zenpundit.com » literature

Archive for the ‘literature’ Category

On the literary transmission of terror: 2: cascading texts

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — from 1500 pp via ~80 to 4, the amount of writing irate people can manage has been diminishing — next up, silence! ]
.

In 1999 — the year in which Ahmed Ressam on behalf of al-Qaida attempted to cross the northern border of the United States with a truck-load of explosives, hoping to detonate them at Los Angeles airport’s International terminal on the evening of the roll-over to a new millennium, but was mercifully stopped by a suspicious US Customs official and detained, currently serving 37 years in a Colorado supermax for his terrorist offence — another quasi-religious organization with terror on its mind published a manifesto.

**

The group was Wotan’s Volk, and their publication the “Exclusive Millennial Wotansvolk Edition” of Ragnar Redbeard‘s 1890 novel, Might Is Right, or The Survival of the Fittest.

A Social Darwinist manifesto? plea for eugenics? Racial purity? — or is the book a satire on all of the above?

It wasn’t satire when Wotan’svolk republished it, it was a manifesto for race war:

Look at that sword — the phrase 14 Words inscribed on its blade refers to a popular white supremacist slogan coined by a member of the 1980s terrorist group, The Order:

We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.

Redbeard‘s book, like William Pierce‘s 1978 novel, The Turner Diaries, is more political pamphlet than literature — except in the widest sense of that term covering all textual materials including invite posters announcing the times and locations of church bingo sessions. Peirce‘s book inspired Timothy McVeigh to commit the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 of us: published or posted words have the potential to infect thought, and the fever at times spills over into violence. And Redbeard‘s 1890s novel inspired the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting, killing three plus the gunman just a week ago.

**

But fiction is not alone in infecting thought that spills into violence: non-fiction “manifestos” — now also known as “screeds” — serve the same purpose, though with muted imagination.

Anders Breivik‘s “manifesto” 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence runs to just over 1,500 pages, and draws on other sources, though many of them, like “Pamela Geller, Paul Belien, Diana West, the Baron [Bodissey] and Dymphna from the Gates of Vienna blog”, have disclaimed any association with Breivik, the use he made of their texts, or his actions, extremely, fatally ugly as they were.

Breivik‘s sources, in fact, were many and various, as this para, one of thousands, illustrates:

Since the publication in 1970 of his book The Poverty of Critical Theory, Rohrmoser has promulgated, in constantly varying forms, the view that Marcuse, Adorno, and Horkheimer were the terrorists’ intellectual foster-parents, who were using Cultural Revolution to destroy the traditions of the Christian West. Academics such as Ernst Topitsch and Kurt Sontheimer, who saw themselves as educators and liberal democrats, followed in Rohrmoser’s footsteps. In 1972 Topitsch, a critical rationalist who was Professor of Philosophy in Graz, had stated that behind the slogans of “rational discussion” and “dialogue free of domination” there was being established at the universities “a distinct terrorism of political convictions such as never existed before, even under Nazi tyranny.”

**

And Breivik‘s work was itself a call to arms, inviting followers of his Oslo and Utøya “Knights Templar” killings to follow suit — albeit in a manner presented as fiction:

It [his “Manifesto”] also describes specifically how this hypothetical fictional group, “PCCTS, Knights Templar”, would choose to respond towards the so called ”enablers” or the so called “cultural Marxist/multiculturalist” elites that are allegedly allowing millions of Muslims to enter Europe. The book contains detailed strategies (guerrilla tactics, instructions to execute, political campaigns etc.) which normally would be partly incriminatory to anyone who published or distributed the book (had it not been fiction).

Indeed, Breivik himself later argued that “his main motive for the attacks was to publicize his manifesto” [Bloomberg, via Wikipedia].

