Non-fiction by Micheal Foster and Dominic Bnonn Tennant
Preaching to the converted, and converting the unpreached.
Let me begin with the only negative thing I have to say about this book: the title. It is a negative chiefly because if I had been browsing in a bookshop it would have put me off, and in the sea of books that is a bookshop, I doubt I would have picked it up to investigate further and discover differently. Instructional manuals on manliness are not an interest of mine, since they are generally absolute contemporary-pacifist ‘toxic’ bunk&bullshit to put in plainly. Maybe if the ‘GOOD’ on the cover had been in a gothic Bible-y script it might have been enough to indicate this was a very different animal? Anyway, I received it as a gift, so it made it into my hands anyway, for which I am grateful.
The boldness of the opening line—’Patriarchy is inevitable’—this sets you up for the highly biblical and counter-cultural device you are reading, for this book is more like a device than a book; it is dividing things, and examining divisions. It does not care for any of the cozy worldly niceties that have sprung up around contemporary biblical-narrative interpretations, but clings to the Word and demands your correction.
What the authors have done here is manage to navigate through a whole range of important biblical maxims and demands upon us … and unreservedly and unapologetically place them in the real world for real men—right now. I came to some of these realisations myself on my road back to Christ, but there was still plenty of material here to astound me and challenge me too. And there is a distinct un-pagan stoicism too that men (Christian or otherwise) will find highly enticing, once maybe they get over some of the highly counter-cultural but well-argued tenants, such as the overarching demand of taking dominion, being mission-orientated and glorifying God this way.
While Christian Nationalism and the narratives that surround it tend toward a very big-picture view of life and the nature of political dominion, IGTBAM gives the reader a biblical big-picture and then drills down into highly practical and versatile applications available to all men; something Good is bound to come out of reading this book for any thoughtful Christian man. And there’s no ego-stroking claptrap here. The work is still on you. Do the work.
‘…a man can be masculine without being virtuous, but he cannot be virtuous without being masculine’.
At the heart of it all is call to be what God designed for us to be; that when man was judged as being Good. Aggression is Good … when it glorifies God. Otherwise, it’s bad. It’s the same with all our qualities; all virtues can be vices.
Another key virtue elucidated upon is gravitas, or the capacity to weigh-heavily, which is something that comes with settling into our Christian identity as men …a dim reflection of the gravitas of Yahweh. The authors go on to suggest means by whish to draw these things upon the reader, and the suggestions are always practical and steeped in scripture.
It is, after all, not just a book, but a handbook; it’s to read and be read, but it’s also something fundamentally designed for doing-ness. And this is the books chief virtue. It’s a real game-changer, they maybe many people are not yet ready for. But I think some are, and that some will become more, and many. And this device is another catalyst.
“…to redeem the race, he must make himself once more manifest; HE MUST COME IN PERSON.”
Lew Wallace’s Ben Hur was the highest selling novel of the 19th century; and is also one of the most commonly abridged novels of our time. The edition I read was unabridged, and like most avid readers I’m not at all interested in anything other than the fully story as approved by the author … but, by the time I had finished this book, I could see why. Wallace is unafraid of letting his story lavishly wander about, in terms of setting and in terms of background. Certainly, a modern editorial team would have tried very hard to rein him in.
Having said all that, I am glad that I read it. Wallace does manage mood and atmosphere very well, and in the strong poignant moments he really excels. He does get you in the feels, and this could be why he stacks so much backgrounding in—for this to work on you.
Much of it is still very interesting to read, and you go along for the ride, but there were points where I really just wanted him to get on with the story. Now, a 19th century readership, particularly an American Christian readership that were not novel-readers, since the form was considered highly un-Christian at the time, would not have found it so: hence its huge popularity; the many filler-scenes and ornately described Holy Land vistas would have been drunk up like thirsty desert travelers. But I became impatient. And even though I don’t specifically recall ever having seen any of the film versions, the plot itself is quite predictable and sometimes lacking in verisimilitude…
Also, the first five chapters which details the backgrounds of the three wise men and how they came to be… the whole book is worth this part. My sense of these characters in the story, and then the wider story of the Christmas narrative will be forever couched in Wallace’s depiction and understanding of them.
