Addenda on Darwinian Lenses

Some nuances etc. on my last post. I wanted to make the basic point before including the complications.

1) The evolutionary effect is not always something dramatic like you getting caught and eaten by a lion, or you or your offspring starving. E.g., peacocks have fancy tails because that attracts peahens, for no awesome reason. This is a runaway sexual selection result that cannot last in the long run – it’s like an asset bubble in Finance, a temporary deviation from a more stable situation. That tail is burdensome. Put a new predator in the peacock’s environment and see what happens. (But don’t do this if you like peacocks.)

2) Another qualification is there are equilibria with a mix of features across individuals. This can happen because some features depend on the prevalence of themselves and other features. So an equilibrium can have, say, 60% of feature A and 40% of feature B. Not all features are like having better eyesight, which is always better.

An example from David Friedman: Suppose, simplistically, that you can be born with a temperament to always fight (“hawk”) or never fight (“dove”). (Don’t sperg out; I said it’s a simplistic example.) The payoff to being a fighter depends on the prevalence of other fighters. If there are lots of such people, then if you’re starting fights constantly you’ll soon encounter another fighter. So you’ll run afoul of the Law of Large Numbers eventually and be outselected (killed or injured to an extent that hampers your reproductive success). So if there are a lot of fighters in the population, the average payoff to being a fighter is negative, so the percent of fighters in the population declines.

On the other hand, if the percent of fighters in the population is small, this doesn’t happen much. So you pick a fight with someone who just killed an antelope, he very probably runs away and you take the antelope. Lots of food at a trivial metabolic cost! So the average payoff to being a fighter is high if the percent of fighters in the population is small. So if there are few fighters the percent of fighters in the population will rise.

So if the percent is low it tends to rise and if it’s high it tends to fall. This, kids, is known as “stable dynamics.” The proportion of fighters in the population will converge to some stable percent such that the mean reproductive success of fighters and non-fighters is the same.

(BTW, I suspect a similar point is true for r/K theory, if that theory is descriptive of homo sapiens. We seem to be in a high-r period now, but that can’t last because a critical mass of rs is a problem that prompts a response from the Ks. Ks are getting PO’d, starting to fight back, electing God-Emperors, etc., while the rs themselves (whether they realize it or not) are starting a civil war that just can’t end well for them. They’re too impulsive and inclined to ignore tactics, strategy, caution, the long-run consequences of current actions, etc.)

3) In the previous post I asked, “why didn’t the subdominant males simply gang up to kill the dominant males and/or their children?”

And in the comments Alf said,

“Because the most dominant subdominant males answered to the dominant male, and in return received their share of the women. That has been the evolutionary deal between the dominant and subdominant males, and is reflected in the evolutionary fact that while all women get wettest for alpha males, they will pair bond with beta males.”

Indeed, alpha males are as capable of strategic alliances as anyone else.

In fact, alphas can be quite pro-social, especially with others of around their status level. Think of the way that guys on the college football team interacted with each other.

And of course, alpha/beta is not a binary thing; it’s a continuum.

4) The complications in the following turn out to explode quickly, so here’s the short version:

There’s a possible version of the human story that’s more pleasant than children of low-dominance males being directly or indirectly killed: Say that if you were an average man you had fine reproductive success, e.g., three (surviving) children, but if you were an alpha you had, say, six. Maybe this is because alpha traits are good for, e.g., hunting, which provides for children. So the most hair-raising version of the story isn’t the only possibility.

But I doubt this kind of effect can explain why all (it seems) women prefer dominant men. That’s because, while alphas and good providers have some overlap, when they’re distinct, women have a clear preference for alphas. A woman settles for a provider. She gets wet for an alpha.

I don’t think optimistic versions can explain women’s strong preference for alphas, because any optimistic argument (I can think of) that predicts an attraction to alpha (dominant) men also predicts an attraction to good providers. So optimistic arguments can’t explain women’s real-world preference for alphas.

What I mean is this: Suppose some men’s children have particularly high survival rates. Call these H men (for high-survival). For the moment it’s not important why these men’s kids have especially high survival rates. It’s easy to show that women who have a hardwired preference to mate with H men will gradually have their female descendants become 100% of females. (I did some arithmetic to check; the result is exactly what you’d expect.)

Now here’s the problem: The validity of the above argument doesn’t depend on the reason that a given man is H. That’s a problem because what’s to be explained is women’s strong preference for alpha males in particular. In light of that fact, the foregoing argument is too broad: It implies women should be indifferent between varieties of H men such as alphas versus providers. But they actually aren’t indifferent.

So it looks like we are back to the original dark view of the matter.

In fact, the failure of the optimistic argument is even worse, because it draws its false conclusion with even more confidence than it seems at first. That’s because it implies that any H man, regardless of why he’s H, should benefit from…

5) … positive feedback: Kinship support groups and conflict. If you get into violent conflict, your siblings are likely to support you. This raises your survival probability. Say H men have on average 6 surviving offspring and non-H men have 3. Then if you’re a non-H’s child you have 2 siblings who might support you in a conflict . If you’re an H’s child you have 5 siblings who might support you. This raises H children’s survival probability even more.

So the argument once again predicts a strong attraction to good providers just as strong as an attraction to socially dominant men. But empirically, that’s not observed.

What we actually observe is that women are most attracted to socially dominant men. This tells us that such men’s offspring had the highest survival probability in the ancestral environment.


In my (rapidly growing) set of notes on this topic, here’s one possibly-important qualification:

Do “all” women really prefer men who are unpleasantly socially dominant? The extent to which this is true should be investigated. E.g., as far as I could tell, most girls in my high school didn’t date thugs or seem to want to date them. Indifferent “bad boys,” yes, absolutely, but the truly fucked up guys, no. That was a small subset of girls. So when we remember, e.g., Charles Manson getting love letters from women, is that just salience bias? Do we just remember the women who prefer thugs because it sticks in our heads as shocking? And why does the average girl not go for the thugs? Does she not want the thug, or does she just not have enough social self-confidence that she can get the thug? This merits empirical follow-up.

Of course, one thing we do know: Even if it’s only a small subset of women who really are attracted to the very worst men, there is no equal-and-opposite set of women who are attracted to the nicest of men. (LOL, as if.) The female preference distribution is not symmetric around “average guy.” The question is exactly how asymmetric it is.

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Through Darwinian Lenses

This post makes two points about evolution, a general point and a specific point.

The general point:

Organisms have the features they have because individuals that lacked those features were not reproductively successful. More precisely, over time were not as reproductively successful as individuals that had the feature. Yes, this is the supposedly well-known core of evolutionary theory, but I get the sense that the average person still hasn’t fully absorbed the implications.

For example, some eagles can see a small prey animal like a rabbit from two miles away. Consider what this astounding fact implies: Individual eagles who didn’t have such good vision were out-selected. At worst, they starved to death because they couldn’t feed themselves. At best, they had fewer surviving offspring than those with better vision, because good nutrition is required to create healthy eggs and good hunting is needed to feed the hatchlings. So over time their genes became less common until they disappeared in that species.

So when you observe a feature, like astoundingly sharp eyesight, in nature, understand what you are seeing: The imprint of death.

One way or another, individuals who lacked that feature didn’t get their genes into successive generations. This is the same outcome as simple death, evolutionarily speaking. Note, not metaphorically the same outcome, but actually the same outcome.

So, speaking in an evolutionary sense, we can say:

Eagles have good eyesight because eagles without it died.

