David Warren on Hobbes and Hobbits

Posted February 24, 2015 By John C Wright

This is your must read column for this month, dear reader. It is a meditation on the rights and duties of sovereign power, including Shakespeare’s and Tolkien’s refreshingly Mediaeval take on the issue:

http://www.davidwarrenonline.com/2015/02/23/on-legitimate-government/

The idea of the autonomous “prince” is modern. The mediaeval idea of hierarchy precluded it. The man at the top was lynchpin for a regime consisting of persons in various ranks of nobility, but in a curiously invertible pyramid, for though each in his place is servant to a master above him, he is also servant to the servants of those below him in station, pledged to their defence. The idea of “public service” survives today, but with a much different flavour. This is because the individual has ceased to be defined as a soul, a “being,” with duties. He has been redefined as a cypher or “function” with “rights.” Where to the old Christian view, rights followed from duties in the same man, to our post-Christian view the arbitrary rights of one man translate to duties for unaccounted others. (My right to a free lunch translates to your duty to pay for it, &c.) In this sense, all modern political thinking is in its nature totalitarian.

At the opposite extreme are the politics of Hobbitry: in its nature mediaeval, or if you will, sane. This I gather from perusing recent works on the political views of J.R.R. Tolkien, principally that of Jonathan Witt and Jay W. Richards in, The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot. […]

The Hobbits of the Shire live under a system of Hardly Any Government. Almost everything is decided at the family level, which leaves, on the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, hardly anything else to decide. But it is better than this, owing to qualities in the Hobbits themselves. It appears that they have no understanding whatever of the concept of “fairness,” and no intellectual ability to distinguish redistribution of property from theft and rapine. They see things rather as they are. On the other hand, they have a perfect understanding of self-defence, engaged when they are occupied by liberal do-gooders. The solution to the problems these do-gooders create is thus very simple. Get rid of them. It is a task which everyone can join in.

Saruman, his Orcs, and their contrivances, provide the metaphor to liberal do-gooders and their obsessions with “process” and technology. They proved their value in resisting evil, arguably, once upon a time, until they became evil themselves. They would not understand Christ’s mysterious instruction, “resist ye not evil,” nor the parables in which He shows that “fairness” is of the Devil. They arrive in power with a do-gooder agenda, and in this are typically modern men. They toggle between damnable efficiency, and damnable inefficiency. They care not which, for over time their project is to create such a cat’s cradle of inter-dependencies that all freedom of action expires, and they may feed on human souls unchallengeably. (Whenupon, God destroys them.)

Hobbits lack agendas of any kind, which is what makes them pushovers, when dealing with the guileful. Instead they have customs, such as the meal times for which they are famous (breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, supper, &c). Their outlook is redemptively mediaeval. But how to protect them from e.g. Saruman and Orcs?

That is where thinking on kingship comes in. My suspicion is that the authors have been led by Tolkien’s whimsy into thinking him more naïve than he was. True enough, Tolkien the man hated democracy, and particularly hated tax collectors. Put more simply, he hated evil. He cannot have failed to understand that his Hobbits were in need of some sort of protection. They were not, however, in need of being changed. As a scholarly mediaevalist, Tolkien would have seen this plainly. I’m not sure Witt and Richards see it.

Read the whole thing.

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Larry Correia on Portuguese Dairy Farmer Privilege

Posted February 23, 2015 By John C Wright

Larry Correia is a fisking genius. Certain works of art cannot be analyzed, only admired in speechless awe. His line by line analysis and snappy answers to stupid comments written today is one such.

Seeing Larry Correia perform a Low Single Leg Takedown Duckunder Fireman’s Carry throw followed by a Knife-Hand Throat-Lock Stand-Up Peterson Hip Heist segue into a Triple Camel Backspin Vulcan Death Grip on a brainless Leftwing loon with a fat head and loud mouth is a joy and a wonder.

The creature (some nobody who has never published anything I’ve read — who is this again?) is asking you to stop reading anything written by Jews for a year, because of their long-nosed Jewish privilege has contaminated the field of Science Fiction literature. DOWN WITH THE UNTERMENSCHEN!!

Or, if it was not Jews, it was some other ethnic group or identity group, I forget which one. Maybe Larry knows. The words below are his:

The Social Justice Warrior Racist Reading Challenge, A Fisking.

I’ve got work to do. I’ve got to finish the rough draft of a novel for a gaming IP by the end of February, and then I’ve got two short stories due the first part of March, but Monday morning I see this nonsense. How could I not take a minute to fisk it?

http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/reading-challenge-stop-reading-white-straight-cis-male-authors-for-one-year

As usual, the original is italics and my comments are in bold.