I studied Eliot as an undergraduate, and not once was his Christianty mentioned, so it’s interesting to discover how fundamental it is to his outlook.
This book contains two long essays: ‘The Idea of a Christian Society’ (1939) and ‘Notes Towards the definition of Culture’ (1948) followed by an appendix: ‘The Unity of European Culture’ which appears to be a transcript of three linked talks given to a European audience in the post-war period. I have a passionate yet stormy relationship with Eliot’s oeuvre; his poetry is marvelous and challenging and representative perhaps of the last flame of real poetic merit of the English language. I’m happy to be proved wrong one day, and I’m sure he would be too. So, naturally, when I discovered these essays by complete accident I ordered a copy to read.
One of the causes of the totalitarian State is an effort of the State to supply a function which the Church has ceased to serve; to enter into a relation to the community which the Church has failed to maintain…
‘The Idea of a Christian Society’
The essay, sitting as it is right on the edge of the second world war, has a kind of breathless tension to it; Eliot is trying to map out exactly and in very practical terms how a CHristian society could be manufactures and sustained, and what elements would make up such a society. He is of course offering an alternative to what he is seeing around him, and a trajectory away from the foundational elements of the West. One does not get the feeling that Eliot believes that such a thing as this Christian society he is mapping out is actually a possibility; despite all its practicalities, there is a sense of impending doom, a crucifiction without a resurrection. But this tension only makes the essay more beautiful and tragic. I mean, it’s 2022 now, and we know this didn’t happen, in fact, the complete opposite.
We know from our reading of history, that a certain tension between Church and State is desireable
‘The Idea of a Christian Society’
But this doesn’t make the essay any less valuable, in fact, it elevates it further. We, looking back, can see that not only was there an alternative to what has developed around us like a virulent social cancer, but that alternative had been at least partially prepared and mapped out loosely before it all went so horribly wrong. There is a reset button albeit not something one might simply press.
in ‘Notes Toward a Defintion of Culture’ we have Eliot experimenting with all the various ways in which the term ‘culture’ can be mobilised and which ways are the most useful. Much of it reminds me of Roger Scruton and the importance of culture being something that eminates from the bottom, up. He also discusses concepts such as class and ‘elites’ in the context of culture, and in particular, English culture of course. Things must bind together for a culture to be healthy, but at the same time, things must be in a constant sense of tension for such things as innovation. Heresy itself is not the enemy, it’s the acceptance of heresy as the norm. In fact, Eliot requires heresy so that orthodoxy might remain robust and healthy, the edge of it’s blade remaining keen: the struggle between centrifugal and centripital forces.
The culmination of this is in his chapter on culture and education. Writing as he was in 1948, it is amazing to read what Eliot beleives will happen to education in the West under the dogma of equal opportunity, for it’s as if he had seen a vision of 2022 exactly. The rise of the State above the family unit and the ever-increasing dumbing down of the democratic model of excellence is delinated brilliantly and with rare deadpan humour.
A measure which is desirable as a palliative may be injurious if presented as a cure.
‘Notes Toward a Defintion of Culture’
The final three short talks on ‘The Unity of European Culture’ is of interest in the sense of the idea of the European Union which came much after, but here Eliot does limit himself to a discussion more specificially about language and poetry, which remains very interings for its own sake.
Overall, the book is a tour de force of intellect and artistic measure and contextualises his poetry even further.
A review of The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud (trans. John Cullen)
Much as I felt like literally throwing this well-written fan-fic book away (I think I refrained because it was on loan from the library, and I have respect for the public library system of my country … at least their history, anyway) there are ways this book can be enjoyed.
Firstly, it can be enjoyed by the post-Said Arab decolonization crowd (of which I am not one) and I believe that’s maybe the chief way it is enjoyed and the means by which it is most chiefly lauded by Western intellectuals and literary prize-givers. There’s plenty of this discourse packed in there, almost as if through a megaphone sans any kind of irony, dramatic or otherwise.
