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Following up my review last week in Taki’s Magazine of Submission, Michel Houellebecq’s novel about a future Islamic takeover of France, here are some other reviews:

Houellebecq

Noah Millman argues that Submission is not satire but Houellebecq’s personal fantasy of arranged polygamous marriage. But why can’t it be both at the same time? Top writers do more than one thing at once. Houellebecq has devoted many years to developing an image of himself as a distressing person. A novel explaining that he’s the kind of opportunist who would collaborate with a Muslim takeover is not exactly good PR for a Muslim takeover.

– Israeli military historian Martin van Creveld argues that Houellebecq’s hero has a point.

Aaron MacLean in the Washington Free Beacon: “At Least It’s an Ethos.”

– In the New York Times, Norwegian novelist Karl Ove Knausgaard offers a characteristically long review of Submission. Knausgaard, the author of a six-volume autobiography entitled My Struggle, is one of the leading lights, along with Houellebecq and the late David Foster Wallace, of the Hapless White Guy genre in recent literary fiction that has served as a sort of covert White Male Pride movement.

Knausgaard looks like Houellebecq being played by Brad Pitt

The late John Updike was blithely unconcerned that many of the more literary members of Official Victim Groups feel oppressed by the fact that white men continue to make up a wildly disproportionate fraction of the most talented writers. Updike’s combination of overwhelming talent and well-adjusted Middle Americanness was particularly enraging to the rising powers.

The new generation, in contrast, has been acutely aware of being hated for who they are, with varying impacts: defiance in the case of Houellebecq, conflictedness and depression in the case of poor Wallace.

Update: From The Local:

Knausgård savages the ‘Cyclops’ Swedes
Published: 20 May 2015 15:25 GMT+02:00

Norwegian literary star Karl Ove Knausgård has launched an extraordinary attack on the Swedes, damning them as a race of narrow-minded “Cyclops” who cannot tolerate ambiguity, have no understanding of literature, and are “full of hate and fear”.

The bitter 3,000 word rant, published in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper, is a response to an article in the same paper by the feminist Ebba Witt-Brattström, which described Knausgård’s first novel ‘Out of the World’, just now translated into Swedish, as a type of “literary paedophilia”.

But it also mercilessly tears apart what Knausgård sees as Swedes’ black and white approach to race, immigration, gender, and sex, lampooning the nation’s tendency to repress complex or difficult ideas, and its fear of moral uncertainty.

“The reason there’s so much hate among the Cyclops and so much terror I believe is simple,” he writes. “The Cyclops don’t want to know about that part of reality which isn’t how they think it should be.”

Knausgård has now lived in Sweden for some 13 years, moving to Stockholm in 2002 when he began a relationship with the Swedish poet Linda Boström, after which they moved first to Malmö, and then to a village in the Skåne countryside.

But he does not appear to have learnt to love his adopted countrymen.

In his article, he attacks Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for describing the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats as a “neo-fascist party”.

“Everyone knows it isn’t true, but that doesn’t matter because if they think differently on such a sensitive question, they must be fascists,” he argues.

“The Cyclops believe that their picture of reality is the same for everyone, and if there’s anywhere which doesn’t agree, like for example their neighbours Denmark, they get angry with the Danes.”

Within hours of Knaugård’s article being published, Jonas Gardell, a Swedish comic novelist and high profile cultural figure, had attacked him in Expressen newspaper for “suddenly and without warning defending the Sweden Democrats”.

He complained that Knausgård had called the Sweden Democrats a ”legitimate” party, and mocked Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for calling them neo-fascists.

It’s clear that Knausgård doesn’t approve of the Swedish consensus on immigration, but he is perhaps at his most offensive when he gets onto the Swedes’ relationship with literature.

My impression is that as political correctness increasingly clamps down on free expression, more of the creative talent is showing up on the right. It’s hard to tell for sure because it can be a career killer for these guys to be too explicit, but that seems like the trend.

 
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  1. Knausgård wrote a good criticism of Swedish mentality: that they are angry Cyclops who are unable to deal with ambiguity (all people who are against immigrants are Fascists and Nazis, for instance), which makes them permanently angry against the politically incorrect: http://theconversation.com/are-swedes-really-a-bunch-of-cyclops-who-cant-tolerate-ambiguity-42388

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Thanks, I'll post.
  2. Updike’s combination of overwhelming talent and well-adjusted Middle Americanness was particularly enraging to the rising powers.

    The fact that his grandchildren are black must redeem him at least a little bit.

  3. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/merkel-under-fire-as-refugee-crisis-in-germany-worsens-a-1060720.html

    Jerkel.

    Downfall?

    Europhoria seems fading.

    PS. Should mindless celebration of foreign invasion be called
    XENOPHORIA. And mindless celebration of homo stuff HOMOPHORIA?

  4. Me thinks he’s trying to be new Celine.

    And in this age of ‘gay marriage’, why not polygamy and incest marriage to boot?

  5. Mr. Sailer, you should consider doing a Tyler Cowen and linking to books on Amazon for some sales fees. I’d buy the Kindle version of Submission through you. It’s very high on my list. And I’ve never read any Updike.

    • Replies: @Percy Gryce

    Mr. Sailer, you should consider doing a Tyler Cowen and linking to books on Amazon for some sales fees. I’d buy the Kindle version of Submission through you. It’s very high on my list. And I’ve never read any Updike.
     
    Many of us have urged him to do that for years.
  6. Pardon my literary ignorance, but I have never heard of a Norwegian novelist named Karl Ove Knausgaard. And the fact that he is “the author of a six-volume autobiography entitled _My Struggle_” leads me to suspect that this is a hoax. There was a prominent German author of the 1920’s who wrote an identically titled autobiography, but at least he was modest enough to limit it to one volume.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    He's a big deal:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/magazine/karl-ove-knausgaard-travels-through-america.html
    , @LemmusLemmus
    Having read fair portions of both, I can guarantee that Knausgaard's books are better written. As well as more sane.
  7. @Lothar
    Knausgård wrote a good criticism of Swedish mentality: that they are angry Cyclops who are unable to deal with ambiguity (all people who are against immigrants are Fascists and Nazis, for instance), which makes them permanently angry against the politically incorrect: http://theconversation.com/are-swedes-really-a-bunch-of-cyclops-who-cant-tolerate-ambiguity-42388

    Thanks, I’ll post.

    • Replies: @Lothar
    The original Knausgård article is interesting:

    http://mobil.dn.se/kultur-noje/kulturdebatt/karl-ove-knausgards-rasande-attack-pa-sverige/

    You can a decent translation by putting all the text into Google translate (for some reason, the url alone did not work).

    He writes not only about the fear of ambiguity, but the self-policing conformity of Swedish society - the totalitarian groupthink. Not directed from above, but absorbed from the peer group. He could easily be talking about college age Americans.
  8. The brilliance of DFW.

    BTW, Submission is worth a read to all who haven’t. Houellebecq is a literary genius. The book is worthwhile if only for his commentary on Huysmans.

  9. Knausgård is incredible (especially the first 2 volumes of My Struggle). He writes like Proust, but is much more interesting.

    Knausgård does have a bit of a conservative/fascist streak. But he’s aware of it and pokes fun of himself (partly by titling his 6 volume autobiography, My Struggle).

  10. …this whole subconscious mountain of implicit knowledge and shared references was probably what it meant to have a national identity.

    Once, I mentioned this to a Swedish woman. She looked indignantly at me. “But those are just prejudices!” she said. “You’re judging people before you’ve even spoken to them! It’s much better not to know all those things, so that you can make up your own opinion about them. We’re individuals, not representatives of a culture!”

    That is the most Swedish thing anyone has ever said to me.

    Knausgaard in New York Times Magazine, 15 March 2015

  11. @Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)
    Pardon my literary ignorance, but I have never heard of a Norwegian novelist named Karl Ove Knausgaard. And the fact that he is "the author of a six-volume autobiography entitled _My Struggle_" leads me to suspect that this is a hoax. There was a prominent German author of the 1920's who wrote an identically titled autobiography, but at least he was modest enough to limit it to one volume.
    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    I thought he sounded like a joke when I first read about him in the FT, but that NYT piece Steve links to convinced me otherwise. Really worth a read, both parts.
  12. @Steve Sailer
    He's a big deal:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/magazine/karl-ove-knausgaard-travels-through-america.html

    I thought he sounded like a joke when I first read about him in the FT, but that NYT piece Steve links to convinced me otherwise. Really worth a read, both parts.

  13. Updike’s combination of overwhelming talent and well-adjusted Middle Americanness was particularly enraging to the rising powers.

