The SFFaudio Podcast #692 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: Things As They Are; Or, The Adventures Of Caleb Williams by William Godwin

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #692 – Things As They Are; Or, The Adventures Of Caleb Williams by William Godwin – read by Bev J Stevens, for LibriVox. This is a complete and unabridged reading of novel (16 hours 37 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Paul Weimer, Evan Lampe, and Bryan Alexander

Talked about on today’s show:
1794, consistently mentioned, extensive shownotes, 2013, “The Modern Prometheus” or Frankenstein, Wieland by Charles Brockden Brown, 9 years of hint, The Star King by Jack Vance, favourite novel or favourite book?, sportsball human named Caleb Williams, Oklahoma Sooners, an evil plan to make us stupider, where everybody lives, how tall or how much money does Caleb Williams make, Google sponsoring Worldcon, the connection to Frankenstein, four people, woho would the first family of British letters (but their politics is too upsetting), anarchist political philosophy, Political Justice by William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, The Last Man, Percy Shelly, one of the greatest poets of all time, their politics are so uncomfortable, vegetarian scary feminist, The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers, The Stress Of Her Regard, neutered their reputations, Percy Shelly as a nature poet, a rich and exciting book, the sentences are long, a cat just climbed on Bryan, better on the page, a really fun book, written in reverse, Dickens wrote a note to Poe to that effect, the fun stuff, very John Buchan-y, escape, Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male, crime novel, a thriller novel, chase and escape, one man against the state, a detective story, Hamlet, curiosity, a classic tragedy, a Jacobean revenge tragedy, all those modalities, a gothic layer, a doppelganger story, weird tweets, Arthur Mervyn by Charles Brockden Brown, tasting Godwin, teaching a course on those four writers would be a dream course, Women’s Studies/History, connecting these writers with the French Revolution, The Rights Of Man by Thomas Paine, trying not to think about the 1790s, The Making Of The British Working Class by E.P. Thompson, 1810-1815, Ireland was invaded by France in 1797, the nine years war, its not popular, going against what the British like to think about themselves, practicing colonialism on their neighbour, the Easter Rising, WWI, rebellion and mutiny in the British Navy, a continental story, Napoleon, republic is a good idea, incendiary, The REVOLUTIONS Podcast, Queen Victoria’s guillotine nightmares, echoes in Political Justice, this is all messed up, our reliance on hierarchy and authority, the alternate ending (the bleak one), insane in prison, dire notes, true happiness lies in being like a stone (a grave stone), all caps and exclamation marks, literally radical stuff, alternate takes, a shirt nobody with recognize, correct or semi-correct, hot take, a woman fleeing a castle, a thinly veiled reboot, landlord lord boss, the mother in the attic or the kid in the trunk, a homoerotic or homosocial relationship, a classic heterosexual triangle, the young bride and the evil spouse, everybody is corrupted by the villain, local criminal gangs are corrupted, Mrs. Radcliffe, an anarchist book, so tame and so subtle, his starting position is internal, I have to chop of my understanding, things as they are maybe aint so great, set in Naziland, uts okay to kill Hitler, but not okay to say the British power system is corrupt, don’t steal from everybody, the preface being to risque for the publisher, zero out of ten, very hard to read, that person’s not getting it, old books are different from the style we have today, modes and trends and styles of fiction, too trusting, transformed, resigned, meta-ness, escaping into books, becoming a publisher of books, hiding as a Jew, copying their manners, that’s really cool, a way of escaping the godlike detective agency, every man’s hand is against him, a series of veils being lifted, Jews live in a ghetto, trigger, there’s a lot of torture in this book, what’s my duty, what’s my responsibility, denied light and heat, ruffians, manacled, hounded, living you misery, he can’t seem to flee, emigrate, get away from this nutty landlord, not the best plan, a relatively honest person, stealing money, the worst blackguard in all of England, a literary reflection, Tony Blair is getting another knighthood and Julian Assange is being extradited for treason to a country he is not a citizen of, an avatar for how people should act, joins the criminal gang, a cop and a criminal, a thief taker and a thief, you can be moral within yourself and not worry about the laws, or you can worry about what the laws are and bend to the will of liege lords and masters, we see this lesson again and again, an old guy with a ruddy face and white of lock, oh you’re the guy who insulted that leige lord, Ferdinando Falkland, held in such high regard, he can do no wrong, celebrities, people who own the means of communications, worldcon photography sessions, putting money into speech and putting thoughts into people’s heads, regrounding ourselves by making individual foundations, to throw you off the scent, an all in good fun game, he’s had a revolution within himself, he can’t steal, writing and selling your ideas for whatever meager living that gives you is the way, The Castle Of Otranto, what do you do next?, the novel is about consciousness raising, the next step, education, women are reading these stupid books [Jane Austen], universal compulsory education, The Future Trends Forum, climate change, unhappy cats, think better/act better, the solution is more education, Taiwan and China, the answer to social problems is always education (and never guillotines), we are severely educating the population, education is the solution to a lot of these things, the product of it [education], the mid-19th century, Marx and Engels, more unions, assassinations (propaganda of the deed), a one man army, How To Blow Up A Pipeline by Andreas Malm, all bets are off, extreme measures, Lenin’s war communism, “how things could be” (the sequel), it can’t be institutional, there’s something wrong with institutions at their heart, the justice system is beyond redemption, education is the answer but not institutional education, an 18th century version of The Wire, everyone is in the game, ennui, hate the game not the player, a rebuke, marriage, married largely for show, for her reputation, “Mary Junior”, stupid medical care, a lethal idea, which title do you use?, into the 18th century, a classic plot, lords, Bryan had his students play a role playing game about the Luddite rebellion, I get to be the bailiff, I got the cudgel, a Stanford experiment gone wrong, built into a hero, noble, smart, cultured, trying to stop a fire, 18th century life, why its so sad that Falkland becomes a villain, Justine gets in legal trouble because of the monster’s actions [in Frankenstein], reading it backwards, theatre of calamity, tyranny, is a tyrant a bad ruler or an illiterate rulers?, Declaration Of Independence language, William Blake’s America: A Prophecy, Edmund Burke, execrated my name, reputation, pulp fiction horror thing, writing is embarrassing, Anne Radcliffe, I didn’t write this I found it in a weird monastery in Italy, every praragraph sets up bit by bit, like a table of contents, post script:

