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The Hoover Hog

Source 2020: https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/ | 2020-02-15
A Review of Dangerous Ideas

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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2019/05/every-day-at-work-i-felt-like-the-meteor-needed-to-hit-and-i-needed-to-die.html">In Praise of Delicious Tacos</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">The writer presently known as Delicious Tacos is responsible for, among other things, a series of short confessional narratives that chronicle his agonizing ordeal with an anorectal abscess. That micro-memoir of butthole affliction – the "Ass Variations," as I have dubbed it, though the actual chapter headings are styled “Ass Part 1,” “Ass Part 2,” etc.)  – is nested like a polyp somewhere between the covers of Mr. Tacos' outrageously problematic self-published story anthology, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Pussy-Delicious-Tacos/dp/1534647511"><em>The Pussy</em></a>.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">I will return briefly to the writer’s rectum. First, here is something you can do for fun: The next time you visit your local brick & mortar Barnes & Noble, tell the bespectacled store clerk that you're looking for <em>The Pussy</em> by Delicious Tacos. They won't have it, but you will get to say, “I am looking for <em>The Pussy</em> by Delicious Tacos,” and then you will get to watch as the clerk – who looks to be about 23, plump but pretty, milky-white skin, auburn hair, a few tattoos, smells like peppermint – pecks these ridiculous words onto the keyboard to check the warehouse inventory.  </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">Now, back to the butt vignettes – the “Ass Variations.” You have to read these. Tell the Barnes & Noble clerk – her name is Rosemary; it’s right there on her tag –  that she has to read them, too. They’re hilarious, but also sort of … harrowing. They’ll make you clench your sphincter on reflex, which is something you don’t get from most literature.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">Yet the truly curious thing that happens when you read about the suffering poop chute of a man who calls himself Delicious Tacos in a book called <em>The Pussy</em> is that it soon hits you just how improbably <em>good</em> it is – how, by means of comic timing and sharply rendered sense-rattling prose, Delicious Tacos slyly delivers on a lot of what's promised in a fucking Norton Anthology. If you're looking for writing that limns the penetralia of sensual and emotive experience, well, you should probably read Proust. But after you’ve emerged from the madeleine-scented memory maze, I want you to try slumming with this serialized account of acute rectal trauma. Compare and contrast. See what jogs.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">The Barnes & Noble clerk – Rosemary – is probably hoping you will leave her alone by now. But not quite yet. Go ahead and ask about the other one – tell her it’s an apocalyptic novel called <em>Finally, Some Good News</em>. Tell her it doesn’t have zombies. Tell her it’s also a kind of love story and be sure to address her as “Rosemary” repeatedly (because that’s why they give them name tags, right?). Notice how she avoids eye contact as she dutifully keys in the title and says, “Sorry, we don’t have that one, either. Um, you might have to order these online?”   </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">Very well, then. Delicious Tacos will have to be our little secret, Rosemary. At least for now.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">You want the links? Here are the links:</span></p>
<ul>
<li><strong><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Pussy-Delicious-Tacos/dp/1534647511"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">Purchase <em>The Pussy</em></span></a></strong></li>
<li><strong><a href="https://delicioustacos.com/2017/10/29/sticky-finally-some-good-news/"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">Purchase <em>Finally, Some Good News</em></span></a></strong></li>
</ul>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">This is too bad, really. Because <em>The Pussy</em> is a bang-up showcase. It's wickedly funny and often shocking in its frank disclosure of such refractory vanities and desires and lusts and longings and manias that addle the minds of men. And I love the author's genre-straddling nous, the way the detours into speculative fiction, noir, horror, etc. seamlessly interface with the gritty autobiographical threads, being somehow unified under a grim thematic rubric and a relaxed verbal fluency that slightly resembles whatever it was that Vonnegut did when he was doing things right.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">Another layer of connective tissue might have something to do with irony – including old-fashioned Rod Serling irony. Delicious Tacos is an adept ironist. He inflects his stories and anecdotes with ironic low notes, I suspect, in order to temper the bleak pessimism that skips into focus when you stop being amused. <em>The Pussy</em> is more keenly attuned to our present crisis than most of what gets noticed in the <em>New York Review of Books</em>. It should be displayed prominently at the Barnes & Noble, maybe stacked next to the one by the “Cat Person” person, where it is sure to pique Rosemary’s curiosity. Then she will flip to the “Ass Variations” – which aren’t even the best part – and her sphincter will clench, just like yours did. Maybe you should ask her about her tattoos.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">And fuck me, <em>Finally, Some Good News</em> – which, full disclosure, I read first – is, fuck you, better. It's a brilliantly crafted full-plot novel that hooks you early and then subverts your expectations in the best way possible. If you thought <em>The Pussy</em> was a fluke, it proves you wrong. If you thought irony was twee, you'll see. <em>FSGN</em> is also a perfect misery companion for those of us – maybe all of us – who, at least on a bad day, would sooner see the skyline flattened than spend another hour on the clock. It should be made into a movie, maybe with John Paul Reynolds as the male lead. Not sure about the chick. Not Alia Shawkat – too distracting. Maybe Olivia Cooke? I don't know. Directed by Mike Judge. Or Mel Gibson.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">It is the fate of too many talented writers to languish in obscurity. This has always been the case, but the situation seems worse now. Or different, uglier – especially for the ones who don't yield to the capricious dictates of scolds. Should something genuinely provocative get past the ramparts, mercenary reviewers will be dispatched to blunt the impact. Your local independent bookstore has a display featuring books with the word “Fuck” the title, which is cute, but they have decided, <em>as is their right</em>, not to stock the new Bret Easton Ellis.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;"><em>American Psycho</em> is still on the shelf – maybe it’s even a “Bookseller’s Pick” with a handwritten review on cardstock by “Joe,” who manages to use every variant of the word “satire” in the space allotted. But we know it wouldn’t be published today. Nor would <em>The Prisoner of Sex</em> or <em>Sexual Personae</em> or anything by Bukowski. The implicit grandfather clauses that keep such books in print are now subject to endless degrees of cloying editorial annotation, thus are we informed that Robert Crumb belongs in the attic. Just watch what happens when the next Houellebecq comes out. Rent control is nice if you can get it, but the landlord is always looking for loopholes.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">Of course, the rent seekers are pretty good at finding loopholes of their own. For the time being, this means self-publishing. Which means self-promotion. It’s usually a dead end, just the same. Most self-published books are, after all, astoundingly bad. These books are so bad in so many predictable and sloppy and downright bizarre ways that the vanity press stigma stinks up the ones that maybe aren’t quite so bad, even if you’ll never know because who has the time and money to waste on a dim chance, right?</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">But a few of them are interesting enough to get noticed and passed around and reviewed and discussed in Reddit threads. You bookmark those, or judge them by the covers. Usually you forget to follow up. But there are also some select few that poke up from the teeming heap of vanity-inanities, just enough to insinuate their way into your timeline on repeat, maybe enough to burn a longer impression. Until the day comes when you receive an email or two or three from distant but trusted acquaintance…</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">“Seriously, you have to read this one.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">“Have you read ___ yet?”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">And that, more or less, is how I came to the work of Delicious Tacos, the lapidary exception, the <em>rara avis</em>.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">Self-publishing means self-promotion. (<em>Red means dead</em>.) So I knew there was a chance that the Scrumptious Burritos guy would agree to an interview. And I had some questions. He wrote back, suggesting we should do a podcast instead. But I have no idea how that works. I seem to be physically incapable of speaking in complete sentences, regardless. “I would prefer not to,” I Bartleby’d back. But here are some questions, if you find time. To my surprise, he did.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">I think it reads well, all on account of the wit and insight that DC brought to the occasion. There’s a lot of stuff about the craft of storytelling. The PUA business also comes up. And Ted Kaczynski, who didn't like work either. The interview recently ran in an online magazine called <a href="https://autisticmercury.com/">The Autistic Mercury</a>. You can read it there by clicking <a href="https://autisticmercury.com/2019/05/25/nine-banded-books-interviews-delicious-tacos-for-autistic-mercury/">here</a>. I'm also posting the text below, in case it should disappear elsewhere. I hope it moves some units. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">I decided not to ask about his ass. If you think you may be suffering from an anorectal abscess, please contact your physician.</span></p>
<p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5R3bNKRc5Do"><em><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">Memento mori.</span></em></a></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">Or:</span></p>
<p><em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW3gKKiTvjs"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">Memento mori.</span></a></em></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: 'andale mono', times;">__________________________________</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 18pt;"><strong><span style="font-family: 'andale mono', times;">DELICIOUS TACOS INTERVIEW</span></strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"> </p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>NINE-BANDED BOOKS: You write under a pen-name that, when you Google it, yields mostly recipes and restaurant reviews. You self-publish books that don’t exist in the eyes of literary gatekeepers, that aren’t advertised except by Amazon bots, and that are reviewed and discussed only in dodgy crevices of the Internet. Yet you seem to be pulling it off. I suppose by dint of on word-of-mouth momentum, which is how I became aware of your work, you have attracted an enthusiastic cult following that appears to be growing. This is really quite remarkable and it goes against all professional advice. Did you ever try going the traditional route – securing a literary agent and shopping your work to established publishers? Submitting stories to </strong><strong><em>The Paris Review</em></strong><strong>?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">DELICIOUS TACOS: Pulling it off would be making a living from it. I make enough from it now to live in Southeast Asia if I were to put out a book every five months, and books take me two years to write. I did submit to an agent for the first time last week. A friend talked me into it. Non-high-powered agent here in Southern California. She said she could never work with someone who wrote a blog post called “Fuck Cunt Pussy.” Also she sort of politely disparaged my being a self-published author.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I worked in Hollywood film development for 9 years.  I used to read <em>Publishers Marketplace </em>and go through every publishing deal made that week. Circle ones that might be movies. Even beyond the humiliation of sending my work as a slush pile submission to someone I know will hate it, there’s no example of a book in the last 15 years that’s like mine that has made somebody money. Thus agents and publishers would see my stuff as unsellable. And they’d be right. When I show stuff to people in “real life” they hate it, lose respect for me, and distance themselves from me. And I’d get a publisher to market my books, but publishers want people who can market their own books.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Plus, the semi-ironic Nazis and rape advocates I’m associated with online are correct about publishers. It’s the <em>ne plus ultra</em> “SJW” industry. They want to publish YA about taking down Galactic Emperor Drumph by trans teens of color. This is a convenient argument for not subjecting yourself to rejection at their hands. But it’s also true.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">My friend continues to submit my work to agents. It will continue to be a worse than useless exercise in self-flagellation. I hate it and I regret giving him permission to do it. Obviously I’m saying this because she said no. </span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I also don’t want anyone to edit my prose. I don’t want anyone giving me ideas of what to write. I don’t even care what my readers think about my work, unless they tell me I’m great. I don’t care about the money. If it stays a hobby that’s fine. Basically everyone can suck my dick. My job is to write stuff that is true.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>I gather that part of the mystique surrounding your work derives from your early participation in online forums devoted to “game” – the stuff associated with Roosh, Roissy/Heartiste, Neil Strauss, et al. It’s very clear to me that your writing transcends this niche, but the residue is there. What are your thoughts on PUA subculture and how it has evolved in recent years – in particular, why do you think it has become infused with MAGA-flavored political extremism? And what distinguishes your work from that of a guy like Roosh, who also writes about sexual adventure and rejection?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Yes, I’m associated with “the manosphere.” I took advantage of this when “the manosphere” could get you page views. And I liked Roosh’s work and still do. But when I was getting involved in this “scene” in 2012 the parts I saw were guys talking honestly about getting laid. I remember when the Roosh V Forum, which I still post on, was abuzz about ABC News doing a segment on “the manosphere.” I tuned in and it was fat ugly mushmouth men I’d never heard of complaining about divorce law. This was my first hint that there was a larger “scene” of freakish repugnant famewhores using the “manosphere” label. I understood I would now be associated with these men forever, having taken no precautions to protect my anonymity. And now I am. </span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I used to write PUA-adjacent stuff, though it was never corny shit for money. But then in 2013 I wrote a story called “<a href="https://delicioustacos.com/2013/02/08/autopilot/">Autopilot</a>” and realized I could actually be a “writer” in some sense. Not long after that Roosh wrote a fictional story called “Patricia’s Smartphone” that even anti-rape activists admitted was interesting. What if we all blossom into real artists, I thought. What if this “movement” takes its honesty about sex and love and turns it into something good. Years passed and I’m the only one who did this. Everyone else is shilling merch or bashing Jews.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">PUA turned into neo-Nazi politics because PUA tactics stopped working. There’s no “game” in the age of Tinder. Your picture’s hot or it isn’t. I’m lucky to have lived through OKCupid. You could be merely OK looking and type words into a keyboard and girls came out. Guys still ask me how to get laid. I tell them move to the Philippines.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>What are your thoughts on deplatforming and online censorship? Do you worry that Jeff Bezos and other corporate powerbrokers might ban your books? They began with pederasty manuals and Holocaust revisionism, but the target has been moving – as Roosh, among others, will attest. What’s to keep them from shutting you down? </strong>       </span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">There’s nothing to stop them from shutting me down. There’s nothing to stop me from using drones carrying IEDs made from (REMOVING THIS DETAIL- DON’T MAKE BOMBS) to blow up the power lines next to Amazon fulfillment centers. Nothing to stop me from buying a printing press. Slipping autographed copies of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Pussy-Delicious-Tacos/dp/1534647511"><em>The Pussy</em></a> into school libraries across America. Or there’s nothing to stop me from putting all my books online free, except my desire for money. I don’t make a living from this, which sucks, but it’s also liberating. I don’t have to have a spinning ad block my web page selling you a free online pussy guide. And I don’t have to be acceptable to the horrifying stereotypes made flesh who run tech, media and society.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">What would suck about an Amazon ban is: they really are a monopoly. And reading the physical book, which they do a beautiful job of printing and distributing, is the best way to read my stuff. But I’d use Lulu or some other printer. Or give out a free PDF and ask people to donate. Once rich guy could easily pay a lifetime of book royalties. Writing is the least economically valued work in the world. This is why it can be the most honest art form.  </span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>Is it true that you went for ten years without writing? Was this a conscious choice, or more to do with circumstances? Writer’s block? Inertia? How do you think this affected your eventual development as a writer?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Yes, I won an arts competition when I was 17 and people called me a genius. This crippled my ability to write from age 18-28. I thought if I wrote something, it had to be successful and good. Yet I still conceived of myself as a “writer.” I had long horrible OCD rituals where I had to pretend to write every day. It was just writing the letter “I” on notebook paper on certain odd-numbered lines. The word “writer” still makes me sick. I don’t like to call myself that.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">One good thing about this was I became a polished talker. My ideas and turns of phrase would go into conversation with other human beings. Now I’m a social idiot.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">As for how it affected my development – it probably severely retarded my development. Maybe I really could have been great. But we’ll never know. At the same time, you can put it down for ten years and pick it up and after a while you can be good.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>The way you write about sex – or, perhaps more accurately, sexual desire – is fascinating to me. The effect is very often outrageously funny, but there’s also a kind of graphic frankness that can be shocking – both viscerally and in a way that provokes introspection. It seems effortless going down, but I sense you’re walking on a tightrope. Do you have any thoughts on what makes your approach to a well-worn subject so original and affecting?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I write about horniness while experiencing it. My most horny work is journal entries where I’m on my laptop at the beach/ park/ coffee shop leering at women. Looking at that stuff after, the magnitude of horniness is shown via attention to detail rather than told in the abstract. The horny man’s mind is at once painstakingly focused on weird details of the woman’s anatomy but also flying off into baroque fantasies about sex acts, picturing the ruined abandoned woman 8 months pregnant with your baby still googling the fake name you gave her, etc.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">What can I say – I’m not exaggerating. I don’t know if other men get as horny as me or not. But people ask about my degenerate persona or my “character”– it’s not a character. I think everyone wants to tongue down a fat high school girl’s taint. Most men just lie about it.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>Your language in many stories and essays could be described as pornographic, but the effect is almost never titillating. I might even describe it as anti-erotic. Is erotic literature possible in a cultural environment saturated with pornography and Skinner-box dating apps?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Like so much else in this technological age: what’s the point of erotic literature. I guess women enjoy it.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>It used to be a truism that a writer had to “find his subject.” I believe your subject, beneath so much comedy and confession, is longing. Am I wrong?</strong>   </span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">This is correct.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>Your collection </strong><strong><em>The Pussy</em></strong><strong> shows you working across a range of genres. This might be easy to overlook because a strong autobiographical voice sort of runs through everything, but alongside work that might be described as Carveresque, readers will find examples of speculative fiction, allegory, prose poetry, narrative journalism, flash fiction, and I really want to mention that the story “Jack” (perhaps my favorite) is an efficient work of uncanny literature that bears comparison to the writings of H.P. Lovecraft and Thomas Ligotti. So I’m curious about your approach to genre, but I suppose this an obvious cue to ask about influences – what did you read growing up? Are there writers that have directly or indirectly influenced your work? And for that matter, are there writers – or literary trends – that strike you as especially overrated, pernicious, or just bad?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Horror is the right key for what we’re experiencing. Behind these sitcom-tier problems of “oh she dumped me” is the horrific idea of dying alone. More and more inevitable every day.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">My favorite recent horror story I’ve done is <a href="https://delicioustacos.com/2017/07/30/whats-out-there/">What’s Out There</a>. I wrote it after reading Gogol’s <em>Viy.</em> They’re not that similar except the character is killed by his own fear. I watched a clip of the movie adaptation of Viy, which I found infuriating. I won’t spoil it but they fucked up that key element.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Horror is the right key because it’s your own mistake that gets you. Only the camp counselors who fuck get killed. You’ll die alone and the worst part is you can’t even blame society. It’s your own fucking fault.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>You’re often compared to Houellebecq. What do you make of the comparison?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I’m not fit to lick his boots. I’m glad he’s alive and putting stuff out because it takes the pressure off. No one else can be that good. The rest of us are just fucking around.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>I know you’re a fan of Cat Marnell’s </strong><strong><em>Vice </em></strong><strong>columns. Any thoughts on her memoir, </strong><strong><em>How to Murder Your Life</em></strong><strong>?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I read the free sample and didn’t buy it. I  thought a lot of her columns were genius. But the memoir felt like a product commissioned for big money by a big publishing house, guided at every step by generic publishing forces (Ivy League women on psych meds). Maybe it gets better after the sample, who knows. It felt like an honest book crossed with a wish fulfillment for women book. Dad’s money, famous men, makeup. Shoes, horses. I’m sure my book sucks worse than hers but that’s for someone else to judge.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>I feel like I have to ask about Kristen Roupenian. I know you’ve blogged about her book contract, and it does seem unfair. But what did you think of “Cat Person” – the story itself? And what do you make of the unprecedented social media reverberations that followed its publication in </strong><strong><em>The New Yorker</em></strong><strong>?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I loved Cat Person. I wrote a whole <a href="https://autisticmercury.com/2019/03/09/cuckolded-by-a-savage-armenian-a-review-of-cat-person-and-other-stories-by-kristen-roupenian-by-delicious-tacos/">review</a> of her book for <em>Autistic Mercury</em>. I liked it and people should buy it.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>You express profound pessimism about contemporary relations between men and women, at least in western culture. How and why do you think things went off course? Do you see a path for improving the situation?</strong>   </span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Like a lot of people I have nostalgia for something I’ve never experienced. That no one may have ever experienced. The past, where you got a free wife, may have sucked worse. But yes men and women in America, at least in the cities, hate each other.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">My path for improving the situation is for at least 6.5 billion people to die, depopulate the earth, de-industrialize, go back to chucking sticks at wooly mammoths and fucking pubescent morons doggystyle.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>How do you respond to those who say you’re being cynical – that your take on the modern sex economy is jaundiced by your immersion in low-rung online dating culture and pickup artistry? I mean, I don’t personally know anyone who met their wife through Farmers Only, but I’ve heard stories.</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">If their life is so great, good for them. Look, the way I respond to anyone who disagrees with me is: I’m a genius, you’re an idiot, and you’re fucking wrong. My “take is jaundiced by my immersion in low-rung online dating” – as opposed to what? Mormon soda pop socials? Low rung online dating is the only dating there is. Low rung online religion, low rung online journalism, low rung online intellectual life –  that’s what there is now. I may have seemed deep in it in 2012 when people thought there was an alternative. But I was just slightly ahead of the times. The world caught up.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>Accusations of misogyny are inevitable, and often trite. But I think there are thematic currents in your writing – and explicit expressions in your narrative voice – that lend the question a bit more resonance. How would you characterize your feelings about women? And what do you make of misogynistic sentiments that seem to have acuminated in various manifestations of contemporary web culture? Was Elliot Roger a harbinger, or just a dipshit?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I resent the power they have to choose me or not choose me. I hate myself for respecting their opinion on the matter.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>Do you find that men and women react differently to your writing? I imagine </strong><a href="https://delicioustacos.com/2016/03/15/bud/"><strong>the one about the cat</strong></a><strong> gets passed around by chicks. Then again, I’m not ashamed to admit that I teared up reading it.</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">It used to be this way. Women liked my work. When they read it now they’re still more sympathetic to it. But mostly women don’t read it since I stopped showing face online. If you look at the Goodreads reviews about 2% are women. The women who talk about it on Twitter are the few who interact with me there. They’ll only grudgingly, coyly admit to buying it. They won’t tell me it’s good.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">When women did read my work, in 2015 or before – back when there were women, back when they were interested in things, back when they had a sense of humor – their responses to it were deeper and more understanding than those of men. I used to get wonderful emails from women. Again, it completely stopped – 100% – when I stopped showing face. My emails now are exclusively from men, often asking me for advice on things I know nothing about. Relationships, money.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>I’m sort of coming to your work in reverse. A guy kept insisting I read </strong><a href="https://delicioustacos.com/2017/10/29/sticky-finally-some-good-news/"><strong><em>Finally, Some Good News</em></strong></a><strong>, so that’s where it started. Then I read the other stuff. Anyway, I’m not sure what I was expecting with your novel, maybe an absurdist diversion or something “alt-lit.” So it really caught me off guard. It’s propulsive and deftly crafted and full of insight and pathos and wicked humor, but I also felt you were tapping into something – like a kind of mounting crisis or breakdown that we all sense but can’t articulate, a collective tension that prefigures the apocalyptic events in the narrative. How did the book come about?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Thank you. The book came from a feeling. Every day at work I felt like the meteor needed to hit and I needed to die. We all needed to die. That’s where the cover image came to me, a mushroom cloud blowing up everything and the title “Finally, Some Good News.” The apocalypse fantasy is the men’s version of a rape fantasy. Horrible violence that you’re not morally accountable for. We’re all pathetic worms now and the dream is to have a big reshuffle where men are actually useful again.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>You’ve described it as an “anti-dystopian” apocalyptic novel (or something to that effect, so please correct me; I can’t find the quote). What does this mean?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">We live in a dystopia. I do anyway. I mean look, I don’t always feel like this – sometimes I water the garden and there’s a nice finch eating seeds and shit is OK. But work dominates your life. Even a good job. It makes other necessary things such as love impossible. And most jobs are not good jobs; they’re hustling sales bullshit for nothing. There’s no escape from it.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">So most apocalyptic stories are about the dystopia after the big bang, and oh man do we wish we could get back to homes restaurants and TV. But I sometimes look at the homeless camps and think: those people have better lives than me. They get high, fuck, sleep in the street, no bills. No homework. Every day’s a vacation. We’re in the dystopia now. The utopia is not having to be in it.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>If there’s an element of wish fulfillment or escapism behind the premise, this is soon complicated by events in the post-apocalyptic setting. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s uglier than hardscrabble as the collapse of traditional order gives way to brutish collective behavior. Is this a reflection of your view of human nature?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">There was a simple initial idea of: before the nuke: bad, after the nuke: good. But that doesn’t have enough gas in the tank for a whole book.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I had this idea that the two characters would extricate themselves from this office building. 45 minutes would pass. Then their first encounter with the outside, where they get an idea of what the world is like, would just be comedically bad. The scene in the grocery store was supposed to be in the parking lot. They turn the corner and just see street orgies of rape cannibalism. But in writing it got more “grounded.” She has a reason to know something he doesn’t. She knows what men are really like. He has to learn. Then we learn how she knows.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>In the middle of so much devastation, there’s also a tender human connection. Do you consider </strong><strong><em>FSGN</em></strong><strong> to be a love story?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">One of the things I keep thinking about is if/ how the book actually works as a Hollywood 3-act structure. It does and doesn’t. But if you think about it as a romantic comedy, it works perfectly.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">You have an act 1 where they’re “right for each other” but neither knows it. Act 2 where they’re on a journey of coming together, an end of act 2 where they come apart. Act 3 he has to win her back. Their love is born, dies and is resurrected. So yes, it’s a love story. As I said in the only break the fourth wall part of the book – this is the most fantastical element. The idea that a 2010’s American man and woman could fall in love with one another. The nuclear holocaust is more plausible.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>I imagine that feminist readers who pick up your novel expecting the worst may be disarmed by what they discover. The way men are depicted could be described as uncharitable, and to my mind the most sympathetic character is a well-drawn female character with a heart-wrenching backstory. I wouldn’t call it a bait & switch exactly, but I do wonder if you were aware of how the story might cut against your literary reputation.  </strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Let’s see if a feminist reader ever picks up my novel. Plenty of other stuff fighting for their attention. But yes, I know men, I am a man, so I know how to trash men properly. I know the innermost secrets of a man. Some men are good, some bad. The good ones lose and the bad ones win. I think human beings innately worship evil, especially women. But I don’t know women as well, so I end up cutting them a break. I suspect they’re evil but I haven’t experienced it as my own inner thoughts.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">One recurring theme in the book is: almost every woman he talks to knows something he doesn’t, and holds it back. Either that there’s a plot to blow up the world, or something about human nature and men, or just that he’s being used.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Regarding Marcy’s backstory, I fought so long and hard over writing that chapter that I kept trying to find ways to cut it down, or leave it out. I talked to a lot of women and gathered stories. I wanted to make that chapter real. Ultimately it’s based on one friend’s story, except in real life it happened when she was four.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Then I had to write from her point of view, which took a long time to get to. I got there by focusing on her interpretations of nature. This is something she has in common with me and with the main character. Two birdwatchers survive a nuclear holocaust.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>The book is ingeniously structured, with intersecting timelines that converge in a very satisfying way. Was this your original concept, to evoke a kind of disorienting feeling to be resolved? Or did the nonlinear form suggest itself as you were developing the story? Was it a challenge to map out the threads so everything would fall neatly into place?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Thank you. When I started writing it every chapter was his birthday. I didn’t know where I was going with this. But I had this concept of following a guy through his birthdays as snapshots of the ways his life sucked impossibly bad, then somehow got worse. Maybe that’s where the jumpy chronology came from –  honestly I don’t remember. But the first two chapters are his 39th and 40th birthday. Third chapter is his 36th birthday. With the finished book this is an early signal that we’re jumping around in time.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">There are three timelines in the book:</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Timeline 1: before the first nuke. The hero is trapped in working life. His romantic and emotional life, which were gross to begin with, become even more pathetic as he ages. This is what was happening to me. It continues to happen, to get worse and more desperate in new ways. The job is a job I had. The dates are dates I had. The Belinda chapter is a real story a girl told me on a date. She really wouldn’t kiss me. A lot of people have pointed this chapter out as a “Red Pill” parable I engineered. But it happened verbatim in real life. She found out I wrote about it and was infuriated. Usually I mix up girls’ stories so they’re not too close to life, but this girl can suck my dick.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The girl who works for the pubic radio station is based on details from a close friend. But not on her actual character. The real person would never fuck a guy with her kid in the room. She’s still mad at me for writing that. I’m surprised she’s even talking to me. The kid from that chapter is a real kid. I just visited him last month; I mailed him the book and still haven’t heard back. Maybe he’s pissed. More likely he doesn’t want to read some jerkoff’s self published novel.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Timeline 2: the “plot” timeline. I had to figure out the big mechanical question. How does the guy from Timeline 1 plausibly destroy the world. This was Hollywood training coming back to me (see below) – the initial concept was the world just blows up, but for it to be a story the character had to drive the action. That led to a character question: does he pull the trigger, or does he back out, but the things he’s set in motion are too far along and it happens anyway. Is it a cartoon nihilistic black comedy or is this character a real guy. If you’ve read the book you know how it had to go. This set up a bunch of other plot puzzles. You have to ask yourself: how real do you want the plot to be. And my answer was: fuck it. The emotions have to be real. But the plot is going to have insane coincidences and hand waves, and that’s just the fucking way it is. You have to be free to be stupid.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Timeline 3: post-apocalypse. Simple. Get from point A to point B and live. You can use or “subvert” every trope from every other post apocalypse book and movie along this <em>Odyssey </em>plotline. Or <em>Aeneid </em>plotline, since there’s a dalliance in cave. The “dark” version of this timeline is: they end up in the exact same place as before. Society being rebuilt and they have jobs again. Another “dark” version is: they don’t stay together. He loses her. Do they go backwards. The possibility of these things has to exist for the ending to be meaningful. They have to find the strength to escape. He has to find a way to keep his woman through the only way a woman can be kept: brutal physical domination.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I always bitched about working in Hollywood “developing” scripts. But plotting out the book was like a street fight. You get popped in the face and go back to your training. Whatever your junior high school wrestling coach taught you. I went right back to character arc, story beats, act breaks. The shit he doesn’t want to do in <em>Adaptation</em>. You can think of it as a “subverted” three act structure, like a horror movie or comedy where the character loses or goes backwards, or you can interpret it as a heroic three act structure, but it’s there. And each act has its own structure within it. In the first timeline, he makes no progress. In the second, he almost gets there but falls back. In the third, he finally pulls the trigger.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The chronology is mixed up so emotional beats can be next to each other. The first time they have sex, which is written as a prose poem, is followed by them in the office and he can’t talk to her. The beauty and simplicity of the post-apocalyptic life, where people can experience feelings, is next to the stilted complexity and horror of the life we experience now. Because the world really does need to go, and you need to feel it.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>With the possible exception of Charles Bukowksi (especially in </strong><strong><em>Factotum</em></strong><strong>), I don’t know of anyone who writes more incisively than you about the soul-crushing reality of work. This is something that runs through much of your writing, but it assumes thematic salience in </strong><strong><em>FSGN</em></strong><strong>, where the of the end of civilized life on Earth is presented as a preferable alternative to the prospect of more hours on the clock, poring over spreadsheets or PowerPoint slides or lines of code, or tending Big Macs, widgets, whatever. There’s a memorable – and pivotal – scene where the protagonist sort of lets it all out, giving vent to sentiments that so many of us feel but never express as we go through the daily motions. It might be the longest dialogue sequence in the book, and it’s a dead-on gut punch. So I guess my question is: How the fuck did this situation come to pass, where we’re obliged to be grateful for the opportunity to trade more than half our waking hours for subsistence wages and the tenuous promise of a few end-of-life years of constrained leisure under a stock cashout? Why is the root source of such profound anguish so roundly celebrated?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I don’t know, man. Our society is Satanic. We worship money and success. This is a big question that I had to write several books to address.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">It’s interesting that you bring up that section because that’s a thing I always wanted to cut down, or at least make into more naturalistic dialogue. But that on-the-nose YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH movie monologue got left in. I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. It’s one of the passages that people bring up as their favorite part of the book. The other one is the “snow day” passage which again, I thought might be too on the nose. Both parts are places where I’m violating “show don’t tell,” so maybe that rule is horseshit.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>Part of the plot involves weaponized blackmail, with personal data being leveraged by a terrorist cell. In the wake of the Ashley Madison dump and so many instances of doxing, it’s an eerily plausible scenario – and of course this ties in with our increasing technological dependence. Maybe there’s not a nuclear holocaust at the end of the chain, but do you see things coming to a head?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The good version of this would be: everyone’s innermost secrets are revealed. We all realize that we’re all racist, horny, greedy, hateful. We all jerk off to unspeakable things. We all hate our husbands, wives, children etc. Everyone’s secrets come out at once and no secret has leverage over another.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">At the same time, it might have already come to a head with the metoo controversies. It’s been revealed that old rich guys molest women, and this surprises people. Women are shocked that men are horny, even ugly men. There’s a regression in basic knowledge about human beings. Everyone’s a shocked innocent at all times. But in the book the “in the know” character mentions the terrorists looking for pedophiles specifically, which is what you’d have to do with a blackmail plot. I don’t think anyone would give a shit if the president was sucking adult black cock.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">In the book people are blackmailing for a movement, which I don’t think will happen. People will just keep doing it for money.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>You have expressed admiration for the writings – if not the deeds – of Theodore Kaczynski. What can we learn from Uncle Ted?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><em>Industrial Society and Its Future</em> is brilliant and he’s right about everything. But reading his stuff is less of a learning process. More of a confirming what you already knew process.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">His other writings don’t pop the same way because he gets into what a revolutionary movement should do. It’s the natural next step, you think. I’ve outlined the problem. Now what’s the solution. But there is no solution. <em>Industrial Society</em> said: here’s what’s wrong. That’s something Uncle Ted knows perfectly.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">He follows it up with: here’s what we should do about it, which he doesn’t know at all. Nobody does, because nobody can, because nothing can be done. The Earth will be destroyed for money. Not could be: will be. If you doubt this, spend five minutes with any human being. We are fucked. Your children or your children’s children will suffer and die horribly and you might as well just try to forget about it. That’s something that Houellebecq gets right. There’s no fixing anything.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">In terms of mechanics, Ted was kind of a cautionary example. <em>Industrial Society</em> is a brilliant, true book that doesn’t end, it just stops. If it had been a better book he wouldn’t have had to blow off people’s faces and hands. Write your ending first. That way it’s the best part of the book and the whole book works together.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><strong>Do you want to say anything about your next book? It’s called </strong><strong><em>True Love</em></strong><strong>, right?</strong></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The next one is another collection like <em>The Pussy</em>. I’d like to put that out in December. First I have to write 10-20 more things worth putting in it. And I haven’t been writing well lately.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">After that, yes, the next novel is called <em>True Love</em> and I want to take my time with it. <em>Finally, Some Good News </em>is a pretty tight, heavily plotted novella. I want this to be a long, rambling, non-mechanical novel that digresses all over the place. I wrote the last sentence first. Then there are a bunch of other connected ideas I’ll put into it, like I did with this one. With <em>FSGN</em> I had 30 different ideas about how the world should be destroyed and the mechanical aspect of it was how to make them all hang together.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 40px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">This one is everything I think about love and women. Who the fuck knows though. The fantasy was: I’d research it by experiencing true love. But I can barely get a fucking date. This is because I work. My job is a great job; it’s far less grueling than other jobs I’ve had. But you can only have relationships if you work around hot women or you’re a rich NEET. So my day-to-day life is closer to the book I just wrote than this putative one where I live a natural life with emotions. After I wrote FSGN I had five minutes of a “got it out of my system” feeling. Now I’m back to thinking the world should be annihilated.</span></p>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2018/05/in-memoriam-adam-parfrey.html">In Memoriam! Adam Parfrey</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">A few years ago I was interviewed by Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents Publishing and I banked off one of his questions to talk about some of the publishers who inspired me to start up Nine-Banded Books way back when. Here's what I had to say about Adam Parfrey, who died earlier this month:</span></p>
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<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I remember reading <em>Apocalypse Culture</em> when I was maybe 17. It was such a mind-blowing book at that time, and I came away with a sense that publishing was—or could be—a kind of garage punk performance. Parfrey had keen curatorial instincts that made all the difference. <em>Apocalypse</em> was billed as a kind of intellectual freakshow, but the bait and switch is what kept things interesting; once you were in, you discovered that the dark carnival being barked was about more than just tweaking bourgeois sensibilities.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Retrospectively, I think Parfrey was serving up a heaping dense platter of what Sister Y (Sarah Perry) has since described as “insight porn,” the sort of head-lit that tends to re-route mental polarities—that, in her words, gets you “epistemically pushed off of your reality.” Shock value only counts when there’s resonance, and with Parfrey’s literary provocations—and here I would be remiss not to also mention <em>Rants and Incendiary Tracts</em> and <em>Cult Rapture</em>—the afterburn has lasted for decades.</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Adam was one of those guys who comes along and says: <em>fuck all that; here's what I'm going to do </em>-- and does it. In other words, he was a genius. I never got to meet him in person (<em>always</em> meet your heroes, kids), but we corresponded from time to time and he was always very generous and encouraging. I am convinced that many of today's best independent publishers would never have come into existence were it not for his fearless and self-determined example.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">No one will replace him. Here are links to select postmortem encomia:</span></p>
<ul>
<li><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><a href="https://reprobatemagazine.uk/2018/05/11/adam-parfrey-feral-house-publisher-has-died/">Reprobate magazine</a></span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><a href="http://www.oddthingsconsidered.com/god-speed-adam-parfrey/">Anita Dalton</a></span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><a href="https://reason.com/blog/2018/05/11/adam-parfrey-rip">Brian Doherty</a></span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><a href="http://takimag.com/article/adam_parfrey_saved_my_life_david_cole#axzz5FzM5bN4p">David Cole</a></span></li>