It can also be enjoyed as fan-fic for lovers of the parent book. Even in my annoyance and despair with it, there were moments when I thought things like ‘Ah, nice work Daoud, I see what you did there, how you’ve taken something from Camus’ oeuvre and done this this this to it. Interesting. And that’s the allure of fan-fic for the fan, obviously; and I am definitely a fan of the parent work here. It strokes your ego like any in-joke. But it does get tiresome, particularly when it’s heavy and ham-fisted. Apart from these moments, there’s no question that the book is well-written: well-writ fan-fic.
Perhaps a more interesting way to approach it would have been as a prima-facie police-procedural of an actual investigation? Maybe that’s what I was expecting? Maybe that’s what Daoud wanted me to expect? Instead of this Jean-Baptiste Clamence figure narrating as if to Doctor Rieux about Meursault … you get the gist. The very hotch-potchyness that makes it well-writ fan-fic makes it tiresome and a little nauseating as a stand-alone work.
The narrator himself is interesting, particularly when it gets into his personal relationships and his relationship with his country and his religion, and here the over-reach for the Camusian “brand” plays against it, if anything. But it gets you to read the book (as it did me) so it would probably have never been read otherwise. It was a good commercial decision, if not artistic. And there is a string of irony if you want to look for it, in the effect of independence on the nation, the very effect Camus wished could be avoided even though he was ‘cancelled’ for his ideas in the fifties, well before it had become a culture…
Another way to enjoy the book might be to make a social-political comparison between Camus’ liberalism of his day, and its abject repudiation of nihilism as an end-product of liberlism; and our current age of liberlaism which has become almost too vacuuous to be nihilism; a sort of nihilism that doesn’t even believe in nihilism?
If you are a Camus-lover, as I am, and have maybe read The Outsider/The Stranger in every English translation (some of them more than once) and maybe have even worked your way heroically through the first forty or so pages of L’Etranger in French (like me) then you should perhaps read it, just to get it out of the way. If not, then I would not bother.
In two days time, I’m going home. Unless my flight is cancelled … again. Or Sydney airport closes, like Melbourne did. Or a ‘hotspot’ is declared in a strategic zone, perhaps? Who knows… The Premiers who are now in charge of the Balkanite of Hystralia are like a collection of naughty children swtiching a legal lightswitch on and off again rapidly, while a powerless mothering figure of a prime minister calls out: ‘You’re going to blow the bulb!’ Two people test positive in Queensland and Sydney is declared a hotspot.
I’m coming from Germany, a country with a 1 in 420 Virus infection level, to a country with a 1 in 1970 infection rate; a country that rates Australia as a ‘safe zone’ to arrive from … so if you live in certain parts of Victoria at the moment, you can fly to Germany, no worries mate; but you can’t drive to the airport. Or even, in most cases, leave your house.
There are very specific reasons why we could not reurn to Australia before now, and why we are leaving Germany now. I won’t bore anyone with these banal details. The fact that so many of my countrypeople seem to lack the most basic critical or even creative thought to come up with possibilities should force my hand, but, to use a good traditional Australian expression, they can shove it up their nose.
Which is where several things will be shoved to test me for this Virus going round, and maybe I’ll get a positive or a negative positive or a positive negative to the BIG ONE … COVID-19; or maybe not. The plane might crash, too. Or I trip on the stairs with the luggage. Or a traffic accident. There are risks to living; you manage them as well as you can and try to keep on living well at the same time. We’ve lived for a long time with an annual death toll on the roads using this kind of mindset without banning cars completely from the roads.
I’ll be going into two weeks quarantine in Sydney, then two weeks quarantine in Tasmania: four weeks total; let’s call it a month. During which, ironically enough, I probably have my best statisitical chance of catching the Virus in my country. A 27-year-old man was recently jailed for a month for stealing credit card details and buying $150 worth of takeaway food … so this must be equivelent in some way? Except … he didn’t have to pay for his detention. And he got the free fast-food in the first place. But statistics, I have learned, are really only useful to town planners and snake-oil salespeople.