Bats have good sonar because…

Gazelles can run fast because…

Organisms’ features exist because those features matter. They affect the organisms’ reproductive success.

If you look through Darwinian lenses, you can see the imprint of death all around you, in every organism you observe. Every feature implies the evolutionary death of individuals who lacked that feature.

Once at a zoo I saw a male lion pounce on a large plastic bucket that had been left in his cage. His teeth dug into it and he lifted it into the air. There was something startling and a little scary about seeing 500 pounds of muscle launching a set of teeth at something. But of course I should not have been surprised, because evolution didn’t endow lions with huge sharp teeth and lots of muscle so those features can not be used.

(By the by, why do male lions have armor— manes— around their necks?)

Now, the specific point:

What does human females’ obsessive preference for dominant men say about our species’s evolutionary history?
.
Just mull that over for a second.
.
Ponder it…
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Let it sink in…
.

What it says is grim, and alarming. Women have an intense preference for dominant men because women without that preference were less reproductively successful in our species’s evolutionary past. That is, to put it plainly, either those women didn’t reproduce, or their offspring didn’t survive.

But why should that be? The obvious guesses are that such women’s children were killed outright, or starved during periods of scarce food. The children of women who preferred dominant men didn’t starve. (Obviously, since their female descendants are here, all around us.) E.g., because their men could take food from less formidable men. Or, slightly less horrifyingly: “I’m hunting over here in the best hunting grounds; you go hunt over there, where the hunting isn’t as good.” So the implication is unavoidable: The powerful men killed, directly or indirectly, the children of less-powerful men. Again, it might not have been that direct. It might have been a matter of differential reproductive success over time.

Now there are some questions to be answered about this. E.g., if you try to directly take food from Joe’s kids, Joe’s going to fight you, and stands a good chance of doing you significant injury even if you win. So it’s not obvious that it’s worth it to you. E.g., why didn’t the subdominant males simply gang up to kill the dominant males and/or their children? I don’t care how dominant you are; you have to sleep some time. (And alphas are a minority of men, by definition.) So we’re talking about… what? An effect that didn’t kick in until kings, palaces, and palace guards were established? So there are blanks to fill in, but the basic mechanism is not in doubt. It’s not in doubt because we observe its immediate consequences, in the reality of current human female sexual behavior.

Closely related point: Why do men have more muscle mass than women? Not so they can not use it. Men have it because they fight each other and the losers weren’t as reproductively successful. That is, they died, or at “best” were prevented from producing as many (surviving) children.

Human beings, like other animals, are red in tooth and claw. Yes, we are wired for both cooperation and conflict, but in western society we tend to underestimate the conflict because we are particularly good at things like feeding ourselves, so that life-and-death conflict over food doesn’t happen any more. But the hard wiring is still there. Summarizing: Chicks dig jerks with big pecs, therefore plans for world peace are doomed to failure. No, we are not all going to sit around the campfire singing Kumbaya.

Obiter dictum: It’s important to get this perspective into our mindset as our political situation moves from “dress rehearsal” to “it’s showtime!”

Women, Jerks, and Evolutionary Psychology

Women interpret male niceness as proof that the male is not good enough for them. As The Chateau said – commenting on a study that revealed exactly this way of thinking by women – if you’re nice to her she takes that as evidence that she’s too hot for you.

Thus it seems reasonable on the surface to think: Women are the choosers, so you’d better be nice to them. However, the reality is: Women are the choosers, so you’d better be mean to them.

You haven’t understood female evolutionary psychology until that last sentence makes sense to you. If it doesn’t make sense to you – if you think that evolution implies that women should make choices that make them happy – remind yourself of this:

Evolution doesn’t select for happiness. It selects for reproductive success.

So much male confusion about women results from a failure to understand this point. Quite a lot of female sexual behavior is driven by this fact. Women are compelled by their genes to have sex with men who won’t make them happy. An indifferent jerk who places a low value on a female makes her experience a fierce desire to have sex with him.

Presumably the evolutionary driver of this is as follows: Alpha males are the desirable mates (because they can protect and provide for a woman and her offspring). And for that reason, alphas receive sexual attention from many women. This surplus of sexual attention makes an alpha indifferent to any particular woman. Thus women evolved the “short-cut” algorithm of concluding that a man who is indifferent to them is alpha. I don’t mean that women think this through explicitly and “draw conclusions.” Hardly! Rather, it’s an emotional response to indifferent men that evolution has hard-wired into the female brain.

Additionally, women seem to be hard-wired to put out for men who don’t give them much affection in the hopes that the sex will earn the man’s affection. Needless to say, this doesn’t work, but evolution has wired women to think that it will work. It’s one of the motivations women have to mate with alphas. By the way, ladies, this makes no sense, as should be obvious. If I treat you like dirt and you give me sex, do I have any incentive to change how I treat you? Try to answer by thinking with your brain, not your vagina. Your vagina is genetically programmed to come up with the wrong answer. Anyway, a woman is wired to think that if she just puts out for the guy who treats her with contempt, he’ll stop treating her with contempt. (Yeah! And if you give someone a thousand bucks every time he throws a brick through your window, he’ll stop throwing bricks through your window!)

It is also true that in some ways, being with an alpha man makes a woman happy. Many (all?) women are suckers for emotional roller coasters. Some aspects of being with an indifferent man make women happy and some make them unhappy. Evolution doesn’t care about the “principled consistency” of all this; evolution is the ultimate ideology-free pragmatist. Seeing her boyfriend flirt with the waitress and the waitress flirt back may make a woman unhappy and wet at the same time: Unhappy because it’s a threat to the relationship. Wet because (1) it’s social proof of her man’s desirability, and (2) if she has sex with him ASAP she can yank his attention away from the relationship threat.

Once in a public library I walked past a group of around eighth-grade girls, one of them crying. And it wasn’t gentle weeping.
“Why is he so mean to me?” she wailed.
“Did you break up with him?” one of her friends asked.
“No,” she said through her tears.

God, it is funny, isn’t it? If you look at it from a certain point of view? I remember the incident because it was soon after I started to acquire a clue about female behavior. A couple of years before I would have thought, “Huh. If he’s mean to her I wonder why she doesn’t just break up with him.” This was one of the first times, maybe the first time, that I thought, “Yup. Standard female behavior. She didn’t break up with him because he’s mean to her.”

Anyway, the point is that women aren’t wired to do what will make them happy, but what will optimize the propagation of their genes. These can be the same thing or they can be totally different things; evolution doesn’t give a fuck. It will wire women to be made happy by reproductively optimal behavior if that’s the easiest hack, and will wire them to be deluded about what will make them happy if that’s the easiest.

This is also true for men, at least in principle, but the contradictions don’t seem as important for male sexual behavior as for female sexual behavior.

Jim in the comments at his blog:
(Backup link for WordPress’s magic Disappearing Links feature: https://blog.jim.com/culture/women-like-sexual-coercion/ )

Female behavior in sexual matters is not well described by utility maximization. They react to stimuli, rather than optimizing long term utility. They want what they do not want, and do not want what they do want.

Male sexual behavior is pretty much utility maximizing – or, which comes to much the same thing, pussy maximizing. Female behavior not so much. What women “like” is not consistent with behavior, nor predictive of behavior.

Red Pill in Fiction: The Maltese Falcon

The red pill aspect of this novel lies in main character Sam Spade’s interactions with women.

MaltFalcCover2
Why does it never rain in this novel? I thought this was supposed to be noir!

