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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Writer by Any Other Name, New York Times, July 30, 2013

Today's New York Times asked several writers to choose a hypothetical pen name and describe what kind of book they might write under — or perhaps behind — that name. 

Since, once again, they neglected to include my submission, I give it to you here:

PEN NAME: Consuela-Tiffany del LaCohuta

GENRE: Best Sellers

TITLE: Patriarchy and Neo-Jungian Interpretations of de Sade's Phenomenology of the Vagina: A novel

Afflicted with AIDS by her alcoholic step-father, twelve-year-old Perra is kidnapped by a gang of old white males and taken to Kingston where she is tricked into acquiring a heroin addiction and forced to satisfy the demands of members of the ruling junta. And yet, in spite of these obstacles, our twelve-year-old heroine manages to come into possession of certain illegal feminist pamphlets and slowly educates herself on the need for self-assertion and getting in touch with her own inner strengths. Having at last overturned the male junta, our "little" Perra assumes control of her country's incipient nuclear arsenal and is able finally to make demands on those who had dissed her in those long-ago times.


Thursday, July 4, 2013


Couple of decades ago I ran up against a printed opinion that citizens ought not be given legal equality only, but that equality of result is necessary, too.  What?

This is how people become unhappy - learning ugly truths when one is unprepared.  In my case, as I grew continually more skeptical, I began to see that societies that are forced to accept equality are generally the most awful places contemporarily available – Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, the Cambodia of  the Khmer Rouge, and the contemporary West.  I saw that authoritarians had good reason to promote equality inasmuch as it gave greater scope to those who haven’t the least interest in equality for themselves.  I saw that equality detests excellence, and will seek to harm those who possess it.  That in a perfectly egalitarian society, some people will have power, but no one has value.  That an egalitarian society must denigrate aesthetic or spiritual aspirations, if only because such aspirations require superior minds.  That superior minds are insulting to those who lack them.  That high culture, requiring individual brilliance, must be pushed aside and low culture lauded.  That the most propitious climate for equality is a continually declining average.  That egalitarians, especially those connected to commerce, always perforce seek the “sweet spot” in the demographic, an impulse that drives culture to the left hand side of the Bell Curve, never to the right.  That modern egalitarian/feminized countries adore human inadequacies and will prefer those afflicted with them to those who aren’t.

Human nature doesn’t change, or anyway changes so gradually as to make it a moot concern.  Societies, even the worst of them, cannot endlessly ignore human nature if they hope to continue.  Equality and human nature loathe each other.  Democracies that more and more opt for equality necessarily become more and more fragile therefore, and will strive to prolong themselves by the provision of flattery, consumer products, gross entertainments, perpetual war, publicity, empire building, image formation, and other panicky expedients calculated to sustain the allegiance of the ignorant.  Such societies are soon qualitatively outclassed by their rivals, and either die or are revolutionized. Once a democracy has ventured onto the terrain of radical equality, its termination quickly becomes visible on clear nights. 

Such is the destiny of equality, the penultimate stage of collapse.  Having accepted equality as the most important mission of politics, the modern West has now begun to press forward impatiently to the consummate level of human degradation, an arrangement  in which the best people are seen as the worst, and the other way around.  Today, an ambitious person in the West is far more likely to attain success  as a basketball player, pornographic actress, campaign consultant, rap singer, a public relations expert or a talk show host than by way of any real accomplishment. No one in America becomes a celebrity for being a fine person.

In the great days of Greece, no one imagined humans to be equal.  Slavery liberated genius.  In our Middle Ages, humans were ranked  by their perceived proximity to transcendence.  The Renaissance esteemed people in accord with talent. In early America the race was to the swift.  Today, westerners are beloved in proportion to their haplessness.  Human races with the most awful historic records are represented as especially worthy.  Members of accomplished races are encouraged to apologize. 

On the other hand, if life is worthless and humanity is but an evolutionary mishap, then indeed people are equal.  Equal in the same way as a page of zeros.