I Challenge You To Stop Reading White, Straight, Cis Male Authors For One Year

Bold headline. Short answer? No.

I thought: what if I only read stories by a certain type of author?

On purpose? Then you’d probably be a racist.

K. Tempest Bradford

Pick any whackadoo Social Justice Warrior controversy in sci-fi/fantasy publishing over the last few years and you’ll find K. Tempest Bradford in the middle of it.  She is perpetually outraged that someone may be out there, right now, having fun wrong.

Read the rest: http://monsterhunternation.com/2015/02/23/the-social-justice-warrior-racist-reading-challenge-a-fisking/

Milords, Ladies, and gentlemen, there is only one way to fight this. The author the creature was mocking is Neil Gaimen, who is one of the few bona fide big-name rock star level writers working in the field today. I have met him at Cons: he is personable, professional and all around nice. To have his name blackened by this modern overweight version of Gollum is intolerable, unacceptable, and inconceivable.

Go to Amazon right now and buy a copy of TRIGGER WARNING by Gaiman, photograph the receipt, and mail it to K Tempest Bradford, cod.

Then buy a Larry Correia Monster Hunter book, because those are fun reads.

ADDENDUM:

Nip over to Superversive SF, and see the the crafty Jason Rennie unleashes a farcical facial fish slapping of sarcasm into the quivering jowls of the Politically Self-Lobotomized blowhard of blither. http://superversivesf.com/2015/02/24/take-sjw-reader-challenge-today/

The money quote:

So in the spirit of taking this challenge seriously, I will be making an effort to avoid such writers and see what it does for my outlook. So I guess I should make a list of authors that are “acceptable” to read because they aren’t “cis white het males” to make it easier for anybody that wants to join me.

So lets see what is in?

and out

  • John Scalzi – Cis Het White Male
  • Jim Hines – Cis Het White Male

My comment: allow me to quote one Patrick Chester quoting Larry Correia, from his comment over at Larry Correia’s MHI page:

I challenge you to read books based upon what you think sounds awesome, and never give into the finger shaking scolds.

Can we give the finger shaking scolds the finger?

And the wise Mr Jakub Mařík on Fadd this droll and clear remark:

I am very, very sorry but I can’t accept this challenge.

Because in my country we rarely see photos of authors on books I even don’t know how most of them look like. I don’t know (and care) about their gender, color, sexual orientation, social background or their opinions on politics, global warming, lesbian humpbacks or forced migration of lemmings oppressed for their darker fur.

I’m just reading books and judging them by words on their pages.

Allow me also to quote one Josh from Vox Day’s page, regarding the statement by Gollum that Or you could choose a different axis to focus on: books by people from outside the US or in translation. Josh wryly remarks:

We should heed her call for diversity in reading and read more books in translation.

Homer, Aristotle, Virgil, Cicero, Caesar, Thucydides, Herodotus, Marcus Aurelius, Ovid, Tacitus, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, Bede, Aquinas, Dante…

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Geek Gab! Episode 14

Posted February 23, 2015 By John C Wright

The gentlemen of Geek Gab are discussing ‘One Bright Star to Guide Them’ in their podcast.

They mention my name starting at about 5.30. Daddy Warpig says that there is nothing professionally published authors find nothing more endearing than hearing unpublished schmucks talk about their work: I assume he means this ironically, but he unwittingly speaks the truth.

There is no entrance exam to take to be a fan, aside from reading enough of the books to give your opinion heft.

Nothing is more democratic than being a fan: your vote or mine for making a story famous counts as much as any Tom, Dick, or Harry, and believe you me, there are a lot of Dicks with opinions, so a few schmuck opinions will make a nice change.

(Yes, Daddy, I listened to the show. I am a man of my word.)

Much of the discussion is spent wondering what One Bright Star would have been like had it been a novel.

 

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Pedantolatry

Posted February 22, 2015 By John C Wright

I cannot speak for other village atheists, whom I have not read, but I can take the tenor of man on this topic after even short notice, since I used to be the champion and paladin of the forces of atheism, and I can tell true atheists from false.

True atheists worship nothing. That is the point of atheism and the definition. True atheist do not give a tinker’s damn about the damns of tinkers, because true atheists do not believe in damnation, nor salvation, not any other supernatural folderol.

True atheists do not believe in magic. Hence the true atheist fears no symbols for he holds that symbols are arbitrary and manmade conveniences used by men to convey ideas, one mind to another, having no supernatural powers, eliciting no awe, worthy of no worship. True atheists do not bow the knee to idols for the same reason true Christians do not: because we love the truth, and will not bow to anything false and undeserving.