</ul>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_8xBHh8aUE">Memento mori.</a></em></span></p>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2018/05/book-journal-how-to-judge-people-by-what-they-look-like.html">Book Journal – "How to Judge People by What They Look Like"</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;"> <a class="asset-img-link" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e20224e0376bdb200d-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="DuttonCover" class="asset  asset-image at-xid-6a00d83467cf1969e20224e0376bdb200d img-responsive" src="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e20224e0376bdb200d-500wi" title="DuttonCover" /></a><br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The title cracks me up. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I mean, it <em>could</em> have been something vaguely academic -- maybe <em>Physiognomy Reconsidered</em>, or <em>Physiognomy: The Abandoned Science</em>; or it could have been something suggesively literary, like <em>Body and Essence</em> or <em>A Book by Its Cover </em>or <em>Windows to the Soul</em>. Or just some slightly more elegant phrasing of the same titular pitch, like <em>People and Their Appearances</em> or even <em>Judging People by Their Appearance</em>. But ... nope. Professor Edward Dutton named his book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Judge-People-What-They-Look-ebook/dp/B079DDMZZJ/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1526703770&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+judge+people+by+what+they+look+like"><em>How To Judge People By What They Look Like</em></a>. It's a hilariously clunky title. The halting monosyllabic deadpan word chain reminds me of those xkcd "Up-Goer" comic strips based on restricted vocabulary. It makes me wish the book were 700 pages thick so I could spine it  obnoxiously alongside other amusing bullhorn titles like <em>The South Was Right!</em> and <em>If We Can Keep a Human Head Alive</em> and <em>How to Start Your Own Country</em> and <em>The Heroin User's Handbook</em> and <em>Hitler: The Unknown Artist</em>.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">And if you're wondering whether the "How To" pitch is tongue-in-cheek, it is not. Or mostly not, I should say, since the author clearly has a sense of humor. "It is up to the reader," counsels Dutton, "to decide how cautious or reckless they wish to be based on the information presented." How can you not love an invitation to judgmental recklessness? </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">It is, in fact, the perfect title.  </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The book itself isn't bad. At just over 100 pages, it's a breezy, if somewhat slapdash, survey of past and present scientific research on various mental and temperamental traits and their correlation to observable physical characteristics in humans. The term for this line of inquiry, as I've already indicated and as you probably know, is <em>physiognomy</em>. And if you know that much, chances are you also "know" that physiognomy has long been a textbook example of "pseudoscience." Dutton's primary aim, which I think he accomplishes fairly persuasively, is to shore up the case against this textbook orthodoxy</span><span style="font-size: 12pt;">. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Part of the problem, as Dutton notes, is that physiognomy has historically been conflated with </span><em style="font-size: 12pt;">phrenology</em><span style="font-size: 12pt;">, which refers to the once-popular "belief that the nature of a person's character can be discerned by small differences in the shape of their skull." For whatever intuitive plausibility this  quaint 19th century "science" once advertised, phrenology has been roundly debunked. That's <em>not</em> true of physiognomy, which encompasses a wide range of testable claims that are still being sorted out. It may be tempting to think of physiognomy as the baby in the bathwater of phrenology, but the truth is that they have little to do with one another in fact or history. Physiognomy is an ancient idea that has, to whatever arguable degree, been validated through scientific research. Phrenology was a fad, like palmistry or psychoanalysis, and it fails every test.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Of course, the ignominy of physiognomy (sorry) owes to other social and historical factors. Part of the story surely concerns the well-recited cautionary tale of "Nazi science," which has been effectively leveraged over the decades to shout down any view of human phenotypic diversity that doesn't align with a tidily culture-bound accounting. I think the Nazi bogeyman is more than overplayed these days. While the watchwords and catchphrases are easy to repeat, I just don't think people genuinely imagine that we'll start holocausting paupers if it turns out that violent criminals have funny-shaped heads. No, I think the funk that attaches to physiognomy (and other forms of indelicate sociobiological and psychometric investigation) has far more to do with a perceived threat to a moral sense of fairness -- amplified as egalitarianism in political discourse -- that has gradually acceded to the stature of a governing ethos. Don't think politics; think <em>politeness</em>. People feel understandable hostility toward empirical realities that complicate an ideal moral landscape, and physiognomy, if it truly constitutes part of our empirical reality, is just a madly complicating bug. If their priors don't permit them to yell "heresy!," they settle on "discredited" or "debunked." Repeat and hope it sticks. It's good to know your shibboleths, yes? It's wiser, I now think, to extend the benefit of doubt to those who sputter. They do have their reasons, and it isn't bad faith all the way down.                   </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I suppose it doesn't much matter because the brass-tacks empirical case for physiognomy is surprisingly easy to make. Dutton only mention trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) in passing, but I think that's a pretty solid place to start if you want to establish the baseline premise that at least some mental traits can be accurately inferred from external appearances. Perhaps betting on Corky's LSAT score seems cruel and unusual, but my point is simply that you know you wouldn't lose. That's a foot in the door right there, punk rockers. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Dutton's variegated showcase dispenses with such rudimentary roadwork, focusing instead on physical characteristics that invite <em>generally</em> accurate, or statistically significant, physiognomic inferences. These include physical markers of high testosterone (which conform to stereotypical male behavioral complexes in both men and women); body shape (wherein Dutton mounts a qualified defense of William Sheldon's "endomorph/mesomorph/ectomorph" <em>somatotypology</em>, mainly insofar as these "partly reflect differences in testosterone level"); body size (yes, obese people tend, with considerable variation, to be less intelligent and rank lower in conscientiousness); marks of sexual orientation or "gay face" (which can be detected, well above chance, by human observers under lab controls, as well as by facial recognition software), and facial symmetry/asymmetry (with some evidence tending to vindicate some aspects of Cesare Lombroso's "criminal man" typology). And while this is not a racialist tract per se, Dutton doesn't shy from citing J.P. Rushton's "Life History Perspective" concerning broadly observable racial group differences as evidence for physiognomy. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">More curiously to my mind, Dutton reviews evidence for physiognomic effects in the study of less conspicuous characteristics, such as digit ratio, pupil size, and left-handedness (I don't think he discusses hair whorl patterns, but you can look it up). And to further complicate the definitional parameters, he explores the significance not just of developed physical traits, but of affectations (the "glassy stare," for example), as well as bodily adornment (tattoos, makeup, etc.), and even scars and wounds that may be indicative of neurological trauma. Things get even gnarlier when he offers up a broadly physiognomic account of religiosity and political affinity, speculating that rapid changes in selective pressures brought to bear by the industrial revolution introduced an elevated mutational load, with atheism and "dogmatic leftism" tagging along in the new muck. There are good reasons to be skeptical of such an effect absent stronger evidence than Dutton presents, and I can certainly think of different interpretations to account for the evidence presented. Still, it would be funny, to a cosmic nihilist such as myself, if such a provocative thesis turned out to be true. There might indeed be something to the "Mormon glow," regardless.      </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Nested throughout his appraisal of evidence for -- and occasionally against -- various physiognomic hypotheses are Dutton's theoretical speculations on the meaning of it all. It's no surprise that he settles on Darwinian firmament (as the above example illustrates), emphasizing mutational load, sexual selection, assortive mating, and the "life history" perspective popularized by evolutionary psychology. I've already mentioned Dutton's favorable account of J.P. Rushton's research on racial differences, so it's worth noting that he goes a step further in discerning evidence for intra-species (and intra-racial) r/K strategies that might correspond to physical traits. Is pattern baldness more common among cads than dads? How about tramp stamps? Place your bets.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The signal to noise ratio varies considerably and there are plenty of nits to pick with many of the claims explored. I think Dutton is probably too dismissive of the possibility that the direction of causality might occasionally root in culture or other environmental factors, rather than in his preferred vat of Darwinian acid (depending, of course, on how far you want to play it down; culture doesn't form in a vacuum). Yet it all adds up to something rather than nothing for the aspiring street savvy physiognomist playing as cautiously or as recklessly as prudence and science permit. So while the belief that gap-toothed women tend to be easier to bed remains ... unproven, there are ample empirically grounded bases for rejecting the claim that physiognomy is rank "pseudoscience." Numerous studies show that people are able to rank intelligence above chance simply by looking at unadulterated human faces. That's pretty interesting, even if it's not all that surprising. As evolved social beings with tumescent brains, it makes sense that we would have developed sensory modules for detecting useful or potentially threatening psycho-social traits among our kind. Of course, it also makes sense that such sensory adaptations could be thwarted or hijacked in the same evolutionary scheme, perhaps through mimicry or countermanding deceptive (and <em>self</em>-deceptive) strategies such as those explored by Robin Hanson and Kevin Simler in their recent book <em>The Elephant in the Brain</em>. An arms race pitting detection against deception might account for the fact that physiognomy isn't a far <em>more</em> pronounced feature in our long-evolved mental toolkit. But that's mad speculation on my part.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Still, it does lead me to an interesting question that I don't think is sufficiently engaged in Dutton's monograph -- perhaps because there's little relevant data. This question concerns whether some people are especially <em>good</em> at this stuff. Across many dimensions of measurement, Dutton relies on fairly weak but significant correlations, and with the "replication crisis" humming like a loose fluorescent bulb in the background, he does well to address this potential shortcoming. He points out that the cited coefficients are very much in line with findings in other psychological studies, and he emphasizes that the weak or moderate correlations tend to be strengthened insofar as they are typically clustered along multivariate scales of prediction. Fair enough, but I'm really curious about what's going on <em>within</em> the data -- you know, when you get granular.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">We're all familiar with studies showing that <em>most</em> people can't taste the difference between top- and bottom-shelf wine, right? Yes, but unless you're a complete simpleton, you probably also understand, as high-stakes market research confirms, that <em>some</em> people can indeed discern absurdly nuanced gradations in the character and quality of wine, and with astonishing accuracy. The same clods-to-gods continuum applies to general sensory reception in other domains, from food, to beer, to fragrances, to sound recording. That's why breweries hire "super tasters" who are rigorously tested and well compensated for their superior saporous sensitivity. Well, since the evidence is pretty strong that physiognomy is real at some crude population-scaled level, it's only natural to wonder whether there are physiognomic <em>sommeliers</em> in our midst, isn't it? Are some people gifted with the ability to more accurately "judge people by what they look like"? I'm betting the answer is yes, that such people do exist. And if they do, the questions that follow are just as interesting. Does such an acuity correlate with other traits? General intelligence? Verbal intelligence? Empathy? Is it more pronounced among women (my bet), or men? Does it come naturally to, say, psychopaths? Is it absent among Autistics? Does perceptive accuracy among the gifted change when cues are supplied by people of closer or more distant ancestral lineage?</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">All of which is to say, more research is needed!</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Dutton's slim book is a decent start. If you come expecting a studious popular history of physiognomy, you'll be disappointed. What Dutton serves up is instead a freewheeling and well-sourced drive-by tour of an unjustly tarnished sphere of empirical and theoretical investigation. He supplies plenty in the way of solid empiricism, even if the theoretical scaffolding occasionally veers into questionable territory. I don't think it really works as a how-to primer, but then I'm short-statured atheist mesomorph with a lazy eye, so you <em>probably</em> shouldn't trust me.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">________________</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDEQY4Qliag"><em>Memento mori.</em></a></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">                   </span></p>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2018/04/book-journal-notes-on-reading.html">Book Journal – Habit</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I've been acquiring a lot of books of late. This is nothing new, but I'm aware that my habit has, in recent months/years, tilted manic. It's is not a concern. Books aren't laced with fentanyl and there is no underlying crisis to bring to account. It's just something I'm keen to acknowledge, and to more or less embrace. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Schopenhauer said we buy books because we tell ourselves that we are buying the time to read them. I’ve settled on a more a more grounded delusion. I tell myself – as I tell others who ask – that I’m going to open a used bookshop one of these days. That’s how I justify the horde. That’s how I rationalize my reflex purchases – sale bin or eBay – which include, fuck me, duplicates of many books that I already own. “It’ll make for a modest seed,” I say. “For one of these days” when some idealized young-version-of-me customer will enter my idealized tobacco- and pulp-scented corner shop to be properly gobsmacked by floor-to-ceiling barrister cases teeming with near-mint Mylar-protected Grove Press obscurities, many of which, I’ll coyly regret-explain when queried at the checkout, “I never got around to reading.” Alas.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I suppose the “future bookstore” excuse is at least more ambitious, if arguably less honest, than calling them “lending copies.” That was my prior fallback excuse.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">If I try to tunnel beneath such excuses that I repeat on cue, I settle nearest the notion that it’s something to do with wistful memory. Isn't there a core concept in psychology – something from Maslow, maybe? – that describes a habitual tendency to try to recreate some retro-idyllic experience from one's past? Something like Freud's “repetition compulsion” but where the recurrent tic is centered on a nostalgic fixation rather than trauma? Regardless, I have tactile memories of the ones that hooked me in my youth, and I can almost capture something of the full sensory-cerebral experience that once attended every rarefied deadwood discovery that I wouldn’t then have imagined to be trite.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I remember the ones I loaned out that were never returned, and I still have the spine-creased and dog-eared firsts that I scold myself for not having treated with better care. I don’t delude myself that I am buying time, but I do understand the sham version of time travel that we are permitted, or tempted by. <em>I can’t go home I’ll go home</em>, to brutalize Beckett. And when the fix doesn’t take, spin the wheel again.       </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">In the meantime, I chip away at the lot. I read.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I read for a couple of hours in bed most nights. I’m told this helps with insomnia, which I have. The problem is that books tend to keep me awake. It’s still a tough call, though, because I have noticed, at least with certain shades of fiction, that once the cover is closed and the lights are out, I will dwell on afterimages and narrative loops that can indeed be conducive to a dreamy descent. Could be that's the real trick. More research is needed.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I never read at work, not even over my lunch break. I’ve tried. It feels like borrowed time. It sets me on edge.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I seldom read books while watching television. Magazines, but not books.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I used to read while walking. I lost that habit when I moved to a more heavily trafficked area. It’s dangerous, anyway, right?</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I don’t read ebooks. If I have to read on a screen, such as I do when I edit, I prefer backlit PDF files or InDesign spreads. I’m convinced that physical books, apart from their sentimental attraction, represent a plateau in a long process of socially evolved technology. Electronic books remind me of pan-and-scan video transfers, fucking up the <em>mise en scène</em>. Please do not argue with my religion. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Without question, and I mean to stress this, I do my best reading at a quiet neighborhood bar after work. It's nice there. Cozy, intensely air-conditioned, low-lit. The decor is wine-red and the after-work patrons are a motley mix of ruined alcoholics, AARP-eligible homosexuals, lawyers, and slumming hipsters (with some inevitable overlap). Mostly regulars. They leave me alone.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Just as often, I'll be the only one there.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I’ll walk at around 5:45 and before my pupils have adjusted to the stark change from harsh sunlight to interior shade, the bartender – she’s good – will serve up my first beer. Miller Lite, thanks. Call me a simpleton, but I prefer the consistent and understated champagne-water-pop familiarity of factory-produced domestic pilsner to whatever hoppy distraction is sold for more a few doors down. Beer as white noise, please. And after a desultory sip or short glug, I’ll set up shop at my preferred padded booth where the cheap swag light pools best. (If my preferred booth is occupied, which it almost never is, I’ll muffle a fit of pique. Then I’ll take the next best booth and irritably wait for the invaders to abscond.)</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">And there I’ll be – in my best booth (as I insist for this account), with give-or-take three, four, five books in my bag. I’ll just dump them on the red Formica tabletop and eenie-meenie my way into a deep dive until the world outside dissolves. If I’m not deeply engrossed in a particular text, I’ll toggle from one book to the next, changes cued by chapter breaks or bland instinct. (My rule is one novel at a time, but I juggle nonfiction by the stack.)</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">After I finish a few beers and reach a natural stop, I’ll step outside to smoke a pipe by the Dumpster behind the bar. On better days, I will then think in fluid detail of what I've been reading. These are often very good moments. In the best such moments, I feel open to connections, velleities, the occasional epiphany leads somewhere.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">(I do recommend trying this on for yourself, by the way. You’ll need a rutting day job from which to escape. You’ll need a neighborhood tavern as sanctuary. And you’ll need a bag of books, preferably plucked from a massive bedside tower. I'm sure this will make you a better person. Just don’t take up my goddamn booth.)</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The fuck-of-it idea, then, is to bleed something from a precious lazy clockwork ritual that’s otherwise out-of-frame. Here I should admit the itch probably came as I was editing Anita Dalton’s infectiously book-obsessed anthology, <a href="http://www.oddthingsconsidered.com/hi-buy-my-book/"><em>TL;DR – The Best of Odd Things Considered</em></a> (which I emphatically recommend). Anita’s groove is uniquely her own, but somewhere in the process of reading her studious yet freewheeling deep-dive meditations on so many books, I found myself privately annotating or arguing with my own prior thoughts on various titles in our overlapping checklist. And, having largely abandoned the long-form blogging project to which this space was once loosely and clumsily dedicated, I figured I might try keeping things afloat by recording my own relatively short-form thoughts on some books, and maybe some films, that have interested me.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">It’ll be books, mostly, if I follow through – drive-by, diaristic notations on books. Not for posterity so much as to see if I can layer habit with habit and tame it into a sustainable background hobby. I’ve written detailed book reviews for publication and have found the process to be utterly miserable. As much as I would like to affect a spirit of buoyant enthusiasm or a tenor of incisive critique, I always end up laboring over an ungainly thicket of words before settling on some wince-inducing stack of contrivances past deadline. I could never be a writer and wouldn’t want an audience. This won’t be that.       </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I don’t do marginalia, but I have steno pads full of notes. There are few if any genuine insights to be found in my bookside jots. A lot of the notes are trivial reminders to look up words like <em>silla</em> or <em>louche</em>. Others are inscrutable, or worse, illegible. But once in a while I will thumb through the mess and descry some half-formed thought in my own beerdrunk shorthand that jogs a lingering chord.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Like for example my scribble on how Nicholson Baker’s nonfiction stunt novel <em>Substitute</em> begs comparison to Andy Warhol’s delirious stunt anti-novel <em>A</em>. No one seems to have run with that thread, so I figure maybe it’s a good enough trick to circle back on.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Or like how no one is still talking about <em>The Incest Diary</em> and tsking David Aaronovitch for straying from supercilious horrorstruck form. There's a history to this sort of thing that seems to have slipped from the cultural radar. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Or: Have you read <em>How to Judge People By What They Look Like</em>? The title alone tickles my funnybone. Physiognomy is not phrenology, said the joker to the thief.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Or: Am I the only one who ever read <em>Soul on Ice</em> in tandem with <em>Race, Evolution and Behavior</em>? My oh my, it was like discovering a drug.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">That sort of thing, then. I do hope and intend to report back.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImAlx0amAIc&list=RDImAlx0amAIc&t=1"><em>Memento mori.</em></a></span></p>
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                <span class="post-footers">April 28, 2018 </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2018/04/book-journal-notes-on-reading.html">Permalink</a>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2018/04/book-journal-rumour-in-orl%C3%A9ans.html">Book Journal – "Rumour in Orléans"</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><em></em><em></em>Here's one I bet you haven't read:</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;"> <a class="asset-img-link" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e20224df2ca038200b-popup" onclick="window.open( this.href, '_blank', 'width=640,height=480,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0' ); return false" style="display: inline;"><img alt="Rumor" class="asset  asset-image at-xid-6a00d83467cf1969e20224df2ca038200b img-responsive" src="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e20224df2ca038200b-500wi" title="Rumor" /></a><br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Written by sociologist Edgar Morin with the assistance of a team of field researchers, <em>Rumour in Orléans </em>is a chronicle and social-psychological analysis of an episode of mass delusion that gripped the French city of Orléans (population 88,000) in the spring and summer of 1969.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Playing out over a period of roughly two months (May through June, with a multifaceted psychic hangover following), the titular “rumour” was essentially a retread of a species of moral panic that was common enough in the early twentieth century (though earlier antecedents can be identified) when the blurring boundaries between pastoral and urban life gave rise to breathless accounts of doe-eyed farm girls being plucked up from idyllic homesteads and sold into diabolical underground rings of forced labor and sex slavery, usually under the machinations of shadowy satanic sects lurking in whichever encroaching yonder hive of incandescent iniquity. In the United States, this earlier wave of “white slavery” narratives was amply documented in sensationalist news accounts of the time, as well as in mass-marketed books and silent films, now mostly forgotten – though you can sometimes still find the timeworn pulps in musty used bookshops, perhaps spined alongside family eugenics primers and other antiquarian curios. The lurid covers suggest a once-thriving cottage industry of populist crisis reportage – morally overheated, salaciously framed, grimly illustrated, and seldom countered by any measure of skepticism.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The skeptical appraisals and socio-cultural retrofitting would come later, before and after the essential “snatch & enslave” narrative would be rebooted – with a few novel tweaks tuned to a different patchwork of social anxieties and latent, or “re-nascent,” enmities (i.e., antisemitism) – in the also mostly forgotten episode that is the focus of Morin’s very interesting book, the first and only English translation of which was first published by Anthony Blond Ltd in 1971.         </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">In its embodiment and trajectory the Orléans panic would mutate over time, but the core rumor-bound narrative held simply that teenage and adolescent girls were being drugged – usually by a hypodermic injection – and abducted in the fitting rooms of a network of Jewish-owned dress shops. The girls were then held captive in the basements of such shops, as the story went, where they were subjected to indignities before being sold to underground sex slavers. It was mostly the same old yarn in slightly altered garb, though the focus on changing rooms was a decidedly new, and not insignificant, kink. So was the contextual emphasis, echoing classic blood libel narratives, on Jewish complicity.* </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Evolving in rapid order, the tale came to accrete other elements, some of which will be familiar to armchair students of contemporary scares and conspiracy theories to which the Orléans episode merits comparison. Aniticipating the McMartin preschool panic (and other daycare/satanic ritual abuse panics), for example, various iterations of the rumor would be elaborated to include the claim that the suspect boutiques were connected though a labyrinth of underground tunnels. And as the tale played forward without formal investigation and with only hostile press coverage, adherents came to imagine a more far-reaching cover-up, such that cops, journalists, politicians and "anti-racialist" groups (“outside agitators” to believers) would fall under color of suspicion. This element of expansionist ratiocination is of course parcel to every strand of conspiratorial speculation that has since plagued the internet, and it’s significant in the present study insofar as it marks the transference of an insular myth into the formal, though narrowly articulated, metalogic of conspiracy theory.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Playing the analogy game yet forward to the more or less present, there are also limited parallels with the Pizzagate (or #pizzagate) conspiracy mishmash that seems to have crested and ebbed over the past couple of years, the most salient motifs here being the innocuous storefront as a gateway to nefarious flesh trade and the industrial basement as holding cell. A more superficial correspondence with the contemporary moral panic over sex trafficking in general is also hard to miss. Of course, with all such past to present comparisons, discretionary caveats are in order. The point is not to imply simple equivalence between one demonstrably false rumor from another era and such perceived crises of the present that may or may not be founded on more veridical scaffolding. One may insert asterisks wherever they fit;** it’s still fascinating and instructive to consider how Morin's singular case study of a collective fever that enveloped a polity across an ocean nearly a half century ago might yet be wedded to deep and fraught currents of mythic tension that churn and get recycled with different set pieces over time.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">With specific reference to the Orléans panic it is worth emphasizing that no police reports were ever filed and no missing girls were ever named. In other words, there is no credible reason to believe there was a proverbial “kernel of truth” to the central claim of clandestine girl snatching. And while the germ of the rumor <em>qua</em> rumor remains elusive, Morin does well to speculate on some possible catalysts. It might have traced to a garbled retelling of an apparently factual story that had been reported elsewhere and a decade earlier. Or it could have had something to do with the contemporaneous opening of a trendy boutique named, ominously enough, “The Dungeon.” Or it could have originated from a practical joke, as some interview subjects insisted.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Whether or not the rumor was rooted in germinal incident, which I personally doubt, the belief appears to have spread <em>sub rosa</em> through friend-of-a-friend gossip among schoolgirls, being subsequently amplified and transformed through the above-ground chatter, culminating in public protests, of civic-minded parents (mostly mothers – fathers, according to Morin, tended to be skeptical). And it seems likely that some of those chattering mums harbored subconscious or perhaps overt animus toward Jews, or at least toward the new wave of young metropolitan Jews who ran the shops under suspicion.***</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">What strikes me about Morin's account of the foundational rumor, however, is that at least at its inception it seems to have had far more to do with changing sexual mores – or the threat of such, which Morin describes as a crisis of “the <em>polis</em>” (harking back to the “city mouse, country mouse” subtext of earlier white slavery panics) – than with dormant antisemitism. The “fitting room” as locus makes sense in this context, as Morin observes, since it represents a place of literal naked vulnerability, and perhaps liminal eroticism. Against the distant but magazine-advertised backdrop of Parisian sexual liberation, it isn't difficult to see how the common yet private experience of these would-be yé-yé girls donning miniskirts in quasi-public dressing rooms could stir sexual imaginings, tinged, as ever, with danger. The next step is to tell a story. The <em>next</em> next step is repeat. See what grows. Similar stories probably circulated in other regions around the same time, but without reaching a tipping point. Orléans might thus be understood as a kind of critical mass event. A Goldilocks moment in a darkened memeplex.         </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Whatever the etiology, matters would become more complicated after a spate of provincial news reports captured the attention of the Parisian press, including <em>Le Monde</em>. The editorial tenor of media coverage at all levels was hostile toward the rumor itself, igniting a meta-narrative – what Morin calls an "anti-myth" – that emphasized the dangers of anti-Jewish mob hysteria. The insertion of the press, and particularly the big city press from outside the <em>polis</em>, along with the vested and vocal interest of anti-racialist groups, apparently transformed a "quasi-medieval" narrative of cabalistic deviltry into a metapolitical narrative foregrounding the specter of recrudescent antisemitism.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">The residual "myth," having incubated in gossip and having crested in public protest, was thus cornered and insulted by a more powerful strain of external framing. In the high-tension feedback loops that followed, Morin postulates a complex yet plausible process whereby the original rumor, having given way to a cascade of politicized counter-narratives (or again, anti-myths) would sprout anew with <em>anti</em>-anti myths in popular reaction to such external framing. As the once-nested delusion abated, some true believers would invent bigger designs (the tunnels and cover-up), while others, presumably less invested, would latch to available excuses to retreat from the story with minimal embarrassment. Eventually the life-cycle of the rumor ran its circuitous course, leaving embers. The absence of closure is eerily palpable in Morin's chronology.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Being assembled from interviews conducted well after the initial spell of belief had (mostly) lifted and had been exposed to public ridicule, Morin's investigation is primarily concerned with the process of rationalization and embellishment that followed. In this respect <em>Rumour in Orléans</em> may be usefully compared to (and contrasted with) Leon Festinger's seminal account of shattered delusion – and famously “cognitive dissonance” – in his classic UFO cult case study, <em>When Prophecy Fails</em>. The crucial difference is that Festinger's team was embedded – having infiltrated the cult/community – before and after the curtain was lifted. Morin, who was alerted to the Orléans story through press accounts, argues that his team’s late-comer injection into the drama is a feature not a bug since happenstance provided an optimal vantage from which to observe the feedback and reaction in real time. That might be a case of sweet lemons, but his account of the assimilative process is for the most part surefooted and genuinely compelling.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><em>Rumour in Orléans</em> consists of a central monograph, which is usefully supplemented with inline footnotes (not endnotes, thankfully) and appended with extensive interview summaries (though I would have preferred transcripts), field research diary entries, transcribed press documents, and miscellaneous notations. The lack of an index is a point of only minor frustration since the book is relatively short (about 275 pages, counting the substantive appendices). Reading Morin’s case study in 2018 is a bit like witnessing a partial excavation, with mysteries yet buried – and of course, one is struck by contemporary parallels. I also found it surprisingly refreshing to rediscover the “sociologist on the ground” approach that has now been largely abandoned in favor of more recondite modes of social research. Speculative social psychology may be outmoded in many spheres of inquiry where behavioral economics and evolutionary psychology (among other disciplines) tend to yield more reliable data, but for all its overreaching faults in application to other domains, I suspect this more intuitive, dot-connecting method remains well-suited to the analysis of episodes of mass delusion and collective behavior, where flux and feedback mitigate against strict empirical controls. I might add that the translated text is very solid, even eloquent at times. It's not just that it reads well, but that the interplay of factual and analytical accounts is carried forward in cogent language, and with (inevitably dated) academic jargon deployed only in necessary and fully explicated doses. The core chronology of events is clearly delineated and Morin's documentation of literary antecedents, relevant ephemera, and paradigmatic folklore is deftly incorporated throughout.   </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">While the emphasis on antisemitism might be a tad overplayed in relation to the gestational rumor, the specter becomes manifest with second wave of the panic which, as discussed, entailed a political "anti-rumor" reaction (and consequent sequelae) that was spearheaded by press accounts and leveraged by antifascist rhetoric. In broader context, it seems important to recognize that the Orléans episode was of profound concern to Jewish organizations, and understandably so when we consider that the Nazi occupation had barely receded on the collective time horizon. I suppose it is also worth disclaiming that Morin’s field research was conducted at least in part under the auspices of one such concerned organization, I forget which. You could make hay of this fact, but given the nuanced, multilayered, and still-relevant exposition that resulted, it hardly seems to matter.   </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">__________</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">* With some caveats, Morin stresses the novelty of the rumor inasmuch as Jews had not (according to him) generally been implicated in prior white slavery scares. I am not sure that this is true.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">** I might as well inset mine here, since I understand there are intelligent people who assign veracity to contemporary conspiracy theories that I find highly dubious. With reference to let internet kudzu that is #pizzagate, I can state my own views cursorily. If you believe the cryptic lucunae embedded within a pored-over Wiki-dump of Podesta emails betray a winking familiarity with predatory online hot spots and some order of clandestine semiotics, I do not discount the <em>possibility</em> that you <em>might</em> be onto … <em>something</em>. That doesn’t mean I don’t entertain other plausible explanations, which might or might not prove entirely innocuous, and it doesn’t mean I’m as sure as you might be just what that “something,” if it's there at all, really means. If your first frisson leads you to believe that benuded kidlings are – or ever were – hogtied in the basement of a politico-frequented DC pizzeria that covertly catered to a deep-state-allied shadow elite of closeted libertines trading in pedo-crime, well, then I am obliged to politely register my sincere incredulity until presented with compelling evidence to the contrary. As to sex trafficking claims in currency, I don’t for a second doubt there are abject stories behind the screaming headlines and banners and PSAs and censorious legislation, but I’m just as confident that the rehearsed narrative of widespread coercion and chattel-equivalent slavery is mostly huff & puff. Whatever it means in Cambodia, in the First World “sex trafficking” is now a byword for every shade of prostitution, just as “human trafficking” is a byword for every shade of illicit labor. Absent evidence to support the more sinister framing favored in popular media accounts, I think the ground-level reality has far more to do with hardscrabble life choices and, yes, different strokes that tweak puritanical sensibilities. In other words, nothing much to get hung up about. I color myself a skeptic on all fronts in this sordid business in part because I understand that people are drawn to wicked stories, especially when such stories involve untouchable powerbrokers sating vile appetites. Freud may have been wrong about most of it, but he wasn’t wrong about projection. And if you believe there were tunnels under a Manhatten Beach preschool, please tell it to the nearest Reddit thread.     </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;">*** Morin asserts that the older generation of Jewish shop owners was not implicated in the rumor, lending support to my impression that the episode had more to do with shifting norms than with antisemitism as such. I do wish Morin’s study provided a more detailed demographic account of dress shop proprietors that were active in Orléans when the rumor was in currency; in weighing evidence for the central versus incidental role of antisemitism, it would have been useful to know whether similarly situated gentile dressers, if such a control group existed, were excluded from suspicion. I might well have missed something on this point. Mea culpa if so.</span></p>
<hr />
<p><span style="font-size: 12pt;"><em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwhX5V1Gn6w">Memento mori.</a></em></span></p>
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                <span class="post-footers">April 21, 2018 </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2018/04/book-journal-rumour-in-orl%C3%A9ans.html">Permalink</a>
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	<div class="entry-author-chipsmith entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d83467cf1969e201bb09f90d66970d">
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2018/03/anita-dalton-interview.html">The Art of Reading Dangerously — An Interview with Anita Dalton</a></h3>
		



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				<p class="Body"><a class="asset-img-link" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201bb09f9a3df970d-popup" onclick="window.open( this.href, '_blank', 'width=640,height=480,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0' ); return false"><img alt="TLDR-stack" class="asset  asset-image at-xid-6a00d83467cf1969e201bb09f9a3df970d img-responsive" src="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201bb09f9a3df970d-500wi" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="TLDR-stack" /></a></p>
<p class="Body" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: helvetica;"><strong>If you're not already familiar with Anita Dalton's self-styled studies of "odd books" and assorted cultural curiosities, you have a couple of options. </strong></span></p>
<p class="Body" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: helvetica;"><strong>The first option is to schedule a week off work and stock up on time-release Adderall in order to catch up. Most—though not all—of Anita's voluminous counter-disciplinary criticism and commentary has been dutifully archived on her excellent <a href="http://www.oddthingsconsidered.com/"><em>Odd Things Considered</em></a> site, which, in its various iterations, has become something of a hot spot for intrepid bibliophiles. Dive in and be careful not to get lost in the rabbit holes that dot the terrain.</strong></span></p>
<p class="Body" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Or, if you prefer the shorter (but still wonderfully long) route, your second option is to snatch up a copy of Anita's new book, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TL-DR-Best-Things-Considered/dp/0990733572/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520473142&sr=1-1&keywords=tl%3Bdr"><em>TL;DR—The Best of Odd Things Considered</em></a>. Published by <a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/">Nine-Banded Books</a> (hello) earlier this year, this thick-as-a-brick compendium features "directors cut" versions of many—though not all—of Anita's most provocative and personally invested deep-dive book discussions, along with lots of spankin' new content that you won't find online no matter how hard you look. In addition to a curated sampling of her obsessively wrought "dogpatch" lit-crit, <em>TL;DR</em> includes a sampling of Anita's occasional forays into film criticism as well as several essays well worth reading. It's a heady concoction of light and dark, <em>eros</em> and <em>thanatos</em>, highbrow and lowbrow, all tuned to the temper of a Texan text-addict whose cultivated tastes may offer a "strange permission" to explore words and ideas beyond your comfort zone. </strong></span></p>
<p class="Body" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: helvetica;"><strong>You can order a copy on <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/0990733572/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_XHlyAb9Q689FP">Amazon</a> or directly through <a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/bandedbooks/tldr-the-best-of-odd-things-considered/">9BB</a>. Or you may still be able to snag an <a href="http://www.oddthingsconsidered.com/buystuff/">autographed copy</a> directly from Anita. </strong></span></p>
<p class="Body" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 13pt; font-family: helvetica;"><strong>Since Anita began her hobby/career as an odd book blogger around the same time I kicked of my own life adventure as a fringe publisher, it was probably inevitable that our paths would cross. The following interview was conducted via email in February 2018.</strong></span></p>
<p class="Body" style="text-align: center;"> </p>
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<p class="Body"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>CHIP SMITH: You write about a wide range of subjects, but I think it’s fair to say that you’re best known as a book blogger. Just out of curiosity, do you remember the first time you felt compelled, if that’s the right word, to record your thoughts about a book? Do you find that writing about what you read affects the way you engage with literature? Does it make you more attentive? More critical?</strong> </span></p>
<p class="Body"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">ANITA DALTON: LiveJournal was the first place I wrote about books and did so knowing an audience would be reading my work. I then created a site with a book blog that eventually morphed into <em>I Read Odd Books</em>, which morphed into <a href="http://www.oddthingsconsidered.com/"><em>Odd Things Considered</em></a>. So I guess sometime in the mid-oughts I became a book blogger. </span></p>
<p class="Body"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I interact with books now as a book blogger the way I did before I began writing discussions online. I was very lucky to have had excellent high school teachers and college professors who taught me how to read critically and write reasonably well, though I am certain most of them would see my current style and talk to me sternly about word conservation and overuse of f-bombs. Through writing papers for classes, I began to read texts very closely, and that habit became the norm for my reading habits outside of class. Since becoming an adult I’ve always read compulsively and thoroughly but I think the only way that being a book blogger impacts the way I interact with books is in regards to books that don’t inspire either a positive or negative note with me. Were it not for the blog, I might be tempted to skim books that don’t inspire clear positive or negative reactions.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Maybe the <em>NYT Book Review</em> has trademarked this question, but I’ll ask anyway: <em>What</em></strong><strong><em>’s on your nightstand</em></strong><strong><em>?</em></strong><strong> Anything you plan to discuss on</strong><strong> <em>OTC</em></strong><strong>?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I feel like I need to send pictures to illustrate my answer to this question because I tend to exaggerate some of my obsessive traits for comedic value so sometimes it may be hard to know when I am being serious. Inside my bedside table, on it and around it I have somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred books that make up my bedside reading.</span></p>
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<p><a class="asset-img-link" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201bb09f9a3d3970d-popup" onclick="window.open( this.href, '_blank', 'width=640,height=480,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0' ); return false"><img alt="Nightstand2" class="asset  asset-image at-xid-6a00d83467cf1969e201bb09f9a3d3970d img-responsive" src="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201bb09f9a3d3970d-500wi" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="Nightstand2" /></a><br /><br /> <a class="asset-img-link" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201b8d2e0a594970c-popup" onclick="window.open( this.href, '_blank', 'width=640,height=480,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0' ); return false"><img alt="Nightstand3" class="asset  asset-image at-xid-6a00d83467cf1969e201b8d2e0a594970c img-responsive" src="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201b8d2e0a594970c-500wi" style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="Nightstand3" /></a><br /><br /></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">The most immediate reading is represented in the stack on the table facing outward toward the camera. <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Case-Worker-George-Konrad/dp/0151157901/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468198&sr=1-1&keywords=the+case+worker"><em>The Case Worker</em></a> by George Konrad, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Leaves-Smorgasbord-Hank-Kirton/dp/1539188035/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468242&sr=1-1&keywords=Leaves+from+the+Smorgasbord"><em>Leaves from the Smorgasbord</em></a> by Hank Kirton, <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Voyeurs-Motel-Gay-Talese/dp/0802126979/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468270&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Voyeur%E2%80%99s+Motel">The Voyeur’s Motel</a> </em>by Gay Talese, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Stewart-Home-Blood-Bourgeoisie-Semina/dp/1906012237/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468296&sr=1-1&keywords=Blood+Rites+of+the+Bourgeoisie"><em>Blood Rites of the Bourgeoisie</em></a> by Stewart Home, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Kassandra-Wolf-Margarita-Karapanou/dp/1566567718/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468326&sr=1-1&keywords=Kassandra+and+the+Wolf"><em>Kassandra and the Wolf</em></a> by Margarita Karapanou, and  <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Manual-Cleaning-Women-Selected-Stories/dp/1250094739/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468352&sr=1-1&keywords=A+Manual+for+Cleaning+Women"><em>A Manual for Cleaning Women</em></a> by Lucia Berlin are all potential fodder for <em>OTC</em>.  <a href="https://www.amazon.com/SCUM-Manifesto-Valerie-Solanas/dp/1849351805/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468383&sr=1-1&keywords=SCUM+Manifesto"><em>SCUM Manifesto </em></a>by Valerie Solanas and the books about Ted Kaczynski are for the book I am working on where I study and analyze famous and infamous manifestos. I hope to read <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Other-Minds-Octopus-Origins-Consciousness/dp/0374537194/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468425&sr=1-1&keywords=Other+Minds"><em>Other Minds</em></a> very soon because I became fascinated with with octopuses through some articles I read online about their interesting habits and surprisingly deep inner lives.  And <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-effective-clutter/dp/0091955106/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468460&sr=1-3&keywords=The+Life-Changing+Magic+of+Tidying+Up"><em>The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up</em></a> may seem like irony but I love organizational porn.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Your niche is “odd books” or “odd things” more generally. While most of your essays begin with a brief statement about why a particular book or subject falls into the “odd pile,” I don’t think you ever set forth the precise criteria. So what makes something “odd”? Is it like Potter Stewart’s famous “I know it when I see it” test for obscenity? Or do you have a general theory of “oddness” in mind when you make the call? And for that matter, what’s <em>not </em>odd?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Is the writing so superlative it leaves you breathless, or so terrible it makes you laugh or curse? Is the content deeply disturbing in some manner? Does the prose feel like it is speaking to you directly, as if the book were written with you in mind? Does the content try to teach you a strange idea or encourage contra mainstream reactions to known facts or history? Was the book written by a criminal, a recluse, a madman, a megalomaniac? Does the book deviate completely from what constitutes traditional plots and characterization? Were drugs involved in the writing of the book? Alcohol? Sexual addiction? Do you feel like you want to have a nervous breakdown after reading the book? Do you feel like someone finally understands your thoughts when you finish the book? All of that, some of that, small pieces of that, make a book odd, and that differs for everyone, but the extremity of the experience in writing and reading the book is generally what makes a book odd.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I have a habit of asking bookstore clerks to tell me the oddest book they have ever read, and seldom can they answer unless I give them qualifiers. Like tell me the oddest book you’ve read, and odd can mean most disturbing, most obscene, most violent, most unique in style, that which seems demented when you try to discuss it, and similar. Once I give those qualifiers the clerks can then hone in on something that went outside the experiences they had with other literature and I get wonderful answers. Asking book store employees about the books they found the oddest has lead me to some fascinating books, all so wholly different from each other that it seems hard to see how they could all fit under a single subheading for oddness. Among some of my best odd recommendations are:</span></p>