    This sounds a bit like Jonathan Franzen (albeit, perhaps without the “well-adjusted” part). He’s a real lightening rod today, mainly, I think, because no one has written any novel as good and as salient to the first decade of this century as his Freedom. Even Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, which was quite good, doesn’t measure up to it.

    • Replies: @Ezra
    If you were to tell me that Jonathan Franzen was a secret member of the alt-right, I would doubt it.

    That said, you could point to many aspects of "Purity" to support such an argument and I could find little in that most recent book to dispute it.

    , @Thursday
    Franzen's rather mild deviations from political correctness (he parodies feminism by having one of his characters force her boyfriend to pee sitting down) have got him in hot water from time to time. He's also dissed the chick lit scene, and got in a fight with Oprah, which hasn't endeared him to a certain kind of female journalist.
  14. In the argument between nature and nurture – the Swedes are 100% on the side of nurture – to them everything is learned – boys and girls are the same – it is culture that makes them different.

    It is foolish to be 100% on one side of most established arguments – there is most often a golden mean between the two sides.

  15. Houellebecq and Knausgaard are the two best novelists writing right now. Is it any coincidence that they are both on the right?

    • Replies: @middle aged vet
    Thursday - Mark Helprin and Gene Wolfe are (like Philip Dick and his near-contemporary Tolkien) pro-life. Haven't read much from M.H. and Knausgaard; are they as good as Helprin and Wolfe, in your opinion? David Pinsen - Updike's talent was nowhere near overwhelming. Pastiches of Nabokov, no matter how endless, even coupled with dozens upon dozens of Oliver Wendell Holmes-like deployments of aphoristic wit, do not a great writer make. Still, there are worse things to be than the Platonic ideal of the high school Poetry Club president who grows up to be a real "writer".
  16. @Thursday
    Houellebecq and Knausgaard are the two best novelists writing right now. Is it any coincidence that they are both on the right?

    Thursday – Mark Helprin and Gene Wolfe are (like Philip Dick and his near-contemporary Tolkien) pro-life. Haven’t read much from M.H. and Knausgaard; are they as good as Helprin and Wolfe, in your opinion? David Pinsen – Updike’s talent was nowhere near overwhelming. Pastiches of Nabokov, no matter how endless, even coupled with dozens upon dozens of Oliver Wendell Holmes-like deployments of aphoristic wit, do not a great writer make. Still, there are worse things to be than the Platonic ideal of the high school Poetry Club president who grows up to be a real “writer”.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Mark Helprin and Gene Wolfe

    Not anywhere in the league of Houellebecq or Knausgaard.
    , @Dave Pinsen
    Re Updike: I've read the first of his Rabbit books, which I found underwhelming, and The Coup (after Steve's mention of it here), which I found to be excellent. Easily one of the best novels I've read in the last several years.
  17. “The story of the five-day interview between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky and acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace, which took place right after the 1996 publication of Wallace’s groundbreaking epic novel, ‘Infinite Jest.’”

    Rated 7.7 on IMDB with Jason Segel as DF Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky. Jesse seems to be the ‘it’ hip actor right now. So if Jesse is where Wallace is, then Wallace must have gotten very ‘it’, seemingly overnight. I suddenly see his name mentioned in all the cool edgy spots. I feel very cool and edgy for being aware of this. But I have always been like that, cool and edgy.

  18. David Mamet outed himself a few years ago and still seems to be going strong.

  19. @middle aged vet
    Thursday - Mark Helprin and Gene Wolfe are (like Philip Dick and his near-contemporary Tolkien) pro-life. Haven't read much from M.H. and Knausgaard; are they as good as Helprin and Wolfe, in your opinion? David Pinsen - Updike's talent was nowhere near overwhelming. Pastiches of Nabokov, no matter how endless, even coupled with dozens upon dozens of Oliver Wendell Holmes-like deployments of aphoristic wit, do not a great writer make. Still, there are worse things to be than the Platonic ideal of the high school Poetry Club president who grows up to be a real "writer".

    Mark Helprin and Gene Wolfe

    Not anywhere in the league of Houellebecq or Knausgaard.

    • Replies: @middle aged vet
    In which direction? How much of each have you read? Your comment was conclusory.
  20. Wallace’s most famous novel, Infinite Jest, was pretty awful. Or at least the chunks I read were awful.

  21. @Dave Pinsen

    Updike’s combination of overwhelming talent and well-adjusted Middle Americanness was particularly enraging to the rising powers.
     
    This sounds a bit like Jonathan Franzen (albeit, perhaps without the "well-adjusted" part). He's a real lightening rod today, mainly, I think, because no one has written any novel as good and as salient to the first decade of this century as his Freedom. Even Pynchon's Bleeding Edge, which was quite good, doesn't measure up to it.

    If you were to tell me that Jonathan Franzen was a secret member of the alt-right, I would doubt it.

    That said, you could point to many aspects of “Purity” to support such an argument and I could find little in that most recent book to dispute it.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    I didn't say he was a secret member of the alt-right, just that he's been a lightening rod for criticism (mainly by white women, I think). I just started Purity, and deliberately avoided reading the reviews to avoid spoilers, so I can't comment on it. My guess, re Franzen's politics, is that he's to the right of the current zeitgeist, but not necessarily a rightest in an absolute sense. A Reagan Democrat sort of guy. Freedom was pretty brutal to neocons and miners (one of the most right-leaning industries, by political donations) but also to environmentalists and NYC cat ladies on the left.
  22. @Thursday
    Mark Helprin and Gene Wolfe

    Not anywhere in the league of Houellebecq or Knausgaard.

    In which direction? How much of each have you read? Your comment was conclusory.

    • Replies: @Thursday
    Houellebecq and Knausgaard are way way way above Wolfe and Helprin.
  23. anon • Disclaimer says:

    It’s hard to tell for sure because it can be a career killer for these guys to be too explicit, but that seems like the trend.

    I don’t know, man. Naming your autobiography after Mein Kampf seems like a pretty deliberate provocation.

    I started reading Knausgaard’s A Time For Everything a few weeks ago, and before I got too busy and put it down, I thought his retelling of the Cain and Abel story was one of the most remarkable things I’d read for a long time.

  24. I suspect you are correct that the talent is showing up on the right. Not in music–leftists have always seemed to have better aesthetics on that front, for some reason. But yes in literature and, more broadly, in the world of ideas. Today’s left is becoming poisoned by its orthodoxies, and that encourages rebellion from the right, either openly or subversively.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Pop/rock music, i.e. formulaic hype-work designed to vacuum dollars out of liminal teens' and tweens' pockets, along with its blacker varietals is an inherently left-wing medium due to the emphasis on immediacy/sensation (drugs) over time & experience. Even guys who turned out to be conservatives like Clapton and Townshend don't express it anywhere in their music. The "back to the roots" performers tend to be the most leftist of all (primitivism as an escape from traditional authority). Once in a while you see a group market-testing a crypto-nationalist aesthetic like the French techno duo Justice but it's always possibly just a head-fake from the schizo-reactionary gays who run the industry.
    , @Dave Pinsen
    Brendan Flowers of the Killers is a Mormon, so I assume he's on the right. I think Steve's also mentioned that Mick Jagger is a righty.

    https://youtu.be/4PF0h7oqUEQ
    , @Lothar

    Not in music–leftists have always seemed to have better aesthetics on that front, for some reason.
     
    Music is about feelings.
  25. @Dave Pinsen

    Updike’s combination of overwhelming talent and well-adjusted Middle Americanness was particularly enraging to the rising powers.
     
    This sounds a bit like Jonathan Franzen (albeit, perhaps without the "well-adjusted" part). He's a real lightening rod today, mainly, I think, because no one has written any novel as good and as salient to the first decade of this century as his Freedom. Even Pynchon's Bleeding Edge, which was quite good, doesn't measure up to it.

    Franzen’s rather mild deviations from political correctness (he parodies feminism by having one of his characters force her boyfriend to pee sitting down) have got him in hot water from time to time. He’s also dissed the chick lit scene, and got in a fight with Oprah, which hasn’t endeared him to a certain kind of female journalist.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar


    He’s also dissed the chick lit scene, and got in a fight with Oprah, which hasn’t endeared him to a certain kind of female journalist.
     
    He just sat down for famous lunch interviews with the inestimable Lucy Kellaway, who is my kind of female journalist.
     
    She also wrote a column recently saying the only working people with any drive left in their fifties are the divorced-- and in which she announced her own separation from David Goodhart. I guess that means we'll be seeing much more of her now.
    , @Dave Pinsen
    In his telling, it was a misunderstanding on Oprah's part.
  26. @middle aged vet
    In which direction? How much of each have you read? Your comment was conclusory.