Why should my reflections perpetually centre upon myself?—self, an overweening regard to which has been the source of my errors! Falkland, I will think only of thee, and from that thought will draw ever-fresh nourishment for my sorrows! One generous, one disinterested tear I will consecrate to thy ashes! A nobler spirit lived not among the sons of men. Thy intellectual powers were truly sublime, and thy bosom burned with a god-like ambition. But of what use are talents and sentiments in the corrupt wilderness of human society? It is a rank and rotten soil, from which every finer shrub draws poison as it grows. All that, in a happier field and a purer air, would expand into virtue and germinate into usefulness, is thus concerted into henbane and deadly nightshade.

insight through a dream:

Dreamt I had to attend a faculty meeting because I was unaware of what we were going to do about the people sent to troll us during the final examination. We’d be moving the university off planet – but the dimbulbs and corporate flacks were people too and they didn’t seem to get they were going to die. The low tier adult children were around now, but what would happen when we moved off planet? They were not assigned seats, at least not yet, and nobody seemed to be looking out for their interests. When I finally got to speak [on] this issue the chair did a silent scream in response. Which was utterly understandable. [there] was still hope their respective senders, two corporations, a small island nation, and a religious organization might send a budget for them prior to launch. I was still worried. On my way out of the meeting one of their number was making a mess and two others doing acts of public indecency (which would be more acceptable if they grokked the gravity of their existential plight). With nothing yet resolved I walked by then into the maker building where the maker collective was busily winding down their own far less formal meeting. I toured their facility and saw and recognized the results of several projects I’d seen them create and toured their funky display space – which had recently been updated – and talked with one of my favourite creators – who was not as popular as many others in the collective, but who was well respected for the seriousness with which he advanced the state of the humour arts. Still shook from the prospect of seeing people left behind I went to the on campus pizza place. What were we gonna do?”

the way this book is positioned is the anti-deplorables condemnation, a revolutionary czar, he wants nobody to be hung for anything, moral crimes, legal crimes, the reason they’re bad, that’s the way they were made, we need to fix things, not writing people off, all the good people are on my side, we need to make this a personal choice, a personal revolution, trying to drag all the people who are reading the book, what its like to be punished for doing no wrong, always making it personal, having revelations of how things are given to him, when she gets arrested, it would be better for me not to have done anything, not a guillotine book, lets think on this thing together, come together and be friends, bound up in his reputation, your focusing on the wrong part, it isn’t about with a name its character with a personality, how to be in the world, a precursor to a utopian novel, The Fugitive, Les Misérables [by Victor Hugo], The Count Of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, I have No Mouth And I Must Scream [by Harlan Ellison], fear of embarrassment, Ghislaine Maxwell trial, Jeffrey Epstein, Prince Andrew, we just can’t allow this, what we are as beings, growing literacy, rumour opinion, face and losing face, the doppleganger idea, dopplegangers are almost always lethal, reading the doppleganger’s story from the other side, I now have no character I wish to vindicate, a half told and mangled tale, he’s done, he’s William Wilson [Edgar Allan Poe], the Jane Austen comedy of manners, Jeremy Bentham, panopticon, Volume 3 Chapter 6, extreme verbal violence:

I now took it for granted that I was once more in the power of Mr. Falkland; and the idea was insupportably mortifying and oppressive to my imagination. Escape from his pursuit, freedom from his tyranny, were objects upon which my whole soul was bent. Could no human ingenuity and exertion effect them? Did his power reach through all space, and his eye penetrate every concealment? Was he like that mysterious being, to protect us from whose fierce revenge mountains and hills, we are told, might fall on us in vain? No idea is more heart-sickening and tremendous than this.

is he God?, lyrical, keep being revealed the conspiracy, literally true of the world, outside Julian Assange’s prison, cars full of cops, CIA literally plotting to assassinate him, they were embarrassed, make an example, the CIA was laughing at the State Department, agents all over the British isles, had you stepped on a ship there, a broken figure, barely alive, very convincing, I don’t want to be a Falkland, only a personal political solution, we have to call things as they are as we see them, we lie, we obfuscate, we do it for profit, playmobil Scooby Doo TIKI, tropical trees, a guy wearing a mask, Scooby Doo is very gothic, voodoo, you can’t use that because someone would be upset, Lego Magical Caravan is not cultural appropriation,

LEGO “Magical Caravan” is not cultural appropriation because the vardo wagon and bender tent complete with crystal ball is all euphemismed away so as to be simply a “magical caravan” with no cultural specificity, you see

