Junot Diaz and the Sensitivity Police

SENSITIVITY TRAINING FOR ALL NOVELISTS?

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(NOT the Sensitivity Police.)

I DISCUSSED the matter months ago in the latter part of my second post about the Junot Diaz controversy. The rules and standards the writer must obey, and the lines he or she must never cross, expand by the day. Maybe the hour.

The writer’s personal behavior is subject to scrutiny in the new Orwellian literary world. But as important is a person’s writings. Fiction is no longer regarded as fiction. It will be used in judging you.

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Case in point is this essay by Lyta Gold from the precocious characters at Current Affairs which appeared on May 8th. (I’ve covered Current Affairs before at this blog, including here.) Note how, referring to Junot Diaz, Lyta Gold has “strongly suspected, from his prose alone, that he’s a virulent misogynist.” Quite a leap. (Was the character Popeye in William Faulkner’s novel Sanctuary based on Faulkner? Who knows!)

The atmosphere of Gold’s essay is not that of literature, but religion. Current Affairs‘ peculiar pseudo-Communist/Social Justice religion.

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The giveaway line is when Lyta Gold says, about Junot Diaz’s writing, “his work was presumptively taken to be flawless and free of sin. . . .”

Free of sin? Is this how writing is being judged?

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Lyta Gold further says that “no writer . . . gets to be validated by invisible particles of virtue.”

Well, yeah. But is this the standard? Is this why Junot Diaz was validated to begin with?

Virtue?

David_A_Christian_in_dress_uniform(Literary awards– for virtue?)

Or because of his writing? Why are writers published? If all that will be accepted, after thorough personal screenings and background checks, are virtuous writers, the art of literature will be in even more trouble than it is now.
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(Current Affairs staff, from their website.)

PART of what’s happening, ironically enough, is the imposition of bourgeois morality. The Current Affairs staff, like many such staffs, is completely bourgeois in background and sensibility. When expedient– in feeding their own selfish needs and conveniences– they’re as egoistic as Ayn Rand. In the case of Current Affairs, ambitious careerist ladder climbers. Harvard grads, most of them.

The happenings which Junot Diaz puts into his stories and novels are outside their experience. Not surprising, then, that they’re thrown by them. Which doesn’t justify an easily applied label like “misogynist” (a clinical term). If we start judging writers by their musings, their fantasies, and their fictional characters, we’re all in trouble.

This could be the future, if the Sensitivity Police have their way. A kinder, gentler literature– innocuous, harmless, and irrelevant.

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Comments are welcomed.
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-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit NEWS

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Marxism Incorporated

HOW MARXISM TODAY IS A WHOLLY-OWNED SUBSIDIARY OF BIG MONEY

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First of Two Parts

MUCH CELEBRATION has taken place in recent days of the May 5th, 2018 200th birthday of Communism advocate and theorist Karl Marx. Typical of the press this occasion has received is this article by Olivia Goldhill at Quartz magazine.

WHO owns Quartz?

Laurene Powell Jobs, one of the richest capitalists on the planet. In July 2017 her curiously-named Emerson Collective bought The Atlantic and its digital properties, one of which is Quartz. Ms. Jobs apparently doesn’t see Marxism as any kind of threat to her well-sheltered wealth, or to herself. (Quartz in fact recently published another Goldhill-penned tome joking about Marx’s co-optation by capitalists.)

In 2018 the espousal of Marxism comes chiefly from plutocrats– and from hugely-rich centers of power and influence like Harvard. I previously examined here Marxist intellectual journals The Baffler and Current Affairs, the former owned by a billionaire; the latter founded by Harvard student Nathan J. Robinson, son of an international corporate trainer. Olivia Goldhill, coincidentally, is herself a Harvard grad.

So what’s actually happening?

WHAT MIGHT BE HAPPENING is that Monopoly Capitalism seeks to set the current hierarchy rigidly in place. This would explain much, as I’ll discuss in a future post.

WHAT MIGHT BE HAPPENING is a Shigalovian strategy, as outlined in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel The Possessed. A Ten Percent class of enlightened socialist overlords (Harvard grads?) managing the rest of the human herd for the good of all.

