Some Sort of Manifesto

This was emailed to me with the subject "for wetasphalt." The return address was info at and the whole thing was in plain ascii text with no signature or any other identifying marks I could discern. Additionally, when I tracked back the IP addresses it seemed to have been sent from a remailer running on a BSD machine somewhere in Indiana connected to the internet via an inflight wi-fi service used by a number of commercial airlines. That is where the trail ends. I don't know quite what to make of it, but I found the whole thing pretty interesting so I figured what the fuck, I'll publish it. I have corrected some punctuation here and there, and fixed numerous spelling errors (so many that a big part of me suspects that Eric is the one that sent it to me, although the obsessive interest in aesthetic moments would seem to indicate this is the product of EL Borgnine, although I'm pretty sure it's not him. If it is, well, it's nuttier than it seems). It is otherwise unaltered from the text as it was sent to me:

The Quiet American Grows Quieter.

Consider that the avant garde is over. Whether you believe this or not is immaterial. Hold it in your mind like a crystal of hypothetical possibility that may or may not explain the prismatic severing of the world you live in. Consider that it is over.

If it is over, then it is in fact not a sociological or cultural occurrence. It is rather a historical occurrence.

If it is historical, it is fixed in spacetime at some point and with some people in some shared past that we are remembering and talking about but not ourselves experiencing. All of this follows from the nature of history.

Slow for a while...

Forgive me if the site is slow for a little while (barring whatever JF Quackenbush or EL Borgnine might have cooking up in their demented brains). I'm finishing a novel.

But there will be another installment of the History of Popular Fiction on the pulp era in the near future! Oh, yes.

NaNoWriMo is a Cult of Pedophiles

I normally wouldn't comment but it remains amazing to me that Eric's attack on NaNoWriMo from 6 years ago still gets a bunch of angry upset comments. This sort of reaction really only happens when people are irrationally invested in something. You get it from Lyndon LaRouche groupies and Scientologists when you confront them with how insane their sacred ideas are.

And because all cults are by definition cults of pedophiles, clearly NaNoWriMo is some sort of cryptopedophiliac underground designed to seduce young people into an apparently safe environment where they can be preyed on by the pederasts behind the cult conspiracy. It's really obvious when you think about it.

So stop supporting NaNoWriMo, because if you do you're obviously sexually attracted to prepubescent children.

The World As I See It In Pieces: Part 3

I'm sympathetic. I'm also empathetic. I have both of these feelings for the purveyors of standpoint theory and the project they claim to be working on. I'm less empathetic to the project they appear to be working on, but more sympathetic than they might actually be willing to admit. But I have no patience for standpoint theory, and there are two reasons for that that have nothing to do with their various philosophical problems. The first is strategic. The second is textual.

The strategic objection is as follows: 1.) Standpoint theory holds that knowledge from a specific standpoint in a socially situated universe of all knowledge is necessarily delineated by the social privileges that a person enjoys by their relative position "in" or "out" of the dominant power positions in that society. 2.) As such, it contains with it a claim that empathy and sympathy are impossible generally, and in particular are not possessed in sufficient quantities by members of dominant social groups BECAUSE OF THE FACT of their membership in dominant social groups. 3.) This amounts to a claim that all members of dominant social groups are deficient in the nature of their being in a very important way. 4.) When members of marginalized groups advance this theory it feels to members of the dominant group like an insult and an attack, because it is one. 5.) Tactially speaking, it's unlikely to win many converts when every conversation begins with a cutting insult directed directly at the potential converts very soul.

Reading the History of Popular Literature part 3: The Progressive Era and WWI (1900-1919)

This article is part of my series Reading the History of Popular Literature.

Books marked with a red asterix (*) are recommended reading. Books that were read previous to starting this project are marked "(previously read)". The country indicated in parentheses is the country of the author's origin (or citizenship), not necessarily the country in which the book was written. If the country of first publication is different then the author's country of origin, it is noted.

Books marked "(Not finished)" I did not finish reading.

What we call the Progressive Era in the United States coincides roughly with the Edwardian Era in the United Kingdom, the period after the turn of the century up until the first world war. It was a time of optimism and ideals mixed with chaos and social and political disruption; big ideas like woman's suffrage, alcohol prohibition, eugenics, occultism, Communism and Anarchism were all gaining traction, and major technological advances—the automobile, electricity, the telephone, the movie camera, the machine gun, etc.—were changing everyday life at an unprecedented rate. The rise of industry led to corporate power on a level no one had seen before, and American industrialists like Rockefeller, Morgan and Hearst ranked among the wealthiest people in the world. All this went hand-in-hand with plenty of violence, in the form of state-sanctioned genocide, revolutionary agitation, the assassination of major political figures and finally the bloodiest war Western history had seen to that point.

In popular literature, reaction to all this change generally manifested as yearning for a simpler time or a simpler world. This simpler world might be in the past, in the future, on another planet, over the rainbow or even just in the cops-and-robbers dramas of the newspaper, but one thing you could count on was that the characters would be larger-than-life, good and evil would be clearly demarcated and good would most certainly triumph in the end.

In America, and to a lesser extent Britain and Europe, there was also a massive influx of immigrants during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, as new technologies (like the steam and then the gasoline engine), and economic and political changes allowed population movement on an unprecedented scale. The racial and class anxiety this caused in the West manifested in popular literature as bald racism and stories where heroic whites battle against corrupt and evil foreigners or dark-skinned monsters.

VanderMeers Launch Weird Fiction Review

In the wake of Ann VanderMeer being taken off as editor-in-chief of Weird Tales following its acquisition by another company, and the publication of the VanderMeer's massive ombnibus The Weird, which collects weird fiction throughout the 20th century, Jeff and Ann VanderMeer have launched a new publication, the Weird Fiction Review, publishing articles, fiction and comics related to weird fiction. Included in the inaugural installment is an interview with Neil Gaiman. Worth checking out.

Dispatches From Occupied Tucson: Week 1

So I'd been meaning to write something about Occupy Tucson for a little while now, and the hope was that I could blog some about it on a day by day basis. Turns out that hasn't really been possible. Between school and some clinical stuff I'm doing and the Occupation, I haven't had a lot of time to reflect on what it all means. Now that it's Friday and I have some free time before the working group meeting I need to attend this evening, I feel the need to let the theorist in my brain run wild for a little bit and there are a few things that have struck me that I'd like to make a note of. Here they are in no particular order.