Reaction Points (#5)

Scharlach blasts off to habitable worlds

Intelligence emerges whilst escaping boxes (via (via)). (Oh no!)

The coldest place in the universe?

In the dock: Lincoln; Cuddly totalitarians; the Pope; dopey Assassins; and the (real) Illuminati

An excellent Bitcoin-related article (via Handle). Meanwhile, Moldbug’s Bitcoin frenzy continues (after this, and this, beginning with this).

Darkness won’t ever be popular (self-reference warning). A more colorful approach to reactionary propaganda.

Time crystals (via) and speeding particles

ADDED: The discussion ratchets forwards, through acute probings of the neoreactionary triangle by Jim, Clark, and Spandrell. Dark enlightenment is arriving in waves.

April 28, 2013admin 32 Comments »
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32 Responses to this entry

  • What are characteristics of the Dark Enlightenment? | Occam's Razor Says:

    […] Land warns (me) that Darkness will never be […]

    Posted on April 28th, 2013 at 12:21 pm Reply | Quote
  • Thales Says:

    A more colorful approach to reactionary propaganda.

    “Thomas Carlyle: The Most Interesting Man in the World.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Oh yes, gyno-chromosomal mexicana — I’m probably more open to this path into reaction than the typical adept of the dark circle …

    [Reply]

    Thales Reply:

    …especially when you put it that way: “adept of the dark circle” conjures images of second-string douchebags as opposed to alpha males with more gravitas in their majestic beards than all of faculty lounges on the Left coast combined.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Sadly, I have to confess that he’s my favorite HP character.

    (The principle of aristocratic decadence: It’s ignoble to be over-protective of one’s own soul.)

    Federico Reply:

    Snape is the best HP character because he is the only one who behaves like an adult, and is seemingly impervious to the Manichean do-gooder magick that wafts around those stories.

    He really belongs in the world of His Dark Materials, a far superior children’s story with a consequentialist hero par excellence in Lord Asriel. To quote a random fan page,

    The guy totally wins Dad of the Century by making sure his daughter grows up in a place that can enrich her intellectually and adventurously, away from the dangerous shit he was getting in. He then totally includes her in a secret spy mission after drinking the poisoned Tokay anyway just to prove how awesome he is and how tasty it is, before smacking up the Master and telling him to give her the alethiometer so she can go off and play with it. After that he bitchslaps the bear king, sets up a castle up north with a scientific lab so that he can do whatever he wants, and then murders a little kid so that he can rip a hole in the universe. I mean, yeah, I’m against child murder as much as the next guy, but Asriel rips a hole in the universe. Literally, he rips the space-time continuum a new one. Awesome.

    After that, he walks into a room full of angels, finds the biggest one, and says, “You’ll be taking orders from me now.” He then makes a chair made out of the hides of anyone who gives him any sass, creates a fortress just by thinking about it and lifting his eyebrow, and wages war against God. Let me restate that: he wages war. Against God. Like physical war.

    fotrkd Reply:

    This conversation has probably single-handedly set neo-reaction back at least two months…

    [Reply]

    Thales Reply:

    Oh, c’mon — it’s the weekend, have a drink.

    fotrkd Reply:

    I did only say two months… and yes, I need a top up…

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    It’s been a pretty impressive two months, no?

    Federico Reply:

    Fotrkd: forgive me, but I think that Lord Asriel is a better virtue-ethical model than Thomas Carlyle. Carlyle is far less interesting to me than, say, Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom he alienated with his nonsense about slavery. Lord Asriel is a consequentialist, and Carlyle as much a shill for tyranny as Karl Marx.

    Few if any humans are able to practise rational ethics without reference to character-models; this is because timeless decision theory and the parliament-of-sub-agents model render human decision-making extremely complicated and susceptible to bias. Fictional and real characters of (ostensible) virtue remove from our overworked minds the burden of explicit moral reasoning. Therefore, the question “Who is an admirable character?” is significant.

    Christopher Hitchens has criticised the Harry Potter series for its simplistic morality.

