Archives for category: Literature

I picked up a paperback in town yesterday, Weird Tales #3, edited by Lin Carter. As is my habit, when obtaining a new anthology, I immediately try one story. This time it’s the title story by Robert E. Howard & Gerald W. Page. Howard is known for his Conan tales, primarily, and this is not one of them. The narrator explains up front what is going on:

The conceit of a first-person account of a buried-in-deep-antiquity tale established, the story proceeds. It is simply and effectively written. And it goes on to advance a familiar idea, of a race of giants — ferocious quasi-human demigods or some such:

The extent to which this is familiar to today’s readers not through Sword & Sorcery fantasy tales, but from the speculations of “alternative archaeology,” is . . . interesting.

We are not far from Burroughsian territory, I guess, in terms of premise and conceit, but the prose is much more elegantly rugged and effectively paced.

As I have confessed before, this is a genre I have not read much. This is indeed my first reading of a Howard story. And, because the writing credit is shared with another, one could argue I still cannot mark the kill on my readerly coup stick.

I will give Howard another chance.

By Gorm.

twv

Jane Yolen’s “The Uncorking of Uncle Finn” is a droll tale cleverly told. Inhabiting six pages of The Year’s Best Fantasy Stories 13 (Arthur W. Saha, ed., Daw 1987), it is not high fantasy, sword & sorcery, urban fantasy, horror, or any of the more familiar genres included in the generic term, “fantasy.” It is, I guess, a yarn. And very funny.

Opening of Jane Yolen, “The Uncorking of Uncle Finn” (F&SF, v 71 #5, November 1986).

I am not sure I have read anything else by this author, though I have two paperbacks of her fantasies, one of them being the respected Briar Rose (1992). After reading her 1986 short story, I may have to give Briar Rose a try.

Now, I read a lot of short stories and essays, from books in my library. But I almost never record my thoughts, so I of course forget what I have read, no matter how good these shorter pieces are. Perhaps this blog will include little notices of my readings, not by popular demand, but as part of my normal journal writing.

twv


N.B. The image at the top of the page is a detail of the anthology’s cover. It has nothing to do with Yolen’s story.

Pepe is back!

Last Friday, when I was helping Paul Jacob with his weekend wrap-up (This Week in Common Sense), I had only heard rumors about Pepe’s appearance on the streets of Hong Kong,* so I asked Paul if he had heard anything. He hadn’t. But . . . The New York Times has come to the rescue, with “Hong Kong Protesters Love Pepe the Frog. No, They’re Not Alt-Right” (August 19).

“To much of the world, the cartoon frog is a hate symbol,” the blurb expands. “To Hong Kong protesters, he’s something entirely different: one of them.”

The article, by Daniel Victor, confronts how jarring it may seem for Pepe to appear as “a pro-democracy freedom fighter in the Hong Kong protests, siding with the people in their struggle against an authoritarian state.”

Well, jarring if you are a Gray Lady reporter. For was it not major media folks who repeatedly characterized Pepe as “alt right” and a “hate figure”? So, what if that’s just their story? How they want us to see the symbol?

To participants of the online trolling that erupted in the election of Donald Trump, Pepe was not one thing, but all over the map. He was, as I suggested to Paul, an anti-authoritarian Trickster, more Bugs Bunny than a cruel cartoon of Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle.

And the anti-authoritarianism of Pepe was directed against our Establishment, in part as embodied in Hillary Clinton . . . and in the news media.

But the Times cannot quite confront that. 

Pepe in Hong Kong.

So we encounter, instead, a very different explanation. We are told how Pepe’s creator Matt Furie’s pre-troll conception of Pepe has survived, innocent as a lamb — or even as “Hello Kitty!” — in the former British colony . . . at least as scribbled and spray-painted on subway walls (and tenement halls).

A bit self-serving? The Times’ narrative almost begs for a response . . . in the form of a Pepe-like wink-and-leer.

twv


* The other day I repeated the rumors, and the images that seemed to back them up, in my “Baizuo Blues” post. There I was dealing with a Medium essay so outrageous I was not sure it wasn’t some bizarre form of post-irony. And, in the back of my head I mulled over this unsettling worry that even the photos might have been doctored. These worries did not diminish when the Medium piece almost immediately vanished from the site. Which is why I was still wondering about the truth of Pepe’s reëmergence later in the week.

