Someone I never met but in a way I know ventured into the Feminism/Women Studies section of a bookstore and found these titles that show, pretty much, what the tone of Modern Feminism is.
Perhaps you know Ayn Rand’s first novel, We The Living. It’s a story of two lovers, Kira and Leo, who try to survive together in the early Soviet Union. They fail, because of the myriad ways that communism (or dictatorship in general) degrades everyone and destroys their humanity.
You may also know that Rand based the character of Leo on a real person, a fellow anti-Soviet student in early 1920s Petrograd for whom she had an unrequited love. At the time, she was called Alissa Rosenbaum.
During her lifetime she wouldn’t give out Leo’s real name, but at some point after Rand’s death in 1982, her biographers/archivists figured it out. His name was Lev Bekkerman, and I recently web-surfed to this picture of him:
He is said to have been a tall, intelligent, self-confident womanizer, who had once hid some anti-Soviet students in his home. One reads that, sadly, Bekkerman was murdered in one of the Soviet political purges of the 1930s. By which time Rand had traveled to the U.S., married an American, and written and published We The Living (in English).
Life works strangely: if Bekkerman had returned her love, then Rand probably would have stayed in Soviet Russia – and been destroyed, much like Bekkerman and much like Kira and Leo in her novel. Instead, she came to America and became a great thinker and writer.
If anyone can read and translate the writing on the photo, please let us know what it says (in the comments).
A feminist bookstore in Cleveland is acknowledging “Womny’s Herstory Month” by turning all books by male authors backwards, because burning them in a huge fire outside would have been too on-the-nose.
Harriett Logan, the bookstore’s founder and owner, told Heat Street. “So we are in essence not just highlighting the disparity but bringing more focus to the women’s books now, because they’re the only ones legible on the shelf.”
The American system of higher education has become fundamentally anti-intellectual. Universities offer ridiculous courses on Lada Gaga and Tupac Shakur, entire majors are devoted to useless nonsense like Gender Studies, faculty demands that persons be jailed for holding unpopular opinions, student mobs keep politically incorrect speakers off-campus. Too add to the anti-intellectual atmosphere of the contemporary American campus, there is now a demand that teaching materials contain warning labels advising of politically offensive content.
“Trigger warnings” are the latest crusade on campus, reports the NYT. Students at prominent colleges and universities have been campaigning to force professors to warn students of potentially disturbing or offensive content in the course materials they assign. That could include everything from a violent movie to the anti-Semitic Merchant of Venice. The NYT:
The warnings, which have their ideological roots in feminist thought, have gained the most traction at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where the student government formally called for them. But there have been similar requests from students at Oberlin College, Rutgers University,the University of Michigan, George Washington University and other schools.
Because college is the last place a person should have to be confronted with opinions or ideas that challenge them.
It seems Jeff and I have been doing more than a few posts lately cataloguing the angry derangement of the left. All of this anger, shrillness, violent pathology, intolerance, rage, and rejection of logic coming from those who claim to be the most peceaful, tolerant, and rational members of society creates a paradox. How can a progressive claim to be rationale, and yet consistently favor discredited and unsustainable economic policies? How can a progressive claim to be tolerant, yet demand that all contrary opinion be shouted down and dissidents be jailed? How can a progressive claim to believe all races are equal, but demand that blacks and hispanics be treated as inferiors that need to be condescended to and acccommodated because they just can’t be expected to perform as well as white people if all are treated equally? And the greatest paradox of all; how are progressive leftists so blind to their own contradictions and hypocrisy?
(Progressive Leftist: “Um, because You’re a RACIST!!!”)
The theory must explain, first, the honest decency of the modern liberals combined with their astonishing indifference, nay, hostility to facts, common sense, and evidence; second, it must explain their high self-esteem (or, to be blunt, their pathological narcissism) combined not merely with an utter lack of accomplishment, but with their utter devotion to destructiveness, a yearning to ruin everything they touch; third, it must explain their sanctimoniousness combined with their applause, praise, support, and tireless efforts to spread all perversions (especially sexual), moral decay, vulgarity, and every form of desecration; fourth, their pretense of intellectual superiority combined with their notorious mental fecklessness; fifth, it must explain both their violence and their pacifism; sixth, the theory must explain why they hate the very things they should love most; seventh, the theory must explain why they are incapable of comprehending an honest disagreement or any honorable foe.
