(1) June 2021, the Dark Herald makes a side remark about Lois McMaster Bujold’s novel Memory, prompting me to glance at its Wikipedia article. I find this:
“After years of refusing to marry any of the tall, slim, eligible Barrayaran ladies paraded in front of him…Gregor unexpectedly falls in love with a short, voluptuous Komarran…”
I.e., short and fat. I’m guessing this is a fiction version of… “Sailer’s Law of Female Journalism: The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking.”
(2) First, some background: The Williams Institute at UCLA is a gay and lesbian think tank. In 2011 they released a study claiming that 3.5% of American adults identify as homosexual or bisexual. (A little over half of those are people, mostly women, who identify as bi.) And since this is a gay think tank, they have an incentive to exaggerate the number. So this is an upper bound on the percent of homo- and bi-sexuals.
With that number in mind, let’s consider a recently-published novel.
Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom is a novel about a criminal gang of seven people (To recall them for those who have read it: Kaz, Inej, Matthias, Nina, Jasper, Wylan, and Kuwei). Three of the seven are homo or bi: Jasper, Wylan, and Kuwei. In the follow-up King of Scars, per Cataline Sergius’s review June 2021 https://arkhavencomics.com/2021/06/28/book-discussion-king-of-scars-by-leigh-bardugo/, Nina becomes a lesbian, making it 4 out of 7. So more than half of the main characters are homosexual or bisexual.
This is not about “representation.”
(3) A funny aspect of Game: Because it starts by accepting certain features of female psychology like their desire for assholes instead of nice guys, one way of describing Game in general terms is
“Men cannot change women. Men have to accept women as they are.”
If just left at that, it would prompt shouts of agreement from women in general and feminists in particular: “Right on, pal!” “Preach it, brother!” “You got that right!” But the details— what it actually means to take women as they are instead of trying to change them— is something that fills feminists with rage. Feminists of course cannot abide any speech other than “All women are totally perfect in every way.” And women in general do not like to be understood in the mating game: it destroys much of their power in the game.
“What is particularly striking about this shift is that the number of moderates has dropped sharply among professors…
As part of the survey, members were asked to identify their political affiliation on an eleven-point scale, from ‘very liberal’ to ‘very conservative’…
Intriguingly, the least popular point among the left-of-centre points was the most moderate one… More than two thirds (67.8 per cent) chose one of the three points furthest to the left on an eleven-point scale, and more than a third (38 per cent) chose one of the two points furthest to the left. And 16 per cent chose the furthest possible point to the left on an eleven-point scale.
This means that there were almost as many people who chose the furthest possible point to the left as there were who chose all the conservative points, the centre-point and the most moderate left-of-centre point combined.”
(5) I once read that an old definition of heresy was focusing on one of God’s attributes at the expense of others. I don’t think this definition is doctrine, but maybe it should be, since it could damp holiness spiraling. For example, focusing on God’s justice at the cost of ignoring his mercy, or focusing on God’s mercy at the cost of ignoring his justice, would be heresies.
In an environment in which promulgating heresies in this sense is energetically punished, holiness spiraling probably would have a harder time getting off the ground: You and your buddies start holiness spiraling about who can be most like God in the sense of being most just. But soon the inquisitor shows up (or tons of people weigh in on Twitter) to give you a warning about obsessing about God’s justice at the expense of ignoring His mercy. And the opposite if you’re spiraling on mercy. It could be a built-in moderator.
The problem, rather, is judging the acceptability of statements and actions on the basis of a single sacred criterion. Fundamentalism in this sense is part-and-parcel of the piety contest. No matter what your foundational principle, if you have only one, there will be bullets you have to bite.
The defense against piety contests, therefore, is to cultivate a multiplicity of irreducible sacred values. This gives the moral community a vantage point from which to evaluate the consequences of each norm against something else. Christianity, for example, is filled with pairs of concepts that orthodoxy holds “in tension”: trinity and unity, free will and predestination, grace and works, and so on. Indeed, heresy has been defined as emphasizing one element of one of these pairs at the expense of the other, and throughout Christianity’s history it has been heretical movements of just this sort that have been filled with the fervent zeal of the piety contest.
START OF QUOTE FROM FOREGOING LINK. Clarke cited a number of “experts” regarding what she called the “truth” about the “genetic differences between blacks and whites.”
She posited that “human mental processes are controlled by melanin — that same chemical which gives blacks their superior physical and mental abilities.” Additionally, “melanin endows blacks with greater mental, physical, and spiritual abilities.”
The liberal editors of [Harvard University newspaper] The Crimson found Clarke’s “racist theories” to be “outrageous,” saying that Clarke had “resorted to bigotry, pure and simple.”… Not long after she penned her letter claiming that blacks are genetically superior to other racial groups, the Black Students Association under her leadership invited professor Tony Martin to campus.
A notorious anti-Semite, Martin’s ensuing lecture about his tract, “The Jewish Onslaught,” was apparently a racist diatribe against the Jewish people, their history, and their traditions, claiming they were the source of the supposedly “ordained” notion of “African inferiority.”
Yet Clarke told The Harvard Crimson that “Professor Martin is an intelligent, well-versed black intellectual who bases his information on indisputable fact.”
“French President Emmanuel Macron has joined numerous French intellectuals & journalists in warning that ‘out-of-control woke leftism of US campuses and its attendant cancel culture’ poses a grave threat due to the social strife it creates.”
Here are some quotes from the USA Today article “5 books not to miss”, January 2, 2021. I present the entire list of books from the article with some of its commentary on the books, and the whole fucking thing is leftist cultural propaganda. You’d think that a tiny saving grace would be that, every once in a while, leftists would get bored of constantly spewing propaganda. Nnnnnnnope. They fucking love it!
“The Prophets,” by Robert Jones Jr.
What it’s about: Jones’ powerful debut novel centers on a forbidden love between two enslaved gay men on an antebellum Mississippi plantation.
The buzz: Kirkus Reviews calls it an “ambitious, imaginative, and important tale of Black queerness through history.”