WHAT MIGHT BE HAPPENING is that Laurene Powell Jobs and Company see Marxism as a way to channel dissent, directing it toward ideas and programs amenable to the maintenance of Global Capitalism.

Or: Marxism today is a scam.
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NEXT: The Goldhill Essay Itself.

-Karl Wenclas

Alpha Male Wannabes

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THE LATEST NEWS among the established intellectual community is they’re all in a frenzy over renegade professor Jordan Peterson, who’s begun to follow his own thoughts and ideas– independently!– and has left the politically-correct intellectual reservation.

AND SO, every intellectual pretender has penned his-or-her own takedown of the guy, the latest coming from Current Affairs head editor Nathan J. Robinson, whose own project we profiled recently. As in, last week. (See my last two posts.)

LIKE his colleague Briahna Joy Gray’s essay on rock n roll history and cultural appropriation, Robinson’s is skewed and from a narrow viewpoint. Also like her essay (see this) it misses the real story.

It’s by his essay’s one-sidedness that Robinson gives his own game away.

Noteworthy about Nathan J. Robinson is his lack of self-knowledge. He seems to live in a bubble-world constructed of his own role-playing. In his complaints about white males and the patriarchy, he doesn’t notice that he’s a white male, and Current Affairs is a patriarchy.

What bothers Robinson most about fellow academic, fellow Anglo-Saxon Jordan Peterson? That Peterson has the #1 book on virtually all best-seller lists! Robinson mentions this pointedly. Jordan B. Peterson (not he, Nathan J. Robinson) is at the top of the intellectual hierarchy. The alpha male of that scene. And so, Robinson attacks him vociferously.

Jordan Peterson, a Jungian psychologist, must be amused by the attack– as well as what wannabe Robinson misses in Peterson’s ideas. Jordan Peterson is essentially right– that behind our masks we’re brutal animals. Much of our communication and most of our behavior can be explained by subconscious forces which, often against our will, drive us. Nathan Robinson acts this out in his posturing with his magazine.

And yes, Jordan Peterson is right that without the strictures and controls of civilization, relations would return to a more primal reality. Notice what occurs at stray times when civilization leaves. One recent example is the end of World War II in Europe, when Patton’s army moved east and a horde of German women moved west, giving themselves to American G.I.’s to avoid the more brutal celebrations of the New Soviet Man coming from the east. Little acknowledged but able to be found in dusty military histories, or in anecdotes from American vets, is that the end of the war was a rape fest. A reversion to type?

A Jungian would notice monsters of the Id. Those we try to wipe away, like Dr. Morbius confronting his Id near the end of the 50’s sci-fi classic “Forbidden Planet.”

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The Jungian would notice hidden forces in Brooklyn hipsters, wearing long beards and lumberjack shirts, markers of masculinization, as their subconscious minds rebel against their own socially-compelled feminization.

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What then of Nathan J. Robinson, who usually appears clean-shaven? Deliberately nerdy and harmless. How does he fit this analysis?

One could surmise the harmlessness is merely a mask, obscuring the ruthless being– the alpha male wannabe– lurking beneath.

-K.W.

Who’s Appropriating Whom?

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AS DISCUSSED in our previous News blog post, Current Affairs magazine and other “hard left” periodicals are staffed by well-educated cultural aristocrats appropriating the voice and stance of leftist radicals.

Yet we find to our surprise that Current Affairs published an article by Briahna Joy Gray about the very subject of cultural appropriation! It’s here.

NOT surprising is that the essay presents the Harvard tops-down viewpoint, and is filled with distortions.

New Pop Lit‘s editor (me) is writing a series of posts at his personal blog addressing the Current Affairs essay’s viewpoint. The pieces are being written in reverse order. The second one is “All About Chuck Berry.” The third and concluding part of the series is “All About ‘Hound Dog.'” The opening salvo is upcoming.
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ABOUT APPROPRIATION

The charge of so-called cultural appropriation, applied to rock n roll history– coming from of all places Harvard University; home of the Elite of the Elite– seems to this commentator designed to shut down (and wipe history books clean) of small-scale business run by street hustlers. IF the culture of the 1950’s had worried about matters of appropriation, that would’ve been the result– and rock and roll would never have happened. Including England’s Beatles, who did their share of appropriation, of artists black and white, and of every possible style, including Broadway show tunes and 1920’s English music hall ditties.

