June 18, 2013

A microcosm of what's wrong with the way we think

A continuing theme here at iSteve is that the top creative guys in popular culture are not quite as politically inane as the mass of liberal dweebs who write about them. 

For example, this season on Mad Men, the storyline has reached 1968, and one of Matthew Weiner's themes has been that the late 1960s rise in crime was ruining New York City. And how does he show that? By showing black criminals committing crimes, which is exactly what happened. How can he get away with that? Well, he's Matthew Weiner and a lot of nice liberal dweeb critics have a vast amount invested in the cult of his genius, so why not use it to tell some truth?

One of my more central themes is that the mass of liberals dweeb who frame The Narrative of how you are supposed to think about everything have come to view each question in childish, destructive, brain-sapping Who? Whom? terms. 

Here's a microscopic example of these two counter-currents in Slate, in which a minor league kultursmog dweeb calls out a major league novelist for the high crime of Noticing Things. Novelists can't be allowed to go around noticing things that raise even the most esoteric questions about who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.
Did Jonathan Franzen Just Make a Gay Joke in the New York Times? 
By Amanda Hess | Posted Tuesday, June 18, 2013, at 12:50 PM

Last week, Frank Bruni devoted his New York Times opinion column to the “puzzling stamina” of sexism in the United States ...

Bruni is the Perfect Gay Liberal Dweeb with an IQ around that of a summer day in Palm Springs. I wrote about his remarkably dopey column in "Cluelessness Is Next to Godliness."
Naturally, Jonathan Franzen was moved to respond.

Franzen is a heavyweight novelist, author of The Corrections and Freedom.
“There may still be gender imbalances in the world of books, but very strong numbers of women are writing, editing, publishing and reviewing novels,” Franzen wrote in a letter to the editor. “The world most glaringly dominated by male sexism is one that Mr. Bruni neglects to mention: New York City theater.”

Or New York City fashion.
A note below his byline clarified that—lest we confuse him with some lesser Jonathan Franzen—“the writer is the novelist.” 
I’m wondering why the novelist—according to Time, the Great American Novelist—would be moved to file this limp non sequitur of an argument in the paper of record. ... If Franzen wanted to administer a sweet burn to Frank Bruni for calling out sexism in his profession, he could have criticized the male-dominated field of New York City restaurants. (Bruni served for years as the Times' chief food critic.) He could have dug into the demographics of the Times opinion page, where 10 of its 12 op-ed columnists are men. Instead, Franzen laid into theater with bizarre specificity. Why? I can only conclude that this was a conspicuously ineffective letter from a man considered one of the greatest writers alive. Or else it was a gay joke. 
Frank Bruni is gay; Broadway is one of the few American industries that is perceived to be dominated by gay men.
Franzen is smart enough not to explicitly chide Bruni for failing to singlehandedly resolve sexism in the gay community before speaking out against chauvinism in all other corners of the United States, but he may be just self-important enough to imply it. Then again, not everyone picked up on Franzen’s subtext. “I applaud Jonathan Franzen for casting a spotlight on sexism in theater,” Jenny Lyn Bader, a member of the executive board of the League of Professional Theater Women, wrote to the Times this week. In light of Franzen’s little note, “maybe the public will finally take note hearing it from a man, who cannot be accused of speaking out of self-interest.” 
I'm not clapping. Instead of leveraging his clout to recognize gender imbalances in his own field (“there may still be, but” is an impressive hedge, but it does not count),

How is Franzen supposed to fix gender imbalances in the field of writing major novels? By not writing major novels?
Franzen deflected responsibility for resolving gender inequality onto gay men. Or maybe he just wrote a terrible letter that makes no sense. I'm not sure which accusation would bother the novelist more.

Who? Whom?

How much is the spread of this Leninist way of looking at the world a chick thing? Women tend even more toward subjectivity than men do, but women tend to be more individualist in who they like than men do. I guess lesbians tend to have the worst of both sexes intellectually -- they are positively averse to objectivity, and they display male gang aggression urges and the desire to rationalize them with ideology (most straight women aren't ideologues by nature). And then the heterosexual women notice which way the social status breezes are blowing and just get in line. 