So two men fuck each other in the ass. Yeah, so?
“Outlawed,” by Anna North
What it’s about: It’s 1894, and Ada is an outlaw. After a year of marriage and no pregnancy, in a town that hangs barren women as witches, the teenage wife joins the notorious Hole in the Wall Gang, a new safe haven for outcast women.
The buzz: “It’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ meets ‘True Grit’ in the best sense…”
“A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself,” by Peter Ho Davies.
What it’s about: A family has a child after terminating an earlier pregnancy that yielded catastrophic test results and grapples with the decision made and the unending work of parenting. …
“Bone Canyon,” by Lee Goldberg
What it’s about: Eve Ronin, the youngest female homicide detective in LA, always feels like she has something to prove, but especially when a cold case heats up…
“The Push,” by Ashley Audrain
What it’s about: Blythe never wanted to be a mother but changes her mind for a man she loves. But motherhood turns out to be everything she feared and her conviction that there is something deeply wrong with her daughter tears her family apart.
Summarizing: “Black queerness through history” plus “slavery!” (the Emacipation Proclamation was in 1863, more than 150 years ago) plus “Yay, abortion!” plus other forms of anti-natalism (“the unending work of parenting”) plus “women, oppressed by the Patriarchy as they are, have something to prove.”
Apropos of nothing, here’s a quote from Orwell’s 1984:
Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely.
The book cataloging site LibraryThing has a standing community project called Name That Book where people ask for help identifying books they’ve read but the titles of which they’ve forgotten. The Romance requests are revealing from the content of the requests, and often just from the titles of the requests. E.g. …
Request details: I have been looking for the title of this book for MONTHS. I read this over a decade ago, so some of the details are fuzzy. What I remember is the heroine has inherited her land from her father and she doesn’t want to get married because she doesn’t want to give up her independence, but this guy swoops in and pretty much forces her to.
Thread title: Romance: inheritance, western. “…He’s pretty rough, and mean. At one point they get stuck in the snow together out in a cabin, have a snowball fight, he spanks her. They end up together, of course…”
“Historical romance fiction. Identical twin sisters sent to live with unknown (twin) aunt of their dad after he dies from New York to out West. One sister disguises her beauty (bottle glasses which cause her to be accident prone and frumpy clothes) because of her twin, the “beautiful” twin would steal the other twin’s beaus. Also, father favored the beautiful sister over the other. Find out later that he did this with his other sibling. Get left in their stagecoach in a small town because the beautiful twin is too demanding. Aunt sends a cowboy to find them. Cowboy thinks he falls in love with the beautiful sister, but in reality it is the one in disguise. He gets confused with how the beautiful sister acts towards him after sharing a kiss and he blames her horrible behavior on the circumstances. The ugly sister keeps it a secret, but the beautiful sister figures it out and sleeps with him. Aunt realizes the ugly twin’s disguise and learns that she is waiting for her sister to get married before she sheds her disguise, she is even willing to allow the cowboy to marry her sister. Sister runs off with cowboys rivalry who owns the bar/gambling house. Aunt causes a shot gun wedding for beautiful sister and the guy who owns the bar/gambling house. Cowboy figures out what happened. They all go to New York and the former ugly twin believes she has seen her father. Turns out their father actually fakes his own death because he got his mistress pregnant [Yawn. I always fake my own death after I get my mistress pregnant.] and the beautiful twin was just too expensive and the mistress gave him a boy and wanted the son to be his heir. I think one of the twins name may be Amanda.”
By the same author: Tender is the Storm. Yes, seriously. But the title is only the half of it. Check out the cover: He’s actually tit-fucking her!
“I read a book… about a 19th century Englishwoman shipwrecked along the Arab coast, captured by Tuareg Berbers [whoever the fuck they were] and sold to an Oxford-educated handsome sheik.”
This request is funny for the way it starts: “I am looking for an historical romance I read some time in the last 1-2 years. I don’t remember the title, author or characters names.” LOL. How disposable is this stuff if you can’t remember anything about it after 1 or 2 years? I suspect women buy these, have a wank or two over them, then toss them. Why oh why can’t women be more ecologically responsible?
Since little or no new information on the political situation appeared over the Thanksgiving break and we’re not likely to get any until Monday, here’s some lighter material.
In the Red Pill in Fiction posts on Alpha Trio and Suddenly Royal I wrote that female authors often fantasize that they (via their author-insert character) will get the alpha by being “feisty,” and that this seems to be a form of snowflaking. On Suddenly Royal I wrote,
This is stated explicitly in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, in the last few pages (Ch 18 of Vol. III). When Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy get engaged, she says,
“Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?”
“For the liveliness of your mind, I did.”
“You may as well call it impertinence at once… The fact is, you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I aroused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them… You thoroughly despised the persons who so assidiously courted you.”
Here it is explicitly, from the horse’s mouth. As I type these notes up it occurs to me that female projection is another reason for this trope of female-authored fiction. That last sentence, “You thoroughly despised the persons who so assidiously courted you,” is the female reaction to any man who seems to really desire her. So: snowflaking plus projection.
There’s other red pill stuff in this novel too. E.g. the main male character, Darcy, comes across as a completely rude asshole at first but then falls for the heroine and they fall in love and get married. At a ball, a mutual acquaintance offers Darcy to introduce him to Elizabeth. Elizabeth is sitting right there. Here’s Darcy’s nuclear neg which is the first thing he says to her… or rather, about her:
“Which do you mean?” and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men.”
LOL, what an asshole. They end up engaged. Pride and Prejudice was written by a woman in 1813 and is arguably the most famous and popular work of chick-lit in the English language. (The only other contender is Gone With the Wind.) Tell me, go ahead, tell me, that Game is just a bunch of nonsense that some male PUA nutters made up in the 1990s.
More: Later, when they have a little spat he tells her, “Could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?” LOL. Your family sux! Now get on your knees and get on my cock, bitch!
