Dreams series. Very good book.
  80. William Vollman, The Royal Family: See above, US, 2000. Another book about prostitutes. Good book, but 800 pages!
  81. David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest: I so need to do this, this is one of the top books of the modern era in the last 30 years, US, 2006. He’s hard but I can handle him. And then there’s the part about the book being 1,100 pages. Never read him.
  82. David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System: Another modern classic, US, 1987. This one might be easier going.
  83. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway: One of the greatest books of the last 200 years by one of the top ten greatest authors of the period and the only one that is a woman. But George Eliot might get on a list like that for Middlemarch. The all time classic, UK, 1925. Never read her.
  84. Virginia Woolf, Orlando: Classic, UK, 1928. Another mind-blower.
  85. Virginia Woolf, The Voyage Out: Another classic, UK, 1915. More great literature.
  86. Virginia Woolf, The Waves: Yet another classic, UK, 1931. Incredible writing.
  87. Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse: Another super-classic, UK, 1927.
  88. Marguerite Young, Miss Macintosh, My Darling: Modern classic, US, 1965, rather obscure, I have heard this is out of this world, except for the 1,200 pages! Never read her.

This is a list of another three of the books in the first list, but I have no particular interest in reading any of these at the moment. Since I made a point above about marking long books, these were three of those books that were particularly long.

Books From the List Above I Don’t  Particularly Want to Read and Why, Along with Background Information about Them

    1. Renata Adler, Pitch Dark: I know nothing whatsoever about this author or any of her books.
    2. Renata Adler, Speedboat
    3. Aeschylus, The Oresteia: No Greek plays. Why? I dunno!
    4. Apuleius, The Golden Ass See above.
    5. Aristotle, Poetics: No Greek philosophers, at least at the moment.
    6. Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric: See above.
    7. Aristophanes, Lysistrata :No Greek  plays, though this one is a bit tempting.
    8. Margaret Atwood, Cat’s Eye: I like her prose and per poetry in small doses. She’s an incredible writer. Unfortunately, she’s also an typical feminist lunatic and typical feminist silliness and nonsense, a long with a dollop of the usual man-hating and evil male characters, mar her novels. Canada, 2000’s
    9. Marie Darrieussecq, My Phantom Husband: Well, I researched this author and I plan to break down and read Pig Tales, which sounds like quite a handful right there. First things first.
    10. Don DeLillo, The Body Artist: This is one his very early novels, I believe the 2nd. His early novels are generally considered to be inferior work to his later awesome novels like The Underground. Wow! US, 1980’s
    11. Rikki Ducornet, The Stain: She’s up my alley but I don’t know much about her or her books. Give me some time.
    12. Euripides, The Trojan Women (The Women of Troy): No Greek plays, except this one sounds tempting with the babes in the title. I’ll read any play if it’s about chicks!
    13. Euripides, Medea: Greek play. Not sure about this one.
    14. Fourier, Charles: The Social Destiny of Man: Or, Theory of the Four Movements. Frenchman, political scientist and philosopher, maybe an early socialist. France, 1840’s. I know next to nothing about the author and nothing about the book. 700 pages!
    15. Paula Fox, Desperate Characters: I know nothing whatsoever about this woman or her work.
    16. Sigmund Freud, The Uncanny: I’ve read a fair amount of his stuff and have some of his books lying around. He’s a much better writer than people think and he’s also a sort of universal genius or Renaissance Man. I’ve never heard of this essay though.
    17. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust I & II: The universal genius, but I’m tired of Faust stories. Germany, early 1800’s, 500 pages. I have an affinity for Elective Affinities though. Also the bildingsroman, Sorrows of Young Werther, and while we are at it, how about The Theory of Colors?
    18. E. T. A. Hoffman, The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr: On the back burner with Richardson, DeFoe, Fielding. I do like Sterne and  Swift though – see above, so it’s not an anti-novelists of the  1700’s thing. But Sterne and Swift are wickedly, almost diabolicaly funny. The other three can be too, but another issue is their books are extremely long. Richardson’s Clarissa is one of the longest books ever written.
    19. Siri Hustvedt, The Blazing World: A modern writer. I have heard a bit about her, but know little about her or her work. Never heard of the book.
    20. Franz Kafka, Josephine the Singer, or The Mouse Folk: Let’s say I finish The Trial first, ok?
    21. Anna Kavan, Asylum Piece: I know nothing of this woman or her work. Never heard of the book.
    22. Anna Kavan, Ice: See above, never heard of this book either.
    23. David Mamet, Faustus: I’ve had enough of Faustus overload for the time being. You might say I have devil fatigue. I plan to spend a lot of time with the fucker later on though, so why add to me mystery by hanging out with him when I’m above ground?
    24. Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus, or The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkühn, Told by a Friend: Germany, 1920’s. Once again, tired of Faust stories. Death in Venice does beckon over yonder hill though. Has for 40 years now. 550 pages.
    25. James Michener*, The Novel: Apparently a novel about writing a novel. Metafiction. Gets tiresome after a while, Barth is bad enough this way.
    26. Toni Morrison*, The Bluest Eye: I’m just sick and tired of her! I’ve already read three of her books. Yes they’re good but no, she’s not James Joyce or even Virginia Woolf. Hell, she’s not even Nora Zeale Thurston! Want a Black woman on the greatest list? Throw Houston on there! She’s as good as Eliot or Woolf. Their Eyes Were Watching God is truly out of this damned world! One of the greatest books ever written and it was written by a Black woman! The endless accolades about Morrison? Guess why? She’s Black! And she’s a woman! She’s an oppressed class times two, poor lass! I’m seeing a lot of 10 greatest books ever with her next to Tolstoy, Melville, Joyce, Eliot, Dostoevsky, and even Virginia Woolf, whose To the Lighthouse barely makes it to 10th place. Now we throw Morrison in with these illustrious gods? I don’t think so. Just get out. I guess affirmative action has come for the great book lists too. Sigh.
    27. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar: A book about a nutty woman thrown into a mental hospital because she’s crazy and suicidal. Written by a crazy and suicidal woman who eventually killed herself. I guess the book was a premonition. Hard pass. But her poetry though! Read her poetry! Some of the best ever written!
    28. Dorothy Richardson, Pilgrimage, Vol. 1: Pointed Roofs: I don’t know much about her or her famous series of books, The Pilgrimage.
    29. Sophocles, Antigone: Greek play. Nuff said.
    30. Sophocles, Oedipus the King: This one is a bit tempting though. I’m a total sick fuck and all the Mommy fucking and Daddy murdering has got me real interested, I must say!
    31. Sophocles, Electra: Greek play again. Yawn. This one’s about a babe though, so my other head says yes, read it.
    32. Enrique Vila-Matas, Dublinesque: Know nothing about the writer and never heard of the book.
    33. Edmund White, The Flaneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris: Book is set in Paris. Author is an American gay man. And he’s gay with a capital G. Gay as a rainbow. Times 1,000. A coterie of young gay men are all fucking each other and falling in love with each other. They’re all Adonises (obviously). All young gay men in gay fiction are named Adonis. Anyway, that’s the plot. Gross.  Now get ready because I’m about to become a total asshole here. This is a fag book! Well, it is. His books are about gay men, often young ones, who are falling in love with other hot young gay men, with lots of jolly buttfucking to pass the time. He is said to be an awesome writer though. And I did plow through William S. Burroughs’ books, and they’re practically out and out gay pornography, dudes fucking dudes all the way through his books. Thinking back, I don’t know I do this. Hey gay writers! Pro tip! Quit writing about male homosexuality and maybe some of us straight guys will read your stuff. In the meantime, you’ve all locked yourself into a ghetto, or better yet, a prison. But there’s plenty of hot sex when you’re behind gay bars in the prison system, so don’t fret!

“The Inner Landscape of the Psychopath,” by Hervey Cleckley

This is one of the finest descriptions I have ever read of the psychopath. I’ve been studying them for decades now, and I still don’t understand them. They simply don’t make sense. I can’t see how they can do what they do without feeling guilt or caring what others think. With this article though, I am at least starting to get a picture of the inner dynamics of the psychopath.

The work below is a classic, of course, and it is the first major work in psychiatry that attempted to describe psychopathy. It is still just as relevant today as it was 80 years ago. This is a chapter from Cleckley’s book.

It’s intense reading. It’s not so much hard to understand as it is dense. There are some many concepts packed into even one paragraph that it gets slow-going. This is especially true for me as, with an article below, I have to form a “picture” in my mind to truly understand a lot of the prose. When I write I also think in pictures. I get a picture, try to figure out what’s in it and what it’s about, and then set about describing the picture in words the best I can. Most art forms are similar. We writers make paintings and movies in our head, the raw material of our prose.

The section below is 31 pages including my mad scribbling. If there’s anything you can’t understand or follow in this piece, feel free to bring it up in the comments and I will try to explain it as I pretty much understood everything written below. It took me a while, but I did get it.

That said, this piece is a serious “brain fry.” I call brain fries any prose that pushes your mind to its absolute limits, like going to the gym and pushing your body to its limits. You have to go slow because there are so many concepts being pushed so quickly, but if you concentrate hard enough, you can figure out most brain fry prose. A lot of people who like simplistic writing or don’t want to work their brains at Autobahn speed probably think texts like this are a nightmare or a pain in the ass. They’re not having a good time when they’re reading it. It’s one frustration after another.

And just because I understood everything below doesn’t mean everyone else can. Keep in mind I have a genius IQ of 147. So a person with a 147 IQ can muddle through everything below and figure it all out. 99.9% of the population is below 147, and I don’t have the faintest notion how well they can get through stuff like this or how much they can understand of it at different IQ levels. If you understand everything below and know your IQ, you might want to comment to tell us that you got it all, give us your number, and tell us what sort of a ride it was machete slashing through this word tangle.

The Inner Landscape of the Psychopath

From: The Mask of Sanity, by Hervey Cleckley, 1941, 5th edition

The surface of the psychopath, however, that is, all of him that can be reached by verbal exploration and direct examination, shows up as equal to or better than normal and gives no hint at all of a disorder within.

Nothing about him suggests oddness, inadequacy, or moral frailty. His mask is that of robust mental health. Yet he has a disorder that often manifests itself in conduct far more seriously abnormal than that of the schizophrenic.

Inwardly, too, there appears to be a significant difference.

Deep in the masked schizophrenic we often sense a cold, weird indifference to many of life’s most urgent issues and sometimes also bizarre, inexplicable, and unpredictable but intense emotional reactions to what seems almost irrelevant.

Behind the exquisitely deceptive mask of the psychopath the emotional alteration we feel appears to be primarily one of degree, a consistent leveling of response to petty ranges and an incapacity to react with sufficient seriousness to achieve much more than pseudoexperience or quasi-experience. Nowhere within do we find a real cause or a sincere commitment, reasonable or unreasonable. There is nowhere the loyalty to produce real and lasting allegiance even to a negative or fanatic cause.

Just as meaning and the adequate sense of things as a whole are lost with semantic aphasia in the circumscribed field of speech although the technical mimicry of language remains intact, so in most psychopaths the purposiveness and the significance of all life-striving and of all subjective experience are affected without obvious damage to the outer appearance or superficial reactions of the personality. Nor is there any loss of technical or measurable intelligence.

With such a biologic change the human being becomes more reflex, more machinelike. It has been said that a monkey endowed with sufficient longevity would, if he continuously pounded the keys of a typewriter, finally strike by pure chance the very succession of keys to reproduce all the plays of Shakespeare.

These papers so composed in the complete absence of purpose and human awareness would look just as good to any scholar as the actual works of the Bard. Yet we cannot deny that there is a difference. Meaning and life at a prodigiously high level of human values went into one and merely the rule of permutations and combinations would go into the other.

The patient semantically defective by lack of meaningful purpose and realization at deep levels does not, of course, strike sane and normal attitudes merely by chance. His rational power enables him to mimic directly the complex play of human living. Yet what looks like sane realization and normal experience remains, in a sense and to some degree, like the plays of our simian typist.