The big winners in this kind of culture where you aren't allowed to explain things in writing tend to be the most sociopathic men, the cunning guys who understand at a gut level the weaknesses of everybody else.


Anonymous said...

The big winners in this kind of culture where you aren't allowed to explain things in writing tend to be the most sociopathic men, the cunning guys who understand at a gut level the weaknesses of everybody else.

Even sociopathic men can have a sense of chivalry and justice, a pride in their own culture, etc. The winners aren't just sociopathic, they have a contempt or antipathy towards European culture, institutions, truth, honesty and the like. If white, natural traitors.

When I think of such writers I think of Bryce Courtenay who wrote "The Power of One". If you set out to create a PC parable, it would be difficult to create a superior work. It casts Boers as villains, a hero who works with a heroic Jewish friend, and involves the hero murdering at least one South African Nazi, IIRC. Justifiably, of course. The book was published in 1989, right before the end of apartheid.

Before his career as a writer, he studied journalism, worked in advertising and won several awards. He claims to have had no idea the book would be successful.

Anonymous said...

Come now, in what world is theater merely "perceived" to be dominated by gay men?

Also I noticed the phrase "called out" appearing with alarming frequency a few weeks ago and it's been stabbing me in the brain ever since.

Geoff Matthews said...

Obviously, Franzen can remedy this by insisting on a female editor, a publishing house headed by a female, a female artist for the book cover, and a female PR flack.

And if he ghost wrote a book for a female, that wouldn't hurt either.

DYork said...

How much is the spread of this Leninist way of looking at the world a chick thing?

It isn't Leninist thinking. I'm sure it predates Lenin and those who play the game haven't read Lenin.

Same goes for this pseudo-intellectual right wing nonsense about Cultural Marxism. This phony idea has been promoted by people from Derb to dummies like Glen Beck. It isn't an issue.

I appreciate Karl Popper's take down of the Frankfort School as much as anyone one but Marx, Gramsci, Lenin and these other Euro-dinasaurs are irrelevant.

The will NOT to know, the desire to persecute those who DARE to know and the need to intimidate those who WANT to know is THE issue.

Its everywhere and has been around longer than Lenin or Cardinal Bellarmino or the tribunal that went after Socrates.

The strategy needs to be -

1. Accept it as part of the population, especially among those who seek power and use language for a living.

2. Go on the offensive and attack their comfort zones, put them on the defensive and don't back down.

There is NO alternative.

Anonymous said...

"Even sociopathic men can have a sense of chivalry.."

How many such sociopaths have you met?


Anonymous said...

"The big winners in this kind of culture where you aren't allowed to explain things in writing tend to be the most sociopathic men, the cunning guys who understand at a gut level the weaknesses of everybody else."

Steve, this is very interesting & provocative. Could you please let us know who you were thinking of? I'm guessing maybe not, as it might be risky, publicly calling some well-known, living figure a sociopath. How about someone who's not-long-dead, then?

Anonymous said...

OT/ Steve, you would love this:


asdf said...

Mad Men did a great job of showing the ridiculousness of Peggy's journalist boyfriend.

Bill said...

How much is the spread of this Leninist way of looking at the world a chick thing?

They teach it in humanities departments, so about 70% female.

Hunsdon said...

"at a gut level" bwa ha ha.

Why am I reminded of a quote from Oliver Stone's JFK that started, "You don't understand reality because . . . ."?

Boulger said...

Women are pretty stupid about this kind of thing. At least most guys go along with PC either to hook up with a chick, or to avoid social ostracism. The chicks are the true believers.

fnn said...

Same goes for this pseudo-intellectual right wing nonsense about Cultural Marxism. This phony idea has been promoted by people from Derb to dummies like Glen Beck. It isn't an issue.

The Authoritarian Personality was by far the most influential work of the Frankfurt School:

Paul Gottfried writes:
You should read my last three books, all of which stress that The Authoritarian Personality profoundly affected American political thinking. It was essential to the postwar reconstruction of German “civic culture’ and the work was deeply admired by SM Lipset, the sponsors of Commentary, and scads of Cold War liberals. It was not necessarily viewed as the post-Marxist leftist source of moral corruption that I suggest it was in The Strange Death of Marxism. What made The Authoritarian Personality particularly insidious is that it was widely seen as a blueprint for non-totalitarian democracy both here and in Europe; and leaders in government and in universities read the book in that way. The fact that Adorno and Horkheimer (who later backed away from the implications of the work he had co-edited) were at the time Soviet sympathizers did not dampen the enthusiasm of the anti-Stalinist secularist intellectuals who tried to defend the study. Although the Jewish identity of the Frankfurt School may not have been the only factor leading to their anti-Christian, anti-fascist pseudo-science, denying its influence on the formation of Frankfort School ideas is simply silly.

