Friday, November 25, 2016

Better living through internet trolls

So this is kind of odd, but: yes, I've been more or less ignoring the news lately, but I've still been intermittently looking at Lawyers Guns & Money, a blog I read. It's had a long-standing troll problem, and in the wake of the election, there's an unreconstructed Nazi bwahaha-ing--no links, but you can probably imagine: THE WHITE MAN HAS TAKEN OVER, AND ALL THE [African Americans] WILL LEARN THEIR PLACE! SEND THEM BACK TO AFRICA! (I mean, I assume it's an actual Nazi; it could just be some nihilistic 4chan-type purely trying to promote a reaction--but I'm willing to grant the anonymous creature the, uh, courage of its convictions). It's incredibly repulsive stuff, and yet I found, somehow, that I wasn't as upset as I might have been--that, in fact, I found it oddly comforting.

Now, I should preface this by emphasizing that I really, really am not trying to undersell what a fucking disaster this new president is. His administration is definitely going to cause a lot of pain to a lot of people, ethnic minorities most of all. And that, obviously, fucking sucks. A lot.


You know, it's easy to despair, and when you talk to like-minded people, it's easy to get into a downward spiral: the country is doomed, humanity is doomed, the world is doomed, doomed doomed doomed. But when you hear your worst fears presented as masturbatory fantasies by extreme rightists...well, it kind of puts things in perspective, because you're not inclined to agree philosophically with them. And you realize just how goddamn goofy it sounds. Because, yes, as I said, people are going to be hurt. But there isn't going to be some kind of friggin' Turner Diaries-style white revolution, and the fact that these people apparently think there is is just pathetic and comical.

Obama and Trump have this much in common: they got elected by allowing people to project their own deep impulses onto them. I mean, yes, unlike Trump, Obama actually had a coherent, consistent set of principles, but that ain't how people vote. They were voting for the extremely nebulous idea of "change," just as Trumpites voted for the equally vague "make America great again." A lot of leftists were miffed when Obama didn't turn out to be a fantasy left-wing Messiah, but that's just because they were projecting their own fantasies onto him.  It's the same thing that these dumbass white supremacists are doing with Trump, and they're going to be no less disappointed, because as bad as he is, he's not actually Hitler.  I mean, okay, maybe "republican president not literally Hitler!" is the world's least comforting piece of comfort, but I do think it's good to try to stay as calm and rational as possible, and for me, this helps with that.

So, uh, Happy Thanksgiving, anyway. I hope everything is okay.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Helen DeWitt, Lightning Rods (2008)

Dewitt's second novel is pretty far removed from The Last Samurai. It's short, and it has a plot that, when described, sounds like this weird dream you had this one time: Joe is not having much luck as a vacuum-cleaner salesman, so, by a series of mental associations, he comes up with a new idea: a service aimed at corporate clients where men in a company can have anonymous sex through a wall with a certain subsection of female employees hired specifically for this purpose--the idea being that this will increase productivity and eliminate sexual harassment and attendant costly and time-consuming lawsuits. All of this is described in blandly liberal corporate terms. The novel chronicles the introduction of this service and its evolution as it starts to catch fire.

Friday, November 11, 2016


I hope you're okay