True atheists do not make and idol out of anything, no, not even science, and we certainly do not make an idol out of atheism. That would be somewhat against the point.

Back when I was an atheist, I had no respect for Mr Dawkins and thought him an embarrassment if not a calamity to the noble cause of godlessness he and I both served. I was a champion of reason over superstition. I could not imagine what in the world he pretended to be.

A champion of reason uses fact, and the logical deductions from facts, as the basis for his beliefs. He does not use falsehood. Why bother? No man shoots blanks at a foe when he had bullets. Only a desperate man does that, one whose arsenal is empty, who hopes mere loud noise might startle the foe.

Likewise, no champion of reason uses unreason, nor thinks so poorly of his foe, as if mere loudness of noise were a substitute for a well laid argument.

I will not in this place recite the arguments and their refutations, nor fisk Mr Dawkins’ many public statements shown repeated to be in error, and not corrected by him. Others have done this ably enough, and the matter would fill a book. If you are not convinced my assessment of Mr Dawkins’ public behavior is just, look for yourself. The matter is public. Read and decide.

For me, my conclusion is this: Mr Dawkins believes the worst of Christianity not because he has examined the evidence, and, after full and fair consideration, decided Christianity is bad. He hates Christianity for reasons no one outside his own heart knows, and he invents flimsy reasons to support and justify the hate.

I do not know what is in his heart, but I know a flimsy reason when I see it. This is not a case of someone sincerely looking at the history of science and concluding that the Church opposed rather than aided it. This is a case of someone losing one religion, and finding another.

In this case, science is being treated not as an efficient and honest method of determining the truth of empirical theories. For him, science is Baal, and idol to whom he bows the knee, and serves and loves, and, like all lovers, inflated the worth with high words of the beloved; and, like all idolators, losing all sight of the plain truth when he bows his trembling head in submission to his false and absurd little godling.

Science, the skeptical study of natural phenomena, makes a bright, splendid, great, fine and honorable branch of philosophy. Science makes a wretched, low, nasty and unsightly idol.

The worship of science inevitably boils down to the worship of professors and grad students, astronomers and botanists, which is to say, un-skeptical acceptance of the authority of anonymous pedants whose work you never check.

Who is less worthy of worship than a pedant?

What is more directly antithetical to skeptical inspection of scientific claims than the gullibility of adorers?

What is more foolish than thinking science can save your soul or build the shining towers of utopia the day after tomorrow, when science never has, never can, and never will make any such claims?

As idols go, Uranus or Apollo, Serapis or Isis, Kannon or Baldir the Bright have far more dignity when placed on a pedestal and worshiped.

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The Lord of Eifelheim on the Genesis of Science

Posted February 21, 2015 By John C Wright

Some extra credit reading:

Mike Flynn, science fictioneer, scholar, schoolman, and Irish gentleman who, I am confident, can trace his ancestry back to through the Fair Folk to the primordial Salmon who is the ancestor of all Celtic tribes, has written on this idea extensively that Christian metaphysical beliefs are a necessary precondition for scientific endeavors.

http://tofspot.blogspot.ca/2013/08/scientism-redux.html
http://tofspot.blogspot.ca/2013/11/summa-origines-scientiarum-promium.html

My particular favorite columns are these:
http://tofspot.blogspot.ca/2013/11/summa-origines-scientiarum-articulus-1.html
http://tofspot.blogspot.ca/2013/11/summa-origines-scientiarum-articulus-2.html
http://tofspot.blogspot.ca/2013/11/summa-origines-scientiarum-articulus-3.html

See if you can spot the saint or scholar in whose footsteps the esteemed Mr Flynn paces out this particular argument. Recognize the style?

Summa origines scientiarum: Articulus 1

Question I. Whether Christianity promoted the rise of science

 Article 1. Whether there was a Scientific Revolution

Objection 1.  It would seem otherwise, because the term science is not well-defined. Lindberg (1992), for example, provides no less than seven different definitions.  Therefore, there was no Scientific Revolution because there is no one thing called science.

Objection 2.  It would seem otherwise, because the term science means “knowledge” and mankind has always accumulated knowledge.  Therefore, there was never a scientific revolution.

Objection 3.  It would seem otherwise, because, as Charles Homer Haskins wrote, “The continuity of history rejects such sharp and violent contrasts between successive periods” of history.  Therefore, Science emerged gradually and not through a “revolution.”

Objection 4.  It would seem otherwise, because a revolution consists of definitive points of change, and is carried out during a short time according to a plan.  But the development of science took place over an extended time and was unplanned.

On the contrary, British historian Herbert Butterfield wrote that the Scientific Revolution “outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and Reformation to the rank of mere episodes… within the system of medieval Christendom.”