Karl Marlantes, an all-too-typical comsymp.

Deep River is a novel about the valley over the hill from where I live. My mother grew up in that valley. She and my father built their first home in the valley head. My older siblings spent the early years of their lives there. I have fond memories, for the most part, of that shadowy place not far from home.

The novel is said to be quite good, and its author, Karl Marlantes, a genius.

He does not seem like one.

Not on the basis of the Seattle Times article about the novel, anyway. I got stuck on something he said, a comment about Communism. I raise more than a mere single eyebrow:

Today we have this fear of anyone who has a different political attitude from us. My grandmother was a communist, but her kitchen was clean. She wasn’t scary, but today we gin up the fear.

Oh, is that what we do? Gin up the fear. How thoughtless of us! How bigoted!

Replace one word in his defense of his grandma, though, and would anyone still consider his defense of his grandmother’s radicalism reasonable?

Today we have this fear of anyone who has a different political attitude from us. My grandmother was a Nazi, but her kitchen was clean. She wasn’t scary, but today we gin up the fear.

Karl Marlantes would not write that. He knows that National Socialism was evil. And had one of his relatives been a Nazi who worked as “a political agitator” stirring up “a heap of trouble” in trying to organize for a cause he approved of — like, I bet, a welfare state (which Nazi Germany did indeed establish) — he would rightly be too squeamish to brush aside our abhorrence of the ideology.

But it is worse than that. Communists killed over 100 million of their fellow citizens last century. Hitler, an utterly evil dictator, was a slacker compared to Stalin and Mao.

Oh, and Hitler praised Karl Marx’s economic analysis, too. Leftists cannot hide behind unhistorical platitudes of “anti-fascism” and a witless love for “the left.” The bodies pile up higher the further left you push. And even the “anarchist-communists”/“communist-anarchists” of bygone years have something to answer for, because they promoted ideas that led to revolution that in turn led to tyranny and mass slaughter.

And it is not as if the Wobblies, whom Marlantes’ character Aino — based on his grandmother — “agitated” for, were all sweetness and light. They engaged in quite a number of riots, and several forms of terrorism. Along with the bomb-throwing (and bomb-throwing adjacent) anarchists, they understandably got caught in the anti-terrorist backlash in the early 20th century, and were suppressed.

Marlantes appears to be a typical “progressive” moral moron. He carries on a long leftist tradition of taking sides in the Pick Your Tyranny game that has played for nearly a century. Fascism is bad; communism is . . . well, “communists mean well.”

I am not sure I have ever encountered a leftist willing to plumb the depths of the Totalitarian Ideology Problem, willing to not Pick Your Tyranny. They exist, sure. But once one really comes to grips with the problem, one tends to cease being a leftist.

Leftism is a culturally acceptable Yog-Sothothery, an open flirtation with outrageous moral horror. It is a cult. It corrupts minds. And it is very widespread among moderately bright artistic types. Like Karl Marlantes.


Oh, and for the record: my grandfather hated the Wobblies. Not all Finns were commies.

There were Red Finns, sure, but there were about an equal number of Church Finns — “Whites” — at least in America. My education in politics did not rest upon this divide, but it did haunt the back of my mind. I grew up knowing about the tragedy of “Karelian Fever.” I also knew of the terror of living under Stalin. Socialism of any kind was always a bit suspect.

What made me so lucky, when so many of my culturally “left” artists succumbed? Well, much older relatives of mine, who were Reds, knew it all too well. And told their story. Which was repeated.

Family lore about my great uncle and aunt was this: early in the mad “experiment” of Communism, they had moved, as newlyweds, to the USSR — and within six months became almost afraid of each other. Political correctness under a totalitarian state is one of terror, not mere ill manners and inconvenience. They fled, lucky to escape.

Finnish-Americans who will not honestly confront their history with communist evil don’t do anyone any good.

I will wait to read Marlantes’ latest novel, I think, perhaps pick it up used. Call it my personal boycott of apologists for totalitarianism, “politically correct” fools who make light of mass murder, regimentation, and the philosophy of pushiness and plunder.

twv

Civilization consists in giving something a name that doesn’t belong to it and then dreaming over the result. And the false name joined to the true dream does create a new reality. The object does change into something else, because we make it change. We manufacture realities.