This is a very good novel, so SERIOUS SPOILER WARNING. In particular, I’m going to be forced to reveal whodunnit about a murder.

Elisions won’t be indicated with ellipses. I’m not omitting anything important.

The setting: San Francisco, late 1920s.

In the first chapter a Miss Wonderly, a gorgeous redhead, comes to the offices of private investigators Sam Spade and Miles Archer. Wonderly is seeking her sister, who fled from New York City to San Francisco with a man named Thursby, whom Wonderly doesn’t trust. She wants to find her sister and bring her back to NYC. She’s found out Thursby’s general whereabouts on her own, and she gives Spade and Archer enough info for Archer to start tailing Thursby that night. The hope is that Thursby will lead Archer to the sister. By the next morning both Archer and Thursby have been shot dead.


Chapter 4

Spade and Wonderly are talking in her apartment. “Wonderly” now says her real name is Brigid O’Shaughnessy, and admits that she has no sister. She won’t tell Spade anything about why she really wanted Spade and Archer to tail Thursby.

Spade: “Now what are we going to tell the police?”

“Must they know about me at all?” she asked. “I can’t explain now, but can’t you somehow manage so that you can shield me from them, so I won’t have to answer their questions?”

“Maybe,” he said, “but I’ll have to know what it’s all about.”

She went down on her knees at his knees. She held her face up to him. Her face was wan and fearful over tight-clasped hands.

“I haven’t lived a good life,” she cried. “I’ve been bad–worse than you could know–but I’m not all bad. Look at me, Mr. Spade. You know I’m not all bad, don’t you? Then can’t you trust me a little? Oh, I’m so alone and afraid, and I’ve got nobody to help me if you won’t. I’ve nobody else, Mr. Spade. If I thought anybody else could save me would I be down on my knees like this? You’re strong, you’re resourceful, you’re brave. Help me, Mr. Spade. Help me because I need help so badly. I’ve no right to ask you to help me blindly, but I do ask you. Be generous, Mr. Spade. Help me.”

Spade, who had held his breath through much of this speech, now emptied his lungs with a long exhalation between pursed lips and said: “You won’t need much of anybody’s help. You’re good. You’re very good. It’s chiefly your eyes, I think, and that throb you get into your voice when you say things like ‘Be generous, Mr. Spade.'”

Absolutely unmoved by her histrionics, and doesn’t let himself get, er, distracted by the fact that she’s on her knees before him. In other words, he sees through her attempt to play the sex card.

(Also, of course, you probably don’t want to trust someone who gave you a false name and is somehow involved in two murders.)


Chapter 6

The next day Spade and O’Shaughnessy are again at her apartment. Since they’ve last seen each other, one Joel Cairo has hired Spade to recover a statuette of a raptor. This falcon would seem to have nothing to do with O’Shaughnessy… except that Cairo told Spade that Thursby’s murder is connected to the falcon, and we know Thursby has some connection to O’Shaughnessy.

Spade to Brigid O’Shaughnessy:

“I saw Joel Cairo tonight,” he said in the manner of one making polite conversation.

Gaiety went out of her face. There was a long pause before she asked uneasily:

“You–you know him?”

“I saw him tonight.” Spade maintained his light tone.

“Well, what did he say?” she asked with half-playful petulance.

“He offered me five thousand dollars for the black bird.”

She laughed, dropped the cigarette into a tray, and looked at him with clear merry eyes. “And what did you say?”

“Five thousand dollars is a lot of money.”

She smiled, but when he looked gravely at her, her smile vanished. In its place came a hurt, bewildered look. “Surely you’re not really considering it,” she said.

“Why not? Five thousand dollars is a lot of money.”

“But, Mr. Spade, you promised to help me.” Her hands were on his arm. “I trusted you. You can’t–” She broke off.

Spade smiled gently into her troubled eyes. “Don’t let’s try to figure out how much you’ve trusted me,” he said. “You didn’t say anything about any black birds.”

“But you must’ve known or–or you wouldn’t have mentioned it to me. You do know now. You won’t treat me like that.” Her eyes were cobalt-blue prayers.

That last sentence is beautiful writing. It’s made all the more forceful by the fact that O’Shaughnessy is a psychopathic liar.

“Five thousand dollars is,” he said for the third time, “a lot of money.”

She lifted her hands and let them fall in a gesture that accepted defeat. “It is,” she agreed in a small voice. “It is far more than I could ever offer you, if I must bid for your loyalty.”

Spade laughed. “What have you given me besides money? Have you given me any of the truth? Haven’t you tried to buy my loyalty with money and nothing else? Well, if I’m peddling it, why shouldn’t I let it go to the highest bidder?”

“I’ve given you all the money I have.” Tears glistened in her eyes. Her voice was hoarse, vibrant. “I’ve thrown myself on your mercy. What else is there?” She suddenly moved close to him on the settee and cried angrily: “Can I buy you with my body?”

Their faces were a few inches apart. Spade took her face between his hands and he kissed her mouth roughly. Then he sat back and said: “I’ll think it over.” His face was hard and furious.

He stood up and said: “Christ! there’s no sense to this.” He took two steps towards the fireplace and stopped, glowering at the burning logs. He turned to face her. “I don’t give a damn about your honesty,” he told her. “I don’t care what your secrets are, but I’ve got to have something to show that you know what you’re doing.”

Again, not befuddled by her – now overt – offer of sex. Notice that he keeps that door open, though. LOL, pimp.

Later Spade and O’Shaughnessy go to Spade’s apartment to meet with Joel Cairo. Outside Spade’s place Archer’s wife Iva, with whom Spade was/is having an affair, is waiting in a car. Spade continues with Brigid into the lobby and asks her to wait a minute.

“That’s perfectly all right,” Brigid O’Shaughnessy said, sitting down. “You needn’t hurry.”

Spade went out to the sedan. When he had opened the sedan’s door Iva spoke quickly: “I’ve got to talk to you, Sam. Can’t I come in?” Her face was pale and nervous.

“Not now.”

Iva clicked her teeth together and asked sharply: “Who is she?”

“I’ve only a minute, Iva,” Spade said patiently. “What is it?”

“Who is she?” she repeated, nodding at the street-door.

“What is the matter?” he asked. “Has anything happened? You oughtn’t to be here at this time of night.”

In other words, “Keep outta my bidness, woman!” He doesn’t try to placate Iva and he doesn’t give in to her demand for info. He basically just presents a brick wall.

“I’m beginning to believe that,” she complained. “You told me I oughtn’t to come to the office, and now I oughtn’t to come here. Do you mean I oughtn’t to chase after you? If that’s what you mean why don’t you say it right out?”

“Now, Iva, you’ve got no right to take that attitude.”

“I haven’t any rights at all, it seems, where you’re concerned. I thought I did. I thought your pretending to love me gave me–”

Spade said wearily: “This is no time to be arguing about that, precious. What was it you wanted to see me about?”

Notice that he neither confirms nor denies the “love” thing. Saying that he loves her would be retarded, because he obviously doesn’t, and it would give her too much hand. But telling her he doesn’t love her would just make her go into histrionics, and he doesn’t have time for that at the moment.

“I can’t talk to you here, Sam. Can’t I come in?”

“Not now.”

“Why can’t I?”

Spade said nothing. [“Keep outta my bidness!”]

She made a thin line of her mouth and started the sedan’s engine, staring angrily ahead.

