A Good Dose of Reality

My novel Reality has been out on Kindle for a week, and I’ll have the print version posted by tonight. I’m happy to note how many people asked for a hard copy.

The book is a “follow-up” to Sanity–not exactly a sequel, but given the fragmented style of the whole enterprise, I’d say it fits together with the first book like one of those puzzles where various odd shaped pieces of wood combine, with some difficulty, to form a sphere.

The background of the ideas that set this whole thing off is here, from April 2018:

Anyway…as described here I read a tweet where someone asked “Who is going to be the Tom Wolfe of the Dark Enlightenment/Red Pill?” and I’ve been searching for it for awhile to give credit where credit is due, but I think I finally figured out why it couldn’t be found, because the account has been suspended. @TitusAvenged RIP:

Just promised to do this. Been preparing for it all my life, or since I found out Mommy was lying when said girls like “nice boys,” anyway. https://t.co/TH5E5Lf1mZ

— neovictorian23 (@neovictorian23) January 25, 2017

So, it took a year to write a little bitty 68,000 word novel. How did it actually get done? I had some memory tickling me, of Isaac Asimov’s Murder at the ABA, A Puzzle in Four Days and 60 Scenes. I’ve always dreamed about writing something in the style of Illuminatus!, a whole book where the time line is shattered and then scattered, over and over (I think a guy named Joyce got there first). So no, I don’t have an outline. I’m going to write 60 scenes and they’re going to be temporally shuffled, and they’re going to be DE/RP and they’re going to be entertaining as hell.

You’ll have to judge for yourself, how it all turned out.

Book News: Sanity and Reality

My new novel Reality will be released in one week, on January 15. As of today, my previous book Sanity is available in the Kindle edition for $0.99.

Reality is not exactly a “sequel” to Sanity. As those of you who read the first book know, it’s not a straightforward exposition of events, which are offered up in “non-linear time sequence,” with years of unknowns in between.

Reality fills in some things, but…there are still large gaps of years in which we don’t know what happened. However, the relationship between Cal Adler and Lisa Hart is moved forward. A bit.

Here is a taste of Reality:

  1. 12 years ago, San Francisco International Airport, California, March 31 4:11 pm

I halt a good 50 yards down the terminal from the counter of the German airline that has the 7:15 flight to Copenhagen and slide left until I’m in the partial cover of the partition that marks the end of the section. I’m traveling light—three days of clean clothes, one dress shirt and tie, one pair of black leather loafers in the small carryon suitcase and a pair of hiking boots on my feet. If we have anything more formal to do we’ll just have to buy me a suit.

I like not knowing what this is about, what’s going to happen; “to retrieve something of great value.” I’m going to try and identify whoever I’m meeting before they see me, though I know that’s probably impossible. They must know who I am, what I look like, and I know nothing. Also, I’m six-five and easy to spot from a distance.

There aren’t a lot of people in my field of view, and instead of focusing on anyone or anything I let my vision blur a little and take in the whole, the gestalt of the scene, the two dark blue uniforms behind the ticket counter, the short line of people waiting with their suitcases next to their feet. In the open area behind the queue ropes, to the right, there are 4, 5, 6 shapes walking quickly, airport gait, toward me on their way to security.

There’s a figure, just one, in my ganzfeld that’s not doing airport things—standing in the far corner of the terminal, beyond the ticket counter and next to the exit doors. I let my vision sharpen again, until he comes clear, and although at this distance he looks the size of a toy soldier across a room I can see him looking straight at me.

I chuckle at that, the element of surprise lost but it was fun playing, and come out into the open, wheeling the suitcase behind me. I don’t look at him or head directly toward him, of course, but quarter away right, toward a line of seats along the back wall facing the ticket counters. They’re completely empty and I grab one in the middle, open my backpack and take out a copy of Buchan’s The Power House that I picked up for a quarter at the Palo Alto used bookstore. I figure it will be a few minutes before the contact man comes, so I forget about him and start in reading. And the first thing I read is:

I suppose that the explanation is that the world is full of clues to everything, and that if a man’s mind is sharp-set on any quest, he happens to notice and take advantage of what otherwise he would miss.