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet (Penguin Books, 2001), pp. 65–66.
…currently reading…
A typically tendentious bit of fake news.

You may have thought that the purpose of a protest march was to garner publicity for your cause, thereby changing minds and then government. We have been told, since at least the days of Martin Luther King, that the protest march is a noble form of activism. Peaceful. Effective. Important for “democracy.”

What we were told no longer applies, for today’s protesters do not seek publicity. They are up to something else.

Correction: protesters “on the left,” these days, are up to something else. Protesters “on the right” stick a bit closer to the old rationale.

Yet Another Portlandia Protest-cum-Riot

You can glean what is going on if you read between the lines of an appallingly deceptive article about the recent altercations on the streets of Portland, Oregon. Andy Campbell, the propagandist who wrote the article for an ezine that I had thought was called the Huffington Post, but now goes under the banner of HuffPost, works mightily to convince leftists that their side, whose avant-garde is the black-clad thugs who call themselves Antifa, is on the side of the good, while the “far right” groups Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer (hereinafter identified by their initials), are evil. It is all very interesting, sure. But what the reader may not see is what is what is most important.

And what is that missing something?

Any consideration of who initiates violence.

Sure, the author makes much of PB/PP protesters preparing for violence. But violence can be defensive, and defensive violence can be prepared for. The implication of his tendentious, ersatz reportage is that Antifa’s posture is innocent and good and the PB/PP protesters’ is malign. While he lingers on these right-wingers’ armament styles, he does not do the same for Antifa, or draw any conclusions from their style of dress: black, with faces covered.

So he misses the pattern here: the PB/PP protestors arm themselves, sure; they also get permits and walk the streets of the city, shouting their slogans and holding up their gonfalons, as protestors are wont to do — and then the Antifa counter-protesters show up, sans permits, in their masks and makeshift black uniforms, throwing things at the protesters, taunting them, egging them on so that the violence will escalate.

It had preciously been important, in our age’s tradition of protest efforts, to appear the victim — and undoubtedly both sides here are prepared for violence yet wish, to some degree, to be seen as not “starting it.”

We have only two real clues about the justice of the latest City of Roses mêlée, neither made explicit in Campbell’s dreadful Antifa apologia.

  1. Who was there first, who had a right to be there.
  2. The attack upon journalist Andy Ngo.

These two issues deserve separate treatment.

Who’s On First?

In previous altercations between the PB/PP and Antifa, the former groups had bothered to seek (and sometimes obtain) permits to protests on public property.

Permits are good form, at the very least, for public roads and parks and sidewalks are designed and maintained for the use of people in normal transit, going about the normal business of commerce. Appropriating them to protest and publicize a particular cause blocks transit, and public use, and what amounts to a form of privatization — so one would expect the “public” to be somehow compensated and protected from the change in de facto and perhaps de jure property rights.

Mr. Campbell’s narration, such as it is, does not mention any permitting process. But it is clear that the “right-wing” protesters had priority, and that they were taunting Antifa merely by their presence.

In normal civilized contexts, one expects to be able to go about one’s peaceful business without being attacked, compelled, or coerced. In a society where there is freedom of speech, mere expressions of ideas are not considered provocations — only direct threats and incitements are.

So, as near as I can make out — and nothing Mr. Campbell writes indicates otherwise — when the PB/PP protesters take to the street, they are indeed preparing for violence, defensive violence, and they expect their mere words, slogans, and presence to call forth the counter-protesters who, by initiating violence, show themselves to be thugs.

So for one side, publicity and journalistic coverage is all-important. Protesters on the PB/PP “right” play by the old rules of protest, the ones culturally established in the 1960s.

For the other side, the opposite is true. Counter-protesters on the hubristic left do not want careful consideration of what they are doing, they do not want transparency. They need confusion and darkened cameras to allow “journalists” in partisan venues like HuffPost to make halfway plausible apologia for their violent actions.

Which takes us away from Andy Campbell, propagandist, and to Andy Ngo, victim.

Do We Know Ngo?

For an article about a riot and an attack, the HuffPost effort provides few details. Indeed, details are almost non-existent. Most of the screed is about providing a context for the attack upon Andy Ngo. And it is a carefully constructed context — which does not mention other victims, for example.