    Houellebecq and Knausgaard are way way way above Wolfe and Helprin.

  27. Speaking of David Foster Wallace and John Updike, here’s David Foster Wallace on John Updike: http://www.smallbytes.net/~bobkat/observer1.html

  28. The late John Updike was blithely unconcerned that many of the more literary members of Official Victim Groups feel oppressed by the fact that white men continue to make up a wildly disproportionate fraction of the most talented writers. Updike’s combination of overwhelming talent and well-adjusted Middle Americanness was particularly enraging to the rising powers.

    Then again, two of Updike’s four children married Africans, so the Updikes have become Updarks.

    Erica Jong complained to an Italian magazine recently about the paucity of good writing among progressives today. “Wolfe and Updike are men of the right!”

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    She was referring to Tom Wolfe, not Gene. Whoever that is.
  29. @Reg Cæsar

    The late John Updike was blithely unconcerned that many of the more literary members of Official Victim Groups feel oppressed by the fact that white men continue to make up a wildly disproportionate fraction of the most talented writers. Updike’s combination of overwhelming talent and well-adjusted Middle Americanness was particularly enraging to the rising powers.
     
    Then again, two of Updike's four children married Africans, so the Updikes have become Updarks.

    Erica Jong complained to an Italian magazine recently about the paucity of good writing among progressives today. "Wolfe and Updike are men of the right!"

    She was referring to Tom Wolfe, not Gene. Whoever that is.

    • Replies: @5371
    You haven't read Gene Wolfe? Worth a try - he's on a higher literary level than almost anyone in the science fiction/fantasy world.
  30. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Swedish highbrow writers tend to be less SJW, more Nietzschean-cynical than their Norwegian equivalents– contrast Strindberg with Ibsen. Lars Gustafsson is like an up-market Jim Goad. But their most popular authors seem to be a left-wing ninnies like your boy Stieg and the “Wallander” guy. Swedish film has a reputation for traditionalist airyness but that may be the overweening influence of a few artistes in particular. Their factory-precise pop music is dumb n’ slutty as hell. I think it can all be explained as a case of taking Protestantism too literally

  31. @Thursday
    Franzen's rather mild deviations from political correctness (he parodies feminism by having one of his characters force her boyfriend to pee sitting down) have got him in hot water from time to time. He's also dissed the chick lit scene, and got in a fight with Oprah, which hasn't endeared him to a certain kind of female journalist.

    He’s also dissed the chick lit scene, and got in a fight with Oprah, which hasn’t endeared him to a certain kind of female journalist.

    He just sat down for famous lunch interviews with the inestimable Lucy Kellaway, who is my kind of female journalist.

    She also wrote a column recently saying the only working people with any drive left in their fifties are the divorced– and in which she announced her own separation from David Goodhart. I guess that means we’ll be seeing much more of her now.

  32. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Updike was a bit cutesy and much against the prevailing style in not being unduly somber or depressed, which I suspect is what gets him affirmative-action points from Steve. Wolfe (Tom, not Thomas) is *very* hit-and-miss — you wouldn’t know it from reading this blog but some of his older reportage, e.g. about therapeutic/exercise fads and 1970s social rituals, has not aged well; in fact it’s brimming with the same howlingly bad slangyness of Lester Bangs or maybe Bernie Sanders’s old newsletter columns. Dave F. Wallace was a flash in the pan– the same people talking him up now were only last decade touting Barack as a public intellectual.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    Before he wrote The Corrections, Franzen wrote an essay criticizing turgid literary novels. I never read the essay, just commentary about it, so I don't know if he mentioned Infinite Jest in it by name, but it seems like it would fit in the category. Although, IIRC, Franzen and Wallace were friends, so, I don't know.
    , @Rob McX

    Wolfe (Tom, not Thomas) is *very* hit-and-miss — you wouldn’t know it from reading this blog but some of his older reportage, e.g. about therapeutic/exercise fads and 1970s social rituals, has not aged well; in fact it’s brimming with the same howlingly bad slangyness of Lester Bangs or maybe Bernie Sanders’s old newsletter columns.
     
    I agree. Much of his 70s journalism would make you cringe reading it now.
    , @Percy Gryce

    Wolfe (Tom, not Thomas) is *very* hit-and-miss — you wouldn’t know it from reading this blog but some of his older reportage, e.g. about therapeutic/exercise fads and 1970s social rituals, has not aged well; in fact it’s brimming with the same howlingly bad slangyness of Lester Bangs or maybe Bernie Sanders’s old newsletter columns.
     
    With regard to Tom Wolfe's '70s style, de gustibus. With regard to his '70s ideas? He was dead on with radical chic, the Me Decade, and the Third Great Awakening.
  33. Franzen sounded like such a good hidalgo there on the subject of his Filipina cleaning lady– he’s “helping her out!” Quick, draft this guy for MSGOP Poet Laureate

  34. “Literature” is not literature. By that, I mean it fails in its first duty.

    To entertain. I can sit and read almost anything by Twain and be entertained. Same with Tolstoy, certainly Stendahl, most definitely the Dumas family, or Jules Verne, or even Hemingway. And certainly anything Dashiell Hammett, and the late and very lamented, Donald E. Westlake, are books you just can’t put down. Tom Wolfe can be that in some novels.

    Entertaining.

    Most “literature” is just pious religious flap-doodle. Who cares about some meaningless and worse, BORING professor of literature having the predictable mid life crisis affair and such? Now crossing India pursuing a famous Sepoy Mutiny villain on a steam powered elephant, did I mention the Steam Powered Elephant, in “the Demon of Cawnpore” by Verne, that’s entertaining. And Verne has things to say along the way about technology, transfer of it to the Third World, and the impact technology has on Third World people to properly use it (they have to become in a way European in set of mind).

    I suspect that if any fraction of Western Civilization survives the Muslim onslaught, it will be the entertainers not the religious pious flapdoodle mongers that will be considered literature.

    There is certainly nothing more stale than warmed over 1960’s radicalism as Europe is over-run by Islam, Jihad, and Sharia. That Dragon Tattoo guy? Already old news as Europeans once again dream of a Reconquista. And create their own Don Juans of Austria (the guy who fought at Lepanto, not the womanizer).

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    Franzen's point was that literary novels should entertain. His do.
  35. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @SEATAF
    I suspect you are correct that the talent is showing up on the right. Not in music--leftists have always seemed to have better aesthetics on that front, for some reason. But yes in literature and, more broadly, in the world of ideas. Today's left is becoming poisoned by its orthodoxies, and that encourages rebellion from the right, either openly or subversively.

    Pop/rock music, i.e. formulaic hype-work designed to vacuum dollars out of liminal teens’ and tweens’ pockets, along with its blacker varietals is an inherently left-wing medium due to the emphasis on immediacy/sensation (drugs) over time & experience. Even guys who turned out to be conservatives like Clapton and Townshend don’t express it anywhere in their music. The “back to the roots” performers tend to be the most leftist of all (primitivism as an escape from traditional authority). Once in a while you see a group market-testing a crypto-nationalist aesthetic like the French techno duo Justice but it’s always possibly just a head-fake from the schizo-reactionary gays who run the industry.

  36. @middle aged vet
    Thursday - Mark Helprin and Gene Wolfe are (like Philip Dick and his near-contemporary Tolkien) pro-life. Haven't read much from M.H. and Knausgaard; are they as good as Helprin and Wolfe, in your opinion? David Pinsen - Updike's talent was nowhere near overwhelming. Pastiches of Nabokov, no matter how endless, even coupled with dozens upon dozens of Oliver Wendell Holmes-like deployments of aphoristic wit, do not a great writer make. Still, there are worse things to be than the Platonic ideal of the high school Poetry Club president who grows up to be a real "writer".

    Re Updike: I’ve read the first of his Rabbit books, which I found underwhelming, and The Coup (after Steve’s mention of it here), which I found to be excellent. Easily one of the best novels I’ve read in the last several years.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Updike worked really hard on The Coup, studying Africa for about a year before writing. Then he worked really hard on Rabbit Is Rich, taking approaching 3 years to write it.

    After that, as he was in his 50s, he went to a book a year schedule and didn't do anything that ambitious again.
    , @middle aged vet
    I haven't read the Coup, maybe his talent really is overwhelming there. Also, some of his early stories, before he went into pastiche mode, are very re-readable.
  37. @Ezra
    If you were to tell me that Jonathan Franzen was a secret member of the alt-right, I would doubt it.

    That said, you could point to many aspects of "Purity" to support such an argument and I could find little in that most recent book to dispute it.

