Back with a Book, But Liberalism Unsteelmanned

A full two months ago I posted Steelmanning Liberalism (I), the (I) being a kind of warranty express and/or implied, but (II), which was supposed to be about how Liberalism (ostensibly) prevents civil war, won’t be appearing; it just wasn’t coming out of the unconscious depths from whence all my good writing emerges.

I was concentrating my mental energy on my novel Sanity, and I’m extremely pleased to report that my “final draft” is complete. Here’s the current, if somewhat inscrutable, synopsis:

This novel was begun when someone tweeted something like “Who’s going to be the J. D. Salinger of the Redpill/Altright” or maybe it was the Kerouac? But it doesn’t really matter. Sanity evolved into something quite different, in any event. It is not an “Altright” novel or a “Redpill” novel, as such. It’s a mystery.

~

Cal Adler may be a genius, but he had to break out of the box family and political correctness tried to put him in to make use of it.

Since he was in high school he’s periodically been contacted by people belonging to something, an organization with no visible structure and no name. They’ve educated him in ways no schooling could, but so much is still a mystery. Meanwhile ReHumanism, a new “religion” based on the writings of a science fiction author, is growing fast in Silicon Valley and Hollywood and Wall Street. Is there a connection or a competition? Is anyone really who they say they are?

Layer upon layer, counting down and counting up in time from a vision, Sanity is both a mystery and commentary on men, women and the beauties and stupidities of the present day.

If you’d like a comparison, the book hints of Hammett, Chandler and Spillane, with a structure something like Shea and Wilson’s Illuminatus! and sex, violence and death as close to real life as I could make it.

But in the end, the reader is left with a certain je ne sais quoi. Because the negative space of what’s not there is just as important.

I note that when I go back to the excerpt I posted nine months back I said “The Tom Wolfe of the Redpill/Altrightwhich is the correct original reference. If you’re the one who tweeted this or you know who did, let me know and I’ll insert a credit in the book.

Last thing about Sanity for today, I sent a copy to a few trusted companions for feedback–if you’ve read this blog before you know that things can get a mite, erm, esoteric. I’d like to get a few more test readers to give me feedback on whether it works for them. Reply below if interested, or you can email me at alaskanmanse at the thing known as gmail. I’m ready to do one more set of revisions based on reader feedback and then get the thing published.

Here’s an excerpt, a little story that stands on its own:

The Parable of the Hidden Variable

The Old One was a feature of the neighborhood, had been for years. He walked the six blocks to the big Chinese market every morning, returning with a brown paper bag of fresh foods, day after day, leaving at the same time, returning at the same time.

The Old One appeared to be 80 or more, bronze skin wrinkled and spotted but somehow still plump, his fringe of short-cropped hair and goatee snowy white. But no one knew exactly how old he was, and he moved smoothly, even gracefully, without the hint of a stoop or limp, despite the fact that he always used a walking stick almost as tall as he was, a dark knobbly staff made of an unknown wood. The people along his route had seen him with the stick for so long that they had come to assume he limped, such was the power of suggestion and laziness.

In the last year or two the neighborhood had been changing, so little each day that one didn’t notice any change at all, and yet there was more trash on the sidewalks now than before, and indecipherable symbols and stylized words had begun to appear, painted on the walls of the buildings. At first these had been painted over, but after a while the owners of the buildings, who in any case lived in a different part of the city, had given up. A few of the streetlights had gone out, and the bulbs had not been replaced, or perhaps deliberately broken again, and now late at night and into the hour of dawn dark-clad men would meet in the dim, conversing quietly and exchanging things so quickly that no one could clearly see.

A few of the working people with children had moved out, but most of the people of the neighborhood were older and had lived there a long time, and so they stayed.

One morning, with the sun just starting to sift through the slots between the skyscrapers uptown, the Old One set out on his daily walk to the market. He had just rounded the first corner, into a shadowy part of the sidewalk, when a large man came out of a doorway and started walking toward him. As the Old One approached, the large man stopped, blocking the sidewalk, his legs spread, making himself larger.

The Old One might have tried to go around, leave the sidewalk and walk into the street to avoid the large man. But he did not, instead stopped a little way in front of the man, a double arm’s reach, and looked at him, waiting. The large man waited too, as if he expected the Old One to speak first, to ask what was going on, to ask what was required, but when he did not, the large man became impatient, and spoke first.

“Doan come up dis block again, muthafucker. This my turf now and I doan wan my bidness bein interrupted,” he said slowly. “An wall you here, gimme what you got and get yo ass back home.”

The Old One raised his eyes until he seemed to be looking over the large man’s head, somewhere in the sky, as if to catch a ray of the rising sun with his sight. The he lowered them again, looking at the man’s face.

“I have no desire to interrupt your business,” he said slowly, softly, with a faint unknown accent, so that the big man leaned forward to catch the words. “We all must do what we must do. Perhaps you and I can agree: I’ll not bother you, and you will let me pass. We’ll not be friends, but not enemies either. I do believe it would be best.”

The large man seemed puzzled for a moment, then looked sourly at the Old One, and shook his head, No.

His right hand drew back the flap of his unbuttoned jacket, until the butt of a pistol appeared, at his waistband. “Fuck dat shit,” he said. “Gimme all you got and maybe I letch you live.”

It seemed strange to the large man that this little speech had no effect on the small, skinny old man before him—such utterances had almost always worked before, with far tougher customers, and the times that they had not he had responded savagely, instantly, with fists and feet and once with the gun at his waist, but he hesitated this time, because the man was small and old, but in a second he decided he wouldn’t need the gun, a single punch should suffice to disable the Old One and teach the rest of the neighborhood the proper lesson.

He raised his fists, elbows out to make himself even larger and more dangerous looking, and leaned forward into his first step toward the Old One, but still the little old man was not cringing or turning to run away, and some part of the large man’s brain tried to warn him, then there was a blur of something, the Old One was dropping into a crouch, incredibly quickly, and somehow his walking stick was parallel with the ground and the large man’s left foot was perhaps three inches clear of the sidewalk when the backhand strike of the stick smashed into the side of his right knee, the crack of the impact and the crack of bone indistinguishable, and the large man’s leg began to collapse, but before he had fallen even halfway instinct caused his right hand to reach for his pistol, but as the hand descended those few inches the Old One was coming out of his crouch, and it was as if the energy of the rebound of the strike to the knee had been transferred to a two-hand backhand strike to the side of the head, the large man saw nothing but a shadow as the last four inches of the stick hit his ear and jaw, the sound in his head like the Earth cracking open, like the end of the World, and then there was no sound but a strange high whine.

And before the large man’s body had hit the ground the Old One had pivoted, lightly, his right foot coming forward, a subtle dance move, and now the other end of the staff, only the last foot exposed above the hands, drove so hard into the man’s solar plexus that his fall was arrested and he was driven straight back, twisting, his feet both lifting well off the sidewalk, turning in the air and landing face down, his heart so shocked and bruised that it would never beat again, and so he did not hear the Old One say, softly, “I am sorry.”

The Old One took three long, slow breaths, his eyes again raised to the sky, and then he stepped carefully around the body of the man and continued on toward the market.

It took over thirty minutes for someone to call the police, and when they did arrive, no one seemed to have seen anything, anyway.

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2 thoughts on “Back with a Book, But Liberalism Unsteelmanned

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