January 16th, 2006

[NON BLOG] Computer Issues

My Compaq LTE 5200 laptop is on the blink, it seems, demonstrating a worrying incapacity to read its C drive. Oh well; at least I know the authorized dealer's location.
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[BRIEF NOTE] The Problem with Science Fiction?

nihilistic_kid quotes a rather horrifying passage from John Ringo's recent novel Ghost. A sample:

"Yep, sure am," Mike said, standing up and holding the keys. "I was in Class 201, you weak-kneed pussies! But if you want to get out of this fucking place alive, and not end up back where you are right now, you'd all better get really damned frosty, really damned quick. Quit fucking crying, quit bitching, quit quitting on me and get GOD DAMNED FROSTY. Because right now it's just me. And I'm not going to be able to hold this damned place by myself. I'm going to need help. Even nekkid female help will do. And I'm not going to use these damned keys until I get a big 'HOOWAH' out of y'all. Because if I can't get a big hoowah, then you're totally fucking useless to me, and I'll just god damned leave you to be raped. Am I CLEAR HERE? Now let me here you give me a big HOOYAH!"

Mike, if I'm not mistaken, is addressing victims of multiple gang rapes who are the daughters of powerful Americans kidnapped from their homes by anti-American terrorists. We also find out in Ghost that all women are lesbians; also, that it's entirely appropriate for a stressed-out and angry American special-ops agent to go, rent a prostitute, and violently rape her for an hour. Destressing, you understand, and she does get to like it.

I wonder if this is why science fiction's market share is declining. I also wonder if Ringo's fans have ever gone on dates.

UPDATE (2:59 PM) : Yes, this sort of thing isn't unique to science fiction. It's an interesting thing for one of a genre's biggest publishing houses to publish under the name of one of its biggest writers. Why would it publish this ridiculous stuff if not because it thought it would sell?
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[BRIEF NOTE] There's going to be a war with Iran shortly

More news, via the Boston Globe, about events in Iran.

Iran announced plans yesterday for a conference to examine evidence for the Holocaust, a new step in hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's campaign against Israel -- one that could deepen Tehran's international isolation.

Those remarks prompted a global outpouring of condemnation, and it wasn't clear who would be willing to attend an Iranian-sponsored Holocaust conference.

Last month, however, the leader of Egypt's main Islamic opposition group joined Ahmadinejad in characterizing the Holocaust as a myth and lambasted Western governments for criticizing those who dispute the Jewish genocide happened.

''Western democracies have slammed all those who don't see eye to eye with the Zionists regarding the myth of the Holocaust," Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohammed Mahdi Akef wrote on the group's website.

As decennium said, it's true that Ahmadinejad's bravery covers up the stupid. A pity that everyone else is going to pay for it.

[BRIEF NOTE] Gateway literatures, gateway media

Continuing the topic of my previous post about Ringo's Ghost being a grim side indeed, I'd like to point out that Ringo also co-authored Watch on the Rhine, where a revived SS becomes Germany's defenders against the alien hordes beseiging the country. This rehabilitation of Naziism as efficient if nothing else is the exact same sort of phenomenon noted by Rosenfeld in The World Hitler Never Made, a reaction against a decadent liberalism that's incapable of defending Us against the hordes of degenerates beseiging us. If we must let our heroes transgress our society's peacetime norms in wartime, who cares? Only the people who wish us ill.

thebitterguy is right to note that this sort of mindset, most visible in Ringo, isn't limited to science fiction. I would argue that science fiction might be particularly vulnerable to being misused in this way, if only because science fiction as a genre imagines what could be if people like us controlled powers beyond our ken. Whether it's Asimov imagining the power that would accrue to people who could predict the course of history, Pohl imagining what people given abandoned alien starships could accomplish, or Barnes considering just what effect instantaneous portal-to-portal travel across interstellar distances would have on mature societies, the effects of new kinds of power on the human individual and society are key to science fiction. Brave New World's medicated and genetically-engineered future is a classic vision of science fiction.

Wildly bad writing--if not technically bad, then morally bad--is neither a defining characteristic of science fiction nor absent in other literatures. Just think of Zizek's commentary on 24, of how the cult of strength that the show supports in its heros' barely principled ruthlessness is a classic characteristic of annhilatory totalitarianisms. Why did Ringo and 24 appear at the same time? In our post-9/11 world, we're developing a pathological fear of what could become of us if we rich Westerners don't use all the power under our control to defend ourselves. This isn't the first time that a literary genre reflects, or reflects off of, politics. Hitler found inspiration for his Generalplan Ost in the Westerns of Karl May, and without the various historical-cum-political tracts that littered Yugoslavia in the 1980s the subsequent civil war would have been impossible.

It's worth tracking the unsavoury trends in popular culture, if only so we'll have advance warning of what will happen. I'm just terrified that already, people are using the literary forms and broadcast media that I love to poison the minds of others against humanity.
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