The essay attempts to arrive at this theory, and as such, has to cover a lot of ground, and uses a lot of big words and philosophical concepts that would be utterly lost on the typical progressive Obama-voter. But it sort of comes down to this.
How can anyone continue to be a Leftist for a week, much less for a lifetime?
The answer, allow me to remind the patient reader, grows out of their theory. Again, their theory of knowledge is that there is no knowledge, no truth, only bigoted opinion. The only way to avoid bigotry is to avoid judgment and the use of reason. Avoiding reason necessitates a theory of morality that denies cause and effect. No vice causes loss, no virtue causes happiness. Hence life is a random roulette wheel. If there are no vices and virtues, not even the intellectual virtues of honest thinking, then no independent thought is desired or permitted. Instead, all thoughts are determined by social cues. Thought is collective.
The whole point of Liberal theory from start to finish is to form earplugs to smother the ringing of that alarm clock called reality.
The Leftists are people who abandon their innate intelligence and moral stature and who deliberately make themselves to be stupider than average, less moral and upright and decent than average, who at once combine the worst features of a self-deceived fool and a self-deceiving conniving con-man. The only thing that saves them from the constant pain of the dentist drill of their conscience, the constant clamor of their wretched self-esteem telling them that they do not deserve to live, the only thing, indeed, keeping them alive, is their false and inflated sense of sanctimony.
When I put up my first post on social liberalism several weeks ago, I envisioned a series of posts that would discuss many of the implications of the fact that modern liberalism is more a social phenomenon than an intellectual one. I’ve done that in part, but have until now neglected to mention one of the largest implications of all, namely that most modern liberals make easy targets for propagandists of all stripes because their political identity is driven more by their feelings than by the facts, and so they rarely exert critical judgement over the memes and narratives of the moment.
Quite to the contrary: to exert critical judgement is automatically to invite suspicion, because it means asking difficult questions, seeking facts, pointing out fallacies, noting inconsistencies, all of which make modern liberals profoundly uncomfortable because those sorts of activities advertise the questioner’s willingness to dissent from the orthodoxy.
Circle dancing is magic. It speaks to us through the millennia from the depths of human memory. Madame Raphael had cut the picture out of the magazine and would stare at it and dream. She too longed to dance in a ring. All her life she had looked for a group of people she could hold hands with and dance with in a ring. First she looked for them in the Methodist Church (her father was a religious fanatic), then in the Communist Party, then among the Trotskyites, then in the anti-abortion movement (A child has a right to life!), then in the pro-abortion movement (A woman has a right to her body!); she looked for them among the Marxists, the psychoanalysts, and the structuralists; she looked for them in Lenin, Zen Buddhism, Mao Tse-tung, yogis, the nouveau roman, Brechtian theater, the theater of panic; and finally she hoped she could at least become one with her students, which meant she always forced them to think and say exactly what she thought and said, and together they formed a single body and a single soul, a single ring and a single dance.
To question is to step outside the circle, to resist the lure of the dance. And so the memes and narratives proliferate, pushed on by those who “feel moved” by them and are too afraid to question them.
Among the many liberals I know, this week’s meme is a viral video about “the wealth gap.” I first noticed a college acquaintance (and an enthusiastic Elizabeth Warren supporter) mention it on Facebook on Sunday, and have noticed at least three other references to it by others since then. The video is only 6 minutes and 24 seconds long, but if you’re like me, after about three minutes, it will seem like it is going on forever.
I’ve recorded some of my thoughts below the fold.
Now editing the sixth chapter of my fantasy epic, I am beginning to find the flow that should make it easier for me to write on a routine base — and have time for other pursuits. Just last night instead of sketching out notes for the next chapter, as has been my wont while finishing one chapter up, I found myself mapping out the next four — and finally getting the main characters out of the fortress city of Nah-nathas and onto their adventure.
It has been an interesting process and I’ve been trying to take notes about it. At first, it was kind of overwhelming to find a story that had been kicking around in my head coming together as a written narrative I can share with others and possibly publish. And as I realize how much of a commitment I am undertaking as I begin to appreciate how much work is left to be done, even with the six chapters that are now “presentable.”
Unlike the time in the 1990s when I made the choice to write my first novel, this time I know that just following through on the inspiration, writing the story that just comes to you (and even manages to move others), is not enough to sell the book. This time, I am aware that I could succeed at a writing a novel, but fail at earning a living from it.
