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January 18, 2015

Sunday Morning Book Thread 01-18-2015: Nothing Left To Destroy [OregonMuse]

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Because You Can Never Have Too Many Books

Good morning morons and moronettes and welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread. The only AoSHQ thread that is so hoity-toity, pants are required. Or kilts. Kilts are OK, too. But not tutus. Unless you're a girl.

Quote Of The Week

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.

–Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

But Not For Thee

An unintended side effect of Paris is the revealing, or perhaps I should say reminder, that the left really has a hard time with this whole "free speech" thing. Right alongside grand and glorious declarations of the absolute right of free speech are inserted codicils that, if followed strictly logically, simply negate all of their olympian sentiments. For example, this idiot says:

On one side is freedom of speech and expression, which must be protected, because without it we are nothing.

So, yay free speech!

Free speech isn't really free if it attempts to endanger others' personal safety or deny them social equality.

Whoops, I mean, boo free speech!

I particularly like that lame "deny them social equality" escape clause. What does that even mean? It seems to me that just by holding someone up for ridicule, which is what satirists do, could be construed as denying that person "social equality." Of course, it as a progressive article of faith that some persons are more deserving of equality than others, and so the question for progressives is, on what basis should those who deserve equality be separated from those who don't?

It is obvious from the article that the author believes that the reasons should be, get this, political ones:

But most popular satirical comedians - Colbert, Jon Stewart, John Oliver - are more comfortable targeting policy and conservative provocateurs than groups of citizens. By contrast, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh, though more the target of satire than practitioners, have built careers on offensiveness, gleefully flying in the face of liberal America's most sacred cows - including its devotion to tolerance.

See the contrast? Liberal icons Stewart and Colbert merely "target" conservatives, but Limbaugh and Hannity, when they attack liberals, are "offensive". So, all this really is is merely a restatement of the progressive view that when we do it, it's satire, but when you do it, it's evil h8 speech, you evil h8rs.

And all of this kind of dovetails with this other progressive idiot who complains that satire is dead. He starts out by asking the question, has America turned into a spoof of itself, and blames it on the rise of postmodernism:

Is it coincidence, then, that the rise of postmodernism in the 1970s overlaps almost exactly the decline of satire? Is it coincidence that after the turmoil of the late 1950s and 1960s, a period during which Terry Southern, William S. Burroughs and Joseph Heller (among others) portrayed, with bilious exactitude, the excesses and hypocrisies of empire America, we turned inward, forgoing satire for irony?

And then this idiot spends the remainder of the 1100+ word article completely missing the obvious: that "empire America" as he calls it, is now firmly in the hands of, and is being run by and for the benefit of, the progressive left. I daresay that if satire ever did come back, he's probably not going to like it very much.

Another way we can look at this is to say that I want to tell this fool that if America has turned into a spoof of itself, it's you that did it. Our culture is now pretty much a shambles, thanks to progressives, progressive economic policy is turning our country into an actual shambles, and so now all you're doing now is bombing the rubble. He has high praise for William S. Burroughs, whose wiki entry included a quote from "beat" author Jack Kerouac, who calls him:

...the "greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift", a reputation he owes to his "lifelong subversion" of the moral, political and economic systems of modern American society

So, to recap: you progressives have self-admittedly spent your entire lives subverting the "moral, political and economic systems of modern American society" and now, guess what, it worked. That which you hate has been vanquished. That which you wanted destroyed has now been destroyed. Your enemies have been defeated, and their severed heads are set up on pikes that adorn the battlements.

So what are you complaining about? That it's no fun any more? But why would you think that? Is this not what you've wanted? Is this not what you've been striving for? Is this not what you've been egging on and encouraging and supporting all these years?

Idiot. They've destroyed everything and now there's nothing left to destroy. This is your victory. This is the glorious triumph of progressivism. What's the matter, don't you like the taste?

But he did mention a few authors, and this being the book thread, I should point them out. One of them is the satirist Terry Southern. Coincidentally, commenter 'naturalfake' mentioned last week that he was rereading Southern's novel The Magic Christian, which he describes as "surprisingly well-written with a masterfully simple prose style", and likens it to an British comedy of manners. The main character is not the anti-establishment prankster as the crappy movie version would have it, but rather

...a huge, bored dickweed who's had all the best in life but can find no purpose greater than tearing down the society and morals of those around him...just...because....he....can.

This is actually a pretty good description of the progressive left in general.

I remember once when I was about 13 years old, I somehow got ahold of Southern's Candy which I just thought was pr0n, which it most certainly is, but the larger point, one which horny 13-year-old boys might miss, is that Candy actually a send-up of Voltaire's Candide.

But I didn't see any of that. All I cared about was that Candy was a sex-pot (that's what we called them in those days) and I wished I could meet a girl like her.

William S. Burroughs was a heroin addict who accidentally shot and killed his wife.

He was born to a wealthy family in St. Louis, Missouri, grandson of the inventor and founder of the Burroughs Corporation, William Seward Burroughs I, and nephew of public relations manager Ivy Lee.

In other words, he was "a dickweed who's had all the best in life but can find no purpose greater than tearing down the society and morals of those around him". Sounds about right. Burroughs is best known for his novel Naked Lunch, which has been described as "the hallucinogenic ravings of a heroin addict". It was the subject of an obscenity trial in Massachusetts that turned out to be the last obscenity trial against a work of literature in the United States. The hippies liked Burroughs a lot. That alone is enough to give one pause.

