Ghosts march

A rebel I came, and sure I’ll die the same, though my comrades’ ghosts march beside me.

Back Home in Derry, Bobby Sands

I’m anti-authoritarian to core. “You’re not the boss of me” could probably my motto, and, judging by the history, the motto particularly of my mother’s family, and the other side were trying to compete. Telling us ‘you can’t’ was a sure way to make us try, and telling us ‘you must’ didn’t work out well (for both sides, sometimes). A bit like wild cats, really, and about as herd-able.

That’s not to say I can’t accept authority or take orders… I can, and do so. But I need to accept that particular authority, and my ability to respect and comply is very much a limited one. I’ll take a Medical Doctor’s instruction on medical matters that he or she knows well. When they tell me how my taste in books or politics ought to be, I’m likely to tell the devil to be away with them.

I listen in blank amazement to people taking seriously what some actor or fashion-celebrity say about politics or world affairs or the environment.  I might take the Celeb seriously if they were telling me about acting or how to strut on a catwalk, but frankly respecting their opinions on world affairs or biology comes over as the wrong side of daft to me. Yet people do it, and hang their entire lives on the utterances of people who as often as not can’t manage their own relationships or often, wardrobes.

If I have a wardrobe malfunction, it mostly involves the doors not closing…

Anyway, traditional publishing these days is very much authoritarian, and ‘thou shalt not stray’ lines, which become more hilarious by the day: ranging from the ‘count the tokens’ of all currently fashionable designated ‘victim-group’ whose role and heroism is entirely determined by their skin color or sexual preferences (They are universally to be the ‘good guys’.  The twitter-mob will be dispatched if you dare make them some good, some bad and some in between… as most of us know people are from first-hand experience.) to the ludicrous ‘stay in your lane’ demands that you only write about your own group, or designated victim groups lower in the hierarchy than your own (but you still have to obey ‘count-the-tokens’ – work this out!). You many not disagree in the slightest with the currently prescribed doctrine: so, even if you are in perfect line with 98% of the doctrine, but you do something like question whether it is fair for xy gene ‘trans’ women to compete in sexually divided sport against xx ‘cis’ women, you will be cast into outer darkness.

I fit in to this like a bar of ivory soap in a coal-scuttle. Shrug. I am not convinced conformity is a good recipe for the human race, let alone for writing. After all, most of us know, from first-hand experience, that most of the hierarchy of saintliness is bullshit. In the real world, you can find villains or heroes and plenty in between, who are gay or black, or, for that matter heterosexual or white. There are probabilities of certain traits and certain behaviors from certain groups and cultures. That’s why stereotypes develop – but they’re never universal. If they appear to be: you can bet it’s by force and persecution – whether we talk of the cheering for the ‘Beloved Leader’ in North Korea, or NK Jemisin’s ‘Utopia’ where ‘social workers’ execute those who don’t fit their model.

The good news on this, from this writer’s point of view, and in terms of the species survival, is that we have millions of years of selection for at least some rebels in any society (I believe very common in new frontier societies, and more rare in dense urban old cities, but existent in both).

Obviously, anti-authoritarian non-conformity got you killed a lot of the time – but it must have been a survival trait enough for it still to be widespread despite every effort to suppress and destroy it (if you think the SJW are the first, think again. Their authoritarian streak come from a tradition that goes back as long as humans have been around.) At least some of us (the readers and writers) root for the outsider, the underdog, the anti-establishment figure.  Of course, the traditional publishing establishment desperately tries to claim this mantle… but they ARE the establishment. They ARE the powers-that-be in publishing, and in the literary and academic world, and review and award world. If not, their shalt-not-stray lines would be the minority (or non-existent) in publications and awards – not 99% dominant. The numbers CAN’T lie, although the establishment does.  They claim to be sticking it to the Man… but they ARE the Man (how dare we assume their gender), Speaking truth to Power – except they ARE the Power. If they weren’t… there’d be consequences. Exclusion, silencing, de-platforming slandering in the mass media etc… Who does that happen to?  

In the last few years, of course, the rebels have gone from a few rag-tags to – via Indy actually ‘owning’ the support of a lot of readers. It’s a growing movement, and their narrow, doctrinaire church gets narrower and nastier and smaller by the year.

But don’t think trad publishing and its establishment are ready to give up or even cry truce and accept a reasonable share of the readership, proportional to their demographic support, and to win hearts and minds by great writing. Like all totalitarians, it’s all or nothing. I’ll sing you no lullaby. They’ll destroy us if they can, infiltrate and subvert our platforms, and banish us if they can. If possible we rebels will be killed or silenced or at very least driven out of business, our livelihoods and reputations destroyed, and our readers ‘re-educated’.    

