August 17, 2012

Niceness v. Noticing Things

Dwight Garner, the New York Times' fine daily book reviewer, complains about the decline of criticism by critics:
I’m a professional book critic, someone who is paid, week in and week out, to take some of those shots. It’s a job that mostly suits my temperament. I like people — artists and civilians — who aren’t rude or censorious but who aren’t mush-mouthed either. Since childhood I’ve been a loather of America’s feel-good, everyone-on-tiptoes culture. Give me some straight talk. Give me a little humor. Give me something real. Above all, give me an argument. ... 
The sad truth about the book world is that it doesn’t need more yes-saying novelists and certainly no more yes-saying critics. We are drowning in them. What we need more of, now that newspaper book sections are shrinking and vanishing like glaciers, are excellent and authoritative and punishing critics — perceptive enough to single out the voices that matter for legitimate praise, abusive enough to remind us that not everyone gets, or deserves, a gold star.

The rise of niceness in the literary world has much to do with the rise of women to dominance as consumers and creators of books. Women tend to be nicer than men, more sympathetic, less competitive and more conformist, so there is less of a market these days for bare-knuckle criticism. 

Notice how much of an anomaly Mr. Garner is now as a heterosexual regular guy who likes to write about books. It would be great if more guys like him were interested in books these days, but, sadly, in the 21st Century, video games are just too enthralling.

By the way, this is a good place for a quote a friend sent me from Kingsley Amis's novel Difficulties with Girls, in which a female character explains why she doesn't like novels written by men:
“They never seemed to give you a feeling of what it was like to be a person; to be inside yourself and experience things happening; they just went round noticing things all the time.”

87 comments:

Anonymous said...

BRING BACK JOHN SIMON!!

David Davenport said...

The rise of niceness in the literary world has much to do with the rise of women to dominance as consumers and creators of books.

That is not new. F. Scott Fitzgerald complained circa 1925-26 that "The Great Gatsby" wasn't selling well because Daisy, the main woman character, was an adultress who caused a murder. Since most novel buyers are women, Fitzgerald said way back then, "Gatsby" would have sold better if he had made the main female character more likeable and uplifting.

"Gatsby" didn't sell well in its own time. Later, it bacame a reading list staple at better American schools and colleges along with "Moby Dick," another sales dud.

Why schoolmarms embraced "Gatsby" I can't explain. Maybe Steve can do a piece on that.

It would be great if more guys like him were interested in books these days, but, sadly, in the 21st Century, video games are just too enthralling.

I assume that when Steve says "books" he means novels.

Steve, please explain why we are supposed to assume novels should be more enthralling than video games in a just and enlightened world.

Anonymous said...

Nice isn't so nice. Iron Niceness has no use for irony.

Anonymous said...

Nicies are the new Nazis.

Anonymous said...

"Women tend to be nicer than men..."

Phonier? Yes. Nicer? No. Women criticize behind the subject's back, not in front of his face. And while at it they always go for the actual person, not for his ideas. How is that nicer than what men do? I think Steve is conflating phoniness with niceness.

Anonymous said...

My 16-year old niece has to read Crime and Punishment for her AP composition class in the fall. Now there is a book where the male character has a whole universe of internal emotions, but they are male emotions. Various creepy, Russian versions of shame, guilt and anger. Women don't seem very interested in that internal monologue or experiences.

My niece is mostly into Harry Potter.

theo the kraut said...

OT, @Steve

German broadsheet Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung(1) reports:(2)

Volker Rieble, professor [of law] at the University of Munich tells [...] of an employer who had planned to set up a free factory nursery - and so overstrained the tolerance of his works council's homosexual chairman.(3) He felt that the project was a pay discrimination of gay people who should be able to claim an appropriate compensation. The entrepreneur gave up, exasperated, even though he probably would have prevailed legally, despite the General Equal Treatment Act. He does not see why he should justify himself for his kindness and commitment.

============================

1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankfurter_Allgemeine_Zeitung

2) http://www.faz.net/frankfurter-allgemeine-zeitung/recht-und-rat-die-stolpersteine-der-gleichbehandlung-1353573.html

3) businesses with more than four employes are required to have one of those; work(er)s councils, that is. Some info at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_council

The article's gist is about Germanys "General Equal Treatment Act", instituted in 2006 by the Christian Democrats (German conservatives ...in name only), no less. The above is my translation of the last paragraph. German speakers may check for prof Rieble at http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volker_Rieble

That particular chairman gives the word arsehole a whole new meaning, if I may say so.

Harry Baldwin said...

The rise of niceness in the literary world has much to do with the rise of women to dominance as consumers and creators of books.

Women just out of college with their English lit degrees are also the gatekeepers at all the major publishing houses. They're the entry-level drones who give a quick look at the manuscripts that come in over the transom. You can guess what kind of stuff they don't like.

ziel said...

