Dan Simmons Demonstrates There’s No Such Thing as Bad Publicity

Apparently he committed thoughtcrime by criticizing Little Angry Climate Girl, whereupon the usual gang of Two-Minute-Haters jumped up and down, whereupon his most well-known book shot up to #1 on Amazon. Larry Correia has the details.

Now, logically speaking, we must stipulate that Correlation is not Causality, so it’s entirely possible that the Legions of Woke were not the cause of Dan Simmons’ thirty-year-old book getting purchased by everyone who wearies of the Legions of Woke.

But if something else were the cause, then that might be even worse for the Neo-Puritans. Because that means their *INTERNET RAGE* had no power to derail … whatever that cause was. Incompetence or irrelevance, take your pick.

This reminds us that, absent a real armed struggle, the perpetually angry only have the power that you grant them. And once people realize that, realize that there are plenty of people who are sick as they are of the endless noise, then the noise retreats accordingly. As Rotten Chestnuts has it:

once the revolutionary fervor passed away with the first generation of fanatics, Puritanism was unsustainable.  In Massachusetts, for example, they were hanging witches in 1693; by 1698 Cotton Mather was being openly mocked, and by 1700 everyone was pretending that the whole sordid business never happened.

Stand Your Ground seems to be the operant principle.

 

To capitulate to Chinese censorship, or not to capitulate? That’s the billion-dollar question increasingly facing U.S.entertainment companies that wish to retain their access to China’s enormous 1.4 billion-person market while maintaining a veneer of integrity in the eyes of supporters back home. A “South Park” episode and a single tweet from an NBA employee have…

via ‘South Park,’ NBA Controversies Point Up Challenges of Doing Business With China — Variety

I wonder how much this matters. The Chinese don’t give a damn about free speech and they never have. There’s a whole lot of things about our culture that mean nothing to the PRC, and so long as they remain the PRC, never will.

What remains to be seen is if the media industry will sacrifice free speech to keep access to Chinese markets. Which raises all sorts of questions about the value of doing business with China in the first place. The idea, back in the 90’s, was that opening China up would expose them to Our Way of Doing Things, and lead them to change. It worked well enough with the Soviets.

But China is not Russia. China is the oldest contiguous civilization on earth. China doesn’t care what the foreign devils have. China cares about China. Rather than admire our system, they appear to be exploiting it.

Which means… Well, it means a whole bunch of things.

Man Complains About Foofoo Whiskey, Proceeds to Use It to Create the Most Foofoo Cocktail Of All Time

Some people say “fru-fru” but in my college days, we all referred to “foofoo drinks”. I believe our standard for what constituted a foofoo drink was:

  • Any cocktail named after a magazine
  • Any cocktail that is pink
  • Any cocktail containing liquer

This was the 90’s, so you can probably guess what cocktail was specifically on our minds. I’d concede that this was the pedantry of inexperienced, Because I’ve had Cosmopolitans, and if properly made, they’re a most refreshing cocktail, if a bit girly. But I’d drink Cosmos every day with my pinky out, just gushing about my hot dates before I ever allowed Peanut Butter Whiskey to pass my lips.

Flavored whiskey is an abomination.  It’s one thing to add a buch of sugary syrup to vodka, because vodka has no flavor. Whiskey, however, does have a flavor, a sharp tang of bitterness that suits a grown-up’s palate. And there are variations in flavor amid the various kinds of whiskeys: scotch, bourbon, rye, Canadian, and Irish whiskeys each have their own style. The aesthetic experience of imbibing whiskey is not improved by adulterating it. Just admit that you want something that tastes like candy and leave perfectly good spirits alone.

And if you think I’m just having a go at girly drinks again, let me just state that in my family the women enjoy their whiskey like they do their men: straight, strong, and icy.

But since the turn of the 21st century the whisky industry has suffered self-inflicted indignity, with Red Stag, Jack Daniel’s Honey, Crown Royal Apple, Rock and Rye, flavored whiskies that don’t add slight accents to whiskey, but instead have all the subtlety of a Washington D.C. Womyn’s March. And don’t even get me started on Crown Royal Maple, it’s not even fit for pouring on French Toast, if you were so inclined. And the blasphemy of blasphemies, the armageddon of the cocktail culture that has forever ruined the bar business, is that blend of formaldehyde and cinnamon that is Fireball, rife with the artificial taste of cinnamon flavoring, table sugar and regret.

