Samstag, 20. Oktober 2012


I just came across this Mind Meld by SF Signal. It’s been online for two weeks and I primarily wanted to check out which readings Karen Lord would recommend in regard to the question »If you were creating the syllabus for a high school English Literature course, what SF/F stories do you think should be included?«—Lord’s debut novel Redemption in Indigo was given to me as a birthday present by my parents. I haven’t yet been able to read more than a few pages of it, but I have been very intrigued, and likewise now by Lord’s recommendations. I was also impressed that she was the only participant in the Mind Meld who asked the question (very appropriate for a literature class) what actually constitutes fantasy literature.

James Patrick Kelly, the Steward of Slipstream, also recommends some interesting stuff. On the other hand, I couldn’t help noticing that Bradley P. Beaulieu praises The Lions of Al-Rassan as »a story of two men who are at first on opposite sides of a brewing conflict«. That’s not quite true, because The Lions of Al-Rassan is a story of one woman and two men who are on opposing sides, and the plot is actually not about the two men struggling for the love of the woman, but about three people who are bound together by intellectual companionship and mutual interest.

Only when I started reading John C. Wright’s contribution I discovered that this Mind Meld was also good for a laugh. Wright begins by stating »The question is frankly a very difficult one. Let us analyze it...«, then, after giving his unwanted opinion about a wide range of topics, exclaims: »Ah! But there are three other purposes to education I have not mentioned.« And goes on to ramble for a dozen or two paragraphs more. Given the possibility that Wright, as a published author, actually writes novels like that (»Ah!«), I am now glad that I never read any of his fiction. I only knew that Wright is the kind of cardboard conservative who wants to come across as provocative but is merely whining, who desperately wants to be like G.K. Chesterton or Walter M. Miller (the great conservative fantasists who really had some interesting things to say), but fails because he lacks the shrewdness and the argumentative skills. In other words: I knew before that Wright’s opinions are an unwilling caricature, but now I am actually impressed, because seldom a writer has convinced me with such few lines (the other one being John Asht) that not only the content, but also the style of his writing is simply ludicrous.

But it gets even better. In the comment section, Wright says:
Ironically, the complaint against me here seems to be that what I say is so preposterous that I cannot be taken seriously, so I ought not be answered. But what is actually happening is that what I say cannot be answered (for that would require honest reason), and therefore dare not be taken seriously. [...] The problem is primarily linguistic. In Newspeak, there is no word for “honesty.” Ideas are judged on being either fashionable or not, current or not, politically useful or not.
Yes, he really says this. And he is almost right. I say almost, because it is of course not primarily a linguistic problem (as every English-speaking person with average intellect knows the meaning of the word ›honesty‹), but an ideological one. It is a rather simple process: Whenever someone says that his opinions are preposterous, Wright’s mind somehow renders this as »What I say cannot be answered, for that would require honest reason«. And I’m sure it also works the other way round. Whenever someone labels Wright’s opinions as »daring«, »rebellious«, »right, proper, normal and real«, »astonishing«, »manly« or »useful to civilization and civility« (I am merely quoting Wright’s vocabulary here), his mind will interprete the bootlicking as a display of »honest reason«.

I find this fascinating to witness. John C. Wright really can tell us something about Newspeak. After all, he is an ardent practitioner of it.

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Das Foto im Blog-Header wurde freundlicherweise von Sandra Rugina zur Verfügung gestellt. Es zeigt den Bâlea-See in den rumänischen Karpaten. Alle Rechte liegen bei der Autorin.