In Henry Head’s interpretation of semantic aphasia we find, however, concepts of neural function and of its integration and impairment that help to convey a hypothesis of grave personality disorder thoroughly screened by the intact peripheral operation of all ordinary abilities.

In relatively abstract or circumscribed situations, such as the psychiatric examination or the trial in court, these abilities do not show impairment but more or less automatically demonstrate an outer sanity unquestionable in all its aspects and at all levels accessible to the observer. That this technical sanity is little more than a mimicry of true sanity cannot be proved at such levels.

Only when the subject sets out to conduct his life can we get evidence of how little his good theoretical understanding means to him, of how inadequate and insubstantial are the apparently normal basic emotional reactions and motivations convincingly portrayed and enunciated but existing in little more than two dimensions.

What we take as evidence of his sanity will not significantly or consistently influence his behavior. Nor does it represent real intention within, the degree of his emotional response, or the quality of his personal experience much more reliably than some grammatically well-formed, clear, and perhaps verbally sensible statement produced vocally by the autonomous neural apparatus of a patient with semantic aphasia can be said to represent such a patient’s thought or carry a meaningful communication of it.

Let us assume tentatively that the psychopath is, in this sense, semantically disordered. We have said that his outer functional aspect masks or disguises something quite different within, concealing behind a perfect mimicry of normal emotion, fine intelligence, and social responsibility a grossly disabled and irresponsible personality. Must we conclude that this disguise is a mere pretense voluntarily assumed and that the psychopath’s essential dysfunction should be classed as mere hypocrisy instead of psychiatric defect or deformity?

Let us remember that his typical behavior defeats what appear to be his own aims.

Is it not he himself who is most deeply deceived by his apparent normality?

Although he deliberately cheats others and is quite conscious of his lies, he appears unable to distinguish adequately between his own pseudointentions, pseudoremorse, pseudolove, and the genuine responses of a normal person.

His monumental lack of insight indicates how little he appreciates the nature of his disorder.

When others fail to accept immediately his “word of honor as a gentleman,” his amazement, I believe, is often genuine. The term genuine is used here not to qualify the psychopath’s intentions but to qualify his amazement. His subjective experience is so bleached of deep emotion that he is invincibly ignorant of what life means to others.

His awareness of hypocrisy’s opposite is so insubstantially theoretical that it becomes questionable if what we chiefly mean by hypocrisy should be attributed to him.

Having no major values himself, can he be said to realize adequately the nature and quality of the outrages his conduct inflicts upon others?

A young child who has no impressive memory of severe pain may have been told by his mother it is wrong to cut off the dog’s tail. Knowing it is wrong he may proceed with the operation. We need not totally absolve him of responsibility if we say he realized less what he did than an adult who, in full appreciation of physical agony, so uses a knife.

Can a person experience the deeper levels of sorrow without considerable knowledge of happiness? Can he achieve evil intention in the full sense without real awareness of evil’s opposite? I have no final answer to these questions.

Attempts to interpret the psychopath’s disorder do not, of course, furnish evidence that he has a disorder or that it is serious. For reliable evidence of this we must examine his behavior. Only here, not in psychopathologic formulations, can we apply our judgment to what is objective and demonstrable.

Functionally and structurally all is intact on the outside. Good function (healthy reactivity) will be demonstrated in all theoretical trials. Sound judgment as well as good reasoning are likely to appear at verbal levels. Ethical as well as practical considerations will be recognized in the abstract. A brilliant mimicry of sound, social reactions will occur in every test except the test of life itself.

In the psychopath we confront a personality neither broken nor outwardly distorted but of a substance that lacks ingredients without which normal function in major life issues is impossible.

Simon, Holzberg, and Unger, impressed by the paradox of the psychopath’s poor performance despite intact reasoning, devised an objective test specifically to appraise judgment as it would function in real situations, as contrasted with theoretical judgment in abstract situations.

These workers are aware that the more complex synthesis of influences constituting what is often called judgment or understanding (as compared to a more theoretical “reasoning”) may be simulated in test situations in which emotional participation is minimal, that rational factors alone by an accurate aping or stereotyping can produce in vitro, so to speak, what they cannot produce in vivo.

Items for a multiple choice test were selected with an aim of providing maximal possibilities for emotional factors to influence decision and particularly for relatively trivial immediate gratification impulses to clash with major, long-range objectives. The same items were also utilized in the form of a completion test. The results of this test on a group of psychopaths tend to support the hypothetical interpretation attempted in this book.

If such a disorder does indeed exist in the so-called psychopath, it is not remarkable that its recognition as a major and disabling impairment has been long delayed.

Pathological changes visible on the surface of the body (laceration, compound fractures) were already being handled regularly by medical men when the exorcism of indwelling demons retained popular favor in many illnesses now treated by the internist. So, too, it has been with personality disorders. Those characterized by gross outward manifestations have been accepted as psychiatric problems long before others in which a superficial appearance of sanity is preserved.

Despite the psychopath’s lack of academic symptoms characteristic of those disorders traditionally classed as psychosis, he often seems, in some important respects, but not in all, to belong more with that group than with any other. Certainly his problems cannot be dealt with, medically or by any other means, unless similar legal instrumentalities for controlling his situation are set up and regularly applied.

I believe that if such a patient shows himself grossly incompetent in his behavior, he should be so appraised. It is necessary to change some of our legal criteria to make attempts at treatment or urgently needed supervision possible for him, the most serious objections are primarily theoretical. Perhaps our traditional definitions of psychiatric disability can stand alteration better than these grossly defective patients and those about them can stand the present farcical and sometimes tragic methods of handling their problems.

This is not to say that all people showing features of this type should be regarded as totally disabled. It is here maintained that this defect, like other psychiatric disorders, appears in every degree of severity and may constitute anything from a personality trait through handicaps of varying magnitude, including maximum disability and maximum threat to the peace and safety of the community.

In attempting to account for the abnormal behavior observed in the psychopath, we have found useful the hypothesis that he has a serious and subtle abnormality or defect at deep levels disturbing the integration and normal appreciation of experience and resulting in a pathology that might, in analogy with Henry Head’s classifications of the aphasias, be described as semantic.

Presuming that such a patient does fail to experience life adequately in its major issues, can we then better account for his clinical manifestations? The difficulties of proving, or even of demonstrating direct objective evidence, for hypotheses about psychopathology (or about ordinary subjective functioning) are too obvious to need elaborate discussion here.

If the psychopath’s life is devoid of higher order stimuli, of primary or serious goals and values, and of intense and meaningful satisfactions, it may be possible for the observer to better understand the patient who, for the trivial excitement of stealing a dollar (or a candy bar), the small gain of forging a $20.00 check, or halfhearted intercourse with an unappealing partner, sacrifices his job, the respect of his friends, or perhaps his marriage.

Behind much of the psychopath’s behavior we see evidence of relatively mild stimuli common to all mankind. In his panhandling, his pranks, his truancy, his idle boasts, his begging, and his taking another drink, he is acting on motives in themselves not unnatural. In their massive accumulation during his career, these acts are impressive chiefly because of what he sacrifices to carry them out. If, for him, the things sacrificed are also of petty value, his conduct becomes more comprehensible.

Woolley, in an interesting interpretation of these patients, compared them with an otherwise intact automobile having very defective brakes. Such an analogy suggests accurately an important pathological defect which seems to exist.

In contrast with an automobile, however, the braking functions of the human organism are built into the personality by reaction to life experience, to reward and punishment, praise and blame, shame, loss, honor, love, and so on. True as Woolley’s hypothesis may be, it seems likely that more fundamental than inadequate powers to refrain is the inadequate emotional reactivity upon which the learning to refrain must be based.

Even with good brakes on his car, the driver must have not only knowledge of but also feeling for what will happen otherwise if he is to use them correctly and adequately.

Some of the psychopath’s behavior may be fairly well accounted for if we grant a limitation of emotional capacity. Additional factors merit consideration.

The psychopath seems to go out of his way to make trouble for himself and for others.

In carelessly marrying a whore, in more or less inviting detection of a theft (or at least in ignoring the probability of detection), in attempting gross intimacies with a debutante in the poorly sheltered alcove just off a crowded ballroom, in losing his hospital parole or failing to be with his wife in labor just because he did not want to leave the crap game at midnight (or at 3 A.M.), in such actions there seems to be not only a disregard for consequences but an active impulse to show off, to be not discreet but conspicuous in making mischief.

Apparently he likes to flaunt his outlandish or antisocial acts with bravado.

When negative consequences are negligible or slight (both materially and emotionally), who does not like to cut up a little, to make a bit of inconsequential fun, or perhaps playfully take off on the more sober aspects of living? Dignity might otherwise become pompousness; learning, pedantry; goodness, self-righteousness.

The essential difference seems to lie in how much the consequences matter. It is also important to remember that inclination and taste are profoundly shaped by capacity to feel the situation adequately. A normal man’s potential inclination to give the pretty hatcheck girl $100.00 would probably not reach awareness in view of his knowledge that this would result in his three children’s not having shoes or in his having to humiliate himself by wheedling from a friend a loan he will never repay.

If, as we maintain, the big rewards of love, of the hard job well done, of faith kept despite sacrifices, do not enter significantly in the equation, it is not difficult to see that the psychopath is likely to be bored. Being bored, he will seek to cut up more than the ordinary person to relieve the tedium of his unrewarding existence.

If we think of a theater half-filled with ordinary pubertal boys who must sit through a performance of King Lear or of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, we need ask little of either imagination or memory to bring to mind the restless fidgeting, the noisy intercommunication of trivialities, the inappropriate guffaws or catcalls, and perhaps the spitballs or the mischievous application of a pin to the fellow in the next seat.

Apparently blocked from fulfillment at deep levels, the psychopath is not unnaturally pushed toward some sort of divertissement. Even weak impulses, petty and fleeting gratifications, are sufficient to produce in him injudicious, distasteful, and even outlandish misbehavior.

Major positive attractions are not present to compete successfully with whims, and the major negative deterrents (hot, persistent shame, profound regret) do not loom ahead to influence him. If the 12-year-old boys could enjoy King Lear or the Ninth Symphony as much as some people do, they would not be so reckless or unruly.

In a world where tedium demands that the situation be enlivened by pranks that bring censure, nagging, nights in the local jail, and irritating duns about unpaid bills, it can well be imagined that the psychopath finds cause for vexation and impulses toward reprisal. Few, if any, of the scruples that in the ordinary man might oppose and control such impulses seem to influence him. Unable to realize what it meant to his wife when he was discovered in the cellar flagrante delicto with the cook, he is likely to be put out considerably by her reactions to this.

His having used the rent money for a midnight long-distance call to an old acquaintance in California (with whom he bantered for an hour) also brings upon him censure or tearful expostulation. Considering himself harassed beyond measure, he may rise from the dining room table in a petty tantrum, curse his wife violently, slap her, even spit on her, and further annoyed by the sudden weeping of their 6-year-old daughter, throw his salad in the little girl’s face before he strides indignantly from the room.

His father, from the patient’s point of view, lacks humor and does not understand things. The old man could easily take a different attitude about having had to make good those last three little old checks written by the son. Nor was there any sense in raising so much hell because he took that dilapidated old Chevrolet for his trip to Memphis.

What if he did forget to tell the old man he was going to take it? It wouldn’t hurt him to go to the office on the bus for a few days. How was he (the patient) to know the fellows were going to clean him out at stud or that the little bitch of a waitress at the Frolic Spot would get so nasty about money? What else could he do except sell the antiquated buggy? If the old man weren’t so parsimonious he’d want to get a new car anyway!

And why did he (the father) have to act so magnanimous and hurt about settling things last Saturday night down at the barracks? You’d think from his attitude that it was the old man himself who’d had to put up with being cooped in there all those hours with louse-infested riff-raff! Well, he’d thanked his father and told him how sorry he was.