The Official Book

So in Mississippi there is legislation in process to make the Bible thee "official" state book:

Democrats Tom Miles and Michael Evans, members of the Mississippi House of Representatives, are proposing a bill that would make the Bible the state book, joining the state's official beverage, water mammal and stone as official state symbols.

So as such, it may not mean much of anything. I mean, it's kind of like a company that, say, makes pooper-scoopers for dog owners that pay the NFL a certain sum of money for permission to call their product "the official pooper-scooper of the NFL" but it doesn't mean that anyone in the NFL actually endorses it, much less uses it.

On the other hand, I wonder if the Paris terror attacks, while obviously not the cause of this proposed legislation, is perhaps giving it some propulsion it would not otherwise have. No doubt the progressive left will no doubt weep and wail, particularly if this catches on in other states (Louisiana pulled a similar bill last year), but in the wake of Paris, their protests sound increasingly discordant and shrill.

E-Book Wars Heats Up

Macmillan wants to get into the act.

Publisher Macmillan will offer 1,000 of its titles through the e-book subscription services Oyster and Scribd. It's the third major publishing company to sign on with the all-you-can-read e-book services.

Everybody wants to be the Netflix of books. Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins are already on board, but Penguin Random House, the world's largest publisher, is still playing hard-to-get:

A representative for Penguin Random House told the Associated Press that the company is "uncommitted at present to offering our books for any subscription services."

Try a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy. Maybe that'll work.

Huck Finn Re-revisited

Now this should be interesting. We've been told over and over again by our betters in leftist academia that Mark Twain's classic Huckleberry Finn is about race and racism, and the controversy among progressive scholars is whether the book is racist or anti-racism.

Neither, says Andrew Levy. No, not THAT Andy Levy, this Andrew Levy is an English professor at Butler University, and author of the new book Huck Finn's America: Mark Twain and the Era that Shaped His Masterpiece. In it, he argues that race wasn't Twain's primary concern:

Rather, the novel emerged from and spoke to a society that was obsessed with wayward children, particularly boys, and most typically lower-class boys spurred to delinquency by the violent stories they read in dime novels. The papers were full of "stories of children committing crimes or dying young or killing each other," to a degree that, Levy remarks, a modern reader would find "simply numbing." In response to this perceived crisis, Americans were, for the first time, seriously discussing the establishment of a system of public education.

Seems that Twain had more of a "let boys be boys" attitude:

Twain was needling the attitudes behind this panic. Tom Sawyer is exactly the sort of boy who reads sensational adventure stories and makes them fodder for endless mischief. Twain himself hated school, found it boring, oppressive and claustrophobic...Twain especially despised the pious, moralistic children's literature of his time, and wrote parodies with titles like "The Story of the Bad Little Boy That Bore a Charmed Life" and "The Story of the Good Little Boy Who Did Not Prosper."

The Salon review these extracts are from is a hoot. After elaborating the book's thesis that Huckleberry Finn isn't primarily about race, the author takes up the rest of her review talking about race. I guess she has to, thought, because that's what progressives do.

Moron Recommendations

Ronald Reagan once famously said:

"If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth."

This quote comes to my mind frequently these days as I sit and watch Obama and the progressive left doing their level best to turn their denial of American exceptionalism into a self-fulfilling prophecy. If America goes, what's left?

In a word, Texas.

Texas is a wonderful place. I've never lived there, but I know that this is so. As our nation slowly sinks into barbarism and decay, I think that somehow Texas will survive the collapse, and it's one lone star will shine out like a beacon, telling the rest of the world no, we're not dead yet, we're still here, there is still hope.

And I take comfort in that.

That's why I'm pleased that moron commenter 'redc1c4' tipped me to the short novel Lone Star Planet by John Joseph McGuire and H. Beam Piper which you can get for FREE on Kindle and also on Gutenberg. First published in 1957, it has been described as "a comedic libertarian rant from the golden age of science fiction." In 1999, the novel won the Prometheus Award for Best Classic Libertarian SF Novel.

One Amazon reviewer says that it's a clear and obvious tribute to H.L. Mencken's classic essay "The Malevolent Jobholder" in which he proposed:

"...that it shall be no longer malum in se for a citizen to pummel, cowhide, kick, gouge, cut, wound, bruise, maim, burn, club, bastinado, flay, or even lynch a [government] jobholder, and that it shall be malum prohibitum only to the extent that the punishment exceeds the jobholder's deserts. The amount of this excess, if any, may be determined very conveniently by a petit jury, as other questions of guilt are now determined."

Just think about that: an entire planet full of Texans. What could be better than that?


Any of you morons ever read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon? It was recommended to Muse Daughter who just started reading it a few days ago. The plot concerns two cousins who want to get into the comic book business. From the Amazon blurb:

Samuel Klayman--self-described little man, city boy, and Jew--first meets Josef Kavalier when his mother shoves him aside in his own bed, telling him to make room for their cousin, a refugee from Nazi-occupied Prague. It's the beginning, however unlikely, of a beautiful friendship. In short order, Sam's talent for pulp plotting meets Joe's faultless, academy-trained line, and a comic-book superhero is born. A sort of lantern-jawed equalizer clad in dark blue long underwear, the Escapist "roams the globe, performing amazing feats and coming to the aid of those who languish in tyranny's chains!" Before they know it, Kavalier and Clay (as Sam Klayman has come to be known) find themselves at the epicenter of comics' golden age.

Sounds like it might be fun.


So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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