I answer that a distinction must first be made. Science in the modern sense is the effort to devise physical theories that account for the metrical properties of physical bodies.  Thus, when we speak of the “rise of science,” we do not mean mathematics (which works with ideal bodies), tinkering/invention, nor the mere accumulation of facts and rules of thumb, even if retrospectively those things look sorta scientificalistic to us. Nor do we include the social “sciences,” whose objects are human beings rather than natural physical bodies.

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The War of Ignorance versus Faith

Posted February 21, 2015 By John C Wright

Hmph. I just came across another antieducated sophophobe who declared there to be a war between science and faith, especially the Roman Catholic Church.

I asked him to name the Papal Bull or Encyclical, or any other official document of the Church prohibiting or condemning the practice of scientific inquiry. He did not know what a ‘bull’ was.

I asked him if he knew anything about science and the history of science, and he said yes. I asked him for the evidence of any Catholic interference, or even lack of enthusiastic support, for any scientific inquiry of any kind, in any time or place?

He mentioned Galileo. I asked him if he knew the circumstances of Galileo’s trial, or what Galileo was accused of? He said no. I asked him if he knew who Cardinal Bellarmine was. He said no.

I asked him if he had read Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences? He did not even know what the book was, much less who the characters in it were, or what positions in the contemporary debates they represented.

(Do I need to mention that I read this book in school? I went to a good school, where the education is what mathematicians call a ‘positive sum game’ that is, I ended up more educated than when I went in. His school left him with less education than when he went in.)

I did not bother to ask him if he knew what, precisely, Galileo had discovered, or what proofs he gave to support his various theories.

I did not ask him to tell me what the Galilean satellites were, much less name them (off the top of my head: Io, Europa, Callisto, Ganymede. If I am wrong, and Amalthea is one of them, shame on me. If got them in order, more to my glory.)

Calibrating my questions to the level of someone without a Saint John’s College level of education,  I asked him if he knew who Abertus Magnus, William of Ockham, Roger Bacon, Nicholas Steno were. He said no.

I asked him who invented the mechanical escapement used in clockwork. Or when. He did not know what mechanical escapement was. (Villard de Honnecourt circa 1237, in case you are wondering.)

Recalibrating my question to the high school level, I asked him if he knew who Pascal was, Copernicus, Descartes. He said no. Mendel. No. Still no.

He then told me that all the European inventions in mathematics and medicine came from the Muslim world. I asked him if he knew where Andalusia was, or when the Reconquista happened. Did not recognize those terms. I asked him what religion the people were in the lands conquered by the Muslims in the Seven, Eighth, and Ninth Centuries, et cetera? He guessed that they were some sort of pagans.

I did not bother to ask him if he knew who Abu Hamid al-Ghazali was.

He did not even know enough to raise and throw intro my face the old, tired, false and oft-refuted slander about Hypatia the neoplatonic philosopher (always described as a female scientist) being flayed to death by a Christian mob wielding sharpened clamshells for being a female scientists.

In other words, I could have argued in favor of the War between Science and the Church better than he. He had not even memorized his side’s own talking points.

He was a disgrace to the forces of evil.

Another ignoramus, far less ignorant (but still woefully uniformed), told me that it was fortunate that Newton lived in a Protestant nation, or otherwise his work would have been suppressed by the Church.

Yes, the same Church that invented, maintained and supported the university system, invented and defended the idea of Academic Freedom, founded every major university in the Old World, and funded, supported, published and spread every major scientific accomplishment of the Continent, not to mention all the progress, scientific, social, or otherwise from the Fifth Century to the Fifteenth. That is the Church this ignorant man was breathing a sigh of relief Newton had escaped.

It is appalling to me that in the modern age, when anyone with the touch of a button can read any book in the public domain back to the Epic of Gilgamesh could not bother to inform themselves about the basic facts of the world in which they live.

It is not merely the ignorance that bothers me. It is the ingratitude. It is like a sullen and empty-eyed princeling spitting in the face of a king on his deathbed, the the wars he fought and the kingdom he won to give to his son, the ungrateful brat does not even know where any of it came from.

As a public service, I would like to list other people who, if only I could, I would call to the witness stand to give their opinion about the war between Science and the Church.

I would even call Giordano Bruno to the stand, if he would tell us the reason why he was burned as a heretic. It was not for his scientific work.

Let us rank them in alphabetical order, with links, shall we?