What else could a fellow do? As for that damned old Chevrolet, he was sick of hearing about it. His grudge passing with a turn of thought, he smiles with half-affectionate, playfully cordial feelings toward the old man as he concludes, “I ought to tell him to take his precious old vehicle and stick it up his _____!”

Lacking vital elements in the appreciation of what the family and various bystanders are experiencing, the psychopath finds it hard to understand why they continually criticize, reproach, quarrel with, and interfere with him. His employer, whom he has praised a few hours before, becomes a pettifogging tyrant who needs some telling off.

The policeman to whom he gave tickets for the barbecue last week (because he is such a swell guy) turns out to be a stupid oaf and a meddler who can’t mind his own business but has to go and arrest somebody just because of a little argument with Casey in the Midnight Grill about what happened to a few stinking dollar bills that were lying on the bar.

It is not necessary to assume great cruelty or conscious hatred in him commensurate with the degree of suffering he deals out to others. Not knowing how it hurts or even where it hurts, he often seems to believe that he has made a relatively mild but appropriate reprimand and that he has done it with humor.

What he believes he needs to protest against turns out to be no small group, no particular institution or set of ideologies, but human life itself. In it he seems to find nothing deeply meaningful or persistently stimulating, but only some transient and relatively petty pleasant caprices, a terribly repetitious series of minor frustrations, and ennui.

Like many teenagers, saints, history-making statesmen, and other notable leaders or geniuses, he shows unrest; he wants to do something about the situation. Unlike these others, as Lindner has so well and convincingly stressed, he is a “rebel without a cause.”

Reacting with something that seems not too much like divine discontent or noble indignation, he finds no cause in the ordinary sense to which, he can devote himself with wholeheartedness or with persistent interest. In certain aspects his essential life seems to be a peevish bickering with the inconsequential.

In other aspects he suggests a man hanging from a ledge who knows if he lets go he will fall, is likely to break a leg, may lose his job and his savings (through the disability and hospital expenses), and perhaps may injure his baby in the carriage just below. He suggests a man in this position who, furthermore, is not very tired and who knows help will arrive in a few minutes, but who, nevertheless, with a charming smile and a wisecrack, releases his hold to light a cigarette, to snatch at a butterfly, or just to thumb his nose at a fellow passing in the street below.

A world not by any means identical but with some vivid features of both these underlying situations can be found in Huysmans’ Against the Grain and in Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea. In the satirical novels of Evelyn Waugh, also, an atmosphere difficult to describe sometimes develops – an atmosphere that may give the reader awareness of attitudes and evaluations genuinely illustrative of deeply distorted or inadequate reactions to life.

The leading characters depicted therein show a peculiar cynicism which is more conscious and directed and purposive than the behavior of the psychopath. But none of the characters presented show even an approximate awareness of what is most valid and meaningful and natural in human beings. A negative response to life itself, an aversion at levels more basic than ordinary morals or the infraconscious foundations of taste and incentive, is conveyed subtly and impressively.

It is difficult to illustrate by incident, by the expressed attitude of the characters depicted, or by any clearly implied evaluation of the authors the specific quality of what is evoked in these novels as the essence of an unhappy, mutilated, and trivial universe in which all the characters exist. The sense of pathology pervades to levels so deep that rational scrutiny cannot reach and meet the fundamental implications; nor can inquiry satisfactorily demonstrate its precise source.

If the actual world and man’s biologic scope were only that conveyed in these interesting works, it would perhaps be less difficult to account for obsessive illness and for the psychopath’s career as reasonable reactions to a situation where no course is possible except one profoundly pathological in one way or another.

Thoughtful contemplation of what is depicted in these works of fiction suggests a world as fundamentally altered as what Straus presents as the world of the obsessive patient. In the effective and terse implication of general emotional incapacity in these characters, the authors succeed in evoking awareness of a sort of quasi-life restricted within a range of staggering superficiality.

This, rather than those aspects of the works that apparently brought them popularity, may deserve high literary appraisal as concise and valuable communications of something that is by no means easy to convey in direct language. Such a superficiality and lack of major incentive or feeling strongly suggest the apparent emotional limitations of the psychopath.

What Straus and Havelock Ellis have brought out is not discernible in the reactions of the psychopath. It is, as a matter of fact, somewhat veiled in the reactions of most obsessive patients. Observation of the psychopath makes it increasingly plain, however, that he is not reacting normally to the surroundings that are ordinarily assumed to exist. I cannot clearly define the specific milieu which such a patient encounters and to which his reactions are related.

There is much to suggest that it is a less distinctly or consistently apprehended world than what Straus describes as the inner world of the obsessive patient. It is my belief that it may be a world not less abnormal and perhaps more complexly confusing. We should remember, however, that we have no direct evidence to prove that a deficiency or distortion of this sort exists in the unconscious core of the psychopath.

We can only say that his behavior strongly and consistently suggests it. This discussion has been based, of course. on a hypothesis that the psychopath has a basic inadequacy of feeling and realization that prevents him from normally experiencing the major emotions and from reacting adequately to the chief goals of human life.

Beyond the symptomatic acts of the psychopath, we must bear in mind his reaction to his situation, his general experiencing of life. Typical of psychoneurosis are anxiety, recognition that one is in trouble, and efforts to alter the bad situation. These are natural (“normal”) whole personality reactions to localized symptoms.

In contrast, the severe psychopath, like those so long called psychotic, does not show normal responses to the situation. It is offered as an opinion that a less obvious but nonetheless real pathology is general, and that in this respect he is more closely allied with the psychotic than with the psychoneurotic patient. The pathology might be regarded not as gross fragmentation of the personality but as a more subtle alteration. Let us say that instead of macroscopic disintegration our (hypothetical) change might be conceived of as one that seriously curtails function without obliterating form.

Let us think of the personality in the psychopath as differing from the normal in some such way. The form is perfect and the outlines are undistorted. But being subtly and profoundly altered, it can successfully perform only superficial activities or pseudofunctions. It cannot maintain important or meaningful interpersonal relations. It cannot fulfill its purpose of adjusting adequately to social reality. Its performance can only mimic these genuine functions.

The persistent pattern of maladaptation at personality levels and the ostensible purposelessness of many self-damaging acts definitely suggests not only a lack of strong purpose but also a negative purpose or at least a negative drift. This sort of patient, despite all his opportunities, his intelligence, and his plain lessons of experience, seems to go out of his way to woo misfortune. The suggestion has already been made that his typical activities seem less comprehensible in terms, of life-striving or of a pursuit of joy than as an unrecognized blundering toward the negations of nonexistence.

Some of this, it has been suggested, may be interpreted as the tantrum, like reactions of an inadequate personality balked, as behavior similar to that of the spoiled child who bumps his own head against the wall or holds his breath when he is crossed. It might be thought of as not unlike a man’s cutting off his nose to spite not only his face, but also the scheme of life in general, which has turned out to be a game that he cannot play.

Such reactions are, of course, found in nearly all types of personality disorder or inadequacy. It will perhaps be readily granted that they are all regressive. Behavior against the constructive patterns through which the personality finds expression and seeks fulfillment of its destiny is regressive activity although it may not consist in a return, step by step, or in a partial return to the status of childhood and eventually of infancy. Such reactions appear to be, in a sense, against the grain of life or against the general biologic purpose.

Regressive reactions or processes may all be regarded as disintegrative, as reverse steps in the general process of biologic growth through which a living entity becomes more complex, more highly adapted and specialized, better coordinated, and more capable of dealing successfully or happily with objective or subjective experience. This scale of increasing complexity exists at points even below the level of living matter.

A group of electrons functioning together make up the atom which can indeed be split down again to its components. The atoms joining form molecules which, in turn, coming together in definite orderly arrangement, may become structurally coordinating parts of elaborate crystalline materials; or, in even more specialized and complex fashion, they may form a cell of organic matter. Cells of organic matter may unite and integrate to form the living organism we know as a jellyfish. Always the process is reversible; the organic matter can decompose back into inorganic matter.

Without laboriously following out all the steps of this scale, we might mention the increasing scope of activity, the increasing specialization, and the increasing precariousness of existence at various levels up through vertebrates and mammals to man. All along this scale it is evident that failure to function successfully at a certain level necessitates regression or decomposition to a lower or less complicated one.

If the cell membrane of one epithelial unit in a mammalian body becomes imporous and fails to obtain nutriment brought by blood and lymph, it loses its existence as an epithelial cell. If the unwary rabbit fails to perceive the danger of the snare, he soon becomes in rapid succession a dead rabbit, merely a collection of dead organs and supportive structures, protein, fat, and finally, inorganic matter. The fundamental quest for life has been interrupted, and, having been interrupted, the process goes into reverse.

So, too, the criminal discovered and imprisoned ceases to be a free man who comes and goes as he pleases. A curtailment in the scope of his functioning is suffered-a regression in one sense to simpler, more routine, and less varied and vivid activities.

The man who fails in another and more complex way to go on with life, to fulfill his personality growth and function, becomes what we call a schizophrenic. The objective curtailment of his activities by the rules of the psychiatric hospital are almost negligible in comparison with the vast simplification, the loss of self-expression, and the personal disintegration which characterize his regression from the subjective point of view. The old practice of referring to the extremely regressed schizophrenic as leading a vegetative existence implies the significance that is being stressed.

Regression, then, in a broad sense may be taken to mean movement from richer and more full life to levels of scantier or less highly developed life. In other words, it is relative death. It is the cessation of existence or maintenance of function at a given level.

The concept of an active death instinct postulated by Freud has been utilized by some to account for socially self-destructive reactions. I have never been able to discover in the writings of Freud or any of his followers real evidence to confirm this assumption.

In contrast, the familiar tendency to disintegrate, against which life evolves, may be regarded as fundamental and comparable to gravity. The climbing man or animal must use force and purpose to ascend or to maintain himself at a given height. To fall or slide downhill he need only cease his efforts and let go. Without assuming an intrinsic death instinct, it is possible to account for active withdrawal from positions at which adaptation is unsuccessful and stress too extreme.

Whether regression occurs primarily through something like gravity or through impulses more self-contained, the backward movement (or ebbing) is likely to prompt many sorts of secondary reactions, including behavior not adapted for ordinary human purposes but instead, for functioning in the other direction. The modes of such reactivity may vary, may fall into complex patterns, and may seek elaborate expression.

In a movement (or gravitational drift) from levels where life is vigorous and full to those where it is less so, the tactics of withdrawal predominate.

People with all the outer mechanisms of adaptation intact might, one would think, regress more complexly than can those who react more simply. The simplest reaction in reverse might be found in a person who straightway blows out his brains.

As a skillful general who has realized that the objective is unobtainable withdraws by feints and utilizes all sorts of delaying actions, so a patient who has much of the outer mechanisms for living may retire, not in obvious rout but skillfully and elaborately, preserving his lines.

The psychopath as we conceive of him in such an interpretation seems to justify the high estimate of his technical abilities as we see them expressed in reverse movement.

Unlike the general with the retreating army in our analogy, he seems not still devoted to the original contest but to other issues and aims that arise in withdrawal. To force the analogy further we might say that the retiring army is now concerning itself with looting the countryside, seeking mischief and light entertainment. The troops have cast off their original loyalties and given up their former aims but have found no other serious ones to replace them. But the effective organization and all of the technical skills are retained and utilized destructively.

F. L. Wells has expressed things very pertinent to the present discussion. A brief quotation will bring out useful points:

The principle of substitutive reactions, sublimative or regressive in character, has long been known, but Kurt Lewin’s (1933) experimental construction of the latter is especially apt, if not unquestionable mental hygiene. A child, for example, continually impelled to open a gate it is impossible for him to open, may blow up in a tantrum, grovel on the ground, till the emotion subsides sufficiently for him to become substitutively occupied, as with fragments of gravel and other detritus he finds there, by which he forgets his distress about the gate. […]

The human personality has the adaptive property of finding satisfactions at simpler levels when higher ones are taken away, fortunately so if this keeps him out of a psychosis, otherwise if it stabilizes him in contentment at this lower level (“going native”) or if the satisfactions cannot be found short of a psychosis (MacCurdy, 1925, p. 367). All such cases have the common regressive factor of giving up the higher-level adjustment (opening the gate) with regressive relief at a lower level (playing with the gravel).