When the sedan began to move Spade said, “Good night, Iva,” shut the door, and went indoors again.

Brigid O’Shaughnessy rose smiling cheerfully from the bench and they went up to his apartment.

Brigid has good Girl Game. She’s cheerful, both in agreeing to wait in the lobby, and in her demeanor when Spade returns. This makes a sharp contrast with Iva’s clingy and demanding behavior. Just based on this scene, whom would you rather boink? Or, if you’re a chick, which one do you think most men would rather boink?


Chapter 7

In Spade’s apartment, O’Shaughnessy and Spade are waiting for Joel Cairo. All we know at this point is that O’Shaughnessy became nervous when Spade told her Cairo is in San Francisco.

She stood in front of him, close. Her eyes were wide and deep. “I don’t have to tell you how utterly at a disadvantage you’ll have me, with him here, if you choose.”

Spade smiled slightly without separating his lips. “No, you don’t have to tell me,” he agreed.

“And you know I’d never have placed myself in this position if I hadn’t trusted you completely.” Her thumb and forefinger twisted a black button on his blue coat.

Spade said, “That again!” with mock resignation.

“But you know it’s so,” she insisted.

“No, I don’t know it.” He patted the hand that was twisting the button. “My asking for reasons why I should trust you brought us here. Don’t let’s confuse things. He’ll be here in a moment. Get your business with him over, and then we’ll see how we’ll stand.”

“And you’ll let me go about it–with him–in my own way?”

“Sure.”

She turned her hand under his so that her fingers pressed his. She said softly: “You’re a God-send.”

Spade said: “Don’t overdo it.”

She looked reproachfully at him, though smiling, and returned to the rocker.

He calls out her attempt to butter him up with flattery. This is good because (1) it shows that he’s experienced enough to see through such manipulations, and (2) by rejecting her flattery, he’s showing that he doesn’t care about her approval. As the Chateau would say, he’s not lapping it up eagerly like a thirsty beta.


Chapter 9

After Cairo has left, Spade asks Brigid,

“What’s this falcon that everybody’s all steamed up about?”

She asked: “Suppose I wouldn’t tell you? What would you do?”

“I wouldn’t be too surprised,” he told her, grinning so that the edges of his jaw-teeth were visible, “to know what to do next.”

“That’s what I wanted to know: what would you do next?”

He shook his head. “I don’t see what you’ve got to gain by covering up now. It’s coming out bit by bit anyhow, and give me another day, I’ll soon be knowing things about it that you don’t know.”

“I suppose you do now,” she said. “But–oh!–I’m so tired of it, and I do so hate having to talk about it. Wouldn’t it be just as well to wait and let you learn about it as you say you will?”

Spade laughed. “My way of learning is to heave a wild and unpredictable monkey-wrench into the machinery. It’s all right with me, if you’re sure none of the flying pieces will hurt you.”

She moved her bare shoulders uneasily, but said nothing. For several minutes they ate in silence. Then she said in a hushed voice: “I’m afraid of you, and that’s the truth.”

He said: “That’s not the truth.”

“It is,” she insisted in the same low voice. “I know two men I’m afraid of and I’ve seen both of them tonight.”

“I can understand your being afraid of Cairo,” Spade said. “He’s out of your reach.” [Joel Cairo is obviously, flamboyantly, homosexual.]

“And you aren’t?”

“Not that way,” he said and grinned.

Frankly sexual, no shame about male sexuality.

She blushed. She picked up a slice of bread encrusted with liverwurst. She put it down. She wrinkled her white forehead and she said: “It’s a black figure, as you know, of a hawk or falcon, about that high.” She held her hands a foot apart.

“What makes it important?”

She sipped coffee and brandy before she shook her head. “I don’t know,” she said. “They’d never tell me…”

She gives Spade a story about her, Cairo, and Thursby, and an attempt to get the falcon from some other guy in Constantinople.

Spade mashed the end of his cigarette in his plate. He spoke casually: “You are a liar.”

She got up and stood at the end of the table, looking down at him with dark abashed eyes. “I am a liar,” she said. “I have always been a liar.”

“Don’t brag about it. It’s childish.” His voice was good-humored. He came out from between table and bench. “Was there any truth at all in that yarn?”

She hung her head. “Not–not very much.”

Spade put a hand under her chin and lifted her head. He laughed into her wet eyes and said: “We’ve got all night. I’ll put some more brandy in some more coffee and we’ll try again.”

Her eyelids drooped. “Oh, I’m so tired,” she said tremulously, “so tired of it all, of lying and thinking up lies, and of not knowing what is a lie and what is the truth. I wish I–”

She put her hands up to Spade’s cheeks, put her open mouth hard against his mouth, her body flat against his body.

Spade’s arms went around her, holding her to him, a hand cradling her head, its fingers half lost among red hair, a hand moving groping fingers over her slim back.


Chapter 10

The next morning, while Brigid is still asleep in his bed, Spade finds the key to her apartment in her clothes, slips out, and searches her apartment. LOL!

While this isn’t quite up to the standard of the guy who recently stole his date’s car, then used it to pick up another date, it’s a pretty pimp move.

Later, after Spade has returned to his apartment:

“Now about the bird?” Spade suggested as they ate.

She put her fork down and looked at him. “You can’t ask me to talk about that this morning of all mornings,” she protested. “I don’t want to and I won’t.”

“It’s a stubborn damned hussy,” he said sadly and put a piece of roll into his mouth.

He doesn’t push her, but he doesn’t act like supplicating wuss either.


Chapter 11

Spade and Iva Archer:

Spade: “Where were you the night Miles was shot?”

“Home,” she replied without hesitating.

He shook his head, grinning at her.

“I was,” she insisted.

“No,” he said, “but if that’s your story it’s all right with me.”

“What makes you think I wasn’t home?” she asked slowly.

“Nothing except that I know you weren’t.”

“But I was, I was.” Her lips twisted and anger darkened her eyes. “Effie Perine [Spade’s secretary] told you that,” she said indignantly. “I saw her snooping around. You know she doesn’t like me, Sam. Why do you believe things she tells you?”

“Jesus, you women,” Spade said mildly. [LOL. Notice he doesn’t give her question – which is really just an attempt to start a fight – the dignity of a response.] He looked at the watch on his wrist. “You’ll have to trot along, precious. I’m late for an appointment now.”

“I’m not lying to you, Sam,” she protested.

“Like hell you’re not,” he said and stood up.

She strained on tiptoe to hold her face nearer his. “You don’t believe me?” she whispered.

“I don’t believe you.” He bent his head and kissed her mouth. “That’s all right. Now run along.”

This is pretty good. He calls out her BS but doesn’t stamp his foot about it like a frustrated beta. He basically just says, “LOL bullshit, now scram; I’ve got stuff to do.”

He patted her arms, took them from around his body, and kissed her left wrist. He put his hands on her shoulders, turned her to face the door, and released her with a little push. “Beat it,” he ordered.

He gives her the tender gesture of kissing her wrist to soften the shoving her out the door. After his calling out of her BS the previous night and in this scene, he provides just enough sensitive guy to give her hamster something to chew on. Reading all of this makes me wonder if Hammett was a particular stud hombre, or if our culture was just generally that much more knowledgeable about women circa 1930.


Chapter 14

Spade and Effie Perine:

“The whole damned Perine family’s wonderful,” Spade said, “including you and the smudge of soot on your nose.” [CLASSIC NEG! Maybe Mystery has read this novel.]