That's what's puzzling to me about Gays these days - now they're all little fanboys - while back in the day they were such reliable bitches.

Anonymous said...

I noticed your comment on the NYT and would like to respond (anonymously, since I am a female critic). First: Women are not naturally nice, but their way of being critical in the lit world is to freeze people out, not attack work head-on. Second: It is very difficult find the right tone as a female critic, owing to such generalizations as "women are nice" -- if you think that, and then see a woman critic tearing something to shreds, you are likely to perceive her as petulant rather than objective.

Anonymous said...

I read Difficulties with Girls about 10 years ago and loved it. Take a Girl Like You, of which it was a sequel, was even better.

This post reminded me of a passage from K. Amis's novel "Jake's Thing", quoted in his son's autobiography. Jake, the protagonist, has lost interest in women in his middle age. He's offered pills that are supposed to correct that problem.

Jake did a quick run-through of women in his mind, not the ones he had known and dealt with in the past few months or years so much as all of them: their concern with the surface of things, with objects and appearances, with their surroundings and how they looked and sounded in them, with seeming to be better and to be right while getting everything wrong, their automatic assumption of the role of injured party in any clash of wills, their certainty that their view is more credible and useful for the fact that they hold it, their use of misunderstanding and misrepresentation as weapons of debate, their selective sensitivity to tones of voice, their unawareness of the difference in themselves between sincerity and insincerity, their interest in importance (together with noticeable inability to discriminate in that sphere), their fondness for general conversation and directionless discussion, their pre-emption of the major share of feeling, their exaggerated estimate of their own plausibility, their never listening and lots of other things like that, all according to him.

So it was quite easy. "No thanks," he said.


Every observation there is true, but the one that was phrased in the most memorable way (for me at least) concerned "their interest in importance (together with noticeable inability to discriminate in that sphere)".

Glaivester said...

So what you are saying, ziel, is that we need more Justin Raimondo types doing book reviews?

When I think catty and bitchy (in a good way) I think of Justin Raimondo.

Anonymous said...

" It is very difficult find the right tone as a female critic, owing to such generalizations as "women are nice" -- if you think that, and then see a woman critic tearing something to shreds, you are likely to perceive her as petulant rather than objective."

Few men and no women at all possess the desire to be objective. The best writing is about ideas. A woman can only be interested in individual personalities. Not even in generalizations about personality types - only in individual personalities. Being objective, discussing ideas are not jobs at which any woman has ever been or ever will be adequate. And there's nothing wrong with that - men can't give birth or breastfeed either. It's like spoons and forks, negative ions and positive ions - the genders are equally important, but not interchangeable.

"...you are likely to perceive her as petulant rather than objective."

It's because it's true. Why would a woman care deeply about the quality of someone's ideas or writing style? In a saner world women wouldn't be pushed by society into these sorts of (doubtlessly boring to them) careers.

Anonymous said...

Women nicer? - certainly not when they are teenagers. They are pack-animals. I am trying to convince my fourteen-year-old stepdaughter to come to South America with us for a year or two. She does not particularly like her classmates, but better the devil you know! She is terrified of being introduced to a new pack and having to find her place in the hierarchy. I also used to be an academic and most of my colleagues were women. The back-biting was insane.

Women are just as competitive as men, they're just more factional about it.

22pp22

jody said...

this could be part of the reason NBC got record ratings for their terrible coverage of the 2012 olympics.

they made it all about women and 80% of the coverage on their network channel was women playing sports. even the coverage on their 2 cable channels was 60% to 70% women playing sports.

many times during the 2 weeks of the olympics when i took a break at work and tried to watch some live coverage, all 3 NBC channels were showing women's sports, and after 5 minutes i turned away in disgust.

the only time you could watch what somebody might actually want to watch is by using NBC's internet stream. which worked great for all sports, except swimming and track. too many people were trying to watch those live and NBC's stream crashed regularly.

Anonymous said...

If you ever try to publish a book through the traditional route, you will immediately notice a few things.

1) The majority of agents are either young women or old women with decidedly leftist views.

2) You will find some male agents, mainly concentrated in non-fiction. Fiction, especially the booming young adult trade, is dominated by women.

3) Any agent, from the bigger firms to the smallest firm will go on and on about how busy they are and how there is no way, nuh uh, nope, can't do it, that they will offer you criticism. At least to your face - many of them are willing to talk about what they have to work with on thier blog. This blog will almost always have a high preponderance of internet 'memes' and linkbacks to reddit images.

4) In young adult, the market goes through 'phases'. First it was 'supernatural' (Twilight, Ghoul School, etc), then it became angels and demons, followed by dystopia, and now it looks like mermaids is the next big thing. Yes mermaids. And they all have the same love triangle plot nonsense.