Another illustration given by Wells emphasizes features of the concept that are valuable to us:

Consider, for example, the group of drives that center about the concept of self-maintenance, the “living standards” of civilization. This means the pursuit of the diverse means to surround oneself with the maximum of material comfort in terms of residence, food, playthings, etc., for the purchase of which one can capitalize his abilities.

That the normal individual will do this to a liberal limit is taken in the local culture as a matter of course, probably more liberally than the facts justify. For this pursuit involves a competitive struggle beset also with inner conflicts (e.g., ethical), which by no means everyone is able to set aside.

Among regressions specific to this category are those undertakings of poverty common to religious orders, but this regression is quite specific, since these orders often involve their members in other “disciplines” from which the normal individual would flee as far (Parkman, 1867, Chap. 16).

It is quite certain, though hard to demonstrate objectively, that many an individual in normal life regresses from these economic conflicts only in less degree. He does not take the vow of poverty like the monastic, nor does he dedicate himself to the simplified life of the “South Sea Island” stereotype, but he prefers salary to commission, city apartment to suburban “bungalow,” clerical work to (outside) sales.

A thought expressed by William James in 1902 and quoted by Wells deserves renewed attention:

Yonder puny fellow however, whom everyone can beat suffers no chagrin about it, for he has long ago abandoned the attempt to “carry that line,” as the merchants say, of Self at all.

With no attempt there can be no failure; with no failure no humiliation.

So our self-feeling in this world depends entirely on what we back ourselves to be and do. It is determined by the ratio of our actualities to our supposed potentialities; a fraction of which our pretentions are the denominator and the numerator our success: thus, Self-esteem = Success/Pretensions.

Such a fraction may be increased as well by diminishing the denominator as by increasing the numerator.

To give up pretensions is as blessed a relief as to get them gratified; and where disappointment is incessant and the struggle unending, this is what men will always do.

The history of evangelical theology, with its conviction of sin, its self-despair, and its abandonment of salvation by works, is the deepest of possible examples, but we meet others in every walk of life. .

How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young-or slender! Thank God, we say, those illusions are gone. Everything added to the self is a burden as well as a pride.

Something relevant to the points now under consideration may be found also in Sherrington’s comment on reactions (or inlaid precautions) against unbearable pain or stress in the human organism. He says:

Again in life’s final struggle the chemical delicacy of the brain-net can make distress lapse early because with the brain’s disintegration the mind fades early – a rough world’s mercy towards its dearest possession.

There are, it seems, many ways for this to occur without signs of any change which we yet have objective means to detect, chemically or microscopically. Such changes may occur under the stimulus of agents that do not have direct physical contact with the brain or with any part of the body.

Withdrawal, or limitation of one’s quest in living, appears in many forms.

The decision for taking such a step may be consciously voluntary, but it seems likely that many influences less clear and simple may also play a part. In the earliest years of human life a great deal of complicated shaping may occur, with adaptive changes to promote survival by an automatic refusal (inability) to risk one’s feelings (response) in the greatest subjective adventures. In adult life such decisions sometimes emerge in clear deliberation.

The activity of the psychopath may seem in some respects to accomplish a kind of protracted and elaborate social and spiritual suicide. Perhaps the complex, sustained, and spectacular undoing of the self may be cherished by him. He seldom allows physical suicide to interrupt it.

Be it noted that such a person retains high intelligence and nearly all the outer mechanisms for carrying on the complicated activities of positive life. It is to be expected then that his function in the opposite (regressive) emotional direction might be more subtle than those of a less highly developed biologic entity.

The average rooster proceeds at once to leap on the nearest hen and have done with his simple erotic impulse. The complex human lover may pay suit for years to his love object, approaching her through many volumes of poetry, through the building up of financial security in his business, through manifold activities and operations of his personality functions, and with aims and emotions incomparably more complicated and more profound than that of the rooster.

When complexly organized functions are devoted to aimless or inconsistent rebellion against the positive goals of life, perhaps they may enable the patient to woo failure and disintegration with similar elaborateness and subtlety. His conscious or outer functioning may at the same time maintain an imitation of life that is uniquely deceptive.

Perhaps the emptiness or superficiality of life without major goals or deep loyalties, or real love, would leave a person with high intelligence and other superior capacities so bored that he would eventually turn to hazardous, self-damaging, outlandish, antisocial, and even self-destructive exploits in order to find something fresh and stimulating in which to apply his relatively useless and unchallenged energies and talents.

The more experience I have with psychopaths over the years, the less likely it seems to me that any dynamic or psychogenic theory is likely to be established by real evidence as the cause of their grave maladaptation.

Increasingly I have come to believe that some subtle and profound defect in the human organism, probably inborn but not hereditary, plays the chief role in the psychopath’s puzzling and spectacular failure to experience life normally and to carry on a career acceptable to society. This, too, is still a speculative concept and is not supported by demonstrable evidence.

Masculine and Feminine Characters: An Inquiry into Essential Forms

I published this earlier but I may as well republish it. Let me know what you think.

Masculine and Feminine Characters: An Inquiry into Essential Forms

By Robert Lindsay

In June 1903, the Austrian philosopher Otto Weininger published a great book called Sex and Character – A Fundamental Investigation. He was 23 years old, a mere boy. The book did not receive negative reviews, but it caused little interest either.

Weininger was attacked Paul Julius Mobius, who accused Weininger of plagiarism. Depressed, Weininger left for Italy. He returned to his parents’ house in late September and stayed there for five days.

On October 3, 1903, Weininger checked himself into the building where Beethoven had died, now a small inn. At 3 AM the next morning on October 4, Otto Weininger pointed a pistol at his chest and put a bullet in his heart.

Weininger’s dramatic death quickly made him a cause célèbre in Vienna, inspired several imitation suicides and roused quite a bit of interest in the book.

It was roundly praised, even by Sigmund Freud. Freud had met Weininger the year before. Freud stated that Weininger has a striking air of “genius” about him. Ludwig Wittgenstein also praised the book and stated that it was an influence on his early writings. It was also praised by August Strindberg and even James Joyce

Weininger’s book created quite a stir, and Weininger has been accused of being both a misogynist and a Jewish anti-Semite or self-hating Jew. Both characterizations are probably innacurate.

Nearly 100 years later, Weininger’s book still has its champions, while his reputation has suffered in the era of the Political Correctness and the Cultural Left in the West. Nevertheless, Weininger’s place on the canon of great philosophers seems secure.

Weininger felt that there were two essential characters in human beings, the masculine aspect and the feminine aspect. He felt that both aspects were present in all humans.

In the chart below, I lay out scores of human characterological variables and how the Masculine and Feminine Characters represent each one.

The first five variables are by Otto Weininger, but the last 56 are by me. Please note that I don’t necessarily agree with Weininger’s five variables in total, only that it is a good starting place. I have also used the terms Masculine Principle and Feminine Principle to refer to these terms.

Characters         Masculine*           Feminine* 


Principles

Activity             Active                 Passive

Consciousness Conscious           Unconscious 

Thinking           Objective            Subjective

Genius              Yes                      No

Productivity      Productive         Nonproductive

Awareness          Conscious Mind    Unconscious Mind

Energy               Generative           Receptive

Mind                  Thinking               Feeling

Emotion             Stoic                    Moody

Tactile                Callous                Sensitive

Humor               Slapstick              Irony

Weather             Calm                   Unsettled

Temperature       Cold                    Warm

Graph                Linear                  Scatterplot

Empathy            Poor                     Rich

Pain                   Inflict                   Receive

Confrontation     Forward                Withdrawal

Reaction            Contemplative       Reactive

Style                 Deliberative           Unthinking
 
Intensity            Concentration        Distraction

Denial style        Projection              Fantasy

Egotism style      Narcissism            Histrionic

Pathology           Sociopath              Borderline

Defense             Anger                    Denial

Ego desire          Expansion              Dissolution

Destructive         Other                    Self 

Annihilation        Totalizing               Self only

Depression         Projection              Introjection

Survival             Self                       Others

Reliance             Self                       Others

Criminality         Dangerous             Petty thief

Psychopathy      Violent menace       Prostitute

Compassion       Indifference            Mercy

Wakefulness      Aware                     Unaware

Alertness           Wide Awake            Sleepwalking

Planning            Methodical              Conspiring

Morality             Strict                      Contingent

Aggression         Direct                     Subterfuge

Violence             External                  Internal

Warfare              Bully                      Victim

Hierarchy            Dominant               Submissive

Force                  Blunt                      Subtle

Texture               Harsh                     Smooth

Resistance           Extreme                 Yielding

Linear                 Straight                  Jagged

Presentation        Forthright               Devious

Surface               Clear                      Opaque

Understand         Simple                    Complicated
 
Logic                  Linear                      Circular

Analysis              Logic                       Intuition

Strategy             Straightforward         Wily 

Movement          Stiff                          Flowing

Grain                 Coarse                      Fine

Essence             Sky                           Earth

Instrument         Blunt                        Subtle

Transport           Highway                    Stream

Route                A to B                       Roundabout

Tour                  Autobahn                  Scenic route

Flight                Soar                          Flutter

Hobby               Monomania                Dilettante

Truths               Multiple                     Singular

Theory              Branching                  Obsessive

Fact                  Durable                     Momentary

Interpretation    Nonpersonal              Personal

Manichean         Grey area                 Black and White

Systematics       Categorizing             Noncategorizing

Science             Empirical                  Intuitive

Philosophy         Tough                      Dream State

Ubermensch      More common           Less common

Body                 Hard                        Soft

Tissue               Sinewy                     Fatty

Signal               Weathervane            Antenna

Telepathy           Poor                        Mindreader

Broadcast          Subwoofer                Subliminal 

Travel                Itinerary                   Lark  

Decision            Plotted                      Whimsy

Confusion          Certainty                   Perplexed

Party                 Kegger                      Cocktail  

Social                Optional                    Mandatory

Sex                   Compulsion                Choice

Intellectual         Paradise                    Boredom

Bird                   Hawk                        Hummingbird 
 
Birdsong            Crow                         Warbler 

Love                  Auxiliary                    Requirement 

Danger              Physical                     Psychological 

Grudge              Discard                      Retain  

Jealousy            Weak                         Strong

Armistice           Reconciliation             Cold Peace

Storm               Thunderstorm             Spring Shower

Bipolar              Mania                         Depressive

A Comparison of Artistic Styles of the Three Great Major Races: Blacks, Whites, and Asians

Black art is often spare and primitive yet still quite good, an African mask for example. Whites take art to the ultimate heights – compare the development of Perspective with an African mask – not the same thing, is it?

To Whites, Asians seem so flat and non-creative that even their art seems to Whites to be odd, spare, trite, and even boring. See classical Japanese and Chinese simple landscapes with birds, water, and low light for example. It’s literally Zen art. On the other hand, my artist friends have told me that it’s fantastic for what it is trying to do.

Black literature can be good, but it tends towards the heavily verbal sort that is so loud and musical that it almost demands to be read aloud for affect.

Whites strive for the heights.

Asians can reduce literature to its utter basics – see the haiku for example. Haikus are often beautiful, but Whites find the spareness and simplicity of these forms to be almost unsettling and odd. However, Asians also stretch art to its ultimate limits – see the great Chinese classics with ~2,300 pages. It’s as if they either try for the perfect bare minimum or the ultimate definition of infinity.

Asians strip art down to the utter basics, Zen-like. There’s a logic to that, but Whites think it’s excessively simplistic.

Whites once again go for the heights.