In the end– surprise!– the asshole falls for the heroine. And, bonus, he turns out to have a heart of gold: Darcy pays off a man who was threatening to run off with Elizabeth’s sister without marrying her, thus ruining her reputation. He does this solely because he’s so in loooooove with Elizabeth. So you see, he’s an asshole… Who Really Has A Heart Of Gold Underneath It All.
Oh yeah, thoughts on the novel as a novel: You know, it’s actually not that bad. (I know, I was surprised too!) What happens is, because it’s a classic of chick lit loaded with shopworn tropes like the jerk who really has a heart of gold, etc. you think it’s going to be one huge wedge of cheese dropped on your head like Dorothy’s house landing on the Wicked Witch of the East. Actually, there’s a good deal of humor, which the admirers of this novel really should play up more if they want to effectively proselytize on its behalf. For example, consider the well-known opening sentence:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
I always read this as a straight line, as if Jane Austen actually believed it. Ha, no. The passage, and indeed the rest of the novel, proceeds in a way that makes it clear that she’s joking:
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
And then we swing right into this bit of dialogue:
“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?” Mr. Bennet replied that he had not. “But it is,” returned she; “for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.” Mr. Bennet made no answer. “Do you not want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently. “You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.” This was invitation enough. “Why, my dear, you must know…”
In other words, social satire with understated English humor.
Due to its droll comedy-of-manners humor and its generally well-written dialogue, I am afraid this novel is not even a serious contender for the coveted Ten Chunks of Cheese prize. I can award it several chunks due to its “bad boy who eventually falls for the heroine… and turns out to be rich” blurt, directly from the Universal Female Id. We’ll call it six chunks of cheese. Sorry, Jane Austen, but the state of the art in female porn romance cheese has really advanced since 1813. Your competition is much tougher now. Good effort, though.
As I was looking for a cover image for this slab of cheese, I learned that it was a TV show for a couple of years. There’s no accounting for taste. Anyway, the setting is our contemporaneous world but with magic. The “witches” in the title are not metaphorical. The first couple of chapters power-wash the reader’s brain with estrogen forced through a hose at 10 gallons per second. There are three witches, a mother and her two daughters. The sisters are both friends and rivals (female authors love that story element for some reason). There’s a hapless nice guy and a rough-cut Harley-riding Bad Boy(TM).
Of course, Our Heroine has sex with the nice guy and tells the Bad Boy, “I just think of you as a friend.” Ha, no, just seeing if you’re paying attention.
As usual, I’ll edit for length. Also, “Spoiler Warning,” LOL.
The opening to Chapter 1:
Freya Beauchamp swirled the champagne in her glass… This was supposed to be the happiest day of her life—or at the very least, one of the happiest—but all she felt was agitated.
Immediately I guessed that this was her wedding day and that she has just gotten married to a boring nice guy who is going to have something bad happen to him. Well, not far off: Turns out it’s an engagement party, not a wedding, but everything else falls out how you expect… only more so.
She loved Bran. “Bran”? LOL. Poor bastard. She truly did…. There was something about him that felt exactly like home, like sinking into a down comforter into sleep: safe and secure.
There’s then a little interlude about how all the other females in town are forced to come up to her and congratulate her, through gritted teeth, on the engagement. They’re jealous because “Bran” (LOL) is incredibly wealthy. He attends charity regattas on the weekends, wow!
…she accepted the insincere congratulations from another cadre of female well-wishers… All the eligible ladies of North Hampton, who not so long ago had harbored not-so-subtle dreams of becoming Mrs. Gardiner themselves… had all come to the grand, refurbished mansion to pay grudging homage to the woman who had won the prize…
For a sex that’s not supposed to be obsessed with dominance hierarchies, women sure do spend a lot of time fantasizing about having their intrasexual rivals forced to kiss their asses. Read fiction by men, the supposedly competitive sex. You won’t find a tenth as much of this sort of thing. Also, men like to fuck hot pussy; we really don’t care whether other men are envying us. The point is the pussy, not other men’s opinions about the pussy.
We then get that the main character, Freya, was possessed of an effervescent beauty… Small and petite… She’s small AND petite, mind you. This is also funny because we’ve just been treated to a little homily (which I spared you, dear reader) about how modern beauty standards are too focused on “emaciated” women. In the same paragraph, we get that Our Heroine is “small and petite.” Also, she has cheekbones that models would kill for, a tiny little nose, and as for her tits: No one would ever forget her breasts—in fact, they were all the male population looked at when they looked at Freya.
In general the writing qua writing is not great, as you’ve just seen. The author will manage a couple of paragraphs without perpetrating anything stupid or grammatically incorrect, then she’ll say something like “The tennis courts gleamed in the distance…” What? I grew up in a house that was less than 100 yards from a set of tennis courts. They don’t gleam in the distance. Or we get (in the inevitable Prologue) “Perpetually damp, even during its brilliant summers, its denizens were…” LOL, its denizens were perpetually damp? Come to think of it, maybe the female ones are, if the main character’s hormone-revved behavior is typical. But obviously that’s not what the author meant. (Don’t dangle your participle here; there are children about!)
Freya originally meets Bran – shit, I laugh every time I have to write that. BRAN?! Seriously, fucking BRAN?! She’s named after a sex goddess and he’s named after… a cereal product that’s good for your colon! Anyway, she meets Bran (snerk) by tripping into his arms, literally, because she’s so surprised when a load-bearing element of her dress snaps and her unforgettable tits spill out. It’s stated that she never wears bras or underwear (which Bran should have taken as a warning sign, as we will see).
Read this and guess whether she’s ever going to have sex with Bran:
It was Bran’s acute embarrassment that had endeared him to her… But what most people did not know was that he was kind. When Freya met him, she thought he was the kindest man she had ever met. She felt it—kindness seemed to emanate from him. The way he had been so concerned, his embarrassment, his stammer—and when he had recovered enough, he had bought her a drink and never quite left her side all evening, hovering protectively.
An absolute clinic in What Not To Do.