Also left out is the fact that Mr. Ngo was merely photographing the event. He was attacked for his journalistic work, here and elsewhere. In other accounts online we are told that his attackers were more than aware of who he was. “One woman in the crowd,” The Daily Wire reports, “can be heard yelling, “F*** you, Andy!”

So why attack Mr. Ngo, a photojournalist and sub-editor for Quillette?

He has a long history investigating Antifa and other leftist violence and mobbing activity in Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere. For this he is seen as an enemy — a “fascist,” I gather.

More importantly, it is the new style of leftist protest. We saw it best in the Melissa Click Missou Muscle Moment:

Repeatedly, in recent years, leftists in charge of and participating in public protests have ejected and attacked and . . . muscled . . . photojournalists and bloggers trying to cover public events. It makes no sense for a protest, of course. The whole point is to be seen.

Two likely explanations for this strike me as plausible.

One is that the leftist protesters see any non-major media coverage as likely to be antagonistic. Leftists know, intuitively if not explicitly, that major media is on their side, for the most part. But independent media? Much less likely. So why tolerate bad press? Do as Bush and Obama did in public: marginalize the opposition by pushing protest out beyond the margins.

Today’s leftists know that their protests are not free speech zones.

But another explanation is even more likely: leftist protest today is not protest at all, it is insurrection and repressive mobbing.

Antifa and friends are not aiming to appeal to the masses or the politicians. They aim to subjugate them: shout them down, drown out their voices and, by sheer force of effrontery and threat and mayhem, make them cringe in cowardice and fear.

Leftist protests today are mobocracy in motion. They are inherently violent. Their whole raison d’être is revolution and their modus operandi is force and intimidation.

And why don’t more moderate leftists object? I can only speculate. It sure seems like either because they agree with Antifa goals, or because they are cowards.

“By any means necessary” is a popular slogan amongst these people, and, for some reason most journalists and many politicians fail to see its deep immorality, the uncivilized principle of justifying violent, tyrannical means by the purported goodness of one’s chosen end.

Andy Ngo was peacefully covering the event, and Antifa goons attacked him and stole his camera.

And Mr. Campbell spent most of his effort trying to defend the obvious thugs, in part by denying that the milkshakes thrown at him did not (likely) contain Portland cement.

Ah, Portland cement! How apt in this situation.

How We Know HuffPo Is Propaganda

HuffPost spin dubs Andy Ngo a “conservative,” and Campbell uses words like “extremists” and “far right” quite liberally. Antifa, on the other hand, garners no adjectives, and is usually blessed with the eulogistic “anti-fascist” synonym.

This is how we know HuffPost is a mere propaganda mill, a spinner of what we call, these days, “fake news,” a term previously associated most famously with Jon Stewart (self-identified purveyor) and Donald Trump (accuser and accused).

In situations of conflicting interpretations, if you only take efforts to define your opponents, but just assume an understanding of one’s own side, then you are likely just a partisan. Indeed, it is this trick, of always referring to one side by pejorative adjectives and nouns, and letting one’s own side free of imposed modifiers, that defines a centrist cult. The method is well known. It is called “marginalization.”

The fact that the left has long been the most proficient practitioner of marginalization while making marginalization a grounds for attacking its opponents is just one of the drolleries of our age.

I consider this funny, of course: clueless hypocrisy is often funny.

But it is also part of a malign project, and thus quite serious indeed.

Now, it is possible that Andy Campbell is not the evil liar I think he is. He could be just very stupid, a brainwashed stooge with typical-to-his-class revolutionary, statist sympathies. Perhaps because he is on the side of Antifa, he has disabled himself from applying reason to the reality before him. All he can do is paint pictures that makes his side look good and the side he hates look bad. It is just second nature.

In the spirit of Mencken, we might be tempted to dismiss him, therefore, as a boob, mountebank, or moron. But to succeed in journalism surely means possessing a modicum of intelligence, doesn’t it?

While Mr. Campbell is a reporter manqué, I make no such pretentions to “news journalism.” No one pays me to quote fairly from all sides (which reporters are supposed to do), so I have here taken the liberty merely of arguing a case.