<ul>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Erlend Loe’s sweetly compulsive look at existentialism in <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Na%C3%AFve-Super-Erlend-Loe/dp/1841956724/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468651&sr=1-1&keywords=Naive.+Super"><em>Naive. Super</em></a></span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Philip Jose Farmer’s <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Venus-Half-Shell-Kilgore-Trout/dp/0440161495/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468687&sr=1-1&keywords=venus+on+the+half+shell">collection of short stories</a> written as Vonnegut’s character Kilgore Trout</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Books-Jan-Bondeson/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AJan%20Bondeson">Jan Bondeson’s entire body of work</a>, dealing mainly with historical hoaxes, strange history and bizarre crimes</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Larry Clark’s photography book, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Tulsa-Larry-Clark/dp/0802137482/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468766&sr=1-1&keywords=larry+clark+tulsa"><em>Tulsa </em></a></span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Tanith Lee’s <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Darkness-Third-Blood-Opera-Sequence/dp/031213956X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520468790&sr=1-1&keywords=Blood+Opera+Sequence"><em>Blood Opera Sequence</em></a></span></li>
</ul>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">If all of the above are odd, and they are in some way, then odd is what you think it is. It would be far harder to make an argument that mainstream bestsellers are odd, but never say never.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I have a hard time defining what is <em>not</em> odd but for me most mainstream mystery and general fiction are not odd. I read lots of books from those genres but as much as I like and read cozy mysteries and Anne Tyler, they lack the extremity that makes something odd.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">But, as I used to say often, mileage varies.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>You know, I worked at a couple of bookshops when I was younger (a little over five years total) and I don’t think anyone ever asked me such a question—though I know it would have been a thrill. I do remember the feeling I would get when a customer would reveal enough to let me know that I might be dealing with a kindred spirit. Those were the moments when it felt less like a job—and now I suppose this reminds me of one of the anecdotes in your <a href="http://www.oddthingsconsidered.com/the-death-of-borders/">essay about Borders</a>. It’s all treated so casually, but I think there’s something inescapably intimate about recommending a book to another person. There’s an element of trust, of vulnerability. And it usually involves discretion. What are your thoughts?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">You know, I don’t think I had looked at it this way, thinking about the trust or vulnerability involved in sharing with a stranger book recommendations. But I can see how that would be the case and it now makes me wonder about the motivations for some rules I experienced working for large bookstores. Years ago I worked for a big name book store and we had strict rules about what we could recommend or even say when ringing up purchases. We couldn’t ask if the customer had read the first book of a series if we were ringing up the second book. We couldn’t comment that we loved the book they were buying, and if a customer specifically asked us for books in the same vein as a particular author—say the customer loved Stephen King and wanted books similar to King’s bestsellers—we were told to pull a copy of the author’s work from the shelves, see who had written blurbs of praise, and recommend those authors. Doing it that way sort of indemnified the store because the employees weren’t giving opinions. We were just reading off the back of the book cover.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I always just thought it was typical, bloodless corporate CYA procedures. Maybe not. Maybe it was because customers felt attacked if an employee praised their purchase one day but failed to the next. Was a lack of praise unstated contempt? Or maybe they were buying the book for a particularly degenerate relative and were offended we thought the book was for their enjoyment. Maybe these policies were to avoid the problems that come up when one thinks one has enough casual intellectual intimacy to comment upon books with a stranger when no such common ground actually exists.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Are the kids—and they are almost always kids these days—I ask about books terrified that I will mock them as lightweight if they recommend <a href="https://www.amazon.com/American-Psycho-Bret-Easton-Ellis/dp/0679735771/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8"><em>American Psycho</em></a>, the book most often recommended to me when I ask about odd books at stores? Are they worried that I plan to humiliate them if they tell me that they don’t really read odd material? Or maybe management has told them not to recommend books outside of those employee review cards some stores set up? I do get a lot of deer-in-the-headlight looks before I establish myself as a harmless maternal type with a website and not a secret shopper or blue-nosed harridan who will freak out if they mention a book with outre elements. I didn’t think that maybe I was putting these kids on the spot, that perhaps I was assuming an intimacy not yet established.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I never worried about sharing my opinions on books when asked because I assumed that if anyone asked for my two cents then they wanted an honest answer. I did, luckily, have enough common sense to pick up on enough visual cues to be able to narrow down any recommendations I gave when I sold books. But when I think about the times when I had that sort of bookseller-book buyer trust and intimacy, it was seldom about sharing my tastes. It was more about the customer finally feeling free enough to ask me questions without fear. I also worked at a used bookstore that is now a national chain, and we’d get so many people coming in to get copies of twelve-step program books. They had their own little section at the bottom of the self-help shelves but they were easily missed. Several of us noted we were the people those customers most often asked for help finding the books—one was an older dude who looked like he’d been through some shit (he was just an overworked dad with two demanding jobs), one was an Austin hippie prototype who looked like the sort of woman who’d be able to tell you about your past lives while baking some vegan brownies, and me, the pudgy woman with ridiculous glasses who was, at the time, using a brightly colored cane after ankle surgery. It’s like they scanned the store for the person most likely to be kind or understanding about them needing a guide to direct them out of the darkest part of their lives and we visually fit the bill.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">And then those who without comment found the titles they needed—dealing with impotence, recovering from disordered eating, dealing with divorce, life after bankruptcy— and brought them to the counter and prayed the clerk had enough discretion not to bring attention to their purchases… In my times in the stores I never really had the need or cause to lay myself bare with customers through recommendations. It was generally the customer trusting that we would not judge them.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Something I suspect most of your readers will have noticed is that you seldom describe what you do as “criticism.” Rather than “book reviews,” you write “book discussions.” What’s the distinction?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">For years I called my entries about books “reviews.” Then in 2011 I <a href="http://www.oddthingsconsidered.com/2083-by-andrew-berwick-aka-anders-behring-breivik/">discussed</a> Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto, <em>2083,</em> and the discussion went semi-viral. People who actually read it shared it on sites like MetaFilter and Reddit and it was described as me reviewing <em>2083</em>, which made perfect sense because I do review books as much as I discuss them. But the end result was that people who didn’t bother to read my work saw the word “review” and came to the conclusion that I was analyzing <em>2083</em> as a literary work, akin to writing a review of the latest best-seller for <em>The New York Review of Books</em>. The derision was immediate and scathing, with sarcastic recommendations that I review  <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Mein-Kampf/dp/0395925037/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520469863&sr=1-1&keywords=Mein+Kampf"><em>Mein Kampf </em></a> when I was finished with Breivik. It was then I started referring to what I write as discussions rather than reviews. Though I may actually end up discussing the literary merits of manifestos—I’m still in the note-taking stage of the book I’m working on about manifestos, so maybe I will look at the wordsmithing in mass murderer manifestos. Never say never.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Still, this has been a helpful distinction even when I am technically “reviewing” a book. As the years went by, my looks at books got longer and more detailed, more personal. Even when I am rating the merit of a book, I am also discussing it in such detail that generally calling it a discussion is accurate. Plus I always sort of hope that people will come and discuss the books with me. Reviews don’t often invite lively back and forth.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>It</strong><strong>’s funny because, you know, <em>Mein Kampf</em></strong><strong> actually</strong><strong> <em>was </em>prominently reviewed in the ’30s and ’40s, famously by Mencken and Orwell—though I guess Orwell’s take was more of a “discussion.” Anyway, I’m glad you brought up the Breivik text because as thick as <em>TL;DR </em>is, we both know it was going to be a <em>lot </em>bigger—until we decided to cordon off your monograph-length discussion of <em>2083 </em>to sort of reincorporate into this other project, where you focus on manifestos and other writings by desperate and violent individuals. Do you want to say anything further about what readers can expect? I realize you’re just getting started.</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I can talk about manifestos all day. The book analyzing certain manifestos is still very much in a nascent stage. It’s going to be fun to see what common threads I see through screeds and manifestos written by radically different people for radically different purposes. What will Valerie Solanas and Carl Panzram have in common? Did Arthur Bremer and Anders Behring Breivik, both alleged schizophrenics depending on who you ask, create texts that will show similar mental pathologies? Will I be distressed when I see some of my own ideas channeled through Ted Kaczynski’s anti-tech screed? And if I do analyze these works in the manner I often analyze books, seeking out the places where I experience common ground, will I then discuss these works like I discussed <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Clown-Girl-Novel-Monica-Drake/dp/0976631156/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520469973&sr=1-1&keywords=Clown+Girl">Clown Girl</a> </em> or <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Plight-House-Jason-Hrivnak/dp/1897141319/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520469999&sr=1-1&keywords=the+plight+house"><em>The Plight House</em></a>? Will I consider these works outsider literature, criminal artifacts, or records of mental illness? Can they be all three?</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">There is a certain amount of entertainment value in such texts. I can’t help but find Valerie Solanas’ <em>SCUM Manifesto</em> funny at times because her extremity of belief is somewhat humorous. And I found sections of Breivik’s manifesto funny, in a grim way, as I realized the parallels between his mass murder blueprint and game design documents for role-playing or first-person shooter games. I hope I will be able to balance the humor some of these manifestos convey with the anger and fear they provoke. Writing this book will be a test of my capacity to control my own bombastic reactions (to an extent) and it will be an interesting exercise in seeing the humanity in texts that seldom are afforded a reaction that is not steeped in pure intellectualism or vehement denial.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>You’ve often characterized your relationship with books as “obsessive” and in this interview you’ve already described yourself as a “compulsive reader.” I think many people, myself included, will understand and even identify with this kind of language applied to the reading life. But when you divorce it from the context we take in stride, there’s no getting around the fact that such terms come loaded with negative connotations. In other domains, obsession and compulsion are indicative of mental disorder, or possibly criminal intent. What do you make of this? Is it just a bit of playful hyperbole? Or is there something else going on?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I think that because I live in my own head, so much more than I live in the real world, that I’ve come to use obsessive and compulsive terminology without any sort of real stigma or intended reference to the actual condition, even though in my own usage what causes the stigma is still there, part of the joke but still recognized as potentially negative. I sit on the OCD spectrum and before I hit upon a really good medication combo that treats the OCD and the bulk of the depression I’m prone to, I was given to cleanliness and contamination obsessions and cleaned compulsively. I also had intrusive worrying thoughts about loved ones and would engage in specific behaviors I knew were irrational but made me feel like I could keep those I loved safe if I acted out those behaviors. But even with medication that helps blunt the worst of it all, I think about books a lot. Not to say all the time, and who’s to say I spend too much time thinking about books, but I do have books on the brain a lot, and I really like the compulsive element of book ownership—getting the books I want, arranging them in categories, cleaning, rearranging, obtaining new shelves, rearranging some more, cataloging, and on and on. I’m actually a little edgy right now because I haven’t yet done my annual book rearranging where I clean all our books and make sure they are all organized properly. I know there is dust on some of the book edges and it’s bothering me. Literally thinking about this right now makes me want to load up Mr. OTC in the car and go get some new bookcases so I can begin my yearly book-shift.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">In a way you can see the book compulsivity becoming more obvious as OTC went on. There is indeed something obsessive involved in the desire to dissect books so finely and something compulsive in wanting to convey the results of that dissection in such depth and at such length. And because this is my medicated brain and my particular life, I can see the humor in both the wacky crazy cat/book lady trope and the darker unmedicated reality of being unable to be calm until all my clothes are hanging color-coded in my closet and even my socks are ironed.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>When we were editing <em>TL:DR</em>, I was amused to notice so many references to medications and diagnostics—you sort of want to have a PDR and DSM on hand as you read! Given that your personal relationship with books comes with this gently neurotic edge, I can’t help but wonder whether that carries over now that you have a book of your own. And since you’re known for closely “dissecting” the work of others, what was it like to revisit and edit your own writing for the anthology?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Oh yeah, this whole process has been an exercise in neurosis, some of it not so mild. In fact, I think my author copies have arrived and I can’t make myself open the boxes yet. I may make Mr. OTC do it when he get home. I am unsure why I am reluctant to open the boxes because I am pretty excited to see the books and just sort of revel in being a published author but there’s this sense of dread—like I’ll open the book and see a typo we missed on the first page of text. So the boxes will sit by the door until an adult comes to help me open them.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Editing my book was a sobering experience. I’ve said many times on OTC that no author can really edit their own work. You’re too used to how your own mind works. You skip over errors because you know what you want to say and the order you want to say it and your brain doesn’t let you see the text as it is—you see it as you mean it. Actual editors will catch errors in other people’s texts that they don’t see in their own, or at least that is how it works with me. So when you pointed out that I mix verb tenses a lot, I finally saw it and wanted to die from embarrassment. I dithered over commas and decided I didn’t want to follow the convention of Oxford commas and now regret it and won’t ever do it again. I use the phrase “mining the vein” and similar variants too much. I overuse the word “clearly” to the point of distraction, if not nausea. Seeing my own work through the eyes of an editor was humbling because it seemed like it was riddled with errors. I felt and still feel a little panic because I am probably still mixing verb tenses and screwing up some hyphen conventions. Also at the end I was convinced I never wanted to read some of those entries ever again. It’s interesting how sick of your own work you can become when you are looking at it so closely and critically. That feeling of claustrophobia combined with the sense that I am a terrible writer is fading now. A bit.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>For what it’s worth, I think most good writers have a similar experience. It’s a bit like when you repeat a word (say, “cabbage”) until it begins to sound foreign. But don’t you think this difficulty is part of what makes corporeal books valuable in an age of frenetic digital writing? I mean, I tend to speed-read so much online content, but I still engage with books very differently. It’s as if the world slows down. Maybe it’s just a generational quirk or a bias that comes through editing, but I really think there’s something about the printed form—in part, that it signals a degree of refinement; in part, that demands more investment from the reader. I suppose you and I can easily stand accused of being sentimental about books, but it’s not entirely irrational or “precious,” is it? Or is it? Beyond the romance that we know too well, do books as such matter in a world of ones and zeros?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Knowing my work is going to be printed in a book, in a static form that once printed will be out of my control, is very sobering. Thoughtful, erudite, and well-written work gets posted online and in blogs daily but that sense that you can, at any time, go back to the document and change it if you find errors or change your mind, is very reassuring. It means you don’t have to nail it the first go around. You can toss your ideas out there and see if your opinions are altered by time or interaction with those who read your work. It lacks the formal finality of books printed on paper or sold as static electronic documents, and my writing reflects that lack of finality.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I don’t know if I realized how direct, confessional, and theatrical my writing on OTC had become until I read it outside the context of my site. The ridiculous asides, my frequent use of profanity, speaking to an audience that I may never know but can still be considered a known-quantity because of the familiarity that online communications seem to offer, begin to read differently when you know the book will no longer be exclusively “yours” once someone pays to own a copy. There is a sense of direct ownership of my work that I feel when I control it and I do feel that the work ceases to be mine and mine alone when others pay for it. So if the work is to be shared among creator and those who purchase the creation, I feel I owe readers of books more than I do when I am writing exclusively for my own amusement.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">It may be sentimentality that fuels the idea that a book has more sanctity than electronic blogging. I don’t know if I had really considered it until you asked this question but there is something to it, I think. I don’t get annoyed when I find errors in online writing. Online writing by its very nature seems very extemporaneous to me, and therefore has less of a burden to be as close to perfect as possible. The vast majority of online content meant for entertainment is not paid content. All those book bloggers, writers of fan fiction, electronic diarists and similar are writing for free—some of them may have minor promotional contracts and may get some pittance for running ads or having affiliate links but mostly online content is still produced because someone somewhere enjoys sharing their ideas online.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I had some fears about simply reproducing content from my site into book form because I want my book to offer value for the money people pay for it. That is why I am so glad you suggested adding the “Further Reading” sections and encouraged me to explore Peter Sotos’ reaction to Ian Brady’s tantrum regarding <em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Gates-Janus-Killing-Analysis-Murderer/dp/162731010X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520470614&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Gates+of+Janus">The Gates of Janus</a>. </em>If people are going to pay money for this book, it had to be more than just my discussions made into a book. Those discussions needed to be cleaner, there needed to be some new content, and there needed to be a way to replace the reader interaction with audience that seems a part of my book discussions. Months of editing, “Further Reading,” and my reaction to Sotos’ “Bait” covered those bases. Or at least I hope they did, because there are now printed copies of the book in readers’ hands, in front of them to show hard work and good faith.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">That may be, at the end, the reason books are sentimental objects for some of us. There is the notion that the author and publisher toiled to make sure the content was pristine and well-edited, and that the end result will stand as a testament to that work for as long as the binding holds the pages together. The impermanent nature of online writing makes it easier to write quickly and not worry too much if you missed a homophone substitution here and there. You can always fix it later. Books are there as a visible and tangible artifact of passion and skill and if you miss the mark there is little you can do after the book is printed.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">It’s actually sort of terrifying. Because I know I interact with books closely, reading them far more carefully than I do online writing, as you mention. The sort of errors I make online cease being acceptable when in print in a book.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>While some of your essays focus on well-known books and authors, I think a big reason people look to your site is that you shine a light on writers and genres that receive scant critical attention—and I’m not just referring to texts by criminals and terrorists! Some names that might not have crossed my radar were it not for OTC include Jet McDonald, Grace Krilanovich, Jason Hrivnak, Jon Konrath, Sam Pink, Amelia Gray, Supervert, Brian Whitney, and I could go on. What draws you to books that are otherwise consigned to obscurity? Have your intrepid reading habits brought your attention to writers who especially deserve a wider readership? And what do you make of the state of</strong><strong> mainstream book culture, where so many writers, to say nothing of entire literary movements, are ignored?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I’m not so much drawn to odd books as it is that I actively pursue them. The “inspired by your wishlist” and “people who bought this also bought that” features on Amazon are a great boon to weird book obsessives and I spend a lot of time in used bookstores looking for unexpected gems. But mostly I seek them out and eventually I find them. Sometimes I will accidentally buy a book that seems normal but turns out to be odd—that’s always a great thing to have happen. But the best way for me to find odd books is to fall into Internet rabbit holes. Most recently I stumbled into Pizzagate rabbit holes, and spent hours upon hours investigating suggested searches that Amber Tamblyn included in her book, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Sparkler-Amber-Tamblyn/dp/0062348167/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520470839&sr=1-1&keywords=Dark+Sparkler"><em>Dark Sparkler</em></a>. Rabbit holes have provided me with some of my best odd books.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I don’t know how much I have changed the landscape for some of my favorite odd writers. <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_adv_b/?search-alias=stripbooks&unfiltered=1&field-keywords=&field-author=Jason+Hrivnak&field-title=&field-isbn=&field-publisher=&node=&field-p_n_condition-type=&p_n_feature_browse-bin=&field-age_range=&field-language=&field-dateop=During&field-datemod=&field-dateyear=&sort=relevanceexprank&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.x=0&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.y=0">Jason Hrivnak</a> in particular should be far better known than he is. So should <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Hank-Kirton/e/B00IWLVLN4">Hank Kirton</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_adv_b/?search-alias=stripbooks&unfiltered=1&field-keywords=&field-author=ann+sterzinger&field-title=&field-isbn=&field-publisher=&node=&field-p_n_condition-type=&p_n_feature_browse-bin=&field-age_range=&field-language=&field-dateop=During&field-datemod=&field-dateyear=&sort=relevanceexprank&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.x=0&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.y=0">Ann Sterzinger</a>. And man, Jet McDonald’s book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Automatic-Safe-Dog-Paperback-McDonald/dp/1908125012"><em>Automatic Safe Dog</em></a> is just one of the best books I’ve read. I really hope my discussions help these writers in some way. It never stops thrilling me when someone says they purchased a book by a lesser-known author after reading about it on OTC. But ultimately I think I am mostly preaching to the choir—people interested in fringe topics are far more likely to be reading OTC than more mainstream readers and such people were going to find unusual books eventually. Perhaps I speed the process up a bit.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">The book industry is no different than any other industry in the USA. We’ve created an economy wherein little matters except making money during the current quarter, and the impact decisions made during this quarter make on upcoming quarters be damned. Make the money now, even if it kills the goose that lays all the golden eggs. Because the American economy is so dependent on immediate profit in the short term, a long plan is impossible, which means that those who make business decisions will always prefer that which has immediate, quantifiable appeal. Publishers and booksellers take fewer chances because the bean counters tell them there is no sense in it.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">We may be on the cusp of this changing, or at least I hope it’s changing. Big box stores are faltering. WalMart is suffering for sure. In terms of books, Borders is gone and Barnes & Noble is on the ropes. In the absence of those monoliths what will take their place? If the book landscape becomes dominated by Amazon and smaller brick and mortar retailers, you may find more interesting titles available in the future. Amazon, for all it’s flaws, has been a boon to small and independent publishers, who can get their foot in the door of a major bookseller in a way that was impossible 15 years ago. I personally am able to access so much weirdness at a second’s notice because of Amazon. And if smaller stores take over the book foot traffic game, they won’t be held to the same “profit today, fuck tomorrow” model that has destroyed so many companies over the last decade, from books to clothing retail to gaming to groceries. In such an environment, purchasers will be willing to try the unusual, or at least will have some incentive to give smaller names a chance because they won’t have to justify their decisions every few months to boards of directors who may not have much interest literature at all. If bookstores can wrench the decision-making away from corporate decision makers who don’t understand books and readers as a whole (grocery executives were running Borders when it finally died, who could ever have foreseen that being a problem), the book landscape may become totally different.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>When I set about writing my publisher’s foreword to <em>TL;DR</em>, I thought I would feel obliged to offer some kind of explanation for the fact that a number of titles published by Nine-Banded Books are featured in its pages. I ended up relegating the whole business to a footnote, and emphatically without apology. I do understand that the appearance may invite criticism, especially since the relevant book discussions are generally positive, but the truth is I am very happy to see critical discussion of “my” catalog, and it hardly seems like bad form when I consider the incestuous machinations of higher tier book culture. I suppose I could be rationalizing. Do you have anything to say about the Nine-Banded elephant in the room?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">It’s only an elephant if you’re new to the zoo. There is far more transparency in how Nine-Banded Books approached releasing this compendium than you will ever see in how big publishers get big names discussed in big journals. I had been writing for years before you discovered my site, Nine-Banded Books titles make up a very small percentage of the books discussed on OTC, and I’ve panned books 9BB has published.  I don’t care if others see this endeavor as some sort of quid pro quo.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">But is it any wonder that a small publisher willing to take a chance on unsung writers like Ann Sterzinger or controversial writers like Peter Sotos, would also be willing to take a chance on a verbose and self-indulgent look at fringe literature? I came across your radar because we were two branches of the same family who had yet to be introduced. Your interest in my work, and my interest in your work, is a natural fit and to avoid working together because of rules that govern the ways that large publishers interact with potential writers and reviewers serves masters not our own. It’s hard to care about any perceptions of conflicts of interest when you operate in a such a small, niche area that every interaction involves a friend of a friend. Let’s do what we want and not worry about the rules those far from our realm of influence think proper.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Are there books—odd or not—that have affected you in some profound way but that you prefer, for whatever reason, not to discuss in writing? Or for an audience? From your online writings—and certainly many of the essays in your anthology—I get the impression that everything’s on the table, that nothing is off limits. But I could be wrong.</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I don’t mind talking about most of the specifics of my adult life, especially when I am shown myself in literature. When it comes to my objective life story, very little is off the table when I am discussing myself and only myself. It’s a different story when others are a part of the narrative. I asked Mr. OTC if he was okay with me sharing his role in my reaction to Jason Hrivnak’s <em>The Plight House</em>. Had he not felt comfortable with it, I would not have included his role in my recovery from addiction and a suicide attempt. Though I share some dark history in my reaction to Sarah Perry’s <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Every-Cradle-Grave-Rethinking-Suicide/dp/0989697290/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520471519&sr=1-1&keywords=Every+Cradle+Is+a+Grave"><em>Every Cradle Is a Grave</em></a>, when I speak of the past I am telling stories that were told to me. All I know of my Irish great-grandmother came from my mother, and she shared those stories so often that they were a part of a known, common family history, even if other family members may remember parts of it differently. But even as I spoke about the complete mess of my own mother’s death, there’s not much about the ebb and flow of our relationship I will share.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">My relationship with my mother was often shown to me in Fay Weldon’s writing, but I can’t see myself writing about the specifics of that relationship. My childhood was unpleasant and my relationship with my mother never truly recovered and we each have/had very different interpretations of why that was. She was a good mother, I was a good daughter, and now that she is gone that’s all I focus on. When I was younger I spoke of our relationship but writing about it now feels like betrayal to her and torture for me. It comes out, in spite of reluctance to speak about it, but it will never come out in a Jeannette Walls or Mary Karr sort of way. And aside from generalities about his basic character, I don’t like to talk about my father too much. I’ve been told he underwent a transformation after my mother divorced him and if that is true, I can’t imagine the family he created would want to know what he was like when I knew him.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">But if you think about it, you can’t talk about yourself as a child without your parents appearing, even if they appear as little more than hazy connect-the-dot images. You can’t talk about addiction without in some way answering the unasked question of how you came to be a person for whom oblivion was preferable to reality. As much as I think I hold back, I tell more than I intend.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>The autobiographical dimension of your writing is, to my mind, what most clearly distinguishes your approach to literary and cultural investigation. I know this is something you discuss in your introduction toTL;DR—and with specific reference to Fay Weldon’s influence—and in my foreword I suggest that it’s almost a kind of taboo, or at least something that critics are advised to avoid as a matter of decorum. The subject fascinates me not just because it’s so curiously divisive, but because the experience of reading really can be intensely personal, entailing “penumbras and emanations” (to borrow another phrase from the Court), and my reflexive thought is that it seems almost dishonest to withhold this aspect of the experience from the critical discussion that gets recorded. At the same time I can understand why some readers object to such an approach, since the results can be messy, distracting, even narcissistic. What I see in your writing is a deft balancing act, where the interplay between personal extrapolation and more disinterested analysis coheres to reveal a deeper appreciation, something that couldn’t be achieved otherwise. I guess you can bank off this however you wish, but I’m generally curious about how you manage to strike this balance. Is it something that arises instinctively, or is it part of a more deliberative process? Are there pitfalls to avoid? And what do you make of the strong feelings people have about this kind “auto-critical” discussion of books and culture?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Any balance I achieve between critical analysis and personal reaction with the text is generally accidental. Every now and then I will second guess myself and maybe tone my reaction down a bit but I seldom do that anymore because every discussion where I thought, “This is too much, I should not share this, my experiences are not important here,” but then decided to run with it anyway ended up being one of my better discussions.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I understand why some people dislike my approach to discussing books. If you are looking for an objective review of a book and you encounter one of my more emotionally bloody discussions, it’s easy to see me as a completely self-indulgent asshole. Conversely, if you have a deep emotional investment in a book or an author and you come across one of my more bombastic reactions and I hate what you love, it’s not unexpected that you will have a strong emotional reaction to my strong emotional reaction. I sort of like it when readers are very expressive in their negative reactions to my discussions because I respond to emotion—their emotion encourages me to rethink my perspective and see if I see any fractures in the foundation of my original reaction. I haven’t ever done a complete 180 on a book after someone took me to task aggressively but I have softened a bit on how I look at the work or the author. I have more respect for works I dislike if I know they inspire strong emotions in others.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Among some readers there is a puzzling hatred of the emotional response in anything. It’s an often masculine response meant to shame other men into feeling weak for expressing emotion or to try to embarrass or demean women who express emotion in their writing. It’s also a response used when there is little else with which to criticize someone who disagrees with you. If all your arguments are solid, then don’t be surprised when people argue about your tone. I find it amusing when people try to malign my writing by calling it over-emotional because that’s my shtick. If you go to a steakhouse, you really shouldn’t be put out if you see a lot of rare and bloody meat being consumed, and if you do voice disgust the management will not be inclined to listen to your objection to what’s on the menu.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Some academics dislike personal responses, and I seldom can find it in myself to respond to scholarly reactions to my work. I’ve received some politely stiff and restrained reactions from academicians and more scholarly readers and it’s nice but there’s not much to say to such responses. And that’s just my subjective response—on some level we need succinct, bloodless reactions to books because people read books for a variety of reasons that don’t involve reliving their pasts or experiencing catharsis. There are a lot of ways to discuss books and there are lots of people discussing books using different perspectives. It is a perfectly valid response to look at my long, personal reactions to books, decide it’s far too self-indulgent an approach, bordering on narcissistic, and move on to another blog. I try not to be a hothouse flower when it comes to criticism because if you dish it out you best take it back in kind. It’s more than okay to hate what I do. But it’s also okay for me not to care overmuch if some people don’t like how I write.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Most people who hate what I do don’t ever tell me. That’s the nature of the Internet, though you stand a better chance of hearing from people if they rabidly disagree with you in some manner. But because I discuss difficult texts, like those of Peter Sotos, controversial writers like Jim Goad, as well as conspiracy theory and true crime, the negative responses to what I do focus around the entries that are the most “fringe” in nature. The person who thinks my discussion of Knut Hamsun’s <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Hunger-Knut-Hamsun/dp/B0006BR1PK/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520471942&sr=1-3&keywords=hamsun+hunger"><em>Hunger</em></a> is so bad it should be printed out then burned (just for example, no one has ever attacked that entry in such a manner) will likely never tell me this, but the person who thinks I got some small element of Ian Brady’s character traits wrong in my discussion of <em>The Gates of Janus</em> will leave a comment then send me several emails about it.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I think on some level that vitriolic and, at times, unhinged responses have made it too easy for me to overlook more self-contained responses because they seem less remarkable in comparison. The self is present in all reaction, even as we try to tell ourselves that limiting reaction to theory or schools of thought makes us more objective. All reaction to books is auto-critical. If you think it isn’t, it’s because you’ve redefined what you consider the self and how it manifests in your reaction. Using strict literary theory to critique books is just as revealing as me mentally bleeding all over the page—academia can be a means of organizing your thoughts but it can also be a form of self-cauterization.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Over the years, I’ve had people tell me that they began to read a difficult author or study an upsetting topic because they read about it on OTC and my personal response made the texts seem more accessible. My form of auto-criticism at times gives people permission to read that which the prevailing moral and literary consensus says are bad books about bad topics. I am neurotic and sort of weird in my mental tics but I’m also exceedingly normal. I’m a happily married middle-aged woman living in the suburbs. I have an Instagram full of pictures of my cats and various sewing and craft projects. I love shopping at Target and over-decorating at Christmas. I promise you want my gingerbread cookie recipe. I talk about cleaning the bathroom and I have a favorite checkout clerk at my local supermarket. As obsessive as I am about my books and the topics I explore, I show how very common and normal love of extreme topics can be.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">So when someone as ordinary as I am confesses in her book discussions that she felt all kinds of politically incorrect emotions when she almost lost her house, that she became addicted to prescription drugs and nearly killed herself, that she thinks about various forms of sexual and violent extremities, it can be a strange permission for other people to approach the books in which she makes these confessions because the topics no longer seem so untouchable. My confessional reviews help normalize extraordinary interests. My site is small and has only a handful of regular commenters but my search strings and my Amazon Affiliate account shows me how people get to me and what they do when they leave. I also get emails from people too timid to discuss their reactions to books online. If anything really good comes from people who engage in self-absorbed book reactions, that good comes from demystifying the human experience, showing people who exist in a shame culture wherein “problematic” ideas and people are routinely shouted down and censored, that even very normal people have extreme interests and extreme reactions and that it’s not shameful to use feeling to navigate books and to use books to navigate feeling.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Beyond that it’s hard for me to comment on other people who explore books in the same manner as I do, or to comment on those who are quite different in their approach. There’s room for all of us at the table.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>You and I are roughly the same age, and I think a feeling of generational kinship is part of what drew me to your writing. Another hook has been your willingness to read dangerously, for lack of a better word—to just follow the thread where it leads. While there have always been aesthetic and intellectual taboos, I think people of our generation can easily remember a time when it seemed perfectly ordinary and healthy to confront words and ideas that might challenge one’s preconceptions. That’s not the case in our present cultural atmosphere, where public speakers are shouted down, where people feel “triggered” by contrary viewpoints, and where the mere association with unorthodox thinking can lead to public shaming campaigns with dire social consequences for those targeted. As you lament in your discussion of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Redneck-Manifesto-Hillbillies-Americas-Scapegoats/dp/0684838648/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472130&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Redneck+Manifesto"><em>The Redneck Manifesto</em></a>, much of this new wave of thought policing comes from the political left—and I would further observe that the repressive momentum is being pushed forward mostly by younger people, by Millennials. It’s too easy to kvetch about “the kids these days,” but what the hell is going on? Is this just another pendulum swing, or have we locked into a perpetual state of moral panic? What’s the big picture, as you see it?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">There are many theories as to how the Millennials came to be so reluctant to engage in ideas that they find politically or socially repellent, and it’s important to note that these are actions, climates, and beliefs the Millennials inherited. Their parents and grandparents lit the matches and often stand back in horror as their houses burn down. In his book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Shit-Magnet-Miraculous-Ability-Absorb/dp/0922915776/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472196&sr=1-1&keywords=Shit+Magnet"><em>Shit Magnet</em></a>, Jim Goad outlined one of the ways we’ve ended up with this sort of knee-jerk policing of content: liberal dogma in the 1990s began equating words with action. In a climate wherein people think that hearing an offensive cat-call is equivalent to being attacked and dragged into an alley and raped, of course young women will blanch upon hearing anything that seems violent to them and will seek to control such content from potentially harming other people. Combine this reluctance with the rapid expansion of the Internet and how easy it became to find abhorrent ideas, ideas that 30 years ago you may have never learned about at all. Then add in the privilege economy that young people engage in, some believe because access to the real economy in terms of stable jobs and property ownership is effectively off limits to them due to the really crappy job Gen-X has done to preserve jobs and limit inflation, it’s no wonder that exposure to ideas and words they find anathema seems like so much more of an affront to the younger generations.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">In comparison to many Millennials, I had a charmed life as a young adult. Seriously, when I was in college I had no idea that female genital mutilation was still practiced in the world. I had no clue that markets existed for child pornography and crush videos. I never saw a person beheaded and remember being shocked to my core that the media kept showing over and over again the ATF agent shot to death on the roof of the Branch Davidian compound. I sensed that when I graduated from college that I would be gainfully employed and always felt that eventually, should I want one, I would own a home. I grew up without having the worst mankind brings to the table forced into my face every time I sought information and simply getting a college degree ensured I had chance to achieve a stable economic life. No one went out of their way to shock me using anonymity, I never received hate mail, and though bad things did happen to me, I never felt constant fear that didn’t revolve around potential nuclear war.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Compare that to the Millennial experience.They have been exposed to the worst sorts of violence, sexual and otherwise, since they did the Internet equivalent of opening an encyclopedia. Waves of information, some rather horrible, were always at their fingertips. With no real sense that they will ever be comfortable financially and reap the rewards of such status, new forms of respect have become common, meaning that words have a far greater impact on them, and they feel the need to control the words used about them and the words others see and hear. If you will never have basic financial security and the respect earned from a long tenure at a job, you can still demand respect be shown you via the ideas and concepts others expose you to.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">If all you can really bank on in society is the safety and respect you demand on pain of shame and misery heaped upon those who transgress against you, you will police your environment in a way that someone like me never would. Some people think that this new Puritanism and age of censorship is the online equivalent of “shot-rolling” - a sort of pre-revolutionary warning that before long the young will not be content to police themselves and will begin to actively revolt against corporate and government control. I’m not so sure about that because this just seems to me to be the pendulum swinging back. The right threw their weight around and ruined lives over supposed communist ties and moral turpitude. Now the left has their turn and it seems more alarming because the younger leftists are not following the script older leftists like me prefer, which is to honor freedom of speech and expression regardless of how such speech makes you feel.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">But mostly I do think it’s the pendulum swinging.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">That is not to say that damage is not being done to the fabric of constitutional freedom. I’ve mentioned before on OTC that the canard that it’s only censorship if the government does it is a load of crap because the government is simply outsourcing their powers to corporations. It should scare anyone who values freedom when <a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2017/03/my-open-letter-concerning-the-amazon-blacklist-and-freedom-of-speech-.html">a major outlet for books decides to stop selling an entire school of thought—historical revisionism</a>—because of pressure from a very specific and hardly inclusive special interests group. It’s a very easy stance to take: genocide is something all decent people want to avoid so silencing those who refuse to believe it happened in WWII and who may feel it was justified seems like a good thing. But then you pay a bit of attention to the young people who are in favor of silencing Holocaust revisionism and it becomes weird. A surprising number of young people who are interested in communism themselves deny that the Holodomor and the Cambodian Genocide happened as they demand books discussing Holocaust revisionism be banned from sale. Soon the pendulum will swing back the other way and they will find their own specific hobby horses anathema and difficult to research as they pave the way to banish entire schools of thought. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">But that’s how it’s always been. Libraries get burned to the ground during civil wars, religious institutions hoard and keep hidden heretic works, and both sides of the fence love themselves a good book burning now and then.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I also think that it’s correct to be concerned about the utter lack of intellectual curiosity that comes with these attacks on books and ideas. Refusal even to educate oneself on a topic is not a moral good. I myself have been called a “literal garbage person” because of the books I read and discuss. I’ve also been accused of being a government agent, black propagandist and worse because of my reactions to current events and books that document them. But I’m still cranking away and I have to think on some level that there are still plenty of young people, political affiliation unimportant, who seek out difficult content and different ideas. Like me, they spend more time reading and thinking about what they’ve read than they do publicly agitating. People are still reading difficult content. People are still writing difficult content. You just notice the Twitter feed demanding Nazis be punched more than you do the kid using violent Nazi tropes in the creepypasta stories he writes and puts online.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">As someone observing from the sidelines, I’m not too worried. It’s irritating but it’s just that pendulum swinging. Twas ever thus. The McCarthy hearings became Satanic Panic became Punch a Fascist. It will be interest- ing to see what the Millennial’s kids decide is a verboten idea.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Let's close with my version the "deserted island" question. Say you're going to be sentenced to five years in solitary confinement and you get to bring exactly five books to read (and write about) for the duration of your imprisonment. Choose carefully.</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">This is a question that is almost impossible for me to answer.  The longer I think about it, the harder it seems to narrow it down to five. </span><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong> </strong></span></p>