Great Works of Literature by Whites

Great books by Whites? How bout we look at the Top 50? Oh well, call it Top 54. I couldn’t help but toss a few more in there. Tolstoy (Anna Karenina and War and Peace), Dostoevsky (The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment), Joyce (Ulysses and A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man), Melville (Moby Dick), Pynchon (Gravity’s Rainbow), Nabokov (Lolita), Shakespeare (Hamlet) George Eliot (Middlemarch), Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby), Marquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude), Anonymous (1001 Nights), Forster (A Passage to India), Cervantes (Don Quixote), the Brontes (Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre), Austen (Pride and Prejudice), T. S. Eliot (The Wasteland), Pound (The Cantos), Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Flaubert (Madame Bovary), Camus (The Stranger), Twain (Huckleberry Flynn), Faulkner (The Sound and the Fury and Absalom, Absalom), Dickens (Great Expectations and David Copperfield), Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises), Homer (The Iliad and The Odyssey), Stendhal (The Red and the Black), Proust (Remembrance of Things Past), Kafka (The Trial), Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird), Salinger (Catcher in the Rye), Milton (Paradise Lost), Voltaire (Candide), Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Sterne (Tristram Shandy), Dante (The Divine Comedy) Chekhov (stories), Heller (Catch-22), Orwell (1984), Borges (Ficciones), Rushdie (Midnight’s Children), Conrad (Heart of Darkness), Virgil (The Aenid), Whitman (The Leaves of Grass), Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), Steinbeck (The Grapes of Wrath), and Woolf (Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse).

Great Works of Literature by Blacks

Yes, Blacks have written some great works. But not The Color Purple or Beloved, please, or at least let’s wait a while, and yes, I’ve read both. Neither is in the same category as what follows. They only make the great books list because people are trying to be PC and throw some Black authors in. That’s very nice of them, but it’s not solid Lit Crit, if such a thing even exists any more in these mushy, truth-free postmodern times.

Richard Wright (Native Son) and Ralph Ellison (Invisible Man) come to mind. Also, try Zora Neale Houston (Their Eyes Were Watching God), Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart), James Baldwin (Go Tell It on the Mountain and The Fire Next Time), or Jean Rys (Wide Sargasso Sea).

Despite Aphra Behn’s Oronoko – Possibly the first true modern-style novel written in the West! – Blacks got a rather late start at things. Nevertheless, there are some works there that reach for the same skies as the Whites’ works do. Houston’s book in particular nearly matches Eliot’s Middlemarch in the glory of its prose.

Look – I am not saying that Black authors have not done some great work – e.e. cumming’s poetry comes to mind too, but if you notice, this list is a lot shorter than the proceeding one, right? Do check out some of the recent (last 75 years) classics out of Black Africa though. There are some great books in there.

Great Works of Literature by Asians

Where are the comparable great Asian books? From Japan, we have Yukio Mishima (The Sea of Fertility), and of course Murasaki Shikibu (The Tale of the Genji – a very long Chinese-like epic with 1,306 pages). There has definitely been some fine literature coming out of Japan for the last 100 years. Japan also got a fairly late start, only beginning to write Western-style literature ~1900. This work has been greatly accelerating in recent years, but it’s not much read in the West. Haruki Murakami is very good though. When is he going to win the Nobel Prize anyway?

But other than the millennia-old Genji, Mishima is the only one who has seen his work rise to true greatness in the West so far.

China was much later to Western-style literature, only showing up in the last 50 years, if that. Though there are a few stars on the horizon. Previously their works were very different – typically very long epics – Cao Xueqin (The Dream of the Red Chamber – 2,339 pages), Shi Nai’an (Water Margin – 2,304 pages), Wu Cheng’en (Journey to the West – 2,346 pages), and Luo Guanzhong (Romance of the Three Kingdoms – 2,340 pages). Maybe add Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng (The Plum in the Golden Vase – 3,334 pages) and Yu Xiangdou (Journey to the North – much shorter at 392 pages) while we are at it. Those are all incredible works.

Are they in the same category as the books by Whites? I’m not sure. It’s sort of like the painting. It’s not that Asian painting is bad – it’s incredibly great for what it’s trying to do in its minimalist way.

Are Japanese haikus as good at the great White literature above? I’m not sure. The Asians, with epics stretching for thousands of pages, their spare naturalistic art, and their compact yet gorgeous haikus – the first towards wild excess and the latter two, like a Bonsai garden, towards extreme minimalism – are instead trying to do something completely different from what the Whites have been doing, so any comparison is between apples and oranges. You can’t really compare them.

Asian art and literature is great and so is Western art and literature, but they are trying to do completely different things. I might say the same thing about an African mask. It’s a wonderful work of art, but is it the same thing as a work by Rembrandt, Bosch, Da Vinci, Van Gogh, or even a Picasso or Dali? Well, no. But maybe once again we can’t compare because the Africans were trying to do something completely different than the Whites with their White reach to the skies paintings.

Comparing lions and tigers. Which is better, a lion or a tiger? Besides neither one if I’m walking in the jungle, I’d say neither one in any case. A lion is great at being a lion. Nothing else comes close. Likewise with a tiger. He wins the gold at being a tiger. They’re both the best at being what they are and at what they are trying to do.

Alt Left: Childhood Never Ends: Why Large Groups of Adults Continue To Engage in Childish Games of Sadistic Dominance of Hated Inferiors

Alpha Unit: OK, Jim Crow laws were proposed as a solution to a problem: White Southerners were being ordered to treat newly freed slaves (and free Black people) as equals, when it was clear that newly freed Black people were in no position to live as their equals.

Their solution? Forget all this “equality” stuff; it’s costing us too much. Let’s bring back the old, tried-and-true way we used to do things: Blacks subordinate to Whites and kept in their place. We’ll make sure it’s “legal.”

Occam’s razor. Look for the simplest explanation. This makes the most sense to me. The whole idea that Claudius is putting forward that White folks are just too nice to do this sort of thing, well, nope. Humans have a need to dominate others. The strong dominate the weak and the weak dominate the weaker. See countless works of literature, drama, and cinema, or, Hell, just read Nietzsche if he makes sense to you.

Also there are different types of sadism.

The First Type of Sadism – the Raw Animal Lust for Cruelty and Love of Humiliating Others Seen Most Prominently in Boys

I’m thinking this type is genetic or biological. This is a pure sadism that can be seen in boys, non-human mammals, and in  adults, most especially in Black adults, especially African Blacks (US Blacks have had a lot of it enculturated out of them, but you still see it a lot).

Sure, all the other races display this raw sadism too, especially in times of war, but you see it most prominently in Blacks to the point where some feel it is an essential aspect of the Black Character, Personality, or perhaps, I would argue, Black Principle (if Black is a Principle like Masculine and Feminine are Principles).

This is extremely prominent in Black children, especially boys, and they are much more sadistic than White boys (Yes, I know all boys are sadists). It gets slowly enculturated out of Black boys as they grow up as with most of us males, but you still see it a lot in the ghetto types in young adult men and even women sometimes, where the basic Black Personality is at its rawest and least enculturated.

This is a raw delight in torture, torment, inflicting pain, violence, and even death on a suffering and tormented Other. It includes the love of observing a victim’s suffering.

Of course, you also see this same sadism in young White men (college boys in particular can be terribly cruel), but it’s just not as prominent as in Blacks.

Also, White culture profoundly dislikes displays of childish sadism in White adults. As an man, you’re supposed to have grown out that boyhood crap or had it beaten out of you if you were particularly diabolical.

In some ways, this sadism can be fun. I recall a Black man I knew named Michael. He hung out with this other Black artist, William, who was very introverted and odd. He couldn’t get laid with God’s help. His name was Charles and he had a university degree in art.

The cool guy’s name was Michael and he was a White-acting Black artist with a university degree in art. I was over at a mutual friend’s house and our friend commented that William had a date.

William was a very shy guy with low-self esteem and a hurt and somewhat confused expression on his face. I believe also had a strange high-pitched voice. He was extremely weird but completely harmless, and once you figured out how harmless he was, you mostly just wanted to laugh at him because he was such a nerd that he was a laughingstock, a comical figure.

He also couldn’t get laid with God’s help, even though he was quite straight. I’d never known him to have a girlfriend or even a date. At age 29, he was not only undoubtedly a virgin, but he’d probably never even been kissed.

I was absolutely dumbfounded.

“What?!” I nearly shouted across the room. “No way does William have a date! No way! That’s not even possible! Tell me you’re joking!”

This was a pretty mean thing for me to say, but I can be a dick. The Black guy, Micheal, roared with laughter so hard he nearly rolled on the floor for ten minutes. As you can see, he was laughing his ass off at the cruelty of my comment.

So Blacks can be a lot of fun if you want to get down with some mean, no-holds-barred humor. A lot of humor is cruel – face it – but Whites’ distaste for sadism limits their potential for humor a lot. We see this especially in the dour, party-pooper, no-fun SJW crowd, where every other joke is an evil bigoted crime that someone needs to get fired over.

In many ways, Idi Amin was the ultimate primal Black man. He displayed most of the raw material of the Black personality to an exaggerated degree. Not all of it is bad. He was wildly extroverted, always smiling and happy, had a nearly inborn sense of humor to the point of being a natural humorist, loved to party and have fun, and had a tremendous love of promiscuous sex. Idi Amin was a good time! As long as you were on his good side, that is.

And then there was his bad side, also in spades.

Whites and most other races probably used to be like this too, but centuries of civilization may have bred it out of us culturally and genetically. We can surely see a lot of examples of horrific sadism in Whites and Asians only centuries ago. One argument is that for a thousand years of civilization, most White criminals were quickly killed, often by public hanging. The idea is that this bred a lot of the criminal genes out of us.

Blacks from Africa, never having good through this process of weeding out criminal genes by execution, didn’t experience such a cleansing. On the other hand, perhaps White and Asian cultures have also accelerated so much in civilizational terms that this behavior is enculturated out of us.

That this love of sadism and cruelty appears so normally and freely in boys of all races suggests that it’s still part of the raw human personality. Although the dramatic morally superiority of US Blacks as opposed to African Blacks suggests that 300 years of exposure to White Christian civilization has had a calming, civilizing, and perhaps eugenically intelligence-increasing effect on US Blacks, which argues for the effects a more advanced civilizing culture can have on a population of a less civilized race.

The Second Type of Sadism – The Dominant Lording It Over Their Brutalized Inferior Victims

I’ve thought about this a lot, and there is another sort of sadism, that of the dominant inflicting their sadistic lordly violence against those they see as inferior.

Look at the delighted faces of those German policemen tormenting Jews in the street. You can say it’s revenge, but isn’t it more than that?

Look very closely at the faces of those Whites at those lynchings – boys, girls, men, women. There’s that same look as you saw in those Nazis above: the wicked gleeful look of the dominant bully inflicting torture and/or death at a contemptuously hated inferior. This poor Black sod’s hanging from a tree with his neck broken in a sickening way, and these Whites who look like your nice White relatives at Thanksgiving are having the Goddamned party of their lives.

What was all that habit of calling Black men boys and Black women girls about?

Why were Black children forced to apologize to White children they bumped into by addressing the White children as Mr. or Mrs. as if the White kids were adults and the Black child was still a child?

Why were the schoolbooks given to Black schools the refuse of the White schools – ripped, torn up, wrecked, and coming with a sticker on them saying that they were too destroyed to be of use to White kids, so they were only worthwhile for Black kids?

What was up with the torching of the Black business district in Tulsa?

Why were Black men lynched and murdered for the crime of standing up to White men and fighting back against them, even if the Whites were trying to kill them? In this case, the message was that of the bully: We will attack you in any way we choose, and if you dare to fight back and hurt one of us, you will die.

Why did White children torment their Black “friends” by forcing them, like slaves, to carry the White kids’ books to and from school for them?

Why did White boys manipulate and laugh behind the backs at their Black male friends and encourage them to commit crimes, so if anyone was caught, the Black would take the blame?

Why were Blacks waited on last in stores, and, even after waiting an hour, passed over again if a White person walked in?

Why did Whites whose land had been sold to Blacks long ago return to their land 50 years later and demand that Blacks hand over the sold land to its original owners, or else?