    I didn’t say he was a secret member of the alt-right, just that he’s been a lightening rod for criticism (mainly by white women, I think). I just started Purity, and deliberately avoided reading the reviews to avoid spoilers, so I can’t comment on it. My guess, re Franzen’s politics, is that he’s to the right of the current zeitgeist, but not necessarily a rightest in an absolute sense. A Reagan Democrat sort of guy. Freedom was pretty brutal to neocons and miners (one of the most right-leaning industries, by political donations) but also to environmentalists and NYC cat ladies on the left.

    • Replies: @Ezra
    I wasn't really taking you to mean that Franzen was an alt-rightist. What I was trying to say is that whatever politics he might claim to have, the stories that he actually writes have a very conservative angle. This may be the corollary to Conquest's First Law of Politics. Conquest's Law is "People are always conservative about the things they know best." The Franzen corollary is "Writer's tell conservative stories if they draw on experience."

    [Whether you agree or not about the conservative bent of Franzen's stories, Franzen's attitude toward literature is an example of Conquest's Law in action].
  38. @Thursday
    Franzen's rather mild deviations from political correctness (he parodies feminism by having one of his characters force her boyfriend to pee sitting down) have got him in hot water from time to time. He's also dissed the chick lit scene, and got in a fight with Oprah, which hasn't endeared him to a certain kind of female journalist.

    In his telling, it was a misunderstanding on Oprah’s part.

  39. @Dave Pinsen
    Re Updike: I've read the first of his Rabbit books, which I found underwhelming, and The Coup (after Steve's mention of it here), which I found to be excellent. Easily one of the best novels I've read in the last several years.

    Updike worked really hard on The Coup, studying Africa for about a year before writing. Then he worked really hard on Rabbit Is Rich, taking approaching 3 years to write it.

    After that, as he was in his 50s, he went to a book a year schedule and didn’t do anything that ambitious again.

  40. @SEATAF
    I suspect you are correct that the talent is showing up on the right. Not in music--leftists have always seemed to have better aesthetics on that front, for some reason. But yes in literature and, more broadly, in the world of ideas. Today's left is becoming poisoned by its orthodoxies, and that encourages rebellion from the right, either openly or subversively.

    Brendan Flowers of the Killers is a Mormon, so I assume he’s on the right. I think Steve’s also mentioned that Mick Jagger is a righty.

  41. @Anonymous
    Updike was a bit cutesy and much against the prevailing style in not being unduly somber or depressed, which I suspect is what gets him affirmative-action points from Steve. Wolfe (Tom, not Thomas) is *very* hit-and-miss -- you wouldn't know it from reading this blog but some of his older reportage, e.g. about therapeutic/exercise fads and 1970s social rituals, has not aged well; in fact it's brimming with the same howlingly bad slangyness of Lester Bangs or maybe Bernie Sanders's old newsletter columns. Dave F. Wallace was a flash in the pan-- the same people talking him up now were only last decade touting Barack as a public intellectual.

    Before he wrote The Corrections, Franzen wrote an essay criticizing turgid literary novels. I never read the essay, just commentary about it, so I don’t know if he mentioned Infinite Jest in it by name, but it seems like it would fit in the category. Although, IIRC, Franzen and Wallace were friends, so, I don’t know.

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    Although, IIRC, Franzen and Wallace were friends, so, I don’t know
     
    They were friends. With Franzen as the bitter, less-talented friend who relished Wallace's death as a chance to step out of his shadow and claim the mantle of the Great American Writer of his Generation. Except nobody really cared while DFW is still revered.
  42. @Dave Pinsen
    Re Updike: I've read the first of his Rabbit books, which I found underwhelming, and The Coup (after Steve's mention of it here), which I found to be excellent. Easily one of the best novels I've read in the last several years.

    I haven’t read the Coup, maybe his talent really is overwhelming there. Also, some of his early stories, before he went into pastiche mode, are very re-readable.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Updike was quite convinced that he peaked in his later 40s and then went into steady decline, which he was oddly cheerful about. He didn't try to stretch out the time between his books to keep up his quality level as he got older. He was kind of like Woody Allen, who peaked at about the same era in the late 1970s-early 1980s, and has stuck to a one movie per year schedule ever since. They had kind of a jock attitude that each year brings a new season and you rack up the best statistics you can, but you're not going to get better as you get older.
  43. @Reg Cæsar
    She was referring to Tom Wolfe, not Gene. Whoever that is.

    You haven’t read Gene Wolfe? Worth a try – he’s on a higher literary level than almost anyone in the science fiction/fantasy world.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
    I'm behind on my Wolfes. And allergic to science fiction. Ever since I read a short story where a man was blackmailed into assassinating the villainess by allowing the recruiters to gut his penis and replace the insides with a muscle-powered firearm. Yuck.
  44. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Dave Pinsen
    Before he wrote The Corrections, Franzen wrote an essay criticizing turgid literary novels. I never read the essay, just commentary about it, so I don't know if he mentioned Infinite Jest in it by name, but it seems like it would fit in the category. Although, IIRC, Franzen and Wallace were friends, so, I don't know.

    Although, IIRC, Franzen and Wallace were friends, so, I don’t know

    They were friends. With Franzen as the bitter, less-talented friend who relished Wallace’s death as a chance to step out of his shadow and claim the mantle of the Great American Writer of his Generation. Except nobody really cared while DFW is still revered.

  45. Stockholm has roughly the same latitude as Anchorage so
    Scandinavia is basically Europe’s Alaska, that is one of the
    worst pieces of real estate in Europe. Both are severely
    underpopulated for similar reasons.

    The “dark season” lasts from October to March. In Stockholm
    in January the sun rises about 9 am and sets around 3 pm, and
    even those 6 hours are devoid of brilliant sunshine. People
    leave for work in the dark and go home in darkness. Another fun
    fact: a number of people are killed every winter by falling
    icicles.

    No wonder the Vikings and later the Swedes were always
    invading the European continent, desperately seeking brighter
    sunshine and warmer climes.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
    Henry Miller, the author of Tropic of Cancer, who was born
    in New York but was German on both sides of his family, was
    always fulminating about why Germany was so far north. He
    couldn't understand why the Germanic tribes that wandered
    around Europe didn't settle somewhere on the Mediterranean
    coast but instead had to end up in the bleak and cold Northern
    Europe. He thought the Germans would have acquired a more
    pleasant and less warlike disposition if they had ended up
    in a more congenial climate
    , @Dave Pinsen
    That's what drew Swedes to Minnesota?
    , @Bill Jones
    "No wonder the Vikings and later the Swedes were always
    invading the European continent, desperately seeking brighter
    sunshine and warmer climes."

    But the successful ones largely returned home taking the most beautiful women in the West with them. looking at Swedish women today it's a remarkably good strategy if you stick with it for a few centuries.
  46. @Anon 2
    Stockholm has roughly the same latitude as Anchorage so
    Scandinavia is basically Europe's Alaska, that is one of the
    worst pieces of real estate in Europe. Both are severely
    underpopulated for similar reasons.

    The "dark season" lasts from October to March. In Stockholm
    in January the sun rises about 9 am and sets around 3 pm, and
    even those 6 hours are devoid of brilliant sunshine. People
    leave for work in the dark and go home in darkness. Another fun
    fact: a number of people are killed every winter by falling
    icicles.

    No wonder the Vikings and later the Swedes were always
    invading the European continent, desperately seeking brighter
    sunshine and warmer climes.

    Henry Miller, the author of Tropic of Cancer, who was born
    in New York but was German on both sides of his family, was
    always fulminating about why Germany was so far north. He
    couldn’t understand why the Germanic tribes that wandered
    around Europe didn’t settle somewhere on the Mediterranean
    coast but instead had to end up in the bleak and cold Northern
    Europe. He thought the Germans would have acquired a more
    pleasant and less warlike disposition if they had ended up
    in a more congenial climate

    • Replies: @Jim
    The East Germans did go south to Italy, Spain and North Africa. The West Germans probably came from Scandanavia. So they were trying to move south. They were blocked at the Rhine by the Romans. The German tribes did try to take over the Mediterranean World but they did not have a large enough population to suceed.
  47. @middle aged vet
    I haven't read the Coup, maybe his talent really is overwhelming there. Also, some of his early stories, before he went into pastiche mode, are very re-readable.

    Updike was quite convinced that he peaked in his later 40s and then went into steady decline, which he was oddly cheerful about. He didn’t try to stretch out the time between his books to keep up his quality level as he got older. He was kind of like Woody Allen, who peaked at about the same era in the late 1970s-early 1980s, and has stuck to a one movie per year schedule ever since. They had kind of a jock attitude that each year brings a new season and you rack up the best statistics you can, but you’re not going to get better as you get older.