Breivik claimed himself to be a “Justiciar Knight Commander for Knights Templar Europe and one of several leaders of the National and pan-European Patriotic Resistance Movement” and invited others to become “Knights Justiciar” thus:

The European military order and tribunal; Commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici – PCCTS is represented by self appointed European judges known as ”Justiciar Knights” or “Knight Judges” (Latin: justiciarius=man of justice, judge — Knight=Eques or Cavaliere in Old Italian, Chevalier in French, Ritter in German)”. Any self appointed Justiciar Knight has been given the authority, by PCCTS on behalf of;

1. The free indigenous peoples of Europe
2. Those Europeans not yet born
3. The legacy of our forefathers and fallen martyrs

– to act as a judge, jury and executioner until the free, indigenous peoples of Europe are no longer threatened by cultural genocide, subject to cultural Marxist/Islamic tyranny or territorial or existential threats through Islamic demographic warfare. It is therefore within any- and every-ones right to act in accordance with the given guidelines.

and:

All free Europeans have a right and a duty to become “Justiciar Knights” for the order/tribunal

**

Breivik‘s call for more “Knights Justiciar” and more actions congruent with his killings in Oslo and Utøya, and in some cases the killings themselves, have infected other minds, albeit minds few and far between. JM Berger, author of Extremism and a friend of mine and this blog, describes the cascading waterfall effect:

The Newtown shooter Adam Lanza reportedly collected news clippings on Breivik’s attack and other incidents of mass violence before he killed 20 children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. Other young men, such as the British college student Liam Lyburd, have been inspired to plan or carry out mass shootings based on their admiration for Breivik’s lethality, rather than his beliefs.

Then, JM tells us, the Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Hasson attempted to follow in Breivik’s footsteps:

planning a mass-casualty attack modeled in significant part on Breivik’s strategy, and bearing the marks of his belief system

**

Fast forward to this March, and the Christchurch, NZ mosque attacks. The shooter here, Brenton Tarrant, wrote at 87 pages a far shorter “manifesto” than Breivik‘s — The Great Replacement — albeit in it he linked his attack explicitly to Breivik‘s, writing that he “took true inspiration from Knight Justiciar Breivik” and claiming:

I have only had brief contact with Knight Justiciar Breivik, receiving a blessing for my mission after contacting his brother knights

Manifesto to manifesto, rant to rant, action to action, the infection cascades, spreads and, thankfully, dilutes.

**

A week ago, there was the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting, and this weekend we have witnessed the shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH .

The Dayton shooter I dealt with in the previous post, contrasting his leftist online presence with the El Paso shooter‘s online presence from the right.

In the El Paso shooting, the motive seems clear. Crusius begins his 4-page screed thus:

In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto.

There’s the cascade. His immediate follow up gives his motive:

This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion.

Further on he says, again referencing the Christchurch shooter’s rant:

Actually the Hispanic community was not my target before I read The Great Replacement.

He continues:

This manifesto will cover the political and economic reasons behind the attack, my gear, my expectations of what response this will generate and my personal motivations and thoughts.

And that’s pretty much what he delivers: lock, stock, you might say, and barrel.

But enough: all this delving into killers’ minds is disgusting.

**

Documentation:

  • The Unabomber, Industrial Society and Its Future”

  • Ragnar Redbeard, Might Is Right, or The Survival of the Fittest
  • Anders Breivik, 2083 – A European Declaration of Independence
  • Brenton Tarrant, The Great Replacement
  • Patrick Cursius, The Inconvenient Truth
  • Added:

  • Dylann Roof, manifesto
  • On the literary transmission of terror: 1: mirroring Twitter-feeds

    Monday, August 5th, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — IMO, these paired mass casualty shootings call for mass humility on both sides of the divide — let’s build a corpus callosum for the nation ]
    .

    Let’s just do this with headlines, the El Paso shooter above, the Dayton shooter below:

    The moral would appear to be: no matter what “side” you’re on, there may be some folk who take it to an extremist extreme. They may kill for ideas on “your side” — at least in contemporary American politics. I tend to the left, so Crusius is no surprise, but Connor Betts, WTF?

    ANd you’ll tell me it’s the opposite way around for some of you — WTF are Crusius and others like him doing?

    And BTW, DoubleQuote!