Unfortunately enough, these are just the two types of people most in charge.
I’m a reader and a writer, so the quarantine is not so daunting to me. How they can make me pay for a service I never requested or wanted is an interesting more-than-a-side-issue, however. And if I get the Virus while I’m there … where do they stand, and where stand I? I’m not in the Clive Palmer level of funding background, however; not even in the ball park, so I doubt I can’t call the State on this and other rather fundamental points of order; so, like most average Joes, my hand will be forced: agents of the Balkanate with firearms will direct me, as opposed to (maybe) the Rule of Law that one would hope the State observed as a matter of course in their relationship to the nation.
I look forward to not having to check the News or the Facebook groups for updates on the lightswitch flicks and goings-on. I hope that the Tasmanian population I have witnessed on Facebook is indicative only of the type of Tasmanians who regularly comment on Facebook, as opposed to Tasmanians in general. I will be deleting Facebook permanently as soon as I know longer need to know about these histrionic kneejerk updates. And will certainly stop watching the News, which is only on a slightly higher level.
But most of all, I’d like Australia back. Then, I’d actually be home.
Reading Harold Bloom’s ‘Iago: The Strategies of Evil’ in the midst of 2020
Having known captivity, he had fought his way free…
Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare’s Personalities series (long essays in book form focussed on one particular character of a play) often receive negative comments from reviewers (I won’t call it ‘criticism’ in this company, since these comments are not so elevated…) along the lines of: “All he’s doing is writing about what’s happening and quoting the play #whatevs.” And, yes: maybe so. But it’s not ‘all’ he is doing. I see these books functioning as a kind of fireside chat with the last great literary critic of the West about some of the inventions of the greatest writer in the Western tradition. Even when you read the Shakespeare passages, it’s like you are hearing the man recite them in his sandy voice, maybe sipping Merlot inbetween.
Othello asserts that he is an African prince…
Reading this when I was reading this, about an older black man’s love and engagement with a younger white woman (and them being torn apart by a schemer for reasons it’s almost impossible to understand) while Black Lives Matter newscasts and videos and op-eds and photo-ops and symbolic gestures and killings-in-the-street and mouths mouthing so constantly bombarding me on every media source available and imagined … it contextualised the reading and, in particular, the flavour of Bloom’s sub-title: The Strategies of Evil. This old black culture and this young white one, this New World under that Old One. And how it could be undone … what strategies could undo it?
When devils will the blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,
As I do now.
There is bad, and there is evil. Roderigo is bad. He wants Desdamerica for himself, and he’s prepared to act against what he understands to be right and moral; he is prepared to steal and lie and kill, but all to a purpose: a purpose he understands to be more important than that of being good, and his purpose remains the same and is understandable to us, even if we might loathe him for it. This is of a different order to Iago. But how do their strategies differ? Since Roderigo is bad only in his part, he is still part of a genuine moral universe, so his capacity to act and plan creatively is limited purely to a simple finite goal. He cannot invest fully. He even becomes chiefly an accomplice in his own efforts; he must be led and fed. Iago has no such bounds, and while he offers up motivations now and then for what he’s doing, it’s easy to think he’s just playing with us. His heavenly shows are just as convincing as his blackest sins. He can be believed-in, unlike Roderigo, who we can see right through.
Utter my thoughts? Why, say they are vile and false…
Evil demands something more than just a goal that goes against a moral code. It demands destruction and denigration, so it revels most wildly in making the best and most beautful things fall in the most spectacular and ugly ways. And the more they shine out as something grand and unusual, the better; for destroying and denigrating such a thing is all the more grand. Othello and Desdamerica’s relationship is strikingly unusual and grand. There is something new and novel about it, powerful and also beautiful. So how to bring it undone?
First, you must gain trust, like a masthead news service has gained trust. Lay down some narrative bedrock. Ridicule any attacks upon it as conspiracy theories, made by wearers of tin foil hats … the whole nine yards. Admit your unworthiness. A Roderigo has no time for this, no stomach either. Evil has to be patient. As Bloom points out, Iago is Othello’s Ancient; a man he is convinced would rather die than see his master’s standard fall.