“Charming details

The horse-drawn caravan is brimming with traditional features, such as cute latticework shutters and an old-fashioned lantern. The roof is side-hinged to allow kids to explore the living quarters. Inside they’ll find a bed, a kitchen with a stove and…

a table they can eat around. They can then care for the horse or play with the owl. In the tent is a crystal ball. Controlled by a twisting function, it spins to reveal Mia’s future. Kids can choose whether it lands on a sad face or a happy face or simply let fate decide”

a gypsy wagon, I wanna see the names so I have knowledge, whitewashed or anonymized, this attractive concept, they can’t name it for what it is, sail back dinosaur, Queen Of The Black Coast by Robert E. Howard, there are black people on the boat, Belit’s commanding non-blacks makes it non-problematic, not allowing speech to be said, by making nobody unhappy we’re making everybody happy <- is the theory, objecting things to showing things as they are, arrested for a crime he didn't commit, everybody is corrupt all the way up and all the way down, here I am I can be no other (and he disappears), I was told this was an anarchist book, where's the anarchism?, revolution from within, but it didn't work, William Morris and his crew, 100 years later, a similar expression, long, his wallpaper becomes popular, the Stickley furniture, craftsman’s houses, Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher, there’s no escape, acts of terror get people’s attention, unintended effects, drone attacks, The Ministry Of The Future by Kim Stanley Robinson, kidnap people from Davos and make them watch powerpoints, a panic over beef, killings and property damage, killing the Czar is the big success, Alexander Berkman blasting Henry Clay Frick, Falkland’s power is too big, Caleb is a cool guy, a chameleon, a publisher, a criminal, a personal assistant, too much, its overwhelming, justice might grind out the occasional victory, Ferdinando Falkland, when he flips out, he goes insane, detested, if it were in my power, things are not so bad as you imagine, range, genteel country squire, fits of insanity, Byronic villain hero, 18th century hero to romantic villain, literary merit, dramatist personae, more useful in a paperback, Arcadian, old hag, housekeeper, 2020s, the role of women in books and what it says about the character of the writer of the book, the bad guy in the band, stab him with a clever, demonically strong, bewildered, how to be, how to respond to the world as it is, more wild less educated, cooking and cleaning and making a person like her, experience not unlike this, avoid being physically injured, some violent person, how do we deal, she informs, going to bring down the gang, they should reform, Caleb Williams mirror without formal education, their own rustic knowledge, vernacular intuition, somehow subverted by the system, eaten the propaganda, all the encounters he has are focused on teaching us something, pedagogical or exploratory, it doesn’t have any answers, News From Nowhere, Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, how bad patriarchy is, how much, Britain is the last country to figure out that novels exist, very realistic, about class, Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe, Evan’s escape, Clarissa by Samuel Richardson, probing and sketching, Pamela, views and sketches of British life, clear dystopia, where it could have gone, broke a whole bunch of ground, good book, making apologies, they’re doing stuff very differently than the way we would do it, the conscience of the king, who am I supposed to root for here everyone is terrible, Caleb you idiot, I can explain, good character writing, the double has to be the double, the biggest objection (a Louisiana thing), it was just the one murder, who hasn’t?, Quantum Of Nightmares by Charles Stross, Caleb as victim of broadsheet cancel culture, penny dreadfuls, the meta-stuff, writing about the things that he knows, a book he finds is The Adventures Of Caleb Williams, sent to Cancelvania, resonance today, so disreputable you can’t listen to anything he says, acts of public indecency, does Williams lie?, putting on an accent isn’t lying, taking alternate or no name as a writer, what lying, or does anything really immoral?, an excuse, saving his masters papers, his one sin, he broke into it, his job is to save those papers, his motivation was wrong, close to the line, a confession, he breaks into it, guilty of the opposite of lying (too honest), pressing him, as an ancestor to detective fiction, social awkward detectives (Holmes and Nero Wolfe), if Caleb had an Archie Goodwin, a Law & Order series, Asperger’s detective with his minder, Tyrell and Falkland, why are they obsessing over me, turning a good person to evil, an orphan, broke, almost homeless, feeling guilty, in contrast to the bitter hag, a Buddhist enlightened figure, we could all go that way, the captain is kindly, cruel to animals!, they don’t live under the law, snitch, the appeal to outer authority is a shit move, physical violence in the school yard, the relationship kids have to principals, teachers and parents, prison guards and wardens, the logic works, knuckling to their authority, anarchistic at its heart, why he doesn’t want to inform, Falkland stands in for the state, he’s a justice of the peace, the stand in for institutions, penetrating society, Philip K. Dick, the black iron prison of our institutions, perverted loyalty, to do a false accusation, strongly infers, repress and control, you will never leave my service, What Happens After Nora Leaves Home?, The Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, dead or a prostitute, gothic romances from the 1960s, women with great hair fleeing a house with a high lit window at night, Caleba Williams, a pregnant prostitute, just find a suitable marriage, test the character of your potential husband, the end of Wall-E (2008), Down And Out In The Year 2000 by Kim Stanley Robinson, suffering cyberpunks in Washington, D.C., the author made the fire,

My mind was already raised to its utmost pitch. In a window-seat of the room lay a number of chisels and other carpenter’s tools. I know not what infatuation instantaneously seized me. The idea was too powerful to be resisted. I forgot the business upon which I came, the employment of the servants, and the urgency of general danger. I should have done the same if the flames that seemed to extend as they proceeded, and already surmounted the house, had reached this very apartment. I snatched a tool suitable for the purpose, threw myself upon the ground, and applied with eagerness to a magazine which inclosed all for which my heart panted. After two or three efforts, in which the energy of uncontrollable passion was added to my bodily strength, the fastenings gave way, the trunk opened, and all that I sought was at once within my reach.

then a gun is pointed to his head, a Bluebeard story, sins are not in thought, this is the excuse I’ve needed, take the things to safety, he was a scrivener, at every opportunity to lie he does not, lying to the F.B.I. is illegal, the only thing we shouldn’t do to mom and dad, computer game logic, handy tools, fire, a repetition, fire scenes become drama is heightened up, Eric S. Rabkin, Psychoanalysis Of Fire by Gaston Bachelard, fire is literally illumination, symbolically too, Saul becomes Paul because of light, the MacGuffin opened up for us to see, an action movie, Pulp Fiction (1994), the Blade Runner link, tyranny, death to tyrants, autocratic or illicit or illegal rulers, Oedipus Tyrannus by Sophocles, he solves the crime, the detective being the criminal, Shutter Island (2010), the guilty party, setting up an axe throwing station, Vermont roots to D.C., gleefully splitting, bloody handed, more walking the streets with a bloody axe, a plague doctor mask, happy new year!