So we must go on. I continue to write books that do not conform. I hope you too will continue to write them and/or buy them.

And our comrades’ ghosts march beside us.   From Mary Shelley to Robert Heinlein… They try to tarnish their achievement and banish and erase their names. But they still march on, while we do.

Image by photosforyou from Pixabay

42 comments

  1. It’s a bit depressing to skim the YA book club and bestseller and “new and popular” end-caps at the regional B&N. So many have the same themes, at the same time, that it’s easy to see the push in progress. Homosexual minority-member protagonist rebels against family tradition. Homosexual minority member falls in love with ghost of same sex while trying to prove own worth. Downtrodden female joins with other downtrodden . . . And then there was the one bragging about inverting the _Princess Bride_. That was the entire selling point – inverting Princess Bride. *facepaw* Granted, things were not much better when I was a teen (all gritty urban realism, Cold War angst, and surviving child abuse), but you could still find SOME fun stuff in fantasy and sci-fi. It’s no wonder teens don’t like to read, if they’ve been told that this is “great, entertaining reading.”

    Which means more market share for us indie and small-press, once we grab their attention! *rubs paws with glee*

    1. I see that too. I also see, over and over, the brave rebels rebelling against fill-in-the-blank with not a single mention of the death and destruction raining down on people who’d like to be left alone. Those people don’t count.

      And what happens next? I suppose more rebels rebelling until the rubble stops bouncing.

      Yet the establishment is telling stories about brave rebels when they’re the ones who should be rebelled against. It’s wierd.

    2. I think you truncated your comment,TXRed.You dropped your
      “Bwahahahaa”.You’re welcome😉

  2. I might take the Celeb seriously if they were telling me about acting or how to strut on a catwalk, but frankly respecting their opinions on world affairs or biology comes over as the wrong side of daft to me.

    I haven’t seen evidence that actors are any good at thinking about politics. But I have seen evidence that there are other people with a trade that requires a personal brand name, for example science fiction writers, who are worth listening to. I may considering them to be mostly wrong (Eric the-red Flint comes to mind), or really hope things aren’t as bad as they appear to them (Tom Kratman). But they are usually worth listening to.

    I know I’m a strange person, but for me authors are celebrities.

    1. Depends on the author. When reading Flint and Kratman, one gets the sense that they actually think about things, and even if, at a certain level, their writing is wish-fulfillment, what they write about usually requires some knowledge of how the real world works.

      There are very few actors or musicians about whom that last phrase is true, and it shows.

    2. Alice Cooper often says one should not listen to celebs like him, for the most part, and yet he often has a valid concern or view about something politically. Then again he tends to be “right of center”, and most celebs who say a version of the same tend that way too, It’s the ones who are not all that smart and tend to being so far out in left field, they are not even in the stadium’s parking lot let alone the playing field, are also the ones telling us what we should do, think, etc.

      1. Alice Cooper has consistently been one of the smartest people in show biz. Not a fan of the music, but I am a fan of the guy himself. Straight shooter.

  3. As I put it in a story I’m writing:

    “Why trust the fatuous opinions of ‘celebrities’ on subjects they obviously never took the trouble to learn anything about?”

    “Far too many people believe that because they have money, or power, or influence, it gives them the right to tell everybody else how to live their lives.”

    Yeah, Bloomborg, I’m looking at YOU.

  4. Somewhere I heard that a lot of celebrities have a “hidden inferiority complex”.

    They are making all this money but don’t see what they are doing (entertaining) as worth that money.

    So they get people telling them that “they can make a REAL difference” by supporting the most recent political “fad”.

    Of course, as mentioned, they don’t know anything about the “issue” so just parrot that they are told to say.

    Then there are those who just “follow the crowd” by supporting the “In Thing” which may be political.

    Oh, some where I read that the actor who played Captain America failed to show the “proper support” for Biden and now the mob is after him for being Christian. The Good News is that his Avenger Movies co-stars are supporting him.

    1. Not Captain America. Starlord from the Guardians of the Galaxy. Easy mistake, since they’re both named Chris. The one catching flak is Chris Pratt. Chris Evans (aka Cap) has shows support for his fellow Chris, though, as have other actors from the MCU.

      1. Yeas, I saw that they’ve been slagging Chris Pratt for the crime of going to church regularly with his wife and kids.

        Imagine the nerve of the guy, going to church like that. Huh.

    2. Not Captain America; the human from “Guardians of the Galaxy”, Daniel Pratt.

      What blew my mind is that Mark “Hulk” Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr were defending him against the mob.

      1. I got the feeling that Pratt is such a decent, hard-working guy, and so easy to film with, that the others are willing to stand up for him.