Read the remainder of this entry »

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Unofficial Statement of Sad Puppies 3 on St Wulfric’s Day

Posted February 20, 2015 By John C Wright

Here follows an entirely unofficial, very special, and personal statement of purpose from the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Malignant and Universal Inquisition of the Doctrine of the Faith, as written by my hand, John C Wright, esq, Grand Inquisitor, Archdeacon of Darkness, Solicitor General and Attorney-at-Large of the Evil Legion of Evil Authors concerning Sad Puppies 3.
sad_puppies_3_patch

There being much confusion and conundrum, contortion and caviling, falsehood and fiddling, noseblowing and bloviating about the purpose and animating spirit of Sad Puppies 3, be it resolved that to declare our true intent, be the following known by these presence to all men, gentlehobbits, flying ponies, munchkins, marshwiggles, underpeople, vampiresses, umberhulks, homunculi, zoanthropes, artilects, moravecs, ghouls, ghasts, Gugs, Fungi from Yuggoth, and the Squire of Gothos:

* * *

We are the storytellers of science fiction and fantasy. We promote, praise and endorse of the Sad Puppies slate of Hugo nominations for this year.

We denounce and abjure and anathematize anyone who pretends to be a storyteller, but who, when asked to tell a tale of science fictional wonder, instead delivers a nagging lecture or dull piece of partisan political propaganda.

Read the remainder of this entry »

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Heinlein and the Radicals

Posted February 19, 2015 By John C Wright

I did an interview for an online magazine where I said Heinlein would not win an award from the modern World Con, because World Con had been taken over by social justice warriors who disdained Heinlein’s unique brand of ‘rational anarchism’ (which looks remarkably like what we would call libertarianism), and his attitude toward the war between the sexes  — and I was astonished to read social justice warriors stoutly defending their loyalty to Heinlein, and belittling my remark.

This was not one man saying he himself was a fan of Heinlein, he merely denied that there have been loud and repeated public statements by his faction denouncing Heinlein for thoughtcrime.

Heinlein was a stinging gadfly. He wanted to startle the reader out of any complacent laziness of thought, and to question any fundamental assumptions that had not yet been questioned.

This is the mere antithesis of a social justice warrior approach. They hate questions.

Read the remainder of this entry »

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Superversive–Interview with Wendy Delmater

Posted February 19, 2015 By John C Wright

An interview with the editrix of Abyss & Apex magazine:

http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/2015/02/13/superversive-blog-interview-with-abyss-apex-editor-wendy-s-delmater/

Wendy was superversive before the rest of us ever heard of it. She is friends with Tom Simon, the gentleman who uses Superversive as an online name and who wrote our opening post. She brings her superversiveness to bear upon her work as the editor of Abyss & Apex Magazine, a long running semi-pro magazine of speculative fiction. A&A has been in print since 2003. The magazine’s name comes from quote by Friedrich Nietzsche: “And if you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

Wendy says of the stories she publishes: “We look for the unique: stories that stand out in a genre that pushes the envelope of unusual. We take special delight in detailed world-building: we like slipstream, YA, hypertext fiction, dark fantasy, science fiction puzzle stories, magical realism, hard science fiction, soft science fiction, science fantasy, urban fantasy, military science fiction, ghost stories, space opera, cyberpunk, steampunk… there is very little we will not look at, although we have a severe allergy to zombies, elves, retold fairy tales, sports, westerns, vampires, and gratuitous sex and violence. We have no subject/topic preference, beyond a requirement that the work have a speculative element. We are happy to read stories that don’t quite seem to fit elsewhere.

She also points out: The Urban Dictionary gives the following definition of superversive: Nurturing; supportive, building up — opposite of subversive.

Below is our interview with this perceptive and crusading editrix.

Read and enjoy!

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Reviewer Praise for ONE BRIGHT STAR

Posted February 18, 2015 By John C Wright

This happens to be my favorite tale, for personal reasons, of anything I have written. Russell Newquist publishes a favorable review, which I here share in part.

http://russellnewquist.com/2015/02/one-bright-star-guide/

John C. Wright is one of – if not the – best voices of our generation in science fiction and fantasy. And last year was a banner year for him – a quick search on Amazon reveals seven works he published in 2014:

One Bright Star to Guide Them is an homage and love letter to the works of CS Lewis. Bittersweet – but, importantly, never cynical – it shows the child heroes after they’ve won, returned home, and “grown up” – only to find that the evil they fought as children has returned, to the “real world” this time, and they must fight it again.

It’s a strong story, with a lot to say about the modern world. Yet it never becomes preachy or lets the message get in the way of an enjoyable story. John C. Wright has a wondrously insane (in the best possible way) imagination, and one of the most enjoyable things about reading any of his stories is just seeing where that imagination will take you next.

If you enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia, then One Bright Star to Guide Them is a must read story.

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