He radiates niceness, he buys her a drink, and he hovers around her the rest of the evening. He’s combining Too Nice and Possessive Creepy Guy. I haven’t read past the first chapter yet, but I foresee him conveniently having a lethal heart attack or something before their wedding day, before the main character has to have sex with him.
Don’t worry, it gets worse!
Bran Gardiner was not at all charming or erudite or witty or worldly. He was awkward and self-conscious. The first night they met, he hadn’t even asked her out because he was simply too modest to think she would be interested in him. Instead he showed up the next night during her shift at the Inn, and the next night, and every night after that, just staring at her with those big brown eyes of his, with a kind of wistful yearning (GOD!) until she had to ask him out.
Gah! The author is stacking the deck here; she’s not even making it plausible that any female in the multiverse could be attracted to this guy. I’m hoping she has a twist queued up, because otherwise this is about as telegraphed as a punch can get. Especially by contrast with Mr. Sexyman:
The problem was Killian Gardiner. Bran’s younger brother, twenty-four years old, and looking at her as if she were on sale to the highest bidder and he was more than willing to pay the price. When they were introduced, he had looked at her with those startling blue-green eyes of his, and she had felt her entire body tingle. The Tingle! Directly from a woman’s word processor! He was, for lack of a better word, beautiful, with long dark lashes (WTF?) framing those piercing eyes, sharp-featured with an aquiline nose and a square jaw. A clean-limbed fighting man of Barsoom, narrow of waist and broad of shoulder, he wielded his sword with—sorry, I just had an Edgar Rice Burroughs flashback from when I was thirteen. He looked like he was always ready to be photographed: Brooding, sucking on a cigarette, like a matinee idol in a French New Wave film. LOL, fucking what? French New Wave… Melissa de la Cruz, you weirdo! Anyway…
Stop looking at him, she told herself. This is insane, just another of your bad ideas. Um, what is? Not that we can’t guess…
Goddamnit, did he have to be so good-looking? She thought she was immune to that kind of thing. Such a cliché: tall, dark, and handsome. Well, at least she includes the Oxford comma, of which I’m a partisan. So this book is not ALL bad. She hated cocky, arrogant boys who thought women lived to service their voracious sexual appetites. She bangs him within a page. As per the Chateau and Rolo Tomassi (Rational Male), women both love and hate male sexual entitlement. Because they both love and hate it, be prepared for a hella shit test, more like several, if you project this attitude in real life. Note I didn’t say “Don’t do this.” I said, “Be prepared for a hella shit test.” He was the worst offender of the type—screeching up in his Harley, and that ridiculous hair of his—that messy, shaggy, bangs-in-your-eyes kind of thing, with that sexy, come-hither smolder.
Let’s get it over with:
She looked up and found him still staring directly at her. He nodded his head, motioning to a nearby door. Truly? Right here? Right now? In the powder room? Was that not just another cliché that went with the motorcycle and the bad-boy attitude? Was she really going to go into the bathroom with another man—her fiancé’s brother, for god’s sake—at her engagement party?
Now I’m thinking this is too reprehensible for the heroine of a novel. Maybe they don’t have sex; maybe she turns into a magic vampire and sucks the life force out of him or something. They don’t actually show them boinking.
LATER: OK, I’ve read, er, skimmed to the end, and here’s the deal: de la Cruz indeed has some mis-direction queued up here. It is, in fact, an estrogen-drenched mechanism for the author-insert character to have her cake and eat it too. That is, to get fucked by the bad boy in the bathroom at her engagement party and still be a demure, virtuous good girl. How? you ask. Does he cast a spell on her to force her to have sex with him against her will? Is the whole scene just an elaborate fantasy, dream, or magical illusion? Nope. Here is the key surprise of the book, revealed in the last couple of chapters:
Our Heroine, Freya, is actually Freya, the Norse goddess of sex, fertility, and all that stuff. “Bran” is actually Loki, the Norse god of mischief, who had put a spell on her to make her think she was in love with him. And Mr. SexyBadBoy is actually another god named Balder who is her One True Love and Destined Husband. So you see, all along she should have been having sex with Mr. Bad Boy – who is in a truer, deeper sense the Good Guy – and she should have been monumentally dissing “Bran,” who is actually a villain who uses the magical equivalent of a date rape drug on her.
Well, it’s interestingly inventive, the mental acrobatics a chick will go through to justify having no-strings-attached sex with a Harley-riding Bad Boy in the bathroom.
By the way, Freya does have sex with “Bran” one time, but since he actually turns out to be Loki, the god of mischief, the point that chicks don’t want nice guys stands.
Page 18: The main character’s sister is melodramatically described as the “ranking archivist” of the library where she works. LOL. I associate this phrase with rather more dramatic situations, like, “We should destroy the alien spacecraft before it comes any closer to Earth!” “No, I’m the ranking officer here and I say hold your fire!” Not so much “Let’s re-shelve these books now.” “No, I’m the ranking archivist here and I say we’ll re-shelve them after lunch break!” The drama of the language should match the drama of the situation, unless the author is deliberately going for humor.
Page 39: “Natasha Mayles was all wrong for Ross. She swanned into the North Inn with her haughty accent and her bored, quasi-European attitude.” “Quasi-European attitude”? Every now and then de la Cruz will write something that makes you go, “What was she even trying to say there?”
Pages 85-6: The librarian chick – the “ranking archivist” – is about to be asked out by this one dude. She thinks about how to let him down gently, until it turns out that he’s actually soliciting her advice about asking some other chick out. At this point she suddenly becomes jealous and interested in the dude. The power of the neg, right from the horse’s mouth.
Chunks of cheese rating: Hmm. This has a few standard female cheese elements, to wit, the “must choose between two men” cliche, the “must have sex with Bad Boy!” thing, and hypergamy, in that the viewpoint character has sex with actual gods.
If the main character fucking her fiancé’s brother at their engagement party actually turned out to be what it seemed at first, that would be eight or nine out of ten chunks of cheese right there. But since, thank goodness, it’s not what it seems, I award six out of ten chunks of cheese to this book.