Which is all, really, that our HuffPost tendentitarian does. So, I guess the surest method to handle folks such as he is twofold: mock them as journalists and revile them as base rhetoricians . . . and worse.

twv

The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” Hermann Wögel (1884)

A number of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories were first published without the honest frame of fiction, and therefore count as hoax literature. This element of American journalism deserves serious study, especially now that journalism has returned to its roots.

Edgar Allan Poe

Very pertinently it was demanded of Plato, why a picked chicken, which was clearly a ‘biped without feathers,’ was not, according to his definition, a man? But I am not to be bothered by any similar query. Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal that diddles but man.”

Edgar Allan Poe, “Raising the Wind; or, Diddling Considered as One of the Exact
Sciences
” (1843)

N. B. The reader is entreated not to search for “diddling” using Google’s image search engine.

I just watched a roomful of men with cigars (one of them being Senator Ted Cruz) talk about the ending to HBO’s Game of Thrones, and though there is much good criticism about what went wrong and why, not one of them gets to what I think of as the weirdest and most astounding error: the fizzle of the Winter, which was all build-up and no pay-off.

Winter should have, by the penultimate episode, put King’s Landing under many feet of snow, and the show’s last scene should have been a montage of people all over Westeros tunneling under strata of snow, eking out the barest holds on existence after the stores of food had been depleted by war after war. In this context the dragon and the Night King would have had their final haunting presences.

An album titled after the first cut, a piece by the great Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen.

High fantasy lives and dies by what Lawrence Durrell called a Sense of Place. Or, to put it in different terms, high fantasy works by conjuring up Faërie. Which is a place as well as a state of mind. In addition to archetypes instantiated, high fantasy gives us weird and strange worlds that are themselves characters of over-arching importance. William Morris in The Water of the Wondrous Isles, The Well at the World’s End and The Sundering Flood; Lord Dunsany in “The Sword of Welleran” and “Charon” and The King of Elfland’s Daughter; J.R.R. Tolkien in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; Mervyn Peake in Titus Groan and Gormenghast; Peter S. Beagle in The Last Unicorn — all of these succeed by making place as important as plot and character.

In the end, it is the place that is Westeros that was betrayed in the final season of Game of Thrones. The showrunners and writers got too caught up in plot and (to a lesser extent, character) to not realize that their great mission was to be true to an imagined world. A world that George R. R, Martin imagined, in his as-yet-unfinished series of books, and as he built into the very structure of his story.

And the great truth about his world was uttered often, and which served as the motto of House Stark: “Winter Is Coming.”

It barely arrived at all. In the final scene Jon Snow and his wildlings head north of the Wall with barely a flake falling from the sky and a mere dusting on the ground.

No wonder the ending lacked fire. It had too little ice.

twv

William Morris’s last romance, and probably his best.

Samuel Johnson, when asked about what he thought of a certain woman preacher, famously responded, “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” I wonder what he would have thought of Soph, the YouTube sensation who recently had her best video removed from the popular video-sharing platform.

The truth, contra Johnson, is that there have been more-than-adequate female preachers, few so ungainly or risible as a hound on hind legs. And the truth about Soph is that she is, well, more astounding than an 18th century English female preacher.

And what astounds is not her sex, but her age and her success. And I mean that in a good way. Joseph Bernstein, a Buzzfeed hack whom I had previously known only for his Tweet about murdering heterosexual white men, apparently objects to both her age and her success, so he wrote a story about the girl entertainer and commentator, predictably portraying her as some sort of avatar of awfulness. In “YouTube’s Newest Far-Right, Foul-Mouthed, Red-Pilling Star Is A 14-Year-Old Girl,” he does not allow his readers to make their own judgments about either her talents or moral status but, instead, spoon-feeds it like you would expect from a far-left “senior technology reporter”:

Yes, if you want a vision of the future YouTube is midwifing, imagine a cherubic white girl mocking Islamic dress while lecturing her hundreds of thousands of followers about Muslim “rape gangs,” social justice “homos,” and the evils wrought by George Soros — under the thin guise of edgy internet comedy, forever.

Actually, don’t imagine it. Watch it. It’s already here.

Note the tone of moral panic. Note the crack about how gossamer is her “guise” as a Net comedienne. And note the accusatory finger pointed at YouTube, as if a platform should somehow be held responsible for the free activities of its users. Would he say that telephone companies “widwifed” phone sex, crank calls, and the JFK assassination?

