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August 07, 2006

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Two predictions:

1. Liz and Nirpal will not be spending the rest of their lives together.
2. When the split comes, manly Nirpal will sue his older, more successful former spouse for alimony.

You read it here first.

Sorry, Hilzoy, but it's not the champ. It is a good showing by a relative newcomer in the field of competitors for the Men Who Make Misandry Seem Just That Cool sweepstakes. But it does not compare to the output in the last decade or so from Canadian artist Dave Sim. His essay Tangents remains a landmark in demonstrating just how far up one's own fundament the male human head can in fact go. His explanation of how women don't actually have rational thought as we guys know it is just a jewel.

Chicks dig me, because I rarely wear underwear and when I do it's usually something unusual.But now I know why I have always lost women to guys like you. I mean, it's not just the uniform. It's the stories that you tell. So much fun and imagination.

He doesn't care what anyone thinks of him: he answers solely to his spirit.

Hegel gone mad!

Bruce B: Oh. My God. You're right. I'm only a little bit into it -- just up to this --

"A woman is going to do whatever makes her cheerful at the moment and that, in my experience, is the extent of her perception of ethics."

-- and it's, well, so far beyond bad that it's in its own special universe of dreadfulness.

I'm so glad he seems to have given up women, for the sake of all concerned.

Shorter real man: "I do not avoid women, Mandrake; but I do deny them my essence."

Heh.

"It is, after all, called Matrimony and not Patrimony, isn't it? I mean, duh."

Duh.

(More from Bruce's piece.)

Does it really beat out the Kim du Toit essay? I'm not sure. It does have the cachet of the Daily Mail (which means that some editor must have pretended to read it at some point), but Du Toit's closer postulated Rummy as the ideal man. Too close to call, if you ask me.

Last Christmas, my wife threw me out after discovering I'd been cheating on her. On the night we got back together, I made strong, passionate love to her. Unfaithful as I'd been, I was not going to let her have me over a barrel for the rest of our marriage. I needed to keep a sense of self and not allow her to mire me in guilt and a desperate quest of forgiveness.

OH MY FREAKING CRAP!!!

That relationship is a ticking time bomb.

He is truly headed for a world of hurt, if he thinks that it's his d!ck that's calling the shots. The dynamics in that relationship has that boy in "Bush in Iraq" terrortory.

Though the Dave Sims site may have them both beat, though couldn't it be a parody site? It's getting damned hard to tell

Yes, but Sim still respects women who are capable of thinking, because they are using the masculine ability of rationality.
You'd think the old boy would have learned about argument by definition at some point along his journey to freedom from the female void and his weird-ass syncretic religion.

Regarding the female orgasm, I guess we hetero men should consider ourselves lucky that women have never discovered masturbation or invented devices that could substitute for a penis . . . .

Dave Sims just gets better and better. Having claimed that no one would voluntarily choose to be born a woman, he elaborates:

"To me, it seems less a case of penis envy (Sigmund Freud having lived in altogether too chivalrous a time period for such “plain talk” as I offer here) than it is one of vagina abhorrence..."

Sims on menstruation:

"Taxing the limits of my own not-inconsiderable imagination, I have no doubt that had I a “little friend” who paid me such “visits” – in a desperate attempt to cling to what remained of my sanity in the aftershock of the full extent of the horrible news “sinking in,” I am certain that I would very quickly set about the business of manufacturing a fairy-tale world for myself in which I was – in all other regards – indistinguishable from a gender which does not . . .

. . . leak?

No one wants to be a woman."

Bruce, if Hilzoy ends up reading the entire Sims ouvre and peppers ObWi with excerpts, I'm holding you responsible.

The comment about not getting mired in guilt reminded me that I've been wondering lately if we're somehow shifting from a guilt- to shame-driven society. As if all the pop psych of the last 30 years about improving one's self-esteem combined with loss of community has led to a social consensus that if you don't feel bad about it, it isn't really that bad. But maybe it's just that the truly stupendous corruption of the Republican leadership has primed me this way. And I'm too hungry to pursue this . . . .

Sim is a serious freakazoid. I think the word misogynist is often overused but Sim fits the literal definition to a t. In fact, he long ago slipped over the line from hard-core misogyny into full-blown mental illness.

This writer and the "Girls Gone Wild" fellow would get along just peachy, I think.

I never thought I'd see someone claim in all seriousness that he cheated on his wife then gave her the boning of her life so he wouldn't need to feel guilty. Trust me, dude, she can have orgasms all on her own.

"As if all the pop psych of the last 30 years about improving one's self-esteem combined with loss of community has led to a social consensus that if you don't feel bad about it, it isn't really that bad."

Ugh, you may be right. Hooray sociopaths.

Bruce: "...Canadian artist Dave Sim...."

I once inherited a set of about 98 of the first 110 issues of Cerebus. A damn shame I lost it along with so much else (even rarer) stuff when my apartment building had the fire in 1991. If nothing else, I could have used the money from selling it later.