Still, the story is there and continues to come to me, like old memories suddenly rediscovered when dipping a pastry into a cup of tea. I finally understand why the dragon is not doing as the Dark Lord would have her do when he summoned her, why she threatens to frustrate his schemes to extend his domination over this imaginary world that exits within my mind — and now increasingly on my computer (and in the hands of friends).
As the novel emerges, as the characters find names and create relationships, I do find myself thinking again about politics — and expect to start blogging at a more regular pace, though perhaps not the same pace as I had before I started finding a means to share this story.
Several years ago, when I learned that Peter Jackson was helming a screen adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, I found myself scribbling out a plan (not quite an outline) how I would handle the challenging process of producing a prequel to a successful film trilogy, knowing that the book had been written long before the author had even imagined the story behind that trilogy.
That is, in Tolkien’s imagination, The Hobbit came first.
For many filmgoers, however, the Lord of the Rings would be their first taste of the Beowulf scholar’s fantastic realm.
Tolkien himself provides the key. In the short narrative, “The Quest for Erebor” published by his son Christopher in Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, he reports of an exchange that took place in Minas Tirith shortly after the coronation of King Elessar. Some members of the fellowship had asked Gandalf how he had come to ask Bilbo to join the thirteen dwarfs in their quest to recover their treasure — and their long-lost mountain home — from the dragon Smaug (i.e. the quest that takes place in the movie released today).
That is where I would begin it, with the members of the fellowship sitting around in a house (or a pub?) in the restored capital of Gondor, asking Gandalf that very question. We would fade from his telling not to the first scene in the book (i.e., The Hobbit), with the wizard approaching the hobbit at his home, but to the scene presented in that tale, with him encountering Thorin just outside the village of Bree.
Thorin would show some reluctance to including the hobbit, perhaps familiar with Bilbo’s very bourgeois and bland father. Durin’s heir would eventually defer to the Maia whom Manwë himself had dispatched to Middle-earth.
Even as he accepts the wizard’s choice, the dwarf leader would often find himself at odds with Bilbo. The film would present the two as almost opposites, with a tension between them similar to that we often see in cop movies with such pairings.
Now that I have outlined how I would have adopted the classic book, I am prepared to see the movie. I’ve tried not to watch the previews, but have seen in at least one an image of Cate Blanchett reprising her role as Galadriel, so it seems Jackson has made some changes, given that this daughter of Finarfin does not appear in The Hobbit. Nor in fact do any women.
I wish I could go into this without expectations, but having been a Tolkien geek for the better part of my life, I cannot alas.
The title is a paraphrase from an interview the fetching Stephen Green conducted with writer Sarah Hoyt:
BTW, I recently had the chance to read an advance copy of her book A Few Good Men, to be released next March 5 (it’s not too early to pre-order though) and it is fast-paced and well worth your time, with a theme and story elements certain to appeal to gay patriots.
On this the 193rd anniversary of the birth of the greatest English novelist, let me offer, in slightly modified form, the tribute I have offered in years past. It is also the 116th anniversary of the birth of my late, beloved Aunt Ruth. In her life, that great lady embodied the qualities of a heroine of an Eliot novels.
A few years back in anticipation of Eliot’s birthday, I watched the BBC version of Silas Marner, perhaps her most accessible novel. The story got to me as the book always does. It’s odd I who love books so much and am moved cry so little when I read (yet tear up frequently when watching movies). Wwhenever I hear the story of the lonely weaver of Raveloe, however, whether in print, via the spoken word (i.e., book on tape/CD) or on screen, I am always touched, always lose it, so to speak it.
Ben Kingsley’s Silas plea to keep an apparently orphaned child who had strayed into his home, “It’s a lone thing; I’m a lone thing. . . . It’s come to me,” is the plea of every human being who has ever felt cut off from his fellows. Indeed, that line in quintessetially George Eliot who so understood human loneliness and recognized our need for the companionship of our fellows.
And how meaningful that companionship can we find it. Or how powerful the presence of someone who listens to our concerns and manifests sympathy for our plight.
George Eliot so delighted in the effect of a child on an adult with an open heart:
She [that child] was perfectly quiet now, but not asleep–only soothed by sweet porridge and warmth into that wide-gazing calm which makes us older human beings, with our inward turmoil, feel a certain awe in the presence of a little child, such as we feel before some quiet majesty or beauty in the earth or sky–before a steady glowing planet, or a full-flowered eglantine, or the bending trees over a silent pathway. [Read more…]