    • Replies: @Ezra
    Though he denied it, it is clear from the recent biography that a lot of Updike's writing was auto-biographical. After he remarried, his 2nd wife kept a much tighter rein on him. His more stable domestic life made him happier but probably a less interesting writer.
    , @Dave Pinsen
    Allen scored a screenwriting Oscar at 76, but yeah, tough to top Annie Hall.
    , @Anonymous
    Re Woody Allen, I always considered 1989's "Crimes and Misdemeanors" his masterpiece.
  48. Knausgaard, the author of a six-volume autobiography entitled My Struggle

    I also thought this was a strange title.

    I then wondered how they dealt with the title of the German edition of My Struggle. Checking Wikipedia, Deutsch Edition, I found my answer, which I will put below the more tag to allow you all to try to guess first.

    [MORE]

    They did not translate the title for the German edition. Or as one linked article put in charmingly comprehensible German:

    Natürlich nicht unter dem Titel “Mein Kampf”

    Wikipedia and some book reviews in German just use the original Norwegian Min Kamp title. For the official version, the book covers just have the individual volume title along with the word “roman” which means “story” or “novel.” To indicate the book is part of a series, Amazon adds the subtitle, listing the first book as “Sterben: Roman (Das autobiographische Projekt, Band 1)”

    • Replies: @David
    They could get around that with the title On Thirteen Years of Struggle Against Lies Stupidity and Cowardice.
  49. @Steve Sailer
    Updike was quite convinced that he peaked in his later 40s and then went into steady decline, which he was oddly cheerful about. He didn't try to stretch out the time between his books to keep up his quality level as he got older. He was kind of like Woody Allen, who peaked at about the same era in the late 1970s-early 1980s, and has stuck to a one movie per year schedule ever since. They had kind of a jock attitude that each year brings a new season and you rack up the best statistics you can, but you're not going to get better as you get older.

    Though he denied it, it is clear from the recent biography that a lot of Updike’s writing was auto-biographical. After he remarried, his 2nd wife kept a much tighter rein on him. His more stable domestic life made him happier but probably a less interesting writer.

  50. @Steve Sailer
    Updike was quite convinced that he peaked in his later 40s and then went into steady decline, which he was oddly cheerful about. He didn't try to stretch out the time between his books to keep up his quality level as he got older. He was kind of like Woody Allen, who peaked at about the same era in the late 1970s-early 1980s, and has stuck to a one movie per year schedule ever since. They had kind of a jock attitude that each year brings a new season and you rack up the best statistics you can, but you're not going to get better as you get older.

    Allen scored a screenwriting Oscar at 76, but yeah, tough to top Annie Hall.

  51. @Anon 2
    Stockholm has roughly the same latitude as Anchorage so
    Scandinavia is basically Europe's Alaska, that is one of the
    worst pieces of real estate in Europe. Both are severely
    underpopulated for similar reasons.

    The "dark season" lasts from October to March. In Stockholm
    in January the sun rises about 9 am and sets around 3 pm, and
    even those 6 hours are devoid of brilliant sunshine. People
    leave for work in the dark and go home in darkness. Another fun
    fact: a number of people are killed every winter by falling
    icicles.

    No wonder the Vikings and later the Swedes were always
    invading the European continent, desperately seeking brighter
    sunshine and warmer climes.

    That’s what drew Swedes to Minnesota?

    • Replies: @Anon 2
    "That's what drew Swedes to Minnesota?"

    Perhaps - just like Germans were drawn to the lower Midwest.
    It's often said that the Missouri river reminded them of the Rhine.
    While we're on the topic, I found the absence of Germans in New
    England rather striking. I taught in Boston for a few years, and
    typically didn't see a single German name on the student rosters.
    Many Irish, Italian, English, Greek, Jewish, French, Polish names
    but not German
  52. @Dave Pinsen
    I didn't say he was a secret member of the alt-right, just that he's been a lightening rod for criticism (mainly by white women, I think). I just started Purity, and deliberately avoided reading the reviews to avoid spoilers, so I can't comment on it. My guess, re Franzen's politics, is that he's to the right of the current zeitgeist, but not necessarily a rightest in an absolute sense. A Reagan Democrat sort of guy. Freedom was pretty brutal to neocons and miners (one of the most right-leaning industries, by political donations) but also to environmentalists and NYC cat ladies on the left.

    I wasn’t really taking you to mean that Franzen was an alt-rightist. What I was trying to say is that whatever politics he might claim to have, the stories that he actually writes have a very conservative angle. This may be the corollary to Conquest’s First Law of Politics. Conquest’s Law is “People are always conservative about the things they know best.” The Franzen corollary is “Writer’s tell conservative stories if they draw on experience.”

    [Whether you agree or not about the conservative bent of Franzen’s stories, Franzen’s attitude toward literature is an example of Conquest’s Law in action].

  53. Houellebecq looks like Celine (“the eyes of a madman”, according to Ernst Junger- whowas still working at 102).

    One look at Houellebecq tells you he does not care. Up and coming writers writers, artists or journalists don’t dare say anything not politically correct about immigration, I expect they would be warned about the effect on their careers.

    According to Martin van Creveld, France (and Germany) are far more open to anti feminist thought than the UK or US . Houellebecq like several others mentioned is basically an anti feminist writer. According to a. academic review of Plateforme he suggests

    “…that the Anglo Saxon world censorial force and as a kind of mercenary libertarianism. Plateforme more fully elaborates this position suggesting that feminism is simply an affective projection of neo-liberalism, responsible for an injurious and ‘unnatural’ sexual behaviour that has destroyed kinship relations and contributed to the socio-economic emasculation of Western men. As part of the novel’s Swiftian ‘modest proposal’, the narrative sets up a Manichean opposition in which an essentialised ‘natural’ femininity, represented by Thai sex workers, is set against the ruined sexuality of Western women

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Like how Norwegian Knausgaard hates the Swedes, Frenchman Houellebecq resents the Anglo-Americans and their ideas such as feminism and free free market economics.

    It's a problem for patriots: how do you keep from annoying neighbors that you agree with over big issues just because they annoy you? One solution is to be big about it, but that takes some maturity. And the globalists can often easily manipulate patriots into snits over Freedom Fries and the like.

  54. @Sean
    Houellebecq looks like Celine ("the eyes of a madman", according to Ernst Junger- whowas still working at 102).

    One look at Houellebecq tells you he does not care. Up and coming writers writers, artists or journalists don't dare say anything not politically correct about immigration, I expect they would be warned about the effect on their careers.

    According to Martin van Creveld, France (and Germany) are far more open to anti feminist thought than the UK or US . Houellebecq like several others mentioned is basically an anti feminist writer. According to a. academic review of Plateforme he suggests

    "...that the Anglo Saxon world censorial force and as a kind of mercenary libertarianism. Plateforme more fully elaborates this position suggesting that feminism is simply an affective projection of neo-liberalism, responsible for an injurious and ‘unnatural’ sexual behaviour that has destroyed kinship relations and contributed to the socio-economic emasculation of Western men. As part of the novel's Swiftian ‘modest proposal’, the narrative sets up a Manichean opposition in which an essentialised ‘natural’ femininity, represented by Thai sex workers, is set against the ruined sexuality of Western women
     

    Like how Norwegian Knausgaard hates the Swedes, Frenchman Houellebecq resents the Anglo-Americans and their ideas such as feminism and free free market economics.

    It’s a problem for patriots: how do you keep from annoying neighbors that you agree with over big issues just because they annoy you? One solution is to be big about it, but that takes some maturity. And the globalists can often easily manipulate patriots into snits over Freedom Fries and the like.

    • Replies: @Fredrik
    Knausgård lives in Sweden and I wouldn't say he hates Swedes. He hates the Swedish establishment and believe me that he's not alone.
  55. I gotta agree with Knausgaard’s friend. The Elementary Particles is the best novel I’ve ever read. Steve you should drop your Tom Wolfe collection and try it out, it’s really really good.

  56. @Dave Pinsen
    That's what drew Swedes to Minnesota?

    “That’s what drew Swedes to Minnesota?”

    Perhaps – just like Germans were drawn to the lower Midwest.
    It’s often said that the Missouri river reminded them of the Rhine.
    While we’re on the topic, I found the absence of Germans in New
    England rather striking. I taught in Boston for a few years, and
    typically didn’t see a single German name on the student rosters.
    Many Irish, Italian, English, Greek, Jewish, French, Polish names
    but not German

  57. @Anonymous
    Updike was a bit cutesy and much against the prevailing style in not being unduly somber or depressed, which I suspect is what gets him affirmative-action points from Steve. Wolfe (Tom, not Thomas) is *very* hit-and-miss -- you wouldn't know it from reading this blog but some of his older reportage, e.g. about therapeutic/exercise fads and 1970s social rituals, has not aged well; in fact it's brimming with the same howlingly bad slangyness of Lester Bangs or maybe Bernie Sanders's old newsletter columns. Dave F. Wallace was a flash in the pan-- the same people talking him up now were only last decade touting Barack as a public intellectual.