I've read that Sim piece before, and without rereading the whole thing again, who doesn't love this, near the start?:

It was really the first time in my adult life that I spoke to women who I found physically unattractive and the first time I spoke to women with any motive besides getting them into bed.
Yes, and fortunately, he's objective and self-critical when he analyzes feminism.

Sim, Hilzoy, not "Sims."

lj: no worries; I finished it; that was really unnervingly awful. -- I mean, most awful stuff is just banal, or occasionally inadvertently funny. That was, I guess you might say, way past cool.

The mental illness doesn't surprise me.

For pure misogyny, i really don't think there's a better blogger than vox day. (no link provided. even i have my limits.)

"Though the Dave Sims site may have them both beat, though couldn't it be a parody site?"

No. Some of us have been following/aware of Sim for decades.

I have to say, I love the Strangelove quote.

Once I was feeling well and truly miserable, and I thought: I need to think of something other than the present sources of my misery. Usually, this produces nothing, or else something "cheerful" as opposed to genuinely cheering, but on this occasion this quote popped into my head, and it was wonderful.

Some of us have been following/aware of Sim for decades.

Why?

Personally, my favorite Strangelove quote is "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the war room."

Someone has been reading "Atlas Shrugged" again.

"The female orgasm is the natural mechanism by which men assert dominion over women; a man who appreciates this can negotiate whatever difficulties arise in his relationships with them."

Yes, yes, honey, now a little to the left, please.

I always thought it was when things don't arise that the difficulties arise.

"negotiate" he writes. I hope he was wearing his boxer shorts with the Cupids, and the cape and the shower cap when he gave that charming little stentorian speech as he leapt from the dresser to the bed and onto his blow-up Dagny Taggert. I hope he used his "Citizen Kane" newsreel narration voice.

"..I was not going to let her have me over a barrel for the rest of our marriage"

I've heard that's painful. My wife and I like to vary things a bit from time to time. The hammock of nails can be fun.

"The question threw her".

I suspect it either woke her up or interrupted her.

"Last Christmas, my wife threw me out after discovering I'd been cheating on her."

That's a heck of a stocking stuffer. I've been looking for some fresh ideas myself. The little bottles of Kahlua and the oranges studded with cloves are met with barely disguised hohummery in recent years.

The words "arena" and "manly bravura performance" are "entice"(ing). I bet he rehearses a lot when he's alone.

Dave Sim is, yes, pretty much full-bore broken-down psychotic. He is an amazingly talented artist, taking his long-running comic book Cerebus the Aardvark from initial parodies of sword & sorcery characters through dense hilarious mannered comedy into wide-ranging social critique and then over the edge. He had a nervous breakdown fairly early on, which was apparently a harbinger of things to come; he alienated himself from more and more of the human race.

All of this would be easier to deal with in some ways if he weren't still an artistic genius. His recent work remains brilliant. It's just loopy beyond my capacity for sensible description.

"Why?"

Cerebus was one of the most influential independent comics ever done. Sim pioneered the concept/business model of a creator (artist/writer) singlehandedly not just creating every aspect of his comic by himself, but then printing, marketing, and selling it himself, and making a small fortune from it.

And creatively, it was very good for a while, in the early days, back in the early Eighties.

"All of this would be easier to deal with in some ways if he weren't still an artistic genius."

I'll bow to Bruce, there, as I've not seen an issue in a bunch of years, and I make no claim to be a particularly knowledgeable or insightful analyst of comics, either.

Ok, next question, how do you feel about supporting someone with tendencies like that? (this is not accusatory, I'm just trying to understand the notion. I think that one of the reasons I have virtually given up reading fiction is the fear of reading something that I really like and then finding that the writer is some one whose views disgust me. With music, it's a little easier (further distance between the art and the artist, I think))

You know, for the whole time I read Cerebus, I sincerely thought that he was being ironic.

It wasn’t until I read Abu Aardvark’s comic books and politics bLog that I learned that most of the stuff he was writing was sincere attempts at expressing his own personal views.

I’m not kidding, I thought his whole “thing” was taking on the voice of something most of us despised, but it was not his own view.

LJ: For most of two decades, before his complete collapse, Sim really was worth paying attention. He could write new dialogue that sounded just like Groucho should be speaking it, and fold it in with some of the funniest stuff ever written about an election being rigged from multiple sides, and the unfolding backstory of his fantasy world. And he did it regularly, with brilliant artistry. He produced thousands of pages which are visually utterly distinctive - he's one of those comics artists you can recognize from across the room once you've seen just a little of his work - and wildly inventive. He makes lettering a part of the craft in ways that genuinely have no rivals and very, very few peers.

Here's a page from the penultimate story arc, showing several Sim features to good effect. But it's hard to find good scans of his stuff online to really make the case.

What it boils down to is that he was a brilliant artist before he went nuts, and his brilliance didn't stop even as the nuts part drove it into unproductive ruts.

about an election being rigged from multiple sides

High Society and the Church & State series blew my mind.