C.S. Lewis, in The Screwtape Letters, notes that many human endeavors start out as a kind of exuberant 50-yard dash, but soon settle into a marathon. There’s a lesson here for supporters of President Trump, when they freak out too readily that he’s cucking out.
We are now past the “Oh thank God!” euphoria and relief of his 2016 victory, which saved us from a civil war with Hillary Clinton as President. We are now in the “settling into the hard work” phase. It’s still joy, but it’s marathon mode.
For those of you who haven’t read The Screwtape Letters, this wonderful little book consists of letters from an older demon, Screwtape, to a younger demon, Wormwood. The subject is tempting humans.
Screwtape mentions the distinction between early euphoric sprint and later steady marathon in the context of Wormwood’s target becoming a newly-enthusiastic Christian. From the demons’ point of view this is a disaster, but Screwtape reassures Wormwood that all is not lost: the renewed enthusiasm of Wormwood’s target (“patient”) won’t last forever; he eventually will have to make the transition to a religious commitment that is calmer and more enduring. If the target had thought that his new euphoria would last forever, that necessary transition affords opportunities for the demons:
Work hard, then on the disappointment or anticlimax which is certainly coming to the patient… It occurs when the boy who has been enchanted in the nursery by Stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really learning Greek. It occurs when lovers have got married and begin the real task of living together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing.
We are in power now in the White House (and increasingly in the judiciary as Trump gets his nominees confirmed). That is wonderful! But to exploit this to its fullest potential we can’t let ourselves get too carried away with emotion. We have to create long steady progress.
And it may help to remind oneself occasionally, “Thank God, Hillary Clinton will never be President!” Yes, that was a couple of years ago and we must press on, but it’s a real morale booster to remind oneself that she’d still be President right now if, God forbid, she had gotten into the White House. The fact that she is not in the White House is a continual victory.
Furthermore, anyone who thinks Trump is actually a secret agent for the other side (WTF?) need only remind himself of our enemies’ attitude toward him: Hate, terror, and rage, and an unceasing attempt to remove him from office, long after it ceased to be merely stupid and descended into the realm of the clownish. All the right people hate him.
Yeah, yeah, Trump’s not perfect, but nobody is. And he’s pretty close to perfect for the war that we’re in now. He actually hits back against our enemies! This still freaks them out, they’re so used to that never happening! We got immensely lucky that he stood as a candidate in 2016. He’s pretty much our best-case scenario. What else do you want!?
And he has to work against the preponderance of the nation’s government at the federal, state, and local levels. Were you expecting total victory 12 seconds after he took the oath of office?
Trump should not be immune from criticism— he needs to hear from us when he strays off, to put him back on track— but before criticizing him too readily, remember this:
People out of power can afford to be purists. People in power have to deal with the realities of it.
Watch it up to the 4:00 mark. (After that it’s just a love song/dance, which is fine as far as it goes.)
Whoever wrote this scene knows the concept of amused mastery cold. And the importance of passing shit tests. And negs/being unimpressed, since his changing her hair etc. says, “You need to look more feminine before I’m willing to sex you.” And understands that everyone is happier when natural male-female sexual polarity is respected and honored. Very nicely done; absolutely beautiful.
Danny: Does he make you laugh?
Tess: He doesn’t make me cry, Danny.
Oh, this is just pure pussy bait! (*) When they were together, he made her laugh and he made her cry. So two items here: One is, emotional roller coaster. Chick crack. The other is that he’s an asshole. We don’t know why he made her cry— I’m guessing by cheating on her— but it’s enough that he did. He’s no good! He doesn’t care for her! Her treats her badly! You can just see that one line setting off the Bad Boy Alert for the women in the audience, and having them leaving wet spots on their seats. Very deftly done: Two terse lines of dialogue. That’s all that the chicks in the audience need to get that there’s some sort of soap-opera-y relationship backstory.
* I was going to write “pussy crack,” but that would’ve pulled up the wrong mental image.
(2) Random red pill item: Actor Larry Hagman said he rarely got any female fan mail when he played a nice guy on I Dream of Genie, but got tons when he played the total bastard J.R. on Dallas.
(Those two characters were so different that I never even realized they were the same actor until I read that quote.)
(3) Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver, a trilogy I strongly recommend if you like Stephenson. It’s the most “Neal Stephenson” of his works that I’ve read, i.e. stylistically dense but always intelligent and funny.
Page 374 et seq.: In 1683 a “vagabond”— that is, a roaming criminal adventurer— named Jack is wandering around in the chaos of the siege of Vienna. In a Turkish officer’s tent he happens upon a young English woman, Eliza; she’d been captured at sea as a child. After some back and forth:
“You talk like a girl who is in need of a spanking.”
“Books of India,” she said coolly, “have entire chapters about that.”
Jack prefers not to get bogged down with companions unless they can help out in a fight, but eventually agrees to let her travel with him. But he warns her:
“If we make it as far as Paris… and if you’ve given me so much as a blink of trouble—one cross look, one wifely crossing of the arms—cutting thespian-like asides, delivered to an imaginary audience—”
“Have you had many women, Jack?”
“—pretending to be shocked by what’s perfectly normal—calculated moods—slowness to get underway—murky complaints about female trouble—”
“Now that you mention it, Jack, this is my time of the month…”
“Not funny at all. Do I look amused?”
Stephenson provides a good list of some standard shit tests here.
And on page 389, on one-itis:
Eliza seemed impressed. Jack was gratified by this—a bad sign. No man was more comprehensively doomed than him whose chief source of gratification was making favorable impressions on some particular woman.
Later in their adventures Jack gets outrageously beta— like, after Eliza harpoons him to a mast (long story) and he is still in luuuuurv with her— so this is definitely not an unqualified endorsement of Stephenson on women. But he does display flashes of insight here and there.