4a) Many people who write blame this on agents 'trying to publish what sells', but I'd put an equal amount of money on women acting like herd animals and simply doing what everyone else is doing.

5) Next time you walk through the young adult section, compare female authors to male authors. There's a reason for that.

Anonymous said...

"The rise of niceness in the literary world has much to do with the rise of women to dominance as consumers and creators of books. Women tend to be nicer than men, more sympathetic, less competitive and more conformist, so there is less of a market these days for bare-knuckle criticism."

Let's stop this woman-knocking. There have been plenty of un-nice women. Was Judith Crist nice about SOUND OF MUSIC or CLEOPATRA? Kael led the way in un-niceness in the 60s. Mary McCarthy and Dorothy Parker weren't nice. And the greatest female filmmaker Lina Wertmuller wasn't a nice woman.

The triumph of niceness probably owes to (1) Waspness with all it blandness and "uh-goshy-gee-whiz, I did wash behind the ears, mom, I swear it"-ness. (2) conservative conformism and (3) leftist manipulation of conservative conformism.

Wasps have always been more into proper behavior and propriety. Now, there is much to be lauded about this. But it could be stifling and unflavorful. It goes back to the English with their manners, odorless order, and spiffyness. All the gentlemanly stuff and lady-like stuff. Of course, there were plenty of acerbic English wits, but even English wit had to maintain the facade of niceness. Keep the manners and use irony/wit to strip the victim.

Another reason for the return of niceness was revival of conservatism in the 80s with Reagan and uh-goshy 'morning in America'. The new niceness was supposed to be a necessary antidote to the nasty counterculture of the 60s with all its confrontationalism. Conservatives loved this new niceness.

The left was initially pissed but then figured, 'hey, we can use the ideology of niceness as a feature of political correctness now that we totally control the media and academia.' Thus, being nice(traditionally a conservative Eisenhowerist virtue) became associated with all the 'progressive' values and agendas like 'Tolerance', 'Diversity', and 'Gay agenda'. So, leftists, who'd been for freedom of speech and confrontationalism in the 60s, used niceness to whip everyone into line in the new order of progo-pieties.

Anonymous said...

Yes, partly. But the lit world has followed Hollywood's trend of focusing on blockbusters, and that's shrunk the industry. Everyone knows everyone, not a lot of people are making money, and it's more tribal than it used to be. Public ass-kissing is the order of the day for critics and writers alike.

Mitch said...

The anonymous female critic has it exactly right.

That said, I don't think the niceness comes from women so much as the rise of PC. That has been enforced on us by the elites--they invented it, even. It's some sort of mealy-mouthed politeness that they all fake at dinner parties.

Maya said...

The quote you provided in the end of your post, the one from the book, makes no sense.

Anything by Jeffrey Eugenides, James Baldwin, Wally Lamb, John Steinbeck, and... well, there is too many to list. These were simply the first few that popped into my head. Or how about the uber emotional and reflective "Eureka Street" or "The Perks of being a Wallflower"?

Ex Submarine Officer said...

The effect of womanly "niceness" on literature is pretty small potatoes compared to the its effect on government.

Compare the dates of when women were given the right to vote in U.S. federal elections and when the U.S. federal government got busy w/socialism (i.e., governmental "niceness") only a decade or so later.

Hardly a coincidence, IMO.

Maya said...

" Now there is a book where the male character has a whole universe of internal emotions, but they are male emotions."

What exactly are "male" emotions?

" Women don't seem very interested in that internal monologue or experiences.

My niece is mostly into Harry Potter."

Interesting. I've always wondered about those families where teenagers and adults consume entertainment meant for little kids and it's enough to satisfy their needs. What are the parents like? Do they just watch reality TV, go to sporting events and eat out for fun? Why did they neglect to expose their daughter to quality children's lit when it was age appropriate? Do THEY read anything other than Fifty Shades of Gray and Sports Illustrated?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Getting into another person's feelings via a novel is largely illusory. You are getting your own feelings played back for you.

I exaggerate, but not greatly.

Thoughts can be done if one has the skill, and these can give some individuality to the feelings in play. Otherwise, it ranks below video games.

dearieme said...

As Dorothy Parker once said ...

Anonymous said...

Even the old Soviet Union was better than 'pussy riots' and 'vagina monologues'.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yDrtNEr_5M

Anonymous said...

Sports coverage is 'nice' too.

Ray Sawhill said...

Just a guesstimate, but my impression (gathered from the years when I was covering the bookbiz as a reporter) is that the editorial side of the NYC trade-publishing business is at least 70% women, and that most of the guys in the offices are gay. I raised this once with a staight-guy publishing acquaintance of mine. His response: "Thanks for reminding me what a pussy business I work in."

Anonymous said...