    For all this apparently staunch secularism, it is ontology that ultimately slackens the tension that ought to have kept these tales vivid and alive. Theologians have never been able to answer the challenge that contrasts God’s claims to simultaneous omnipotence and benevolence: whence then cometh evil? The question is the same if inverted in a Manichean form: how can Voldemort and his wicked forces have such power and yet be unable to destroy a mild-mannered and rather disorganized schoolboy? In a short story this discrepancy might be handled and also swiftly resolved in favor of one outcome or another, but over the course of seven full-length books the mystery, at least for this reader, loses its ability to compel, and in this culminating episode the enterprise actually becomes tedious. Is there really no Death Eater or dementor who is able to grasp the simple advantage of surprise?

    By contrast, the hero of Philip Pullman’s series is one of the most unabashedly consequentialist heroes in fiction. He murders an innocent child, and even considers murdering his daughter, for a greater good, but is not punished by the author via any deus ex machina or finger-wagging, all-powerful moralist faction in the novel.

    Moldbug has said,

    Possibly the strangest thing about the way young people in the West learn to think these days is that their minds are constantly overloaded with what one might call sentiment. Sentiment is a learned emotional response. It is a kind of practiced empathy, or antipathy.

    The idea of sentiment is that if we all genuinely feel the right emotional response to events in the world, this will motivate us to support good works, or to oppose evil ones. This concept is of course derived from Christianity, specifically its pietist, postmillennial Protestant strain. Progressive-Idealism has inherited it almost completely intact.

    Of course, there is such a thing as genuine feeling, and there is such a thing as trained feeling. The two are quite orthogonal. A bus plunge is one thing. A bus plunge with your aunt on it is another.

    The nonidealist moment is the realization that sentiment is dangerous. It is in fact a hook by which almost anyone can be manipulated in almost any direction.

    And where might these young people learn such ideas? More likely from Harry Potter than His Dark Materials; and I think that the interest in the character Severus Snape stems from his mature, competent and unsentimental character, which is exceptional in the Harry Potter universe.

    If Machiavellians are defenders of freedom, and Machiavellism is absence of sentiment, then Snape is the only reliable force for good in Harry Potter’s universe.

    Good art is powerful because it conveys, in a short space of time, a number of Schelling points, virtues or items of common knowledge—whichever perspective one finds most useful. Art, therefore, is inevitably political, although one wishes that it were less beholden and mechanically linked to the state. Any movement that wishes to influence society, therefore, must at least have in mind a style of art and literature that reflects its virtues.

    Federico Reply:

    I shan’t belabour the significance of waging war on God, or “Authority” as He is called in the novels…

    fotrkd Reply:

    Federico: What influence popular children’s literature has on the moral and cultural development of each generation is an interesting and I presume much discussed one, but it was not the reason HP and HDM were brought up. I was making a (fairly throwaway) remark about perception.

    If neo-reaction is already termed nutty for taking all its cues from pre-19th Century history or wanting to bring back monarchy (cf. radish propaganda posters), throwing fictional Lords and Severus Snape into the mix isn’t going to help (if the aim is to be taken seriously, even if only by a desirable minority). Nor is a group of bloggers partaking in a conversation about ‘alpha-males’ which descends into a discussion about the relative merits of children’s fantasy franchises; or Nick Land identifying with the unsung, self-sacrificing double-agent of the Order of the Phoenix.

    I’m not disagreeing with the content of your claim (though I could: isn’t Snape in fact the most sentimental? Psychological split and emotionally stunted by unrequited teenage love that, even to the point of death, he is unable to abandon his ‘feelings’ for lily?), but if “[a]ny movement that wishes to influence society, therefore, must at least have in mind a style of art and literature that reflects its virtues”, wouldn’t it be wiser to choose say (off the top of my head) Pechorin from A Hero of Our Time,where:

    The full realization of the individual human being originates not in conformity to a set of predetermined moral rules, but in the individual’s quest for the meaning of his own life. The point is not that Pechorin is in some easy way morally superior but that he has purged his worldview of the illusions of moral superiority that render conventional human morality pathetically false and destructive of self and others. Human beings are fundamentally self-interested, and any possibility of love or harmony must be predicated on this basic truth.

    …Maybe a bit romantic. But I’m not prescriptively saying don’t have the conversation, more – in the same way admin clamped down on ‘trolling’ because he didn’t want to draw a WN crowd – is it tactically astute to have it take this form? And I accept Thales’ point that it doesn’t need to be taken this seriously.