<ol>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Secret-History-Vintage-Contemporaries-ebook/dp/B005PRJT9Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472623&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Secret+History"><em>The Secret History</em></a> by Donna Tartt</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Curtain-Ruth-Rendell/dp/0375704922/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472643&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Fallen+Curtain%3A+Stories"><em>The Fallen Curtain: Stories</em></a> by Ruth Rendell</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B6C31Y9/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472666&sr=1-4&keywords=Wicked+Women%3A+Stories"><em>Wicked Women: Stories</em></a> by Fay Weldon</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Stories-FSG-Classics/dp/0374515360/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472692&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Complete+Stories+of+Flannery+O%27Connor"><em>The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor</em></a></span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Cats-Cradle-Novel-Kurt-Vonnegut/dp/038533348X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472710&sr=1-1&keywords=Cat%27s+Cradle"><em>Cat's Cradle</em></a> by Kurt Vonnegut</span></li>
</ol>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Titles that I wanted to include but deleted include:</span></p>
<ol>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/House-Mirth-Introduction-Walter-Rideout/dp/1420955675/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472736&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=The+House+of+Mirth&psc=1"><em>The House of Mirth</em></a> by Edith Wharton</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Night-Country-Novel-Stewart-ONan/dp/0374222150/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472769&sr=1-2&keywords=The+Night+Country"><em>The Night Country</em></a> by Stewart O'Nan</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Slaves-New-York-Tama-Janowitz/dp/0671636782/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472790&sr=1-1&keywords=Slaves+of+New+York"><em>Slaves of New York</em></a> by Tama Janowitz</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Robber-Bride-Margaret-Atwood/dp/0385491034/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472832&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Robber+Bride"><em>The Robber Bride</em></a> by Margaret Atwood</span></li>
<li><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Papers-Martin-Amis/dp/0679734589/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520472850&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Rachel+Papers"><em>The Rachel Papers</em></a> by Martin Amis</span></li>
</ol>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">It's interesting that there aren't any really outlandishly odd or weird titles in the final culling.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">__________________</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48YhY-GOLSE">Memento mori.</a></em></span></p>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2017/03/my-open-letter-concerning-the-amazon-blacklist-and-freedom-of-speech-.html">My "Open Letter" Concerning the Amazon Blacklist and Freedom of Speech </a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">A few days ago, I sent <strong><a href="http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=a4dbd5e036a347e769e362f1a&id=4134e76eb4">this "open letter"</a></strong>  (which is reprinted below, and which you are free to reprint anywhere) to select publishers and 9BB newsletter subscribers. It's probably an impotent gesture, but I want to encourage folks who care about free inquiry to contact Amazon -- and now, alas, Barnes & Noble -- and politely encourage them get to back to the business of selling books, regardless of their content and regardless of the noise coming from intellectual gatekeepers of this moment or the next. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">If you want to know more about what has happened, I'm afraid the most reliable information is currently provided by <strong><a href="https://shop.codoh.com/">CODOH and Castle Hill Publishers</a></strong>. The few accounts from semi-mainstream sources that I've seen (and please correct me if I've missed something) have downplayed the extent of the blacklist, and (again, to my knowledge) there has been nary a peep from once-reliable free speech advocates who, I haven't forgotten, vocally objected when Waldenbooks refused to carry a specific book that millions of people found to be profoundly offensive. I can only guess that this silence stems from the banal fact that folks don't want to be seen as defending Holocaust heresies, but it is a truism that the open exchange of ideas requires protection of the most incendiary ideas and arguments, and that imperative is resonant long before the fucking cops get involved. That's how it works, when it works. The rest is a stack of cliches, sadly in need of restatement. I'd rather think about other things, too.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I'll have news about <strong><a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/">upcoming 9BB releases</a></strong> very soon. The text of my "<strong><a href="https://twitter.com/MRDA1981/status/842572549183754240">Millian-dollar case for free speech</a></strong>" (that's a pun) is reprinted below, with a partial list of BoA ("Banned on Amazon") titles following.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIU96N7ciXM"><em>Memento mori</em>.</a></strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">______________________________________    </span></p>
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<h1><strong>An Open Letter to Publishers and Readers</strong><br /><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><em><strong> Concerning Amazon.com, Censorship, and the “Liberty of Thought and Discussion”</strong></em></span></h1>
<p>Dear Friends and Fellow Publishers:<br /> <br />My name is Chip Smith and I’m the sole proprietor of a small press called Nine-Banded Books, or just 9BB. You probably haven’t heard of 9BB, and that’s fine by me. The books I publish aren’t for everyone. Some of them deal with prickly ideas that many people – perhaps you? – will find offensive. That’s nothing new. Offensive books are an integral part of the history of publishing. They’re easy to ignore, and just as easy to get riled up about. Some people like to discuss them, while other people wonder what all the fuss is about. And of course, there have always been some people who would prefer to set them on fire and punish the scoundrels who write, sell and publish them. It’s been a real tug-o-war ever since Gutenberg greased up the cogs.<br /><br />But you already know this. Since I assume you’re a stakeholder situated somewhere above my marginal niche in the larger world of book culture, I’d wager that your fingerprints are probably on some books that many people – perhaps I? – will find offensive. And when the would-be censors rattle, I’m guessing you know just where you stand. You might write the occasional check to the ACLU, or maybe you attend the annual “Banned Books Week” events at the local library. Or, if you’re of a certain age, you may even have been a signatory when the Association of American Publishers and other groups <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/1989/02/17/world/satanic-verses-is-removed-from-shelves-by-book-chain.html">protested the decision</a> of a once-ubiquitous bookstore chain not to sell copies of Salman Rushdie’s <em>The Satanic Verses</em>. I thought that was a good move, by the way. A proud moment for the AAP.<br /><br />And I sincerely believe that those of us who devote our lives to books have had quite a few good moments over the centuries. Whatever our differences, we belong to a tradition that has from the beginning stood for the liberal advancement of knowledge and human understanding. As publishers and as readers, we’re guided by an ethos that runs from the broadsides of Martin Luther to the trials of Henry Miller. If there’s anything to the notion of being on the “right side of history,” publishers have set the odds.<br /><br />Thus I am addressing this “open letter” to you, my fellow publishers and book mavens. And now that I’ve done my worst to butter you up, I mean to draw your attention to a recent event that has received little above-ground media coverage but that I think should be of profound concern to <em>all</em> publishers, not just naughty pipsqueaks like me.<br /><br />Specifically, I am referring to the decision of Amazon.com, which is now the world’s largest book retailer, to <a href="https://archive.fo/Aw6E9">discontinue the sale</a> of dozens of books that promote, or are said to promote, Holocaust denial. This policy seems to have taken full effect on March 8, 2017, and a bit of Googling convinces me that it was in large part a capitulation to mounting pressure from presumably well-intentioned people who vocally objected to the content – if not the mere the existence – of such literature. In a communication to Castle Hill Publishers, the primary target of the delisting (or ban), Amazon justified its decision with a vague reference to a “content guidelines” violation.<br /><br />Now, I understand that this is not the first time Amazon has taken the measure of removing material from its catalog for ostensibly content-oriented reasons, and for what it’s worth I have been troubled by such other instances of “soft” censorship that have come to my attention – whether they have targeted pederasty manuals or conspiracy books or divisive symbols. On some past occasions I have written polite letters to the corporate offices to express my consumer-minded objection. I haven’t cancelled my Prime membership, and I do not intend to stop selling 9BB titles on Amazon as long as my books are welcome there. Nevertheless, I do think this recent move represents a radical departure from Amazon’s longstanding and genuinely admirable (however imperfect) “open court” approach to bookselling. By focusing not on specific books of arguably questionable legal status but on an entire category of dissident literature, Amazon has embraced a chilling and illiberal precedent. Publishers of potentially controversial books should take immediate notice, but this is bad news for all who value and benefit from the free and open exchange of ideas.<br /><br />To be very clear, I do not think public objection, no matter how strongly or widely registered, should weigh against a market-dominant bookseller’s core commitment to content-neutrality in the sale of literature. If you agree, then I urge you to speak out. <a href="mailto:jeff@amazon.com" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Contact Amazon</a> and tell them to reject censorship. Tell them to reinstate the <em>laisser passer </em>policy that has served publishers and readers well over the years. Tell them not to police the content of books. Tell them not to ban books. Tell them to revisit this misguided decision. Tell them to let their customers alone decide what books they wish to purchase and read.<br /><br />For me, it’s as simple as that. At this point, however, I imagine that some of you will not be persuaded that I have identified an issue of real and urgent importance. Given my stature and questionable reputation, you may even suspect my motives. You may be inclined to simply ignore my pleading, just as you might ignore a book bearing the hallmarks of a vanity press. But if you’re still reading, I hope you will continue to indulge me just the same, if only for the next few minutes. I will try to anticipate and address your objections in order to clarify a message that should not be confused with the messenger. I know I’m tilting at windmills here, but I really think this is an ominous turn and I’m troubled that reliable free speech advocates haven’t spoken out.<br /><br />OK, then.<br /><br />Perhaps you will say that this is just another isolated episode and there is little reason to worry over further ramifications for decent publishers who do not make it their business to associate with loathsome people who engage in mendacious pseudo-scholarship. I’ll concede it’s possible that you’re right about that much, at least in the sense that Castle Hill Publishers and sundry other small imprints <em>may</em> be where the blacklist stops. I’ve certainly heard from people who believe that Holocaust denial (or Holocaust revisionism, as it used to be called) represents a <em>sui generis</em> deviation from ordinary intellectual discourse. People who invoke this line of argument can get downright metaphysical about it, but it’s conceivable that the folks who pull the levers at Amazon believe they have broken a lance with truly and uniquely evil forces.<br /><br />I think there are serious problems with this view. To begin with, it assumes that human motives are predictably bound by circumstance and by specific information. That just isn’t so. I won’t doubt that <em>your</em> footing is secure, but consider how easily variants of the term “denier” have come to be applied to myriad species of contentious intellectual inquiry. Perhaps those who are said to “deny” climate science, to mention one of many possible examples, can be clearly distinguished in <em>your</em> mind from those who “deny” the scholarly consensus concerning the history of events that took place during the Second World War, but can you be confident that the most passionate environmentalists will toe that line? Are you sure?<br /><br />And if you think “genocide denial” is the full-stop transgression at issue, I’m afraid you’ll be left to tread carefully over the variegated literature that could be next in line for scrutiny. Here, it is worth noting that the esteemed historian Bernard Lewis has been <a href="https://archive.fo/zjQPS">sanctioned</a> for denying the Armenian genocide, and one needn’t look far to identify books that are said deny other historical genocides – in Nanjing, Tasmania, Ukraine, Cambodia, etc. Indeed, the case has often been made that many canonical histories of “Manifest Destiny” in the United States deny or whitewash the genocide of Native Americans. Do such and other comparisons amount to “false equivalence”? That’s a question for the jury. My point is simply that there is always the possibility that what you see as a bright line will not be so sharply delineated to other minds.<br /><br />If you look closer, you may notice a deeper problem: When we define any point of view as being uniquely evil, we erect a logical fundament that can, and eventually will, be used to justify less innocuous forms of censorship, including such forms that come under the onus of law. Click the lens back a few notches and I hope we can agree, perhaps with an ironic wink, that a very human tendency to anathematize ideas (and by extension, the people who express them) has fueled grave injustices throughout recorded history. If you think I’m indulging in hyperbole for present purposes, please do keep in mind that Germar Rudolf, the man who runs Castle Hill Publishers, has spent several years of his life in <em>prison</em> for writing and distributing some of the very same books that Amazon has now effectively banned. <a href="https://archive.fo/y7P53">He isn’t alone</a>.<br /> <br />Anyway, let’s assume that the dozens of books that have been placed on Amazon’s blacklist are indeed there for the stated reason that they violate some specifiable clause – a “content guideline” – nested somewhere in a standard vendor contract. If this is so, doesn’t it seem reasonable that a publisher, on receiving this information, might expect to be directed toward the specific content that triggered the violation, if for no other reason than to avoid breaching it in the future? I would think so. It might even be a legal requirement. Yet with reference to the dozens of delisted titles published by Castle Hill Publishers, it does not appear that any specific content was cited. By reference to circumstantial information we might assume that the content-violating books were selected simply because they espouse Holocaust denial, but this assumption is complicated by the fact that some of the books banned by name have little or nothing to do with this presumably proscribed subject. (A list of affected titles published by Castle Hill Publishers appends this letter, if you want to judge for yourself; one of them consists of little more than a court transcript.)<br /><br />This reliance on fine-print legalese is another reason to suspect that the slope is indeed slippery, and of special importance to other publishers whose output will always be subject to contractual scrutiny and consequent rejection. It isn’t at all difficult to conjure a list of well-respected scholars and writers who have exposited ideas that might run afoul of a legal clause that can be invoked at whim, or in response to public pressure. Noam Chomsky and Christopher Hitchens have proffered strong words in defense of dissident historians, and a case can be made that they’ve gotten their hands dirty in the process. Should their books be subject to contractual review? How about Norman Finkelstein? Howard Zinn? Nicholson Baker? Pat Buchanan? Malcolm X? I know of an angry mob that would like nothing more than to see Charles Murray’s entire bibliography flushed down the memory hole, perhaps by dint of just such a clause.<br />       <br />If I’m told that “<a href="https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/canary_in_a_coal_mine">canary in a coal mine</a>” arguments are out of fashion these days, I’m just as sure that some of you are by now chomping at the bit to remind me that Amazon is, after all, a private corporation that can sell – or not sell – whatever books it pleases. Notwithstanding contractual issues that lawyers might be inclined to chew over, let me assure you that I agree. This is not a First Amendment issue. It is, however, an issue that cuts at the very fiber of such values that have permitted true freedom of speech to flourish since the time of the Enlightenment. In abandoning content-neutrality, Amazon has disturbed foundational principles that serve to facilitate genuine critical inquiry before and after a statute is tolled. What’s really at stake is a matter, as John Stuart Mill would remind us, “of the liberty of thought and discussion.” It’s about freedom of inquiry in the operative sense that has always mattered.<br /><br />The bedrock seemed firm enough when the publishers’ guild took Waldenbooks to task nearly three decades ago, when a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Satanic_Verses_controversy"><em>fatwa</em></a> hung over the chorus. I submit that the issue before us now differs in no essential respect, especially when we recall that many of the targeted authors have been prosecuted and imprisoned for their words.<br /> <br />While I do feel fortunate to make my residence in a country that aspires to protect freedom of the press as a matter of ultimate judicial appeal, this bulwark against government interference is no substitute for the core principles that undergird an open society. I fear this crucial distinction has been too easily lost in the frenzy of a cultural moment that perpetuates partisan conflict and enmity over reasoned discourse. Thus I have nothing to add to the relevant insights so carefully articulated by Mill in the second chapter of his classic treatise, <em>On Liberty</em>. I do hope you will take a few minutes to <a href="http://www.econlib.org/library/Mill/mlLbty2.html#Chapter%202">read it in its entirety</a>, even if you’ve read it before. It isn’t very long, and it sheds brilliant light on every transcendent point I wish to stress.<br /><br />Here is a crucial excerpt that was recently cited by my friend Sarah Perry in an online essay called “<a href="https://theviewfromhellyes.wordpress.com/2016/04/03/why-is-freedom-of-speech-important/">Why Is Freedom of Speech Important?</a>,” which I also recommend.</p>
<blockquote>
<p><em>"The greatest orator, save one, of antiquity, has left it on record that he always studied his adversary’s case with as great, if not with still greater, intensity than even his own. What Cicero practised as the means of forensic success, requires to be imitated by all who study any subject in order to arrive at the truth. He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion….Nor is it enough that he should hear the arguments of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. This is not the way to do justice to the arguments, or bring them into real contact with his own mind. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form; he must feel the whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to encounter and dispose of, else he will never really possess himself of the portion of truth which meets and removes that difficulty.<br /><br />"Ninety-nine in a hundred of what are called educated men are in this condition, even of those who can argue fluently for their opinions. Their conclusion may be true, but it might be false for anything they know: they have never thrown themselves into the mental position of those who think differently from them, and considered what such persons may have to say; and consequently they do not, in any proper sense of the word, know the doctrine which they themselves profess. They do not know those parts of it which explain and justify the remainder; the considerations which show that a fact which seemingly conflicts with another is reconcilable with it, or that, of two apparently strong reasons, one and not the other ought to be preferred. All that part of the truth which turns the scale, and decides the judgment of a completely informed mind, they are strangers to; nor is it ever really known, but to those who have attended equally and impartially to both sides, and endeavored to see the reasons of both in the strongest light. So essential is this discipline to a real understanding of moral and human subjects, that if opponents of all important truths do not exist, it is indispensable to imagine them and supply them with the strongest arguments which the most skilful devil’s advocate can conjure up."</em></p>
</blockquote>
<p><br />By blacklisting books that support or promote dissident historical interpretation in one problematic realm, Amazon has merely impeded the process of critical engagement that remains a conditional prerequisite in the broader societal quest for truth and understanding. Those who mean to sharpen their counterpoint will be left at a disadvantage, being effectively shielded from the “whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to encounter...”<br /><br />The rest of us are left to contemplate an implacable irony: As we quarantine the expression of arguments that are widely presumed to be meretricious, we strengthen perforce the perception that such arguments cannot withstand critical scrutiny. Meanwhile, the books and the arguments will continue to exist, cloaked as they will be in an aura of taboo that for some will suggest the shimmering truth of a guarded secret. A bad argument will eventually perish in the light of day; it is in darkness that it thrives.<br /><br />If one should yet rejoin that Mill’s analysis could not have anticipated the enormity of the threat posed by denialist literature, I will leave you with the sober words of the preeminent Holocaust scholar Raul Hilberg, who perfectly grasped the point that now eludes our intellectual gatekeepers:</p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><em>"If these people want to speak, let them. It only leads those of us who do research to re-examine what we might have considered as obvious. And that’s useful for us. I have quoted Eichmann references that come from a neo-Nazi publishing house. I am not for taboos and I am not for repression." </em></p>
<p>Once again, I encourage you to <a href="https://quotes.wsj.com/AMZN/company-people" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">contact the men and women who govern the world’s largest bookstore</a>. Remind them of their unique position. Tell them to allow the full cacophony of voices to sing in the sunlight. Tell them that true freedom of speech demands nothing less.<br /><br />Thank you for your time and attention. Happy reading to all.<br /> <br />Chip Smith<br />Editor | Publisher<br />Nine-Banded Books<br /> </p>
<hr />
<p><strong>Postscript:</strong> It now appears that Barnes & Noble has shadow-banned the same books that were initially identified and proscribed by Amazon. If Google and market-dominant web hosts follow suit, the distinction between soft censorship and State censorship will be effectively extinguished. Guard your oxen.   <br /> <br /><strong>Addendum: </strong>Courtesy of <a href="https://shop.codoh.com/">Castle Hill Publishers</a>, below is a list of books that were banned by name under Amazon’s “content guidelines” directive. According to Germar Rudolf, titles in boldface do not deal directly with Holocaust history or its denial. <br /> </p>
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<th colspan="3"><strong>Print Books Published by Castle Hill Publishers Banned from all Amazon Stores as of March 8, 2017</strong></th>
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<th><em>#</em></th>
<th><em>Title, edition (year), author(s)</em></th>
<th><em>ISBN</em></th>
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<li> </li>
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<td>Air Photo Evidence, 2nd ed. (2014), J. Ball</td>
<td>9781591480754</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Air Photo Evidence, 3rd ed. (2015), J. Ball</td>
<td>1591480760</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: The Case for Sanity (2010), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9780981808567</td>
</tr>
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<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz Lies, 1st ed. (2005), G. Rudolf, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480211</td>
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<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz Lies, 2nd ed. (2011), G. Rudolf, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9780984631261</td>
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<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz Lies, 3rd ed. (2016), G. Rudolf, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481392</td>
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<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence, 2nd ed. (1990), W. Stäglich</td>
<td>0939484323</td>
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<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence 3rd ed. (2015), W. Stäglich</td>
<td>1591480744</td>
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<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Crematorium I, 1st ed. (2005), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480242</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Crematorium I, 2nd ed (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481562</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Die erste Vergasung, 1st ed. (2007), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9780955716218</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Die erste Vergasung, 2nd ed. (2014), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480570</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Die erste Vergasung, 3rd ed. (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481341</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Krematorium I, 1st ed. (2014), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480426</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Krematorium I, 2nd ed. (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481554</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Nackte Fakten, 1st ed. (1995), Herbert Verbeke (ed.)</td>
<td>9789073111165</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Nackte Fakten, 2nd ed. (2016), G. Rudolf (ed.)</td>
<td>1591481317</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Open Air Incinerations, 1st ed. (2005), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480235</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Open Air Incinerations, 1st ed. reprint (2010), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9780981808536</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Open-Air Incinerations, 2nd ed. (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481589</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Plain Facts, 1st ed. (2005), G. Rudolf (ed.)</td>
<td>9781591480204</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: Plain Facts, 2nd ed. (2016), G. Rudolf (ed.)</td>
<td>1591481325</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: The First Gassing, 1st ed. (2005), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480259</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: The First Gassing, 2nd ed. (2012), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591481027</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz: The First Gassing, 3rd ed. (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481333</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz-Lügen, 1st ed. (2005), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9781591480327</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz-Lügen, 2nd ed. (2012), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9781591480327</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Auschwitz-Lügen, 3rd ed. (2016), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>1591481406</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>Auswanderung der Juden…, 3rd ed. (2015) I. Weckert (Jewish pre-war emigration from Germany)</strong></td>
<td><strong>1591480841</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Belzec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological Research, …, 1st ed. (2004), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480082</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Belzec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological …, 1st ed. reprint (2010), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9780984631223</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Belzec in Propaganda, Testimonies, Archeological …, 1st ed. reprint (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481627</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Belzec: Propaganda, Zeugenaussagen, archäologische Untersuchungen, …(2004), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480105</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Breaking the Spell, 1st ed. (2014), N. Kollerstrom</td>
<td>9781591480716</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Breaking the Spell, 2nd ed. (2015), N. Kollerstrom</td>
<td>1591480973</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Chelmno: A German Camp in History and Propaganda, 1st ed (2011), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591481010</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Chelmno: A German Camp in History and Propaganda, 1st ed. reprint (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>159148040X</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Chelmno: Ein deutsches Lager in Geschichte und Propaganda, 1st ed. (2014), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481716</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Concentration Camp Majdanek, 1st ed. (2003), J. Graf, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9780967985633</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Concentration Camp Majdanek, 2nd ed. (2004), J. Graf, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480068</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Concentration Camp Majdanek, 3rd ed. (2012) , J. Graf, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481031</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Concentration Camp Majdanek, 3rd ed. reprint (2016) , J. Graf, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481600</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Concentration Camp Stutthof, 1st ed. (2003), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9780967985619</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Concentration Camp Stutthof, 2nd ed. (2004), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480075</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Concentration Camp Stutthof, 3rd ed. (2015), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591480809</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Concentration Camp Stutthof, 4th ed. (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481368</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Curated Lies (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481279</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Das Konzentrationslager Stutthof (1999), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>159148135X</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Das Rudolf Gutachten, 1st ed. (1993), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9781898419006</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Das Rudolf Gutachten, 2nd ed. (2001), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9781902619033</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Debating the Holocaust, 1st ed. (2009), Thomas Dalton</td>
<td>9781591480051</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Debating the Holocaust, 2nd ed. (2015), Thomas Dalton</td>
<td>1591480868</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Debunking the Bunkers of Auschwitz (2015), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481260</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Der Auschwitz-Mythos, 1st ed. (1979), W. Stäglich</td>
<td>3878470428</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Der Auschwitz-Mythos, 2nd ed. (2011), W. Stäglich</td>
<td>159148037X</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Der Auschwitz-Mythos, 3rd ed. (2105), W. Stäglich</td>
<td>1591480817</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>Der erste Holocaust (2004), D. Heddesheimer (Jewish campaigns around World War One)</strong></td>
<td><strong>1902619080</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Der Holocaust auf dem Prüfstand (1993), J. Graf</td>
<td>3952038202</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Der Holocaust vor Gericht, 2nd ed. (2010)</td>
<td>0955716209</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Der Holocaust: Die Argumente, 3rd ed. (2011), Alexander Calder</td>
<td>1591480310</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Der Holocaust: Die Argumente, 4th ed. (2016), J. Graf</td>
<td>1591481678</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Der Holocaust-Schwindel (1992), J. Graf</td>
<td>3952038210</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Der Jahrhundertbetrug, 2nd ed. (2015)</td>
<td>159148068X</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>Did Six Million Really Die? </strong><strong>(1992), B. Kulaszka (ed.) (trial transcript)</strong></td>
<td><strong>1896006000</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Die Auflösung des osteuropäischen Judentums 1st ed. (1983), W. Sanning</td>
<td>9783878470625</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Die Bunker von Auschwitz (2015), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591480531</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Die Leuchter-Gutachten (2014), F. Leuchter, R. Faurisson, G. Rudolf</td>
<td>1591480655</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>"Die Vernichtung der europäischen Juden". Raul Hilberg... (2015), J. Graf</td>
<td>1591480949</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>Die Zentralbauleitung der Waffen-SS Auschwitz (2014), C. Mattogno (archival study)</strong></td>
<td><strong>1591480507</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Dissecting the Holocaust, 1st ed. (2000), Ernst Gauss (=G. Rudolf)</td>
<td>9780967985602</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Dissecting the Holocaust, 2nd ed. (2003), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>0967985625</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Exactitude. Festschrift for R. Faurisson (2004), R. Countess, C. Lindtner, G. Rudolf</td>
<td>159148121X</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Fail: "Debunking Holocaust Denial Theories" (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481449</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Fail: "Denying History" (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481481</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Fail: "Denying the Holocaust" (2016), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>1591481538</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Feuerzeichen: Die Kristallnacht, 3rd ed. (2016)</td>
<td>1591481309</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Flashpoint: Kristallnacht 1938 (1991), I. Weckert</td>
<td>0939484374</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Freiluftverbrennungen in Auschwitz, 1st ed. (2014), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480396</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Freiluftverbrennungen in Auschwitz, 2nd ed. (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481570</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Gesundheitsfürsorge in Auschwitz, 2nd ed. (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481503</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Healthcare in Auschwitz (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481236</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Holocaust High Priest (2015), W. Routledge</td>
<td>159148085X</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Holocaust-Revisionismus, 1st ed. (2016), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>1591480191</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Holocaust-Revisionismus, 2nd ed. (2016), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>1591481244</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Inside the Gas Chambers, 1st ed. (2014), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781937787196</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Inside the Gas Chambers, 2nd ed. (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481619</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>Jewish Emigration from the Third Reich, 1st ed. (2004), I. Weckert (pre-war)</strong></td>
<td><strong>9781591480112</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>Jewish Emigration from the Third Reich, 2nd ed. (2016), I. Weckert (pre-war)</strong></td>
<td><strong>1591481252</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>Kardinalfragen zur Zeitgeschichte (1996), G. Rudolf (autobiographic essays)</strong></td>
<td><strong>907311120X</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>Kardinalfragen an Deutschlands Politiker, 1st ed. (2005), G. Rudolf (autobiographic essays)</strong></td>
<td><strong>1902619099</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>Kardinalfragen an Deutschlands Politiker, 2nd ed. (2012), G. Rudolf (autobiographic essays)</strong></td>
<td><strong>1591480337</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>KL Majdanek, 1st ed. (1998), J. Graf, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781902619002</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>KL Majdanek, 2nd ed. (2003), J. Graf, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781902619064</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Konzentrationslager Stutthof, 1st ed. (1999), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781902619019</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Riese auf tönernen Füßen, 1st ed. (1999), J. Graf</td>
<td>9781902619026</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Schiffbruch (2014), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591480272</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Sobibor, Holocaust Propaganda and Reality, 1st ed. (2011), C. Mattogno, J. Graf. T. Kues</td>
<td>9780981808543</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Sobibor, Holocaust Propaganda and Reality, 1st ed. reprint (2016), C. Mattogno, J. Graf. T. Kues</td>
<td>1591481430</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Sobibor, Holocaust-Propaganda and Wirklichkeit (2010), C. Mattogno, J. Graf. T. Kues</td>
<td>0955716284</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Sonderbehandlung in Auschwitz, 1st ed. (2003), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781902619040</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Sonderbehandlung in Auschwitz, 2nd ed. (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481228</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Special Treatment in Auschwitz, 1st ed. (2004), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480020</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Special Treatment in Auschwitz, 2nd ed. (2016) C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481422</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil, 1st ed. (2015), G. Menuhin</td>
<td>193778729X</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil, 2nd ed. (2016), G. Menuhin</td>
<td>1591481414</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The "Extermination Camps" of "Aktion Reinhardt", 1st ed. (2013), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480358</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The "Extermination Camps" of "Aktion…, 2nd ed. (2015), vol. 1, C. Mattogno, J. Graf. T. Kues</td>
<td>1591480876</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The "Extermination Camps" of "Aktion…, 2nd ed. (2015), vol. 2, C. Mattogno, J. Graf. T. Kues</td>
<td>1591480884</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Auschwitz Myth, 1st ed. (1986) W. Stäglich</td>
<td>0939484234</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Bad War, M.S. King</td>
<td>1121183193</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Bunkers of Auschwitz, 1st ed. (2004), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>9781591480099</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>The Central Construction Office…, 2nd ed. (2015), C. Mattogno (archival study)</strong></td>
<td><strong>1591481120</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>The Central Construction Office…, 1st. ed (2004), C. Mattogno (archival study)</strong></td>
<td><strong>9781591480136</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Cremation Furnaces of Auschwitz (2015), vol. 1, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591480914</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Cremation Furnaces of Auschwitz (2015), vol. 2, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591480922</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Cremation Furnaces of Auschwitz (2015), vol. 3, C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591480930</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry, 1st ed. (1983), hc, W. Sanning</td>
<td>9780939484065</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry, 1st ed. (1983), pb, W. Sanning</td>
<td>9780939484119</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry, 2nd ed (2015), W. Sanning</td>
<td>1591480833</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>The First Holocaust, 1st ed. (2003), Don Heddesheimer (Jewish campaigns around WWI)</strong></td>
<td><strong>9780967985671</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>The First Holocaust, 2nd ed. (2005), Don Heddesheimer (Jewish campaigns around WWI)</strong></td>
<td><strong>9781591480037</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td><strong>The First Holocaust, 3rd ed., (2015), Don Heddesheimer (Jewish campaigns around WWI)</strong></td>
<td><strong>1591481163</strong></td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Gas Vans, 1st ed. (2011), S. Alvarez</td>
<td>9781591481003</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Gas Vans, 1st ed. reprint (2016), S. Alvarez</td>
<td>1591481643</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Giant with Feet of Clay, 1st ed (2001), J. Graf</td>
<td>9780967985640</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Giant with Feet of Clay, 2nd ed. (2015), J. Graf</td>
<td>1591480787</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (1977), A. Butz</td>
<td>9780911038231</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (1985), A. Butz</td>
<td>9780318167039</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (1992), A. Butz</td>
<td>9780911038002</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (1998), A. Butz</td>
<td>9780939484461</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (2003), A. Butz</td>
<td>9780967985695</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (2015), A. Butz</td>
<td>1591480795</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Holocaust Hoax Exposed, V. Thorn</td>
<td>1467506389</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Holocaust: An Introduction (2016), T. Dalton</td>
<td>1591481465</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Leuchter Reports, 1st ed (2005), F. Leuchter, R. Faurisson, G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9781591480150</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Leuchter Reports, 2nd ed (2005), F. Leuchter, R. Faurisson, G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9781591480266</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Leuchter Reports, 3rd ed (2012), F. Leuchter, R. Faurisson, G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9781937787141</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Leuchter Reports, 4th ed. (2015), F. Leuchter, R. Faurisson, G. Rudolf</td>
<td>159148118X</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Myth of the Six Million, D. Hoggan</td>
<td>0974230324</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Real Case for Auschwitz (2015), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591480892</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Rudolf Report, 1st. ed. (2003), hc, G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9780967985664</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Rudolf Report, 1st. ed. (2003), pb, G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9780967985657</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Rudolf Report, 2nd ed. (2011) G. Rudolf</td>
<td>0984631275</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>The Six Million: Fact or Fiction, 5th ed. (2014), P. Winter</td>
<td>1499174926</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Till Bastian, Auschwitz und die Auschwitz-Lüge (2016), C. Mattogno</td>
<td>1591481457</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Treblinka: Extermination Camp or Transit Camp, 1st ed. (2003), C. Mattogno, J. Graf</td>
<td>9781591480006</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Treblinka: Extermination Camp or Transit Camp, 1st ed. reprint (2010), C. Mattogno, J. Graf</td>
<td>9780984631216</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Treblinka: Extermination Camp or Transit Camp, 1st ed. reprint (2016), C. Mattogno, J. Graf</td>
<td>1591481597</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Treblinka: Vernichtungslager oder Durchgangslager? (2002), C. Mattogno, J. Graf</td>
<td>9781902619057</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Vorlesungen über den Holocaust, 2nd ed. (2005), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9781902619071</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Vorlesungen über den Holocaust, 3rd ed. (2012), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9781591480341</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td>
<ol>
<li> </li>
</ol>
</td>
<td>Vorlesungen über den Holocaust, 4th ed. (2015), G. Rudolf</td>
<td>9781591480907</td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>
 </td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>
</td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>
</td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">    </span></p>
<p> </p>
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                <span class="post-footers">March 18, 2017 </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2017/03/my-open-letter-concerning-the-amazon-blacklist-and-freedom-of-speech-.html">Permalink</a>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2016/07/evolution-of-psychopathology-conference-2016.html">Evolution of Psychopathology Conference 2016</a></h3>
		



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				<p>The 2016 <a href="https://wwwp.oakland.edu/Assets/Oakland/psychology/graphics/news/2016/conferencebrochure.pdf">Evolution of Psychopathology Conference</a> includes excellent talks by  Nine-Banded authors <a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/every-cradle-is-a-grave-02/" target="_blank">Sarah Perry</a> (on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5II5QUQVdM&index=2&list=PLD7ASfe52RybK4nYTZejG4-kQYqKI1rXX" target="_blank">“Antinatalism in Cultural and Biological Evolution”</a>) and <a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/keeping-ourselves-in-the-dark/" target="_blank">Colin Feltham</a> (on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuRc28u7ZvU&index=12&list=PLD7ASfe52RybK4nYTZejG4-kQYqKI1rXX" target="_blank">“Anthropathology”</a>). Other conference proceedings are collected on YouTube <a href="https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD7ASfe52RybK4nYTZejG4-kQYqKI1rXX" target="_blank">here</a>.</p>
<p><em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uINi-b5Fi1o">Memento mori.</a></em></p>
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                <span class="post-footers">July 02, 2016 </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2016/07/evolution-of-psychopathology-conference-2016.html">Permalink</a>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2016/06/shakinig-the-speare-with-samuel-crowell.html">Shaking the Spear with Samuel Crowell</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong> <a class="asset-img-link" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201b7c86fa764970b-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="IMG_20160519_101355 (3)" border="0" class="asset  asset-image at-xid-6a00d83467cf1969e201b7c86fa764970b image-full img-responsive" src="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201b7c86fa764970b-800wi" title="IMG_20160519_101355 (3)" /></a><br /></strong></span></p>
<p>It's been half a decade since Nine-Banded Books published Samuel Crowell's <em><a href="http://www.samuelcrowell.com/?page_id=7">The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes and Other Writings on the Holocaust, Revisionism, and Historical Understanding</a></em>. I remember mailing copies to a number of highly credentialed historians and scholars, thinking it might stir up some interesting discussion. Turns out I was naive. Save for a couple of disarmingly kind notes from professors who asked that I not disclose their identities (fair enough), I heard nothing back from the Registry of Important People. That's the way it goes with these things, I now understand. It's like pissing in a lake. Censorship has become quaint in a culture overseen by nabobs who know well how to tend the line that others toe. At the same time, I'm quite sure that <em>Sherlock </em>has been <em>read</em> (there are hundreds of copies are in circulation and the PDF has been downloaded over a thousand times), and there are yet occasions when, apophenia be damned, I suspect the book has made this or that ripple, always just below the current. You're free to <a href="https://xkcd.com/1357/">show me to the door</a>, but I still have <a href="https://i.imgur.com/cbLtmZg.png">the key</a>. This is a long game, freethinkers. Books matter.</p>
<p>The man who writes as "Samuel Crowell" is an unassuming intellectual peripatetic (or "loose cannon," as he prefers) who thinks and writes carefully about questions that provoke epistemic discomfiture and jarring insight. I am very pleased to announce that he is back on the scene with another big Nine-Banded Book on another divisive (if far less forbidding) subject. Yes,<strong><em>William Fortyhands: Disintegration and Reinvention of the Shakespeare Canon</em></strong> is -- ostensibly -- another book about the so-called "authorship controversy," but trust me when I tell you the lure flows deeper. As with <em>Sherlock</em>, I am convinced there is nothing like it in the relevant literature. I'm also resigned that it will be formally ignored, even as I set about the vainly hopeful task of mailing copies to a different coterie of highly credentialed historians and scholars. It's still a lot of fun, watching for those faint ripples. And for <a href="https://www.amazon.com/William-Fortyhands-Disintegration-Reinvention-Shakespeare/dp/0990733548">half the price of a bottle of Laphroaig</a>, you're welcome to join me.</p>