His writing and art was just clever and beautiful.

Our barbarian subconscious existing in a "civilized" world!

The M. Thatcher character sent chills up my spine. The interview concerning an abortion was wrenching.

Thanks Bruce, that helps quite a bit. Just about my own mind, I can forgive people problematic worldviews if they are in visual arts or music, I think because they seem more a reflection of some sort of elemental inspiration, while writing seems like something that has to be filtered through an awareness of appropriateness. Of course, films and graphic novels straddle that divide. Graphic novels are something that I have always wanted to get into and enjoyed quite a bit when I was living in France, but didn't follow up when I returned to the States and being in Japan, I enjoy them more as an anthropological exercise.

Powers that be, how about a graphic novel/manga/bande desinee thread?

"Ok, next question, how do you feel about supporting someone with tendencies like that?"

Beats me. I've never bought one of his comics, or done anything else I can think of that "supports" him, beyond say what I just said. What are you talking about?

LJ: When it comes to supporting, that's easy. I don't. I stopped buying the series when it began consistently offending me. I read the last...40% or so of the run, I guess, in collections friends bought. If none of them had, I wouldn't have bought it myself. (Nor did I seek it out from the library; I wouldn't want library money going to it.) It's just that the thing started appearing in 1977, and it wasn't until the late '80s that the cracks started showing seriously, and not until the mid-1990s that it become completely clear to everyone willing to see at all.

And if someone wanted to say I was being hypocritical about sponging off someone else's underwriting of immoral work, I would have to agree that I may be.

"With music, it's a little easier (further distance between the art and the artist, I think))"

How so?

Ah, later you say: "I can forgive people problematic worldviews if they are in visual arts or music, I think because they seem more a reflection of some sort of elemental inspiration, while writing seems like something that has to be filtered through an awareness of appropriateness."

I had already drafted: In any case, the only way I'm aware of to avoid interactions with other, morally compromised, people, is to find a desert island of one's one.

In any case, well, okay. I don't hold to anything like that analysis, but to each their own.

After all those years working in publishing, I'd be pretty screwed if I started drawing any but extremely inclusive lines about what sort of work and writers I feel morally able to work with.

Now, is there any chance at all that this is all a complete spoof? Or a deliberate troll?

Otherwise...what a flaccid invertebrate.

Gary, Bruce answered my question quite well, so he understood what I was talking about. I was also careful not to be accusatory, and was interested in how others draw lines. Suggesting that I am headed off to a desert isle because of where I am drawing lines is a bit rude.

I'd also, completely aside from my annoyance at this 'What you talking about' line, (rather than 'I'm not understanding the question, could you restate it?' or better yet 'If I understand your question, I'd have to say that for me...', which to me makes all the difference in the world), I would again urge you to read the whole comment rather than start responding in the middle. It really isn't helpful.

"I was also careful not to be accusatory"

No, you weren't.

LJ, you didn't ask me how I'd feel about supporting Sim if I were. You know what the subjunctive is. You had the choice available.

You instead asked me this: "Ok, next question, how do you feel about supporting someone with tendencies like that?"

You asked me how I felt about supporting him. I don't support him. I haven't supported him. Saying "this is not accusatory" doesn't change what you wrote. If you noticed after writing a flat statement that I was supporting him that you had made an accusation, but didn't intend to mean that, it's incumbent upon you to rewrite what you wrote so it no longer says that. Denying what you wrote doesn't rewrite it. Appending a disclaimer isn't a rewrite.

And then complaining to me because I know how to read doesn't fly, either. If you don't want me to react to what you've written, write something different. You're not the only person who can become annoyed at something someone else has written, and you're not the only person entitled to get annoyed.

Why did you presume that I somehow "supported" Dave Sim?

That said, no big deal. Just please don't try to hold me responsible for your sloppy writing.

Slartibartfast -- it's been pointed out elsewhere that Nirpal's wife writes sort-of-similar columns from a female-hating-on-male viewpoint, and suggested that the two could be putting on the whole thing.

LJ -- your statement "I have virtually given up reading fiction is the fear of reading something that I really like and then finding that the writer is some one whose views disgust me" seems pretty sick to me. It sounds a lot like Ann Althouse talking about the cinema.

Yet another shitty dinner party is extrapolated into bad psychology. How many terrible articles are born like this?

I dunno, but you just violated the posting rules.

"I was also careful not to be accusatory"

No, you weren't.

RWIW. Especially the employment of the word 'accusatory'. If I say I don't mean it, it's tauntamount to claiming I'm a liar when you write the above.

And your 7:58 is sounds like 'support' to me, which might make my comment might be a bit more understandable, though I assume that you were expressing yourself perfectly while I was guilty of sloppy writing. Suggesting that I claimed 'you don't know how to read' seems to pretty lame. You want to imply you know all about Sims work, fine, but don't be surprised if you get burned.