She bent her head to look at her nose in her vanity-case mirror. “I must’ve got that from the fire.” She scrubbed the smudge with the corner of a handkerchief.


Chapter 19

The final meeting with all the main characters: Spade, Cairo, O’Shaughnessy, and two others: Gutman, an all-around slimeball who has been chasing the falcon for seventeen years (and is the canonical “fat man” of detective noir), and Wilmer, a young gunman and associate of Gutman. All these people knew each other before they came to San Francisco and bumped into Spade. They are meeting in Spade’s apartment to wait while the falcon is delivered there, and to discuss matters like who will pay whom how much when.

Gutman: “Business should be transacted in a business-like manner.” He opened the envelope, took out the thousand-dollar bills, counted them, and chuckled. “For instance there are only nine bills here now.” He spread them out on his fat knees and thighs. “There were ten when I handed it to you.”

Spade looked at Brigid O’Shaughnessy and asked: “Well?”

She shook her head. Her face was frightened.

Spade held his hand out to Gutman and the fat man put the money into it. Spade counted the money–nine thousand-dollar bills–and returned it to Gutman. Then Spade stood and picked up the pistols on the table. “I want to know about this. We”–he nodded at the girl–“are going in the bathroom. The door will be open and I’ll be facing it. Unless you want a three-story drop there’s no way out of here except past the bathroom door. Don’t try to make it.”

“Really, sir,” Gutman protested, “it’s not necessary to threaten us in this manner.”

Spade was patient but resolute. “This trick upsets things. I’ve got to find the answer.” He touched the girl’s elbow. “Come on.”

In the bathroom Brigid O’Shaughnessy put her hands flat on Spade’s chest and her face up close to his and whispered: “I did not take that bill, Sam.”

“I don’t think you did,” he said, “but I’ve got to know. Take your clothes off.”

“I won’t.”

“All right. We’ll go back to the other room and I’ll have them taken off.”

She stepped back. Her eyes were round and horrified. “You would?”

“I will,” he said. “I’ve got to know what happened to that bill and I’m not going to be held up by anybody’s maidenly modesty.”

“Oh, it isn’t that.” She came close to him and put her hands on his chest again. “I’m not ashamed to be naked before you, but–can’t you see?–not like this. Can’t you see that if you make me you’ll–you’ll be killing something?”

He did not raise his voice. “I don’t know anything about that. I’ve got to know what happened to the bill. Take them off.”

Again, not swayed by her earnest blue eyes and all that.

She undresses and he checks out her and her clothes and verifies that the $1,000 bill is not on her, so is able to force Gutman to admit that he has it. A bit later in Spade’s kitchen:

Brigid O’Shaughnessy was filling an aluminum percolator.

“Find everything?” Spade asked.

“Yes,” she replied in a cool voice. Then she set the percolator aside and came to the door. Her eyes were large and chiding. “You shouldn’t have done that to me, Sam,” she said softly.

“I had to find out, angel.” He bent down, kissed her mouth lightly, and returned to the living-room.

As with Iva earlier, he’s been pretty hardcore with her, so he tosses out a little sensitive-guy stuff.


Chapter 20

This is where everything comes to a crisis point.

The falcon has been delivered and turned out to be a counterfeit. Everyone but Spade and O’Shaughnessy has left Spade’s apartment. But there’s still a problem for Spade: The local cops dislike him, and there are still the unsolved murders of Miles Archer and Floyd Thursby… and since Spade is banging Archer’s wife the cops might use that to convince a jury that he has a motive to kill Archer. Spade (as he explained to everyone in the previous chapter) has to have a fall guy or he’ll get busted – and possibly hanged – for the murder of Archer, and maybe Thursby.

Spade tricks O’Shaughnessy into admitting that she killed Archer. She was hoping to pin the murder on Thursby to get him arrested.

Spade said tenderly: “I hope to Christ they don’t hang you, precious, by that sweet neck.” He slid his hands up to caress her throat.

In an instant she was out of his arms, back against the table, wild-eyed. She said in a parched voice: “You’re not–” She could get no other words out.

Spade’s face was yellow-white. His mouth smiled and there were smile-wrinkles around his glittering eyes. His voice was soft, gentle. He said: “I’m going to send you over. The chances are you’ll get off with life. That means you’ll be out again in twenty years. You’re an angel. I’ll wait for you.” He cleared his throat. “If they hang you I’ll always remember you.”

The sweet words every girl longs to hear!

She dropped her hands and stood erect. Her face became smooth and untroubled except for the faintest of dubious glints in her eyes. She smiled back at him. “Don’t, Sam, don’t say that even in fun. Oh, you frightened me for a moment!”

Spade laughed. His face was damp with sweat and though he held his smile he could not hold softness in his voice. He croaked: “Don’t be silly. You’re taking the fall. One of us has got to take it.”

She took a long trembling breath. “You’ve been playing with me? You didn’t–care at all? You didn’t–don’t–love me?”

“I think I do,” Spade said. “What of it? I won’t play the sap for you.”

“That is not just,” she cried. Tears came to her eyes. “You know it was not that. You can’t say that.”

“Like hell I can’t,” Spade said. “You came into my bed to stop me asking questions. You led me out yesterday for Gutman with that phoney call for help.”

Brigid O’Shaughnessy blinked her tears away. She took a step towards him. “You’re lying if you say you don’t know down in your heart that, in spite of anything I’ve done, I love you.”

His eyes were becoming bloodshot, but there was no other change in his fixedly smiling face. “Maybe I do,” he said. “What of it? I should trust you? You who knocked off Miles, a man you had nothing against, in cold blood, just like swatting a fly, for the sake of double-crossing Thursby? No, darling. Why should I?”

Her eyes were steady under his and her voice was steady when she replied: “Why should you? If you’ve been playing with me, if you do not love me, there is no answer to that. If you did, no answer would be needed.”

Blood streaked Spade’s eyeballs now and his smile had become a frightful grimace. He said: “Making speeches is no damned good now.” He put a hand on her shoulder. “I don’t care who loves who. I’m not going to play the sap for you. I won’t walk in Thursby’s footsteps. You killed Miles and you’re going over for it. I can’t help you now. And I wouldn’t if I could.”

She put a hand on his hand on her shoulder. “Don’t help me then,” she whispered, “but don’t hurt me. Let me go away now.”

“No,” he said. “I’m sunk if I haven’t got you to hand over to the police when they come. That’s the only thing that can keep me from going down with the others.”

“You won’t do that for me?”

“I won’t play the sap for you. I don’t even like the idea of thinking that there might be one chance in a hundred that you’d played me for a sucker. Now on the other side we’ve got what? All we’ve got is the fact that maybe you love me and maybe I love you.”

“You know,” she whispered, “whether you do or not.”

“I don’t. It’s easy enough to be nuts about you.” He looked hungrily from her hair to her feet and up to her eyes again. “But I don’t know what that amounts to. But suppose I do? Maybe next month I won’t. I’ve been through it before–when it lasted that long. Then I’ll think I played the sap. And if I did it and got sent over then I’d be sure I was the sap. Well, if I send you over I’ll have some rotten nights, but that’ll pass.” He took her by the shoulders. “If that doesn’t mean anything to you forget it and we’ll make it this: I won’t because all of me wants to–wants to say to hell with the consequences and do it–and because–God damn you–you’ve counted on that with me the same as you counted on that with the others.” He took his hands from her shoulders and let them fall to his sides.