<p>Anyway. What follows a new interview with my friend Samuel Crowell. I think it'll give you an idea of what's knocking around in <em>Fortyhands</em>, and why the book might keep you're attention even if you haven't thought about Shakespeare since high school. With no clean transition coming to mind, let me also take a moment to acknowledge the other folks helped to make the book happen. My absurdly talented pal <a href="http://www.kevinislaughter.com/">Kevin I. Slaughter</a> designed the cover, which features a wicked-clever illustration by the brilliant and hilarious cartoonist <a href="http://lattaland.com/">Josh Latta</a>. Editorial assistance (or just plain proofreading) was provided by 9BB veterans <a href="http://annsterzinger.com/">Ann Sterzinger</a> and <a href="https://www.amazon.com/James-Nulick/e/B001K8Z31W/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1">James Nulick</a>, as well as by the soon-to-be 9BB writer <a href="http://www.oddthingsconsidered.com/">Anita Dalton</a>. Thanks, everyone! <em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnsIOZ9wJ3w">I just want to smoke crack with my friends!</a></em></p>
<p>Read on, fuckers. You might learn something.                 </p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>____________________</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>THE HOOVER HOG: This year marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and I don’t think there’s any question that he remains the single best-known figure in the history of English literature. Middle school kids who will never learn another name from the Elizabethan era are sure to read Shakespeare (or at least the CliffsNotes) as a matter of course. Common expressions and narrative tropes trace to Shakespeare, and his name and visage have passed down to us as a kind of shorthand for high culture. As someone who expresses informed skepticism about Shakespeare’s authorial stature, what do you make of this singular, towering legacy? What does “Shakespeare” </strong><strong><em>mean</em></strong><strong>?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">SAMUEL CROWELL: What “Shakespeare” essentially has come to represent is the greatest writer of all time in the English language, if not the greatest writer of all time in any language. This is a formulation made by Thomas Carlyle in the early 19th century but it is frequently repeated to this day. Why was Shakespeare selected for this honor? Probably because the First Folio, that is, the first printed edition of the plays, is a very large and impressive body of work, indeed one of the largest in the English language until the great novelists of the 19th century.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>When we look at the history of Shakespeare studies, it’s difficult to avoid the “authorship controversy” -- but it’s also hard to avoid the fact that many of the most outspoken Shakespeare skeptics have been “eccentric” characters, if not outright crackpots. Beyond this, I think it’s fair to say that the reigning academic consensus discourages doubt about Shakespeare’s primary authorship of the plays and poems attributed to him. Given this backdrop -- a dubious intellectual heritage and a guarded consensus -- how did you come to question what expert authorities insist to be true, or at least </strong><strong><em>mostly </em></strong><strong>true? Are you sure </strong><strong><em>you’re </em></strong><strong>not a crackpot?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Well, I happened upon the controversy in the mid-60s simply by coming across a copy of Donnelly’s <em>Great Cryptogram</em> that I bought for a quarter while I was on my way home from school. I must admit I didn’t really understand what the controversy was about, at first. I found some of his analysis valid, and other parts quite bizarre. But I did feel that he was on to something. Then a few years later I wrote a long paper on the subject for class, and my teacher hated it and loved it: hated it because I was questioning the Immortal Bard but loved it because I was making some arguments that were challenging for her to refute.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">One of the reasons I stressed my long acquaintance with the subject is that most people who write on the authorship controversy begin by describing their “Road to Damascus” moment -- the moment when they realized that there were questions about the authorship of Shakespeare. Even James Shapiro, who is generally (but not entirely) a defender of the “sole author” school, did not realize there was a controversy until rather far into his career as a Shakespearean. But I never had that moment, and I’ve just considered the authorship controversy valid for as long as I can remember.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Another reason I stressed my long familiarity with the controversy is because I have rung all the changes of possible authorship, because, if you read this literature you will find one argument or candidate convincing, and then you will begin to see that your first flush of enthusiasm was illusory, and so forth. And, incidentally, I am not proposing to end the discussion; I am only trying to propose my general solution and to draw attention to someone other than Shakespeare, Bacon, and Oxford.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Still another reason I stressed the time element is because whenever I returned to this subject I found myself bouncing back and forth, and in saying that I want to stress that I haven’t studied this subject continuously.  Rather, I would read a book, and then read a few more, then set it aside for five or ten years, then pick it up again, for a month or two, then put it back on the shelf, and so on. Meanwhile I was picking up books at yard sales, flea markets, used books stores, etc. because I knew some day I would return to all of it in detail. Yet each time I returned to the question I found my perspectives had changed, partly because of the accumulation of knowledge I had made, both in this field, and other fields, and partly because of my own life experiences. That is why it seemed natural to develop the concept of hermeneutics, but in particular, Dilthey’s idea of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Erlebnis</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> or “lived experience.”</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">So how do I know whether I am a crackpot or not?  Well, I don’t. I can say that when I decided to study this problem seriously I assumed I would simply review the arguments for individual candidates and make some judgments. I did not expect to come to more or less the same answer I came to almost 50 years ago. That surprised me a little.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">I think I have tried to be fair with the evidence, not putting too much weight on one thing, nor putting too much weight on something clearly spurious (e.g., there is no record of Shakespeare’s education so he was illiterate). That and the fact that I have been thinking about this for a long time, the fact that the alternative “bad” quartos are a real challenge for explanation, and finally the fact that neutral students have uncovered many cases of plagiarism, paraphrase, and false attribution with regard to Shakespeare, inclines me to think that I am not a crackpot, but in fact, on the right track.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>In </strong><strong><em>William Fortyhands</em></strong><strong>, you note that most “anti-Stratfordian” theories rest on the promotion of a single alternative candidate. There have been many such contenders, some of the most popular being Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, and Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.  I think one of the most interesting elements of your own work is that you reject this “unitarian” approach. Without going too far afield, can you explain why you think “Shakespeare was X” is a bad start? And if it is the wrong way to approach the authorship question, why do you think it is so common?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Well, the notion of sole authorship was advertised in the First Folio, and hence anyone looking for a satisfying global explanation will aim for an explanation of sole authorship by someone else other than Shakespeare. On the other hand, the attributions of almost every single individual play of the 36 in the First Folio have been questioned, or assigned to someone else, by serious authors who have not questioned Shakespeare’s “main authorship” (whatever that is supposed to mean), and such attribution issues have been argued for over 300 years. Today, there are many more scholars who are busy parceling out Shakespeare to other authors, including Thomas Middleton, and there are still others who are now assigning other plays, and parts of other plays, to Shakespeare, where such attributions had never been made before.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">I think people prefer a single author explanation because they want to believe that such a person as a Shakespeare existed; again, a total genius who embraced the entire human condition, who could write voluminously on any subject in many different styles, and who was the greatest writer in history, etc. I think in general people are pleased to have such a totem, even though, in the late 20th century, it seems clear that the adulation accorded Shakespeare is somewhat on the wane, as we may note by the relative silence on the 400th anniversary of his death this past April.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">The best way to approach the problem, I believe, is to read the plays and poems, and then to start reading his contemporaries and to find out as much as you can about them. Reading or watching or listening to all of Shakespeare, maybe even more than once, will eventually make you aware of the differences in style, verse, and characterization that tend to put any sole authorship attribution into question. Reading his contemporaries, on the other hand, is a great way to learn about their styles, their work in the theater, and their plausible influence on this or that “Shakespeare” play.  Reading about the period also makes clear that collaboration on plays was a common method of writing plays in those days.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>“Influence” and “collaboration” are gentle words. To play on a contemporary analogy that some will find inappropriate, we might imagine sketch comics or sitcom writers or Vince Gilligan’s story editors tossing off ideas and appropriating cultural themes in currency -- probably on a storyboard. The lion’s share of credit goes to the head writer -- or director -- but the creative process is more complex. Is it something like this that you imagine having taken place among playwrights four centuries ago? If so, doesn't this pose a severe problem for the notion that Shakespeare commanded a distinctive voice? Is it possible that scholars have been embarrassingly wrong to suppose that Shakespeare </strong><strong><em>sounds </em></strong><strong>like Shakespeare?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">To take the second part of your question first, there is no shortage of experts who insist that everything in the First Folio “sounds like Shakespeare” and no one else.  But others, notably J. M. Robertson and Frederick Fleay, have taken another tack, insisting that here Shakespeare sounds like Chapman, or Marlowe, or Peele, or Lodge, and so on and so on. The response to that kind of argument, advanced by the likes of E. K. Chambers, is that Shakespeare, when he was “experimenting” could sound like Chapman or Marlowe or Peele or Lodge, but he was still Shakespeare. The upshot to this kind of argument is that it cannot be proved either way, however much someone might like to. I recall when reading Robertson’s analysis of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Henry V</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> he went into a lot of detail not only suggesting which passages were by Marlowe, etc. but which passages have been overlain on top of Marlowe by other writers. It is an extremely boring form of analysis, and since it proves nothing, it has a problem justifying itself.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">A</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">s to the first part of the question, how was any given play composed, that’s also a hard question. For example, we already know that there was collaboration on a number of non-Shakespeare plays, but it is hard to determine who wrote what; as Samuel Schoenbaum was fond of saying, we know that William Faulkner collaborated on the screenplay for the epic <em>Land of the Pharaohs</em> (this is the film where Jack Hawkins wrestles a bull bare-chested, where the priests mumble because they’ve all had their tongues cut out, and where Joan Collins in buried alive in the pyramid’s tomb), but it would be very difficult to determine Faulkner’s contributions.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">I can think of a few ways that plays could have been written. In the first place, someone would write a play, missing some parts, and then others would come in and fill in the gaps with some dialog and long speeches: this appears to be the case with </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sir Thomas More</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">. On the other hand, we can have someone preparing an outline, or treatment, and then different scenes or acts would be written by the various contributors: this method is suggested by an existing outline as well as by the pattern of Henslowe’s disbursements. Finally, we could imagine someone writing the skeleton of a play and then a partner coming in and overloading it with heavy speeches: this appears to have been the case with </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hamlet</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, especially when you consider the quarto versions.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">When dealing with the quarto versions, and in particular the “bad” quartos, it appears to me that someone -- perhaps Shakespeare -- took someone else’s play and and cut out the extravagant parts, simplified the action, and filled the gaps with quotes from still other plays. If that is the relationship between the “bad” quartos and the Folio versions, then we have to decide whether Shakespeare wrote the Folio version first, and then the abridgment, or whether he took a play put together by others and then cut it down.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yet another aspect concerns revision. Many insist, for example, that Marlowe wrote </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Doctor Faustus</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, with no other hands involved. But we also know that someone was paid for additions before it was published, but what are the additions? The same argument is made for </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Spanish Tragedy</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, because we have documentation that Ben Jonson was hired to make additions. But today, there are people who are arguing, in spite of the documentation, that Shakespeare made those additions.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Storyboards would not be necessary, because in a play that would fall under blocking and it would be the director’s job (here, Shakespeare) to determine that and all the rest of the production elements. I know this is a frustrating explanation. But I don’t think a more complete one is possible.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>What is the relevance of “nescience” to the study of Shakespearean authorship? Are there other scholarly domains where this concept is invoked?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">“Nescience” was a word that Edmund K. Chambers used to describe the fact that there are a lot of things we don’t know about Shakespeare and about his writing career. As Mark Twain pointed out, all of the actual facts we have about Shakespeare’s life could be listed on a single page, and not one of those single facts directly pertains to the writing of the plays. (There is a separate category of evidence that supports Shakespeare writing the plays, namely, title page attributions, but this is actually not a totally secure category of evidence, as I discuss in the book.)</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Because we don’t know that much about Shakespeare there is an irresistible tendency to make up facts about him, usually by working backwards from the plays. So, for example, we know Samuel Daniel wrote a long history, in verse, about the War of the Roses. And we can see connections between that and </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Richard II</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.  So people argue that Daniel and Shakespeare were friends, and so forth.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Shakespeare defenders often make the argument that we don’t know very much about Shakespeare’s contemporaries. That is also true. But part of the problem is that the literary works of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, in verse, prose, or drama, is almost completely ignored by those who write about Shakespeare. As I remarked in one of the footnotes, new editions of Shakespeare are always being published. But most of his peers haven’t been published in any kind of comparable edition since the 1880s, and even then only in private editions of, say, 250 copies. That is preposterous, and only goes to show the extent to which Shakespeare’s “genius” has been allowed to completely blot out the memory of his peers.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">As to other fields, there is a tremendous amount of “nescience” in most of the humanities and social sciences; this is because, particularly in something like history, the record is nowhere near as continuous as we would like to think. The offspring of nescience is constant change, as each generation is bound to fill the gaps in the record in its own way, and that’s part of the reason interpretations change over time.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>I think this problem of historical understanding is neatly captured in your notion of “Milkmaid & Bucket” reasoning, which you use to describe the gap-filling process that seems to come up when we are faced with discontinuity or uncertainty.</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The idea of “Milkmaid and Bucket” goes back to the old fable, and I used it to describe a certain kind of reasoning because, first, I noted that tales from the Indian folktale collection, the </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Panchatantra</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, were popping up in some of my sources, as well as in Elizabethan literature, and that is where this particular story originated. Second, I noted that a lot of Oxfordians, and even Shakespeareans, were using the same kind of reasoning in their attributions. I only listed a couple of examples, but I could have listed several more. Usually the reasoning goes in the form of, If A is X, and B is Y, and C is Z, then ABC = XYZ. It’s a very slim conditional kind of reasoning and usually has no corroboration; I noted that Harold Love described something similar as a “chain of reasoning” and I noted that Dennis McCarthy’s argument for Sir Thomas North hinged on North’s translation of an Italian translation of the </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Panchatantra</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> so at that point I decided to emphasize the concept.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>Can you talk a bit about Shakespeare’s Will? The document is strange in a number of ways, but the absence of any literary bequest seems especially difficult to reconcile with our notion of Shakespeare’s literary talent and erudition. How do conventional Shakespeare scholars make sense of this?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Shakespeare’s Will is the source of three of the six signatures we have for Shakespeare, and this is its main importance. It also indicates, by way of an interlinear bequest, that the William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon is the same as the Shakespeare involved with the London stage.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">At the same time, the Will  has an unbelievably formal and even pompous tone, not the sort of thing you would associate with someone of Shakespeare’s reputation, which makes it somewhat mystifying, and not particularly satisfying to Shakespeareans. The Will also makes no mention of any books or literary remains, which is a much more serious and counter-intuitive matter.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Those who question Shakespeare’s authorship usually point to the uninspired text, the lack of any reference to books or papers, and the crudity of the signatures as proof against Shakespeare. Shakespeareans on the other hand usually explain the Will away by insisting that the absence of evidence for books and papers is not evidence for the absence of books or papers (although no one has ever found them). So in effect Shakespeareans insist that Shakespeare’s library is somewhere out in orbit with Russell’s Teapot.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Once again, Shakespeareans will say that many of Shakespeare’s contemporaries left behind no remains.  Actually, as Diana Price has shown, many of them did. And while most of Shakespeare’s contemporaries died poor and intestate -- including, apparently, the Earl of Oxford -- many of them left remains in the form of literary works that were completed by others or published posthumously, as well as other items, including various letters to others (which in turn would be among the remains of the person they wrote to, not among their own papers). But again in Shakespeare’s case, who died well off and with a Will, there is nothing, not even a note that he wrote to someone else.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>You’ve already mentioned the First Folio, which figures prominently throughout your book. What is the significance of this text to the authorship controversy?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Normally (with a couple of exceptions) we attribute 36 plays to Shakespeare because that is the number of plays in the first collection of his writings, published seven years after his death, in 1623. It is universally called the First Folio, as opposed to the longer formal title. Of those 36 plays, 18 had existed in different versions, but 18 had never been published before, and that’s a crucial issue for attribution, because without the assignment to Shakespeare in the Folio, we would have little or no evidence to link these plays to Shakespeare. So that’s the fundamental attribution issue with the First Folio: Are these attributions, in whole, or part, truly valid?</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">The casual reader of Shakespeare probably takes it for granted that everyone, except for the “Shakespeare deniers.” believes that Shakespeare wrote all of the contents of the Folio, because that is what is implied by the introductory matter in the front of the book. Such readers would be surprised to find that Shakespeareans have been disputing several of these attributions for hundreds of years.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">As for the 18 plays that were not published previously, the evidence that links the plays to Shakespeare -- outside of the Folio’s title page -- depends on evidence of play performance by Shakespeare’s acting company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later known as The King’s Men.) However, that evidence, where it exists, isn’t actually very strong, because we know that Shakespeare also put on plays that no one attributes to him, including Dekker’s </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Satiro-mastix </span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">and Jonson’s </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Every Man His Own Humour</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>If authorial attribution isn’t clear-cut with reference to the First Folio, things seem gnarlier when our attention is turned to the so-called “bad quartos” and the problem of title page attribution. There’s really a lot of noise in the background, yes?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Just as half of the plays in the First Folio can be questioned because they were never published anywhere else, the other 18 can also be questioned because there are twins or doubles to many of these plays.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">For example, there are different versions of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Henry VI</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Parts 2 and 3, different versions of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Henry V</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, different versions of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Romeo & Juliet</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, different versions of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">King Lear</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, and no less than four different versions of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hamlet</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">. So automatically we have questions of who wrote all of these different versions, in what order, and why. In general, I don’t believe that Shakespeare would be rewriting his own plays, but many people do.  Others think that the quarto versions represent plays that were remembered by auditors or actors, or re-written for touring purposes. However, in the past 20 years or so such explanations seem to have lost their attraction, so we are back to where we began: Did Shakespeare write different versions of his plays, and if he did not, who wrote the other versions? And does this not point to collaboration in stage writing, something which we know from other sources to have been the case in the Elizabethan age?</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">There are other issues as well. Some of the quarto plays do not list Shakespeare as author, some do, and then don’t, others are described as “expanded” or “augmented” from the “original,” which naturally raises the question of </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">whose </span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">original?  Moreover, of the 18 plays that only appear in the First Folio, there are also several twins, that is, plays that are similar to the known Shakespeare play, but not attributed to anyone -- for example, </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Taming of A Shrew </span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">versus </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Taming of The Shrew</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, or </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">King John</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> versus the </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Troublesome Raigne of King John</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Finally, there are plays that appear in the historical record but do not fit the Shakespearean timeline: thus we have a </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hamlet</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that comes before </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Hamlet</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Tempest</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that comes before </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Tempest</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, and a </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Troilus and Cressida</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> that comes before </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Troilus and Cressida</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">All in all the issue of secure attribution seems impossible to reconcile with sole authorship, either by Shakespeare or anyone else.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>One of the unexpected pleasures of </strong><strong><em>William Fortyhands</em></strong><strong> -- and I hope this will be true even for readers who disagree with your interpretation  -- comes through your illuminating use of contemporary references, novel analogies, and philosophical heuristics. We’ve already discussed the “Milkmaid/Bucket” sequence, but this is probably the only Shakespeare book that considers its subject through the lens of, among other things, Philip K. Dick novels and Beat literature. Was this approach by design, or is it something that came about more organically?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">In the course of thinking about this for a long time, I would encounter various things that I thought would help elucidate the concepts involved, since I know from experience that we can understand an abstraction better if we put some clothes on it and put it into the physical world. Hence, things like Milkmaid & Bucket reasoning or Vedic Expansions or Beethoven’s Staircase were natural ways of physicalizing the concepts involved. Philip K Dick came up because I liked his concept of “Black Iron Prison”; I suppose I could have used Blake’s “mind-forg’d manacles” instead, but I thought Dick’s invention was more apt. I should also add the notion of a kind of false reality that is all encompassing is very common from Plato to our own day, and in particular in literary, critical, historical, and philosophical schools post-Marx. But I avoided more abstruse statements of the matter.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">There’s another reason I used Dick’s concept, and that had to do with John Aubrey, who I chose to use as a frame to physicalize the concepts of hermeneutics and phenomenology that I would develop later. Remember that part of what was on my mind was that I had been following this debate for many years, and my thinking would change over the passage of time. I couldn’t very well recreate that in a book, but what I could do was try to approximate it by a kind of symphonic treatment in which I would return, and return again, to certain people, issues, and so on.  In this sense Dick tied in very well with Aubrey so I used his concept in the book.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Other analogies had to do with things that were unsatisfactory to me in the original treatments; the description of the “University Wits” in most literature was, in my opinion, a complete misrepresentation of what these people were actually like, so I redefined them as beatniks to get a better flavor of their alienation and chaotic lifestyle. Having created the Beats, I then created “Generation J” to emphasize the difference between that first generation of playwrights and those that followed: I think there are distinct differences not only in terms of how they handle verse but also how they handle dramatic situations, humor, and above all, in their treatment of women. I did not explore all of these to the depth that I would have liked.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Some of the other concepts, e.g., Context of Discovery, Context of Justification, had been on my mind for decades and seeing some authors use this kind of reasoning in a reductive sense, and being aware that the so-called CDJ distinction was crucial for the notion of a paradigm shift, I included those also. However, I should say that I limited the concepts I could have used, or dressed, or told amusing stories about. For example, I chose to approach the issue of the “death of the author” via New Criticism and later hermeneutics, but I could have just as easily approached it through late phenomenology or Foucault, but I am by nature a common sense empiricist and try to avoid jargon as much as possible. There is only so much one can say about subjects and objects, although there are many many ways to get there.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>I think there’s also a subtle cleverness in the way the book is structured, with important historical characters and events sort of popping up at the margins and then coming into clearer focus as the study gathers momentum. I’m not sure that’s the right way to put it, but the approach makes for a very engaging presentation. Was this approach part of your own literary strategy?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Yes, the presentation was deliberately plotted for a number of reasons. I knew I was going to introduce a lot of characters, so I used any opportunity to foreshadow an appearance. Certain leading themes -- especially concerning Homer or the Bible -- presented themselves naturally, as did various folkloristic tropes. The timeline facilitated bringing Aubrey and Marlowe back again and again. I also quote extensively from the literature, and that literature often makes obscure references to other things: I wanted to try to drop those “other things” into the narrative earlier. This is part of what I meant by a “symphonic” treatment, but I also hoped to recapture something of the turning and returning of my own long familiarity with the topic.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>While </strong><strong><em>William Fortyhands</em></strong><strong> will be approached mainly as a study of the authorship controversy, it’s also a book that seeks to rescue the Elizabethan literary milieu from historical obscurity. What would you like for readers to understand about Shakespeare’s largely forgotten contemporaries?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">As noted above, most of Shakespeare’s contemporaries have been completely forgotten; they may be mentioned by name here and there but they are simply identified as “minor contemporaries of Shakespeare” or worse, as “hacks.”  But when you hunt down these other authors, you find not only that there were many whose prose and poetry was very similar to Shakespeare but you also find that virtually all of them were involved in writing plays for the theater, on an ad hoc, piece-work, paid-as-you-deliver basis -- yet their contributions are largely unknown, since collaboration and anonymity were both common. Not only that -- there is also extensive evidence that Shakespeare’s contemporaries were closely involved with the theaters and theater companies of the time, including Shakespeare’s own. It doesn’t require a lot of imagination to see their contributions in the Shakespeare plays, and, indeed many scholars have seen such contributions by these contemporaries in the plays since the 1680s.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">These were highly educated, talented writers, and people like Robert Greene, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Nashe, Michael Drayton, Thomas Dekker, George Chapman, and Thomas Lodge -- just to mention a few -- deserve more attention than they have received in the past century. The only exception is Christopher Marlowe, but he too tends to get swamped in the either/or arguments of Shakespeareans and Oxfordians.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">One of the things I would like to accomplish with this book is to move the argument away from “who wrote the plays?” to a question of “how were the plays written?” and I am convinced that that is better accomplished by aligning the writings of some of Shakespeare’s contemporaries with the body of Shakespeare. And then, instead of creating friendships and relationships for which we have no evidence, simply to stress the links between those other writers and the given Shakespeare plays. We might have to abandon a Shakespeare pageant or two, but we would be able to better situate Shakespeare among his peers, to understand the ideas and writing styles current at the time, and finally to read some excellent neglected literature.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">I should add that late in my research I found that Stanley Wells had written a book that addressed Shakespeare’s contemporaries in some respects (<em>Shakespeare & Co.</em>), but Wells is an orthodox Shakespearean so I found his treatment a little disappointing.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>Perhaps the most common objection to Shakespeare skepticism is that it is rooted in elitist or “classist” assumptions. This usually comes up over the promotion of “noble” alternative candidates, which is understandable, but I think it’s also carried along by a kind of Horatio Alger mythology -- because we are drawn to the portrait of a humble, autodidactic Shakespeare, a self-made genius of meager beginnings. To observe that he was an unremarkable student, or possibly even illiterate, strikes many people as not merely wrong, but deeply offensive. What do you make of this?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">I don’t think the tendency for people to insist on noble authorship is rooted in classist or elitist assumptions, because when you go back to the earliest advocates of alternative candidates there doesn’t seem to be any aristocratic, classist, or elitist agenda. I think the fundamental assumption is that all of the plays were written by one person. If you add to that the ostentatious learning in some of the plays, along with the presumption of anonymity, one then has a profile of someone who had enormous leisure to both learn and write, but who, at the same time, wanted to remain anonymous. Phrased that way, a nobleman or noblewoman who did not want to be outed as a writer seems a natural intuition.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">That idea gains support when you find that there is evidence that there was speculation about hidden noble contributions to literature at the time. The notion existed, probably because Elizabethan England was something of a surveillance state, and that helps foster paranoia. But the existence of the notion doesn’t mean it had strong roots in reality.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">I think the main reasons why people propose noble alternatives to Shakespeare is based on a number of false assumptions. First, that plays were written singly, whereas the only evidence we have suggests that collaboration was the norm, at least until Ben Jonson’s folio. Second, that only nobles were educated, whereas, in fact, there were many highly educated people around, even people of common background, such as Marlowe, and the England of that time did make allowance for bright youngsters from poor backgrounds (which naturally raises the question as to why Shakespeare never received such an opportunity). Third and finally, the idea that if the plays were written by someone else, that person would have needed to remain anonymous, otherwise why hire Shakespeare as a front? And so again we are led to the conclusion that the only reason why someone would want to remain anonymous was because of their noble rank.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">The reaction to all of this is to dismiss those engaged in the authorship controversy as being “elitist” or “classist,” even though there is a sizable literature arguing that Christopher Marlowe, the son of a shoemaker, wrote the plays. The Marlowe candidacy makes some sense because we know that Marlowe was very bright, had a subsidized education, and spent seven years at Cambridge, while Shakespeare had no higher education and was married with three children by the time he was 21. However, high profile candidates like Bacon and Oxford were noble, and that serves as the lead to calling doubters “snobs,” even though the vast majority of authors on the subject have been Americans, who simply do not have the elitist and class issues that are common in Great Britain.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Those that argue that a poor glover’s son could have written all of the plays are arguing from a laudatory egalitarian and democratic perspective, but I don’t think they even believe what they are saying, if they actually think that poverty and a lack of education are not severe impediments to success, let alone literary success. It seems particularly strange that any academic would want to argue that a university education is superfluous.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>I would be remiss not to mention your more notorious acquaintance with dissident history, by which I refer to your previous writings on Holocaust revisionism (See: <em><a href="http://www.samuelcrowell.com/?page_id=7">The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes</a></em>). You and I both know that this will be seized upon by some critics to advance the notion that Shakespeare skepticism is just another brand of “denial” that can be dismissed and ridiculed without further inquiry. But as you discuss in </strong><strong><em>Fortyhands</em></strong><strong>, that idea is already a part of the authorship controversy. So let’s talk about it. What is the connective tissue, if any, between between </strong><strong><em>Sherlock </em></strong><strong>and </strong><strong><em>Fortyhands</em></strong><strong>? And what do you make of the contemporary intellectual habit of shaming unorthodox thinkers as “deniers”?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Well, “Denial” nowadays is largely an argument that someone isn’t accepting a particular judgment either out of bad faith or mental incompetence. Right away, then, “denial” involves a species of intolerance, in the sense that it does not allow one to question someone else’s firmly held belief. Actually Mark Twain recognized this over a century ago, when he wrote his own book on the authorship controversy, except that he phrased it in terms of “irreverence”: If we are bound to respect everyone’s sacred beliefs, then pretty soon we will have to solemnly respect, and refuse to question, everyone’s beliefs, and thus we will have not only the death of our personal freedom to say what we like, but the death of irreverence itself. It seems to me that this idea resonates with the way stand-up comedians describe performing on college campuses today.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">The linking of “Holocaust Denial” with “Shakespeare Denial” has become fashionable in the past 20 years or so. Denial has also been extended to many other realms, including stem cell research, vaccines, autism, evolution, climate change (aka anthropogenic global warming), and many other things, so it has emerged as the go-to epithet for shutting down, or derogating, an opponent. It should be said that “denial” or “refusal to accept” a certain judgment is often due to a conflict with other beliefs (e.g., religion and evolution), or a contrary belief that is untrue (e.g., vaccines and autism), or it may stem from other reasons. And I think it would be wrong if we were to suggest that all public policy issues should defer to “reason,” when sometimes people clearly prefer tradition: the American English measuring system and the illogical nature of English spelling being two obvious examples. The remedy, in any case, is to respect your opponent. Try to reason with them in terms of what they accept, and see if you can progress. Nothing is achieved by name calling.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">I</span>n my case, I have always thought that there was something to the authorship controversy, and I was happy to let it lie in suspense. On the other hand, when I discovered that there were questions about some aspects of the Holocaust I was quite surprised, but it wasn’t my field so I just assumed someone else would handle it. Later, when I found out that “questioning the reality of the Holocaust” (whatever that is supposed to mean) was going to be made a crime in Great Britain I decided to try to defend what I felt were the underlying historical issues involved and that resulted in <em>The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes</em>. I suppose the upshot of that book is not that the “Holocaust did not happen” but rather that some of the revisionist arguments had merit and shouldn’t be criminalized.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">In the process of studying that issue, however, I found myself confronting a number of widespread beliefs that, under close analysis, did not have the evidentiary basis I thought they had. So I had to try to explain to myself how that was possible. My overall conclusion is that there are a number of popular beliefs that are not in fact very solidly grounded and that questioning those beliefs shouldn’t be declared off limits. Furthermore, the question of how these beliefs grow and hold sway, to say nothing of how they are overturned (many examples in the history of science), is very hard to explain.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">As a result of this I have found myself more and more interested in issues of “how we know something is true” (epistemology). I had been reading on this general problem since my teens, but perhaps paradoxically, as a result of my study I have found myself more and more sympathetic toward those who hold alternative beliefs. This resonates with the authorship controversy because there is also a weak evidentiary base for some strongly held beliefs about Shakespeare -- this is the “nescience” referred to earlier -- and as a result there are a wide variety of alternative explanations. Many of these alternative explanations, even if wrong, can be very illuminating in other ways.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">My writings about the Holocaust concerned a vast human tragedy and I wrote under the threat of direct and consequential censorship. But the authorship controversy is nothing like that; it’s just a literary and historical argument, and therefore I was able to be a bit more relaxed in my handling of the subject. Following up on the various philosophical, literary, and epistemological issues is also an ongoing process of discovery, and self discovery. If I conclude by summarizing a number of psychological and rational traps that people fall into when attempting to explain the inexplicable, I do not mean to exclude myself.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>If our epistemic premises are subject to change and historical evidence is bound by discontinuity and uncertainty, it seems fair to ask what sort of evidence would convince you that you are, in some general sense, </strong><strong><em>wrong </em></strong><strong>in your interpretation of the Shakespeare authorship problem? You don’t seem to be anchored by an </strong><strong><em>idée fixe</em></strong><strong> (perhaps the opposite), but it’s a question I like to ask myself whenever I feel may have cornered something true.</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Well, rightness and wrongness, in any form of study, is a matter of degree. The growth of knowledge and our more comprehensive understanding of things is not actually brought about by “smoking guns” or documentary “gaffes.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The basic form of historical evidence is documentary evidence, followed by forensic and archaeological evidence. Nowadays, with scientific analysis, you could add chemical and biological (genetic) evidence. However, for determining the authorship of the Shakespeare plays, only documentary evidence will do, and the only real documents we have about playwriting in the Elizabethan era -- Philip Henslowe’s Diary, and the manuscript for </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sir Thomas More</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> -- both point to collaboration for plays, rather than individual authorship.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">One theme that has habitually popped up in this field is that, if we could only find the manuscripts in the hand of a favored candidate that would solve the problem forever. Or, if we could find a book or books inscribed with Shakespeare’s name. Or, if we could find an authentic piece of paper with some writing by Shakespeare. As a result, those kinds of things have been discussed, and proposed, rather frequently. However, none of those things would solve the problem of the quartos, or the chronology, or the plays that are referred to before they were supposedly written, or the notion that several of the plays were written in the 1580s, before Shakespeare became active.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">I think I have settled on an explanation that gives Shakespeare due credit, but which, at the same time, allows ample room to acknowledge the handiwork of his many gifted peers. That thesis is capacious enough that it is hard to refute in general, it really is a matter of how much of Shakespeare’s grandeur one is willing to trade off to put the spotlight on his contemporaries. As to “finally” determining who wrote this or that, I doubt that will ever be settled; it’s a little late in the day to find a Henslowe’s Diary for Shakespeare’s company, or a full manuscript of a Shakespeare play in an identifiable hand.  And that’s fine: the authorship controversy is really about widening the contexts to make it possible to understand the plays, and how they were written, and that attempt will likely never come to an end.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>I think “due credit” will strike some readers as disingenuous. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that your general interpretation is vindicated and the Shakespeare canon can no longer be traced to this singular fountainhead, to the genius of William Shakespeare himself. What then becomes of Shakespeare’s legacy? How are we to regard him as a human and historical figure?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">My basic interpretation is not all that far removed from traditional scholarship. For example, while the ordinary layperson may regard it as axiomatic that “Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare,” the point of view is actually rather naive. For example, any serious student is aware that the plays are largely derived from other works, either literary or historical. On top of that, students who study the literature are also aware that the plays have numerous instances of paraphrase, copying, and plagiarizing from other works. Moreover, there is a growing school that argues, as was argued a hundred years ago, that significant parts, or even almost entire plays, in the canon were written by others. So my argument, that Shakespeare’s indebtedness to other authors, or the intervention of other authors in Shakespeare’s plays, is very extensive, is actually a rather modest step forward in terms of the arguments that are once again finding currency.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">The difference in my approach is that while I see the First Folio as something of a compilation, I don’t think there was some kind of super-intelligence that put it together, and this is the main point that distinguishes my interpretation from those of other “groupists.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><span style="font-weight: 400;">I don’t think anything will affect the First Folio if it comes to be regarded as more a compilation than the sole product of one gigantic mind. There might be some diminution of Shakespeare’s status as the “greatest writer of all time,” but there should be, anyway, since there were a number of playwrights whose dramatic work was as good as almost any in the First Folio -- for example Marlowe’s </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Doctor Faustus</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, or Dekker’s </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Shoemaker’s Holiday</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Nor do I think Shakespeare’s posthumous career will suffer much, because there is no question that he was a very successful man of the theater, and very instrumental in the development of the dramatic arts not only in England, but by extension, the rest of the world. To say that he might not have written the words -- or, at any rate, not all the words -- does not dispute that he took the scripts and created the productions which were so popular in his time. This might be an overly sanguine forecast, but I seriously don’t think that Shakespeare’s accomplishments should be undermined because of the ethos of anonymous collaboration common in his time.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">The same could be said for most of the alternative candidates. Marlowe needs no pardon. Neither does Lord Bacon. Indeed I have to question how anyone could claim Shakespeare even approaches Bacon’s intellect. The other noble candidates, including the Earl of Oxford, should be credited, where sufficient evidence exists, for their contributions to the English Renaissance. In the case of Oxford, I believe his contributions were probably very extensive, even if they did not involve a lot of writing.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">I think I would be satisfied if the reader of my book came to the conclusion that the authorship controversy is a legitimate aspect of Shakespeare criticism, that addressing the controversy requires something more than a unitarian quick fix (“it wasn’t Shakespeare, it was X!”), that collaboration and anonymity were normal for the time, and that Shakespeare was surrounded a number of highly talented and gifted writers, who also made numerous contributions to drama, and whose known works should receive a revival of interest.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 11pt;"><strong>In closing, I want to bank off of your motivating question: “how we know something is true?” It’s a toughy, isn’t it? I frankly suspect that most people, most of the time, don’t have the predilection to wade far beyond the first page of Google results. Yet there really are so many enduring problems and mysteries -- in science, in history, in literature, and in countless other domains. And inquiring minds must choose where to cast a line. What’s next for Samuel Crowell?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Well, one of these days I am going to have to go back and look at the issues in philosophy and literature that I originally meant to focus on, that involves a number of German and Russian authors and philosophers over the past two centuries. I would also like to someday have something to say about Hungarian literature, since I have spent a fair amount of time on it.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">However, my next project concerns an exploration of what I might call the “process monism” of Heraclitus and Lao Tse.  I want to situate it in the 1970s, because a lot of what has been felicitously described by Sarah Perry as “<a href="https://theviewfromhell.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/trying-to-see-through-unified-theory-of.html">insight porn</a>” was published in that decade and the books I mean to discuss all rely heavily on very particular readings of Heraclitus or Lao Tse. But I am going to take my time on that project.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">In the meantime, I think I will also touch on some other literature pertaining to psychology, epistemology, and some minor historical issues that pop up in my readings. But I don’t want to go into too much detail right now.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">With regards to “truth”: There is a scientific method for determining “truth” and it is based on replication. However, that method is useless for the human sciences. I should say upfront therefore that I don’t believe that unquestionable truth is really possible, and I don’t mean to come off as a nihilist in saying so. One can reach a fairly decent approximation of what must be the truth, but to argue for absolute finality in truth-seeking is, if you stop to think about it, not something that anyone really wants -- because if that were the case we’d run out of questions to study in short order. What we can do in the meantime is attempt to correct or redirect each other’s arguments, and their underlying assumptions. And that’s the sort of thing I am interested in doing.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">____________________</span></p>