Jeremy,
sorry if it feels sick to you, I'm simply trying to understand why I was a voracious reader of current fiction thru college and now don't find it so interesting. I'm just trying to figure out why I am not reading fiction, not claiming that everyone who reads fiction has some sort of moral deficiency. I'm amazed that wanting to try to avoid unpleasantness is viewed as a 'sickness', but that would explain a lot about the state of the world.

"And your 7:58 is sounds like 'support' to me,"

How?

Especially given that I already wrote at 7:24: "I once inherited a set of about 98 of the first 110 issues of Cerebus."

Not to mention that I couldn't begin to list how many zillions of writers/artists whose work I know a moderate amount about and yet have never paid a dime towards.

Most of my life I've lived personally knowing hundreds and hundreds of writers, artists, and editors, and knowing quite a bit about a few thousand more. So what?

Conversation works a lot better when people ask, rather than presume.

Even shorter "real man":

"Conan, what is best in life?"

"To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!"

"If I say I don't mean it, it's tauntamount to claiming I'm a liar when you write the above."

Let me come back to this and simply observe that I'm entirely willing to bet that there are any number of questions I could ask you, or anyone, for that matter, and then append "this is not accusatory," and that my choice of questions would leave most people, likely including you, wanting to punch me in the face. No matter the little appendage.

That's my point. Appending "this is not accusatory" doesn't change the import of a previous statement, much as it would be convenient if it did. The way to fix a badly written sentence is to fix it, not to stick a denial of its meaning on the end of it.

A meaning which you then go on to uphold: "And your 7:58 is sounds like 'support' to me,"

See, if you want to insist you weren't saying I "supported" Sim in the first place, you can't also repeat the claim. Yikes.

But, again, this is not a big deal to me; let's not blow it out of proportion, hmm? You got annoyed, I got annoyed, why don't we leave it there?

TLC: that is not shorter at all. It has 176.92307692% as many words as "I do not avoid women, Mandrake; but I do deny them my essence."

Gary, lj: one of you gets to halt attacks, and the other has to cease all offensive activities. As for which is which, you can fight it out.

I indicated I'm done.

LJ --

Off the topic of this spat (I feel as if I should spill wine on myself to change the subject), I also read a lot less fiction than I once did. Current fiction, especially -- I just don't have it in me to read the initial part of a novel and decide whether I like it.

I blame blogs.

(OTOH I have started reading Trollope, which I feel I could not have enjoyed until now, in middle age.)

LJ: I sympathize a lot with the desire not to end up supporting vileness. The world has so much vileness that I feel I have to deal with as part of being a responsible citizen and human being; I don't want to go vacationing in it. If I do engage with it, I want to do so in terms of analysis, rather than of endorsement.

Another reading-less-fiction-as-I-get-older data point here. Is it an age thing? A gender thing? A bit of both?

John Thullen: I very nearly wet myself reading your 7.41 comment. Written any good novels recently?

Personally, my favorite Strangelove quote is "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the war room."

Mine is the line delivered by George C. Scott when contemplating the fact that the Russians may come out of the mines a hundred years later with more people:

"Mr. President, we must not allow... a mine shaft gap!"

The female orgasm is the natural mechanism by which men assert dominion over women: a man who appreciates this can negotiate whatever difficulties arise in his relationships with them.

This is pretty much true. I'll refrain from mentioning personal experiences ;), but I have female friends who are educated and are very, very succesful career wise, yet they obsess about jerks and, in some casesc utter loosers, because they take care of business in the bedroom.

Delicious Pundit,
true, when you are cramming so many words into your eyeballs, it's really hard to not shift gears and read in a fiction mode.

Bruce,
that's a good point, and one of the reasons that fiction no longer seems like a vacation is because I feel like I need to know (or can easily find out) the backstory. It is interesting that you contrast 'analysis' with 'engagement' because on another thread, there is some discussion about 'engaging' thoughtful conservatives and making it contrast with analysis, one can see how engagement means a certain sense of tolerating and even accepting.

This place is a hoot. On any given topic discussed, I can practically feel the heat from all the learned synapses firing wildly, while wonderfully meshing into a very enjoyable read, even though it comes at the expense of me feeling as dumb as a box of rocks.
But sometimes...all of a sudden...for no seemingly good reason...in the middle of the intellectual firestorm...a rock fight breaks out, and for the most fleeting of moments we are golden--me and my rocks.

It's a joke. It has to be. No one could be so stupid.

Remember Seattle Man, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is not king.

If that was an intentional joke, mad props.

sounds like this guy would get on famously with Jesus' General

*Whistles innocently*

I could have read the Sim essay if it was just misogynistic, or if it was just stupid, but both together? David Mamet wrote a pretty sexist essay once (Moral: Don't try to be friends with women, the only reason to hang out with them is to get laid) but at least it was readable.

But no, LJ, the loathsomeness of the author doesn't hold me back from buying their books (though in this case, I might consider going used, where there's no royalties)--and if it did, it would certainly apply to music as much as anything else.