"BRING BACK JOHN SIMON!!"

He's actually still around and keeping a blog in his late 80s. Not writing film criticism anymore though.

guest007 said...

Steve,

A flip side of the nice critic are women sports announcers and commentators. Women commentators are almost universally humorless, dry, harass, and hard to listen to.

Women sports commentators is one of the reason womens sports are not very enjoyable for men. Just compare an NFl/NBA announcer with a figuring skating/gymnastics announcer. The men realize it is a game, the women talk like they are describing heart surgery.

Anonymous said...

Steve is such an old-fashioned white knight.

Anonymous said...

This is Kingsley Amis best quote: "I’ve finally worked out why I don’t like Americans … Because everyone there is either a Jew or a hick.”

All the Miserable Lonely Betas in the HBD-o-Sphere said...

I noticed your comment on the NYT and would like to respond (anonymously, since I am a female critic). First: Women are not naturally nice, but their way of being critical in the lit world is to freeze people out, not attack work head-on. Second: It is very difficult find the right tone as a female critic, owing to such generalizations as "women are nice" -- if you think that, and then see a woman critic tearing something to shreds, you are likely to perceive her as petulant rather than objective.

Are you single?

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The person who said that sports coverage is nice too is right on. Take any football game. All the commentators do is praise whichever team is winning, they never criticize the losers. Baseball is just as bad. Athletes' egos are so fragile that they can not deal with any criticism and will low a fuse if the commentators say anything negative about them or "show them up."

SFG said...

Evolution. Women are the social specialists, so it's all about aligning yourself with the group with the most resources so your children will do better.

Seems pretty simple...

Null said...

This is obscure and nerdy as hell, but may be enlightening: one of the third-party supplements during the avalanche of those that came out during D&D 3rd ed (you were warned!) discussed running a campaign based on the fantasy novels that appeal to girls. Apparently the main characters had to find a group they wanted to belong to, instead of being asocial wanderers a la Conan the Barbarian.

It does fit my experience with nerdy women; they tended to act like women, except with interests directed at the recreational things scientists, engineers, programmers, and such enjoyed. So you had paintings of hamsters and cats dressed as the various Doctors for sale at conventions.

Says it all, I think.

Anonymous said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-17515992

So much concern about pussy rioters in Russia but no problem with locking people in jail for twittering.

Anonymous said...

http://jezebel.com/5527272/meet-harvards-racist-email-antagonist-stephanie-grace

Jezebel even supports college administrators for going after a student for her PRIVATE EMAILS. And so what if Grace thinks blacks are less intelligent? Steven Pinker thinks Jews are smarter. Blacks think they are better athletes.

Anonymous said...

Stop this male whining nonsense. "Niceness" is mostly implemented by the concept of taboo, and taboo is easily bypassed and defeated. And for sports coverage of the Olympics the feminine coverage killed it for me as well. But if you really care about it, then write them and tell them what you want. Unless you respect the taboo of men not being able to challenge the shifting nostrums of feminism.

Anonymous said...

"Women sports commentators is one of the reason womens sports are not very enjoyable for men. Just compare an NFl/NBA announcer with a figuring skating/gymnastics announcer. The men realize it is a game, the women talk like they are describing heart surgery."

I take it you have never watched the Super bowl? The fate of the universe hinges on every play.

Anonymous said...

It's neo-Victorianism but where did Victorianism originate?

One of the reasons why conservatives have been so ineffective in combating the left, gays, and etc is due to their cult of niceness.
Good 'nice' conservatives just don't say things that might be 'out of line'.
Buckley, in the end, was more magnanimous than nice than willing to fight the good fight. Bland waspy niceness defined Bush I and Bush II.
It's no wonder ethnic Catholics began taking over the movement. Wasp protestants were too just too much into niceness, trying to please the liberals and even joining them.

beowulf said...

"Women tend to be nicer than men, more sympathetic, less competitive and more conformist..."

Compliance takes place almost entirely within the tiny fictional fast food restaurant Chick-Wich, and especially the manager’s small office, in which 19-year-old Becky is detained over the course of an entire work day, most of the time wearing nothing but an apron. The difficulty of watching the movie is not just the feeling of implausibility—multiple characters, incredibly, go along with various crimes against the teenager, prompted by nothing more than a man on the phone claiming to be a police officer. It’s also that each female character seems entirely devoid of agency.... Compliance is not a documentary, but these details match the reported events of the infamous case it draws from.
http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2012/08/17/compliance_movie_angers_viewers_and_sparks_debate_.html

Anonymous said...

OT/ India and the olympics, worthwhile:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443324404577595091687114760.html?google_editors_picks=true

unix said...

" Anonymous said...
"Women tend to be nicer than men..."