Prof. Gottfried replies:
Christopher Lash’s True and Only Heaven includes a long section detailing the mainstream liberal support for The Authoritarian Personality in the 1950s and 1960s. Lipset, Hook, Daniel Bell, Arthur Schlesinger, Richard Hofstadter and the members of American Jewish Committe, who sponsored Adorno and Commentary magazine, were among the anti-Communist liberals who admired TAP and who thought that it had relevance for our country. Although you and I may be to the right of these celebrants, it would be hard to argue that no anti-Communist had any use for Adorno’s ideas.


Some observers have criticized what they saw as a strongly politicized agenda to The Authoritarian Personality. Social critic Christopher Lasch[26] argued that by equating mental health with left-wing politics and associating right-wing politics with an invented “authoritarian” pathology, the book's goal was to eliminate antisemitism by “subjecting the American people to what amounted to collective psychotherapy—by treating them as inmates of an insane asylum.” Similarly, Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek wrote, “It is precisely the kind of group loyalty, respect for tradition, and consciousness of differences central to Jewish identity, however, that Horkheimer and Adorno described as mental illness in Gentiles. These writers adopted what eventually became a favorite Soviet tactic against dissidents: anyone whose political views differed from theirs was insane. […] Christian self-denial, and especially sexual repression, caused hatred of the Jews [according to Adorno et al.].”[27]
The Authoritarian Personality remains widely cited in the social sciences and continues to inspire research interest today.[28]

Mr Lomez said...

Franzen's an interesting guy. Both of his major novels, Corrections and Freedom, are two of the most thorough studies of SWPL culture that I've seen. Of course, the "liberal dweebs" who prop him up as their literary avatar, assume that he's on their side. The truth, of course, is a little murkier.

In Freedom for example, the tragic hero is a bleeding-heart, self-described feminist, environmental lawyer from Minnesota. He's sympathetic to be sure, but it's clear that he's a victim of his own ideology. His feminism ends up ruining his marriage (PUA types will be heartened to learn that he's cuckolded by an alpha rock-star who pumps and dumps his dissatisfied wife), and his environmental efforts* are completely derailed by the hypocrisies and idealism of his fellow lefties.

The only character in the novel who comes out clean is a Texas oil tycoon with close ties to the Bushes.

*The novel's central claim is that the only coherent strategy for protecting the environment is population control. The book doesn't address immigration directly, but its between the lines for anyone willing to look.

Whitehall said...

When you wrote "they are positively averse to objectivity, and they display male gang aggression urges and the desire to rationalize them with ideology (most straight women aren't ideologues by nature)..."

Why did I think of Ann Coulter first?

But on reflection, she tends to be very clear-eyed and objective.

Steve Sailer said...

"Franzen's an interesting guy."

Most of the big names are, although these days you have to pay careful attention to notice that they usually aren't True Believer dweebs.

McGillicuddy said...

I agree that The Corrections and Freedom are thorough portraits SWPL society, but he’s not on our side, and he’s not terribly interesting— Freedom includes the probing insight that hillbillies are either really fat or really skinny, The Corrections observes that old people can be nostalgic and stuck in their ways; whoah, the scales have fallen from my eyes!

He is actually a pretty hard-left liberal, he just has a masculine temperament, and I guess that throws off a lot of people who have cartoonish images of left-wingers.

He does seem to be interested in bloodlines, but that doesn’t seem to amount to any more than his fetish for Jews and WASPs, while he still kind of likes being a Midwest Scandinavian.

Anonymous said...

How many such sociopaths have you met?

A few. Or maybe, those I met just had low empathy levels but not a complete lack of empathy, maybe?