Think of the ancient as a doctor of the mind who seeks not to cure but to afflict.
The purpose of Iago’s reportage to his primary audience is constant affliction, in gathering intensity. Never let up on the pressure: report innuendos, doubt yourself (let your audience come to your defence) and keep on doubting even as you leave out everything that does not concern your project (remember to ridicule in equal turns); give poisons as medicines, but start with such a lesser dose that none can see the difference. And, slowly build upon it. The Old World can become easily jealous of the New World, all the Beauty it has built about it. Its monuments, on the page, in the ear, on the ground. Secure all insecurities, no matter how insignificant, and bend them to your will.
Haply, for I am black And have not those soft parts of conversation
That chamberers have…
But in the end you will need to manufacture some kind of smoking-gun, as the clever people call it. Some kind of tactile device, a concrete object … perhaps a hankerchief, perhaps a YouTube video, and you must report on this in such a way that it can only be seen in such a way. And even if your own wife might come out against you and say, at one point, nay, this was not what … well, then, she must be ended, cancelled, dispatched with all due speed. For any accomplice to the hankerchief is the only way in which your evil can really be undone, or at least the most simple and least bloody way.
Dangerous conceits are in their natures poisons,
Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,
But with a little act upon the blood
Burn like the mines of sulphur.
Where can we place Cassio? Well, he loves Othello and he loves Desdamerica too, both in wholesome ways; but he is more easily a Desdamerican too, and he is white and good, just like her. He is the other side of Roderigo, also Desdamerican, but bent the other way. We can at best hope to be like Cassio, to realise our failures and work on them, to learn from the manipulations around us.
Iago—dramatist, director, and critic—instructs Othello that that is not the way to think about her.
Bloom likens Iago to a director or a stage manager of his own play, how he instructs the cast with consumate control, and his soliloquies are like he’s confiding in us, his co-conspirators. After all, we’re sitting there in the dark, passive, doing nothing, while the horror of this evil is played out. We are structurally complicit, then. He only spirals out of control, both suddenly and swiftly, through the reliance on the concrete object: the hankerchief. Did he even need this thing? Perhaps not… But evil is not content to always live in shadows. It must sometimes dare to live in light.
Othello: She turned to folly, and she was a whore.
Thus, Iago weaponises Blackness against Desdamerica, against everything that is noble and good in Othello, and he only realises it too late. He is flung backward through the strategies of evil, without the tools to deal with them; even beyond the kind of Männerbund code he has lived with all his life on the battlefield. It was not only not useful to him, but used against him with consumate ease.
Iago remains the most dangerous of all villains, because his infernal intelligence throws us into despair.
And, of course, neither Shakespeare nor Bloom offer us any easy answers. Those that you most trust are those that can most work evil upon you? But those that we most trust are also those that can work the most good in league with us, beyond that which we can do ourselves, alone. This is hardly a simple morality play. At least we might be aware of the strategies of evil among us, and work to not be contribute to them … even if we think it for the Good.
…if the mutts start growling, snarling, and disemboweling one another with their teeth—celebrate the Diversity of it all and make sure the teeth get whitened.
Back To Blood by Tom Wolfe
We lurch from the Virus crisis to the Race crisis (and maybe back and forth, back and forth; for how much longer, and to what end; and how much longer and to what end…) Early on in all of this, Camus’ The Plague (for obvious reasons of title and topic … but not much else) started moving some units in a locked down economy. Written as it was during the Nazi occupation of France, it maybe leant itself to a politicised Virus, which is something most people seemed to want from it; we looked back to it just as much as it demanded we look forward.
But after the Lurch to Race crisis … where go we for the novel du jour?
Tom Wolfe’s last novel Back to Blood is a good place to go.