I'm assuming here, that Sims' attitudes didn't spill into his work, at least early on. That would be different from say, John Norman's "Gor" series, where lectures on the innate desire of women to be enslaved and raped (and thereby find fulfilment as a woman) are a recurring element--along with, of course, the enslaving and raping.

I love the way misogynist men blithely treat ignore the fact that anger, pride and humiliation are all emotions. They are the canonical emotions of the True Man, pride in his manliness, anger when it is challenged, and humiliation when the challenge succeeds. But it's women who are emotional, dontchaknow.

Posted by: Stan LS | August 08, 2006 at 12:52 AM

Trust me…in most cases it is not the d!ck in the bedroom, but the emotional baggage in the mind, that makes these relationships tick.

Think of the awkward nerd who becomes “pussy-whipped,” the first thing most guys will think is “she turned that little boy out, something fierce” however, it is usually the emotional make-up of the boy and woman that has the relationship all twisted.

I assure you, that those men, who claim their wonders in bed, tend to ignore the emotional makeup of the woman and himself.

People becoming passionately obsessed with unhealthy relationships are not as physical as you think.

"I would have thought that a strong person, male or female, wouldn't need someone else to bring on the guilt in the wake of infidelity. When you've done something wrong, you've done something wrong; and it's not a sign of strength to try to avoid that fact."

You've hit the nail squarely on the head. So much of antifeminism (and authoritarian conservatism in general) is based on the idea that people are weak and the behavior of others has to be regulated to compensate. This, IMO, is the source of notions like blaming women for rape because men are slaves to their, uh, thingies.

I want to believe it's a joke, but I'm really not sure. The main evidence that it is one has to be:

I needed to let her know what she would be missing if we broke up for ever. I gave her a manful bravura performance that night, and at the height of her passion, I asked her: 'Who's the boss?'

The question threw her. Initially she wouldn't give me a reply, but I enticed it from her. 'You are,' she finally gasped. 'You are!'"

That would be simultaneously laughable and cringe-worthy even in a supermarket pulp paperback.

And the answer to the question, as noted by one of my co-bloggers at Unfogged, is clearly Tony Danza.

Wait...wait wait wait.....

*female* orgasm?

"So much of antifeminism (and authoritarian conservatism in general) is based on the idea that people are weak and the behavior of others has to be regulated to compensate."

This is rather cryptic. Is this offered in contradistinction to say authoritarian utopianism? Or maybe you are thinking of the progressive history of the prohibition movement? Or MADD's policy of trying to hold bartenders responsible for drunk driving accidents? Or maybe the idea that people will make bad retirement choices so they should be forced into Social Security?

I had no idea that John "Gor" Norman was not only a philosophy prof, but teaching at Queens College, CUNY ("Lange, John F.").

Wow. Should've audited a class with him when I was working on an English Ph.D. there, if only just to say I'd done it. (Alas, I audited Joan Stambaugh's Nietzsche seminar ... what a total waste of time.)

Yes, Norman's day job presumably explains Gorean slavers' fondness in a couple of the books for kidnapping nubile coeds (one writer who sat with him on a panel said he thinks Norman actually buys into his theories of essential female submission).

Oh, the feministing comments link to a column by this whackjob's wife, who unsurprisingly laments the way he never seems to listen to her feelings, and wonders if she didn't rush into this marriage thing too soon. Sad, but it rather cheered me up: My dating record is almost as dismal as hers, but I've never had the urge to make a bad marriage just to escape singleness (and if I do look back on single life from some future vantage point, I'll be able to think of happier memories than eating a microwave dinner in front of the TV).

"My dating record is almost as dismal as hers, but I've never had the urge to make a bad marriage just to escape singleness."

At least five or six times a year I am thrilled that I lucked in to a personality that would rather be single than have an awful relationship.

Or course at least five or six times a year I seriously worry that I don't have a good relationship because I'm not taking enough risks with relationships. But that is clearly a different topic. I think.

The question about who or what you accept has no easy answers to me.

I used to know a number of working class whites who were full of racist comments, yet they were more likely to not only compete with blacks for jobs and space, but to associate and socialize with them than many liberals. I could go to the University Of Santa Cruz and find it the whitest school in the California system. And minorities there didn't feel welcome.

Then there are blacks who don't like whites which is fine with me as long as we remain civil and blacks who don't like immigrants.

I find all sorts of decent people who are conservative Christans and whose radical shows of choice blare out "liberals" like it was "Jew" in 1936 Germany. I don't find their actions fit the rhetoric in most real world contexts though some of their "leaders" would like to make those contexts at the same time a growing number are getting tired of always been against rather than for.

I grew up with people who slowly and only partially changed racism and sexism, I did so myself. I find people smug about it usually have lots of it and I think it comes down a lot of times to what blacks used to say which is they don't care if you like them or what you say behind their back but if you treat them with respect.