Phonier? Yes. Nicer? No. Women criticize behind the subject's back, not in front of his face. And while at it they always go for the actual person, not for his ideas. How is that nicer than what men do? I think Steve is conflating phoniness with niceness.
"

Phoniness is greatly underrated. Her prettier sisters, Etiquette and Civility, have greased the wheels of polite society for generations.

As soon as I read "women are nicer" I knew the detractor would be arrive post-haste. Must be female intuition. It is pretty established that females are generally more empathetic. This is neither vice nor virtue, nor is it always true, but a biological reality for the majority. It goes with the territory of having to sense the needs of beings too young and undeveloped to express themselves--babies. Whether women feel "nice" or not, they can't help feeling what the other person feels (or she thinks they feel.) That may incite sympathy for that person, or it may not. Knowing what the other feels, gives you an advantage. In a psycho, it may incite sadism. In a saint, it makes martyrs. But more normally, getting what others feel about something makes you self-conscious about their opinions--that could be you they're talking about. No woman hears something negative, or positive, about someone else, she doesn't think--that could be me. Personally, one thing I've learned from men, is to be ok with my own opinions and not worry much about what other people think. This is something most men do well, and absolutely necessary for survival in many situations.

I have a female friend who works for a lawyer--big time law firm starting to list a bit. The lawyer jumped ship and the viciousness with which his former colleagues responded was, well, not exactly revelatory, but instructive. My friend was the kind of woman who didn't want to work for women when she was younger because she thought they were jealous of her, which may have been the case. She's changed over the years. Her reading of the recent jump-ship fracas, and of the law firms and big-wigs she has dealth with, is that men may not snap over as many things as women, but when they do, they bite to kill.
You couldn't call them phoney though. Not for long anyway.

as said...

I love it when Ray Sawhill and Agnostic comment on your blog posts.

You have great content of course, but could you recruit them as featured commentators or something? Especially since Ray Sawhill has given up his terrific blog?

Anonymous said...

"Just compare an NFl/NBA announcer with a figuring skating/gymnastics announcer. The men realize it is a game, the women talk like they are describing heart surgery."

The diving and gymnastics female commentator in NBC's Olympics was unbearable, screaming excitedly all the time, and aways so serious. I'd rather have Don Imus joking about nappy-headed hoes...

Luke Lea said...

All the good literature is being written in China nowadays.

Ali said...

Men are also interested in feelings. For example, today I was interested by the fact that I felt hungry.

John Derbyshire said...

Since reading Jake's Thing I have had that image of a giraffe's ear stuck in my head. It always pops up when . . . well, never mind.

In a later novel, Stanley and the Women, Amis went further, arguing that women are all mad.

JustAClown said...

speaking of noticing things, it has been more than 2 weeks since it became public knowledge that ryan was going to be romney's running mate.

And two weeks after the news broke, ryan has replaced romney as the face of the gop presidential campaign.

Look at google news right now. Tell me ryan hasn't replaced romney.

he is all over the news. Yet there is no poll bounce.


I seem to be the only who noticed that ryan has replaced romney, and romney don't mind a bit.

In fact the media seems to be going along with it.

I think the media really wants a close race so they can gin up ratings and get more ad dollars from the campaigns.

This entire campaign is a marketing things. And the media seems to be in charge of it.

I seem to be the only one who has noticed that the media has thrown out romney and put ryan in his place.

And the people are not the ones behind. This is as orchestrated as the hype for a new tv show or blockbuster movie.

Whiskey said...

Yes Steve exactly. That's the problem of the West, all over: consumer marketing aimed almost exclusively at White women ages 15-45, and catering to the worst of their emotional needs rather than the best of their characters. Pretty much everything wrong with the West today can be laid at the feet of consumer marketing shaping the Western culture in ways detrimental to society but feeding the transient emotional needs of White women ages 15-45. [Older women past 50 are of course, totally ignored.]

Kylie said...

"I've always wondered about those families where teenagers and adults consume entertainment meant for little kids and it's enough to satisfy their needs...."

Why? I can't spend 2 minutes thinking about such people. The boredom is excruciating. Just accept that they are flawed in some fundamental way.

If you want a humorous, non-boring take on the subject, read H. James's The Spoils of Poynton.

Whiskey said...

I would not argue that women are all mad. Men and women are not angels or demons, just primates who respond deeply to incentives (Charlie Munger is often an idiot politically and macro-economically, but he got that right) and are ... the victims of genetic hard-wiring.

The primate past of DNA selection leaves women hard-wired for group-think, submission to whatever situationally Alpha comes along, rigid orthodoxies, catty competiveness aka frenemy (the same male breeding many females is your explanation here), and so on. The flip side is often death-destination untrammeled male fighting (over women), hyper competitiveness, lack of cooperation, etc.