She put her face up to his face. Her mouth was slightly open with lips a little thrust out. She whispered: “If you loved me you’d need nothing more on that side.”

Spade set the edges of his teeth together and said through them: “I won’t play the sap for you.”

She put her mouth to his, slowly, her arms around him, and came into his arms. She was in his arms when the door-bell rang.

Spade, left arm around Brigid O’Shaughnessy, opened the corridor-door. Lieutenant Dundy, Detective-sergeant Polhaus, and two other detectives were there.

Someone’s gotta swing, babe, and it’s not going to be me. I don’t care if you turn those big blue eyes on me and whisper tearfully of love. I won’t play the sap for you.

Presumably most men, even blue-pill ones, wouldn’t take the fall for the woman in this scenario – especially when you’re looking at being hanged! – but I think some men would feel a need to make self-justifying speeches. Spade doesn’t do that. Yeah, there are a lot of words, but he basically stays on point: “I won’t play the sap.” Feminine wiles? Sorry, no dice.

By the way, note how good the writing is here. It’s not striking word choice in the sense of “Her eyes were cobalt-blue prayers,” in fact it’s very simple and stripped down. But that’s stylistically perfect for this kind of scene, because it presents with no distractions its inherent drama:

We have a psychopathic, cold-blooded murderess, looking at the gallows, desperately using everything she has in her ruthless Machiavellian toolkit to try to make a man take the fall for her. She throws everything she has at him. He is crazy about her (for some reason), but resists. Watching O’Shaughnessy on offense here, and Spade swatting down her efforts, is enthralling. This is especially true when you read the whole scene – I’ve cut it for length – and when you come to it after having been through the rest of the novel as build-up. This novel is deservedly a classic.


Thanks to Project Gutenberg for saving me lots of typing.


Index page for my Red Pill in Fiction posts:
https://neurotoxinweb.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/red-pill-in-fiction-index/

Red Pill In Fiction: Justina Robson’s Keeping It Real

Welcome Jim readers!


Justina Robson’s Keeping It Real is a blend of SF and Fantasy.

keepingitreal
“Lube up my cyborg parts, stud.”

When you read the setup you’ll be convinced that this has a shot at the elusive rating of ten out of ten chunks of cheese, where ten chunks of cheese is the worst rating and zero is the best.

The setup:

A combat cyborg chick, who is also a spy for the NSA, has to be a bodyguard for a dude.

Who’s a half-elf, half-demon.

And a rock star.

You might have thought that in my Red-Pill Romance, when I had the main stud muffin be a vampire who’s in a band, I was exaggerating. Dude, it’s almost impossible to exaggerate about chicks.

The context:

After an accident at a supercollider, there are now five other dimensions accessible from Earth. There’s an elf dimension, a demon dimension, etc.

Our Heroine, Lila Black, is a cyborg, at least 50% machine by weight (though not by volume; contents settle during handling). Her cyborg limbs, weapons, on-board tactical AI, etc. were acquired as a result of a horrible event that’s not revealed at first. We’ll eventually get the details as backstory, I assume (I’m writing up some of these notes as I read).

Here we go. I’m not going to indicate quotes with different typeface unless they’re long ones. And here’s the obligatory SPOILER WARNING.

Lila first meets the demon-elf rock star, Zal, Ch 2:

She was dismayed at how unprepared she was. It wasn’t his looks or his rock star status that made her feel sick with nervous tension. [LOL, bullshit.] It was the sense of his otherness… “Hello, Lila,” Zal said. He didn’t have an ordinary elf voice… this one was smoky rather than bell-like. …his long-ash-blond hair and attenuated, pointy ears were exactly on theme. Lila had never seen an elf with dark eyes before. Zal’s were chestnut-brown with darker rings around the iris. She was staring into them like any fool… She turned aside and felt her face heat. The feeling she was experiencing was startling, and nothing like loathing… I will not be attracted to him… she told herself sternly.

Women crave exceptional men. It’s not enough for him to be an elf; he has to be a unique elf, half-demon… and the singer for the most popular band in the world.

Here’s another thing I’ve noticed in chick fiction: Women have a thing about people giving other people “looks” and intimidating them. Usually it’s the female author transparently fantasizing that she’s the one (via an author-insert character) intimidating people with a glance, but there are variations. In Chapter 3 we get several examples of this:

• “What does she like?” asked the girl DJ, giving Lila a competitive and warning-off stare from under the brim of her battered top hat.

• He’d turned away before she could give him her frosty look.

• Jolene rolled her eyes and gave Lila a thanks-for-nothing stare.

• Zal looked at [Luke] and he went quiet.

Key Game concept: Social proof:

Chapter 3:

• Music corporation exec to Lila on her first day on the bodyguard job: “Hey, don’t go getting ideas about Zal. You know I have to say it. Every girl comes in here and…”

• “Does Jolene have a thing for Zal?” she asked as she held the door for Poppy.
“Oh, big style,” Poppy said. “Who doesn’t?”

Chapter 8:

Zal’s sister says to Our Heroine, “You listen to me, Metal Molly. I’ve seen a hundred girls looking for the right angle or minute or chance with him…”

Will Our Heroine beat out those hundred other girls for the attentions of the elf demon rock star? Will she?!?!

Another chick thing:

Male of secondary status wants Our Heroine but can’t have her: Ch 3, when she first meets the rest of Zal’s band:

[Luke, the bass player] gave her a grin and a heavy squeeze on her hand. “Is she like, going everywhere with us?” … He winked at her.

Ch 4:
At the Ebony Bar, Luke had tried to hit on her…

Later: This thing with Luke is minor, as it never comes up again. But in lots of female-written fiction this is a significant element. (E.g., Eddie Willers’s hopeless crush on Dagny Taggart in Atlas Shrugged.) A woman LOVES the idea of a man wanting her but unable to have her. Men, being less narcissistic, just want tons of chicks to want them so they can fuck them all.

Women and bad boys, a.k.a. “woman wailing for her demon-lover” (that’s Coleridge, you ignoramus):

Dar is another demon, one of the mysterious group that is trying to kill Zal. By coincidence, he’s the person who tortured Lila (this emerges in backstory) and forced her to become a cyborg to survive. Dar burned her so severely that she lost both eyes and all four of her limbs. Later she injures him as he is trying to kill Zal again, and for contrived reasons I forget, she ends up taking him from Earth to his native elf dimension, where he’ll heal faster. Note it’s not Zal she takes, but her and Zal’s assailant, Dar.

Now what she should do to Dar is torture him to death, what with the permanent maiming by fire he inflicted on her, but she doesn’t. The novel has some bullshit reason for it. The real reason is that Justina Robson is female, and we need this psychotic torture fiend around so that our heroine can have sex with him. (Note to nice guys: Keep trying! Women totally love the “nice” thing!)

Putting this out there explicitly would be too much for Robson, of course, so she contrives a BS excuse for the torture. Dar, Ch 13: “I had to continue your interrogation to convince those with me that I was of their party… If I had had to kill you, I would have, because as their leader they must not doubt me.”

Later Lila spreads her legs for him.

Red pill deniers, place that within the confines of thy pipe, and undertake the smoking thereof.

This next part, in light of the recent “women inviting invaders in” in the Western world, is horridly fascinating. In Ch 15, Lila rescues another elf dude (Tath), who is one of a group of enemies who are hunting her and Dar, and brings him to the hideout where she and Dar are hiding from them.

When Dar realizes what she has done, he’s like, “WHAT THE FUCK, WOMAN?!”