    Federico Reply:

    If neo-reaction is already termed nutty for taking all its cues from pre-19th Century history or wanting to bring back monarchy (cf. radish propaganda posters), throwing fictional Lords and Severus Snape into the mix isn’t going to help (if the aim is to be taken seriously, even if only by a desirable minority).

    The problem with Radish’s posters isn’t that they are geeky. They are pompous and bathetic. I like this one, though, because the Tintin picture wasn’t pulled from the outside-the-box box.

    Harry Potter is a legitimate topic for the smart crowd. To continue my point above, Yudkowsky’s genius is to have taken J.K. Rowling’s lurid depiction of magical England, and filled it with the kind of shrewd, politick characters it so richly deserves. Now Voldemort has a credible motive: eugenics! He is witty, and even admirable. Harry is scientifically curious; Draco is more than a cartoon foil…

    [W]ouldn’t it be wiser to choose say (off the top of my head) Pechorin from A Hero of Our Time

    My knowledge of great literature is weak. For an heroic model in fiction, I would choose the bell-maker from Andrei Rublev.

    I’m very fond of Philip K Dick, and the protagonists of his stories are almost always embattled everymen. His short story The Golden Man can be read as a parable of constitutionalism, or the difficulty that ordinary folks have in containing their natural superiors. It must be read against the background of a debate over “mutants”, which surreptitiously continues to this day.

    I would submit PKD’s short story collections as a repository of common sense, which reactionaries ought to absorb. His book The Penultimate Truth is also apropos. And if you are willing to spoil one of his lesser novels, read this plot summary with Keynesian economics in mind.

    fotrkd Reply:

    I’m very fond of Philip K Dick

    Based on my extremely limited knowledge – The Man in the High Castle – I suspect you’re not alone there. Use of the I Ching and questioning the authenticity of our present reality sound like suitable subjects for Outside in. I remember being particularly struck by the zippo lighters example (having scurried to consult my copy):

    ‘That’s my point! I’d have to prove it to you with some sort of document. A paper of authenticity. And so it’s all a fake, a mass delusion. The paper proves its worth, not the object itself!’

    … the paper and the lighter had cost him a fortune, but they were worth it – because they enabled him to prove that he was right, that the word ‘fake’ meant nothing really, since the word ‘authentic’ meant nothing really.

    Outside-the-box box: “There is a reason, I think, why people do not attain novelty by striving for it” – the problem as I see it though, is what happens when you’ve tasted what seemed like effortless novelty/creativity and then it just.. stops? It becomes very hard to stop yourself striving for more, even if you know that’s the exact opposite of what you should be doing. What else are you meant to do?!

    Posted on April 28th, 2013 at 2:03 pm Reply | Quote
  • Thales Says:

    Related, fighting against the dying of the light.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Saw that earlier and was going to link to it, once a pretext arose — so yours (flagrantly arbitrary though it is) will do nicely. The WSJ title promises more than the piece delivers, but as one of those tide-tracking markers, telling us how far the Leftist surge has rolled in, it does a pretty good job.
    Another telling index here (note the suppressed comment), and later at WRM’s place:
    “There was lots of talk back in the heady days of Orange and Rose revolutions that American NGOs would fund, train, energize and equip Russian society for color revolution of its own. This all sounded to the Kremlin very much like a planned and orchestrated use of diplomatic personnel as subversives to overthrow the regime; that’s a big no-no in traditional diplomacy …” [my emphasis]
    — that’s got to be the understatement of the decade.

    [Reply]

    Thales Reply:

    Thanks. I will wear that flagrantly arbitrariness with pride: a chaotic function bound by an attractor. Free association at no cost to you, for as demonstrated by the continuing delicious exchange amongst the F-men above, if one cannot bootstrap one’s own creativity, at least kick-start someone else’s.

    Regardless, Jim, back in regulation play, repairs the collateral damage.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    That Jim piece is going to be an instant classic, cranking the definition discussion up a notch.

    Free-riding on your flagrant arbitrariness a little further; three additional Cathedral crumbling stories from the mainstream, here, here, and here. Things are coming apart far faster than anything is coming together.