(My series is showing that during the rise of rock music, everybody was freely appropriating everybody– with one of Ms. Gray’s chief victims, Chuck Berry, as one of the appropriators.)

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THE PROBLEM with the tops-down Harvard Viewpoint is that it eliminates artistic diversity, integration, mutation, choice, and change under the guise of doing the opposite. Without such appropriations by low-rent wannabe-capitalist scramblers trying to make a buck, the music industry would’ve remained as static and uninteresting as the literary scene is today; dominated by unknowing conglomerate machines and Ivy League-dominated foundations understanding only one way of viewing the art; one safe way of thinking, writing, promoting and publishing.

-Karl Wenclas

 

Contradictions of the Left

OR, ABSENCE OF THE AUTHENTIC

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WE’VE ALREADY examined some of those contradictions, in our analysis of n+1 magazine and of The Baffler. Today we look at another “hard left” publication, Current Affairs, founded and edited by Nathan J. Robinson.

WHAT readers of his magazine and Robinson himself don’t seem to realize is that any revolution which springs from Harvard University– where Robinson is a Phd candidate– is co-opted from birth. Sold out at the start. It wouldn’t matter what label they put on themselves or their system: “Marxist.” “Communist.” “Democratic Socialist.” It’d be packaging. Labels like the kind slapped on soup cans. At the core of things nothing will have changed. The same people will be in charge. The same careerist technocrat mindset would dominate.

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Why else does someone attend Harvard or Yale (Nathan Robinson has been enrolled in both places) other than to be at the top of the pyramid? After the revolution it’d be the same hierarchy, with a twist in messaging. (Robinson is said to be good at messaging.) Nathan J. Robinson and his Ivy League editorial colleagues carry that stratified hierarchy within them. It’s embedded in them.

Doubt this? Who runs the civilization now? Two of the richest men on the planet, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, both attended Harvard. The founders of Google went to Stanford University, which is almost as elite. Jeff Bezos of Amazon went to Princeton.

Politics? Every President of the United States from 1988 on before the present one was a graduate of Harvard or Yale. Or in George W. Bush’s case, both. Donald Trump went to the Wharton School, which is part of the University of Pennsylvania, an Ivy League university.

Do we see a pattern?

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Oh, but Nathan J. Robinson, like his peers at other leftist magazines, is different. His ideas are different. He’s a socialist. Probably, a Marxist. He cares. He really does.

I suspect that in their New Socialist World they’d be part of Shigalov’s Ten Percent– still at the top of the pyramid, controlling the people– for their own good of course.

WHAT’S HAPPENING?

Just as in every person there’s a conscious and subconscious, so also there’s the role the person plays– the face shown to the world– and the authentic individual sitting behind the John Keegan “Mask.” They’re not always the same. If ever the same.

Who’s the real Nathan J. Robinson?

Is it leftist radical at the forefront of a neo-Marxist intellectual movement? Or the son of a man who worked in international corporate training? (And no doubt taught young Nathan J. many corporate world tricks.) Scion of money and achievement– is that Nathan’s core reality? At crunch time, would Robinson throw his advantages away? Really?

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THE FLIP SIDE is the person from hardship and poverty passing as an exemplar of class and refinement. This was not only a plotline of many plays (see Pygmalion) and Hollywood movies– it was much of Hollywood reality. Witness the careers of Cary Grant and Clark Gable, who transformed their very beings– their voices, gestures, dress, speech, teeth– to fit the role they wanted to play.

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A BETTER EXAMPLE is the career of Elvis Presley. Dirt poor. Born in a shack. The embodiment of “white trash.” When he became massively successful he suddenly found himself playing doctors or suave playboys in Hollywood movies. In “Blue Hawaii,” the slumming son of big money.

Did he fool anybody?

That Elvis was out of place was part of the appeal. It was fantasy. He was living the dream. His audiences knew it and loved it.

Elite intellectuals of the Harvard/Stanford variety (except for a few rock n roll fanboy writers) never accepted Elvis as legitimate and to this day haven’t accepted him. Rock music itself was not taken seriously as an art form until middle-class pseudo-intellectual troubadour Bob Dylan began playing it. That’s reality.

-K.W.