    **

    Okay — Connor Betts:

    The Dayton shooting was the 250th mass shooting “event” in the US this year, but its exact motivation is unclear at the time of this writing — the shooter, Connor Betts, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest, killed his sister among others, and had written a “hit list” of girls while at High School at one point — so school issues and family feud are among the possible explanations for his violence, which killed 9 in 26 seconds before he was taken down by police. He was far from a Breivik follower, however. His Twitter page revealed, as reported by Heavy:

    Or quoting Heavy again —

    [H]e described himself as “he/him / anime fan / metalhead / leftist / i’m going to hell and i’m not coming back.” He wrote on Twitter that he would happily vote for Democrat Elizabeth Warren, praised Satan, was upset about the 2016 presidential election results, and added, “I want socialism, and i’ll not wait for the idiots to finally come round to understanding.”

    That’s pretty aggressively [is that the word?] left and male, eh?

    **

    Sources:

  • Heavy, Patrick Crusius: Suspect’s Twitter Page Shows Trump Support
  • Heavy, Connor Betts: Twitter Posts on Being a Leftist, Guns
  • Readings:

  • Politico, What Both Sides Don’t Get About American Gun Culture
  • The Hill, Graham to offer bipartisan ‘red flag’ bill with Trump’s support [added]
  • And the Word was made Script and dwelt among us

    Friday, June 7th, 2019

    { by Charles Cameron — the embodiment of the word in script affords calligraphers of all religious beliefs the opportunity to illuminate the written script with beauty }
    .

    And the Word was made Script and dwelt among us…

    This would describe the indwelling of the numinous presence within scriptures, a doctrine found in the Christian usage that terms the Bible the Word of God, and even more explicitly in the Islamic doctrine that the Qu’ran is the Word of God in a manner equivalent to the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation — that is to say, Christians teach that Jesus is the Word of God, Muslims that the Qu’ran is.

    **

    Incunabula had tweeted:

    The historian Tom Holland picked up on this, and commented:

    How incredibly beautiful. It looks like something out of Rivendell.

    H’e not the only one thinking along similar lines — there’s a Reddit that’s relevant here: The Tibetan Script looks much like Tengwar to me…could it have been Tolkien’s inspiration for written Elvish?. So let’s take a quick look:

    **

    Let’s take a look: DoubleQuote:

    Above, Tolkien’s Quenya script from the inside front leaf, lower border, of the first edition Lord of the Rings, in comparison with the silver Tibetan calligraphy of the interior of Incunabula’s Perfection of Wisdom in 100,000 Verses.

    To be fair, Incunabula’s 13th-15th century work in gold and silver ink is a remarkable work of art, and it may be fair to compare it also —

    —with the 9th century illuminated gospels of the Irish Book of Kells.

    **

    Beauty, anyway — the word becoming scripture in script offers us a manner in which some glimpses of beauty — transcendent sister of goodness and truth — beauty become word..

    32, let’s begin with Her Majesty’s hat

    Sunday, March 31st, 2019

    [ by Charles Cameron — hat and flag, insecurity clearances, quantum physics and what it tells us about truth and spin, paris, city of lovers, sex, scandal naturellement, and would you believe it, treason? ]
    .

    Brexit. Her Majesty’s hat draws a clear parallel, but is it a metaphor?

    That was the hat HM wore for the 2017 Queen’s Speech to the joint Houses of Parliament — and we have no reason to suppose her opinion has changed since then. Visual DoubleQuote courtesy of Federica Cocco

    And then…

    I mean, what a nightmare…

    **

    But then, you can’t always trust the facts:

    I mean, news these daze:

    Spin corresponds to fact, like the hands of a stopped clock, twice a day.. (thanks, Wolfram)

    Here’s some detail from the Ars Technical piece:

    You, however, are in a box and cannot report your measurements to me. Instead, I have to measure your state to discover the result of your measurement.

    So what we have here, if I might say so, is a case of Matryoshka measurements..

    That means you are in a superposition state of having measured a vertical or horizontal photon, even after you have made the measurement. I can measure your state, and we end up with two sensible outcomes: you measure horizontal, and I measure you to have measured horizontal; you measure vertical and I measure you to have measured vertical.

    But there are two more possibilities: you measure horizontal, but I measure you to have measured vertical, and you measure vertical, but I measure you to have measured horizontal. If the second measurement is governed by quantum mechanics, those two are just as likely to occur as the sensible outcomes. So half the time, the measurement result you obtain contradicts my measurement of your measurement.