(4) In Bruce Sterling’s Zeitgeist, some conversation among Leggy Starlitz, his daughter Zeta, and Viktor, a minor criminal. Starlitz is a gray-market hustler who’s always working some semi-legal scam. His daughter Zeta, 11, has been raised by her mother and her mother’s lesbian lover until a crisis forces them to hand Zeta over to Starlitz. She’s been with him about a week, as he drags her around on various pieces of semi-underworld business. In Istanbul one of Starlitz’s contacts is a young Russian man named Viktor. The three of them are at a cafe and Viktor steps away for a moment:
“Dad, is Viktor a nice guy?”
“I knew that,” said Zeta triumphantly. “I just knew it. I mean, I get it about Viktor now. Viktor is the guy that Mom One and Mom Two never wanted me to meet. Right?”
“Right… He’s every mother’s nightmare.”
Gah! Bad move, Starlitz! Should have downplayed Viktor’s Bad Boy cred so that your daughter finds him boring. Don’t confirm the “dangerous bad boy” thing, for fuck’s sake! The correct response is something like, “He tries to be a criminal tough guy, but just can’t swing it. He’s always getting beaten up and outwitted by the real criminals.” Something like that.
Zeta put her elbows on the table. “Dad, can I tell you something? Viktor is just the coolest guy, Dad. Viktor Bilibin is just the coolest, dreamiest, gangster guy. He has such amazing eyes. They look like my pet snake’s.” (LOL.)
Starlitz considered this artless confession. At first glance this was a very alarming development, but she wasn’t his own child for nothing. “You don’t need Viktor,” Starlitz informed her…
Viktor rejoins them. He and Starlitz usually speak in Russian, which Zeta doesn’t know, but she has an uncanny ability to suss out the gist of their conversations. Viktor tells Starlitz in Russian,
“Mehmet Ozbey is dead.”
Starlitz laughed. “I saw Ozbey last night.”
Viktor went pale. “I know he’s dead. I had Ozbey hit,” he insisted. “Nobody could have survived that.”
“Dad,” Zeta said thoughfully, “did Viktor kill somebody?”
“He thinks he killed somebody.”
“There’s a big difference.”
Viktor lifted his right hand with two fingers outstretched and his thumb as a revolver hammer. “I killed somebody,” he told her in English, his voice resonant and spooky. “He wanted to kill me, because I know too much. He put me on his hit list. So, I took revenge on him. I had him liquidated. Boom-boom-bang.”
“Wow,” Zeta marveled, eyes like saucers and goose bumps all over her arms. “That’s so corrupt!”
“It was the naked justice of the steets,” Viktor intoned.
“He’s full of it,” Starlitz said.
Much better response.
(5) This wouldn’t normally be categorized as fiction, but I don’t know where else to put it. I’m flipping through this book that my woman has from college: Women Mystics in Medieval Europe, edited by two chicks. I randomly open it to page 77 and start skimming. On page 78 we get this:
Tactile sensations play an important part in Beatrice’s visions: She feels God’s presence passing through her whole body; the Lord pierces her soul with the fire of His love, as with the point of a flamboyant sword, drawing her heart to His. The blood of Christ’s wounds flows into her soul.
As I’ve noted before, women are always being penetrated by men in female-authored material. Interestingly, this happens a lot more than male explorers thrust themselves forcefully into receptive virgin lands or whatever, in material written by men.
We continue the dissection of a blue-pilled writer’s portrayal of male-female relationships begun in Part 1.
If you’re just joining us: Scott Lynch’s The Republic of Thieves is part of a fantasy series about a master con man. Overall, the series is better than average fantasy fiction, but lordy, the author’s blue-pill notions! Republic’s narrative alternates between two time periods: flashback chapters in which a gang of teen con-artist apprentices learn their trade, and “present day” chapters in which Our Hero has to rig an election. In Part 1, I only presented scenes from the flashback chapters. The first scene in this post is from the “present” action.
Spoiler warning, and I’m going to edit quoted passages for length. Any page numbers are from the hardcover edition.
Locke and his fellow con man Jean have been blackmailed into the following task: The city of Karthain is having an election. Locke and Jean are hired to rig this election. They’ve been engaged by a corrupt organization called the Democratic Par… uh, I mean, the kicker is that Sabetha, Locke’s old flame (and fellow gang member) from years before, has been engaged by the other side to rig the election too. Each side knows the other side has engaged a con artist to rig the election; they allow this for reasons that don’t matter here. Also, both sides know of the romantic history, and have warned Locke and Sabetha not to get into any hanky-panky with each other. They are not forbidden from communicating with each other, though.
Pages 314-27: In Karthain, after not seeing each other for years, Locke and Sabetha are Reunited, and it doesn’t feeeeeeel so gooooood!
“H-hello,” he said.
“Yes. Sabetha. Hello. Uh.”
“Meant to say something grander and wittier, didn’t you?”
Aaaaaaaaaand we’re off. She basically says, “You wanted to impress me.” This is a “You’re hitting on me” shit test, like, “I have a boyfriend” or “Are you hitting on me?” or “I’m not going to have sex with you.” It’s part shit test to assess your poise, part attempt to find out by your reaction whether you actually are hitting on her, and part female status game, an attempt to define herself as the sought-after prize. All in one terse little verbal package. There are aspects of the mating game that women are impressively good at.
“Take my hands,” she said, and he does. Yawn, no. The proper response to that sort of thing was established by Roissy (Chateau v. 1.0) and others more than a decade ago: “No, you might try to take advantage of me,” you say playfully. Or just snort, ignore it, and say what you wanted to say. Women in this kind of situation always try to suck you into their frame. Don’t fall for it. An alpha male, which is what women are looking for, sucks people into his frame, or at least sticks with his own frame.
After more talk Sabetha embraces Locke:
She was so warm and strong, [“strong”? Which one of them is the chick here?] and her scent so instantly familiar… He sighed. “I’d work for free for any chance to be near you. They’re offering a fortune, and I’d throw it in the Amathel [River] for this.” No! “Locke,” she whispered. “Indulge me. Kiss me. My preferred way. From back when we were—”
“Ahhh,” he said, laughing. “Your servant, madam.”
He gently placed his left hand beneath her chin and tilted her head back. Then planted his lips high up the side of her neck… when he felt he’d teased her enough, ran his tongue up and down those same few inches of warm skin.