Take Pitcairn Island. In isolation, without any outside influence, the men slaughtered each other, with one lone male survivor happily surrounded by the women. Cruelty is arousing to women, particularly social cruelty not involving spilled blood that can lead to them getting hurt. It identifies the primate Alpha who will dominate the group.

Human society is a way around the genetic bottlenecks of primate behavior influenced by DNA selection: more cooperativeness, higher intelligence, leading to less impulsiveness and social domination (something women HATE HATE HATE as it is unsexy for them), by controlling fairly rigidly mate selection, sexual relations, child bearing, child raising, and much else.

Modern technology allows individuals particularly women ages 15-45 to avoid social restriction and revert back to a primate past where DNA driven hard-wired urges are all. And this is reaching natural limits.

Publishing like Hollywood cannot survive just on gays and women alone. Hollywood makes money now on two hour toy commercials, that's basically it. Publishing is the same way, meanwhile the advent of the Nook and Kindle and free or low cost ebooks is shaking up publishing like downloads did the music industry and piracy/Netflix/video games did movies and television.

Anonymous said...

""BRING BACK JOHN SIMON!!"

He's actually still around and keeping a blog in his late 80s. Not writing film criticism anymore though."

Excellent! Thanks for that heads up. I'm lovin it.

Anonymous said...

Phonier? Yes. Nicer? No. Women criticize behind the subject's back, not in front of his face. And while at it they always go for the actual person, not for his ideas. How is that nicer than what men do? I think Steve is conflating phoniness with niceness.

Phony is good. That Michael Jordan, he's so phony!

Anonymous said...

"Excellent! Thanks for that heads up. I'm lovin it."

Simon is head and shoulders above all other film critics afaic. I just caught upon his reviews from the 80s, 90s, and 00s (mostly written for the National Review) by ordering his last book on Amazon.

Rohan Swee said...

Ray Sawhill: ..the editorial side of the NYC trade-publishing business is at least 70% women, and that most of the guys in the offices are gay.

You'd think that with a bunch of allegedly "detail-oriented" women and stereotypically persnickety gays, every other book published in the last twenty years wouldn't be lousy with typos, repetitiveness, and damn-near illiterate grammatical mistakes. Yet here we are. What do they do all day in lieu of actual editing?

I raised this once with a staight-guy publishing acquaintance of mine. His response: "Thanks for reminding me what a pussy business I work in."

Most men aren't comfortable working in "women's" fields - and that doesn't necessarily mean intrinsically feminine work, but fields with significant numbers of women, even if well shy of half. Too many women, men bail.

Not an original observation, I know. but a shame really, both for men who have talent and interest in non-math/science fields (many won't go near these now-feminized fields in the first place), and for the standards of excellence in the field itself. (Not because individual women can't excel in them, but for all those reasons that should not require elaboration except for the terminally PC.)

Anonymous said...

"Steve is such an old-fashioned white knight."

Sir Plungalot.

Here he is in action.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGm-zkRNj58

Maybe he plunges to recover Exhalibut.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Whiskey or Albertosaurus have ever had a comment deleted.

Rohan Swee said...

Maya: The quote you provided in the end of your post, the one from the book, makes no sense.

Not out of context, no. If I've read the novel I've forgotten it, but I suspect the character is not meant to illustrate the author "noticing things" about what men write. ("Women are sucky solipsistic horrors and stupid and stuff", more like.) So, yeah, you're right, it doesn't quite fit the way Steve wants it to fit here, in or out of context. Truthy enough for a blog post, I guess.

But to continue the out-of-context digression: the general observation used to be that females read and enjoy both chick-stuff and guy-stuff, whereas males aren't interested in the latter. So in the past, a real-life novel-reading female who didn't like stuff written by men would be an anomaly. I suspect that with the general de-civilizing trend and the waxing of the idiocracy, that has become less and less true and feral sub-literates of both sexes retreat more and more into inchoate crap that reflects nothing but their own eternally infantilized emotional states. So if that character came into the world as an imperfectly conceived cipher for solipsistic suckitude, she's now much more true to life!

C. Van Carter said...

"America is now wholly given over to a damned mob of scribbling women, and I should have no chance of success while the public taste is occupied with their trash–and should be ashamed of myself if I did succeed. What is the mystery of these innumerable editions of the ‘Lamplighter,’ and other books neither better nor worse?–worse they could not be, and better they need not be, when they sell by the 100,000." - Nathaniel Hawthorne.

C. Van Carter said...

E. D. E. N. Southworth. Bibliography.


Anonymous said...

"Not an original observation, I know. but a shame really, both for men who have talent and interest in non-math/science fields (many won't go near these now-feminized fields in the first place), and for the standards of excellence in the field itself. (Not because individual women can't excel in them, but for all those reasons that should not require elaboration except for the terminally PC.)"