As for these dopes spouting this silly stuff I don't know. I've reached the age were I can sometimes effectively point out to someone they are an idiot, there is a time for confrontation, but a lot of times it seems to me it puts us into the same ruts and will I'm willing to rumble I'd like something new, that might switch mental gears.

Over all I try not to be too righteous, we are all bozos and we also have darkness. If I do chose to battle I try to win or at least effect. My response to a Picasso who was a jerk to women or a George Washinngton who was a slaveowner was that they oened up possibilities I value and couldn't have found on my own. So are my superiors and yet they were fundamentally wrong in ways I hope I've overcome.

I can look at the individuals given here as eccentric, but then there really is a dangerous ugly play of sexism, it can be terrorism, so reaction depends on perspective and context.

I also think about the guys "sexually addicted" to various kinds of porn and how many live these terribly loney lives, how feeble and fearful they are in the face of a real woman and though their rhetoric my not differ from that of real rapist fratboy types probably don't constitute much danger in most cases. Pathetic, but does rejection accomplish anything and what are we rejecting? A misfit while the far more dangerous ppresent themselves more attractively?

Overall I find such statements interesting because they represent flows existing in lots of people in rather pure form while in real life a lot of contradictory thoughts get jumpled. But I think in most the absurd and monstrous do exist. I don't trust people who deny it of themselves and friends.

And I don't think there is any easy answer on how to behave when we see it in others. Lots of variables.

"Or MADD's policy of trying to hold bartenders responsible for drunk-driving accidents? Or maybe the idea that people will make bad retirement choices so they should be forced into Social Security?"

Actually, my wife holds bartenders responsible for the idea that I'm probably going to make bad retirement choices.

A little authoritarian role-playing during sex and economics can work, if it's all in fun.

Sebastian, your insertion (pardon me) of that paragraph in this thread reminds me of an old girlfriend who was devoted to the free market, not that there was anything wrong with that. But she used to interrupt sex with a kind of free market Tourette's Syndrome during which, and precisely at the wrong moment, she would shout out odd words of euphoric celebration, like "Eliminate capital gains taxes!", or "Privatize me", or "Creatively destroy me!." Once she gasped "Sell!", which I tried not to take personally, though I felt like a bad investment for days.

Afterwards she would call me her "risky, rascally entrepreneur, mon cheri." I love it when they speak French.

Must have been the invisible hand.

I still suffer from kudlowus interruptus. ;)

Fraser,
one of the things that the past couple years has brought on is the feeling that you know someone from their work and then you find out that they were not the person you thought they were. Part of it is the fierceness of the divide on political opinions, another is Vonnegut's point about how a fiction writer gets multiple chances to rewrite and recast things, making it the perfect occupation for the mediocre (that is a paraphrase of Vonnegut, I wouldn't use the word mediocre) On the other hand, I have this notion (and the penny dropped when I started reading Sims site and was trying to figure out why people I generally respect and like would even bother with him and was told of his accomplishments) that music and art are more spontaneous and that kind of talent doesn't really choose where it appears. Something about inspiration doesn't choose the vessel it finds itself in. Perhaps it is more familiarity with the music world, knowing lots of real jerks who could play. But I think of fiction as something that engages the intellect rather than the emotions, so I'm not as willing to give a pass, something that I didn't realize until this thread. There is often a Boswell to every Johnson (an observation that is a bit risky in the context of this post) and for someone like Charlie Parker, you have Dean Benedetti, who traveled around and recorded only Parker's solos (which took some doing back then). Yet I can understand the latter, (because I think of the genius of Parker, even though there is a huge intelligence behind it, as being non-intellectual), but I can't imagine doing it for a writer (though I know some people do) unless you felt positive that s/he was worthy of your attention.

Fiction seems to have the ability to hide lots of flaws, but in the past, those flaws weren't such a big thing. But now, they are like a big pimple on the nose. And non-fiction at least has a metric. Was this person honest with the material? To give an example, can anyone read Woodward now, after seeing how his use of anonymous sourcing clearly spun his last book? And yet, you go back and look and find that those traits of spin and ambiguity were there in the Brethren and Wired. I'm sure I'll end up reading his next book, but hey, another one bites the dust.

Films span the divide, but will anyone be able to look at Mel Gibson's The Passion without thinking about his outburst? Run around the house three times, and don't think about the word 'wolf' is the challenge.

Of course, it may be random chance. The last fiction I read wholeheartedly were the Patrick O'Brian books, but as I was finishing them, the whole question of his identity came forward. Now, I can understand how people can develop a front that become more real than truth. But I can remember thinking 'why can't things be like they seem?'

andrew's (is this yet another andrew?) points are well taken and I'm certainly not going thru my book collection and tossing out everyone who doesn't measure up. But someone spouting racist or sexist thoughts seems to be different than someone who sets up a website or writes a book, who basically goes to the trouble to put their thoughts out there.