Published in 2012, six years before the author’s death, it is connecting dots that lead us to May and June 2020. Michel Houellebecq is regularly pitched to us as the prophetic writer du jour, and Wolfe is normally the journalist, telling us how things were recently, but back then … that decade we just scraped through… But here, there is a warning built in. If meaning making collapses completely, then we will return to its most basic identifiable tribal form: blood. Back to blood. It’s a defence mechanism, a regression; the total eclipse of all values … bar one.
You will have a picture of mankind with all the rules removed. You will see Man’s behavior at the level of bonobos and baboons. And that’s where Man is headed! You will see the future out here in the middle of nowhere! You will have an extraordinary preview of the looming un-human, thoroughly animal, fate of Man!
Back To Blood by Tom Wolfe
Two of the criminal events that drive the plot of the novel are chokings: and in both cases the victims are black (though neither is killed) and there is the threat of riots if these things are not handled in the … right way.
Wolfe remains at his most readable when he is in a reportage; his sentences smell like the streets. He can play with shade and make you feel a sea breeze off a page.
The whole place appeared snaggletoothed. The palms were limp and wan … the leaves bore puce-colored splotches. On the building’s facade the little iron balconettes and the aluminum frames for the sliding doors looked as if they were about to fall off and die in a pile.
Back To Blood by Tom Wolfe
He becomes a little self-indulgent with style … but it is forgivable. Should (or could?) an editor have put him in a figure four leg lock over some of his experiments with punctuation and beat-movement sounds and pacing? Yeah, maybe… But where it needs to be breathless, there is no air; where you get time to breathe, there’s air enough for plenty. But, since we are already touching on French, there’s something Louis-Ferdinand Celine-like about how Wolfe plays with us; but while Celine was in Lyric Comedy, Wolfe is in a kind of Realist Lyricism.
Boys like this kid grow up instinctively realizing that language is an artifact, like a sword or a gun.
Back To Blood by Tom Wolfe
In interviews, Wolfe talks about how he wanted to write his next book about immigration, and then he heard how Miami is the first American city to have been taken over politically by the people of a different country, who speak a different language: Cubans. And the Anglos and the Blacks and the Russians and the Haitians and the Mexicans etc etc etc are all the fractured minorities: a melting pot that just gets hotter and hotter … and nothing seems to melt. It’s just the heat, like Wolfe comes back to the heat in Miami, the sun, never waning, and you can’t help thinking about the sun in Camus’ more famous book too.
Oh, Nestor remembers very well! … in high school wrestling this was known as a “full nelson” … illegal because if you pressed down on the base of the skull, you might break your opponent’s neck …
Back To Blood by Tom Wolfe
Our protagonist is a native born American, but from Cuban immigrant parents. His name is Nestor and the ancient Greek lineage of the name is overtly mentioned in the text at one point. This colours him in the guise of a thoughtful but boastful man who is wise, maybe, but also someone whose efforts of wisdom can lead to tragedy. It is a name for a man of action and a man who wants to be known as a man of action; but who often falls short despite all his capacities. We follow him in all his earnestness trying to be a good cop in bad situations, and we get the vain side of him, and we get the collapses into rage too. But then we get the way he is perceived from the mediums outside his control: the YouTube accounts and the Newspaper reports and it’s hard to not be sympathetic, despite the foibles. And, in the end, while he does the right thing by a person who has wronged him; in the last sentence, he also does the right thing by himself.
The concern was … riots.
Back To Blood by Tom Wolfe
What does all this mean in a post-Floyd world, on the streets and on the page? Who gets to breathe? Who gets choked out? The BLM movement already existed when Wolfe wrote this novel, but there were no autonomous zones, or toppled statues, or critical mass of riots in the streets. And while Camus was certainly an Ideas-driven artist, Wolfe is more Story-driven … even if ideas come along naturally for the ride. He works through reportage, but it’s reportage of the New Journalism style, that he helped to coin; so it has a point of view driven into it, riveted to the story. And while the rivets do show, there’s no apology made for them. Nestor, for all his bluster, he chooses his tribe (as the term now goes) and he sticks to his guns; he remains a man-in-full, a theme Wolfe returns to. He doesn’t slip into the demand of Blood; he refuses to regress, even if he can’t understand why, or even what. And he rejects the demand of All or Nothing … he understands there are degrees within ideas about such things as Race and Identity and Good and even Evil. There’s a fundamental line in play about being both to thine own self true and recognising the other-than-oneself origin of being true.