<p><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Samuel Crowell's <strong><em>William Fortyhands: Disintegration and Reinvention of the Shakespeare Canon</em></strong></span><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;"> may be ordered directly through the following sources:</span></p>
<p><a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/william-fortyhands-disintegration-and-reinvention-of-the-shakespeare-canon/"><span style="font-weight: 400; font-size: 11pt;">Nine-Banded Books</span></a></p>
<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/William-Fortyhands-Disintegration-Reinvention-Shakespeare/dp/0990733548">Amazon</a></p>
<p><a href="https://www.amazon.co.uk/William-Fortyhands-Disintegration-Reinvention-Shakespeare/dp/0990733548/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466267639&sr=8-1&keywords=william+fortyhands">Amazon UK</a></p>
<p><a href="https://www.amazon.ca/William-Fortyhands-Disintegration-Reinvention-Shakespeare/dp/0990733548/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466267676&sr=8-1&keywords=william+fortyhands">Amazon Canada</a></p>
<p>Review and examination copies are available. Send serious inquiries to chipsmith@ninebandedbooks.com </p>
<p>To learn more about Samuel Crowell's work, visit his (soon-to-be-updated) <a href="http://www.samuelcrowell.com/">website</a>.</p>
<p><em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDNMYwK69jM&feature=youtu.be">Memento mori</a>.</em></p>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2016/03/bradley-smith-gone-but-not-forgotten.html">Bradley Smith. Gone, But Not Forgotten.</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Bradley Smith is no longer among the living. I wrote a short <strong><a href="http://codoh.com/library/document/4009/">memorial</a></strong>, which is archived on the dedicated CODOH page <strong><a href="http://codoh.com/library/series/3997/" target="_blank">here</a></strong>.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><em>A Personal History of Moral Decay</em> will remain available for sale as a physical book, but I am also making the entire book available for free. Click the image below to download your copy of the PDF. It's a very good book.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"> <a class="asset-img-link" href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/A-Personal-History-of-Moral-Decay-PDF-with-cover.pdf" style="display: inline;"><img alt="Moral Decay FrontCover JPEG" border="0" class="asset  asset-image at-xid-6a00d83467cf1969e201bb08c324e7970d image-full img-responsive" src="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201bb08c324e7970d-800wi" title="Moral Decay FrontCover JPEG" /></a><br /> </span></p>
<p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJB0nCv0qxk">Memento mori.</a></p>
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                <span class="post-footers">March 05, 2016 </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2016/03/bradley-smith-gone-but-not-forgotten.html">Permalink</a>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2015/06/la-rollins-rip-.html">L.A. Rollins, RIP  </a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">When the last parcel I sent to Lou was returned, I assumed I had gotten the address wrong. I'm bad about that. So I set the thing aside and made a mental note to check it against the information I had on file, maybe give him a call to see if he'd moved. I let a couple of days pass. Then I looked closely at the "undeliverable" postal stamp, at the box marked "deceased." Fuck.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I considered that it might be an error, but when I contacted one of Lou's few acquaintances the news was confirmed ("I'm afraid rumors of Lou's death have not been exaggerated at all").</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Well, fuck. There was unfinished business. There always is. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Lou Rollins, better known to his small but devoted readership as "L.A. Rollins," was probably the least sentimental person I have ever known. When we were putting together <em>The Myth of Natural Rights and Other Essays</em> he sent me an obsessively comprehensive list of acknowledgments to close the book, but when he discovered that one of the people on his rollcall had died (I believe it was Samuel Konkin) Lou was emphatic that the name be removed before press. There was no point, he insisted, in thanking the dead.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I'm not that hardcore. Selfishly and pointlessly, I want to acknowledge Lou's time on this whirling rock. I want to thank his ghost for a few precious laughs, and for the shape of thoughts, now mostly forgotten, that he once inspired or ignited.    </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Over the past few years, Lou saw to it that the Nine-Banded PO box was perpetually stuffed. Seriously, it was with some now regrettable annoyance that I would unlock the copper-plated box to find another batch of hand-addressed, multi-stamped business envelopes bulging with news clippings as well as Lou's own satirical poetry, occasional essays, and -- the burden of it -- a seemingly endless supply of new or slightly revised material for a long-planned update of <em>Lucifer's Lexicon</em>. All of it was in longhand, scrawled with nary a spelling error on hastily ripped spiral notebook pages. I have the lot of it compiled in these giant three-ring binders. A teeming, taunting transcription nightmare.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">The last piece of such correspondence with a legible postmark was dated April 16, 2015. Lou's body was discovered in his apartment on May 6. Call it from there.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I don't know the cause of death. Last I heard, the coroner was investigating and would share a report with next-of-kin. That's probably done by now. Could have been any number of undiagnosed afflictions. Cancer. Heart failure. Maybe a fatal slip and fall. I don't suspect suicide (or ISIS assassins), not that it matters. Lou was, I think, 66. By all accounts, he was a ruined alcoholic -- a devotee of what one of his friends described as "cheapest, most godawful rotgut whisky imaginable." He was a hermit. He didn't tend to his health. People die.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Here is a "Lexicon" entry that he sent a couple of months ago:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Death, n.</strong> A life going off, after having gone on.  </span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">L.A. Rollins received his B.A. degree in philosophy from California State College at Los Angeles in 1970, which happens to be the year I was born. Throughout the glorious decade that followed he edited and published a sporadic fringe-libertarian newsletter called <em>Invictus: A Journal of Individualist Thought</em> (Good luck finding a copy). As a freelance writer he contributed to a number of publications, including some respectable magazines like <em>Playboy</em>, <em>Reason</em>, and <em>Grump</em>, as well as some not-so-respectable (but far more fun) marginal outlets like Samuel Konkin's <em>New Libertarian</em>, Bob Banner's <em>Critique</em>, and, <em>ahem</em>, <em>The Journal of Historical Review</em>. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">(Regarding that last one... Yes, I understand that Lou's straightforward -- and actually highly critical -- engagement with Holocaust revisionism proved to be "a bridge too far" for some otherwise amused readers. To me, it just made him more interesting. It's one thing to indulge in cheap talk about slaying sacred cows; it's quite another to wield the bolt-gun. Lou didn't think twice about this shit. And as for the prophet Muhammad, <em>piss be upon him</em>.)       </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">So, Lou did that stuff. But I think it's a safe bet that L.A. Rollins will be best remembered as the author of two books, both of which were originally published by Loompanics Unlimited (where Lou worked as a copyeditor) in the 1980s.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">The first of these, which would probably be better described as a tract or monograph, was <em>The Myth of Natural Rights</em>. Still notorious in certain circles, <em>The Myth</em> was a sharply honed attack on the moral and political concept of "natural law," especially targeting such rebranded iterations of the concept that figured in the writings of libertarian luminaries like Tibor Machan, Ayn Rand, and Murray Rothbard. It's an underground classic.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Rollins' second book, <em>Lucifer's Lexicon</em>, took up the project of the Ambrose Bierce's <em>Devil's Dictionary</em> (albeit in a less universal key) to showcase Lou's satirical nous, aphoristic flair, and so much wicked wordplay. It was in <em>Lucifer's Lexicon</em> that Lou memorably defined "Libertarian Movement" as "A herd of individualists stampeding toward liberty." That's the one people seem to remember, but there were other good'ns. Here's a ripened batch, plucked more or less at random from Allah's stinky butthole:   </span></p>
<blockquote>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Americanist, n.</strong> One who knows that America is the freest country on earth, but has no idea which is the second freest. One who loves the Liberty Bell, and resembles it as well.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Anti-Semite, n.</strong> 1. One who hates Jews. 2. One who is hated by Jews.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Belief, n.</strong> A fig leaf used to cover up one’s ignorance.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Cynicism, n.</strong> The sin of doubting the sincerity of hypocrites.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Doubt, n.</strong> The philosophical device Descartes so cleverly used to prove everything he previously believed.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Egoism, n.</strong> The only “ism” for me.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Fountainhead, n.</strong> The very best kind of head, the kind that Ayn Rand used to give to Nathaniel Branden.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>God-fearing, adj.</strong> Afraid of nothing.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Happiness, n.</strong> A wild goose (disguised as a bluebird) which everyone has an inalienable right to chase.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Iconoclast, n.</strong> An axiom murderer.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Klansperson, n.</strong> A racist who is not a sexist.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Libertarian, n.</strong> One who believes in liberty, just like a Christian believes in Christ.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Lynching, n.</strong> An application of participatory democracy to the judicial process.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Marijuana, n.</strong> The hemp plant, whose leaves and flowering tops are exhilarating when smoked or ingested but which can cause a deterioration of mental functioning and a tendency toward paranoia in chronic non-users.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Nihilist, n.</strong> One who believes nothing is sacred, and venerates it.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Objectivist, n.</strong> A person of unborrowed vision, who never places any consideration above his own perception of reality, who never does violence to his own rational judgment, and who, as a result, agrees completely with Ayn Rand about everything.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Pedophile, n.</strong> One who loves children, as so many parents do.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Philosopher, n.</strong> One who grasps at the essences of straws. One who loves wisdom, not wisely, but too well.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Quaker, n.</strong> One who follows the lunar light into outer darkness.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Religion, n.</strong> A cult with clout.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Skeptic, n.</strong> One who doubts what he does not want to believe and believes what he does not want to doubt.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Time, n.</strong> Our mortal enemy. We’ve got to kill time, before time kills us.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Unanimity, n.</strong> Completely concealed disagreement.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Vain, n.</strong> A foreign domain in which many a soldier has died.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>White Supremacist, n.</strong> An inferior white man.  </span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Xmas, n.</strong> A day celebrating the birth of our Savior, Malcolm X</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Yahweh, n.</strong> Not my way.</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">And my personal favorite:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>Zygote, n.</strong> A human being, just like you and me. Hath not a zygote eyes? Hath not a zygote hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? If you prick them, do they not bleed? If you tickle them, do they not laugh? And if you wrong them, shall they not revenge?  </span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">That last one wasn't in the Loompanics edition; it first appeared in <em>The Myth of Natural Rights and Other Essays</em> -- the revised and edited collection of Lou's writing that Nine-Banded Books put out way back in 2008. I'm responsible for that one -- for the book, that is. I regret that I didn't do a better job of it. The layout is amateurish, and there are some ugly typos. Too bad Lou won't be around to see the next shiny thing.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Anyway:</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><strong><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/myth-final-cover-Acme.2.pdf" target="_blank" title="The Myth of Natural Rights and Other Essays - Cover">Here is the cover of the 2008 9BB edition of <em>The Myth of Natural Rights and Other Essays</em>.</a> </span></strong></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">And:</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong><a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/TheMythofNaturalRights-Acme-1.pdf" target="_blank" title="The Myth of Natural Rights and Other Essays - Book">Here is the whole damn book.</a></strong>  </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Make the most of it.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I'm not sure what else to say. The last time I spoke with Lou was over a year ago. He was going on about Jesse Walker's book <em>The United States of Paranoia. </em>He liked it. He knew the history. He told me, not for the first time, that I should read something by James Branch Cabell. I made a note. He pointed out a couple of typos in Ann Sterzinger's novel <em>NVSQVAM</em>. I made another note. I encouraged him, not for the first time, to get a fucking Internet connection. He said the world had passed him by.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">A few days later Lou left me a drunken voicemail in the middle of the night. He was belting out the chorus to "Eddie's Teddy" from the <em>Rocky Horror Picture Show</em>. Key of Dr. Scott. Dead on, actually. It made me laugh. I never called him back.  </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Lou Rollins was a smart guy. He was a true iconoclast. He was a wit, a jokester, a drunk, a writer, a friend. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH_PANCU9oQ" target="_self"><em>Memento mori.</em></a> </span></p>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2015/04/it-follows.html">It Follows</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I'm not going to review or analyze David Roger Mitchell's innovative horror film <em>It Follows</em>. I thought it was very good. You keep thinking about it after the last frame. Even the flaws are interesting. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I do want to remark on the central motif. And to be clear, I'm <em>not</em> referring to the sexual contagion premise, which I take, for the most part, to be an intentionally distracting plot device that's economically drawn from genre vocabulary. No, I'm referring to the horrific motif where one is being stalked by a lumbering unseen malefic identity-shifting human-in-appearance entity. It sounds like something that's "been done" when I describe it that way, but no, it really hasn't. Not like this.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I found this to be authentically creepy specifically because it recalls with laser precision the content of a recurring nightmare that I have had since I was very young. I watch a lot of films (and I've seen tons of horror movies) but I have seldom seen something from my intimate dream life depicted with such weird tonal exactitude (an exception is the "Winky's Diner" sequence in David Lynch's <em>Mulholland Drive,</em> which I have <a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2013/08/counter-currents-interview.html" target="_blank">elsewhere cited</a> as an unexpected example of palpable Lovecraftian horror).</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Being curious about some of the literary and cultural references in the film, I did some Googling and soon came upon an informative <a href="http://lynncinnamon.com/2015/03/it-follows-exists-out-of-time-in-a-dream-of-anxiety/" target="_blank">article</a> that calls out a quote by David Roger Mitchell from a <em>Newsweek</em> interview. Here's an excerpt from the first article, where the quote is framed: </span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">“The basic idea of being followed by something that is slow but never stops is from <strong>a nightmare I had when I was a kid</strong>,” writer-director David Robert Mitchell told <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/unrelenting-pursuer-horror-film-it-follows-301761" target="_blank"><em>Newsweek</em></a>. “<strong>I would see someone in the distance, and they would just be walking very slowly towards me, and I would turn to the people around me and point them out, and they wouldn’t know what I was talking about. I immediately knew that this was a monster, something that was going to hurt me</strong>. And I would run away from it and wait, and then eventually it would come around the corner. <strong>I could always get away from it, but what was horrible about it was that it just never stopped</strong>. <strong>It was always coming for me</strong>.”</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">So it's not just me then. Seriously, that's my recurring dream in its <em>exact form</em>. It still visits me now and then, and I still sometimes wake in a bolt of ridiculous terror. Is this more common than I imagined?</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Like I said, no analysis. I know this one is going to be discussed to death. I'm sure there are haters, and I'm just as sure that favored interpretations are going to get predictably stuck on the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andy-hoglund-/references-in-it-follows-set-the-tone_b_6933810.html?" target="_blank">wrong stuff</a>. I have my own tunneled notion of what <em>It Follows</em> is "saying," but while others go on about it being a wink-wise genre throwback, I wanted to record my strong impression that the scary core of the film is as thrillingly original as it is eerily familiar. That's all.</span></p>
<p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CfBycWgePg" target="_blank"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><em>Memento mori.</em></span></a></p>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2015/02/a-reply-by-david-cole.html">"Unicornville and the Holocaust Deniers" (A Reply by David Cole)</a></h3>
		



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				<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Remember a few weeks ago when I posted a <a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2015/01/my-review-of-david-coles-republican-party-animal.html" target="_blank">reprint of my review</a> of David Cole's <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Republican-Party-Animal-Hollywoods-Underground/dp/1936239914" target="_self"><em>Republican Party Animal</em></a> -- the review that <a href="http://inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2014/volume_6/number_3/republican_party_animal.php" target="_blank">originally ran in <em>Inconvenient History</em></a>? Remember where, in my introductory remarks, I expressed mild surprise that David had not acknowledged the review? That was rather self-important of me, wasn't it? Yes, it was. </span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Well, no matter. Not long after the post went up I received a note from David. He explained that he had been set back by personal matters over the past year and that he was only beginning to regain his footing. He offered to submit a response if I wanted to run it. I said sure, that I'd be happy to post such a response. I assured him I would run it in long form, right here on The Hoover Hog where it's all but guaranteed to go unnoticed. </span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">So I received David's submission a few days later. It's a real humdinger. Reading it through, I was reminded that David is a very smart guy, and a pretty damn entertaining writer. I was also reminded that he's the kind of guy for whom open debate is a full-contact sport. That's not how I prefer to play, but I set up the pieces and I won't complain.</span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">As attentive readers would expect, David's rebuttal banks off of the substantive points of criticism that I raised by reference to a small section from Samuel Crowell's <a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/the-gas-chamber-of-sherlock-holmes/" target="_blank"><em>The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes and Other Writings on the Holocaust, Revisionism, and Historical Understanding</em></a> (the Nine-Banded Books edition, which you can download for free <a href="http://www.samuelcrowell.com/?page_id=7" target="_blank">HERE</a>). While David has kind words for <em>me</em>, he's pretty rough on my friend Crowell. I suppose that's the way it goes with these things. Sticks and stones. It can only be useful, in any case, to have some criticism of Crowell's work on file since his book has received little attention -- critical or otherwise -- to date. <br /></span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Am I going to reply to David? And what about Samuel Crowell? Is the elusive "negationist" (as Robert Robert Jan van Pelt dubbed him) going to fire off his own contrapuntal missive in rejoinder to David's rebuttal of my summary of Crowell's relevant argument in my review of David's book? </span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Speaking for myself, I think I will have a few things to say at some point. But not now. For one thing, it would be bad form. But I'm also very busy with other stuff, far removed from Holocaust history. I will say that I think David raises some interesting points. I think he is wrong to characterize Crowell as a "denier," but it's also clear that he's casting a wider net so ... whatever. I don't think he has stolen the show from those (including me and my pal) who, unicorns notwithstanding, continue to regard that remaining third of the extermination narrative with qualified skepticism.</span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">As for Crowell, I gave him a heads-up. He said he may respond eventually, but he's dealing with personal matters of his own right now. He is also focused, as much as time permits, on finishing his next book, <em>William Fortyhands: Disintegration and Reinvention of the Shakespeare Canon</em>, which Nine-Banded books will proudly publish, hopefully later this year.      </span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Oh, my. I've gone on far too long, haven't I? Yes, I have. This was supposed to be a one paragraph introduction to the invited remarks of an honored guest. I'm a bad host. I'll shut up.</span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 15pt;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Here's David:      </span> <br /></span></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 24pt;"><strong>______________________</strong></span></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"> </p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 18pt;"><strong>Unicornville and the Holocaust Deniers</strong></span></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span style="font-size: 15pt;">By David Cole</span></strong></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I was sadly remiss last year in not responding to Chip Smith’s excellent review of my book, which appeared on Inconvenient History. I’ve known Chip (through correspondences) for nearly twenty years, and he put a great deal of work into analyzing my book. What resulted was a very thoughtful, literate, and detailed review. I should have publicly expressed my gratitude, and responded to the section in which he examined my Holocaust conclusions, but the time constraints due to personal matters that plagued the entirety of my 2014 made that a daunting task. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Chip’s a good guy, and I want to express my gratitude for the time he put into writing that review. It was a genuinely good piece of work; I’m grateful. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In his review, Chip recommended that I take a look at a new (as in, added for the Nine-Banded Books edition) section in Samuel Crowell’s <em>The Gas Chambers of Sherlock Holmes</em>: <br /></span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">For what it’s worth, the relevant discussion is framed in the seldom-read fourth part of Crowell’s book, “The Holocaust in Retrospect,” where – I’m trying to save everyone time here – the most succinct statement of an “alternate explanation” (though Crowell would probably call it an “interpretation”) is advanced in the fifth section, “Aktion Reinhardt and the Legacy of Forced Labor,” beginning at page 339. Without wading too deep into the morass, Crowell offers a contextual reading of several key documents to support the revisionist position that “Aktion Reinhardt was about wealth seizure and SS control of Polish Jews, chiefly for labor purposes: It was not about mass murder.” <br /></span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I devoted thousands of words last year to explaining my position regarding the “Reinhardt” camps. However, Chip is a gentleman, and, out of respect, I took a look at the section he pointed to (the rest of Crowell’s work I read a good long time ago). Please bear in mind that regardless of any criticisms I have of Crowell’s work, I’m glad that someone like Chip is there to publish those kinds of books. The world needs guys (especially publishers) with Chip’s dedication to free speech and open debate. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Having said that... <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I can sum up my problem with Crowell’s conclusions in one word: “Brazil.” <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Crowell presents section VII of a report that Globocnik prepared for Himmler (dated early January 1944): <br /></span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">VII. The office is considering giving to relocated persons a certificate of what they will have left behind in the way of houses, farms, livestock and belongings of which inventory may be made, without, however, making any commitment for an obligatory compensation thereof. The future will decide whether such compensation must ensue some day in Brazil or in the Far East. It is only necessary to give transferred persons the feeling that there will ensue, later on, an indemnity for possessions left behind. <br /></span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Crowell’s commentary? “The missing paragraph (section VII) supports the idea that the deportees are still living. On the other hand, since Globocnik’s report also includes some discussion of ethnic German and Polish population movements, one could argue that this paragraph pertains to them. However, the reference to future compensation in places like Brazil and the Far East presupposes emigration, and therefore I am fairly certain that Globocnik had in mind the future claims of plundered Polish Jews.” <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Crowell’s “fair certainty” that the reference to Brazil points to Polish Jews instead of ethnic Poles shows why his work is of such limited value. Crowell is not a historian. He’s a “Gas Chamber Guy.” “Gas Chamber Guys” are a unique breed of limited-purpose researchers who know nothing of the WWII era beyond a stretch of rebar and a sampling of mortar. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Gas Chamber Guys had their day. Thanks in no small part to me, we all know about windows and manholes and door locks and nonexistent blue stains. Great. But Gas Chamber Guys are worthless when it comes to examining aspects of the Holocaust in which there is no rebar to examine and no mortar for chemical analysis. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Back in the early ’90s, I was on the road to becoming a Gas Chamber Guy, and I decided against it. And now, like a former street gang member lecturing inner-city kids about the dangers of gang life, I’m here to tell Gas Chamber Guys that they’re on a one-way path to irrelevance. It’s a bad life, man. Leave the rebar and mortar behind and git yo’self an <em>education!</em> Be a real historian. Learn more about the big picture. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Because if Crowell had any knowledge of European history, he’d know that pre-war Poland had a policy of colonization in Brazil that consisted of sending ethnic Poles, primarily farmers, to create Polish “colonies.” It was seen as the only way a nation like Poland could get into the colonial racket (lacking the military might of, say, England). This was not a case of expelling unwanteds (i.e., the Nazis’ Madagascar plan for Jews). Just the opposite. The idea was to send Poland’s best and brightest to stake out land, much of which was purchased by Poland’s Maritime and Colonial League. So successful were these ventures, Brazil’s leaders began putting limits on Polish expansion, because they were perceptive enough to see Poland’s larger scheme. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">By 1938, Brazil was tied with the U.S. for having the largest number of Polish immigrant “settlers” outside Europe. To this day, Brazil ranks second to the U.S. with the largest number of people of Polish descent outside Europe. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">That Globocnik would mention Brazil in his cynical attempt to give “transferred persons the feeling” that one day, in the future, they’ll receive compensation for things like farms and livestock <em>specifically points to the fact</em> that he was referring to ethnic Polish farmers (who were being pushed out by ethnic Germans). To an ethnic Polish farmer in 1944, invoking Brazil would make sense regarding a future location where he might reclaim the livelihood and property the Nazis took. Crowell gets it <em>completely</em> backwards, because he doesn’t know <em>history.</em> He knows rebar like a sonofabitch. But history? Not so much. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Am I being hard on him? Sure, the same way I was hard on myself back in ’94, when I finally wrangled me a girlfriend who had an all-encompassing love of history, and I found myself sputtering to answer certain questions beyond door locks, windows, and <em>fucking</em> rebar. I stopped doing talk shows and lectures, and started spending a lot more time in archives. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Crowell’s inability to understand the meaning of the Brazil reference aside, there are other equally important things he misses about that Globocnik report. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In the “Brazil” section of the report, Globocnik is <em>not</em> speaking about Jews. Elsewhere in the report, when Globocnik <em>does</em> speak about Jews, <em>he says so.</em> However, in section VII he is referring to “fremdvölkischen,” a neat little term the Nazis used to refer to native people who were now classified as “foreign” in their own lands (an important semantic step ahead of the process of Germanization and colonization). <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Even Graf, Mattogno, and Kues admit that the Globocnik report demonstrates the fact that “the resettlement entrusted to Globocnik was not limited to Jews, but comprised Poles and Ukrainians as well” (<em>Sobibor,</em> page 250). <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Alright, enough about that. Next point? Crowell interprets the Korherr Report in a way that defies all logic:</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;"> </span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The motive for the report: Himmler wished to present a short report to the Führer showing how the Government General of Poland was now free of Jews; that is the clear import from a comparison of the short report and the longer one. In the same manner, the number of Polish Jews remaining, about 300,000, corresponds precisely to the benchmark that Himmler indicated in July 1942 that he wanted to achieve by the end of the year. In other words, there was a powerful incentive for the numbers in this report to be cooked. <br /></span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In other words, the figures of “evacuees” are high and remaining Jews low because Himmler wanted to “cook the books” to look good to Hitler. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">That’s just asinine. The first version of the report, the lengthy, detailed one, was for Himmler’s eyes only. Upon receiving it, he specifically forbade it being distributed further. So, according to Crowell, Himmler told Korherr to phony up a report so that Himmler could read the phony report and then sit on it and show no one. That’s just loony. That’s as bad as the deniers who try to get around fully authenticated and very uncomfortable passages in Goebbels’ diary by claiming that Goebbels was lying to himself in his own diary. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">There was an episode of Popeye, back in the Fleischer days, in which he encounters a lookalike. In a quest to see which “Popeye” gets to eat the hamburgers Olive Oyl has prepared, the fake Popeye tricks the real one with confusing wordplay, prompting the real Popeye to exclaim, “Oooh, I fooled me!” <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">This has now become a standard denier device. Whenever someone in the know like Himmler or Goebbels writes something privately or secretly that goes against denier orthodoxy, the standard response is to exclaim “he fooled himself.” Sad. Stupid. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In fact, Himmler requested the Korherr Report for the exact reason Korherr stated in the letter in which he acknowledged having been instructed to prepare a <em>short condensation</em> of the main report for Hitler. The goal was to report “which Jews are working for the war effort, which are in concentration camps, which are in the Ghetto for the Elderly and which are partners in privileged mixed marriages, so that the remainder are thereby available for immediate evacuation.” (Korherr to Brandt, 4/19/1943) <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Clear enough? You want chemtrail skywriting to spell it out for you? The report had a goal. There it is. And, as is painfully obvious from that tell-tale sentence, the “evacuees” were not classified as Jews in camps or Jews working for the war effort or Jews in Theresienstadt or Jews with exemptions. As Korherr states in the long version of his report, they are classified as “departed.” The point of the report was to determine how many Jews <em>not</em> involved in labor and <em>not</em> exempted by age or marital status could be “immediately evacuated.” <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Korherr is blunt in the aforementioned Brandt letter that it’s very difficult to get exact figures. If Crowell’s ambitious bit of nonsense about Korherr cooking the books at Himmler’s insistence is true, why show any concern over the difficulty of being exact, if the numbers are just BS anyway? <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Common sense 1, Crowell 0. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Crowell’s other attempt to cast doubt on the Korherr Report involves the apparent fact that Franke-Gricksch found more Jews in Lublin than Korherr’s “estimated” figure of 20,000. Crowell needs to learn to read things a bit more carefully. Korherr quite clearly states that regarding his Lublin figures, “Not included are the Jews accommodated in the concentration camps Auschwitz and Lublin within the scope of the evacuation action.” <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In other words, the fact that there were more Jews in Lublin than enumerated in the report is quite clearly stated <em>in</em> the report. That Franke-Gricksch found more Jews than Korherr “estimated” only proves the accuracy of the report and the honesty of its author. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">By the way, the meaning of “Jews accommodated in the concentration camps Auschwitz and Lublin within the scope of the evacuation action” is an interesting topic for debate. Way more interesting than Crowell’s desperate nonsense about Himmler asking Korherr to cook the books so that Himmler could fool Himmler with cooked figures requested by Himmler for a report that only Himmler would see. I mean, that’s just nutty. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Korherr’s figure of “evacuees,” of “departed” Jews that are not accounted for in ghettoes, camps, work enterprises, or emigration, might be off by tens of thousands. But with a figure of almost 2.5 million human beings, take away even a few <em>hundred</em> thousand and you still have a <em>massive</em> number of people to be accounted for. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">And deniers can’t account for them. They have no alternate theory to debate. I have made this point again and again. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">So you know what? I’ll just turn Bradley Smith’s own language around on you guys. Bradley’s demand, repeated endlessly over the decades: “Where’s the budget? Where’s the budget for the Holocaust?” <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">If you think that the “evacuees” were sent someplace to be resettled, to be kept alive, to be fed, clothed, and housed for three years until the end of the war, where’s the budget for <em>that? </em>“Where’s the budget” is no longer lookin’ like a great talking point, is it, Smith? I mean, if you take nearly 2.5 million people on a one-way trip to being killed, the “budget” won’t necessarily have to be so big. I mean, you won’t have to take into account lodging, food, clothes, medical treatment, etc. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">But caring for 2.5 million people for three years? Uh, dudes, there’ll have to be a pretty large fucking budget for that. And whereas it’s plausible to say that the mass murders during the Reinhardt period were paid for “off the books” because it was an operation so secret that Goebbels in his own diary stated that it should not be spoken of in detail, if the “evacuees” were treated with kindness and compassion, why hide <em>that</em> budget? <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I guess I’m just sayin’, if you expect to see a “budget” for a secret and short-term murder program, why don’t you expect to see a budget for the long-term care and feeding of almost 2.5 million “evacuated” Jews? It’s insane to expect a budget for one and not the other. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">So where’s the budget, <em>man?</em> Think of the expenses...food shipped to the “relocation town,” or “resettlement village,” or call it what you will (since it’s fictional anyway, I might as well call it “Unicornville”). Clothes, housing, medical supplies, sanitary facilities, running water, etc. Funny, but there are documents concerning the feeding and medical care of concentration camp inmates, and documents concerning the care and feeding of the Hungarian Jews sent to Auschwitz in ’44. But no documents, not one, concerning almost 2.5 million “evacuees” sent to Unicornville in 1942? <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Not one? So the Nazis meticulously kept records of food (literally down to calculating calories, and literally down to Himmler suggesting meals for Hungarian Jewish women) and medical care for the camp inmates, but no documents covering the same concerns for Unicornville and its millions of residents? <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Where are records of the shipment of supplies to Unicornville? Where are the records of the deployment of guards? Internal memos and coded transmissions about security concerns or black market trading (which we have for the camps, the General Government ghettoes, and the Ostland ghettoes)? <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">See, wherever Jews were kept alive, the Nazis kept records. Wherever Jews were kept alive, things like food, medicine, guards, security concerns, and black marketeering concerns were recorded. And no single camp would have had the enormous population of Unicornville. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Yet not a single document for Unicornville exists. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Shit, it seems to me there’s not one bit of evidence that Unicornville ever existed. Whereas, as I’ve painstakingly pointed out before, there’s plenty of evidence from contemporaneous documents that death was the ultimate destination of the majority of Reinhardt “evacuees.” <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I am no longer going to debate the existence of Unicornville. It’s not up to me to prove it doesn’t exist; it’s up to the deniers to show evidence that it did. And if your point is, “Dave, don’t be silly. There wasn’t one resettlement reservation, there were probably several of them,” then show me proof of at least <em>one</em> Unicornville. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Just one. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">And thus endeth my lecture. So remember, kids, all you young punks who wanna be Gas Chamber Guys because you think it’ll earn you respect, <em>esé,</em> because you think it’s cool, <em>pachuco,</em> it ain’t, man. Cuz I was there, and I’ma tellin’ you, it’s a nowhere road. Stay in school, learn to read, respect your moms and your elders, and don’t try to kidnap Elie Wiesel. Peace out!</span></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 20pt;"><strong>*     *     *</strong></span></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span style="font-size: 14pt;">David Cole is the author of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Republican-Party-Animal-Hollywoods-Underground/dp/1936239914" target="_blank"><em>Republican Party Animal: The "Bad Boy of Holocaust History" Blows the Lid Off Hollywood's Secret Right-Wing Underground</em></a>. He is also a <a href="http://takimag.com/contributor/davidcole/328#axzz3ROIGKEzU" target="_blank">semi-regular columnis</a>t at <a href="http://takimag.com/#axzz3ROIGKEzU" target="_blank"><em>Taki's Magazine</em></a>. His archived writings may be perused at his website, <a href="http://www.countercontempt.com/" target="_blank">countercontempt.com</a>. </span></strong></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 20pt;"><strong><strong>______________________</strong>  </strong></span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzKkgg8Aw_0" target="_blank"><em><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Memento mori.</span></em></a></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">OR:</span></p>
<p style="text-align: left;"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYi7uEvEEmk" target="_blank"><em><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Memento mori.</span></em></a></p>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2015/02/advice-for-the-living.html">Advice for the Living</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I remember an old episode of the Dr. Ruth radio show where she read a letter from a man in his 50s who as still a virgin. The guy seemed distressed. He seemed desperate. Or that was the impression I got from her reading of his letter. Dr. Ruth's advice was to be patient, wait for the right woman, be yourself. She assured him that his perfect someone was out there and the magic day would come. It would be special, she said, and worth the wait. Her tone was friendly and encouraging and oozing with professional condescension, like she was consoling a coworker who had been passed over for a promotion. Hang in there. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">No, I thought. Wrong. Very bad advice. Clearly, what this man needed was a whore. "My good man," I would have said, "you missed the gun. Now your virginity has become a guarded habit. Since you haven't made peace with your fate, the only way to break this habit is to pay for sex. If you are religious, know that your god will forgive you. If you fear the law, get your ass to Nevada. If you fear disease, remember there are cures at little cost. If you feel shame, get the fuck over it. Don't jerk off. Watch some porn. Let it build. Then go to the yellow pages and make the appointment. It's like ordering pizza. When she shows up, you can tell her your wife died and that you are lonely. Or you can tell her the truth. It won't matter. You don't want to die without fucking someone, do you?" </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">That was at least thirty years ago. I figure the guy's dead by now. I bet he died without ever getting his dick wet. A lot of men do. It's better never to have been, but if you're not so lucky, you should get laid while you're here.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">When Dr. Ruth would get calls about anal sex, her advice was always the same. Lots of lube. Go slow. Vagina then butt and never vice versa. Respect your partner. Discuss everything in advance. Condoms. All bad advice.</span></p>