I read another page and glance up, and he’s just walking past, not looking at me, a medium height black man wearing black rimmed scholarly eyeglasses and an untucked light blue dress shirt that does a poor job of concealing his massive chest and shoulders. He’s got a gray windbreaker draped over his right arm. He sits to my left with one empty chair between and tosses the windbreaker on it, looks at his watch, and looking straight ahead at the ticket counter says, “The package is under the coat. I’m going to forget it when I get up in a minute, then come back for it. I’ll drop it in your lap and no one will be able to see it on the surveillance cameras.”

He sounds like a Brit, Oxford accent, and I’m surprised for just a second, then he turns slightly, looks me in the eye and smiles.

“I’ve known Jim White for a long time. He’s a bit of a trickster. Better button up your arsehole, young man.” I’m a little startled by this and he laughs softly at my expression.

“Go to the men’s and open the envelope in a stall. Don’t worry, it won’t self-destruct.” He laughs again, genuinely amused, gets up and moves off to the left. I pick up Buchan and get back to reading. After another page and a half, I catch a flash of blue in the corner of my eye.

“Pardon me,” he says, picks up the jacket and a thick envelope, the same color as the jacket, falls into my lap. I read for another 30 seconds, close the book on it and put it back in the pack.

Speaking Reality Into Being

“The novella Gulf was quite unusual, for Heinlein or any writer, in its conception and execution. In the November 1948 issue of Astounding Science Fiction a letter had been published critiquing the…November 1949 issue. As editor John Campbell wrote:

“Generally, a desirable, practically attainable idea, suggested in prophecy, has a chance of forcing itself into reality by its very existence. Like, for example, this particular issue of Astounding Science Fiction.”

“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the stars by the breath of His mouth.” Psalms 33:6

“There is nothing mystical about the fact that ideas and words are energies which powerfully affect the physico-chemical base of our time-binding activities.” Alfred Korzybski, The Manhood of Humanity (1921)

We know, or think we know, that “scientists” have “proven” that every “thing” is made of atoms plus those rather ghostly neutrinos plus electromagnetic radiation as photons and what ever else lives in the “particle zoo” but then they get back to the “Singularity” at the Beginning and 1) flat out concede that they know not what came before, 2) refuse to speculate about “Why?” and 3) by the way, the Universe will “end,” if one can call it an end, in a sort of perfection, the Heat Death of perfect entropy, of all energy spread perfectly evenly, ghostly, throughout all of spacetime. Continue reading

Sanity, the Paperback

The paperback of Sanity is now available. I’m with the crowd that still prefers real books–though reading on a screen has its times and places.

Turns out that preparing a book for print is far more difficult than the e-version. I fiddled with the images and the layout for days.

You’ll note there’s a different cover. Let’s not get into the technical details of that. I think it looks sort of cool and faintly menacing, though. So I’m good with it.

If Mike Hammer had a son with Dagny Taggart, he might have turned out something like Cal Adler, the hero of Sanity. Just in case you were wondering.

Steelmanning Liberalism (I)

I’ve loved the term “steelmanning” ever since I first read it, somewhere in Slate Star Codex. Scott Alexander seems to have used the term many, many times and I don’t know exactly in which piece I first saw it, but credit where credit is due.

I was reminded of it again a few days ago when the estimable Geoffrey Miller pointed out that Conor Frieders… okay, I don’t want to get into that, or him. Let’s just leave it that the tweet inspired me to at last begin a post I’ve been contemplating for some time:

Steelmanning Liberalism

As to what liberalism is, what it is exactly that we’re steelmanning here, let’s refer to La Wik, for its universalism (heh):

Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas and programmes such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, gender equality and international cooperation

I’m sure that my target demographic here experiences a certain distaste, perhaps even physical revulsion to “Liberalism” because for the discerning, the term conjures up images like this:

gp

Or perhaps this:slt

These are the seeming fruits of liberalism, and by their fruits ye shall know them; all of us experiencing sanity feel a natural and healthy revulsion at such things. But let’s be honest. These are the strawmen of liberalism, or, perhaps one could say, merely the products of mental illness. What are the very best arguments for liberalism? What are the Steelmen?