Caleb Williams by William Godwin

LEGO 41688 - Magical Caravan

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The SFFaudio Podcast #679 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Last Of The Masters by Philip K. Dick

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #679 – The Last Of The Masters by Philip K. Dick – read by Mike Vendetti. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the story (1 hour 16 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse, Evan Lampe, Will Emmons, and Mike Vendetti.

Talked about on today’s show:
Orbit Science Fiction, Volume 1, No. 5, 1954, the Philip K. Dick estate is a fuckin liar, copyright office, like a leak (of a public document), hand written lies are kinda shocking, Imaginative Tales, November 1955, when it happens over and over again it isn’t an honest mistake, its called fraud, Mike is donating it to Jesse!, nice guy together, anarchists on twitter, mutual aid, a commercial reality, submitting ourselves to Jeff Bezos’ reign, a resource the Jesse Trove and the Mike Well, no pledges or suing, this overarching evil government, so applicable today, vaccinated, bacteria masked, it sounds like they’re the ones with the weapons, outside the Master’s domain, the village up ahead, the children started dying, the anarchist world, the milk, the well, the season change, natural immunity?, not answered in the story, pick a team, the robot or the anarchist’s league, we’re divided, getting into Dick’s head, is the state his wife again?, this utopian dream, somebody has to cook my dinner, the weight of Dick’s body, been in hospital, moving somebody out of a bed, an ancient robot, Vulcan’s Hammer, Talby, a motorcycle to throw his weight around, The Great C, James P. Crow, repurposed, the interior world, The Valley Of The Blind by H.G. Wells, removing his eyes, a story about hubris, ambivalent, different rules, they’re sending armies but there’s no-one to fight, The Walking Dead, recent military history, Spanish vs. Aztecs, different conceptions about how war is fought, slaves vs. slaughter, it wasn’t horses or guns it was attitude, the Chinese vs. the Mongols, The Art Of War by Sun Tzu, the Vietnam War in 1965, no nation has ever gained by entering a prolonged war, Afghanistan, Mike is 80, still in Korea, the profits are not for the state, where did this come from, July 15, 1953, people rising up and killing their governments all over the planet, a Boogaloo Boi on twitter, they’re not interested in giving us nice things, an alternative uTube called Means TV, Teenage Stepdad, you’re getting owned, what happened there, a self-own, Seize The Memes, the philosophy, “I Haz Diarheha And A Boaner”, if you spell it wrong the smart people will correct you and that’s called engagement, bottom up engagement, the way Boogaloo Boi militias work is use memes as a shibboleth, the Proud Boys leader is an FBI informer, a free association, the league, a mistake, a robot and a civilization mistake, “an agent” is someone acting on someone else’s behalf, how the Mormons go, an operator, searchin out the last states, there’s a test, talking to the citizens of this town, how the war against governments happened, East Germany, Poland, it was France first, France survived without a government for a month in 1968, Murray Bookchin’s The Third Revolution, the Eastern Block against their dominators, in the States and Russia, root and branch, a planned economy, a decrepit guy (robot), destroying atomic weapons, make war no more, the government is causing war, a rationalist straw man, simply diverting, effervescent with ideas, entertaining vs. interesting, a faux macho sequence, when they film this stupid story, its Taken (2008), I have a very special set of skills (confronting a bureaucracy), The Variable Man, a little virus, sniffing around for government, agents from the enclave are in the bar, what causes the collapse, getting rid of the nukes, civilizations, North Korea, Iran, Libya, your neighbours are the Mongols, no government vs. conscription, fed up, agriculture, James C. Scott’s Against The Grain: A Deep History Of The Earliest States, Seeing Like A State: How Certain Schemes To Improve The Human Condition Have Failed, the origins of agriculture, a continuity from hunter gatherers, an ecological response, grains that mature at the same time, that can be stored, taxed, and transported, bushels, shifting cultivation strategies, we study states because that’s what we have records for, a minuscule footnote in the human experience, stateless societies, the anarchists are right to , Jared Diamond on the shapes of continents, when do the non-farmers enter the picture, the mongol hordes, when they take over parts of France, Caesar’s texts about the Gauls and the Germans, look what he said about us, Evan taught world history for many years, the silk roads, tributary relationships, the nomadic people vs. the sedentary civilization, four times in Chinese history, stateless or quasi-stateless, their cultural identity depended on them forming states, looking at that out world, why does the farmer want to sell them water, pinks?, 50 dollar bills, pink slips, who issues this stuff, our anarchist who gets killed, the sheep are chewing the grass too low, accidentally or all part of an argument, mech stuff, mechanistic civilization, a lawyer a doctor and some books, what do you need a lawyer for?, sold a piece of real estate for some yellow slips, I’ve never paid for anything in my whole life, how do you sell land without a state and land records?, no property rights without states, the Code Of Hammurabi, family based rights to hunter gather on the Kalahari, not alienable, protecting your cow, they didn’t try to kidnap the governor (Whitmer) of Michigan, not a race war a civil war, Boys vs. Bois, if your tattoos say fuck the police, protection for Black Lives Matters protests, Kyle Rittenhouse, how to join antifa, show up dressed in black, that was a government, Rittenhouse [wasn’t] a Boogaloo Boi, Mike lives in a red area of Colorado, open carry, real thick glasses and a gun, from a kid to a threat, the extraordinary thing, confronting the police with actual firearms, they’re not Black Panthers, seems right wing to Evan, the left wing vs. right wing decision, equality vs. hierarchy and tradition, Thomas Paine vs. Edmund Burke debate, anti-vaxx people in the red states, the most virulent, the Fauci ouchie, horse dewormer [Ivermectin], what the state is proposing, the internet in 1918, Jesse has studied this extensively, this exact conversation with Paul Weimer, there are forces that want to control how we respond to stealing our shit, Ivermectin is a generic [patent expired], the new vaccines are all patented, “science” is closed and for profit, billionaires are made on selling to the government, hard to handle, a study on Ivermectin on the NIH meta-analysis, should we study Ivermectin more?, moderate certainty evidence, apparent safety and low cost, news sports and COVID (on your phone), for dogs and horses and , horse aspirin, a Nobel prize for its use in humans, a prophylactic and a treatment for COVID, a brand new study, a cabal of giant evil drug companies, Jesse’s mom was in hospital for 3 weeks as a result of her 2nd COVID shot, you don’t need masks, lying