    Wolfe (Tom, not Thomas) is *very* hit-and-miss — you wouldn’t know it from reading this blog but some of his older reportage, e.g. about therapeutic/exercise fads and 1970s social rituals, has not aged well; in fact it’s brimming with the same howlingly bad slangyness of Lester Bangs or maybe Bernie Sanders’s old newsletter columns.

    I agree. Much of his 70s journalism would make you cringe reading it now.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    I've liked all of Tom Wolfe's novels, to varying degrees, but Bonfire of the Vanities will be read 100 years from now if civilization endures. It's an all-time classic. One thing that always struck me as a tad odd about Wolfe's writing is his anatomical references to muscles - not the abbreviated versions lifters might use ("lats", "quads", etc.), but "sternocleidomastoid" and the like. He did that in Bonfire, and was still doing it in Back to Blood. Not a big deal though. I remember reading one of Saul Bellow's late short stories where he wrote about a character going to the "Jersey Coast", which no one in New Jersey would call it. Old writers can have odd ears I guess.
  58. Updike’s combination of overwhelming talent and well-adjusted Middle Americanness was particularly enraging to the rising powers.

    I always dug that about him. I remember in I guess the summer of ’88 I had a girlfriend whose father belonged to The Country Club in Brookline, so we got to go to the US Open there one day. Turned out Updike was volunteering at the tournament. I think he was also a vestryman or whatever the Presbyterians call it.

  59. @Lot

    Knausgaard, the author of a six-volume autobiography entitled My Struggle
     
    I also thought this was a strange title.

    I then wondered how they dealt with the title of the German edition of My Struggle. Checking Wikipedia, Deutsch Edition, I found my answer, which I will put below the more tag to allow you all to try to guess first.



    They did not translate the title for the German edition. Or as one linked article put in charmingly comprehensible German:

    Natürlich nicht unter dem Titel "Mein Kampf"

    Wikipedia and some book reviews in German just use the original Norwegian Min Kamp title. For the official version, the book covers just have the individual volume title along with the word "roman" which means "story" or "novel." To indicate the book is part of a series, Amazon adds the subtitle, listing the first book as "Sterben: Roman (Das autobiographische Projekt, Band 1)"

    They could get around that with the title On Thirteen Years of Struggle Against Lies Stupidity and Cowardice.

    • Replies: @Neon
    Very good sir, very good indeed.
  60. …argues that Submission is not satire but Houellebecq’s personal fantasy of arranged polygamous marriage. But why can’t it be both at the same time? Top writers do more than one thing at once.

    Like being serious and very funny at the same time. (I just read the English translation; I assume it’s even funnier in French.)

    As everybody else has already noted, the protagonist is a perfect specimen of a the modern Western anomic “zombie” (Houellebecq’s, or rather his characters’, word), and the author surely doesn’t find anything to admire in the pitiful lives of the zombies. But the Islamists and their converts do not get off without being satirized. (For example, Saudi money as a persuasive tool of proselytization is not an under-played theme.)

    To make a minor observation, I thought the character Rediger’s little turn illuminating the happy agreement between his ideal oummah and Davos Man was a nice touch:

    In another article, Rediger made a case for highly unequal wealth distribution. Although an authentic Muslim society would have to abolish actual destitution (alms-giving was one of the Five Pillars of Wisdom), it should also maintain a wide gap between the masses, who live in self-respecting poverty, and a tiny minority of individuals so fantastically rich that they could throw away vast, insane sums, thus assuring the survival of luxury and the arts.

  61. @Anon 2
    Henry Miller, the author of Tropic of Cancer, who was born
    in New York but was German on both sides of his family, was
    always fulminating about why Germany was so far north. He
    couldn't understand why the Germanic tribes that wandered
    around Europe didn't settle somewhere on the Mediterranean
    coast but instead had to end up in the bleak and cold Northern
    Europe. He thought the Germans would have acquired a more
    pleasant and less warlike disposition if they had ended up
    in a more congenial climate

    The East Germans did go south to Italy, Spain and North Africa. The West Germans probably came from Scandanavia. So they were trying to move south. They were blocked at the Rhine by the Romans. The German tribes did try to take over the Mediterranean World but they did not have a large enough population to suceed.

  62. There is also the novel In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman, an often very intelligent narrative, sometimes slyly anti-feminist and also anti-interventionist (Afghanistan). As close to un-PC as one can expect from a Bangladeshi. I recommend it.

  63. @SEATAF
    I suspect you are correct that the talent is showing up on the right. Not in music--leftists have always seemed to have better aesthetics on that front, for some reason. But yes in literature and, more broadly, in the world of ideas. Today's left is becoming poisoned by its orthodoxies, and that encourages rebellion from the right, either openly or subversively.

    Not in music–leftists have always seemed to have better aesthetics on that front, for some reason.

    Music is about feelings.

    • Replies: @Neon
    Musicians are on the Left? Nonsense:

    Stravinsky was very sympathetic to fascism, as was Sibelius. It is somehow not easy to think of Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, or Rachmaninoff voting for the -shiks of either variety.
    The Schumann family were uniformly right-wing (Deutsch-national it was called). Webern loved Hitler, and Karajan quite happily worked for him, as did Karl Boehm. Anybody ever heard of Strauss? Of course in no way a Nazi, but also not in the least a devotee of democracy. Nor Furtwaengler. And then there is Karl Orff and the very great and absurdly neglected Hans Pfitzner.
    It goes on and on.
    Maybe you were thinking of Bernstein.
  64. @Steve Sailer
    Thanks, I'll post.

    The original Knausgård article is interesting:

    http://mobil.dn.se/kultur-noje/kulturdebatt/karl-ove-knausgards-rasande-attack-pa-sverige/

    You can a decent translation by putting all the text into Google translate (for some reason, the url alone did not work).

    He writes not only about the fear of ambiguity, but the self-policing conformity of Swedish society – the totalitarian groupthink. Not directed from above, but absorbed from the peer group. He could easily be talking about college age Americans.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar

    He writes not only about the fear of ambiguity, but the self-policing conformity of Swedish society – the totalitarian groupthink
     
    A striking difference to the Danes, with their Brit-like tolerance for and even celebration of eccentricity. I think being sandwiched between two notoriously stuffy nations inspires them to be contrarian.
  65. @Steve Sailer
    Like how Norwegian Knausgaard hates the Swedes, Frenchman Houellebecq resents the Anglo-Americans and their ideas such as feminism and free free market economics.

    It's a problem for patriots: how do you keep from annoying neighbors that you agree with over big issues just because they annoy you? One solution is to be big about it, but that takes some maturity. And the globalists can often easily manipulate patriots into snits over Freedom Fries and the like.

    Knausgård lives in Sweden and I wouldn’t say he hates Swedes. He hates the Swedish establishment and believe me that he’s not alone.

  66. @5371
    You haven't read Gene Wolfe? Worth a try - he's on a higher literary level than almost anyone in the science fiction/fantasy world.

    I’m behind on my Wolfes. And allergic to science fiction. Ever since I read a short story where a man was blackmailed into assassinating the villainess by allowing the recruiters to gut his penis and replace the insides with a muscle-powered firearm. Yuck.

  67. @Lothar
    The original Knausgård article is interesting:

    http://mobil.dn.se/kultur-noje/kulturdebatt/karl-ove-knausgards-rasande-attack-pa-sverige/

    You can a decent translation by putting all the text into Google translate (for some reason, the url alone did not work).

    He writes not only about the fear of ambiguity, but the self-policing conformity of Swedish society - the totalitarian groupthink. Not directed from above, but absorbed from the peer group. He could easily be talking about college age Americans.

    He writes not only about the fear of ambiguity, but the self-policing conformity of Swedish society – the totalitarian groupthink

    A striking difference to the Danes, with their Brit-like tolerance for and even celebration of eccentricity. I think being sandwiched between two notoriously stuffy nations inspires them to be contrarian.

  68. @Mark Spahn (West Seneca, NY)
    Pardon my literary ignorance, but I have never heard of a Norwegian novelist named Karl Ove Knausgaard. And the fact that he is "the author of a six-volume autobiography entitled _My Struggle_" leads me to suspect that this is a hoax. There was a prominent German author of the 1920's who wrote an identically titled autobiography, but at least he was modest enough to limit it to one volume.