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    That Kagan article is a pretty big chink in the Cathedral armor. Not that there always haven’t been chinks, but I wonder if there has been a recent rise in “Implicit Reaction” events such as these–where Party in-fighting inadvertently lets slip truths that are profoundly destabilizing to the Official Cathedral Narrative. The more you paper over obvious morbid characteristics (“Iglesiasize”) the sicker, it seems, the patient will get.

    Sure, the Cathedralite must agree, democracy only works if we have a highly knowledgable, honorable, and independent populace… But we’ve had the “educational” pedals to the medal of creating just such a populace for at least two generations, and what have we to show for it? The exact opposite of intended effects, the exact opposite of what is actually necessary for democracy to work. Maybe democracy is too fragile a system to be reliable. Surely the Cathedralite must admit that it is at least a possibility.

    [Reply]

    Thales Reply:

    There was an abundance of anti-democratic sentiment among the flock with regard to Iraq during the Bush 43 years. The “Arab Spring” would be more honestly labeled as the “Obama Spring” for His presumed ability to bring lasting liberal democracy to those who previously possessed an insurmountable lack of said tradition just one presidential term earlier. How convenient!

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 29th, 2013 at 6:04 am Reply | Quote
  • admin Says:

    @ Fotrkd
    “This conversation has probably single-handedly set neo-reaction back at least two months…” — That had me chuckling for hours, but I think your later anguished comment is taking the image management question way too far.
    The reason I stomped the WN troll (and one other Lefty troll, invisibly) was because they were being obnoxious jerks, and not because of anything they were ‘arguing’. We’ve had at least one self-confessed Nazi making his case here, and since it was made with calm civility and intelligence, the comments are still there. I expect the disturbance value of that to be higher than some weekend goofing off at Hogwarts.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 29th, 2013 at 12:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    There’s no anguish. And I agree on the image management/PR thing (I’ve already bowed to Thales twice on that front). The levity of my initial comment is still the best indication of where I stand (and c’mon, you can’t reference Lermontov without being at least slightly ironic – it’s simply not possible). But if someone is going to take what I’ve said more seriously than it was intended and in so doing make it more serious (what art do neo-reactionaries want to exemplify the virtues they believe in?) then I’m going to respond accordingly, even if it means losing some of the initial esprit. But I didn’t mean to cause offence, so apologies for that.

    RE: WN troll – as I said at the time, I thought he was making a perfectly reasonable point so I assumed you were making a pragmatic decision, but hey, it’s not my blog.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    No offense in the slightest, or apologies needed, of course. On the contrary, you’ve banked quite a lot of comment karma with your initial one-liner. I was going to extract it as a new post, but reluctantly concluded that the joke wouldn’t survive the surgery.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 29th, 2013 at 12:47 pm Reply | Quote
  • Is Christianity Inherently Left-Wing and Egalitarian? | Occam's Razor Says:

    […] the recent discussions about the Dark Enlightenment, the positioning of traditional Christianity has come up, in […]

    Posted on April 29th, 2013 at 6:17 pm Reply | Quote
  • Optimizing for truth | Bloody shovel Says:

    […] others want to maximize intelligence, people be damned. And they give links to what is […]

    Posted on April 30th, 2013 at 8:16 am Reply | Quote
  • vimothy Says:

    Clark’s post was a bit strange. Comments seem to divide up into two basic arguments. Either,

    Racism per se is a positive good;
    Christianity is inherently racist;
    Therefore, Christianity is good.

    Or,

    Racism per se is a positive good;
    Christianity is inherently anti-racist;
    Therefore, Christianity is bad.

    [Reply]

    Nick B. Steves Reply:

    When all you have is a hammer….

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 30th, 2013 at 5:55 pm Reply | Quote
  • vimothy Says:

    I don’t have any insightful thoughts on neoreaction, though I’ve
    enjoyed reading all the essays linked in the OP.

    What I consider to be a reactionary, though, is really just a
    conservative — a /true/ conservative — that is, someone who defends
    the Christian and Classical understanding of the nature of man and the
    moral order in which he operates as the heritage of Western
    Civilization.

    If we think of neoreaction as a class of objects, it inherits reaction
    from this, its parent. None of the three strains of neoreaction
    exhausts the meaning of conservatism — each reflecting some essential
    aspect, but also introducing some distortions.

    Religion, ethny and trade are all important, but important as parts of
    a wider whole, interdependent, interlinked. Conservatives should be
    wary of taking some aspect of reality and confusing it for what it’s
    not, i.e., everything.