on TV, lie to me now and lying in the past doesn’t matter, willy nilly dosing, horses are much bigger than humans, shitting out the lining of their stomachs, a little investigation shows that was false, a totem of a certain skepticism that might be irrational, a mini-stroke, all the beds were taken up by unvaccinated COVID patients, a Pfizer pill, what is a government for and why do we trust it, not just for the trading of land, rely on my good friend Mike, laws that apply to everybody, the arms and legs of government, Bohrs, that’s a weird name, 200 years and ego got into it, a guy creeping around ladies hospital rooms, Fowler, the knowledge without the creep, was the ego originally programmed, Dick’s rules of robotics: 1. the programming of the robot is not what the outcome will be, The Monkey’s Paw, Isaac Asimov, programming a bureaucratic robot, a DMV agent, guess I gotta rebuild the state, surplus population, insect-like airships, massive military vs. Bernie Buff memes, asymmetrical warfare, set in Virginia, Fairfax, Evan’s tri-racial isolates, resource importation, how a religious organization is an alternative to a nation state, Souvenir by Philip K. Dick, The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson, feudal obligations, fish don’t talk about water, the prison is novel, prison vs. the school system, the Children’s Crusade, invade Palestine, I get to kill that’s awesome, the way Mormons operate, white shirt and tie, agents of the Mormon church, if they want to be LDS they are required, a non-state actor, the League Of Nations, superman is not the leader of the Justice League he’s just the most famous member, league chairmen, Super Friends, the Justice Society vs. the Justice League, team anarchist vs. team justice, an official history, Mike was at a hockey game…, Mike tests well, drafted vs. enlisted, choice not chance, the buddy plan, Fort Carson, get a [COVID] shot or lose your job, born into the state, are there options now?, inconvenient to not be a member of a state, stateless people, Tolby and Bohrs are both big, he rubbed his big hands together, a few games of throw with the local peasants, some of those village wenches, tired of doing nothing, the big commercial centers, some mecho stuff, things made by machine, horse, crude plow, that’s a nice town, they’re pilgrims, ironite walking staffs, are these anarchists a de-facto government?, the girl impaled by the branch, they set us free!, we don’t pay for anything, two lank men, identification, sealed plastic cards, AL, even the girl?, Sylvia, Upon The Dull Earth, girlfriend is a witch, Penn and Sylvia, languid greed, head tax, we don’t pay tax, its like the League is the government now, I’m so paranoid now kill everyone on the suspicion list, the robot sleeps, the robot has a desk, Weather Underground, organizations where the government isn’t doing its job properly, the history of Switzerland, surrounded by countries they are not allied with, bad immigration policies, marriage between homosexuals in 2021, the only thing mined in Switzerland is salt, government acting like an insurance company, chem and bacteriological weapons, probing for spies, neither team is good, roving gangs, the Oath Keepers, Special Forces Motorcycle Club, keep the peace, protect property, Three Percenters, you meme, a Hawaiian shirt covered with military gear, an anti or ironic uniform, Hells Angels, drug trafficking and gun violence, ex-military, ex-bomber pilots, Sons Of Anarchy, hangaround is a rank, a rocker patch vs. fully patched, initiations, Under And Alone [by William Queen], exclusionary measures, the cops are always trying to infiltrate you, you have to know the real history of the anarchist league, study in our camp, a fun story, effervescent with ideas, a weird kind of story, odd compared to other science fiction stories, pops in his brain, more like politics, what’s our relationship with other humans, super creative, Dick ratting out one of his friends, he likes the taste of boot, Fredric Jameson, Stanisław Lem was the competition, projection, almost from Tolby’s perspective, sweaty boobs, a random image of a woman that’s just one big breast, that whole thing on the wall is Philip K. Dick’s brain, trees around?, action set piece stories are his worse stories, what kind of message would this story send if filmed, they won’t deal with public health properly, the heat, global warming, 200 years later, the mechanistic society, he wrote it in the summer, that ugly wallpaper Bohrs woke up to is the wallpaper Dick’s wife put up, how these guys made their living, how much thought did he put into this, Edgar Allan Poe, mostly writing about states, how societies function, reactionary moralistic state, The Man Who Japed, The World Jones Made, randomocracy, Solar Lottery, he really tries to describe an anarchist world, not a goal but an opposition, I see you complaining about capitalism but yet you live in a capitalistic society, not fighting stupid wars, it made some guy really wealthy and proved something to his dad, explanations, the way pirate ships and this podcast is done, quartermaster, not trying to be a leader, organization, Blake’s 7 is about a prison break from a Nineteen Eighty-Four/Brave New World society, they never take orders from Blake, the way a family is run, go live with mom for a while, early states laws, making fathers and husbands the head of the family, compared to Tahiti, the matrilineal system, property, something scarce to pass on to your son, unless they go on Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, the bloody sheet nonsense, the veil, all about paternity certainty, my glass is empty, fill it up, he’s like an occupying army, its like the anarchist league actually runs things, militia, “the thrice damned Second Amendment”, a podcast without Paul, the mafia as a state, they do the lottery, an obsession with centrality, all power is centralized, “you no supeek mafia”, side-government, like the KKK or Hamas, you don’t hang up on me, you need to investigate this, the UN Gang, if you don’t have services from government, keeping us divided, playing up racism to avoid class solidarity, poor people are almost everybody you’ve ever met, “government should be like an insurance company that you never think about and don’t pay very much into”, some prevention of invasion, overseas adventures, Philip K. Dick is not a very wise man but a very interesting thinker, very sparky brain, it somehow works as a story, short stories vs. novels, Now Wait For Last Year, the decrepit leader, essential and decrepit, through his decrepitude, the USA has been governed by the decrepit, was Eisenhower really ill that week?, a criticism of the Cold War buildup, Project: Plowshare and The Zap Gun, they develop the weapons, turning weapons into toys, the F-35, M-1 Abrams, it is just stuff in magazines and books, commodities, the microwave came out of war tech, standing in front of radar dishes and warming up, radar ranges, two Dicks in a row, Evan needs to do the Heinlein critique, not in the tank for Tanstaafl, standing up for the Social Credit Heinlein, who are the true heirs of Heinlein. I heard he was turgid, you can just read Scalzi now, he processed everything, taking back Lovecraft (away from Lovecraft).