    Got it?

    If not read, the whole article, then read it again. Frown. You’ll get it.

    There is nothing wrong with either measurement, and there is no calculation that we can perform to resolve the contradiction.**

    **

    Reading an account of the Al Franken affair, focused on the questions of piling on (scapegoating?)nand equal justice for accuser and accused — two sports metaphors:

    Fellow Democratic senators quickly entered the scrum as they fought to be next in line to proclaim outrage and demand he should go.

    One of the most disturbing aspects of #MeToo is that watching someone get destroyed in real time has become something of a sport.

    In the course of reading in and around that article, I ran across this brilliant visual DoubleQuoting of the Christine Blasey Ford / Brett Kavanaugh matter:

    On such balance we may project each our suppositions: but to have achieved such balance!

    **
    And so to my dialysis viewing:

    Hardball, 3/29/2019:

    Julia Ainsley:

    He [Barr] doesn’t have blinders on, he knows the public criticism here..

    David Corn:

    It doesn’t look like he’s playing Even Stephen here..

    Zerlina Maxwell [on Barr making decisions ahead of release of Mueller report]: I look at this situation almost like the track and field runner that’s running down the hoe stretch, and they put their arms over their head, and then they’re crossed at the finish line..

    .. this feels like a premature victory lap

    Chris M:Well, David, Zerlina caught me .. with that visual of the President of the United States, this particular one, running a hundred yard dash. I don’t think that would be his event. I think riding a golf cart would be his event.

    .. that must be the sound of a bus going over you ..


    Chris M [ourob]:

    How can a white person [ie Hillary Clinton] bea racist agfainst white people?

    [ but cf “self-hating Jews”]

    With anyb luck, I’ll get access to a complete Hardball video for 3/29/2019 and be able to find the chyrons “DeVos grilled’ (42); Trump “overriding” (43); and “Trump questioned” (50)

    I have a note, “that’s the inverse of what’s true” which is a superb example of reverse (pos-neg) symmetry, cf the spy vs spy image in a recent post).. There was also a ref to David Ignatius, How the mysteries of Khashoggi’s murder have rocked the U.S.-Saudi partnership

    **

    Then there was the Green New Deal, with Chris Hayes:

    Seb Gorka: They want to take away your hamburgers. This is what Stalin dreamed of and never achieved.

    AOC: I expected a little more nuance..

    It’s surreal ..

    No more disposable people, no more disposable places ..

    Ref:

    A Green New Deal Is Technologically Possible. Its Political Prospects Are Another Question.

    **

    Rachel Maddow 3/29/3019:

    Rachel re Barr:

    It was kind of him free-styling, this was him showing off his dance moves ..

    Now, tonight, it appears there’s a little bit of panic in the disco, because now William Barr has released yet another unexpected, taken it upon himself, ad lib, figuring it out as he goes along letter ..

    **

    Let’s close with this stunning image by Stephane De Sakutin / AFP / Getty:

    A mold of the Genie de la Patrie damaged during a “yellow vest” protest at the Arc de Triomphe in December is seen during its renovation by the French restorer Agnes Le Boudec in Paris on March 25, 2019.

    Review: Tolkien Maker of Middle-Earth

    Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

    [mark safranski / “zen“]

    See the source image

    Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth by Catherine McIlwaine

    I have been a lifelong fan of The Lord of the Rings and of J.R.R. Tolkien generally, Tolkien being one of a small handful of writers who were formative influences in my youth and who remain favorites today. Therefore, I was quite pleased when Scott Shipman alerted me to the publication of Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth by Catherine McIlwaine. Other than Christopher Tolkien himself, there could not have be en a better author and editor of a retrospective look at Tolkien’s creation of Middle-Earth than McIlwaine, who is the longstanding Tolkien Archivist of the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.  The book, which includes original essays by Tolkien scholars, including McIlwaine herself, is a companion catalog to the major exhibition of the extensive Tolkien collection held by Bodleian:

    The Bodleian Library will publish Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth as a companion to the forthcoming exhibition of the same name on 1 June 2018.