A scuffle ensues and Dar kills Tath. But it’s not over. But a pause before continuing.

This thing about inviting hostile men in, is plainly an evolved feature of female psychology. She puts her male companion’s life at risk. And she does so because, in their bones, women know they are usually prizes of war, not victims of war. That is, they aren’t killed, but are raped by the victors in male-on-male conflict of this sort, and so their offspring bear the genes of men who are more powerful.

The instinct to play “Let’s you and him fight” is deep in the female psyche. Time and again we see it play out, and not only with humans. There’s a species of duck, e.g., that my high school Bio teacher told us about, where the females do this. A female will sidle up to a male and get him to follow her. Then she’ll swim over to the vicinity of another male, so that the two males fight. Then she mates with the victor. This female behavior pattern has an ancient evolutionary history; it goes back even to pre-human animals.

(Editorial: It is indeed a reason that most societies, historically, haven’t let women have a large say in important social decision-making. Because, given that power, women will use it to play a social level of “Let’s you and him fight.” Thus either the men of that society wake up and take control back, or they’re invaded by the men of more realistic societies. The native men might win that fight, but if they don’t address the fundamental problem, it will keep happening until they don’t win.(*) In case you haven’t noticed, the entire Western world is living through this right now.

* Many women act as if a safe home base is an imposition that men unfairly inflict on them so they can’t play “Let’s you and him fight.” It’s almost as if they think they have a right to provoke violent conflict.)

Returning to the novel: Insane cunt Lila has deliberately brought back an enemy to their hideout. The bad guy, Tath, is known to Dar. “This necromancer is more dangerous than twenty other agents,” he tells Lila. But Dar gets the drop on him and kills him.

But not.

Lila impulsively leans over the dead man’s face and kisses it, and… Tath’s soul enters her. Yeah, his essence plunges deeply into her… Alright, enough. It’s easy to make Beavis-and-Butthead-level puns, but seriously: She invites a dangerous man into her sanctuary, provoking a fight between two men. Then the invader enters her. There’s no other way to put it. Female psychology up the wazoo.

Our heroine is in fact constantly being penetrated in various ways by male elfs/ demons/ whatnot. Here’s a passage, one of several, that doesn’t literally involve intercourse, but…

[Zal] seized hold of her shoulders, pulled her close against him, and kissed her hard on the mouth… the andalune [his magical elf essence] sweetly invaded her like a trickle of warm water, cell by cell… Lila was suffused with Zal.

Moving away from the Red Pill material…

There are some problems with the novel that aren’t related to female sexual psychology. In particular, the plotting. There’s a dictum that if a gun is hanging on the wall in the first act of a play, then it must be fired at some point in the play. This dictum is violated in numerous places in Keeping It Real.

• Zal is shot by an arrow that seems to have some magical spell on it. “No,” he says, “I don’t know what the arrow did. And yes, I do care, but I can’t do anything about it.” We never find out WTF about the arrow or the spell.

• Lila is checking out a bad guy car. When she opens the trunk, a shape-shifting magical entity jumps out and escapes her. Later an expert tells her that it may have interacted with her enough to convey some essential information about her to its bad guy bosses (who presumably planted it in their car as a trap). This is supposed to be threatening, I guess, but it never comes up again!

• Also and worst, Zal is supposed to be the focus of a Great Spell that will change the multiverse. Nothing ever comes of this.

It’s possible that I missed the resolutions of some of these things (and there are more like them). But I don’t think I could have missed all the resolutions if they were actually in the novel.

If Robson plans to revisit this stuff later in the series, that’s a cheat on the reader. The first novel is supposed to be a standalone, so that in reading it, the reader is not committing himself (or in this case, more likely herself) to reading an entire series.

Miscellany:

There’s a hilariously abrupt rise in the level of graphicness of the sex romance stuff toward the end. Remember, this book is marketed as an SF/F novel that happens to have some guy/girl elements and it mostly lives up to that. But near the end (Ch 25) we get

He gasped as she licked up the length of his erection and then took him into her mouth. [Long fellatio paragraph here.] He came, pulsing strongly against her tongue, repeating her name amid syllables that were both elven and demonic. Lila drank him…

I don’t mind a graphic depiction of a good cock-sucking – far from it – but I pity the poor girl who takes what she thought was an SF/F novel to work and accidentally leaves it open to the page with the explicit description of the heroine gulping down a man’s cum, LOL.

By the way, Lila never manages to extract Tath from her body, so he’s within her experiencing all this too. Which is “icky,” as the kids say these days.

A couple of pages later, they’re ready to go again, and Zal fucks Our Heroine and blasts a stream of metaphysical semen up her spine and through the top of her head. Yes, seriously. But don’t worry; his turbocharged demon cum doesn’t hurt her, due to its supernatural nature.

He looked faintly surprised, gazed deeply into her eyes and then a column of white fire rushed up the length of her alloy and bone spine and out the top of her head. Lila was surprised too, and then she was unconscious.

I don’t want to leave the impression that the novel has no virtues. It does, at least for something of its type.

For one thing, there is some humor:

Ch 12: a hostile phoenix, which in this universe is a bird that is completely made of fire, has enveloped them. But they’re temporarily protected by a shielding spell Zal has created. He says, “That’s interesting. I didn’t know they were fire all the way through. I thought they were hollow, like those disappointing chocolate Easter rabbits.”

First, Ch 5:
He gave her a glance that left her in no doubt that he was mentally undressing her. “So, if the [bad guys] are coming, and I only have sixteen hours left to live, how do you feel about charity?”
“Ask me in fifteen hours and fifty-eight minutes,” Lila said sweetly and walked out…
Then, in Ch 12: Our Heroine is trying to get herself and Zal out of a death trap:
Lila bit her lip and thought. If this was down to who he said it was, no way would they want Zal dead. She decided to take the gamble and quickly stripped off her bike jacket.
“Is this my two-minute charity window?” Zal asked, frowning.

Ch 13:
…until recently all elves had had a kind of sameyness for Lila, mostly based on ears (pointy, long), hair (lots of it, long), and expression (aloof, controlled, pole-up-the-ass).

Now we come to the awarding of chunks of cheese. On the Neurotoxin cheese scale, zero chunks of estrogen-infused cheese is best and ten is worst.

First of all, I am sorry to say that I will not be able to award a ten out of ten to this novel. I had high hopes after the first couple of chapters, when it became clear that the basic setup was a cyborg spy chick being a bodyguard for a demon-elf rock star. I was anticipating a score as high as nine, maybe even the elusive ten!

But alas, while it does have a fantastically cheesy estrogen-cranked premise, the de rigeur choice between two desirable males (if she fucks both of them, does it actually count as a “choice”?), one of them such an outrageous bad boy that he actually burned all four of her limbs off (this does not stop her from humping him), etc., the novel also does have some virtues which prevent me from awarding a perfect cheese score.

To wit, in no particular order:

1. A good plot twist or two. One is the surprising removal of the presumptive love interest (Zal) from the scene before things really get going with him. Although he does return eventually. Another is the dead necromancer’s spirit entering Our Heroine. That was completely out of the blue.

2. Characterization which, though it isn’t notably good, isn’t notably bad (slipshod, unbelievable, or internally inconsistent) either.

3. Robson has a sense of humor. She doesn’t strain to be funny constantly, but where a natural amusing take on the situation occurs to her, she includes it. Overall, this is done well.