It turns out that Sabetha has applied a poison to that area of her neck to knock Locke out. Locke notices a weird taste, but thinks it’s her perfume. Then he starts to lose consciousness. To add obnoxiousness to injury, Sabetha gives him a little lecture as he’s passing out:
“You’re not as good as I am, Locke, but you’re too damn good to let you run around fighting fairly. You’ll kill yourself trying to best me, and you can’t expect me to permit that.”
The lesson here should be obvious enough. Sex is the first thing a woman reaches for when she wants to manipulate a man. And a professional con woman, who’s an old flame, and with whom you’re in a competition… Come on, Locke!
He and Jean wake up on a ship far out at sea, LOL.
407-13, flashback scene. The con artist apprentices have been sent to a theater troupe to learn acting by performing in a play. Sabetha is on the roof going over her lines. Locke joins her, supplicatingly asking for the privilege of hanging out with her and paying for her attention with an offering of wine. Literally, he actually asks her, “Can I sit beside you?” The problem with this, of course, is that it should be, “May I sit beside you?” NO! That’s not the problem; the problem is that it’s wussily supplicating.
Also, she in her self-centeredness can’t resist accusing him of trying to get her drunk in order to fuck her. So annoying. He’s just offering you some wine, you silly bitch.
Whatever. She deigns to allow him to sit near her, and the “conversation,” such as it is, begins. Once again, as in the previous post, it’s all meta, conversation about their relationship. I’ll skip over that part. (Which goes on for freaking pages!) Eventually Locke makes a wince-inducing declaration. I don’t have the strength to quote the whole effin’ thing; here are the high, er low points:
“I, uh, I’m tired of talking behind my hands and dropping hints. These are my cards on the table. I think you’re beautiful.”
Sorry to interrupt just when you’re getting rolling, Locke, but: As a rule of thumb, you should not compliment a woman on her looks. The reason is this: In spite of all feminist agitprop to the contrary, females know at a gut level that their physical attractiveness is the most important part of their sexual market value. I’m not talking about a long-term relationship like marriage, where personality enters the picture in a big way. Rather, think of a young woman’s SMV. (Sabetha is 17 in this scene.) It’s more than 50% looks. Yeah, so? Won’t it make her feel good to compliment her looks, then? Yes, and that’s a mistake. You don’t want her to “feel good,” because that means she’ll think she’s too good for you. This is Female Hypergamy 101. Your job, if you want to do some co-ed spelunking, is not to make the girl feel good. It’s to make her feel that your overall SMV is about 2 points higher than hers. That’s enough to make her hypergamous cooch wet for you while you still seem within her reach.
My rule of thumb is this: A woman generally thinks she’s 1 or 2 points better-looking than she really is. And she wants to get a man who is 2 points higher than her if she can. This leads to weird things like a woman who’s objectively an overall 5 not wanting to “settle” for any man who’s less than an overall 9, which flaming lack of realism is one of the reasons the modern dating scene is so fucked up. In more realistic cases, a female 5 will seriously pursue a male 7, rejecting male 5’s and 6’s. Then she ends up as a cat lady. The point is this: As a man, your interest in a girl might spike if she squeezes your biceps and says, “Wow, you’re so muscular!” But a girl’s interest in you does NOT spike if you tell her, “Garsh, you’re so pretty!” She thinks, “Excellent, I’m attractive. And I’m obviously too good for this guy, since he’s impressed by me.”
Short version: If you’re going to compliment a girl, do it like French man: Make it so over-the-top that it seems sarcastic, like you don’t really mean it. (“You look radiant, mademoiselle; I grovel at your feet. And I’ll have an espresso and a latte, no sugar.”) The French are far ahead of us on this stuff, which is why their men are such a bunch of ravening assholes.
(When I wrote the latte thing I envisioned the dude saying it to a barista at a coffee bar. But it would be fuckin hilarious if you just said it to a random chick as if you mistook her for a waitress, LOL. That could be a good neg, though it’s kind of nuclear so you’d have to know what you’re doing to pull it off. She’s guaranteed to squawk like a wet hen. Also, you’d have to be able to say it with a straight face; I’m not sure I could.)
Locke continues: “I feel like I’m an idiot [agreed, you are] with dirt on his face sitting next to someone out of a painting. [gah!] …Frankly, I’d kiss your shadow. [GAH!] I’d kiss dirt that had your heel print in it. [GAAAAAAH!! Make it stop!] I admire everything about you [I admire her ability to not throw him off the rooftop for this ass-kissing announcement], even your temper [huh?] and your moods [what?] and the way you take gods-damned offense when I breathe wrong around you. [Oh HELL no!] I admire the way you’re good at everything you do, even when it makes me feel small enough to drown myself in this wine cup.” Well, do it then, you spineless fuckbag!
Aside from the wussiness, this is also bad seduction technique because (1) it puts way too much attention on the girl – any normal human being, male or female, would feel self-conscious having this blast of oral servicing directed at them – and (2) it doesn’t give her much by way of options. I mean, how is she supposed to respond to this? “Yes, Locke, you’re right, I am quite awesome in every way, and my beauty is matched only by my wonderful moods (LOL, WTF?) and the fact that I’m excellent at everything.”
Plainly that won’t work, which is why PUAs came up with verbal games like Marry-Fuck-Kill and other ways of getting the girl participating in the conversation.
Locke considers his past few statements and concludes that he wasn’t being wussy enough, so it gets worse. Recall from Part 1:
Sabetha to Locke: “Years ago, I was the oldest child in a small gang. I was sent away by my master to train in dancing and manners. When I returned, I found that a younger child had taken my place. Calo and Galdo, who once treated me as a goddess on earth, had transferred their allegiance to the newcomer.”
And now we see what has been bothering her. This entitlement-mentality little twat thinks she has some sort of right to have everyone else worship her.
So Locke now says to her, “I’m sorry. If I’ve pushed you aside… if I’ve screwed up anything that you felt was rightfully yours, I apologize.”