I agree with this. But then the author betrays his enjoyment of Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey and proceeds to create a liqueur-stuffed alcoholic milkshake with it called the Nutty Buddy. All of which says to me that the above is mere rhetorical dressing to cover up the fact that someone said “Peanut Butter whiskey” and some dark corner of his mind wanted to try it. Only the ones who hold standards can betray them.

harrumph_2

On Aesthetics

I was inspired by my earlier post to think about aesthetics – the philosophy of art, beauty, etc.  And I did a brief perusal of the related article on the topic on Infogalactic and discovered something:

  • In ancient and medieval world, specific things were called out as being beautiful: order, form, harmony, unity, etc. This was a means of defining beauty.
  • Starting in the Early Modern period (17th-19th centuries), the conversation changed to be about “aesthetic experiences”, wedding aesthetics to rationality and science.
  • Then in the 20th century, two things happen:
    • First, we throw away the artist/author because of the “intentional fallacy”, and center our understanding of a work solely on our individuated responses to it.
    • Second, the Po-Mo’s throw away the idea of beauty itself, and everything becomes about discourses and narratives to be endlessly invoked and endlessly deconstructed

So we move from a set of idea that are clear, evocative, and can be used by a mason to build a temple, to a set of ideas that are esoteric, tendentious, and can only be used by academics to write essays. The nerds have taken over.

71ArtInutile-s
“Art is Useless. Go home.”

And Now, More Mindlessly Speculative Guff about Star Wars

First, the rumor mill: reshoots, secret cameos, six different endings, a bunch of “sources say” folderol. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. There’s really no way to know. Even after the movie’s out, we don’t get a lot of facts about what actually goes on in a movie shoot. Until the last Blu-Ray sale, no one wants to go on record.

Also, I’m kinda tired of the idea that it was The Last Jedi that broke Star Wars, as if the last 20 years hadn’t happened. This franchise has been coming apart at the seams for a while.

And honestly, the whole point of doing movies is to re-shoot them if you can. This is especially true of large corporate popcorn movies. Everyone with a stake gets to put their 2 cents in. It’s not inherently bad that they’re trying to please as many of the fans as they can.

Still, not a good look.

Then we’ve got completely speculative horse-puckeys about what can even be done with the story at this point:

This sounded terrifyingly plausible to me, but that doesn’t mean it’s what’s happening. My instinct says that Skywalker is going to be blandly competent and mildly forgettable. But again, this could also be wrong. Every thought and process we have about this right now is locked into essentially the same place it was in the Prequel era – Please don’t suck, please don’t suck, please don’t suck.

Because, Solo aside, they haven’t done anything to expand the universe (Solo was a good movie. It didn’t deserve its fate). It’s the same blues-vs-reds that it was before, only now it’s done with different sensibilities and feels about 20% as fresh. And maybe that’s because we’re all too wrapped up in it as fans. Fandom is inherently obsessive and perspective-warping. Turning enjoyment into devotion messes up the relationship between art and audience.

The question is, when Lucasfilm busted its ankles to profit from that devotion, and still does, do they not bear some responsibility for that skewed relationship? Especially when they feel no obligation to the art as anything other than a bland corporate product? It’s hard to find much sympathy for an organization that refuses to manage basic continuity in what’s supposed to be an ongoing story.

But again, nobody knows. And my attitude has become so clinical and noncommittal towards this, that I’m beginning to ask myself if I even care.

A “One-Woman Fyre Festival”

That may be unfair. Caroline Calloway isn’t the first person who couldn’t make a book deadline. But the disconnect between reality and InstaReality is as vast:

Caroline Calloway knew she was not who she had made the world believe she was. She had created a public image that was essentially false and, when she was required to commit this image to print — to tell her life story — she experienced an existential crisis. It was one thing to post a photo to Instagram with a clever caption (and editorial assistance from her uncredited helper Natalie), but to compile these scattered vignettes into a narrative and say, “This is my life”? No, she couldn’t do it.

And as the Brutus of her story, Natalie Beach, indicates, there’s a semblance of honesty in there, an insistence that if you just believe hard enough, it will happen. You see the same in Billy McFarland’s pathetic stance on top of a picnic table at Fyre, trying to calm a mob of hopeful glampers just beginning to realize they got hosed.

The worst scammers are those that believe their own bullshit. If Calloway had just let Beach ghostwrite the book, she’d be full of it, but there would have at least been a book. If McFarland had limited his expectations, their at least could have been a party on whatever island that was.

But their minds were warped by saturated images and SEO data. They got high on their own supply.

It’s not at all easy to write a book. I’ve done it. It’s grinding. It’s work. It’s not glamour and bon mots and artisanal pork bellies. There’s a reason writers drink.

One of the best free books about creating, Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work, reminds us that the struggle of delivering the work, or “shipping”

When we ship, we’re exposed. That’s why were so afraid of it. When we ship, we’ll be judged. The real world will pronoubnce upon our work and upon us, when we ship, we can fail, when we ship, we can be humiliated.

For some, an insurmountable bar to clear.

Everything Takes Longer Than You Think

Especially when you’ve never done it.

And really, everything you do is something you’ve never done.

We feel that days are the same, but they aren’t. Monotony is a frame of mind, a passivity to pattern.

So when you say, “I’ll do this by time X” you’re expressing a wish or an intent.

The important thing is to keep doing, and let the deadlines you set float by if they need to. Better late than never isn’t an excuse, it’s a necessary compromise with a world of nearly infinite complexity, very little of which falls under our actual control.

Grind away.