“This thing’s like some kind of a panic, like a riot or something. People believe it—they think he’s a fucking martyr. If we say otherwise … then we’re trying to pull off some kind a cheap trick, some kind a cover-up.”
Back To Blood by Tom Wolfe
Reviewers of the book back in 2012 seem to have felt that Wolfe was being too pessimistic about race relations in America, whereas, of course, it now seems like he was far too optimistic, if anything. They also appear to have a problem with his crudity, when he is using the crudity around him in the Miami and America of his day to demonstrate how corruptive it can be upon a group of people, or between individuals. And he doesn’t shy away from his illustrations; he uses broad brushstrokes in a perfectly legitimate way, and actually could be accused of showing too much restraint, if anything.
Alongside all of this, Wolfe constructs an interesting contemporary addendum to his Long Essay from 1975 called The Painted Word, a work of Art Criticism-criticism that ruffled a few feathers along the way. Things have moved on from purely abstract art to the e-arts and ‘no hands art’ where the person named as the artist of a work never actually touches the work; it’s all done by machine or programs based on concept. The legitimacy of this is deliciously challenged by contrasting it with hands-made art that-is-faked, but becomes less than worthless once it is known to be faked.
A hundred police officers, it looks like, trying to hold back a mob … a mob of dark faces, Negs and every shade of brown, Neg to tan, and in between … they’re yowling and howling,
Back To Blood by Tom Wolfe
Can we breathe? Among all of this, is there enough air for us? For all of us? Yes, there is, Wolfe wants us to know from beyond his recent grave.
And while a novel can’t breathe, it still has life.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…
So, there is a time for a healthy mix of Bohemianism and Conservatism, and this I find ideal; but there is also a time for Conservatism to step back, as in the case of an artist in his studio, for example; and, equally, there is a time for Bohemianism to step back, as in the case when there is a cultural disease that threatens the capacity to be safely Bohemian and unrestrained to a viable degree, for example.
The problem with flus is that sometimes, the very mechanisms of resistance to the destruction of the body can be a conduit by which the flu destroys the body. To resist Fascism, we become the same (or worse) than Fascists, but try to still claim the integrity of being anti-Fascist. We live in these times. And our Civilization, that we call Western, finds itself in a bind. And it would not matter so much, perhaps, if it were strong and healthy. If it was still truly ‘a Culture’ in the Spenglerian sense, instead of being a Civilization: what Culture degenerates into as it declines.
So, if we take the recent Chinese Flu example and extend its response into the realm of this current Cultural Flu, we can look at our aged, withering Civilization as in a ‘vulnerable’ group. It is no longer hale or robust. It needs to self-isolate. And people need to protect it. It’s going to die … just as all cultures wither and die … but we, the living, were handed this from all those that went before us, those that have died; and we have a responsibilty to conserve its key elements (as a minimum) for those yet-born for as long as we can. So while we isolate our civilization, we need to attack the flu, stop it from spreading, take control away from that which is seeking to destroy.
Thuggery must sometimes be met with thuggery. This gives the non-thug pause, as well it should. But the longer we pause, the more the flu spreads, the more it strengthens. I expect those that fight the flu to meet thuggery with thuggery and I expect them to continue to understand the difference between thuggery and non-thuggery, and respond accordingly. In general, these people are our police forces. If they meet thuggery with too-strong thuggery, this is poor judgement and they should be held accountable for it, and corrected. But not to the same degree as if they met non-thuggery with thuggery. This is reprehensible and requires punitive action, of course. And this is not dependent on any feature of the person involved: race, sex, national background etc.
The longer we wait to step-back our Bohemianism and fight the Virus, the shorter the life of our Civilization for us now and those who come after, and the greater the chance that what comes after is something much worse than what went before, this rough beast slouching its way toward Bethlehem to be born.