What about Patrick O'Brien's identity? He was transgendered? Neonazi? Mutant? A Siamese twin? Joking aside, what is it about him that's problematic?
Passion of the Christ, I think is an example where the negative portrayal of the Jews is visible onscreen. So I'm not sure that's a good example. Nor is Woodward--I agree with your points about him, but he's not writing fiction.
More generally, I'm honestly not sure you can tell much about people from their fiction. If we could, we'd never be surprised to learn our favorite authors are horrible in real life.
As for the different arts, I'm not sure much in any field is created in the stereotypical burst of pure inspiration--a lot of painters sketch and think, and experiment, and I'd assume the same is true of music.

Patrick O'Brian was supposed to have been Irish and raised Catholic (I'm not precisely sure what he claimed), but as he became famous, it was discovered that the son of a physician of German immigrants and an English mother. Not really a deal breaker, but I had gotten sucked into the books, so it was disappointing.

Another falling down was Bruce Chatwin. I fell in love with Songlines, but after reading Nicholas Shakespeare's sympathetic bio, it was clear that his whole life was artifice. Ironically, it made his fiction a bit easier to take. Which is perhaps confirmation bias, but you find out about writers and then you look at their fiction and you see those traits. Again, probably my problem more than their problem, but there it is.

To try and give an example, you are walking down the street and you hear someone playing, completely inspired and such that you know this person has got something, do you think that you know something about that person's philosophy? On the other hand, you read short story that sketches out some tender and sensitive scene that really speaks to you, to you think the writer is merely a cipher? I tend to think that I 'know' more about the writer than I do the musician. Which, again, is my own foible, but I wonder if others feel the same way.

One piece of wisdom from the Sim essay;

"If you learn to leave your penis alone, I discovered, your penis will learn to leave you alone."

I'm sure his penis didn't need much persuasion. Must be embarrassing to be attached to such a dick.

"I had no idea that John "Gor" Norman was not only a philosophy prof, but teaching at Queens College, CUNY ('Lange, John F.')."

Insufficient study of that source of all knowledge my blog.

"(one writer who sat with him on a panel said he thinks Norman actually buys into his theories of essential female submission)"

Oh, there's never been the faintest doubt. Plenty of us met him back in 1973 and endlessly afterwards; nor has he been shy about writing letters and essays about his beliefs (including about how he was being censored and repressed when Betsy Wolheim decided to drop him from DAW -- you know, writers are simply entitled to eternal production of new contracts for them to sign).

It's not remotely a matter of "one writer." He's never been a recluse, though neither has he partaken much in the social side of the sf/fantasy community.

"I'm assuming here, that Sims' attitudes didn't spill into his work, at least early on."

Even as he started slipping into misogynistic psychosis, Dave Sim was still writing female characters who were just as strong, sympathetic, and three-dimensional as his male characters were. He made various comments which seem to indicate that he regards his fictional universe as being comparably "real" as the non-fiction universe where he pays his bills. I've wondered whether his characters, including his female characters, were well-developed enough in his head that they acted true to their nature regardless of what their creator consciously believed at the moment.

Later on, unfortunately, Sim's schizoid ramblings started taking over more and more of his work, to the point where I couldn't be bothered wading through it any more.

With regards to an earlier comment about supporting artists with dispicable opinions, I have no problem purchasing a book, album, painting or sculpture by someone whom I might find to be a abhorrent human being in person, so long as the artwork itself was not a clear expression of that abhorrentness. To do otherwise would be to miss out on too much amazing work.

Stick an "l" on the end of Gary's link, and it'll go where he wants it to go.

LJ and Fraser:

Interesting points. I remember the Chatwin drama and it didn't really lessen the captivation I felt with "Songlines". In fact, I thought, well, I wish with all my heart that work was true. The world is a little less interesting now that it probably isn't true.

I felt like the actress, was it Greta Garbo, who, after viewing Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast" and seeing actor Jean Marais' mug in his transformation from Beast to Prince, exclaimed "Ah, give me back my Beast!"

Idle thoughts: I think it would be interesting to learn that Borges was faking his blindness.

It bothers me slightly when I see Rock Hudson cavorting with Doris Day, but it doesn't bother me to see Monty Clift slug John Wayne in "Red River", nor does it bother me when I watch him play Heathcliff in "Wuthering Heights" that Lawrence Olivier had a fling with Danny Kaye.

Of course, the ultimate mistake in regard to this subject was Norman Mailer's championing the writing talents of a guy who, after being released from prison with Mailer's help, then committed murder. Talk about putting down a book.

The fact that Thomas Pynchon's life is a cipher lends his characters in "V" and the plot of "The Selling of Lot 49" a little extra deliciousness.

Finally, a friend in college was writing an essay on John Updike's "Bech: A Book". We discussed it a few times and it finally dawned on me (not that I'm at all perceptive)that my friend thought the book was a non-fiction biographical work about a real person His stunned silence when I broke the news to him made we want to find Updike and give him a high-five.

It wouldn't make me stop reading if I found out Updike's real name was Bech: A Pederast.

But he ought to be punished.