4. Dialogue which is better than the mean for this type of work. Yes, I know, that’s a pretty fucking low bar, but still. I was never sucked out of the story and filled with a desire to throw the book against the wall for atrocious dialogue. Even though there are elves and demons, etc., they don’t stride around talking about “smiting mine enemies down into Hell,” or whatever. One elf, when he encounters something surprising, says, “Well, fuck me sideways.”

Due to these virtues, I at first anticipated that this novel might only manage 5 out of 10 chunks of cheese. But that was before I encountered two huge asteroid strikes of female sexual psychology. First, having sex with a bad boy who tortured you near to death, and to an extent that caused you to be severely and permanently mutilated, is hella-red-pill and is worth 1.5 cheese chunks by itself. Second, so is inviting a hostile invader into what should be a secure sanctuary and then getting penetrated by him.

You could make a case for nine, actually, but I like to hold something in reserve, so…

All in all, eight out of ten chunks of estrogen-infused cheese.


Index page for my Red Pill in Fiction posts:
https://neurotoxinweb.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/red-pill-in-fiction-index/

Female Captive Synd… I mean, Stockholm Syndrome

On the subject of so-called Stockholm Syndrome – really, the correct term is female captive syndrome – conventional discourse has usually been coy about the captives’ sex as a relevant aspect. I once did a Net search for some terms like Stockholm Syndrome, gender breakdown, etc., and came up with nothing. It really is astonishing how much our broader culture is invested in denial about female nature. This has only started to change recently, and you have to go looking for it to find it.

Here are some links, with varying degrees of explicitness about the gendered nature of the phenomenon:

(1) On the original Stockholm Syndrome case, this link doesn’t mention the sex of the captives for the first couple of paragraphs, and never says anything about it, except mentioning, eventually, that one captive was named Kristin:

Olofsson… became friendly with one of the hostages, Kristin Ehnemark; they met occasionally and even their families became friends.

Another notorious case of Stockholm Syndrome is that of millionaire heiress Patty Hearst, who… was kidnapped from her apartment in Berkeley, California by a left-wing urban guerrilla group calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). On April 3 Hearst announced on an audiotape that she had joined the SLA under the pseudonym of ‘Tania’, and on April 15 she was photographed wielding an M1 carbine while robbing a bank in San Francisco.

Eventually the author does get around to saying,

… Most of human history has been played out in hunter-gatherer societies in which abductions, particularly of women and their dependent children, must have been a very common occurrence. Thus, it is possible to envisage that the capture-bonding psychological response exhibited by Kristin Ehnemark, Patty Hearst, and countless others is not just an ego defense, but also an adaptive trait that promotes survival in times of war and strife.

(2) An acknowledgement of the peculiarly female nature of Stockholm Syndrome in the academic literature. None of it is surprising to a red-pilled person – it’s just common-sense evolutionary game theory – but it’s nice to see the level of the discussion rising in academia:

Through the ages, women have suffered greatly because of wars. [Unlike defeated men, who are more likely to have been slaughtered.] Consequently, to protect themselves and their offspring, our female ancestors may have evolved survival strategies specific to problems posed by warfare, says Michelle Scalise Sugiyama of the University of Oregon…

Scalise Sugiyama believes that ancestral women may have developed certain strategies to increase their odds of survival and their ability to manage their reproduction in the face of warfare… The so-called Stockholm Syndrome, in which hostages bond with their captors, could have ancestral roots… as a way to help captives identify and ultimately integrate with enemy groups. This then motivates acceptance of the situation and reduces attempts to resist the captor — which may ultimately increase a woman’s chances of survival.

“Lethal raiding has recurrently imposed fitness costs on women. Female cognitive design bears reexamination in terms of the motivational and decision-making mechanisms that may have evolved in response to them,” says Scalise Sugiyama.

(3) This one has 15 examples of Stockholm Syndrome. Notably, only two of them involve male captives, and about one of those they say, “There is some debate as to whether Shawn Hornbeck suffered from Stockholm Syndrome, but we’ll lay out the facts and allow you to judge.” Warning: some of the examples are disgusting, e.g., involving incest. And a couple are misplaced, for example, it’s not really Stockholm Syndrome when the victim is abducted at a couple of days old and believes her captors to be her actual family. Still, some interesting examples.

(4) Rational Male: War Brides.

The Rational Male blogger, “Rollo Tomassi,” dances around the evo psych of the topic in a way that seems surprising, for a red-pilled man, when you first encounter it. You have to read between the lines. The reason for this, as I recall, is that his wife knows about his blog, and so he’s elliptical about some topics, for the sake of domestic tranquility. (To what extent that should be a consideration for a red-pilled dude is another post.)

False Rape Accusation Culture

UPDATE: Welcome Jim readers! I had to notice when my “daily views” graph was forced to re-scale its vertical axis.


Recently a Less Wronger/ Slate Star Codex/ Bay Area “rationalist” killed herself.

(Via Jim’s Blog.)

This woman was a horribly evil and insane person who made frequent – apparently almost incessant – false accusations of rape and sexual assault and whatnot about every man who was in the same time zone as her. If you follow the links, you’ll see that several men stopped attending “rationalist” meet-ups in her area on the mere possibility that she’d be there.

Actually that “rationalist” community had been, as per standard SJW practice, taken over by SJWs, who killed it and wore its skin as a skinsuit.

Due to this, the community had no way to deal with this person who was a steaming cauldron of pure poison. Indeed, they couldn’t even call her what she was or address the problem, since the SJW position is that there is not, and never can be, any such thing as a false accusation of sexual assault. Oh, officially that’s not the position, but really, of course, it is.

Thus there was no way to deal with the problem, especially for the men, except by leaving the community.

It’s especially hilarious that the community that literally invented the phrase “evaporative cooling” as it applies to social situations couldn’t see, or name, what was going on there. So much for the “rationalist” toolkit.

At the second link above, the blogger notes that, by her own admission in her suicide note, as well as from other facts about the situation, it is obvious that part of the problem was this nearing-40 woman’s inability to attract the kind of man she wanted. That is, hard alpha.

This affords me an opportunity to climb up on my soapbox on this topic:

So many modern women are so completely insane because the biological hardware in their heads, and their socially-installed software, are telling them exact opposite things. Obviously this is guaranteed to make them miserable.

Female neural hardware, which is many millions of years old, is basically telling them, “Find a strong male who appears physically and emotionally capable of ravaging you, and is tough enough and/or socially dominant enough to get away with it.” If this is an exaggeration, it’s not much of one. Modern SJW/feminist software, which is insane, is telling them the exact opposite of this, that they want a deferential nice guy who will buy them a Maserati before presuming to ask them out on a date, and will, before every sexual move, politely ask, e.g., “May I now kiss your lips? May I now kiss your neck? By the way, girls rule! May I now fondle your left buttock?” Etc. All this is consciously designed by feminists to kill any speck of arousal in anyone.

If the man is aggressive, the feminist software screams “He’s oppressing you!” If he’s a nice guy, the biological hardware screams, “This is a weak male! Avoid mating with him at all costs!”

Given all this, it is no surprise that so many of our women are insane. It is a testament to the power of biology that, in this cultural environment, most of them are still sane. Of course, that’s to be expected; most women see through the ridiculous feminist bullshit, thank God, because it’s so flagrantly idiotic.

Real progress will have been made, and women and men will be much happier, when we’ve changed the social software so that it affirms and complements the hardware, instead of fighting it every moment at every step.