I showed a lot of talent in the theater, and loved it; but decided not to go into it because I didn't want to be in the company of a high proportion of gays.

Anonymous said...

4a) Many people who write blame this on agents 'trying to publish what sells', but I'd put an equal amount of money on women acting like herd animals and simply doing what everyone else is doing.


Robbie Williams was the fat dancer formerly of Take That and a nobody who could not sell.

Angels was then huge and he was the biggest popstar on the planet.

Malibu Stacey has a new hat!

DEXTRA said...

"The rise of niceness in the literary world has much to do with the rise of women to dominance as consumers and creators of books. Women tend to be nicer than men, more sympathetic, less competitive and more conformist, so there is less of a market these days for bare-knuckle criticism."

Interesting point and I totally agree with it.

Now I wonder how much of a feminine influence should be ascribed to the net negative turns society as a whole has taken since women began to have their voice heard in fields like politics. Right Wing Traditionalist blogger Lawrence Auster has made this point over and over again (e.g. here: http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/008277.html)

Anonymous said...

You'd go broke publishing fiction for men. You'd go broke twice(thrice?)as fast publishing fiction for NAM men.

Anonymous said...

Watch out Steve, don't provoke the wrath of Putnam and his fellow multiculturalists.

"Steve Sailer, I hereby sentence you to be burned as a racist!"

Anonymous said...

Its possible, Steve, that you have the cart directly in front of the horse here. The reason no sensible chap would contemplate literary criticism these days is because recent literay fiction has been unmitigated shyte.

(Evidence: when we talk about Amis, we mean Kingsley, not Martin.)

Gilbert P.

Seice said...

Based on my experiences, I wouldn't say women are genuinely nicer. They do more to put on an act of it, probably because they are more concerned about what others think of them and following social norms, but in terms of actual acts of helpfulness, generosity, etc., that require something significant of you or put you in danger, etc. (in other words, those that show that its a character trait and not a social nicety) I wouldn't say its clear that women are more nice at all.

JSM said...

"I showed a lot of talent in the theater, and loved it; but decided not to go into it because I didn't want to be in the company of a high proportion of gays."

Well, you missed a great opportunity. With so many gays in theater, the few straight males have their pick of cute starlets.

Anonymous said...

http://www.amren.com/news/2012/08/genetically-engineering-ethical-babies-is-a-moral-obligation-says-oxford-professor/

Euethics okay, eugenics not okay.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea why anyone would question why it is that NBC catered to what women like with their Olympics coverage.

1.) The women of the house make most of the spending decisions; hence, advertising dollars cater to women for most products. Even cars, once the pervue of the man of the house, must now be given the stamp of approval by the woman of the house.

2.) Some women, like me, love sports, were raised on watching sports, understand as well as most men the games of baseball and football. (I watch only the playoffs in the NBA, and then only if there is a compelling story, and this year there was--OKC.) I am a golfer, and I appreciate golf history, great courses, and watching the pros go up against great courses.

However, most women really love the human interest side of sport, something the Oly producers realize. My cousin, who knows next to nothing and cares nothing about baseball and football (even though her live-in played Triple A ball decades ago), was transfixed by the Olympic coverage of gymnastics, swimming, and some track, of all things! I was on the phone with her when she took a call from her friend, a woman in her mid-sixites, who wanted to know at what time NBC would be televising the last event of women's gymnastics. I was shocked to learn my cousin had cut out the schedule she found in her local Jersey paper. Talk about on top of it all. This from someone who is simply not a lover of sports.

When I asked her why she was so into this when I, the sports' lover, could barely bother to read the on-line reports of the results of the competitions, she excitedly began telling me the life histories of several of the American gymnasts and then that some of the swimmers.

NBC learned long ago to turn sport into human interest and yes, they have succeeded.

It's really no different, however, from how the networks and the NBA worked the LeBron James abandonment of Cleveland for all it was worth or the way the networks worked the Tim Tebow angle last year. Now that Tebow is with the Jets, we can expect more, and yes, more women will watch, but you know....the Lebron thing and the Tebow thing had the male interest as well, truth be told.

Steve Sailer said...

NBC got good ratings for this Olympics. They know what they are doing and they are adept at it. The human interest sport is fine for me for sports I tune in every four years.

Anonymous said...

"Some women, like me, love sports, were raised on watching sports, "

why that goddamn patriarchy again..
oh wait, stereotype busting

"that NBC catered to what women like"

with capitalistic feminism! or feministic capitalism?

guest007 said...

Steve,

Lots of women claim to be fans of ice skating and the television ratings during the winter olympics show that women watch ice skating.

HOwever, if you ask any woman who claims to be a fan of ice skating to explain the difference between a toe loop, an Axel,a Salchow, or a lutz. Most women can no more explain a figure skating jump than they can explain the wildcat offense in football.