The Last Of The Masters by Philip K. Dick

Posted by Jesse WillisBecome a Patron!

Review of Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens

SFFaudio Review

Hachette Audio - Arguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensArguably: Essays
By Christopher Hitchens; Read by Simon Prebble
24 CDs – Approx. 28.5 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Published: September 1, 2011
ISBN: 9781611139068
Themes: / Non-fiction / History / War / Biography / Science Fiction / Fantasy / Iran / Afghanistan / Germany / North Korea / France / Dystopia / Utopia / Religion / Tunisia / Piracy / Terrorism / Feminism / Pakistan /

The first new collection of essays by Christopher Hitchens since 2004, Arguably offers an indispensable key to understanding the passionate and skeptical spirit of one of our most dazzling writers, widely admired for the clarity of his style, a result of his disciplined and candid thinking. Topics range from ruminations on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men to the haunting science fiction of J.G. Ballard; from the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell to the persistent agonies of anti-Semitism and jihad. Hitchens even looks at the recent financial crisis and argues for arthe enduring relevance of Karl Marx. The audio book forms a bridge between the two parallel enterprises of culture and politics. It reveals how politics justifies itself by culture, and how the latter prompts the former. In this fashion, Arguably burnishes Christopher Hitchens’ credentials as-to quote Christopher Buckley-our “greatest living essayist in the English language.”

Here’s a question I was thinking about while listening to Arguably.

What is fiction for?

One answer, the bad one, is that it’s for entertainment. That’s certainly where many readers are willing go, and the fiction writers who write it too. Maybe that’s precisely why so much fiction is just so very shitty.

To me, if you aren’t exploring ideas in your fiction, then you really aren’t serving a greater purpose. Idea fiction, fiction with ideas rather than just action and plot, is to my mind a kind of supplement to the wisdom found in writings on history, biography and science.

Of the many lessons learned I in listening to the 107 essays in Arguably I was particularly struck by the wisdom Christopher Hitchens gleaned from his reading of fiction. Hitchens reviews many books in this collection, nearly half of the essays are book reviews. Books like 1984, Animal Farm, Flashman, The Complete Stories Of J.G. Ballard, Our Man In Havana, and even, surprisingly, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows all get fascinating, critical, and reverent reviews.

Yet Hitchens also takes the lessons with him into his writing about his travels. Hitchens writes about visits to such places as North Korea, Cyprus, Afghanistan, and Kurdish Iraq. When talking about his visit to Beirut we see what comes when Hitchens, a man of ideas, acts upon them. The essay, The Swastika and the Cedar sees the convictions of the commited anti-fascist Hitchens beaten and nearly kidnapped for an act of vandalism on a prominently displayed swastika. Writes Hitchens:

“Well, call me old-fashioned if you will, but I have always taken the view that swastika symbols exist for one purpose only—to be defaced.”

In a review of two books, Lolita and The Annotated Lolita, Hitchens applies the controversial subject in a real life look at the modern, and very non-fictional oppression and objectification of women. Indeed, the ideas he appreciated in fiction helped Hitchens to come to grips with the real world.

I think the worst essay in this collection is the one on the serving of wine and restaurants, Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite. It was simply a waste of the talent, too light, too easy a target. And yet, even that essay, the worst essay in all 107 has a memorable anecdote: “Why,” asks Hitchens’ five year old son, “are they called waiters? It’s we who are doing all the waiting.”

As to the narration of the audiobook. I’m ashamed to admit that I was initially dismayed when I saw that Christopher Hitchens had not narrated this audiobook himself. I was wrong to worry. Incredibly, Simon Prebble seems to have have become Hitchens for this narration. Prebble perfectly captures the erudite words, so eloquently performs them, and with an accent so like that of Hitchens’ own so as to make me think that it was Hitchens who had actually read it.

I think the worst essay in this collection is the one on the serving of wine and restaurants, Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite. It was simply a waste of the talent, too light, too easy a target. And yet, even that essay, the worst essay in all 107 has a memorable anecdote: “Why,” asks Hitchens’ five year old son, “are they called waiters? It’s we who are doing all the waiting.”