My ex-wife was (and as far as I know, still is) a big fan of John Norman's Gor saga. She's also in the SCA.

File this comment under "Clues we should have picked up on long ago".

I like Ezra Pound and Martin Heidegger and they were anti-liberal right-wing nationalists.

Not the type of political choices I agree with, by the way.

I like Ezra Pound and Martin Heidegger and they were anti-liberal right-wing nationalists.

Well, yeah. I don't understand this whole theory of "the artist is a political/sexist dumbass, thus his work is tainted."

Now, IIRC the subject actually began with whether to send $$$ Sim's way by purchasing his stuff. Which is a separate issue.

But still. If I admire High Society (the Sim comic not the porn mag), should I refrain from rewarding Sim for its creation because he also holds repugnant views?

Someone, I think Solzhenitsyn, said the line between good and evil runs not between sets of good and evil people, but through the heart of every person.

Hey, wasn't Solzhenitsyn a religious anti-liberal right-wing nationalist?

"Hey, wasn't Solzhenitsyn a religious anti-liberal right-wing nationalist?"

Wasn't? Do you believe he's changed?

Hey, wasn't Solzhenitsyn a religious anti-liberal right-wing nationalist?

See? He proves his own point!

P.S.--Gary, I suspect the supposed "change" was death. S. is still kicking IIRC. OTOH, I had no idea that Jaroslav Pelikan had died until I saw the cover of First Things last night in Borders.

Who experiences more elation when reading Solzhenitsyn?

A 16-year old Russian, sitting in the McDonald's in St. Petersburg, whose father has Solzy's collected works displayed prominently in his middle-class flat?

A 37-year old American, who is vaguely depressed for unidentifiable reasons but has a nice wife, two kids and a cat in a leafy suburb of New Canaan, Connecticut with a BMW and a Volvo in the garage, who finds a copy of "The First Circle" in a box of old college texts in his basement.

An underweight, lice-infested prisoner in a Soviet Gulag, imprisoned for life, who has one page of Solzy's best work smuggled into his freezing cell? He eats the page after he's memorized it.

Which setting more impoverishes the soul ... the McDonald's in St. Peterburg, the leafy suburb in New Canaan, or the cell in the Gulag?

McDonald's in St. Petersburg

I don't recall seeing a McDonald's in St. Petersburg, but I was only there for a week.

"OTOH, I had no idea that Jaroslav Pelikan had died until I saw the cover of First Things last night in Borders."

Back when I was being a pseudo-Yalie, i.e., living with my Yale senior undergrad sweetie and her Yale senior undergrad roomie in Yale housing (a two-floor duplex apartment, quite nice), while working three jobs (night clerk/manager for Book World, day phone soliciter for the Campaign For Yale, and going into Manhattan once a week to pick up manuscripts to read and write reports on for Dell and other publishers) circa late 1978/early 1979, my sweetie was taking classes from Pelikan; I heard about him a lot.

It's not at all unusual, however, for Solzhenitsyn's comments on current events to show up in a Russian news story. He's as cranky as ever, last I looked.

"Who experiences more elation when reading Solzhenitsyn?"

Probably your last choice, John, but that's also because of the food content of the paper.

Sometimes a guy can't have a serious discussion around here. ;)

Have you tried the borscht at the Vladivastock Wendy's?

John, your attempts to introduce sobriety into an ObWings thread have been duly noted. The kitty is en route to resolve the situation. Please remain calm.

I like Ezra Pound and Martin Heidegger and they were anti-liberal right-wing nationalists.

I'm a Pound fan too, but when they are dead and gone, it's a bit easier. Heidegger is an interesting one, I picked up Safranski's bio of him (which is an English translation entitled 'Between Good and Evil' of a German original) when I was in the States 5 years or so ago and I thought it gave me the picture of someone who wasn't perfect, but not completely rejectable. But then I noticed that it was a translation and the original title was Ein Meister aus Deutschland. That sounded vaguely familiar, and when I started digging around, I found it was a reference to a Paul Celan poem called Todesfuge. Which made me wonder if I had missed something in the bio that was more explicitly denouncing Heidegger.

There's also a historical as well as an anthropological angle, I think. Anything before the 70's, I figure that I wasn't able to 'walk in their shoes' and be able to understand the political pushes and pulls of the period. A very fuzzy line, but as writers get closer to the present, it starts to kick in. Also, reading Japanese fiction doesn't make me feel that way because of a similar reason.

Some people feel strongly opposed to this, which is fine, but I have a strong feeling that if someone who made some important mathematical discovery had a Mel Gibson like outburst, we wouldn't be saying 'well, let's look over his proofs again'

I rember enjoying Yukio Mishima.

I reading Richard Wolen's article called The French Heidegger Debate (New German Critique, 1988 ). Everyone knew that Heidegger was in the NAZI Party, but many didn’t realize the extent of his involvement.

I still like Mad Max.

And I think many of right-wingers (Jewish and Christian) will claim Gibson is "born-again".

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