Why did even White women tell Black men who talked back to them, “I could have you hung from a tree just like that.”? See Of Mice and Men – and this was California in the 30s!

This is all nothing but raw, naked cruelty, and furthermore, there’s a brutal logic behind it: the societal enforcement of White dominance and superiority over Black submission and inferiority. That’s all it is. No need to conjure up fancy theories. Back to Occam’s again.

They did all of this abject and unnecessary cruel stuff because otherwise Blacks would commit a lot of crime? Get out. If anything, such treatments are designed to push people to their limits. Look at how Gypsies are (deservedly) treated in Europe? Does it stop them from committing crimes?

No, all of these punishments were done to enforce the sort of gleeful domination you see on the faces of the schoolyard bullies in 8th grade as they torment their designated victims.

And no, adults are not too mature to regress to childish games of sadistic dominance. I’ve seen so many cases of adults the world over delighting in the sadistic dominance of a hated inferior Other to believe otherwise.

They’re not doing it to stop crime. They’re doing it to get off. To get a rush. To get that glorious sadistic delight in tormenting an innocent victim you remember from boyhood. Remember how fun that was? Remember how tall it made you feel?

Well, those adults are doing the exact same shit for the exact same reasons.

Another Way of Looking at Time

A book by Guy Murchie called The Music of the Spheres was published in 1961. It’s recommended in one of Kurt Vonnegut’s books. I forget which one now. And yes, I think Vonnegut

It’s little known nowadays and that’s too bad. It’s not that it’s an unambitious endeavor!

From the publisher’s blurb about it:

The first half of the book–Moons of Rock and Suns of Fire–deals with major astronomical phenomena viewed poetically from an imaginary earth satellite. In the second part the realms in which physics holds sway pass in review; the forms and nature of matter, the atom, waves and music, light and color, space and time.

I don’t know about you but I like the second part. Now focus on the last word in that blurb, “time.”

In that book, Murchie posits a fascinating notion. Instead of the past, present, and future all being separate and discreet things not a whole lot related to each other, Murchie says that in terms of physics, the past, the present, and the future are all simultaneously occurring right now as I write this. I know what you’re thinking. There goes Bob with another of his nutty ideas. But hold your horses a second, Hoss, and listen up for a bit.

I think there may actually be something to this and what follows is my version of Murchie’s theory:

The past has the seeds of our present and future within it already, so the present and future are contained in the past. We can say that the past contains the dual tails of the present and future in it. Of course when the past was happening, it had its own past and future embedded in it.

The present was brought here by the past and the future will contain the seeds of the present, so the present contains both the head of the past and the tail of the future in itself.

The future obviously doesn’t even exist. Think about that a bit as most folks don’t realize that. We Americans treat the future as if it’s a sure thing and often as if it will be better than the present. But we are thinking about something that doesn’t even exist yet. But even if it did exist, the future would be literally an outgrowth of the present, which, like it or not, is literally an outgrowth of the past, so the future would contain the heads of the present and future in it. The future of course contains the growth from the seeds of the past and the present, otherwise it wouldn’t even be there.

Your move, commenters.

All Roads Lead to Math and Philosophy

I never considered myself much of a philosopher. But I am now in my 60’s and I sort of find that as all roads used to lead to Rome, all roads seem to lead to philosophy! For a while I was studying famous scholars across all of the humanities. And I began to notice something. As one moved deeper and deeper upwards into the various disciplines, two things happened:

1. Everything started turning into mathematics. I suppose math is really at the root of just about everything if you think about it. We can even reduce many day to day questions or even philosophical bits of wisdom down to binary statements of even equations. Wittgenstein seemed to be getting at this. People have remarked that mathematics is “the ultimate language.”

2. Everything started turning into philosophy. After writing and doing research in their specialty for a long time, scholars all across the humanities started turning late in their careers to philosophy and how their branch of humanities could be explained philosophically. Obviously this is true of literature. Look at literary criticism nowadays. Especially with critical theory, so much of lit crit deals with actual philosophy. Philosophy in a way seems to be the peak one reaches whenever one starts climbing of the stairs of any humanities branch. They all meet in philosophy at the top. If mathematics is the ultimate language, perhaps philosophy is the ultimate mode of thinking. Philosophy after all is the “science of thought” or the “study of human knowledge.” That’s a pretty impressive endeavor right there, just to even attempt to explain such deep things.

At my age, we are said to peak in wisdom. I suppose that’s true. Younger friends have been telling me that lately and some colleagues even call me sensei. Some don’t like it. A 20 year old Asian hottie recently dumped me cruelly:

What’s wrong with you. You’re so different from when I met you. You sound like some philosopher! Come back when you want to act like a man!

Ouch.

I’m not trying to do this.

But in the last few years, I am finding that my writing is tending more and more towards philosophical questions not because I intend to but instead because I seem to be reaching the limits of a lot of the subjects I write about, and when you reach for the sky of most any humanities subject, as I noted, everything starts turning into philosophy. Philosophy is where you end up when you start traveling down any humanities road. Philosophy is where it all starts coming together in some sort of “ultimate explanation.”

To tell the truth, I always thought philosophy was unreadable and stupid. But it’s nothing more than wisdom, and we all want to be wise. And it gives great explanatory power to the world for those of us who are always looking to put together the “big picture” of most anything around us. That’s precisely what philosophy is always trying to do: look for the “big picture” behind anything.

Alt Left: Complete Deterioration of Literary Criticism in the Last 40 Years

I like to read literary criticism sometimes because it’s some of the hardest stuff out there to understand, at least for me. Forget philosophy. Don’t even go there. Lit Crit is different. With Lit Crit it’s hard as hell to understand and it’s incredibly smart and dense, but you can pretty much understand most if not all of it, so it’s worth it. I call it giving my brain a workout, and to me it’s similar to going to the gym for your body.

I recently read a couple of Hemingway’s best short stories. Then I found and read two Lit Crit articles about them. Lit Crit is very useful this way. If you haven’t already read the work, I’m not quite sure how useful it is or how much you would get out it. But if you’ve read it, Crit is often great for explicating the work and explaining deeper meanings, themes, etc. hidden in the text.

One was in a journal called Journal of College Literature from 1980. It was remarkably down to earth for a Lit Crit journal, especially the issues around published around that time. So I started going through a few decades worth of the journal.

I noticed that the Lit Crit from ~40 years ago was much different and frankly much superior to the gobbledygook out nowadays. It then focused on individual books and was fairly straightforward, simply looking for explications of the events, characters, plots, and themes in the book.

As I moved forward a couple of decades, everything changed. Now it was all postmodernism. Lit Crit about individual works were less common. The crit became ridiculously politicized with SJW and PC Leftist slants towards everything. Now I am a Leftist myself (albeit a weird one) but for the life of me, I do not understand why we need to litter our Lit Crit with Leftist political theory.

In addition to Marxism, there was also inordinate focus on women (feminism, mostly a joke field called Women’s Studies), gays and lesbians (from the lens of a ridiculous and bizarre field called Queer Studies), Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and other non-Whites (same thing- focus on non-fields like Black and Hispanic Studies), on and on.

Pretty much all they wrote about were these “oppressed minorities.” Cringey Queer Studies essays searched for and discovering non-existing homosexuality in perfectly straight stories (Did you know Moby Dick is a gay novel?) and secret homosexuality in completely straight authors (Did you know Shakespeare was gay?). It’s weird and stupid.

There was also a strange attempt to find some silly “woman angle” in novels where women were not particularly important to the story.
There was also a focus on older books written by women and minorities which are apparently good books merely because they were written by a minority or woman and not for any other reason.

Why Lit Crit has to be all about oppressed minorities is beyond me. Fine, some minorities are oppressed. We need a politics to address that. But why trash up Lit Crit with leftwing obsessions with minority groups? Last time I checked, straights, Whites, and men also existed. Can we maybe keep the politics out of our Crit and just talk about the books without turning everything into a political rally?

Another worse problem went along with this. The essays became dominated by postmodernism and were much harder to understand. There were references to philosophy scattered all through everything (particularly unintelligible Continentals like Sartre, Derrida, Lacan, Cixous, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, Foucalt, Frankfurt School, DeLueze and Guattari).

That’s all fine and dandy but why can’t we keep unintelligible philosophers out of our Lit Crit? What do incomprehensible Frenchmen spouting nonsense have to do with the novels we read?

It is true that the essays became much more demanding, but there was also a lot of silly talk about things like the Body (?), the Male Gaze (!?), the Text, the Author, the Reader (Barthes), on and on with weird, silly postmodern concepts.

In addition, somehow they became strangely repetitive in that they obsessed over the same postmodernist tropes and views in essay after essay. After a while, it seemed like I was reading the same essay again and again and learning little about the actual books being discussed.
Finally, it became quite boring as a result of this repetition.

tl/dr: Lit Crit has completely deteriorated over the past 40 years. It’s now a swamp of barely comprehensible postmodernism and obsessions with women, gays and minorities. Leftist politics and incoherent Continental philosophers litter every essay, turning it from a brain workout into muddy slow trod up a mountain in the rain without boots or a poncho.

Anyone Else Reading the Classics?

I just read Moby Dick a while back.

Well worth it! And I am currently working on the following. As you can see, I am not that far into most of them. The ones where I don’t list how many pages I’ve read means I’ve barely touched, them, just a few pages in at most. This is how I read. If you count books like that, I am reading 170 books right now but most of them are just a few pages in.

Currently reading:

Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre, Novel.

Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights, Novel.

Conrad, Heart of Darkness (reread), Novella.

Conrad, Lord Jim, Novel, (35 pages).

Dickens, Great Expectations (reread), Novel.

Dickens, Hard Times, Novel.

Dickens, Oliver Twist, Novel.

Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment, Novel.

Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, Novel, (15 pages).

H. A. Grueber, Myths of Greece and Rome, Nonfiction, Mythology.

Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Non-fiction, Philosophy, (26 pages).**

Thomas MacAulay, Lays of Ancient Rome, Narrative Poem Collection***

Melville, Billy Budd, Novella.

Milton, Paradise Lost, Epic Poem (type of Narrative Poem), (156 pages into Book One).***

Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols Non-fiction, Philosophy**

Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Nonfiction, Military.

Walter Scott, Lady of the Lake, Narrative Poem, (47 pages).*

Tolstoy, War and Peace, Novel, (15 pages).

Wells, War of the Worlds, Novel.

Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Novel.

* Difficult, archaic language.

** Hard to understand, conceptually/narratively difficult

***Both difficult, archaic language and hard to understand, conceptually/narratively difficult.

None of the rest are particularly hard to read in my opinion. You have to go slow with Conrad though because he’s so dense. You can read him fast, sure, but then you will be missing a lot of it. It’s like Moby Dick in that respect. I also found the Brontes quite dense for some reason. I had to read them slowly, but I’m not sure why. They’re not dense in the same way Conrad is; instead they are different.

Dickens, Dostoevsky, Melville, Tolstoy, Wells,
Wilde, and even Sun Tzu are not particularly hard to read, though Melville and Sun Tzu are both pretty dense.