<p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LH9tjCfyF64" target="_blank"><em><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Memento mori.</span></em></a></p>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2015/01/my-review-of-david-coles-republican-party-animal.html">My Review of David Cole's Republican Party Animal</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">A few months back I wrote a long <a href="http://inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2014/volume_6/number_3/republican_party_animal.php" target="_blank">review</a> of David Cole's book <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Republican-Party-Animal-Hollywoods-Underground/dp/1936239914" target="_blank"><em>Republican Party Animal</em></a> for Richard Widmann's revisionist web journal <a href="http://inconvenienthistory.com/index.php" target="_self"><em>Inconvenient History</em></a>. While I work on something else, I thought I would post a slightly link-notated version of the review here, prefaced with a few remarks.<br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">At the time, I half-expected that David might respond, but he never did -- at least not directly (he has written extensively in defense of his interpretation of the "Reinhardt" camps [Cole's scare quotes, not mine] on his <a href="http://www.countercontempt.com/" target="_blank">blog</a>, most notably <a href="https://www.facebook.com/adam.parfrey/posts/10154399731275224" target="_self">here</a>, <a href="http://www.countercontempt.com/archives/5335" target="_blank">here </a>and <a href="http://www.countercontempt.com/archives/5348" target="_blank">here</a>), though without addressing the documentary issues that, by reference to <a href="http://www.samuelcrowell.com/" target="_blank">Samuel Crowell's work</a>, I raised in my review. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I should emphasize that I don't read anything into Cole's lack of a response. Nor, for the record, do I read much into Cole's subsequent performance pieces where, for one thing, he <a href="http://www.countercontempt.com/archives/5363" target="_blank">turns mean</a> on my pal Bradley Smith. I find such animosity, if that's even what it is, to be  petty and unfortunate and frankly difficult to take seriously. I might as well make it clear that I also don't think Michael Shermer -- who Cole justifiably criticizes -- is a rapist.  </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The only civil <a href="http://revblog.codoh.com/2014/09/hoffman-on-republican-party-animal-review/" target="_blank">response</a> to my review came from the brilliantly paranoid conspiracy theorist, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Hoffman/e/B004RK01W6/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1" target="_blank">Michael Hoffman</a>, whose substantive criticisms I will now acknowledge and briefly address.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Here's what Hoffman wrote:</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">I managed to find the time to read the well-written and generally fair-minded <a href="http://inconvenienthistory.com/archive/2014/volume_6/number_3/republican_party_animal.php">review of David Cole’s autobiography</a>. I realize you do not publish letters to the editor, but a few corrections are in order.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">While it is true that many revisionists do not engage in on site forensic investigation, the pioneer in that field is Ditlieb Felderer, who visited Auschwitz-Birkenau some 27 times in the 1970s, expertly documenting the facility in approximately 30,000 color photographs. The fact that this achievement is unknown or forgotten is troubling (most of Felderer’s priceless collection was, I am told, destroyed in the arson which razed Ernst Zündel’s home in Toronto in 1995. My video of a sideshow presentation Ditlieb gave in Ithaca, NY in the mid 1980s – “Tour of Auschwitz Fakes” – offers several dozen for viewing).</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Moreover, it is news to me that Mr Cole inherited ADL double-agent David McCalden’s “files.” If David Cole read “everything,” then, unless the files had been sanitized by a 3rd party before conveying them to Cole, Mr Cole should have come across evidence of McCalden’s double-dealing (for the record, Mr. McCalden was not an Irish nationalist, he was a Scotch-Irish, Ulster “Orangemen,” very much opposed to the IRA and other armed manifestations of Irish nationalism).</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Cole demonstrates affection for Ernst Zündel as a likable nincompoop. Such an opinion overlooks or discounts this writer’s book-length account (<em>The Great Holocaust Trial</em>), of the highly organized and brilliantly orchestrated first Zündel trial in Toronto in 1985, where Canada’s national media, with whom I shared the press gallery, were shocked and disoriented by the defense which Ernst, Doug Christie and Robert Faurisson were able to mount; including having, for the first time in recorded history, the testimony of “infallible” Survivors and august “Holocaust” historian Raul Hilberg publicly shredded in a court of law. Mr. Zündel documented his trials via video recordings of news coverage and daily de-briefings by defense attorney Christie in the basement of Zündelhaus. Some of this this can be glimpsed in my film, also titled “The Great Holocaust Trial.”</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Ernst’s second trial, the huge transcript of which has been preserved and published by Barbara Kulaszka, documents the breadth and depth of his defense, which left virtually no stone unturned in doing justice to the revisionist cause and the defense of the German people.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Mr. Cole is a revisionist for the Millennial generation. His book will likely serve to reach new people who would otherwise be oblivious to the “other (revisionist”) side” of the chronicle of the Second World War. Nonetheless, I am old-fashioned enough to be distressed by the casual and sloppy manner in which Mr. Cole demeans men like Ernst Zündel and Prof. Faurisson, the latter having been the first revisionist to have been recognized by a head of state for his enormous scholarly achievement and who, even as an octogenarian, continues to inspire the radical avant- grade in France to high profile defiance and satire of the sacred relics that are at the heart of the religion of Holocaustianity.</span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 12pt;">Mr Cole will be a more effective writer and educator when he learns to moderate his frenzies and refrain from dalliances with the fringes of false witness. A bit more humility might have prevented him from misrepresenting, indeed even smearing, revisionists who have never recanted in the face of beatings, bombings and imprisonments which far surpass anything the Republican Party Animal has endured.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Fair enough, then. I think my take on Cole's semi-important book can stand without much correction, inasmuch as I was making generalizations to convey the author's often colorful and gossipy post-revisionist revisionist perspective. If I were given a do-over, I suppose I would make note of Hoffman's point about Ditlieb Felderer's early work (in my defense, I did note that there were "exceptions" to Cole's distinction as a pioneering field researcher, but the fact that Felderer's stuff was destroyed in an arson attack is important enough to have mentioned, even if the guy seems to have since gone <a href="http://ditlieb-radio.com/" target="_blank">completely fucking batshit insane</a>).  </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Hoffman also correctly points out that IHR founder David McCalden was a Scotch-Irish "Orangemen" (rather than an Irish nationalist as Cole writes). So noted. I'm not in a position to evaluate Hoffman's claim that McCadlden was acting as a "double agent" for the ADL. Could be there's something to it, but suspicions of internicine double-dealing among revisioinists don't really interest me. I figure the rabbit hole is deep and gnarly and exhausting enough without introducing further layers of subcultural cloak & dagger intrigue.  <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I might also have found space to better emphasize Cole's substantive discussion of the Zündel trials, where he does a pretty good job of making the very points that Hoffman makes in his reply to my review. It's true that Hoffman's <a href="https://www.amazon.com/The-Great-Holocaust-Trial-Landmark/dp/0970378467" target="_blank">book</a> on the subject remains important as a matter of record. But on the same front, I think Cole's book is also important -- and more likely to be noticed. <br /><br />Cole's row with Robert Faurisson is more inside drama that doesn't much interest me. It's tooth-gnashingly personal and traces to specific events and marginally public contretemps, with, I think it's fair to say, ill-will on all sides. I happen to think Faurisson is a prone to rhetorical overreach and that revisionists are poorly advised to place him on a pedestal, but whatever. Again, I was mainly trying to convey Cole's somewhat jaundiced point of view. Faurisson has run the gauntlet over his long and strange career, and his position in the broader scheme of revisionist literature is, for better or worse, assured.  <br /><br />Concerning Hoffman's final point, I'm certainly not in a position to criticize Cole's decision to "recant." That decision was made decades ago, under credible and genuinely scary pressure. Having never been on the receiving end of a JDL-sanctioned death threat, I'm all about empathy here. I will say that for all his subsequent baiting and bluster, David Cole has remained steadfast in defending and acknowledging the sacrifices of revisionists who have been censored, prosecuted, and persecuted for expressing their historically and politically incorrect views. It's a travesty, not a contest.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Anyway, my original review, with a thin smattering of links added, is posted below.                <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">____________</span></p>
<p> </p>
<h3><strong><span style="font-size: 18pt;">Republican Party Animal</span></strong></h3>
<p><strong> <span style="font-size: 15pt;">by David Cole, Feral House, Port Townsend, WA, 2014, 319 pp. </span></strong></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><em>Republican Party Animal</em> is a layered chronicle of David Cole’s short but storied public career as a “Jewish Holocaust denier” and of his equally unlikely “second life” as David Stein, when he would come to play an influential role as an event organizer and Op-Ed dynamo among the guarded ranks of Hollywood conservatives before having his heretical past exposed by a vindictive ex-girlfriend. The dual biographical narratives converge in a morally conflicted tale of downfall and personal reinvention, of intersecting identities and of consequences wrought in the whirlwind momentum of a life less ordinary.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Cole’s telling is breezy, surefooted, and entertaining throughout; he gives the impression of a natural raconteur, punctuating his episodic memoir with revealing anecdotes, ironic observations, and self-effacing humor, all while providing the kind of sympathetic yet critical discussion of Holocaust revisionism that, coming from a reputable imprint with wide distribution, is rare if not unprecedented.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">“I will most likely come off as an asshole in this book,” Cole announces at the outset. And while I suspect that will indeed be the conclusion of certain readers (<a href="http://www.countercontempt.com/archives/5232" target="_blank">including one well known magazine editor who has since threatened legal action</a>), it isn’t mine.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><strong>No Country for Jewish Revisionists</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Cole’s curious – and curiosity-driven – initiation into the intellectual quick (though never the dominant political culture) of Holocaust revisionism started off, as he tells it, “innocently enough,”  in the late 80s as a capricious detour during his youthful adventures train-hopping political movements for kicks and edification. Being intrigued by IHR co-founder <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_McCalden" target="_blank">David McCalden’s</a> category-defying ideological profile as “a militant atheist, an Irish nationalist, and a Holocaust revisionist,” Cole wrote to him asking for literature and information. When McCalden instead showed up at Cole’s doorstep in full-on confrontational mode (he thought Cole was “a ‘Jewish infiltrator’ trying to cozy up to him for nefarious purposes”), Cole assured him that he was sincere and there followed an apparent meeting of minds. Following this encounter, Cole read McCalden’s hand-picked literature and found it to be “[i]ncredibly amateur crap.” Yet he was left with questions. “The problem” he discerned, was that “mainstream historians would never address revisionist concerns, and the revisionists, for the most part, were sloppy and (mostly) ideologically motivated.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Preoccupied, Cole soon went to visit McCalden, only to receive the news that the guy had died of AIDS, leaving behind a massive collection of books and private correspondence that, by default, fell into Cole’s possession. Whatever inchoate doubts or questions Cole had entertained about the standard Holocaust historiography, it seems fair to surmise that his “identity” as a non-dogmatic Holocaust revisionist crystallized in the months-long binge of immersive reading that followed. I imagine it was with some nostalgia that Cole recalls his underground education:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I rented an apartment with two stories so that I could devote one entire floor just to the books. And I read every single one of them, making notes, bookmarking pages, and indulging in what would become, in less than a decade, the lost art of reading hard-copy books without a computer in sight.</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">By the early to mid-90s, Cole would be riding a wave of public notoriety as an intrepid, Hollywood-bred independent researcher and documentary filmmaker making the rounds on daytime TV talk shows professing informed skepticism about the received history of the Holocaust. In those days, which I remember too well, Cole could be seen alongside IHR spokesman <a href="http://www.ihr.org/other/weber_bio.html" target="_self">Mark Weber</a> on the <em>Montel Williams Show</em> (where, in an ironic twist recounted in <em>Republican Party Animal</em>, his appearance led to the reunion of two Holocaust survivors – brothers who had lost contact after the war, each assuming the worst about the other’s fate). He appeared with CODOH founder Bradley Smith and <em>Skeptic</em> editor Michael Shermer on a rather tense episode of  <em>Donahue</em>. He even went on the <em>Morton Downey Junior Show</em>, where he suffered the late host’s outrageous nicotine-expectorating spleen with pluck.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The first and most conspicuous thing that distinguished Cole from other Holocaust revisionists (as they were still referred to in those days, when the artifice of civility had yet to give way to the “denier” shibboleth), was, of course, the fact that he was, perhaps more than nominally, Jewish. Cole’s Jewish identity was at once a hook and a problem. On the one hand, his Jew-cred ingratiated him to many revisionists who understandably wanted, for the most part sincerely, to disassociate their work from the thick funk of anti-Semitism that surrounded it. On the other hand, the specter of a “Jewish Holocaust revisionist” rankled the guardians of orthodoxy for whom the public image of a Jewish gas chamber skeptic presented a dangerous rift in a carefully crafted Manichean narrative that had long served to marginalize and stigmatize – and across certain borders, criminalize – critical engagement with what I like to call “the other side of genocide.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">But it wasn’t all talk-show theater. Because the second, and ultimately more important, thing that set Cole apart from other revisionists was his knack for getting his hands dirty. He conducted – and documented – on-site investigations in the “Holiest of Holies” where the worst conveyor-belt atrocities were believed (“by all the best people” as Bradley would have it) to have gone down. Cole's groundbreaking guerilla Auschwitz documentary, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ItUTx9QQAo">David Cole Interviews Dr. Franciszek Piper</a> remains a case in point. Rather than simply lay contextualizing narration over the usual stock footage of marching brownshirts and bulldozed corpses, Cole did what other revisionists, a few notable exceptions notwithstanding, would not – and to be fair, could not – do; he visited ground-zero and critically examined the physical structure of what was then presented to tourists as a homicidal gas chamber in its “original state.” Cole put questions to the museum staff and even scored a groundbreaking interview with then-curator Dr. Franciszek Piper – who, at little prompting, admitted what revisionists alone had long contended – that the “gas chamber” displayed to tourists as the genuine article was in fact a postwar “reconstruction” (though of course, revisionists would more likely call it a “fake”). While other revisionists buried their noses in books (which is, of course, important), Cole took matters into his own hands. He was <a href="http://www.vho.org/GB/c/DC/gc46-ORIGI.html" target="_blank">inquisitive</a>. He was tenacious. He was clever. And just as important, he had the testicular brass – and the “Jew face” – to go where others feared to tread.       </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">To Phil Donahue, Cole was “the Antichrist” (seriously, Donahue called him that, to his face!). To professional “Skeptic” Michael Shermer, he was a “meta-ideologue,” or what we might now call a high-functioning troll, who reveled in the role of the contrarian, stirring up trouble “for the hell of it.” To revisionist king-of-the-mountain Robert Faurisson, he was a dangerous upstart, a loose cannon who couldn’t be trusted to toe the line.  To <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irv_Rubin" target="_blank">Irv Rubin</a> – crucially, the <em>late</em> Irv Rubin – David Cole was something worse.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Cole’s history with the man whom, from the other side of eternity, he describes as the “lovable and murderous head of the Jewish Defense League” began in a <a href="http://codohfounder.com/when-irv-rubin-met-david-cole/" target="_blank">violent altercation</a> when Rubin tried to shove Cole down a section of stairs at a 1991 UCLA speaking engagement. It ended, more or less, a few years later when a threat of mortal violence changed the course of Cole’s life. The pivotal turn – or plot point, since we’re in Hollywood – came in late 1997, when, for a variety of reasons, Cole had more or less absconded from his public dalliance with revisionism. That’s when, “[f]or reasons known only to him,” Rubin took to the nascent World Wide Web to place a $25,000 bounty on Cole’s head.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Evoking the lurid prose-style of a forgotten dime-store pulp novel, Rubin’s accompanying <a href="http://www.whale.to/b/david_cole.html" target="_blank">screed</a> described Cole as “a low-lying snake that slithers from dark place to dark place, [spreading] his venom to innocent victims.” And when Rubin fulminated that “an evil monster like this does not deserve to live on this earth,” it wasn’t mere bluster; it was an incitement. Rubin had long been suspected of (and has since been implicated in) a number of arson attacks and fire bombings directed against revisionists and revisionist organizations so there was every reason to believe that he – or more likely one of his psychotic JDL lackeys – might rise to the task. Like the leader of some torch-wielding mob in an old horror film, Rubin wanted to kill the monster, not metaphorically, but literally. And he offered cash money to anyone who would do the bloodwork or provide information to make it easier. “This world would be a happier place, indeed,” the avuncular zealot declared, “when all the Jew-baiters and Jew-haters have disappeared, especially the most vicious hater of them all, David Cole.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">But the event proved to be fateful rather than fatal. There’s been a good deal of hazy speculation over just what happened, with some people, myself included, speculating that Cole’s subsequent “recantation” (such a silly word to use in the 21st century) was ghostwritten by Rubin and signed under duress, and with others suspecting that Cole’s public declaration might have been, if not sincere, at least in line with what seemed to be his increasingly ambivalent stance toward revisionism. The truth as revealed in Cole’s book, is shaded grey.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In short, Cole took the threat seriously. He considered going to the police but rejected that option because of the unwanted publicity it would entail. In the end, he opted to simply call up his bête noir and offer up an unequivocal, notarized recantation in exchange for his life. He wrote it himself. It was bullshit, of course, but it also provided a way out. A clean break from the public existence he had entered with perhaps too much reckless disregard for what might follow.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In <em>Republican Party Animal</em> he is clear that “The recantation was Cole’s ‘death.’ ”</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I had already left revisionism, so I figured why not “kill” Cole, especially if it saves my actual hide. Once someone like Cole recants, there’s no going back. Your credibility is shot. If you try to recant your recantation, people will always wonder, “was he lying then, or is he lying now?” I agreed to the recantation not just to get the bounty removed, but to burn all Cole bridges. I knew that the revisionists who were already getting pissed at me in 1995 would truly hate me when they read what I gave Rubin. I wanted to “kill” Cole in a way that would make it impossible for me to go back.</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">But David Cole didn’t die, literally or figuratively. It might be more accurate to say that he receded, only to resurface as the script demanded. It remains an open question whether Cole’s ensuing life adventure resolves in measures of liberation and redemption or in desolation and ruin. Unlike a Hollywood script, life isn’t so tidy.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><strong>Toasting Team America</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">As the curtain closes on the first act, Cole finds himself in a funk, “limping back to square one.” When a fashion-mad actress-girlfriend leaves him spiraling in debt, he spends some time “pining and whining” before eventually moving on to some shady but apparently lucrative Internet business ventures where he cynically leverages his by-then-encyclopedic knowledge of Holocaust history to play “both sides” for what financial gain could be had. Having for practical reasons already adopted his new identity as “David Stein,” he invents other pseudonyms – “one to sell books and videos to Holocaust studies departments around the world, and one to sell books and videos to revisionists.” And the vultures, from both sides, take the bait.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Cole’s account of what might be considered his transitional phase is tinged with moral ambivalence and, ultimately, regret. “The truth is, I <em>can’t</em> defend it,” he writes at one point. “The only thing I can say is that after I was forced out of the field by the death threats of the JDL and the lies of people like Shermer [more on Michael Shermer later – CS], I had to emotionally divorce myself from the subject matter…. unlike my revisionist work, which I’ll still defend, and unlike my conservative work, which I’ll still defend, I can’t defend the period in between.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Following this episode, Cole soon walks into another bad relationship, adopts yet another name (“David Harvey,” if you’re keeping track), and pulls off another death-faking caper, this time to escape the physically abusive clutches of a woman he now refers to only as “the Beast.” Then he goes off the grid, ensconcing himself in the beach city environs of El Segundo, where he soon becomes restless. Teaming up with a fellow film editor referred to as “Fat Frank,” Cole eventually re-enters his old turf to do some shadow revisionist – or quasi-revisionist – work, shooting a still-unreleased <a href="http://www.countercontempt.com/archives/5463" target="_blank">interview with Mel Gibson’s dad</a> (!), making a short documentary about the persecution of Ernst Zündel and Germar Rudolf, and ghostwriting an important free-speech manifesto entitled “Historians Behind Bars.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In the course of “one thing leads to another,” Cole’s friendship with Fat Frank leads to a friendship with actor Larry Thomas, best known for his role as the “Soup Nazi” on <em>Seinfeld</em>, which leads to a relationship with a blonde vixen, which leads to a bout with erectile dysfunction, which leads, fatefully, to yet another bad bet romance, this time with a “six-foot-tall redhead with an amazingly big smile” named Rosie – the actress-model who would eventually play a key role in blowing David Stein’s cover. If <em>Republican Party Animal</em> were film noir, I guess Rosie would get billing as the femme fatale – except that by most accounts she was bad news from the start. One inescapable conclusion to be gleaned from <em>Republican Party Animal</em> is that David Cole has abominably bad judgment when it comes to the ladies.     </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">While Cole’s introduction to revisionism is clearly delineated in <em>Republican Party Animal</em>, it is somewhat less clear how he came to identify as a “South Park conservative.” He provides a hint that the Left’s shambolic response to the end of the Cold War in 1989 might have been a germinal factor, but it is almost in passing that he mentions, in a prelude to a discussion of his involvement (working with the legendary Budd Schulberg) in the restoration of Pare Lorentz’s 1946 documentary <em>Nuremberg</em>, that he had “over the years” somehow found time to pen a number of conservative (mostly anti-Islamist) op-eds for the <em>L.A. Times</em> under yet another “revolving series of pseudonyms.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The lack of a clear-cut conservative origin story is a point of minor frustration for me if only because during my brief correspondence with Cole in the mid-90s, I had come away with the impression that he identified as a liberal. Maybe it was his abortion rights activism, or maybe it was his outspoken atheism (which he now disavows, also without much explanation) that tripped me, but when the stories broke about <em>l’affaire</em> Cole-Stein, my first thought was: <em>David Cole is a Republican?</em> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">No matter, Cole seems sincere. “I don’t mind being defined by what I’m against,” he explains, “And I’m against the left.” More insightfully, he goes on to distinguish ideology from principle:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Principle is not the same as ideology. As an example, Islamism—the set of beliefs adhered to by Muslims who want to impose their worldview on others—is an ideology. But opposition to Islamism isn’t necessarily an ideology. It <em>can </em>be, but not by necessity. One can oppose banning women from voting or driving on principle. You can be right, left, moderate, or totally apolitical, and still, on principle, say “that’s a bad and oppressive idea.” The fact that I dismiss ideology and ideologues doesn’t mean I don’t have principles, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t care passionately about them. And, generally speaking, the right side of the spectrum, more often than not, reflects my principles.</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Fair enough, then. Cole is a conservative as a matter of principle, not as a matter of dogma. He’s more P.J. O’Rourke than Russ Kirk. More Hayek than Rand. I get it. I even sort of agree.  </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The same hands-on approach that had distinguished Cole’s career as a revisionist researcher would prove instrumental in guiding his meteoric rise in the demimonde of Hollywood conservatives – or “<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friends_of_Abe" target="_blank">Friends of Abe</a>” as he came to know them.  So successful was he in navigating this semi-secretive social network that after proving his mettle as a party organizer in various settings he would brand his own offshoot organization, the “Republican Party Animals,” hosting liquor-doused GOP fundraisers that were attended by outspoken and semi-closeted rightwing celebrities, pundits, and proles.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Cole took careful notes along the way and while I suppose his insider’s account of so many soirees and mixers will be chum for certain political junkies, I personally would have preferred more in the way of a sketch. As it stands, Cole’s reminiscences about this period of his life seem burdened by a surfeit of anecdote – too much detail at all turns, too much dwelling on interpersonal contretemps. But while I can’t shake the sense that a measure of time and distance would have advised finer editorial discretion, the truth is I have yet to read an autobiography that doesn’t suffer from this tendency. It may be that the occasional pangs of boredom I felt in reading Cole’s play-by-play can be chalked up to selective incuriosity. I felt the same way about Jim Goad’s <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Shit-Magnet-Miraculous-Ability-Absorb/dp/0922915776" target="_blank"><em>Shit Magnet</em></a>, and Goad is one of my favorite writers.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><strong>Telling All</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Feral House promotional copy pitches <em>Republican Party Animal</em> as a kind of inside-politics-inside-Hollywood tell-all. And indeed, there’s scuttlebutt on offer if that’s your fix.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">On the revisionist side of the aisle, we learn, or we are reminded, that David McCalden – the guy who played a formative role in introducing Cole to revisionist theory – was a sexual as well as intellectual outlaw who gave his wife AIDS (before dying of it himself) back when a viral load meant a one-way ticket to the morgue. We learn – or we are reminded – that Robert Faurisson, was sufficiently pinpricked by Cole’s ungovernable audacity that he huffed and puffed and spread rumors that Cole was a “World Jewish Congress infiltrator.” (Cole’s grave sin, incidentally, was to break with revisionist dogma by broadcasting his opinion that the <a href="http://forum.codoh.com/viewtopic.php?t=8670&p=66032" target="_blank">Natzweiler gas chamber</a> in France, unlike those on display at Auschwitz, Mauthausen, Dachau, etc., was the real deal, albeit a highly eccentric outlier in the scheme of the received mass-gassing narrative.)</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Aside from such morsels, however, Cole’s recollections about his exploits among the maligned revisionist milieu are mostly reflective, evenhanded, and often fond. He gives David Irving due credit as a once-formidable narrative historian with a narcissistic penchant for self-sabotage. He expresses warm regard for CODOH-founder Bradley Smith (“we don’t agree on everything, but he’s a lifelong friend”), and his thoughts on certain egregiously persecuted revisionists (or, in some instances, “deniers”; Cole insists upon the distinction) are presented with judicious attention to the underlying free-speech travesty that somehow still eludes many outspoken civil libertarians. Ernst Zündel (whom Cole describes as a “denier,” again if you’re keeping a ledger) is a good example. Cole appraises the repeatedly imprisoned German-Canadian pamphleteer as a harmless crank who “<em>really</em> loves Hitler,” yet he channels Voltaire in voicing unqualified support for a man who has spent a significant part of his adult life behind bars, often in solitary confinement, for what can only be described as thoughtcrime. “I never said anything in support of his views,” Cole writes, “but I supported his right to be free from prosecution for simply writing a book, and I still do. On that subject, I’d stand with him again today.” Cole is equally resolute in his defense of <a href="http://germarrudolf.com/" target="_blank">Germar Rudolf</a> (“revisionist”), a German chemist who was extradited from his legal residence in the United States to be locked up for years in a German cell, all for the “crime” of writing about blue stains on old concrete.        </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Turning to the celebrities and politicos on the other side of the aisle, Cole’s grievances are moderate and his gossip is less salacious than I would have expected. John Voight comes off as a harmless lush. Gary Sinese is a “mensch” with some unknown skeletons in his closet. D-listers Pat Boone and Victoria Jackson are unsurprisingly depicted as conspiracy-mongering loons. Clint Eastwood is aloof in a good way. Kelsey Grammer is aloof in a creepy way. David Horowitz is described as “a huge dick” who “reacts to a request to shake hands as most men would to a request to grab the penis of a rotting corpse.” There’s a blowjob story featuring Oliver Stone’s batshit crazy son. There’s a funny story about Michael Reagan’s war on gophers. And, yeah, it turns out that Cole’s deadbeat dad was “apparently” the doctor who served Elvis that fatal dose of Demerol. Gotta mention that.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">You might think that Cole’s harshest score-settling would come in for Rosie and the Lolita-chasing neocon-cum-Disney-scripting hack with whom she tag-teamed to out David Stein as a Holocaust denier … in which case you would have another think coming. Because the dirtiest dirt in <em>Republican Party Animal</em> is reserved not for the people who exposed Stein as Cole (nor for Irv Rubin, the man who tried to have Cole murdered), but for an accused rapist (as Cole never tires of emphasizing, for reasons more subtle than they first appear) who has for some time served as “the media’s go-to guy for the selective skepticism of hipsters who hang out in coffee shops in Silverlake.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Let’s warm up with a bit that made me laugh:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">After Shermer contacted me, we hung out a few times. The first time I was at his house, he asked me if I’d like any coffee. I drank coffee religiously in those days (my pre-alcohol days), so I said yes. And Shermer proceeded to re-heat a pot of coffee that was stone cold, presumably brewed that morning, hours ago.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">“Uh, can you maybe brew up some fresh?”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">“No need, it’s just as good reheated.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter as much as the big ones when you’re trying to gauge someone’s intelligence. Here was a supposed “scientist” with no concept of how fresh-brewed coffee gets worse when it gets cold.</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Cole goes on to describe <em>Skeptic</em> editor Michael Shermer as “one of the most dishonest human beings I have ever known,” and he has the goods – specifically transcripts of recorded phone conversations – to back up his spleen. It’s little surprise that Shermer unleashed his lawyers in an unsuccessful bid to prevent Cole’s book from being published. What’s more surprising is that the man still enjoys his inflated reputation after being so thoroughly exposed as a mendacious opportunist who repeatedly betrayed and libeled Cole and who has deceitfully misrepresented his – and other revisionists’ – work at every conceivable turn. I won’t go into detail about just what dirt Cole has against “Shermy,” but I will say that his prolonged and hyper-documented animadversion is worth the cover price.  </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">So there’s juice for those who come a-lookin’. Some of it may be petty, but some of it is well justified and even newsworthy. Still, I would politely insist that the “tell-all” aspect of <em>Republican Party Animal</em> ultimately amounts to a wink-sly bait-and-switch. Cole’s thematic gravamen, tucked between so much confessional digression and tittle-tattle, concerns the burden of conscience and a man’s abiding struggle to maintain a modicum of personal and intellectual integrity while inhabiting two worlds where cynicism and suspicion hold sway.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Cole’s story is thus laced with insight bearing on such threads of connective tissue that, moral equivalence be damned, unite revisionism with movement conservatism. When Cole dwelled in revisionist circles, he inveighed against Faurisson-branded “No holes, No Holocaust” rhetoric and pled for sanity against the seductive force of sundry conspiracy theories. When Cole dwelled in the world of conservative politics, he found himself in the same futile rut, taking pubic issue with Breitbart-branded trench warfare tactics and pleading for sanity against the seductive force of sundry conspiracy theories. “I’d rather gouge out my testicles,” Cole quips, “than accept the accolades of the lunatic fringe.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Whether you find the tone colorful or off-putting will be a matter of taste, but I think Cole is especially good on this front. One of my longstanding gripes with movement revisionism (I pay less attention to movement conservatism) is that it blends too easily with rank crackpottery. The revisionist affiliation with – and tacit affinity for – various threads of wildly conspiratorial speculation may be understandable when we consider that respected World War II scholars have largely been driven away by very real threats of prosecution and ruinous public censure, but in the atmosphere that prevails under a black cloud of taboo the loudest voices tend to be the looniest. It’s an insidious catch-22 that in turn makes it only too easy for consensus-mongering guys like Michael Shermer to paint the whole project in broad strokes as a manifestation of hate-fueled paranoia. Cole puts the matter more bluntly when he notes that “[c]leaning up flaws in the historical record after a major event like a world war is not the same as claiming that all 27,000 residents of Newtown decided to fake a mass shooting.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">While I may not share Cole’s explicitly “pro-Zionist” views, it is thus without qualification that I endorse his stridently expressed contention that:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The people who think that revising the history of the Holocaust will somehow topple Israel are idiots. Israel’s existence is <em>not </em>based on whether or not there were gas chambers at Auschwitz in 1944. If, tomorrow, Yad Vashem declared that Auschwitz had no killing program, it would not make one damn bit of difference. Israel would be fine, because Israel’s Muslim foes don’t give a good fuck about historical subtleties. No one in the Muslim world is studying forensic reports, thinking “if I can’t find traces of cyanide residue in the Auschwitz kremas, I’ll hate Israel and try to destroy her. But if I <em>can </em>find the traces, by gosh, I’ll love and support her.</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">We are faced with a subject so clung up with emotive gravity that Cole’s elementary defense of disinterested inquiry is difficult for people to grasp, which is why it bears repeated emphasis. There is nothing <em>inherently</em> hateful or even political about revisionist research. This is fundamentally true regardless of what personal motives impart to individuals who persist in such research, and it is fundamentally true regardless of what political arguments or agendas may latch to such research. While motivated ideologues can be counted on to use revisionist scholarship as a cudgel against their imagined enemies, the underlying investigative project is simply and eternally a thing apart; it is an empirical and interpretive process that, once the fog has lifted, will be judged on its relative merits and deficiencies – the same as with other “problematic” species of skeptical inquiry, such as concerning racial differences or climatology or various aspects of human sexuality. Once this much is understood, it becomes possible to distinguish the substantive core of revisionism from the cranked-up clamor that invariably surrounds it.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Being wise to this difficulty, Cole anchors his own interpersonally fraught micro-history of foibles and resentments to the project of historiography writ large. A memorable passage taps the messy truth:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">…in every massive conflict between nations you see the exact same things that occur in conflicts between individuals—the same jockeying and maneuvering, the same collecting and testing of loyalties, the same measuring of risk against gain. The difference is only the scale. I used to make that point when I lectured. Never elevate or excoriate historical figures to the extent that they stop being flesh-and-blood humans. Don’t make Hitler the devil, and don’t make the Founding Fathers gods. They were still human, no matter their impact on history.</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Is the task really so difficult? I’m afraid it is. Humanity is long in the weeds, and we are burdened with heavy baggage. For all his sarcasm and ventilation, Cole ends up counseling humility before the big questions. Who will notice?</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><strong>Gas in the Gaps?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Given his past investment in the subject, it’s a safe bet that many readers will be interested in David Cole’s present take on Holocaust history and revisionism. Although he expresses understandable reluctance about holding court on the subject anew, the truth is that Cole is never more in his element than when he writes about history. He’s attentive to detail and he presents his theses logically in clear language that stands in welcome contrast to the palaver-laden cant of certain professional obscurantists. He would be a good teacher.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Revisionism comes up at tangential and direct turns throughout the biographical narrative – significantly in “The Idiot’s Creed,” which provides a fascinating account of Cole’s “behind the scenes” interactions with a number of prominent public figures during his revisionist days – but Cole’s present views are explicitly teased in an early chapter none-too-subtly entitled “So Just What the Hell Do I Believe, Anyway?” and are more carefully developed in a 24-page appendix that should be of special interest to traditional Holocaust historians and revisionists alike.            </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The unavoidable headline is that Cole stands by his early research, rejecting the standard claim that Auschwitz and many other infamous camps served as killing centers equipped with homicidal gas chambers. “Auschwitz was not an extermination camp,” he writes:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Auschwitz and Majdanek in Poland, and Dachau, Mauthausen, and the other camps in Germany and Austria, were not extermination camps. They were bad, bad places. People were killed there. Jews were killed at Majdanek by shooting, and Jews were killed at Auschwitz in 1942, most likely due to decisions made by the commandant in defiance of orders from Berlin.</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In the following paragraph, Cole writes:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">However, Auschwitz was not the totality of the Holocaust. Not by far. Serious revisionists (David Irving, Mark Weber, and hell, I’ll throw my own name in there) don’t dispute the very provable mass murder of Jews (by shooting) during the months following the invasion of Russia. And at a camp like Treblinka, there is a massively strong circumstantial case to be made that the Jews who were sent there were sent there to be killed. It’s circumstantial because very little remains in the way of documentation, and zero remains in the way of physical evidence. But revisionists have never produced an alternate explanation of the fate met by the Jews sent to camps like Treblinka and Sobibor, with empty trains returning. However, accepting that Treblinka was a murder camp but Auschwitz wasn’t means that the Holocaust was not as large in scale or as long in operation as the official history teaches. So taking Auschwitz out of the category of extermination camps is seen as lessening the horror of what, even shorn of Auschwitz, was still a horrific situation.</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">While Cole’s summary may come laced with a bit more anti-Nazi editorial invective than is typically found in the currents of dissident Holocaust scholarship, his take on the history of Auschwitz in particular pretty much distills to a grounded recitation of revisionist theory, at least insofar as he rejects the standard claim that the site was renovated to be an ever-efficient killing factory during the latter phase of the war. In his more detailed treatment, where Jean-Claude Pressac’s work figures prominently, he deftly summarizes myriad forensic and chronological problems to advance the openly revisionist conclusion that the most infamous extermination camps were nothing of the kind.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">And in case anyone other than Phil Donahue still believes the propaganda about the Dachau “gas chamber,” Cole is at the ready with a sobriety check:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Eventually, by the 1970s, the Dachau museum admitted that the “gas chamber” was never used. The fact that the “phony shower heads” were created by the army prior to the visit of U.S. dignitaries in ’45 is the biggest open secret in the field. The current claim at Dachau is that the room was “decorated” with dummy shower heads, which replaced the real shower heads and thus made them useless, in order to fool the victims, and once they were inside, gas pellets were thrown in from chutes in the side wall. And the half-measure “revision,” that the chamber was “never used,” really needs to be meditated on for a moment to grasp its stupidity. We’re supposed to believe that the Nazis took a working—and very necessary—group shower room at the camp, and replaced the working shower heads with fake ones, because they wanted to fool the victims into thinking they were walking into a shower room, which they would have thought anyway if the original shower heads had simply been left intact, and then the Nazis decided not to ever use the gas chamber, but now the room was unusable as an actual shower because the real shower heads had been replaced by fake ones, fake ones that were supposedly necessary to fool victims into thinking that they were walking into a shower room which is exactly what the victims would have thought they were walking into <em>without </em>the fake shower heads because the room actually <em>was </em>a shower room which could have still been used as one in between gassings if not for the dummy heads that replaced the genuine ones.    </span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">If you want a down-and-dirty distillation of Cole’s current views, the most tightly packed summation is probably provided in the following two paragraphs:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The evidence of the mass murder of Jews was largely buried or erased by the Nazis long before the end of the war. At the war’s end, what was there to show? What was there to display? And something <em>had </em>to be displayed. World War II is a war with an <em>ex post facto </em>reason for being. The war started to keep Poland free and independent. At the end of the war, when Poland was essentially given to the USSR as a slave state (not that there was much the U.S. could have done to stop it from happening), none of the victorious powers wanted folks to start asking, “wait—sixty million people dead, the great cities of Europe burned to the ground, all to keep Poland free, and now we’re giving Poland to <em>Stalin?</em>”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">So Hitler’s very real brutality against the Jews had to become “the reason we fought.” Except, those brutalities began in earnest two years <em>after </em>the war started. But why quibble? Russia had captured Auschwitz and Majdanek intact (more or less), and the U.S. had captured Dachau totally intact. So, those camps became representations of a horror for which almost no authentic physical evidence remained. At Auschwitz, an air raid shelter was “remodeled” to look like a gas chamber (as the museum’s curator admitted to me in a 1992 interview). At Majdanek, mattress delousing rooms were misrepresented as being gas chambers for humans (as the museum’s director admitted to me in 1994). And at Dachau, the U.S. Army whipped up a phony gas chamber room to give visiting senators and congressmen in 1945 a dramatic image of “why we had to fight.”</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Attentive readers will note how Cole, at certain points in the above-cited excerpts, parts company with many revisionists. This is made clearest in the appendix, where, in a nuanced counterpoint to the long-rehearsed revisionist emphasis on lack of a clearly discoverable “master plan” authorizing the wholesale extermination of Europe’s Jewish population, Cole plausibly argues that there were actually a congeries of “plans” floated and hatched at various stages in the wake of the infamous (and still profoundly misunderstood) Wannsee “protocols,” with such plans being molded by shifting goals and expediencies as the Nazis pursued an overarching yet decentralized injunction to resolve the “Jewish question” one way or another with only instrumental regard for the welfare of Jewish people. Sometimes this meant the exploitation of Jewish labor. Sometimes it meant the mass transfer or “evacuation” of populations. And sometimes it meant mass killing, including by gassing.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">From this vantage, Cole focuses on the question of intent, discerning clues in the sequence of contemporaneous communications and pronouncements, many culled from Joseph Goebbels’s writings, to support his conjecture that for a time – specifically from “1942 through 1943” – Jews were dispatched to genuine extermination camps, specifically “Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec, and Chelmno,” otherwise known as the Aktion Reinhardt system, where they were lined up and shot, or, in classic Holocaust style, queued up and fed to gas chambers (albeit of the truck-rigged must-have-been-carbon-monoxide-not-diesel-exhaust variety, not the pellet-inducted Zyklon B variety) and then burned (in pits, not crematoria).</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Anyway, here’s the money shot:</span></p>
<blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">From 1942 through 1943, Polish Jewry was subjected to one of the most brutal campaigns of mass murder in human history. Because of the secrecy surrounding those four extermination camps, and the fact that they were ploughed under and erased from existence in 1943, it’s difficult to be precise about certain details. And we do know that some Jews were sent to those camps as a throughway to other destinations (as recounted multiple times in Gerald Reitlinger’s 1953 masterwork <em>The Final Solution</em>). But, more than enough circumstantial evidence exists to show that for most Jews, the train ride to those camps was one-way, and final.</span></p>
</blockquote>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Not being an historian (and not having the constitutional fortitude for serious historical research), I will leave it to revisionist scholars to engage Cole’s interpretation of the timeline, the documentary <em>mens rea</em> and such other circumstantial evidence that might or might not support the conclusion that the eastern camp system served for a time as a full-on gas-and-burn death factory. I’m confident they’ll have plenty to say, since this whole area seems to have assumed prominence as the focal point of revisionist (and anti-revisionist) critique over the past decade or so, as evidenced by the widely viewed video documentary, <em>One Third of the Holocaust</em>, by the forensic researches of Fritz Berg, and by the voluminous output of guys like Germar Rudolf, Carlo Mottagno, Thomas Kues, Jürgen Graf and others, often in rebuttal to the mud-slinging gang of anti-revisionist gadflies over at the “<a href="https://holocaustcontroversies.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">Holocaust Controversies” site</a>. Cole may not have come looking for an argument, but he’ll have one if he wants it. One can only hope that the debate, if it comes, will proceed with a modicum of civility. Whether Cole’s argument is sincere or tactical (and I’m inclined to believe he is sincere), it should be received as an invitation for revisionists to clarify and supplement their mounting counterargument in a spirit of good faith.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Regardless of how it will be met among active revisionists, I am sure that Cole’s argument will seem positively baffling to the average reader who has been groomed to regard Auschwitz as synecdoche for the canonical Holocaust story. While it may be understood that Cole is correct when he points out that “Auschwitz was not the totality of the Holocaust,” ordinary readers who come to <em>Republican Party Animal</em> with the usual engrained preconceptions will be hard-pressed to digest his “gas in the gaps” counter-narrative. I imagine it will be a bit like being told that yes, there was a Battle of the Alamo, but it actually took place in North Dakota!</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">No matter where the chips fall, I do think that Cole’s “exterminationist” interpretation of the Aktion Reinhardt system is superficially plausible and therefore useful. Whether it can withstand more intensive scrutiny is a different matter. Being a dilettante at best, I can only say it’s not how I would bet. Presumably for reasons of brevity, Cole neglects to directly address the copious revisionist literature in this area, so when he states that “revisionists have never produced an alternate explanation of the fate met by the Jews sent to camps like Treblinka and Sobibor, with empty trains returning” I am left to wonder whether he has read Samuel Crowell’s carefully documented treatment of the Aktion Reinhardt camps in the Nine-Banded Books edition of <a href="https://www.amazon.com/The-Chamber-Sherlock-Holmes-Understanding/dp/1616583479" target="_blank"><em>The Gas Chamber of Sherlock Holmes</em></a>. For what it’s worth, the relevant discussion is framed in the seldom-read fourth part of Crowell’s book, “The Holocaust in Retrospect,” <a href="http://www.samuelcrowell.com/?page_id=7" target="_blank">where</a> – I’m trying to save everyone time here – the most succinct statement of an “alternate explanation” (though Crowell would probably call it an “interpretation”) is advanced in the fifth section, “Aktion Reinhardt and the Legacy of Forced Labor,” beginning at page 339. Without wading too deep into the morass, Crowell offers a contextual reading of several key documents to support the revisionist position that “Aktion Reinhardt was about wealth seizure and SS control of Polish Jews, chiefly for labor purposes: It was not about mass murder.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">While Crowell’s analysis does not – indeed cannot – <em>exclude</em> the possibility that these sites were at some point devoted to the crudely mechanized destruction of human beings, including by mass gassing, I think he is persuasive in his interpretation of documents that render the scenario less likely than Cole asserts. For example, the authentic Franke-Gricksch inspection report (which wasn’t discovered until 2010 and is not mentioned by Cole) explicitly discusses the eastern program as a plunder operation, makes no reference to gassing, and includes population assessments that are plainly at odds with the numbers in the “final” Korherr report (which, it should be noted, has been disavowed by Korherr himself).</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Crowell’s discussion of the top secret 1944 Globocnik report to Himmler along with its addendum also provides clear support for the interpretation that the AR system was primarily devoted to wealth seizure and includes an important note about “relocated persons” being given chits as a kind of bullshit assurance that “future compensation” would be rendered for their assets “some day in Brazil or in the Far East.” If the reference to “relocated persons” meant Jews – and there is a strong contextual reason to assume so, given the geographic presumption in the wording – then this addendum is difficult to reconcile with the notion that Jews were being systematically snuffed upon arrival at the camps.             </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">While I make no apology for assigning Crowell plenipotentiary status in this arena, I realize it may be considered bad form since I am his publisher. Let this be my disclaimer, then, if such be warranted. I may be biased, but I am convinced that the importance of Crowell’s research has not been fully appreciated, and I think that his concise but granular study of extant documents hovering around the AR camp system are relevant and need to be considered along with the forensic and testimonial issues that revisionists will likely raise in counterpoint to Cole’s argument. In any case, when you grapple with informed disagreement, it is wise to seek out what philosophers of knowledge call “epistemic peers,” if only as a safeguard against the conceit of certitude, and I think the views of Crowell and Cole can be usefully considered as a proximate peerage; they’re intelligent men evaluating the same evidentiary chain, presumably in good faith, yet reaching different conclusions.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I should mention also that it is largely due to Crowell’s better known socio-cultural study of mass gassing claims that I am inclined to view particular gassing claims from a default perspective of skepticism. World War II mass-gassing stories are so bedeviled with conflation, confabulation, and culture-bound confusion – and for delineable reasons – that it is well, in the absence of clear-cut physical evidence, to weigh sociogenic explanations against the kind of literal interpretation that holds sway in the standard historiography.        </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><strong>Shadows and Mirrors</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In forms of storytelling low and high, we have come to recognize a narrative device. By allusion to Dostoyevsky, it may be referred to as the <em>Doppelgänger</em> or the “Double.” It’s also sometimes called the “Shadow,” which I like better. I’m never sure about these things. I don’t know if it’s a modern invention or one of those Jungian archetypes that Joseph Campbell used to go on about. I’m not even sure whether it’s a trope or a motif, or some other lit-crit flavor I never learned. All I know is that it comes up often enough. Think of Humbert Humbert playing his cat-and-mouse game with Clare Quilty in <em>Lolita</em>, or think of the drug-addled narc in Phillip K. Dick’s <em>A Scanner Darkly</em> – itself a re-imagining of Nabokov’s <em>The Eye</em> – unwittingly stalking himself until the damage is done. Think of Marlow and Kurtz, or think of lycanthropic myths, or, if you’re a simpleton, stop at Jekyll and Hyde or – why not? – <em>The Nutty Professor</em>. Jerry Lewis version, please.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Shadow may appear as a liberating demon like Tyler Durden in <em>Fight Club</em>, or as a beastly projection like Patrick Bateman in <em>American Psycho</em>. But the underlying psychology isn’t so moveable; it always settles around the problem of the divided self, and around such conflict as arises when one mask is dislodged to reveal the secret face that haunts or entices. And, to bastardize Robert Burns, when a Shadow meets a Shadow, there must come a reckoning.     </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">It’s tempting to read David Cole’s unexpected and possibly important memoir as a kind of real-life Shadow story. The hallmarks are there. It’s about a guy haunted and lured by the former self he had hoped to bury, and the reckoning, obligatorily foreshadowed, comes as it must.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">But if that’s the template, we are just as soon confounded by questions. Who is the Shadow? Is the Shadow David Cole, the once and again infamous “Jewish Holocaust denier” who left an indelible mark on one of the most abominated intellectual movements in modern history? Or is the Shadow David Stein, the titular “Republican Party Animal” who penned influential op-eds while organizing mixers for Hollywood’s “right-wing underground”? Is the Shadow flickering in the multiplicity of lesser pseudonyms and guises the author created as a matter of camouflage or whim as he stood in two circles? Or does the Shadow dwell elsewhere, perhaps in the hearts and minds of those who cast aspersions upon the man in subterfuge?</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">It’s a matter of perspective, I suppose. Or of sympathy. Or maybe it’s just a false start. Cole’s story is, in any case, ultimately not so much about a self divided as it is about the burden of irrevocable choices and what cornered insight may be gained in the wake of so much preposterous tumult, when every cover is blown and there’s nowhere left to hide.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">“I don’t want to be here,” Cole emphasizes at the beginning of his story. In the closing chapter, he plays on a recurrent Coen brothers theme to assert that he has “learned nothing.” I believe one of these voices. I am deeply suspicious of the other.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">__________</span></p>