    Having read fair portions of both, I can guarantee that Knausgaard’s books are better written. As well as more sane.

  69. @David
    They could get around that with the title On Thirteen Years of Struggle Against Lies Stupidity and Cowardice.

    Very good sir, very good indeed.

  70. @Anon 2
    Stockholm has roughly the same latitude as Anchorage so
    Scandinavia is basically Europe's Alaska, that is one of the
    worst pieces of real estate in Europe. Both are severely
    underpopulated for similar reasons.

    The "dark season" lasts from October to March. In Stockholm
    in January the sun rises about 9 am and sets around 3 pm, and
    even those 6 hours are devoid of brilliant sunshine. People
    leave for work in the dark and go home in darkness. Another fun
    fact: a number of people are killed every winter by falling
    icicles.

    No wonder the Vikings and later the Swedes were always
    invading the European continent, desperately seeking brighter
    sunshine and warmer climes.

    “No wonder the Vikings and later the Swedes were always
    invading the European continent, desperately seeking brighter
    sunshine and warmer climes.”

    But the successful ones largely returned home taking the most beautiful women in the West with them. looking at Swedish women today it’s a remarkably good strategy if you stick with it for a few centuries.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
    Europe - itself the world's most desirable piece of real estate,
    bar none, not even the U.S. because in America, unlike in Europe, weather can kill you - can in my opinion be arranged hierarchically
    and historically into three regions

    - First-rate: those countries that face the Atlantic and/or the Mediterranean, namely France, Britain, the Netherlands,
    Italy, and to a lesser extent Portugal and Spain (since separated by the
    Pyrenees from major centers of civilization). Here we have the real
    God's chosen country - France, since it faces both the Atlantic and the
    Mediterranean plus it experiences no hurricanes, no earthquakes (unlike
    Italy), and only minor floods and forest fires. When you are in France, you
    know you're in God's Holy Land (starting with the mystical quality of light...),
    a fact that has always tortured the Americans and the Germans mercilessly.

    This region also includes what I call the magic triangle - Paris, London, and
    Amsterdam /you can throw in Bruxelles too/ three cities within only roughly 200 miles of each other, that through mutual cross-pollination have produced much of what is best about the European civilization, which
    conquered the world through mainly soft power in the last 500 years;

    - Second- rate: countries that face neither the Atlantic nor the Mediterranean,
    hence never really became seagoing powers - primarily Germany and Poland;

    - Third-rate: countries that lie in the far north, Scandinavia or Europe's Alaska,
    that cope with six months of relative darkness hence, like Alaska, are severely
    underpopulated, and lie far from the major centers of civilization
  71. @Lothar

    Not in music–leftists have always seemed to have better aesthetics on that front, for some reason.
     
    Music is about feelings.

    Musicians are on the Left? Nonsense:

    Stravinsky was very sympathetic to fascism, as was Sibelius. It is somehow not easy to think of Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, or Rachmaninoff voting for the -shiks of either variety.
    The Schumann family were uniformly right-wing (Deutsch-national it was called). Webern loved Hitler, and Karajan quite happily worked for him, as did Karl Boehm. Anybody ever heard of Strauss? Of course in no way a Nazi, but also not in the least a devotee of democracy. Nor Furtwaengler. And then there is Karl Orff and the very great and absurdly neglected Hans Pfitzner.
    It goes on and on.
    Maybe you were thinking of Bernstein.

  72. I love how European writers always pose for photos exactly as they have for 100 years: bedraggled and unkempt, staring hauntedly into the middle distance, with burning cigarette prominently displayed front and center like a religious charm.

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    I liked this photo of him driving in his New York Times essay.
    http://mobile.nytimes.com/images/100000003561727/2015/03/15/magazine/karl-ove-knausgaards-passage-through-america.html?_r=0
  73. @Romanian
    Mr. Sailer, you should consider doing a Tyler Cowen and linking to books on Amazon for some sales fees. I'd buy the Kindle version of Submission through you. It's very high on my list. And I've never read any Updike.

    Mr. Sailer, you should consider doing a Tyler Cowen and linking to books on Amazon for some sales fees. I’d buy the Kindle version of Submission through you. It’s very high on my list. And I’ve never read any Updike.

    Many of us have urged him to do that for years.

  74. Knausgaard looks like Houellebecq being played by Brad Pitt

    Dead on.

    • Agree: Anonym
  75. @Anonymous
    Updike was a bit cutesy and much against the prevailing style in not being unduly somber or depressed, which I suspect is what gets him affirmative-action points from Steve. Wolfe (Tom, not Thomas) is *very* hit-and-miss -- you wouldn't know it from reading this blog but some of his older reportage, e.g. about therapeutic/exercise fads and 1970s social rituals, has not aged well; in fact it's brimming with the same howlingly bad slangyness of Lester Bangs or maybe Bernie Sanders's old newsletter columns. Dave F. Wallace was a flash in the pan-- the same people talking him up now were only last decade touting Barack as a public intellectual.

    Wolfe (Tom, not Thomas) is *very* hit-and-miss — you wouldn’t know it from reading this blog but some of his older reportage, e.g. about therapeutic/exercise fads and 1970s social rituals, has not aged well; in fact it’s brimming with the same howlingly bad slangyness of Lester Bangs or maybe Bernie Sanders’s old newsletter columns.

    With regard to Tom Wolfe’s ’70s style, de gustibus. With regard to his ’70s ideas? He was dead on with radical chic, the Me Decade, and the Third Great Awakening.

  76. “The reason there’s so much hate among the Cyclops and so much terror I believe is simple,” he writes. “The Cyclops don’t want to know about that part of reality which isn’t how they think it should be.”

    Reminds me of one my favorite quotes from Philip K. Dirk

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

  77. “My impression is that as political correctness increasingly clamps down on free expression, more of the creative talent is showing up on the right. It’s hard to tell for sure because it can be a career killer for these guys to be too explicit, but that seems like the trend.”

    You’re absolutely correct, but a lot of that is basically a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, as it were. By that, I mean that you basically can’t say ANYTHING on the left anymore, and certainly nothing of interest. So if you say something interesting, and it has any socio-political content what-so-ever, you are almost automatically consigned to being a man-of-the-right. Any deviation from the Establishment’s political consensus, gets you defined as “a fascist,” now. Which is, not incidentally, one of the very things Knausgard is complaining about here. So yeah, it appears that all the writing talent is on the right now…because having talent makes you a right-winger. Maya Angelou writes boring dreck no one can remember, even twenty seconds after hearing it, so she’s a good leftist.

  78. @Whiskey
    "Literature" is not literature. By that, I mean it fails in its first duty.

    To entertain. I can sit and read almost anything by Twain and be entertained. Same with Tolstoy, certainly Stendahl, most definitely the Dumas family, or Jules Verne, or even Hemingway. And certainly anything Dashiell Hammett, and the late and very lamented, Donald E. Westlake, are books you just can't put down. Tom Wolfe can be that in some novels.

    Entertaining.

    Most "literature" is just pious religious flap-doodle. Who cares about some meaningless and worse, BORING professor of literature having the predictable mid life crisis affair and such? Now crossing India pursuing a famous Sepoy Mutiny villain on a steam powered elephant, did I mention the Steam Powered Elephant, in "the Demon of Cawnpore" by Verne, that's entertaining. And Verne has things to say along the way about technology, transfer of it to the Third World, and the impact technology has on Third World people to properly use it (they have to become in a way European in set of mind).

    I suspect that if any fraction of Western Civilization survives the Muslim onslaught, it will be the entertainers not the religious pious flapdoodle mongers that will be considered literature.

    There is certainly nothing more stale than warmed over 1960's radicalism as Europe is over-run by Islam, Jihad, and Sharia. That Dragon Tattoo guy? Already old news as Europeans once again dream of a Reconquista. And create their own Don Juans of Austria (the guy who fought at Lepanto, not the womanizer).

    Franzen’s point was that literary novels should entertain. His do.

  79. @Rob McX

    Wolfe (Tom, not Thomas) is *very* hit-and-miss — you wouldn’t know it from reading this blog but some of his older reportage, e.g. about therapeutic/exercise fads and 1970s social rituals, has not aged well; in fact it’s brimming with the same howlingly bad slangyness of Lester Bangs or maybe Bernie Sanders’s old newsletter columns.
     
    I agree. Much of his 70s journalism would make you cringe reading it now.

    I’ve liked all of Tom Wolfe’s novels, to varying degrees, but Bonfire of the Vanities will be read 100 years from now if civilization endures. It’s an all-time classic. One thing that always struck me as a tad odd about Wolfe’s writing is his anatomical references to muscles – not the abbreviated versions lifters might use (“lats”, “quads”, etc.), but “sternocleidomastoid” and the like. He did that in Bonfire, and was still doing it in Back to Blood. Not a big deal though. I remember reading one of Saul Bellow’s late short stories where he wrote about a character going to the “Jersey Coast”, which no one in New Jersey would call it. Old writers can have odd ears I guess.