Book Progress for March 2020

Remember when I told you I read lots of books at once? Well, here you go, the latest update! I’m not having problems with losing the plot or getting behind on any of them so far.
I would like to say that a lot of these books are really good so far. I put stars by all the books that I would rate as excellent so far. I can’t believe how good some of these books are!
Last month:
Made progress on:
Fiction (9):
Abraham Verghese, “Cutting for Stone” * and “The Tennis Partner.” *
Pat Conroy, “Beach Music” * and “Prince of Tides.” *
Anita Amirrezavni, “Blood of Flowers.”
Richard Russo, “Empire Falls.”
Marguerite Poland, “Shades.” *
Joanne Harris, “Coastliners.” *
Charles Dickens, “Great Expectations.” (reread) *
Non-fiction (4):
Isaiah Berlin, “Karl Marx.” *
Eileen McNamara, Breakdown: Sex, Suicide, and the Harvard Psychiatrist.”
Malcolm Gladwell, “Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking.” *
Frederick Nietzsche, “Twilight of the Idols.” * (1888)
Started:
Fiction (46):
Sam Lipsyte: “The Subject Steve.” *
Budd Schulberg, “The Disenchanted.” *
Jeremy Leven, “Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J. S. P. S.” *
Tom Robbins, “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.” (reread) * (1978)
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. “Welcome to the Monkeyhouse.” (reread) *
Clare Messud, “The Emperor’s Children.”
Herman Melville, “Billy Budd.” *
Frank Norris, “The Octopus: A Story of California.” *
Emily Bronte, “Wuthering Heights.” *
Tom De Haven: “Funny Papers.” *
Joseph Hirsch: “Veterans Affairs.”
John Nichols, “The Magic Journey.” * (1973)
Frederic Tuten: “The Green Hour.”
Gore Vidal, “Creation.” *
Anita Shreve, “The Weight of Water.” *
Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “August 1914.”*
Herman Wouk, “A Hole in Texas.”
Gail Godwin: “A Southern Family.”
Carlos Fuentes: “The Old Gringo.”*
James M. Cain, “Death before Dishonor.”
Joseph Conrad, “Heart of Darkness.” (reread) * (1900)
Marilynne Robinson, “Gilead.”*
Jean Rhys, “Wide Sargasso Sea.”*
Irina Reyn: “What Happened to Anna K.”*
Colm Toibin, “The Blackwater Lightship.”*
E. L. Doctorow: “World’s Fair.”*
Don DeLillo: “Underworld.”*
Doris Lessing, “The Sweetest Hour” * and “Briefing for a Descent into Hell.” *
Ian McEwan, “Saturday.”*
Paul Auster, “Travels in the Scriptorium.”*
Per Petterson, “To Siberia.”*
Yukio Mishima: “Spring Snow.”*
Peter Carey, “Jack Maggs.”*
Philip Hensher, “The Northern Clemency” and “The Mulberry Empire.” *
Annie Proulx, “The Shipping News.”*
Sandor Marai, “Portrait of a Marriage.”*
Norman Mailer, “Harlot’s Ghost.”*
Naguib Mahfouz: “The Harafish” * and “Arabian Days and Nights.” *
Salman Rushdie, “The Enchantress of Florence.”*
Thomas Babington MacAulay: “The Lays of Ancient Rome.”* (1846)
Anita Shreve, “The Weight of Water.”*
Kent Haruf, “Plainsong.” *
Isaac Asimov: “The Foundation.” *
Non-fiction (9):
Tal Ben-Shahar: “Happier: Learn the Secrets of Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment.”
Wavy Gravy: “Something Good for a Change: Random Notes on Peace through Living.”
Victor E. Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning.”
Alice Walker, “The Same River Twice.”
Paul Brenner, “Buddha in the Waiting Room: Simple Truths about Health, Illness, and Healing.”
Helen A. Guerber: “Myths of Greece and Rome.” *
John N. MacLean: “Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the Canyon Fire.”
Roland Marullo: “Breakfast With Buddha.”
Slawomir Rawicz: “The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom.
Total: 68 
Last month, I was reading 68 books. Crazy! This is what I do. I pick up a great book, read 10, 15, 20 pages and put it down. Pick up another great book, read another ~15 pages and put it down. There were a couple of books that I read more of last month. I’m 533 pages into one, 133 pages into the other, and 158 pages into the 3rd.
Maybe it’s not so impressive if you sit down and think about it. All in all, there’s probably only 810 pages in a month there, and that is not so special after all.
I actually really enjoy reading like this, though it is pretty weird to have plots from 55 different novels going in your head all at once.

Alt Left: Eight Negative Arguments Smearing China’s Virus Fight That Must Be Refuted

Eight Negative Arguments Smearing China’s Virus Fight That Must Be Refuted

The COVID-19 outbreak in China has begun to decline outside Hubei Province; meanwhile in some countries it is on the rise. This shows that the epidemic is a challenge faced by all humanity and needs to be addressed by all countries. China’s experience in combating the outbreak shows that timely, accurate, and authoritative information disclosure is crucial.

However, “negative energy” arguments in the public opinion sphere which undermine the solidarity and cooperation between human beings and even create panic out of nothing will harm the efforts to fight the epidemic and can be called a “tumor” in the public conversation about the epidemic.

Here we summarize eight typical “negative energy” arguments in international public opinion and reveal their absurdities, hoping to provide a mirror to show the other side of these arguments about the epidemic.

1. The Economic Fall of China Argument Ignores the Complete Picture

During the coronavirus epidemic, the streets in Chinese cities were empty for a time, and as a result, there is no doubt the economy will be affected to some extent. However, to claim that the fundamentals of the Chinese economy have changed and that growth will plummet from mid-high speed to zero or negative is an overstatement.

For example, the New York Times published an article on February 11 titled “Like Europe in Medieval Times”: Virus Slows China’s Economy suggesting that the epidemic has put the Chinese  economy into low gear.

This coronavirus epidemic has been widespread, and many industries such as catering, tourism, and film and television have been severely impacted. However, it should be noted that the impact of the epidemic on China’s economy is mainly reflected in the restriction of the demand side resulting in a short-term structural imbalance between supply and demand.

In the long run, the means of production are still there, and production equipment and technology have not been affected by the outbreak. So the outbreak will not dent the internal dynamics of the Chinese economy. International Monetary Fund (IMF) spokesman Gerry Rice stated at a press conference on February 13 that “over the medium to long term, we remain confident that China’s economy is resilient.”

The IMF expects a V-shaped recovery for the Chinese economy in which a sharp decline in economic activities would be followed by a rapid recovery. With improvements in containing the epidemic, the supply side will gradually return to normal, while at the same time the potential demand suppressed during the epidemic will be released, and there will be a large rebound in future economic growth.

Structural transformation has given China a strong and resilient economy. First, consumption has become the primary driver of growth. In 2019, consumer spending contributed 57.8 percent to economic growth. Second, the proportion contributed by the service industry keeps rising, and the proportion of value added by tertiary industry to GDP in 2019 is 53.9 percent.

The third is a shift from an excess of savings to an absorption of savings which has led to a continuous increase in disposable household consumption. Fourth, via a huge wave of innovation, the current digitization and intelligent transformation of various industries has led to the rapid development of online business.

Although the epidemic outbreak has increased short-term downward pressure on the economy, the long-term positive trend of the Chinese economy has not changed.

2. The China-US Decoupling Prediction Is Farfetched

During the coronavirus epidemic, the resumption of work in many factories in China has been delayed, which has affected the global supply chain. But it may be delusional to talk about international companies fleeing China and to think that the US and Chinese economies will decouple as a result of the outbreak.

For example, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told Fox Business Channel on January 31 that the novel coronavirus epidemic helps “accelerate the return of jobs to North America, some to US and probably some to Mexico as well,” adding that factors such as this will prompt US companies to reevaluate risks such as the supply chain of China-related businesses.

It should be noted that in the face of the epidemic, the Chinese government has demonstrated its firm belief in winning the battle. It is believed that the outbreak will not last long nor will it cause lasting damage to the economy. Business confidence in the future has not disappeared. The experience of the SARS epidemic in 2003 also shows that after the epidemic, people’s desire for consumption will erupt and the economy will see rapid growth.

Compared with the US, where the tertiary industry accounts for 85 percent of the total economy, China’s tertiary industry only accounts for just over 50 percent. There is still more room for development. Naturally, companies will not lose sight of this and abandon huge development space to go to a place where competition is fierce.

The US government’s push for the return of manufacturing is not new. It began during the Obama administration, but the real results have been poor. This is because China is the world’s largest manufacturing base with a complete upstream and downstream industry chain and a large and diversified consumer market.

Only by being close to the Chinese market can companies accommodate cutting-edge demand, have faster production speed, and ensure more reliable product quality.

Of course, China’s industry is in a period of transformation and upgrading, and some enterprises that can no longer adapt to China’s market will leave. This is the natural law of economic development, and it is by no means the exodus that Ross is talking about.

3. The Collapsing Image of China Meme Is Baseless

Under the coronavirus epidemic, some voices in international public opinion have tarnished the image of China.

For example, on February 6, under the headline “This is Not a Coronavirus, It Is an Official Virus,” a Deutsche Welle report stated China’s governance system is not modern, so it was vulnerable in the face of the epidemic.

On some overseas social media, some people have hyped the argument that China’s national image has collapsed in order to disparage China’s image as a responsible power. They even claimed that China would not be able to build a moderately prosperous society as planned.

It is clear that the above slander is groundless and based on a play of words. The “China threat theory” is a virus in the field of international public opinion.

After the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic, the Chinese government quickly set up a special team to deal with the problem, deployed team members extensively throughout the country, and assisted relevant countries in evacuating personnel. These things could only be achieved by an excellent governance system with modern capabilities.

Compared to some advanced economies, China has also done a much better job of reducing the risk of the disease spreading globally.

On February 16, in response to the shortcomings and deficiencies exposed in the response to the epidemic, the Chinese government again made a “two-handed” deployment, improving the biosafety law, the national emergency management system, and the distribution of production capacity of key materials.

China’s epidemic prevention measures have been praised by the international community. French President Macron expressed admiration for China’s effective measures and the country’s openness and transparency in fighting the epidemic.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised China for taking many prevention and containment measures that go far beyond the relevant requirements for responding to emergencies. This has set a new benchmark for epidemic prevention in all countries. The speed, scale, and efficiency of China’s actions reflect the strengths of its system.

4. The Sick Man of Asia Metaphor Rekindles a Century of Discrimination

Amid the outbreak of the COVID-19, governments, enterprises, and people from dozens of countries have donated humanitarian aid to China to support the country’s fight against the epidemic. Meanwhile, some people have maliciously taken the opportunity to spread discrimination against China. For instance, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia” on February 3, hurting Chinese people’s feelings.

We should not only refute such absurdities with a comprehensive victory over the epidemic but also continue increasing China’s public health services and national capabilities, throwing the discriminatory views like the one above into the junk heap of history.

China was once weak due to its seclusion and was taken advantage of by Western powers which derogatorily called China the “sick man of Asia.” Such contemptuous words have been a scar on Chinese people’s  psyche. With unremitting efforts of more than 100 years, China is much stronger than it was, and people’s general health status has reached a new high.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the country has been improving its public health status, eliminating malignant infectious diseases such as smallpox and cholera and developing a cure for schistosomiasis, which once threatened Chinese people for a long time.

A comprehensive medical system has been established in China, covering all rural areas. China has also sent medical teams to help African countries battle against epidemics such as Ebola. As China is completing the building of a moderately prosperous society, the country is rapidly increasing the budget for medical treatment and public health, assuring residents in cities and towns have basic medical insurance.

Currently, Chinese people’s average life expectancy, which continues to grow, has surpassed that of Americans. Through international medical and health cooperation including the building of a Health Silk Road, China’s experience in medical treatment and public health has been widely recognized and accepted.

5. Yellow Peril Hysteria Is Pure Racism

On February 1, the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel had a cover headline saying the novel coronavirus was made in China. At a crucial time when the world is jointly fighting the epidemic, the German magazine inhumanly spread Yellow Peril hysteria, at the core of which is the West’s fear of the East.

The Western world regards the Eastern world as a threat, fears it will lag behind the latter, and thus refuses to accept the fact that the East has become more developed and much stronger than it once was. The West wants to safeguard its dominance in the world.

Hence some nationalists in the West have taken advantage of the COVID-19 epidemic to spread this particular form of racist hysteria.

In the era of globalization, human civilization should no longer engage in zero-sum games between the East and West and between races but rather in building a community of shared future where people can co-exist and jointly develop. In the face of this public health emergency, no one can really escape and remain isolated. Only cooperation, solidarity, and mutual help can help people win the fight against the virus.

It is high time to put an end to the farce of Yellow Peril hysteria that encourages people to play a “hunger game.”