<p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nmBdoIot58" target="_blank"><em><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Memento mori.</span></em></a></p>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2015/01/lessons-from-the-ring.html">Lessons from the Ring</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">It's been a while since I've seen the billboards, but I suppose those "Tough Man" or "Rough and Rowdy" amateur boxing competitions are still being booked at civic arenas across the heartland. I know they once drew big crowds in my neck of the woods.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">If you go, try to make it for the early elimination rounds. That's when you'll see the really unevenly matched fights, which are more entertaining. Expect a queue of pasty Scotch-Irish doughboys whirling and throwing blind haymakers at the bell. There's little form to behold. Very few jabs. No one covers or blocks. And the ones who don't walk wide-open into a lucky cold knockout in one of three two-minute rounds are often so winded upon reaching their corners that you find yourself looking at the ringside EMT crew, half expecting they'll be called to intervene on account of a coronary. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Watching these volunteer fighters (many of whom I suspect are also volunteer firefighters -- and I grew up around these guys) may leave you with a deeper appreciation of the grace and science of "real" boxing. But if you have good seats and you don't get too drunk, there's a good chance you'll come around to enjoy the action for what it is. Pick a favorite for starts. Maybe a viable underdog. Behind the ludicrous sight of so much inelegant fury and flurry, you may begin to discern the pulse of a deeper romance that belies the gawking nose-bleeding redneck sideshow spectacle as advertised. These are men after all. They work as security guards and pipefitters and box-store warehouse laborers and pizza slingers, or they don't work at all. They drove in from the sticks, and at least they came to fight. Their girlfriends are watching. There'll be winners and losers, even if there's a ringer at the end.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Year after year I half-joked that I should throw my name in the ring. What I lack in reach I figured I made up for in brute strength; figured I could work out a good inside game, that I could train for stamina, plot a defensive first-round strategy to wear my opponent down. Kill the body in the second, look for an opening -- a clean uppercut -- in the third. More likely I'd've tasted canvas in the first. Fuck it, I was too much of a pussy to even find out.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">No matter. What you need to know is only that the fights play in rapid succession, each lasting all of ten minutes, max. Less for the knockouts, of which there will be quite a few. And what you need to understand -- not so easy from a soft chair -- is that a full-on two-minute round, however clumsily executed, is physically and mentally <em>exhausting</em> for the men in the ring. This element of exhaustion is especially pronounced (it comes as a shock, I think) for the ones who haven't trained for such an event, which is obviously the case where so many "Tough Man" contenders are concerned. Drunken parking lot brawls don't count as training.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">So I remember this one I saw in Huntington maybe two decades ago. The first half dozen fights were the usual slopwork. A few knockouts. A few decisions. Plenty of graceless pirouettes and rabbit punches and flailing windmills in between. Ridiculous fun. But then there came a fight -- an uneven match, but not especially so -- and what happened was that the more out-of-shape guy, when he lumbered back to his corner after the first round, well, he just called it. He motioned to the ref: "I'm out." So the crowd booed and the other guy raised his gloves in default victory.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">But that lame play, it changed the temper of the hall. The very next fight was a repeat; another mid-round quit. And there would be others -- more towels thrown, in accordance with this newly established ethos -- over the course of the event. You sensed the crowd's growing frustration as the bouts played out with more fighters "opting out" after taking their blows. The atmosphere was less charged now that anticlimax was a live option    <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">This is something I still think about. I've thought about it as an atom of <a href="http://carcinisation.com/2014/11/22/why-cultural-evolution-is-real-and-what-it-is/" target="_blank">cultural evolution</a>. I thought about it when I read Charles Murray's <a href="http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2012/02/my_two_favorite.html" target="_blank"><em>Coming Apart</em></a>.  I thought about it when I saw the documentary <a href="http://www.oxyana.com/" target="_blank"><em>Oxyana</em></a>. I've thought about it more or less every time I've reflected on social policies where an "out" is made more attractive, or, insidiously, less damnable. It seems quaint and a mite insincere to mount a half-assedly conservative critique of no-fault divorce, especially when I'm more than convinced that divorce makes many people happier. Yet it's clear enough that a trend was set and a stigma revoked, and it's just as clear to me that the burden -- yeah, I think it just might be a burden -- has fallen disproportionately on the shoulders of left-side-of-the-bell-curve working class men for whom a such a bedrock institution might have meant something more than a fucking cake party.<br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">In <em>Oxyana</em>, the focus is on the culture of pharmaceutical drug abuse that has spread like kudzu over coal country. The filmmakers, at whatever documentary-coy measured distance, imply that something is to be done, but their framing is such to permit only the conclusion that prescription mills run by venal and unscrupulous absentee doctors are to blame. It seems never to occur to them that the rampant culture of addiction that they depict in wallowing first-person interspliced narratives is more deeply rooted in the now-entrenched <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/04/08/how-americans-game-the-200-billion-a-year-disability-industrial-complex/" target="_blank">disability benefit culture</a> that has entrapped and emasculated this sorrowful landscape since a welfare reform deal was brokered and let to irrevocably alter the choice horizons of people who might have had a better shot at a meaningful existence. Who was the first guy to throw in the towel? I imagine his back was aching and the rent was due. Who was the next guy, the one who was informed by the helpful pug-faced candy-scented female representative that a bipolar diagnosis counted and you just need to fill out a different form? Do you think his girlfriend was standing ringside, cheering him on? Do you hear wedding bells in their future? <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">I don't blame the first guy who called it from his corner. But for a lucky cut, he was bound to lose anyway. He saw it play out and he decided -- rationally -- that the pain wasn't worth the pain. He was hurting. You don't know until you've been there. He thought his fucking heart would explode. But I do wonder how he felt on the drive home. Whatever gnashing pangs of regret might have crept to mind, I bet they were salved by the simple knowledge that others followed his lead.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Just fill out this form.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;"><em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNWFHpPu1qs" target="_blank">Memento mori.</a>   </em>               <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;"> </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">    </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 14pt;">               </span></p>
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				<p>So I haven't written much here over the last year. There was a time when I was very nearly obsessed with the "project" that was and is "The Hoover Hog." I thought it had "groove and meaning," to paraphrase Frankie Valli (or Barry Gibb, if you're a stickler). I imagined it would be a good thing to play fast and loose with fire, and that I was somehow going to cut it just right. Or that was the only-ever-vague aspiration. Being out of step seemed like an outgroup advantage. Being honest seemed like a neat trick. Being more or less alone seemed like a cozy redoubt.</p>
<p>One problem that has been called to my attention is that I'm really not a very good writer. I suppose this wouldn't matter were it not for the fact that I half-secretly want to write well, and frankly (unreasonably) in a state of sustained inspiration -- which is what all of the manuals advise against.</p>
<p>One of my greatest pleasures in life is to read at a local bar after work. I make time for this and during such time I can feel my mind alight with pinprick insight. I make connections and jot down precious thoughts on a napkin or a notepad that I will later discard. I return to the book of the moment and I feel myself being transported into a smooth electric hum that gives way to useless idiot excitement when I step out for a smoke. I make plans and resolutions. Nothing ever comes of it. Or nothing much. After six or seven beers, my thoughts begin to cloud. Returning home, the intensity fades. Perhaps I start something that I will soon abandon. Just as likely, I will fume over such ordinary constraints that beset every human path. I've had the same day job for over fifteen years and lately it feels like I'm on borrowed time. I seldom talk with anyone at work. When I do, it's in the stilted manner of professional decorum. Time drags, and I feel -- irrationally and egotistically -- like a hostage.</p>
<p>I'm still convinced that it is a valuable thing, at least for some of us, to engage "dangerous" ideas. Over the years I like to think I've drawn up -- or appropriated -- a few useful heuristics that elevate fetish to craft. I am mindful of epistemic limits. I spot hoaxes early. I see religion in the strangest nooks. I attach asterisks to everything, and I vouchsafe my own nagging biases under files labeled "aesthetics" and "sacred residue."  I've also learned to break down stories. The trouble with this is that you may eventually turn your attention to the really big stories, until everything is broken. <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Every-Cradle-Is-Grave-Rethinking/dp/0989697290" target="_blank">Sarah Perry</a>, perhaps in oblique revision of Camus, claims that what's then left is "epilogue." I suppose that's the backdrop for everything Beckett ever wrote. And it's the deadpan rejoinder to every hollow pronouncement celebrating the grandeur of a scientific worldview. Yet it's what remains. What we're left with. It won't sustain a civilization, but that's none of my business.</p>
<p>I'm 44 years old. I insist that's too old for new plans. It's not too old, however, for some measure of refinement and resolution. In 2014 I resolved to "go vegan" (fuck you), mostly for the hell of it but also, I admit, because I care very much about animal welfare. I made exceptions for holidays. I was soon surprised at how easy it was, at how I felt the same (I expected to feel a worsening of some specific kind). My suspicion of dietary politics has sharpened as a result. There's so much moral residue in this area, which is very curious. I even have a theory about why. Perhaps I'll share it with you at another time. I'm sure it's wrong. Most theories are.</p>
<p>Anyway, what I've done over the past few years is I have published <a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/" target="_blank">books</a>. I attach a great deal of (surely illusory) importance to this endeavor, and this I fully suspect this will continue. I think I'm a better editor than I am a writer. I just need to get up earlier. So there's one resolution of a manageable variety: <em>Keep doing that shit</em>. Try to do it well, and in a way that honors the work of those writers who have been so kind and generous to allow me to publish there words and ideas. There's good stuff in the queue. You'll see.</p>
<p>The other thing, fuck it, is to write. In the spirit of experiment, I mean to simply let go of such writerly bugs that have proven uselessly debilitating and just get on with it. I'm going to try to put something up here at least weekly, without overmuch attention to form or structure or even thematic consistency, to give in to a the simple curiosity of seeing where it leads. So this space may become a journal. Expect stories, reflections, false starts, stream-of-conscous drivel, minor confessions, bad writing, worse jokes, typos. The idea that I've been mulling is simply to retoggle the source of so much banked frustration, to see if it can be made, in some inconsequential way, liberating. It's selfish of me, I know.</p>
<p>Wish me luck. Thanks for reading.</p>
<p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bxxR3Ny0b8" target="_blank"><em>Memento mori.</em></a></p>
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                <span class="post-footers">January 02, 2015 </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2015/01/nothing-to-be-done-.html">Permalink</a>
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2014/06/a-personal-history-of-a-personal-history-of-moral-decay.html">A Personal History of A Personal History of Moral Decay</a></h3>
		



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				<p><a class="asset-img-link" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201a3fd21d06b970b-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="MORALDECAY-LARGEFRONT" border="0" class="asset  asset-image at-xid-6a00d83467cf1969e201a3fd21d06b970b image-full img-responsive" src="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201a3fd21d06b970b-800wi" title="MORALDECAY-LARGEFRONT" /></a></p>
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<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">A little over a decade ago I launched Nine-Banded Books by publishing a slender novella by Bradley R. Smith. It was called <a href="This%20may elicit reflexive criticism among readers for whom the Holocaust exists apart from life as a profoundly emotive signifier or an untouchable sacred thing. But I think predictable charges of “moral equivalence” fail to grasp the human predicament that informs life at all turns. Insight is useful roadwork. Thus when Cole writes (insert long passage) he is simply  " target="_blank"><em>The Man Who Saw His Own Liver</em></a>. I didn't know what I was doing at the time and I still am not sure what I'm doing. I know I priced the book too high and printed too many copies. It never sold well, but that didn't matter to me. All that mattered was that I liked the manuscript and I wanted very much for it to exist so that some few readers might discover it and perhaps treasure it in the way that people sometimes do with books. It's heartening to see that <em>Liver</em> is getting some <a href="http://ireadoddbooks.com/the-man-who-saw-his-own-liver-by-bradley-r-smith/" target="_blank">attention</a> these years later. It really is a good read. It's one of those books that sets a spell. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">The backstory I might have mentioned before is that <em>Liver</em> wasn't my first choice. When I initially approached Bradley it was with the idea of publishing a different manuscript -- a sprawling and never quite complete collection of autobiographical stories he had assembled over the years called <em>A Personal History of Moral Decay</em>. Bradley's concern was that the manuscript needed work, so we agreed, for the time being, to do <em>Liver</em> instead. It was a good place to start. The right place to start, I suppose.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">As the years passed I would occasionally approach Bradley to ask if he wanted to go forward with <em>Moral Decay</em> and he would invariably respond in the same way by saying "it needs work." The last time this happened I was moved to go back and read the thing a bit more carefully with my best editorial instincts. It was true enough that it needed work, but only in the sense that all manuscripts require a bit of gingerly attention and investment. But the words rolled smooth as milk and honey on oats, and the stories had a strange and distinctive thematic resonance that only deepened on repeat. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">What happened was, there came a point when I was moved to reflect on what I was reading and what I will say is that I knew it was a great book. Not a good book. A great one. I imagine I'll stand by that statement until I die. A thousand bad reviews couldn't dissuade me of this conviction. <em>A Personal History of Moral Decay</em> is a great book. I consider it a rare privilege to bring it into print.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">But back to Bradley, the author. It was with a greater sense of urgency that I approached him this time. I told him we needed to do the book -- that it was important to do it now. I meant while he was still alive but I didn't say that. I told him it was good -- I don't think I said it was "great" but that is also what I meant -- and I tried to explain the reasons why. I dropped names like James Salter and John Cheever and Richard Brautigan and I said that the book was a throwback to what such men once did on instinct, before MFAs and writing workshops and Oprah-branded book clubs and sentence-obsessed literary memoirs and feminist sensibilities descended to have their ruinous way with a world of letters that once teemed with immediacy and life. I said, or I might as well have said, that it was the sort of book that some few readers might discover and perhaps treasure in the way that people still sometimes do with books. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">And Bradley, perhaps he sensed the urgency in my words. Because this time he said what the hell. It'll never be perfect. Let's do it, kid.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I love <a href="https://www.amazon.com/A-Personal-History-Moral-Decay/dp/0989697282" target="_blank"><em>A Personal History of Moral Decay</em></a>. It's one of my favorite books. You can order a copy through Amazon <a href="https://www.amazon.com/A-Personal-History-Moral-Decay/dp/0989697282" target="_blank">here</a> or directly through Nine-Banded Books <a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/a-personal-history-of-moral-decay/" target="_self">here</a>. The cover design is by <a href="http://www.kevinislaughter.com/" target="_blank">Kevin Slaughter</a> and it is based on the old Obelisk editions of Henry Miller for reasons you may come to understand. I hope you'll buy a copy for yourself and I hope you'll buy another one for your dad. Here's a fine <a href="http://takimag.com/article/the_evil_muse_of_bradley_smith_ann_sterzinger/print#axzz358rZocYV" target="_blank">write-up</a> from over at Taki's that artfully touches on the unavoidable subject that I am now avoiding for reasons you're wrong to suspect.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1y24cKeQs0" target="_blank"><em>Memento mori.</em></a> </span></p>
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                <span class="post-footers">June 19, 2014 </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2014/06/a-personal-history-of-a-personal-history-of-moral-decay.html">Permalink</a>
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	<div class="entry-category-down_where_the_devil_dont_go entry-category-ninebanded_books entry-category-paul_bingham entry-author-chipsmith entry-type-post entry" id="entry-6a00d83467cf1969e201a511981a95970c">
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					<h3 class="entry-header"><a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2014/04/spingtime-for-fred-phelps-an-interview-with-paul-bingham-author-of-down-where-the-devil-dont-go.html">Spingtime for Fred Phelps: An Interview with Paul Bingham, author of Down Where the Devil Don't Go</a></h3>
		



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				<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><em> <a class="asset-img-link" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201a3fce8647f970b-popup" onclick="window.open( this.href, '_blank', 'width=640,height=480,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0' ); return false" style="display: inline;"><img alt="Bingham cover for blog" border="0" class="asset  asset-image at-xid-6a00d83467cf1969e201a3fce8647f970b image-full img-responsive" src="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e201a3fce8647f970b-800wi" title="Bingham cover for blog" /></a><br /><br /></em></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 30px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><em>There is an art to pain. Overwhelming kills you, knocks your mind out. Too little, and you forget you’re nothing. Just the right amount and you’ll hurt bad like everybody else. It’s all in the application<em>—</em>how you manage it. It hurts, she told me. But all I did was bring out the hurt from within.</em></span></p>
<p style="padding-left: 90px;"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">—Paul Bingham,<em> Down Where the Devil Don't Go<br /></em></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">With roots in American noir, adventure pulps, and dirty realism, the quartet of stories on offer in Paul Bingham’s debut collection, <a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/down-where-the-devil-dont-go/" target="_blank"><em>Down Where the Devil Don’t Go</em></a>, rake beneath the sodden mulch of contemporary writing-workshop-descended lit-fic to remind us, if only for a lazy afternoon, of a time when an Angry Young Man of letters knew his fucking job.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">With one eye on the shifting reel of pop-cultural signage that keeps us in a state of bleary hypnosis, Bingham never loses sight of the dirt beneath his – and our – feet. His prose is trenchant and mordant, subtle and sly, funny and ugly and absurd and edged with preposterous, violent truth. He tells stories. He entertains and provokes. And he knows more about equine podiatry than you ever will. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Like Hobbes’ view of life, Bingham’s fiction is nasty, brutish, and short. So is this interview. I do hope you’ll read his book.</span></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span style="font-size: 13pt;">__________</span></strong></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>THE HOOVER HOG: So, what's the deal with Kenny Chesney?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>PAUL BINGHAM:</strong> Long answer: I wrote these stories eight years ago. It was a cool time in the history of “alternative” country music, but hardly anyone outside of the scene was aware of it. Alternative artists couldn't get played, but guys like Kenny Chesney were on heavy rotation and if you worked construction in the South, you were guaranteed to hear too many Kenny Chesney songs per hour. Artificial arrangements, tired voice, lyrics written to appeal exclusively to women. You couldn't escape him. On the job, in stores, bars, restaurants. Anywhere. For a lot of underground artists and their fans it was a stab in the ear every time that contrived, untalented hack was hailed as a sex-symbol, getting his songs played a dozen times an hour.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">When Jack Sparks had his radio show and that hilarious blog promoting Alt-Country in the middle to the late oughts, he used  Kenny Chesney as an example of everything that’s wrong with modern country music. Since he started on Kenny in 2003, there have probably been a few derisive songs written that name-check him as the country music Antichrist. Kyle, at <a href="http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/tag/kyle-nix" target="_blank">Savingcountrymusic.com</a> still clobbers him every now and again.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Short answer: George W. Bush is a fan of that lip-syncing, faggot's music.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>THH: Well, I like how the references are sort of threaded through the stories. It's a light touch on one level, but I suppose the artifice of "country" assumes more thematic weight in “What the Dead Men Fear,” which is a kind of western – or cowboy-outlaw – yarn filtered through so much postmodern noise. And it occurs to me that a female country star is at the center of it all, both as a damsel in distress and as a kind of unwitting heroine. Without giving too much away, can you talk about how you came to write that one?     </strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">PB: “What the Dead Men Fear” was the second in a series of short stories I wanted to write that featured American 21st century realism and my favorite subjects of pain and death. Maybe I'm not a better poet than writer, but poetry, or perhaps a sense of poetic prose was the principal motivation behind the interconnected references. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Most short stories are boring because the people who write them lead boring lives. It’s hard for a desk-bound individual to write about a smoke-jumper, or commercial fisherman or a rodeo cowboy, and most practitioners of exciting trades don't do a particularly good job of writing about what they do. For example, I wrote “I Feel Alright” after reading a poorly written story by a combat veteran in some libertarian publication in Alaska. I'm not blaming him. I don't have his experience, or his demons. But his college degree, or any other background he might have had in creative writing essentially ruined his ability to tell a story. Men of action need poetry not education to convey their thoughts.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">The gentleman upon whom the protagonist is based is in his thirties, graying, with two or more kids, and a boring factory job. I tried to envision a more heroic ending for him. As for Cheyenne, she's an example of a large number of celebrities who lose track of who and where they are.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">The story was written while I was recovering from a concussion acquired from training a self-destructive horse. It's more realistic than one might imagine. I've omitted some key details that might possibly make it seem a bit less fanciful.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>I have to say that I get a stronger sense of Carveresque realism in the opening story, <strong>“</strong>Population I,<strong>”</strong> which we'll discuss in turn. To my ear, <strong>“</strong>What the Dead Men Fear<strong>”</strong> is more hardboiled, more two-fisted – it seems to fall somewhere under the long shadow of Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, certainly Jim Thompson for his violent excess. Are you influenced by those guys, by whole American pulp-noir tradition?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>And the horse work – that's pretty far from the desk. You're still at it, yeah?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">PB: Strangely enough, I've never read Chandler, Cain or Thompson, though I quite liked Dashiell Hammett,  Charles Willeford,  Bill Branon, Alan Stang and half dozen other authors whose names never come to mind when they should. What influenced me to write “What the Dead Men Fear” was, oddly enough, O'Henry's <a href="http://www.literaturepage.com/read/thefourmillion.html" target="_blank">“The Four Million.”</a> Of course in O'Henry's day, violence was more unpleasant and painful, so people weren't quite so interested in it. Today, pain and violence interests me because our society is anti-pain. And contemporary violence is often as absurd and unrealistic as what’s portrayed in these stories.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Actually, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Peckinpah" target="_blank">Sam Peckinpah</a> is a big influence. He was first and foremost a writer. Like him, I think of myself as a voyeur of violence.  Sex isn't that interesting and everyone else talks about it. Not everyone has the stomach to deal with violence or its aftermath, subjects the inquisitive spectator and combat bum alike must face.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I still dabble in training, and I work part-time as a farrier. That's one craft the robots won't be taking over anytime soon. And I prefer the company of horses to people, for the most part.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>THH: I like <strong><strong>“</strong></strong>voyeur<strong><strong>”</strong></strong> in this context. It never really made sense to me, the way artists are expected to justify depictions of violence as if sensation needs an apology. And Peckinpah was a guy who never heard the end of it until he sort of called the critics' bluff with <em>Straw Dogs</em>. That was a brazen <strong><strong>“</strong></strong>fuck you,<strong><strong><strong>”</strong></strong></strong> wasn't it? – Like he was saying, <strong><strong>“</strong></strong>you think I don't know I'm playing with fire? Let me show you what I know.<strong><strong><strong>”</strong></strong></strong> Your stories are similar, I think, in that you let things happen. The violent content may be comic or sadistic, meditative or propulsive, but it never feels morally contrived. It's just something that erupts in a closed universe. Yet there <em>is</em> a moral resonance – or residue – isn't there? Perhaps something tuned to grate against modern sensibilities?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">PB: Well, Peckinpah was heavily influenced by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Ardrey" target="_blank">Robert Ardrey</a> and <a href="http://www.desmond-morris.com/" target="_blank">Desmond Morris</a> and his point remains that the Western world has lost its understanding of the morality of violence. For example, of the principle causes of PTSD in American combat soldiers is their pre-combat state of mind. Peckinpah witnessed the carnage of WWII without actively participating in the killing and I have been around the aftermath of a fair amount of violence. It's interesting because violence is neither as scarce nor as senseless as society likes to imagine. Our methodology for contemplating it is brittle, so we simply revert to platitudes. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I think all this talk about <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microaggression" target="_blank">micro-aggression</a> is fascinating because it's absolutely true; the powers that be have arranged to suppress human instincts like aggression, and to gratify others like appetite. But that only works for so long. Everyone can feel the violence simmering beneath the surface of our world, Steven Pinker's “better angels” notwithstanding. The feminists, being women, are sensitive to this, but they don't fully understand what they feel. Preppers are aware of it, but they get it wrong, too. It's a general feeling of impending doom and the inability to deal with it. Maybe that in itself would be the cause of the future bloodshed. I don't know.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>THH: I think you've provided a good segue to the opening story, <strong><strong>“</strong></strong>Population I,<strong><strong><strong>”</strong></strong></strong> which happens to be my favorite. The other narratives in the collection are concerned with men of action, where violence literally explodes. But here we encounter the violence that simmers, as you put it. I think the story is at once sad and comic, and I suspect many readers will find it unsettling. It's about a writer – a blocked writer. That's familiar terrain, as at least <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Peckinpah" target="_blank">one critic</a> has noted, but there's more going on isn't there?   </strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">PB: I never thought of writer's block as the subject. The way these stories are put together, it’s an unintentional homage to Mishima's novel, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ky%C5%8Dko_no_Ie" target="_blank"><em>Kyoko's House</em></a>. We have two desk men and two men of action. I quite like the two men of action, but they lack a sense of poetry and thus fall short of the heroic or tragic.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Most of these characters and situations are stolen rather than made up and the inspiration for that story was some lit-fiction writer, an aspiring D.F. Wallace type. Completely forgettable, but I remember he mentioned in an interview that he'd posed with a Gibson guitar on the back cover of a novel he'd written, and he admitted that he could not, in fact, play the guitar. There was also some mention of writer's block and some liberal platitudes. Nobody has writer's block these days, though. Nobody can afford to have writers block.  My main concern is never putting words on paper; it's that the words be up to a certain improvised or self-imposed standard.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">The whole story is a satire of the creative writing industry, or the burnt out hull of what was the creative writing industry back in the opulent Bush years.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>THH: I would say that writers block, in context, can be read as a metaphor for a more numbing impotence. The Skinhead's taunt about "guitar lessons" is telling, and the comic sadness I mentioned is fully pronounced in the guy's one sexual experience with his roommate Rose, where she gives him <strong><strong>“</strong></strong>a prostate rub" because she <strong><strong>“</strong></strong>could just want a guy's touch.<strong><strong><strong>”</strong></strong></strong> I think it would be easy to say, well the writer is a repressed homosexual (another old trope), especially when he begins to eroticize his mentoring relationship with Jamal, but that seems like a contemporary fixation that misses what's really unfolding, or unraveling. I think I read the story three times through before it hit me – and I may be wrong – that it's about unrequited love, or love unrealized. I mean, I wouldn't call myself a traditionalist exactly, but I see these characters sort of wallowing in this cultural wreckage, grasping for meaning in identity politics and perversity, and I can't help but imagine an alternative universe where Rose and the Writer are happily married. There's just a palpable sense that something has gone awry. Does any of this ring true with your intentions? Am I being sentimental?         </strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">PB: It's about two people who in any other era would be in a relationship with each other.  The writer isn't necessarily a repressed homosexual; he's just sexually repressed. Rose, on the other hand, has overdosed on her sexuality. I'd pretty much agree with Uncle Gore that there are homosexual or heterosexual acts but not individuals. Often, only the mentally imbalanced will tend toward the former if the latter is also available.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I don't think the Writer and Rose could be happily married. Married, yes,  living in some dismal suburb of a college town and going to the local supermarket together of an evening to buy cheap wine and cat litter, maybe.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>THH: Let's talk about your other "desk man," network executive Mort Schnellenhammer. I like that Mort starts off expressing concern that there are no "really evil villains" in this cult sci-fi show that has him on edge, and then he proceeds to become one himself. But in the end – and I suspect I'm in the minority here – I can't help but like Mort. He's clueless about so much that's going on around him, yet he's very decisive in his paranoia. It's almost charming, the way he rationalizes every twist in his despicable plot. You can talk about the inspiration for “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Hollywood,” but I'm just as curious to know how you size up your farcical corporate antihero. I'm sure some readers will say he's nothing more than an anti-Semitic caricature. I mean, you sort of set the bait. But I don't think it breaks down so clearly.     </strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">PB: Mort is the eternal middle-man. He's really no worse than his grandfather was. Jacob lived in more innocently riotous times. After many herculean struggles with the middlemen of our managerial society, I've often thought to myself, “how does this man live with himself?”  And the answer was simply: quite well, actually. That's how “Protocols” came into being. </span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">If Protocols has a point, it's that scapegoating is a lot harder than ideologues might think. I've been tracing the structures of power to find out who was actually in charge, calling shots, in various influential organizations.  And the answer is no one. It's a blind alley. Obviously there are individuals and groups making decisions, but they might as well be in another universe from ours. Or from Mort’s, for that matter.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>THH: He's honest with Hasan, pointing out that he merely “allows” programs to be made.</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">PB: Mort’s making the best of things. The late, great <a href="http://www.counter-currents.com/2014/03/a-god-of-hate/" target="_blank">Fred Phelps</a> inspired this story. I failed to take advantage of opportunities to interview him on several occasions, to my eternal chagrin.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>THH: Your use of religion in the story – it's the only one that features religion, at least in an explicit way – is interesting. Hasan is a Palestinian Christian. Many of the rabid fans turn out to be Jehovah's Witnesses. Were those calculated choices?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Hasan is a tragic figure to my mind, as are the Palestinian Christians.  Jehovah's Witnesses are always knocking on my door. I'm not easy to find, but they never give up. They may be insane, but they've got class. I remember two of them came over while I was writing this story, and I invited them in, not knowing what denomination they were. “Come on in, some of my best friends are Mormons.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>THH: You should say that no matter who knocks. Even if it's the cops. How are you feeding your brain these days? Anything I might have missed?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">PB:Well whether I like it or not, doing the full-time dissident thing. There's an account  on FB about one of my “activisms” as we jokingly call them, preventing a platoon of cops from beating a sovereign citizen who was a resisting an unjust arrest. (He'd just left  a courtroom hearing  where everything went too well for him, and the judge sent a small army of cops, deputies and state troopers after him to search his vehicle and give him another citation for no license/insurance/tags.)</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">It's a form of ecological activism,  as <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_citizen_movement" target="_blank">sovereign citizens</a> are an almost extinct species in the body politic. I don't agree with his stand at this time, but he's a good, productive man and a freedom-lover. he took on this battle intentionally,  despite the fact that he works full time to feed his family.  everyone should kick in a couple dollars towards his defense fund (Mike Wasson, PO Box 118, Oldfield, MO 65720). <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">I'm into some other things that I'll talk about in a decade or two, assuming we're still alive then and the tribulation has not yet come upon us. <br /></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>THH: I let <em>Down Where the Devil Don't Go </em>sit on the burner for a while. This was never my intention, and I've apologized. At the same time, I think your stories seem more relevant today than when they were originally written near the end of the Bush years. What's it like to revisit the work now that we're deep into a new era of hope and change? Has the half-life of satire reached its terminus? </strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">PB: It has some stamina. And prescience. Satire has prescience because one is positing that things can always get worse and we can find amusement in the collapse.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Evelyn Waugh's <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Among_the_Ruins._A_Romance_of_the_Near_Future" target="_blank"><em>Love Among the Ruins</em></a> and Auberon Waugh's <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Brideshead-Beknighted-Auberon-Waugh/dp/0316926493" target="_blank"><em>Brideshead Benighted</em></a> were large influences. Satire has its place. It's less funny when crazy things you write about actually happen and there's no time to say “hey, I told you so.”</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><strong>THH: I understand that you've kept up with the writing. So, What's next?</strong></span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">PB: A Rock Opera based on <em>Mein Kampf</em>. I know, you're thinking <em>The Producers</em> and “Springtime for Hitler,” but this is more of a serious work, a rather austere appraisal of Hitler as a dreamer, a man of vision, from a neutral perspective of course. There's a lot of Harry Partch as well as martial industrial music, Death in June type folk, even a little country-rock that might scandalize David Irving. I think Hitler would have liked Marty Robbins and Hank Williams.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">There's also another novel in the works, a Bowdenesqe piece. May I say <em>without kissing ass</em> that you being Jonathan Bowden's last publisher is one of the reasons I find Nine-Banded Books to be cool and why I'm happy to have my collection put out by your imprint. Anyway, it’s called <em>Carnival of Pain</em>. Been working on it for several years. I call it my Shoutbox Novel because parts of it are written in chatroom style. It has several layers of plotting, the first about a brave, handsome, patriotic Navy Seal who undergoes a sex change in order to infiltrate a terrorist hideout in the guise of a beautiful woman to liquidate a terrorist leader. Meanwhile a cast of diverse characters gathers to watch the Seal's travails on his path to becoming Ms. Congeniality and fulfill his mission. There's more to it, but that's about all I feel qualified to explain at this time.</span></p>
<p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span style="font-size: 13pt;">_____________</span></strong></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Paul Bingham's <em>Down Where the Devil Don't Go</em> may be ordered from Nine-Banded Books <a href="http://www.ninebandedbooks.com/down-where-the-devil-dont-go/" target="_blank">HERE</a> or from Amazon <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Down-Where-Devil-Dont-Go/dp/0989697223" target="_blank">HERE</a>. Copies are also on the shelf at <a href="http://www.quimbys.com/" target="_blank">Quimby's Bookstore</a> in Chicago and it will soon stocked at <a href="http://www.atomicbooks.com/" target="_blank">Atomic Books</a> in Baltimore.</span></p>
<p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWtf7GWIscg" target="_blank"><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><em>Memento mori</em></span></a></p>
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                <span class="post-footers">April 06, 2014 in <a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/down-where-the-devil-dont-go/">Down Where the Devil Don't Go</a>, <a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/nine-banded-books/">Nine-Banded Books</a>, <a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/paul-bingham/">Paul Bingham</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2014/04/spingtime-for-fred-phelps-an-interview-with-paul-bingham-author-of-down-where-the-devil-dont-go.html">Permalink</a>
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				<p><a class="asset-img-link" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e2019b030729b5970d-pi" style="display: inline;"><img alt="HOLLISTER1" border="0" class="asset  asset-image at-xid-6a00d83467cf1969e2019b030729b5970d image-full img-responsive" src="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83467cf1969e2019b030729b5970d-800wi" title="HOLLISTER1" /></a></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Check out the <a href="http://www.gunfagmanifesto.com/" target="_blank"><em>Gun Fag Manifesto</em> blog!</a> It may or may not come to serve as a repository for <em>GFM</em>-style content, but for now you can use to mine for promotional images, request review copies, or to learn a bit more about the book before you throw down some of the hard-earned cash that you'd set aside for beer and ammo.</span></p>
<p><span style="font-size: 13pt;"><a href="http://www.gunfagmanifesto.com/buy-it/" target="_blank">Order soon</a> if you want to receive a copy in time for Christmas.</span></p>
<p><em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5ide3eVNxQ" target="_blank"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Memento mori.</span></a></em><span style="font-size: 13pt;"> Or:</span> <em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ6l7_KDJoo" target="_blank"><span style="font-size: 13pt;">Memento mori.</span></a></em><span style="font-size: 13pt;"> Or: <em><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9xLuSADJDg" target="_blank">Memento mori</a></em>.</span></p>
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                <span class="post-footers">December 15, 2013 in <a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/gun-fag-manifesto/">Gun Fag Manifesto</a>, <a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/hollister-kopp/">Hollister Kopp</a>, <a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/nine-banded-books/">Nine-Banded Books</a>, <a href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/underworld-amusements/">Underworld Amusements</a> </span> <span class="separator">|</span> <a class="permalink" href="https://hooverhog.typepad.com/hognotes/2013/12/gun-fag-manifesto-blog.html">Permalink</a>
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							<li class="module-list-item"><div class="typelist-thumbnail"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1616583487/typepad0c2-20"><img alt="Peter Sotos: Comfort and Critique" src="https://a4.typepad.com/6a00d83467cf1969e2017c330368e4970b-75hi" /></a></div><p class="typelist-description"><a href="https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1616583487/typepad0c2-20">Peter Sotos: Comfort and Critique</a></p></li>
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							<li class="module-list-item"><a href="https://mrda.wordpress.com/">MRDA's Inferno</a><br /></li>
							<li class="module-list-item"><a href="http://www.overcomingbias.com/" >Overcoming Bias</a><br /></li>
							<li class="module-list-item"><a href="http://home.earthlink.net/~newpaniscus/" >Paniscus Revue</a><br /></li>
							<li class="module-list-item"><a href="https://isteve.blogspot.com/">Steve Sailer's iSteve Blog</a><br /></li>
							<li class="module-list-item"><a href="http://studiolo.cortediurbino.org/" >Studiolo</a><br /></li>
							<li class="module-list-item"><a href="https://theviewfromhell.blogspot.com/">The View from Hell</a><br /></li>
							<li class="module-list-item"><a href="http://www.titoperdue.com/" >Tito Perdue</a><br /></li>
							<li class="module-list-item"><a href="http://ovo127.com/" >Trevor Blake</a><br /></li>
							<li class="module-list-item"><a href="https://uncouthreflections.wordpress.com/">Uncouth Reflections</a><br /></li>
							<li class="module-list-item"><a href="http://www.underworldamusements.com/" >Underworld Amusements</a><br /></li>
							<li class="module-list-item"><a href="https://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/">Unqualified Reservations</a><br /></li>
			
		</ul><!-- last /ul -->
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<div class="module-syndicate module">
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