Alas, Bernstein’s tone and tack served as a contagion, memetically engineered to its target. That is, his article spurred YouTube to panic and take down the very video that offended him.

Now, I saw that video. I may have watched it twice. It was hilarious. It was indeed outrageous. And it very much did mock Islam. Alas, for reasons too obvious to state, Bernstein characterizes this in his piece as “hatred toward Muslims” and not criticism of a memeplex.

It is impossible to believe that Bernstein would have marshaled the full force of his SJW chivalry had Soph been mocking the Amish, the Southern Baptist Convention, or the monastic Order of Saint Benedict.

Now, skipping the bulk of Bernstein’s string of calumnies, innuendos, and tortured readings, I wish to focus on one charge, embedded in this bizarre passage:

Soph’s scripts, which she says she writes with a collaborator, are familiar: a mix of hatred toward Muslims, anti-black racism, Byzantine fearmongering about pedophilia, tissue-thin incel evolutionary psychology, and reflexive misanthropy that could have been copied and pasted from a thousand different 4chan posts. Of course, it’s all presented in the terminally ironic style popularized by boundary-pushing comedy groups like the influential Million Dollar Extreme and adopted of late by white supremacist mass shooters in Christchurch and San Diego.

Look at the first claim: “she says she writes with a collaborator.” In olden times, Bernstein would have done a little reporting to verify or falsify Soph’s claim. But we live in a time of post-reportorial journalism, and Bernstein isn’t doing research here, he is writing a screed with a political purpose: to whip up hysteria to nudge YouTube to take down opinions of which he does not approve. This is of no great matter, but I just want to make a point: Bernstein and I are both engaged in ideological contest, neither of us is engaged in reporting — but only he calls himself a “reporter.”

The second claim is the aforementioned “hatred towards Muslims” characterization, which carefully elides any possibility that her critique of Islam might have some merit. It must be “hatred,” not criticism. The Social Justice imperative has it that never must any mention be made of the mad memeplex that is Islam. Leftists need their fellow-anti-west jihadist allies. And they are more than happy to besmirch a YouTuber, no matter how young, to do it.

That being said, Soph is reported to have ejaculated the startlingly evil request “Please kill Muslims” and to have publicly wished for a “Hitler for Muslims” to “gas them all.” That is neither funny nor defensible.

Except, of course, on free speech grounds.

And after all, if Joe Bernstein can blithely jump on the currently acceptable form of racism, against whites — “KILL a straight white man on your way to work tomorrow” — perhaps we can cut a 14-year-old some slack in the Genocidal Wish-Mongering department. Such sentiments are hard to walk back, though. Those remarks are anti-Muslim and not just anti-Islam; they cross a very disturbing line.

Which, to repeat, Bernstein himself has already crossed and apparently been absolved of. Did he convince his critics his tweet was satire? What has Soph said about her statements? Perhaps Bernstein can help us out here by doing some actual reporting.

Of course, context is always important, and we are always tempted to forget context. As I just did, above. Soph’s offending-and-removed-from-YouTube vid was a response to blowback from her comment — on another platform. Watch the vid on BitChute.

But it is his third charge that interests me most, for here we kick at the leftist crutch subject, racism. Whereas those on the left used to ridicule right-wingers for “seeing a commie behind every bush,” nowadays leftists espy racists on every barstool. Bernstein asserts that Soph engages “anti-black racism,” and helpfully provides a link to back up his charge. 

The vid in question is called “Multiracial White Supremacy,” in which the girl dons a black t-shirt and an FBI cap to portray agent “Clide Colon,” concerned about the “Social Harmony of the United States Hegemony” as it pertains to “white supremacy.” Like in most of Soph’s more elaborate satires, at some point she drops the satire to talk straight. Settling on when that shift happens might serve as a drinking game. 

At the beginning, however, the satire is clear. The agent worries about the white supremacy of the type presented by “head Negro operative and designated KKK spokesman Treasure Richards” placing in jeopardy “the welfare of the black community we thoroughly sold cocaine to a few decades ago.” Spot on. Funnier than Samantha Bee, anyway.