6. The Comparison with the Novel 1984 Obscures Reality

To fight against the COVID-19, China has adopted various high-tech measures such as Big Data and artificial intelligence to control population flow and reduce cross-infection risks. However, some Western media outlets seem to be frightened by China’s governance capability. Real Clear Politics published an article on Thursday saying, “China’s Government Is Like Something out of ‘1984.’” There are two reasons such viewpoints echo in the West.

First, people are more likely to believe stories they are familiar with. George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 is well known, but not many people know the real China. Therefore, Chinese people find it hard to persuade their Western friends that China is not something out of 1984. This is like giving a friend who has never seen a real panda a toy panda, and the next time you mention pandas, this friend will think of the toy rather than the real panda.

Second, the media always caters its subscribers with reports that draw attention, even though their viewpoints are abnormal. For those media outlets, a frightening China is obviously more effective than a normal China at attracting an audience.

Using 1984 as a metaphor, those Western media outlets can spread fear of China among Westerners and thus make more profit. This is why a very ordinary story with an eye-catching headline can be forged into something that is scary and strange about China. As many Western media outlets are driven by business interests, it is not hard to understand Western people’s stereotype of China.

What 1984 describes can happen anywhere people live. The novel was supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual. George Orwell’s masterpiece is not banned in China. Instead, his books have been among the bestsellers in China since the country’s reform and opening-up. China is moving forward in a broad way using Chinese people’s accumulated experience rather than something out of a novel.

7. The Biochemical Weapon Conspiracy Is Pure Fantasy

Conspiracy theories are a constant reality in the international public opinion field. Once there is a disturbance, they will surface.

On January 31, US senator Tom Cotton tweeted “It’s more urgent than ever to stop travel between China and US,” and “MESSAGE TO ALL AMERICANS IN CHINA: GET OUT NOW.” He also claimed that the virus might have originated in a super laboratory in Wuhan.

The Ministry of Heath of Russian Federation on January 29 published a guideline for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the novel coronavirus. The handout stated that COVID-19 was recombination of a bat coronavirus and another coronavirus from unknown origin, triggering speculation that the virus had been developed by the US as a biological weapon.

Although such arguments have been common, even in mainstream Western public opinion, there are few experts who agree.

The Washington Post on January 29 published an article entitled “Experts Debunk Fringe Theory Linking China’s Coronavirus to Weapons Research,” with interviews from five experts from prestigious US universities and research institutes. All of them rejected the idea that the virus was man-made.

An expert on chemical weapons said he and other analysts around the world had discussed the possibility that weapons development at the Wuhan lab could have led to the coronavirus outbreak in a private email chain, but none of them had found convincing evidence to support the theory.

A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also pointed out that a good bioweapon in theory has high lethality but low, not communicability, but the opposite is true with the coronavirus. He also described the bioweapon theories as irresponsible misinformation.

The Lancet, the world’s leading general medical journal, released on February 19 a Statement in Support of the Scientists, Public Health Professionals, and Medical Professionals of China Combating COVID-19 signed by 27 top public health experts around the world.

The statement strongly condemned conspiracy theories saying that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin and stated that scientists from multiple countries overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife. The statement also called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote scientific evidence and unity over misinformation and conjecture.

8. Questioning WHO’s Impartiality Is Destructive

China’s valiant efforts and achievements in fighting the epidemic are obvious to all. Everyone with a realistic attitude will make a fair evaluation. However, some in the international community have been looking at China through colored spectacles and have even stooped to slander those entities and individuals who have praised China.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ affirmation of China’s performance has been described by certain media outlets as skewed in China’s favor.

Tedros was asked on February 12 whether the Chinese government had approached WHO and asked it to praise China’s efforts in confronting the virus and if there was there pressure put on WHO to make statements along these lines, considering how important the notion of saving face is in China. He responded, “China doesn’t need to ask to be praised…because we have seen these concrete things that should be appreciated.”

He noted that he has observed China’s tremendous efforts to stop the virus from spreading to the rest of the world, including notifying other countries of those confirmed cases with outbound travel history.

State leaders and public health experts of various countries have applauded China’s efforts and transparency. Tedros has also called on the international community to stop stigmatizing China and stand in solidarity with the country in fighting against the common enemy, COVID-19.

Similarly, former WHO Director General Margaret Chan Fung Fu-Chun was also criticized in 2015 for taking sides with South Korea in combating MERS.

WHO’s remarks and actions are based on information reported by the government at the epicenter, the latest data generated by the organization, and suggestions given by the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee. Clarifying and dispelling rumors and misinformation is also part of its job.

Moreover, the WHO has already taken action to prevent the coronavirus epidemic from triggering a dangerous social media ‘infodemic’ fueled by false information and to try to curb rumors, lies, and misinformation.

Along with China, the Singaporean government is also urging citizens to stop spreading rumors.

Authors: Wang Wen, Jia Jinjing, Bian Yongzu, Cao Mingdi, Liu Ying, Liu Yushu, Yang Fanxin, Guan Zhaoyu, Wang Peng, Liu Dian, Chen Zhiheng, Zhang Tingting, and Zhang Yang from Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Permanent Ban from Twit (Twitter)

Well, I was on Twit (Twitter) only a short time before I started getting warning after warning after warning. These are all short-term bans of say three days. Then they went up to seven days.

I very quickly tried to start policing my posts to make them SJW-friendly. But every time I do that anywhere, I get banned anyway for some reason. I am starting to think that there is no appeasing these people unless you are one of them, in which case, I guess you know the drill, or you already speak the language.

The first time was a post in which I talked about how I had been doing a lot of reading, and I was shocked at how writers, especially poets, were gay or lesbian and how many were suicides.  After a while, I started asking myself how many poets are not gay, lesbian, or eventual suicides? It’s like they all kill themselves. I guess after a lifetime of faggotry and rug-munching.

I doubt if the gay behavior causes the suicides, but it’s well known that gay people have a very high suicide rate.

They talk a lot of a the rate of suicide attempts by gay and lesbian teens being high, but their rate of actual suicides is actually normal. Yet we hear endlessly of the suicide epidemic among gay and lesbian teens. I suggested this on Daily Kos and got blistering responses from fellow straight liberals.

One was a psychologist. I thought I was going to get banned. It was really scary. The psychologist was extremely hostile, basically called me a Nazi, and said that all the statistics were wrong, and the gay teen suicide rate was actually elevated and furthermore, I was an evil bigot for suggesting otherwise.

I wrote about how disappointing this was to me. I mean I don’t mind if a  poet here and there is gay or lesbian. Some gay writers are among my favorites, especially William Burroughs, and he’s practically the most fagged out of them all! But I had no idea that there were so many of them. I was reading a lot of biographies of writers I liked or had heard of, and over and over, it was gay gay gay gay gay gay, lesbian lesbian lesbian lesbian lesbian lesbian bisexual bisexual bisexual bisexual bisexual.

I would go the biography page and see that say Vita Sackville-West or whoever was actually a lez. There would be her picture. She looked like a man! Total disappointment. Women who look like men are a complete turnoff to me. I twist up my face into a scowl every time I see one. There’s something terribly wrong with a woman looking and acting almost exactly like a man. It just seems so wrong and fucked up.

Amy Lowell? Lesbian. Virginia Woolf? Bisexual. Suicide. Her husband? Bisexual. The whole damned famous Bloomsbury Group? A bunch of gays and lesbians! Mary McCarthy? Lesbian! Oh no, say it ain’t so! I really liked her. It was so discouraging.

I went to read James Merrill’s biography. Jesus Christ, he was a fag! What a downer. I still like his poetry but it was so disappointing to be hit with this gay club over and over. I thought, “Are any of these poets and writers…like…normal? You know…like…heterosexual?”

Then I closed out my post by saying that if I have deal with a bunch of fags, dykes, suicidals and crazies to read the greatest writers that ever lived, that’s a deal I’ll take.

It was humor. That’s funny, right? And ultimately it’s not even really homophobic if you think about it and get past the shock words.

Well, I got a temporary ban from Twit.

Then there was a case in Venezuela of two opposition politicians who went to Colombia and partied with Colombian prostitutes. The whores spiked their drinks with scopalamine, knocking  them unconscious. Then they robbed them. One man died and another nearly did. This happens all the time down there, just to warn you.

There was all this discussion of what happened. Everyone was saying that the guys were taking drugs with the whores and then they overdosed. I kept correcting them saying that the women were “murdering whores” who had poisoned the men, murdering one and almost murdering another, and then robbing them.

Well, Twit gave me a ban for describing prostitutes as whores. Not only that but for describing robbing, poisoning, murdering prostitutes as whores. I was exasperated. Since when is it illegal to call a whore a whore, I mean to call a prostitute a whore? I mean, that’s…like…literally what a prostitute is. A prostitute is literally a whore and vice versa. That’s not even controversial.

And I had no idea that calling prostitutes whores was the new “nigger.” But everything’s the new “nigger.” Every week I wake up and there’s another word that’s been designated as the new “nigger.” Another banned word. Another word I’ve been using my whole damn life with no problems, and now all of a sudden, it’s illegal. I swear if they keep banning my words like this, after a while, I will barely be able to talk at all!

I get unbanned. Then I get another ban for the exact same thing! Banned for calling murdering prostitutes “murderous whores.” Which is exactly what they were. Are we worried about offending the precious feelings of murderous prostitutes now? I’m sure they have very sensitive feelings. Let’s please make sure we don’t hurt them.

So I gathered my wits about me and tried to be a good boy. But then there was some post about transsexuals, and I said, “There’s no such thing as trans people. They don’t exist. Instead, they’re all just mentally ill.”

Permanent ban from Twit for pointing out the obvious – that 90% of trannies are mentally ill! That there’s hardly any such thing as trans people. That it’s just a made up word for people with a mental disorder.

So yeah, permaban. It’s pretty bad because I am on Twit a lot, and I would love to comment or like things, but I can’t.

By the way, lots of people are getting banned on Twit for saying innocuous things about transsexuals. There is a very obnoxious and vicious male tranny or transwoman who works in the department that polices and bans posts and posters. He’s reportedly the brains behind a lot of these bans on people telling the truth about trans people.

A Lot of Artists Are Crazy or Terrible People, But That’s Not Important

The thing is though that many artists of all types are crazy  to one degree or another. Trust me, I have spent a fair portion of my life intensely hanging around large groups of artists, writers, and musicians, and most of them are nuts in one way or another.

Actually they’re all crazy in different ways, but they’re still all crazy.

Writers and tend to be quite self-destructive. A lot are depressives and boy do they drink. They’re introverted but not as introverted as the poets or especially the artists.

Artists are just very shy and neurotic. A lot are depressives. An artist party is 100 people in a house and no one is talking to anyone because they’re all too shy. It’s actually pretty funny. I went to a number of them.

Musicians are very self-destructive, but they’re not neurotic at all – more like wild and crazy extroverts. Some musicians are depressives, but that aspect of them tends to be more hidden behind the wild partying exterior. Still, musicians often seem to be battling deep pain. They love to drink and hey, don’t forget the dope! Musicians and drugs are like peanut butter and jelly.

Poets are way crazy, totally neurotic or worse, manic-depressive or more commonly just depressive, plus a lot of them really drink hard. I’d say the poets are the nuttiest of them all. Are you sort of a weird, offbeat, neurotic, introverted person who doesn’t fit in anywhere and is rejected by most Normies? Head on over to your local poetry reading. You’ll be right in style there. Most of them are just as nuts as you are. Don’t feel bad.

Furthermore, many artist types are  lousy to terrible people.

Shakespeare was a monster as a human being. But that’s not what we remember him and the others for. It doesn’t matter that Shakespeare was a mean old miser.

All that matters is that he was probably the greatest writer of English prose in history, probably still unsurpassed to this very day. That’s all that matters. Artists stand on their art, the only thing that lasts. That they may have been crappy people is lamentable, but it that’s not why we remember them and ultimately it’s simply not important.

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