For example, the military seems to attract people who have low empathy levels, but who may have a sense of fair play, etc. It can be very logical to be honest and trustworthy even if you aren't gifted with much empathy. If you go around being a deceitful, backstabbing type just for the sake of doing so, your reputation will catch up with you eventually. But if you are able to be trusted, you might rise to the very top.

A calculated decision to live by the rules of society because it's in your own interest, the interests of your family, and the interests of greater society (which are also your own interests in the long run), eventually becomes an ingrained habit.

The sort of criminal-like, screwing everyone over for your own short-term gain is classic psychopath behavior, which is different.

I say this, because although I'm not in the military myself, a lot of the traits in the article I linked to apply to myself, especially in my younger days. For example, caustic sense of humor, liking for combat sports, larger and more muscular, got into a few fights at school when others tried to pick on me, and I have fairly low empathy levels. Not non-existent, but quite low. I think I would do very well in the military. On the other hand, I'm a firstborn son, not particularly extroverted, I do feel guilt, love of my own family, affection for other people, etc. If I had an alignment like an RPG character, it would be on the side of good, whether lawful or chaotic.

And I try and be scrupulously honest, trustworthy etc. and do a better job than most at it. I have a sense of pride in European history, being honest, seeking truth, etc. I could not sell out in the manner of a "liberal dweeb" as Steve puts it. I know very well how the system works and yet I could not live with myself for being that two-faced, even if I benefited personally from doing so.

When one considers how chivalry started, as a way to basically encourage knights (e.g. a low empathy, military class) not to be ***holes, the idea might make more sense.

DPG said...

The coda of The Corrections features the septuagenarian matriarch of a Midwestern boomer family, whose children have all moved East, lecturing her bridge club on how her son Chip (an unemployed writer, presumably drawn from Franzen's personal experience) has convinced her that being gay isn't all that bad or even--can we get back to the game of bridge?--voluntary.

This surely buys Franzen a few Get Out of Jail Free cards from The Narrative.

I get the impression that he's a liberal, but he is more subtle about it.

Spoiler alert:
The kicker of The Corrections is that the father is a tragic hero. He is overbearing and austere, so austere that he refuses fellatio from his wife. Much of the book portrays him as a source of resentment and unhappiness for the other four members of the family.

He mysteriously retired a few weeks short of being eligible for a plush pension, much to his family's chagrin. It turns out that a subordinate of the father had an affair with his daughter while she was an intern many years earlier, and following a corporate reorganization that same subordinate tried to blackmail the father into saving his job. The father quit outright in order to spare his daughter's reputation.

Many liberal readers probably derive a lot of schadenfreude from the father's plight. He is the stereotypical father figure from mid-century. White male authority, sexual repression, conservative values, expectations of conformity. Everything they hate, and for hundreds of pages we learn about years of ire towards him from the family, while in the present he succumbs to Parkinson's.

I imagine it goes over a lot of liberals' heads that the father provided a fantastic upbringing to his children, and all three were on paths to success until they screwed it up of their own accord.

Hence my feeling that Franzen is more subtle than most. I haven't gotten to Freedom yet, but The Corrections deserves its praise.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with a gay joke?

Funny that people who call themselves 'gay' are against laughter.

Steve Sailer said...

They didn't used to be.

Dave Pinsen said...

The Corrections might have been the most entertaining sociological novel since Bonfire of the Vanities. Ultimately, it's sadder, because the characters are more fully realized. I've read Bonfire a few times - I pick it up and get sucked in again. That hasn't happened with The Corrections or Freedom, but both were great novels.

Anonymous said...

(1) Jonathan Franzen's writing suuuuuuuccckkks. He's one of those guys who essentially spends years at a time masturbating on his keyboard, safe in the knowledge that no one will admit - even to themselves - that he's wasting what little talent he has. He'd be a far better writer if he was forced to churn out at least a book a year.

(2) I can't get worked up about this, even though I'm more socially liberal than about 99.9% of the commenters here. I just...can't...It's moderately amusing, it's reasonably on the point and I have no idea why it's meant to be such an outrageously outrageous outrage.

Anonymous said...

Last week, Frank Bruni devoted his New York Times opinion column to the “puzzling stamina” of sexism in the United States

This is exactly what Steve is on about, the willful ignorance. For myself, I find the use of the word 'puzzling' particularly offensive - its so insipid, so wet, so limp wristed and ineffectual.