  80. @Abe Humbles
    I love how European writers always pose for photos exactly as they have for 100 years: bedraggled and unkempt, staring hauntedly into the middle distance, with burning cigarette prominently displayed front and center like a religious charm.
  81. @Bill Jones
    "No wonder the Vikings and later the Swedes were always
    invading the European continent, desperately seeking brighter
    sunshine and warmer climes."

    But the successful ones largely returned home taking the most beautiful women in the West with them. looking at Swedish women today it's a remarkably good strategy if you stick with it for a few centuries.

    Europe – itself the world’s most desirable piece of real estate,
    bar none, not even the U.S. because in America, unlike in Europe, weather can kill you – can in my opinion be arranged hierarchically
    and historically into three regions

    – First-rate: those countries that face the Atlantic and/or the Mediterranean, namely France, Britain, the Netherlands,
    Italy, and to a lesser extent Portugal and Spain (since separated by the
    Pyrenees from major centers of civilization). Here we have the real
    God’s chosen country – France, since it faces both the Atlantic and the
    Mediterranean plus it experiences no hurricanes, no earthquakes (unlike
    Italy), and only minor floods and forest fires. When you are in France, you
    know you’re in God’s Holy Land (starting with the mystical quality of light…),
    a fact that has always tortured the Americans and the Germans mercilessly.

    This region also includes what I call the magic triangle – Paris, London, and
    Amsterdam /you can throw in Bruxelles too/ three cities within only roughly 200 miles of each other, that through mutual cross-pollination have produced much of what is best about the European civilization, which
    conquered the world through mainly soft power in the last 500 years;

    – Second- rate: countries that face neither the Atlantic nor the Mediterranean,
    hence never really became seagoing powers – primarily Germany and Poland;

    – Third-rate: countries that lie in the far north, Scandinavia or Europe’s Alaska,
    that cope with six months of relative darkness hence, like Alaska, are severely
    underpopulated, and lie far from the major centers of civilization

    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    Weather can kill you in Europe too. See, for example, the 2003 heat wave: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_European_heat_wave
    , @Hippopotamusdrome

    Europe – itself the world’s most desirable piece of real estate

     

    N Europe at least is only densly populated because of modern agricultural technology. In the ancient era it was thinly populated compared to warmer tropical civilizations. For example, Norman Borlaug did his plant breeding experiments in Mexico because its warmer, lower latitude provided two growing seasons per year.

    In N Europe, there is one growing season per year and you store your harvest over the winter and hope there isn't a famine. Animals have to stay cooped up inside and can't graze because the fields are covered in snow. You need to weave thick winter clothing. You need to burn fuel to heat your house.

    None of these disadvantages occur at lower latitudes and more temperate climates. You might as well say New England is better terrain than Southern California.

    Ice skating on Dutch canal, Hendrick Avercamp

    Thrills of the frost fair: Fascinating paintings and memorabilia show how Londoners celebrated when the River Thames froze over

  82. @Anon 2
    Europe - itself the world's most desirable piece of real estate,
    bar none, not even the U.S. because in America, unlike in Europe, weather can kill you - can in my opinion be arranged hierarchically
    and historically into three regions

    - First-rate: those countries that face the Atlantic and/or the Mediterranean, namely France, Britain, the Netherlands,
    Italy, and to a lesser extent Portugal and Spain (since separated by the
    Pyrenees from major centers of civilization). Here we have the real
    God's chosen country - France, since it faces both the Atlantic and the
    Mediterranean plus it experiences no hurricanes, no earthquakes (unlike
    Italy), and only minor floods and forest fires. When you are in France, you
    know you're in God's Holy Land (starting with the mystical quality of light...),
    a fact that has always tortured the Americans and the Germans mercilessly.

    This region also includes what I call the magic triangle - Paris, London, and
    Amsterdam /you can throw in Bruxelles too/ three cities within only roughly 200 miles of each other, that through mutual cross-pollination have produced much of what is best about the European civilization, which
    conquered the world through mainly soft power in the last 500 years;

    - Second- rate: countries that face neither the Atlantic nor the Mediterranean,
    hence never really became seagoing powers - primarily Germany and Poland;

    - Third-rate: countries that lie in the far north, Scandinavia or Europe's Alaska,
    that cope with six months of relative darkness hence, like Alaska, are severely
    underpopulated, and lie far from the major centers of civilization

    Weather can kill you in Europe too. See, for example, the 2003 heat wave: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_European_heat_wave

  83. @Anon 2
    Europe - itself the world's most desirable piece of real estate,
    bar none, not even the U.S. because in America, unlike in Europe, weather can kill you - can in my opinion be arranged hierarchically
    and historically into three regions

    - First-rate: those countries that face the Atlantic and/or the Mediterranean, namely France, Britain, the Netherlands,
    Italy, and to a lesser extent Portugal and Spain (since separated by the
    Pyrenees from major centers of civilization). Here we have the real
    God's chosen country - France, since it faces both the Atlantic and the
    Mediterranean plus it experiences no hurricanes, no earthquakes (unlike
    Italy), and only minor floods and forest fires. When you are in France, you
    know you're in God's Holy Land (starting with the mystical quality of light...),
    a fact that has always tortured the Americans and the Germans mercilessly.

    This region also includes what I call the magic triangle - Paris, London, and
    Amsterdam /you can throw in Bruxelles too/ three cities within only roughly 200 miles of each other, that through mutual cross-pollination have produced much of what is best about the European civilization, which
    conquered the world through mainly soft power in the last 500 years;

    - Second- rate: countries that face neither the Atlantic nor the Mediterranean,
    hence never really became seagoing powers - primarily Germany and Poland;

    - Third-rate: countries that lie in the far north, Scandinavia or Europe's Alaska,
    that cope with six months of relative darkness hence, like Alaska, are severely
    underpopulated, and lie far from the major centers of civilization

    Europe – itself the world’s most desirable piece of real estate

    N Europe at least is only densly populated because of modern agricultural technology. In the ancient era it was thinly populated compared to warmer tropical civilizations. For example, Norman Borlaug did his plant breeding experiments in Mexico because its warmer, lower latitude provided two growing seasons per year.

    In N Europe, there is one growing season per year and you store your harvest over the winter and hope there isn’t a famine. Animals have to stay cooped up inside and can’t graze because the fields are covered in snow. You need to weave thick winter clothing. You need to burn fuel to heat your house.

    None of these disadvantages occur at lower latitudes and more temperate climates. You might as well say New England is better terrain than Southern California.

    Ice skating on Dutch canal, Hendrick Avercamp

    Thrills of the frost fair: Fascinating paintings and memorabilia show how Londoners celebrated when the River Thames froze over

  84. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The ideas mooted on websites like this one could use an aesthetic representation. Who is going to be the American Houellebecq?

    The other side has their websites. These websites publish articles about how Christianity is homophobic because the Mets’ second baseman is a moronic jerk. Such websites are better funded, more stylish, more circulated than websites like unz.com, but they lack any ideas.

    Interesting ideas are published here on comparatively threadbare sites. What American Houellebecq is going to represent them in a way that moves ordinary Americans?

  85. @Steve Sailer
    Updike was quite convinced that he peaked in his later 40s and then went into steady decline, which he was oddly cheerful about. He didn't try to stretch out the time between his books to keep up his quality level as he got older. He was kind of like Woody Allen, who peaked at about the same era in the late 1970s-early 1980s, and has stuck to a one movie per year schedule ever since. They had kind of a jock attitude that each year brings a new season and you rack up the best statistics you can, but you're not going to get better as you get older.

    Re Woody Allen, I always considered 1989’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors” his masterpiece.

  86. I just finished “Submission.” What an awful book. The pornographic scenes are disgusting, and the main character is so cold and withdrawn that you can’t even call him a zombie, as he gives no evidence of ever having had a spark of life. The politics are so unbelievable that the book can’t even serve as a credible warning for the future. We are supposed to believe that once in power, for example, the French Muslim Brotherhood would serve alcohol at official functions, that the French people would willingly submit to a halal diet (what, no pork sausage or raw bars?) and that women would gracefully go along with a complete turnaround of their position in society and gladly sign up with matchmakers to ensure that their future lives as wife number two or three to a college professor are feasible economic ventures. Beggars belief.

    The really shocking aspect of the book to me was learning that an author of such a poorly written tome is considered a literary icon in France. How the mighty have fallen.

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