    [Reply]

    vimothy Reply:

    Oh dear — I appear to have posted this in the wrong thread…

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 30th, 2013 at 6:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • Nick B. Steves Says:

    This was good: the always sensible Social Pathologist discusses Taking on the Cathedral.

    [Reply]

    Posted on April 30th, 2013 at 8:39 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    @ federico

    Harry Potter is a legitimate topic for the smart crowd.

    Remarkably (to my unbelieving eyes), I have something for you: a flower, the Fawn Lily.

    It’s somewhat underdeveloped, but obviously Snape and Lily (doe), and Harry and his father (stag), all share the same patronus family. The name Oisin, the legendary Irish warrior-poet, means young deer or fawn. I then get quite confused (wasn’t actually looking for HP connections) but there are a few directions you can take this – Yeats (The Wanderings of Oisin) and his cosmology; and Bryan Sykes’ Blood of the Isles:

    Here again, the strongest signal is a Celtic one, in the form of the clan of Oisin, which dominates the scene all over the Isles. The predominance in every part of the Isles of the Atlantis chromosome (the most frequent in the Oisin clan), with its strong affinities to Iberia, along with other matches and the evidence from the maternal side convinces me that it is from this direction that we must look for the origin of Oisin and the great majority of our Y-chromosomes…I can find no evidence at all of a large-scale arrival from the heartland of the Celts of central Europe amongst the paternic genetic ancestry of the Isles…

    Mysteriously these two strands tenuously (as in I haven’t fully worked it out) re-unite through the ancient Hittites, here and here:

    DNA testing assigns haplogroups R1 (sometimes nicknamed Seth), R1A (sometimes nicknamed Sigurd) and R1B (sometimes nicknamed Oisin) to the dominant DNA mutation found in the paternal lines of these people.

    The R1 tribes, that we shall refer to as the ancient Hittites (or Hattians) had a religious and cultural pantheon that has influenced many younger cultures…

    Anyway, I realise all this is horribly messy, make of it what you will. A few other tangential thoughts: modern-day Urgup, in Turkey (a fair way north of Hattusha), was once called Osian. Ossian is the Scottish version of Oisin; and, similarly insignificantly no doubt, Yeats had a sister known as Lily. There’s also something about Yeats’ relationship to Percy Shelley (The Wanderings of Oisin was based on Shelley’s Alastor, or The Spirit of Solitude). Shelley is also discussed in an article in the Manitoba document and Prometheus (significant in both Percy and Mary Shelley’s work) is mentioned on the Clann MacAodhagain page:

    This pantheon was adapted in Sumerian where Anu’s sons were Enki and Enlil. The former was a benevolent teacher like Prometheus and the latter a vengeful “flood sending” god like the El of the Old Testament.

    Yeats himself asks:

    Might I not, with health and good luck to aid me, create some new Prometheus Unbound; Patrick or Columbkil, or Oisin or Fion, in Prometheus’ stead; and instead of Caucasus, Cro-Patrick or Ben Bulben? Have not all races had their first unity from a mythology, that marries them to rock and hill?

    (Prometheus=Enki=Ptah; (Wiki quote:) “Ptah-Seker (who resulted from the identification of Ptah with Seker), god of re-incarnation, thus gradually became identified with Osiris, the two becoming Ptah-Seker-Osiris” – for some reason linking Oisin to Osiris feels important (no idea why)).

    So… (after all that nonsense)..you could develop and feed this into the eugenics variation: Snape, Lily, James and Harry all belong to the Oisin tribe – the dominant, Celtic clan found in the UK. Snape’s love for Lily is actually a misplaced feeling of kinship, which is his true motivation for protecting Harry (which he can’t admit to – sort of like a Nietzschean Hamlet bound by a code he longs to be free of?). That Harry goes on to marry Ginny (patronus: horse) is also highly intriguing from the Yeats/Oisin perspective (“horseman pass by!”), and through the importance of horses in Hittite (and Celtic) culture, not just militarily, but also e.g. horse burial. In fact horses are connected to the Hyksos god Baal who becomes linked to Seth, the brother (and murderer) of Osiris! Oh, it’s all too messy…

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 4th, 2013 at 4:07 pm Reply | Quote

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