Here’s a list of the book’s contents, with links to the original etexts when available, along with my own notes on each:

ALL AMERICAN
Gods Of Our Fathers: The United States Of Enlightenment – a review of Moral Minority: Our Skeptical Founding Fathers by Brooke Allen

The Private Jefferson – a review of Jefferson’s Secrets: Death And Desire At Monticello by Andrew Burstein

Jefferson Vs. The Muslim Pirates – a review of Power, Faith, And Fantasy: America In The Middle East: 1776 To The Present by Michael B. Oren

Benjamin Franklin: Free And Easy – a review of Benjamin Franklin Unmasked: On the Unity of His Moral, Religious, And Political Thought by Jerry Weinberger

John Brown: The Man Who Ended Slavery – a review of John Brown, Abolitionist: The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked The Civil War, And Seeded Civil Rights by David S. Reynolds

Abraham Lincoln: Misery’s Child (aka Lincoln’s Emancipation) – a review of Abraham Lincoln: A Life by Michael Burlingame

Mark Twain: American Radical – a scathing review of The Singular Mark Twain: A Biography by Fred Kaplan

Upton Sinclair: A Capitalist Primer – a review of The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

JFK: In Sickness And By Stealth – a review of An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917–1963 by Robert Dallek

Saul Bellow: The Great Assimilator – review of six novels by Saul Bellow (The Dangling Man, The Victim, The Adventures Of Augie March, Seize The Day, Henderson The Rain King, and Herzog)

Vladimir Nabokov: Hurricane Lolita – reviews of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and The Annotated Lolita edited and annotated by Alfred Appel, Jr.

John Updike: No Way – a review of The Terrorist by John Updike (with reference to The Coup too)

John Updike: Mr. Geniality
– a critical review of the affable Due Considerations: Essays And Considerations by John Updike

Vidal Loco – Gore Vidal went crazier, more elitist and perhaps more racist as he got older (with attention and quips for Quentin Crisp and Oscar Wilde and Joyce Carol Oates)

America The Banana Republic – Hitchens on the “socialistic” bank bailout of 2008 (“socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the rest”)

An Anglosphere Future – a review of The History Of The English Speaking Peoples by Andrew Roberts (with reference to both Sherlock Holmes and The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as well as to Cecil Rhodes and Rudyard Kipling)

Political Animals – a review of Dominion: The Power Of Man, The Suffering Of Animals, And The Call To Mercy by Matthew Scully

Old Enough To Die – on capital punishment as applied to children

In Defense Of Foxhole Atheists
– a visit to the United States Air Force Academy and the tax funded proselytizing

In Search Of The Washington Novel – a search for some good fiction about Washington, D.C.

ECLECTIC AFFINITIES
Isaac Newton: Flaws Of Gravity – a stroll through the medieval streets of Cambridge with the scientists, mathematicians, and philosophers who worked there

The Men Who Made England: Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” – a review of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Edmund Burke: Reactionary Prophet – a review of Reflections On The Revolution In France by Edmund Burke

Samuel Johnson: Demons And Dictionaries
– a review of Samuel Johnson: A Biography by Peter Martin

Gustave Flaubert: I’m With Stupide – a review of Bouvard et Pécuchet by Gustave Flaubert translated by Mark Polizzotti

The Dark Side Of Dickens
– a review of Charles Dickens by Michael Slater a biography (Hitchens was a not uncritical admirer of the subject)

Marx’s Journalism: The Grub Street Years – a glowing review of Dispatches for the New York Tribune: Selected Journalism Of Karl Marx edited by James Ledbetter, foreword by Francis Wheen (Marx admired the United States, and other fascinating facts about the father of communism)

Rebecca West: Things Worth Fighting For – an introduction to Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia by Rebecca West

Ezra Pound: A Revolutionary Simpleton – a review of Ezra Pound, Poet: A Portrait Of The Man And His Work: Volume I: The Young Genius, 1885-1920 by A. David Moody (a biography of the fascist poet)

On “Animal Farm” – an introduction to Animal Farm

Jessica Mitford’s Poison Pen – a review of Decca: The Letters Of Jessica Mitford edited by Peter Y. Sussman

W. Somerset Maugham: Poor Old Willie – a review of W. Somerset Maugham: A Life by Jeffery Meyers

Evelyn Waugh: The Permanent Adolescent – a look at the enigmatic life, writing, religion, and sexuality of Evelyn Waugh

P.G. Wodehouse: The Honorable Schoolboy – a review of Wodehouse: A Life by Robert McCrum

Anthony Powell: An Omnivorous Curiosity – a review of To Keep The Ball Rolling: The Memoirs Of Anthony Powell

John Buchan: Spy Thriller’s Father – a review of John Buchan The Presbyterian Cavalier by David R. Godine (with discussion of The 39 Steps and a fantasy novelette The Grove Of Ashtaroth)

Graham Greene: I’ll Be Damned – a review of The Life Of Graham Green: Volume II: 1939-1955 by Norman Sherry

Death From A Salesman: Graham Greene’s Bottle Ontology – an introduction to Our Man In Havana by Graham Greene

Loving Philip Larkin (aka Philip Larkin, the Impossible Man) – a review of Philip Larkin: Letters To Monica edited by Anthony Thwaite

Stephen Spender: A Nice Bloody Fool – a review of Stephen Spender: The Authorized Biography by John Sutherland

Edward Upward: The Captive Mind – a look at the British novelist and short story Edward Upward

C.L.R. James: Mid Off, Not Right On – a review of Cricket, The Caribbean, And World Revolution by Farrukh Dhondy

J.G. Ballard: The Catastrophist – a review of The Complete Stories Of J.G. Ballard

Fraser’s Flashman: Scoundrel Time – a look at the George MacDonald Fraser series of Flashman books and the connection with The Adventure Of The Empty House

Fleet Street’s Finest: From Waugh To Frayn – an essay on the dubious romance of journalism

Saki: Where The Wild Things Are – a review of The Unbearable Saki: The Work of H.H. Munro by Sandie Byrne

Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived – a review of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

AMUSEMENTS, ANNOYANCES, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS
Why Women Aren’t Funny – a controversial essay on why more comedians are male and why women laugh at them the way they do

Stieg Larsson: The Author Who Played With Fire – a look at the phenomenon of the bestselling author of The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo

As American As Apple Pie – a literary and chronological history of the blowjob, with reference to Valdamir Nobokov’s Lolita

So Many Men’s Rooms, So Little Time – a fascinatingly insightful argument on what’s was going on with the Larry Craig bathroom airport scandal and related phenomena

The New Commandments – deconstructing the Ten Commandments

In Your Face – are bans on burqas and veils actually bans, or are they liberation?