        [Apparently Robert Urich was like that. Professional, genial, always prepared and willing to work, even on short notice, and thus very popular with actors, directors, and stage crew alike.]

      2. Robert Downey Jr. doesn’t surprise me, but Ruffalo does. Downey has been through Hell in more ways than one and no longer seems to give a crap about keeping up with the cool kids. Ruffalo, however, always struck me as one of those who has to be the wokest person in the room; I’m extremely surprised he would go against the mob in this case.

  5. As humans, we need to believe in something outside of ourselves. With so much disdain showered on Christianity (it’s safe! Christians will pray for you instead of beheading you) and other religions paid lip-service for reasons of ‘diversity’ and offending your devout relatives, what is left?

    Celebrities as secular saints.

    I like getting People and Vanity Fair at the library (I already paid via my tax dollars) and leafing through for examples. They are appalling; breathless, star-struck hagiographies of actors telling me how to cut back on my carbon footprint while never mentioning their multiple homes that they fly between in their private jet.

    1. Yep – the big houses, lavish holidays and private jet travel by actors and other celebutards lecturing us little people about our carbon footprint does get terribly old…

      1. The message is so clear, isn’t it.
        “Kneel before your betters, peasant” along with plenty of claptrap about how it’s for your best interests, but they, special people that they are, deserve more.

  6. A problem as old as Plato’s Apology of Socrates: people assume that doing one thing well makes them generally wise.

  7. ““You’re not the boss of me” could probably my motto…”
    You’re a font of good cheer and cooperation Dave. “You’re not the boss of me” implies a conversation and the possibility of a relationship if the other guy behaves himself.

    My motto these days is “get off my lawn.” I’m about done with the demands and expectations of others, and I have no interest in dealing with them at any level.

    “If I want any shit from you I’ll squeeze your head!” is coming on as a strong second motto, as conditions deteriorate here in beautiful Hooterville Ontario. The “local Indians” have decided they needed to dig up several roads in the area, one of them being the main highway. I put “local Indians” in scare quotes because none of the people getting arrested at these violent demonstrations are A) actual Indians or B) from the local Indian reservation. It’s Antifa, pretty much.

    This is creeping into my writing a little bit, I have to admit. Currently, the almost-the-end-part of my WIP there’s a demon outbreak in North Korea. They were screwing with necromancy and it got away on them. China is pulling their strings in the story, so the next “demonic containment failure” is going to be in Chengdu.

    Why there, particularly? Well, in Real Life, Chengdu is trying to get the 2023 WorldCon, and nobody appears to be too put out by that except Steve Davidson. Who is an @$$hole, but at least consistent.

    I was wondering about how that can be, all those dogs not barking, and then I found something interesting.

    https://phantomsoapbox.blogspot.com/2020/10/communist-china-runs-your-bookstore-and.html

    China is getting very, very fine-grained in their propaganda push to bend Western culture around to their advantage. They appear to be spending a great deal of money on companies like Disney (live-action Mulan, anyone?) but they’re also going after tiny little obscure publishers in dorky little towns in Germany.

    You add that datum to the push of Chinese-sourced science fiction winning the Hugo award so often (and for such bad stories), and I begin to wonder if Steve “Puppy Kicker” Davidson didn’t get the memo to shut up about China.

    Preemptive Get Off My Lawn for the first SJW to pretend this comment is about hating Chinese people.

    1. It just means that they would have no principled objection should people on the right write stories that approve glowingly of purposeless mass murders. 🙂

    2. Akshully, defending the mass murder of the Muslim population within the PRC could actually be consistent with my theory that multiculturalism inherently permits any and all acts of mass murder. Narrower definition of personhood is a feature of some cultures, so tolerating all cultures necessarily implies that broad theories of personhood are optional.

      There’s a Chinese idiom about pulling up trouble by the roots. Think “nits make lice”. Ergo, part of Chinese culture, and only a racist could have a problem with it.

      Turns out that all the work I’ve put in trying to study how this stuff could be mirrored may have been a waste. Mirroring is completely useless for any sort of moral guideline or personal objective.

  8. Okay this is interesting. Trying to post a link to an article I posted at my blog, and WordPress won’t post it.

    Let’s see if it takes this comment.

  9. Still won’t take even a truncated link. Okay, the name of the post is “Communist China Runs Your Bookstore and WorldCon too.” and it’s right at the top of the blog. Let’s see if that works.

    1. Well well. Trouble is I can’t tell if this is enemy action or just the usual BS from WordPress.

      Anyway, I’m speculating that some of the problem Conservatives are having with getting published these days is partially paid for by the CCP. Because as I note in the article, they are going after much smaller targets than Disney, and no one in publishing seems to care.

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