Women can claim to be fans while knowing nothing but the personalities. Men would be embarrassed to claim to be football fan while only knowing the names of the quarterbacks.

Being a nice person usually means that the person is just not that interested.

theo the kraut said...

OT, @Steve

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flattr microdonations might be of interest for your blog. It just takes one click to donate, while with paypal (that you seem to have ditched) you need several--click on donate button, wait for paypal website to load, log in (unless you're logged in all the time, which is a security rusk), confirm sum, donate. With www.vdare.com/contribute/biodiversity it takes even longer.

Anonymous said...

How about Sailer as a superhero? Ultra-Plunger or Plunger Man.

Superman changed in phone booths. Sailer, when he sees danger, plunges into water--lake, sea, pond, bathtub, swimming pool, etc--and emerges with super powers. His weapon?

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5BmgBQxaIfA/T52_rs-CSdI/AAAAAAAAA8M/q0IyNo6PtnI/s1600/plunger431x300.jpg

Kaleberg said...

I've never noticed female book critics being "nicer" than male critics. Granted, they are more likely to review books by women as men ignore them, but that's another story. Do you have some statistics to back this up?

Anonymous said...

ok, so women are narcissistic hedonists who derive enjoyment from prying into other people's lives and intimate trivia, and this is news?

pat said...

I wonder if Whiskey or Albertosaurus have ever had a comment deleted.

Sure. I have had comments not published. You'll have to ask Whiskey about his experience.

I have no complaints. Steve owns the blog. He gets to print what he wants. As far as I can tell Steve censors my comments that are stupid and boring (there are some of those I'm afraid)not because they are particularly controversial. So like any good editor he makes my stuff better.

I wrote a comment on Big Government last week to some inflamatory rhetoric from one of the Black Panthers. I counseled moderation because killing whites as the Panther advocated would lead to retaliation. I pleaded for moderation and calm. That comment got censored.

In that stream of comments there were many from unregenerated racists. Most comments that made it into print were just expressions of pure race hate. The editors seem to want to shape the debate to be as nasty as possible.

I live in Oakland. The Black Panthers are in Oakland too. I don't want blood in the streets. I don't want a race war in my neighborhood. I want everyone to cool it. It's not hard for me to advocate peace and understanding. It's in my self interest. But Big Government seems to administer it's blog comments to supress calls for moderation.

As far as I can tell Steve doesn't do any of this. If he wants to make a point he does so in his posts not in his shaping of blog comments.


Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

I have no complaints. Steve owns the blog. He gets to print what he wants. As far as I can tell Steve censors my comments that are stupid and boring (there are some of those I'm afraid)not because they are particularly controversial. So like any good editor he makes my stuff better.

My own experience, as one of many Anonymi, is much the same. The posts of mine that Steve tends to cut are the off-topic ones, or the ones made impulsively and emotionally. Sometimes he makes my stuff better, by doing that. Sometimes he pissses me off. But in the end, as you already said, it's his blog not yours or mine, and he has the right to do with it what he wants.

Anonymous said...

"Steve owns the blog. He gets to print what he wants."

It's actually his evil alter ego whim. You see, everyone is PC to some extent.

Anonymous said...

Here's the irony. You don't have to be nice to be Nice, and you can be nice but seen as un-Nice.

Tim Wise is mean, but his ideology makes him Nice.
Sailer is generally easy-going and congenial but his views make him un-Nice.

You can be unnicely Nice and nicely un-Nice.

Sailer's niceness is sometimes a put-on though. His remarks about Mexicans are not outwardly mean but there's an element of undertated mockery.

Rohan Swee said...

The posts of mine that Steve tends to cut are the off-topic ones, or the ones made impulsively and emotionally.

I think Komment Kontrol is a myth. Whenever a comment of mine wasn't posted I just assumed it got lost somewhere in the pile with all the other ephemera.

Sailer's niceness is sometimes a put-on though. His remarks about Mexicans are not outwardly mean but there's an element of undertated mockery.

Only in Butthurt Nation is a little light mockery "mean". Steve's mockery targets seem pretty equal opportunity to me, and Mexicans are as risible as anybody else.

Anonymous said...

Sme evidence of the rise of women in this sector. George gilder stories about dealing with the new girls in publishing who wouldn't reissue his book on feminism.

Anonymous said...

Steve, Adolph reed and Doug on left business review radio mentioned you regarding David brooks and chales Murray.

Anonymous said...

A person can be nice and objectively critical at the same time.

Many self-professed truth tellers are mean-spirited narcissists who couldn't avoid poisoning a well if their lives depended on it.

Anonymous said...

Steve, please explain why we are supposed to assume novels should be more enthralling than video games in a just and enlightened world.

This world has never been just or enlightened. Literature is enthralling to intellectuals. Games and contests have been enthralling since pre-history.