Petty Misery

Petty Misery

No, this is not a reference to Pelosi tearing up her copy of the STFU speech Trump delivered, or the Dems behavior in general, though the Fist of course has his usual Not-Safe-For-Work take on it.

No, this instead is about a set of posts that touch on interrelated themes.

The first is a post referencing Brian Niemeier - author of the outstanding Souldancer and Nethereal, as well as a new mecha series - over at kairos, discussing the big lie shared by all of the variants of the death cult that this life is about you.

Each of the three cults Brian identifies takes this atomized individual solipsism and uses it differently. The Pop Cult expresses this in an infantile manner, and many caught up in it exhibit a sort of Peter Pan fantasy of perpetual childhood. The Death Cult goes for a rebellious adolescent mood to attract Pop Cultists into it, and then the usual narrative we see with testimonials of former addicts and criminals plays out here most of the time- and the rest goes into cult escapee narratives. The Mammon Mob is the net that gets those that the Death Cult misses; it pretends to rational maturity, but its narrative of cowboy-style rugged individualism results in the Fuck You-Got Mine narcissistic behavior we see dramatized in films like Wall Street and Margin Call.

Each cult sells the same lie: "This life is all about you." That's because it's a slant on the original lie: "God doesn't want you to know what He knows, because He knows you won't obey if you do, because He wants this to be about Him- not you." Yes, The Lie--that God is the Enemy, and this life would be Heaven if you denied Him in favor of yourself--is the basis for These Lies.

This is where the failure of Western churches comes in. The cults arose because the churches failed. The churches failed because they accepted The Lie. I know this because I grew up in one of the most converged Protestant sects around: the United Church of Christ. I didn't have the words then, but I recognized that the system of belief they told me did not work; I was a gamer from a very young age, and running D&D campaigns before I hit puberty, so world-building was second-nature by that adolescent phase, and creating settings that worked is part of the deal. What I was told did not work, so I rejected it; I just didn't know it was heresy I rejected, and I had no idea where to go so I drifted for years.

When you hear nothing to contradict the lie, it's very difficult to not believe it, especially if you have no habit of thinking things through.

A point this post makes, and that is echoed in both Brian's and mine own disgust and anger at boomer arguments about how the sea of students drowning in debt knew what they were doing when they signed on the dotted line, is that they didn't. They, we, were told that we should go to college or we'd fail. We tried to apply for jobs, and by the late 90's anything that wasn't a trade required a college degree before they'd even consider you. It was a lie pushed to everyone, that they had to go to university or they wold be failures. It was pushed especially hard at women.

And in a world where there were few, if any, contradictory voices, of course we believed them. These people have our best interests at heart.

Right?

Much like I've discussed before in refrence to Eric Raymond's Ethics from the barrel of a gun,  there comes a point where it doesn't matter if it's malevolence or chronic stupidity, the results are just as deadly.

The death cult has other side effects than "just" indebting you for life while conveniently grinding most of the above average to bits in ideological mills. It tears apart everything in a pool of misery and suck. It focuses on the petty things. If I seriously had to use one word to describe the literary genre, it would be just that.

Petty.

Perhaps "mundane".

The thing I cannot get past in almost anything written by anyone with modern literary ambition, Gene Wolfe and a handful of others aside, is the degree to which they focus on mundane, and small. The contents of a breakfast plate, how the hair was touseled, answering doors in pajamas, chapters spent on waking up and getting out of bed and every moment of angst.

Even the reporting done by Ronan Farrow, when turned into a book, comes across like nails on a chalkboard for the tone and verbiage.

They also focus on the dirt and the muck. They focus on misery, not joy. From wasteland and Sky on the topic of "Misery Inc.", and especially the movie Radio Flyer:

Of course, not every movie has to be bright and sunny, but a movie about child abuse that ends with a boy running away from home and dying is not a story that enriches anyone watching. It offers the viewer nothing. It's misery porn. No one with a healthy mind would greenlight something this sickening or think it is worth producing.

And yet Hollywood was salivating over making it and having you watch it. This was something you needed to see.

Also...

What exactly about this story was worth getting so excited over and spending all this money on? This is a cartoonish glorification (or demonization, if you're feeling braver) of the concept of escapism. It makes it out to be completely useless and for the mentally unsound who can't handle reality. In an era where imagination was not in short supply, this film almost feels like an attack on the whole notion of escapism and the imaginative and creative stories people were making at the time. The whole idea is disturbing.

Go read the whole thing.

I won't ask you to sit through the below Aydin Paladin video. Her view is skewed by a strong degree of LOLbertarianism, but then she doesn't wear her sexuality on her sleeve, and actually does research- going into her usual depth of listing all of the relevant references.

The relevant point in the video is that people identify with fictional characters as much as they identify with real people, possibly more. They want to see justice, and while happy endings are more enjoyable, meaningful endings where the "happy" ending is only gained through sacrifice and struggle, or where a moral lesson or justice are imparted, tend to be more satisfactory.  Yes, I'm oversimplifying.

Ask yourself this - what kind of person wants to spend any time with Kvothe of the Rothfuss books, or most of the insufferable, overanxious, petty, angsty, neurotic characters that inhabit most literary fiction? Or the people in most of those horrid 70's flicks mentioned at Wasteland and Sky?

Likely the same kind of people that wear H.P. Lovecraft's mythos as a skinsuit because they can't be bothered to create their own Terminator knockoff. Or the kind of people who insist on stripping out sanity rules because triggered:

Again, note the similar wording: “Why, why should I be forced to act like I’m off my meds?”

Obviously this is not a question about game rules or what Sanity Loss implies in that game context. There’s clearly some distress in that question. This implies someone (the GM) was “forcing” the player (and it seems clear the ‘I’ refers to the player, not the character) to act like he was off his meds, so the correct question should have been “Why, why are YOU forcing me to act like I’m off my meds?” Honestly, with what kind of weirdos are you guys playing? Why are you trying to prove Jack Chick right?

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.