Watching this dumpster fire of masochistic groveling makes me feel like Beavis when wuss music comes on MTV: “Butthead, change it! Change it or kill me!”
Locke actually affirms this chick’s right to be treated “as a goddess on earth.” What the fuck!? And he apologizes for – unintentionally – supplanting her. And it makes even less sense than that, because if Sabetha has some right to be treated like a god, then why doesn’t Locke also have a right to be treated like a god? But it gets even stupider, because these kids do not treat each other as gods. They are constantly saying things to each other like, “Suck vinegar out of my ass,” etc. (Actual quote. Scott Lynch is pretty good at thinking up memorable insults, one of the notable stylistic features of this series.)
Page 412-3, the drama rises. Locke recalls out loud the first time he saw her free her gawageous red hair in the sunlight and it glinted with heavenly glittering, or whatever. It makes you flash on those scenes they have in cheesy movies in which the babe whips off her hat and swings her hair around dramatically in slow-mo. Cue the “Ohhhhh, yeeeeeeaaaaah,” voiceover from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Inexplicably, drama queen asshole starts screaming about how Locke only likes her because she’s a redhead. Her freakout is completely disproportionate to what he said and we’re wondering why she’s suddenly gone even more psycho than usual. She tells him to get lost, so he does, briefly. When he and Sabetha are alone again, he actually grows a pair and says to her, “You owe me an explanation. I will not let you push me aside just because you’re pitching a fit!” My God, there actually are some nads in there somewhere!
“I am not pitching a fit!” she says, despite the obvious fact that she’s pitching a fit. By the way, women always know when they’re pitching a fit, and they don’t respect you if you put up with it.
Sabetha continues, “You cannot be so wholly ignorant. Do you know what they pay for red-haired girls in Jerem? Do you know what they do to us if we’re pristine?”
She then describes a horrible practice that some sick fucks do to red-haired girls. I’ll spare you the nasty details, but it boils down to this: It’s thought that men can cure various diseases they might have by gang-raping a red-haired virgin to death.
That is terrible. But it never happened to Sabetha. The worst she can plead to is living in fear. And since it didn’t happen where they grew up (she’d have to be abducted and carried off) and since she dyed her hair brown and kept it tucked under her hat, the risk was very small. Furthermore, since this disgusting practice is only believed to work if the girl in question is a virgin, she could have just gone and fucked some dude as soon as she was old enough, thus eliminating the risk right there.
And Locke didn’t know about this horrific practice. And it’s not like he was planning on raping her to death!
What is actually going on here? In plot terms, the author needs drama here, so that’s the actual reason for this. Within the fictional universe, whether the author realizes this or not, Sabetha is freaking out in order to attention whore, play drama queen, and play damsel in distress. This. Is. A. Shit. Test. What she is testing you for specifically, with this kind of shit test, is whether she can jerk you around by your emotions.
Here’s a question for ya, poochy: Does a girl sleep with a guy she can jerk around? That would be No. I don’t know how I’d handle this, but it certainly wouldn’t be by apologizing. I think I’d offer her a bag of Skittles and tell her to calm the fuck down. Guaranteed to work better than letting her control you by tugging on your heart strings.
On pages 479-81, Locke’s friend Jean loses his virginity to an older woman. Afterwards, Jean:
“Hey, there’s a… sorry, beneath your legs did we…?”
“Ah. My apprentice, allow me to introduce you to the concept of the wet spot.”
“Is that uncomfortable?”
“Well, it’s not what I’d call ideal. Hey, what are you—”
With an enthusiastic excess of groping and giggling, he applied his strength to shifting their positions. In a few moments, he’d pushed her to the dry side of the bed and taken her former place.
“Mmmmm. Jean, you have a gallant streak.”
Psssht. A real man would get a log from the fire, clock her over the head with it, and make her change the sheets. But seriously, why switch places? Someone has to be on the wet spot, and the girl’s going to think you’re a wuss if you pull that move, comments about gallantry notwithstanding. That’s the reality of female psychology.
Well, this dissection of blue-pill butt-fuckery has spanned two posts now. I’d like to draw things to a close, so I’ll just mention, without quoting in detail, some other blue pill stuff in this novel:
505-6: Scott Lynch can’t seem to even imagine a man making a pass at a woman. We are never shown an example of this in the entire three-book series so far. When Locke and Sabetha lose their virginity to each other in a flashback scene, it’s because she enlists a friend to drag Locke to a secret room she found in the hotel where they’re staying, so they can fuck there. Locke is drinking in the hotel bar when his buddy comes and drags him upstairs to the secret compartment where Sabetha is waiting. Then she’s just basically like, “I had him bring you up here so you could do me.” Then she kisses him. This ain’t great. Obviously women often make the first move in the sense of the first expression of interest (college, whoo-hoo!). But it’s a little much if the man doesn’t make the first physical move. Yeah, that can get you accused of “sexual assault” on a college campus in an “affirmative consent” state these days. For fuck’s sake, don’t go to college in an “affirmative consent” state.
468-70: In the present day, Locke and Sabetha are talking about how many people they’ve each boinked in the five years since they’ve seen each other. Locke confesses that he hasn’t screwed one chick in that five years. GAAAH, NOOOOOOOOO!!! Even if that’s true, you can’t tell the girl that; she’ll tag you as a loser. Just lie or just refuse to talk about this subject. Even worse, Sabetha says she’s had sex with several men in that time. This puts their relative notch counts topsy-turvy to what they should be.
So in summary: An above-average fantasy series, if you can stomach the main character’s invertebrate notions about women. Good pacing in plots that revolve around heists/capers, world-building that’s thorough without falling into the trap of being distractingly over-detailed, and amusing dialogue (aside from the wussy stuff). But the author’s blue-pilled notions about women could be used as a freakin’ textbook in What Not To Do. If you like fantasy, try the first one, The Lies of Locke Lamora. The chick is absent from that one, which keeps the blue pill stuff out and allows the main character to act like he actually has a Y chromosome most of the time.