They devote all this time in academia, the media etc going on & on about this stuff yet they are no further forward, they remain eternally 'puzzled'. I put it to any SWPL types reading this - what's the point of you exactly?

Ray Sawhill said...

The idea that the book publishing industry is sexist is pretty hilarious. I covered the business for 15 years, and it's about as sexist as NPR, or the kindergarten-teaching business. The women do have a point, though, when it comes to the number of reviews published in the NYTBR section.

sunshinemary said...

They devote all this time in academia, the media etc going on & on about this stuff yet they are no further forward, they remain eternally 'puzzled'.

Ha, well-put. I've noticed the same thing. Saying that "sexism" is puzzling is particularly silly as this is usually said in reference to something that is not sexist and is quite easy to understand. For example, why are there so few female CEOs? The answer, which is not puzzling in the least, is that this is not due to sexism but rather to women's own preferences.

Chief Seattle said...

For the humorless at the NYT, that letter to the editor is just -- a letter to the editor. This fake review of a 55 gallon drum of lube is a gay joke:

Brad and I will be Grand Marshals at this year's San Diego Pride Parade, and we were looking for just the right touch to add a bit of pizazz to our appearance. So when we stumbled across the PASSION NATURAL WATER BASED LUBRICANT - 55 GALLON drum, we felt we'd struck gold: "Just enough volume to soak an entire parade of spectators, and yet fits easily in our float." Double win.

Now, how to spray the lube on the excited on-lookers? Why, by water pump gun, of course. To test out our delivery mechanism, we purchased a drum for our back yard and set up a slip and slide. I had Brad charge toward me down the slide, and I fired at will. It helped to imagine he was a Klingon Bird of Prey: Target that explosion and FIRE.

What I didn't expect was that Brad's forward momentum would cause him to crash into me, upending the entire drum along with us.


Dr Van Nostrand said...

When one considers how chivalry started, as a way to basically encourage knights (e.g. a low empathy, military class) not to be ***holes, the idea might make more sense."

What modern elites dont get is that people especially men respond to a higher calling if there is a chance of glory and dignity even if it entails a great deal of personal sacrifice which includes giving up material comforts ,sexual pleasure or their life.

Which is why traditional institutions such as churches who pander to the liberal agenda and blindly recite their shibboleths in order to acquire new members only end up hemorrhaging adherents from their existing flock.
How many men are lining to join the Episcopalians vs those who wish to convert to Islam, Opus Dei or Mormonism?

Dr Van Nostrand said...

Re gays and (lack of)laughter..because...... Gay Fascism

"The twisted truth is that gay men have been at the heart of every major fascist movement that ever was - including the gay-gassing, homo-cidal Third Reich."

"all gay porn today is implictly fascist. Fascism is in our bones, because it's all about glorifying white male supremacy and fetishizing domination, cruelty, power and monstrous authority figures."


The news that Jorg Haider - the Austrian fascist leader - spent his final few hours in a gay bar with a hot blond has shocked some people. It hasn't shocked me. This is a taboo topic for a gay left-wing man like me to touch, but there has always been a weird, disproportionate overlap between homosexuality and fascism. Take a deep breath; here goes.
Some 10,000 gay people were slaughtered in the Nazi death-camps. Many more were humiliated, jailed, deported, ethnically cleansed, or castrated. One gay survivor of the camps, LD Classen von Neudegg, has written about his experiences. A snapshot: "Three men had tried to escape one night. They were captured, and when they returned they had the word 'homo' scrawled across their clothing. They were placed on a block and whipped. Then they were forced to beat a drum and cheer, 'Hurrah! We're back! Hurrah!' Then they were hanged." This is one of the milder events documented in his book.

Anonymous said...

"minor-league kultursmog dweeb" scores a perfect 10 on my underhanded zingers scale.

modes of discourse said...

More from the I-Find-Your-Lack-of-Faith-Disturbing Dept.: NYC's Weiner just had a run-in with the Umbrage Squad; sort of a reverse Gordon Brown scenario there.

Alcalde Jaime Miguel Curleo said...

Frank Bruni's always puzzled