Monday, November 23, 2015

The People of Yesterday Held Different Beliefs Than We Do Today! WHAT IS WRONG WITH THEM?

Lately I've been spending a lot of time reading through the TOR.com exploration of Gary Gygax's Appendix N and wondering what is wrong with these people. Their criticisms are often not about the works they're reading but instead about the people who wrote them - people who often reflected the times they lived in by holding outdated views about morality, sexuality, race relations, social justice, and the like. As a result their objections all tend to sound the same: "Author X was writing in 1910 and held views that were common during their lifetime but are completely wrong by today's standards. What the fuck is wrong with them?" I mean who would ever imagine that someone writing more than a hundred years ago might have moral and societal values that are vastly different from the ones we have today.

It doesn't end there, though, as so often the argument that they're making isn't just that these people lived in a vastly different society from what we live in today but that we should not read them because of that very fact. These authors from the past, Lovecraft and his Pulp contemporaries, should be actively avoided because they held the wrong beliefs and that is the exact opposite of a liberal's core belief, not only when it comes to reading, but to free speech in general

Look, liberals used to be the cat in the room who listened to too much jazz, drank whiskey, smoked unfiltered cigarettes, and was constantly pushing lists of locally banned books into your hands and rasping, "Man you got to read Hoffman, Thompson, Miller, Twain, Vonnegut, Heller, Faulkner, and Salinger because what they're doing is on another level from the rest of us." We used to be the guys who were telling the fascists to go fuck themselves because we're not going to use their approved language and walk down the road thinking their approved thoughts. We were the god-damned, liberal, pinko, commie, fags who were challenging the conservative elements of the nation by going out, doing, being, and trying everything until we found our own thing. We were the people who taught the world to, "Do you, bro," because what mattered was that each of us were true to ourselves and developed a morality and understanding of the world that we could live with rather than one that would grind us into dust beneath its heel. Somewhere along the line though the assholes infiltrated us and now we're sitting around looking at people demanding that they, "Do you, just so long as it's according to these pre-established guidelines of acceptable thoughts and actions." I've been a liberal for too long to suddenly begin walking down that line happily chanting the party slogans. "Think like us! Talk like us! Be an individual, just so long as you're exactly like us!" 

Fuck that. 

I'm still reading books like The Tropic of Cancer, The Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse-Five, Red Nails, Huckleberry Finn, and Catch-22. I'm still reading adventure stories and murder mysteries that have no morality plays attached to them. And though I've long since stopped smoking I'm still listening to too much jazz and drinking whiskey late at night while pushing lists of banned books on my friends telling them they've got to give these guys a chance. 

Read Banned Books by Topher MacDonald (who makes some kickass stuff)

13 comments:

  1. I am a libertarian, I see this coming from both sides, Liberals and Conservatives. You just got a glimpse of what I deal with......

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  2. What was ever banned by someone who could beat it fair & square?

    Think Banned Thoughts. Fly Banned Flags.

    Because they're Banned.

    "I hated cigarettes until I saw my first NO SMOKING sign. Keep off the grass? Let's play soccer. The only law I cared for was friendship."

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    Replies
    1. "Tell me I'm not as fat as that guard." "No, no. You're a slender reed compared to that guard."

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  3. Seems silly to judge a person 100 years posthumously. We have no way to truly view their opinions through the lense of their influences..
    Can we write using the social and moral framework that's going to be in vogue 160 years from now?
    As far as liberals go, I'm not sure that this kind of black and white judgement of other people's work and opinions is not deeper than that. It seems as a society we are currently much more apt to condemn people who disagree with us in part because the internet gives every single person the ability to do so freely. The quickest way to make yourself look right is to point out how someone else is wrong. I don't agree with that personally but it seems to be what runs that internet. That and cat pictures of course.

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  4. For some people, it is more important to tell people how much of a decent person they are, than to be a decent person.

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  5. Wait...we...as a given society, culture, or even species have moral and societal values today?

    Whoah. Who knew?

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  6. If I only read the works of other atheist-individualist-anarchist-capitalists, I might as well be illiterate. Oh, and forget about that theory of relativity BS. Einstein was a dirty socialist!

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    Replies
    1. Thank gawd I am not the only Anarcho-Capitalist that likes Einstein....

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    2. I'm glad I'm apparently not the only ancap in the OSR blogosphere, period. And sharing a first name, to boot. Wild.

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  7. Yes, there is definitely a subset of liberals who have adopted social conservative tactics like calling for bans, exclusion & shaming. It is a little puzzling to me because those tactics weren't effective for social conservatives. Why adopt an opponent's failed strategy? I've always found living the example more effective way of teaching others to be decent human beings. Admittedly, it is slow since it relies on people coming to their own conclusions.
    As for authors and other artists of bygone eras, I can appreciate their work but I don't cut them slack because they held “views that were common during their lifetime but are completely wrong by today's standards” for a couple of reasons. First off, common views or the view held by the majority do not equal “right.” There were people contemporary, and in prior generations, to these artists who rejected those views. Secondly, there are still people who hold those same screwed up beliefs today. That said, I accept artists as whole human beings complete with flaws. I can enjoy reading “In the Walls of Eryx” or listening to “Die Walkure” and still recognize that Lovecraft was a nasty bigot and Wagner was anti-Semitic. I don't want artists banned and I don't need them whitewashed either.

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  8. I read through the TOR.com posts on Appendix N, and I have to admit that my mind simply boggled. Who knew, all those years ago, that we were doing it all so wrong! Time to roll up the carpet and turn of the lights, perhaps; judging from some of the horrified reactions I get to my tales of gaming in Ye Olden Days, I am apparently Very Politically Incorrect.

    Shrug.

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  9. I have to totally disagree I read through the posts and I've read nearly all the books they discussed. From what I can tell they're main criticism was certain authors were boring and a few books were a pretty sexist. And they often actually liked the sexist books/authors more. I disagreed on some of their opinions and I find that I read a lot more Andre Norton and Poul Anderson when I was a kid but it certainly wasn't a ban these books list.

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