Now, this Miss Treasure Richards is an African-American girl a few years older than Soph who appeared on “Dr. Phil” claiming not mere alienation from black inner-city culture, but also to despise her fellow black folk, even going so far as to think of herself as white. Dr. Phil took up her case as a “teachable moment,” and Miss Richards appears to have been in earnest — though there are folks online who say it was all a typical daytime TV show hoax. I would not know since I could not watch Treasure’s apology video. (I don’t know if she was sincere or her tears faked, because I don’t watch crying girls if I can at all help it. Dr. Phil insists that she was for real.) Soph shows some cuts from Dr. Phil’s show, after the first of which she makes a Blazing Saddles-variety n-word jape (“that man is a Nih-!” becomes “she’s clearly not an African-American, she’s a Nih-”), placing her (I surmise, not drinking my whiskey yet) squarely in satire mode as “Clide Colon.” This followed some droll jabs at the FBI, obviously satirical.

Her next jest is also standard-brand racist, doubling down on Treasure’s variant. Still satire. I trust.

Then she moves on to comment on Treasure’s mother, whom she refers to, sarcastically, as “a reliable source” — sarcastic because the mother had lied to her children about their parentage, making them think (incorrectly?!?!?) that her now-departed white husband was their father. At 2:17 Soph’s criticism of the mother wanders away from satire and from her role as Agent Colon. “It’s interesting how a 16-year-old girl who hasn’t endangered a single human being so far is considered the bad person, not the single mother who had to move in with her two kids to the ghetto thanks to her financial irresponsibility.”

This sort of judgmentalism can be found throughout the Soph oeuvre that I have screened. It is funny, to the extent it is, because its like is so rarely stated in polite society. This is precisely how late night TV operates these day, with rash statements standing in for jokes. In Soph’s case, though, because her judgments rub against the grain of dominant left culture, it is funny. A bit. Well, at least more than Seth Meyers.

But Soph earns her nom de plume, immediately after this, by getting philosophical. She states her basic case vis-à-vis Treasure’s dislike of her new African-American neighbors as a thesis that could be profitably defended: 

When it’s claimed that racial identity is constituted by a set of behaviors instead of genetic composition, this is what inevitably follows. Those of that ethnicity who don’t conform will be denounced, as if they owe allegiance to their racial group because they have some sort of abstractly defined “shared experience.” When all they truly share is limited to haplogroups. Ironically, they are treated as belongings because of their race. This, in turn, makes them revolt against the people denouncing them, and since the denouncers purport to represent the racial group, that’s what ends up getting attacked. 

This is all very reasonable and not delivered as satire . . . other than that Soph hasn’t changed out of her Colon costume.

But what do we make of the following?

That isn’t to say I support the things being said by Treasure, but it’s preferrable to adopting the reprehensible behavior being displayed in her environment.

Here Soph carefully (and for all to see) repudiates the race-hatred of Treasure, who apparently developed a positive fixation on the KKK. Soph’s comments on that are back to funny:

Let me just say this: there’s probably not one organization with worse p.r. than the Ku Klux Klan. Planned Parenthood is responsible for the Negro Baby Holocaust, and it’s still considerably less despised than the KKK. If your black daughter is entranced by the Klan, it isn’t because of their cunning marketing tactics, it’s because of your monumental failure as a parent. 

So, for whom would this be the ideal type of “anti-black racism”? Not me. That a complex and not unfamiliar mix of satire and moralizing strikes Mr. Bernstein as worth characterizing as “anti-black” says more about BuzzFeed and its project to direct sniper fire at its main competition, alt-media videos by amateurs, than it does about Soph.

Whose next step in development may be to write the next great Menippean satire.

Unless Bernstein can get enough nutball leftists to direct actual sniper fire in her direction. That would be a triumph for the left that leftists might understand . . . without taxing their hermeneutician chops.

Soph strikes me as brilliant, if rough not merely around the edges but also at the seams. Bernstein, on the other hand, is the kind of writer who, in times past, demanded that Jurgen and Ulysses be suppressed and who lambasted Mencken as a scandal to a Christian republic. Today, as a century ago, such moralistic scolds inhabit key positions in major media and headline online clickbait outfits, now defending not Christendom but Democratic pols and . . . the “intelligence community.”

O, how the mighty have fallen splat into the muck of petty tyranny.

Sad to see a “reporter” getting his licks in, desperately, before BuzzFeed implodes under competition from upstart competitors.

Like Soph.


Your humble TWV.