I identify four, in descending order of importance:

  1. Liberalism prevents or makes very unlikely destructive war between nation-states
  2. Liberalism prevents or makes very unlikely civil war within nation-states
  3. Liberalism in general prohibits and discourages the killing of individual humans
  4. Liberalism provides the maximum opportunity for individual humans to develop their “human potential”

Today, we focus on (1). Obviously if this were true,  it would be a powerful argument that everyone, everywhere should adopt a liberal political system. War does not further good “reactionary” values like strong families with a committed father and mother in their complementary roles, like subsidiarity, like voluntarism and local control and craftsmanship. War produces single moms and orphans, national emergency governments running roughshod over all forms of local outlook and control, the involuntary military draft and mass production of material that is not for construction and admiration but for the express purpose of destruction and dealing death.

The notion that “Democracies don’t fight each other” was expressed by George W. Bush in 2004 and by his almost equally liberal predecessor Bill Clinton in 1994, but as helpfully pointed out by the BBC:

Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace, [was] published in 1795. Kant’s theory is that democratic leaders are restrained by the resistance of their people to bearing the costs and deaths of war. And a democratic culture of negotiation and conciliation, plus the hurdles to taking swift action, favours peace.

For simplicity we here use “democracy” and “liberalism” interchangeably. In Current Year, all significant “liberal” regimes are democracies, whether parliamentary or American-style, and all actual “democratic” systems (those with voting and a regular, peaceful transfer of state power) are considered “liberal” under the definition above. The fact that a number ill-liberal nations hold sham elections is, in itself, significant. The fact that many “democracies” still have (powerless) monarchies is irrelevant. Luxembourg is as cute as a button; we will discuss it no further, unless it goes to war.

Now, it’s possible to dispute whether, in fact, liberal regimes or democracies have never, ever, gone to war with each other; the Guardian provides a helpful summary of possible exceptions. The best the good Professor could come up with was the (maybe, possibly) the War of 1812 and the Peloponnesian War.

Athens’s attack on Syracuse refutes the hypothesis, yet it is questionable whether the Athenians knew that Syracuse possessed a democratic polity or whether the rule of democratic peace applies to ancient warlike republics.

Color me unconvinced. One could argue that the US-Mexican War of 1846-8 qualifies, but the Mexican government in 1846 wasn’t liberal, or indeed outside of Mexico City much of anything but a mess. So I’m not buying. Some fools try to claim that Hitler was “elected” (he was appointed Chancellor). Germany was a democracy in 1933. Anyone want to make the case that it was still in 1939?

The American Civil War of 1861-5 belongs to Part II.

Liberalism has, arguably, been around as an important idea since Locke and other thinkers of the 17th century (see Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle for a great fictional treatment of the era). Modern liberal political regimes have been around since 1776. They have steadily increased in numbers since then, and they’ve not gone to war with each other. If all nation-states were liberal in construction, war would be extinct, or very, very rare.

This is the most important fruit of liberalism.

Consider it Steelmanned, Part I.

How Scientology Could School the Neoreaction

A couple of years back I wrote a piece at The Mitrailleuse, Opus Dei Could School the Neoreaction, of which the eminent Nick. B. Steves wrote, “He gets very much very right.”  High praise.

Recently I read Anti-Puritan’s post Scientology, training routines, and the post-rationalization of abuse and it occurred to me that Scientology also might “school” the NRx and that my personal knowledge-set made me the man to write about it. As I commented:

 I have a good deal of knowledge of Scientology, and a somewhat different take on the results of these exercises. Enough to finally do a new post on my own blog, which will appear in a day or two.

As that was approximately 26 days ago, let’s just say that I was pondering all this time about the right approach.

Ars longa est.

Continue reading