Wine Drinkers Of The World, Unite – ill mannered waiters are ruining the business of wine drinking

Charles, Prince Of Piffle – a damning look at the prince who shouldn’t be king

OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS
Afghanistan’s Dangerous Bet – a visit to Afghanistan, it’s all about the women

First, Silence The Whistle-Blower – is there any hope for democracy in Afghanistan?

Believe Me, It’s Torture – a report on what it’s like to be water-boarded

Iran’s Waiting Game – a visit to Iran and a meeting with Hussein Khomeini the grandson of Ayatollah Khomeini

Long Live Democratic Seismology – on democracy, Chile, Iran, and earthquakes

Benazir Bhutto: Daughter Of Destiny – a personal remembrance of the brave liar, Benazir Bhutto

From Abbottabad To Worse – an explanation for the existence of Pakistan as the U.S.A.’s worst best friend

The Perils Of Partition – on what dividing a country does to it (it’s like a man with a broken leg – he can think of nothing else)

Algeria: A French Quarrel – a review of A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962 by Alistair Horne

The Case Of Orientalism (aka East Is East) – a review of Dangerous Knowledge: Orientalism and Its Discontents by Robert Irwin

Edward Said: Where The Twain Should Have Met – a review of Orientalism by Edward Said

The Swastika And The Cedar – a visit to “the Arab street”

Holiday In Iraq – Hitchens on holiday in Kurdish Iraq: it’s lovely

Tunisia: At The desert’s Edge – a lavish and lengthy visit to Africa’s gentlest country

What Happened To The Suicide Bombers Of Jerusalem? – why is no one writing about the dog that didn’t bark?

Childhood’s End: An African Nightmare – on Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army

The Vietnam Syndrome – on the horrific effects of Agent Orange and the legacies of dioxin

Once Upon A Time In Germany – a review of the movie The Baader Meinhof Complex, it explores the origins of The Red Army Faction

Worse Than “Nineteen Eighty-Four” – North Korea is a slave state seemingly modeled on 1984

North Korea: A Nation of Racist Dwarfs – a visit to North Korea

The Eighteenth Brumaire Of The Castro Dynasty – a look at the Castro regime’s familial coup

Hugo Boss – a visit to Venezuela with Sean Penn and a meeting with Hugo Chávez – he’s nuts

Is The Euro Doomed? – what will be the fate of Europe’s common currency?

Overstating Jewish Power – In the Israeli American relationship who’s pulling who’s strings?

The Case For Humanitarian Intervention – a review of Freedom’s Battle: The Origins Of Humanitarian Intervention by Gary J. Bass

LEGACIES OF TOTALITARIANISM
Victor Serge: Pictures From An Inquisition – reviews of The Case Of Comrade Tulayev and Memoirs Of A Revolutionary by Victor Serge

André Malraux: One Man’s Fate – a review of Malraux: A Life by Olivier Todd, translated by Joseph West

Arthur Koestler: The Zealot – a review of Koestler: The Literary And Political Odyssey Of A Twentieth-Century Skeptic by Michael Scammell

Isabel Allende: Chile Redux – an introduction to The House Of The Spirits by Isabel Allende

The Persian Version – a review of Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology Of Contemporary Iranian Literature edited by Nahid Mozaffari

Martin Amis: Lightness At Midnight – a review of Koba The Dread: Laughter And The Twenty Million by Martin Amis

Imagining Hitler – the problem of evil, and Hitler, with reference to Explaining Hitler by Ron Rosenbaum and Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris by Ian Kershaw

Victor Klemperer: Survivor

A War Worth Fighting – a persuasively systematic review of Churchill, Hitler And The Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire And The West Lost The World by Pat Buchanan

Just Give Peace A Chance? – a critical review of Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker

W.G. Sebald: Requiem For Germany – a review of On The Natural History Of Destruction by W.G. Sebald

WORDS’ WORTH
When The King Saved God – for the love of the King James version

Let Them Eat Pork Rinds – Berthold Brecht, Charles Dickens and various other sources inform Hitch’s view of the Hurricane Katrina relief disaster

Stand Up For Denmark! – a still timely plea for preferring free speech to religious tolerance

Eschew The Taboo – on the banning of words, particularly the word “nigger”

She’s No Fundamentalist – a spirited defense of Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Burned Out – the verb “fuel” is fueled by journalistic sloppiness

Easter Charade – on life and death and Terri Schiavo

Don’t Mince Words – the disenfranchisement of south Asians in Britain isn’t the cause of bombings, hatred of women is.

History And Mystery – al-Qaeda in Iraq, jihadists, or “insurgents”? Do words matter? Of course they bloody well do.

Words Matter – political slogans make of “every adult in the country” an “illiterate jerk who would rather feel than think”

This Was Not Looting – how can a government “loot” it’s own weapons manufacturing facility? The government of Iraq managed it according to The New York Times.

The “Other” L-Word – a lighthearted piece on the prominence of the word “like” and it’s use

The You Decade – what’s wrong with you (marketing to the selfish)

Suck It Up – the Virginia Tech shootings prompted the wrong response from the world (namely that it prompted one)

A Very, Very Dirty Word – the English empire, in centuries to come, may only be remembered for soccer and the phrase “fuck off”

Prisoner Of Shelves – on the indispensability of books

Posted by Jesse Willis