    The “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth” exhibition will be held at the Weston Library, part of the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, from 1 June to 28 October 2018. It will feature an unprecedented array of Tolkien materials – manuscripts, paintings and maps – sourced from the Bodleian’s archive, Marquette University in Milwaukee (Wisconsin) and private collections.
    According to The Bookseller, the companion book will be “the largest collection of material by J.R.R. Tolkien in a single volume”. It will also include “new” material, including draft manuscripts of The Hobbit, Middle-earth illustrations and paintings by Tolkien, and letters from admirers such as W.H. Auden, Joni Mitchell and Iris Murdoch.

    Tolkien: Maker of Middle-Earth is both a serious addition to any Tolkienphile’s library as well as a 411 page coffee table book full of resplendent pictures of Tolkien’s handmade artwork, annotated maps, marginalia, correspondence with publishers and authors, calligraphic character sketches from the legendarium and photographs from J.R.R. Tolkien’s life, many published for the first time. The essays, by John Garth, Verlyn Flieger, Carl F. Hostetter, Tom Shippey, Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull as well as McIlwaine are thoughtful and reflective investigations and commentary on par with what readers would find in Philip and Carol Zaleski’s The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings. I particularly liked Shippey’s “Tolkien and that noble Northern spirit” and Garth’s ” Tolkien and the Inklings” but the entire catalog section contains informative and explanatory passages about the immense mythic legendarium that Tolkien created.

    Friend of ZP, T. Greer has weighed in at The Scholar’s Stage with a superb post about the importance of J.R.R. Tolkien as a literary figure that is a must read for fans of Middle-Earth:

    On The Tolkienic Hero

    ….Here I’ve sketched out an archetypal template. This is the template upon which the vast majority our era’s hero-tales are crafted. This is the story of Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, Luke Skywalker, and Jack Ryan. It is Captain America and Spiderman. It is the central trope of science fiction, fantasy, international thrillers, super hero stories, and their “YA literature” counterparts. It is the myth that drives the imaginations of our times.

    For all of this we have John Ronald Reuel Tolkien to thank. I am sympathetic to the argument that Tolkien is the seminal Anglophone author of the 20th century. Perhaps his literary craft is deft enough to deserves that title. Perhaps it is not. Either way I wager that in a few centuries time when our descendants’ literary memory has collapsed our age down to one author (as we have done with the ages of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton), Tolkien will be the man remembered. This is not just because Tolkien’s works have been fantastically popular, even decades after its first publication, and in cultural milieus quite divorced from its creation. Nor it is because in Tolkien we find the genesis of so many of our era’s most popular genres (fantasy, science fiction, role playing games, and so forth). Tolkien’s influence is both subtler and more fundamental than this. Tolkien redefined the way popular literature treats many of its most common themes. This post looks at only one of those themes, but I am comfortable with the contention that Tolkien’s work embodies an entire era’s way of understanding the world. It is hard to say if Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings actually created the central cultural currents of our age or if it is simply their most prominent and enduring incarnation. Either way, Tolkien’s work is here to stay.

    Readers familiar with Lord of the Rings will immediately see the connections between my opening sketch and the tale of Tolkien’s ring-bearer. I am not going to devote an entire essay to this topic—a great deal has already been written about Tolkien’s conception of good and evil, power, corruption, innocence, and heroism, and I see no reason to repeat others’ feats here—but I will emphasize two points that deserve strong restatement.

    The first point: An aversion to glory is not just the defining character trait of the novel’s central hero. The distinction between greatness and power as goods to be strived for versus greatness and power as burdens to be carried is the distinction that sets apart almost of all of the novel’s protagonists from their foils. It is the defining difference between Frodo and Smeagol, Faramir and Boromir, Aragorn and Denethor, and Gandalf and Saruman. The second trait saves Galadriel in exile; the first corrupts Sauron anew after his master’s defeat. If one is allowed to describe objects as foils, this same distinction sets Sauron’s rings, key to his strategy for corrupting Middle Earth, as a foil to the methods of the ‘wizards’ sent from Western lands to save Middle Earth….

    Read the rest here.

    Tolkien’s influence will be here to stay for many an age.


    Switch to our mobile site