tHE r H i z z o n E

Ever since reading that D.H. Lawrence was a reactionary monarchist, and having an Irish Lit. friend tell me that Yeats was an Irish Fascist, it's come to me that a significant number of Great Writers are reactionaries, far more than their percentage in the population at large probably justifies. For example, an assuredly incomplete list:

Dostoevsky
Nabokov
Bulgakov
Limonov
Yeats
D.H. Lawrence
Pound
Junger
Mishima
Nietzsche
Schopenhauer
Dazai
Houellebecq
Celine
(Some other guys, thx impper)

So, I guess, this thread is for discussing why far-rightists seem to be really good at writing things. I tried to find something about whether or not Faulkner was a far-rightist, but the only thing I could find about his politics was him saying he was for integration, but against the federal government forcing integration, and when pressed on the point apparently said he would "fight for Mississippi against the United States, even if it meant going out into the street and shooting Negroes."

So, uh, there's that I guess.

#1


babyfinland
Eliot
Borges
Poe

Yeats was an Irish nationalist certainly but reactionary I donno

Edited by babyfinland (Sept. 15, 2011 05:02:11)

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#2


babyfinland
I wouldn't call Limonov, Nietzche or Houllebecq reactionary either

Anyway to answer the question I'd venture to guess that it's because they respond to the world in a more emotional way and less scientifically, for better or for worse, and this produces great art and reactionary politics (because they dont want to see cultural institutions smashed up or beholden to a revolution)

I don't think that reactionaries are especially better or worse than leftist writers, but that's just the logic of the thing

Edited by babyfinland (Sept. 15, 2011 05:08:09)

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#3


babyfinland
ORWELL

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#4


Impper
limonov has been writing about the wonders of fascism and stalinism for a while now, i'm not sure if that's reactionary by the standards of returning to the ussr, but in any case im comfortable calling him a reactionary. nietzsche called for the destruction of germany and the german race, and the destruction of humanity of course, but it was for progress to overmen. if houellebecq isnt a reactionary then neither is celine

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#5


babyfinland
I guess I make a distinction between reactionary and radical right, where a reactionary is intensely rigid in defense of the status quo to the point of "radicalism" (Barack Obama), the radical rightist advocates revolutionary politics from a rightward stance (what exactly that consists of depends on context) and has no fondness for capitalism or modernity generally

A contemporary reactionary in Russia would be rabidly pro-Putin and probably Duginist, while the radical right would be something more like the Nazbols. USSR is far left

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#6


Impper
i posited a number of theories as to why reaction/extremism/far-rightism leads to good writing. here are some of them

- one thing writing can't do is justify something - it's an inherently weak position, and in the judgment of history, attempting to justify anything will end up making you look like a mewling simp so if you love life and love society and you like how things are going you're going to end up writing justifications, excuses; youll be telling people things arent so bad. right off the bat the reactionary isnt really interested in justifying any dominant system

- kafka said that he could only write because he'd come to accept and look forward to his own death, and he'd had it out with life. reactionaries tend to also have had it out with life - look at mishima, he spent his life in order to advance an aesthetic

- good writers tend to be those who are willing to make strong aesthetic decisions and push them as far as they can go and someone willing to do that is also probably a fascist of some kind

- writing, great writing at least, tends to be something that exists on the fringes, and one thing bad writers do is use language and ideas that's filtered through the culture and through society. this writing inevitably goes into the dustbin, because it's not saying anything, it's just rearranging cultural tablets that already exist. since writing is a fringe activity that lives outside narratively, well, who's really on the outside? a good deal of them are reactionaries. i understand this is getting into simple "outsider fiction" territory, which honestly i dont have much of a problem with in any case.

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#7


babyfinland
heres a thing insufferable liberal Donald Barthelme wrote:

Art is always aimed (like a rifle, if you wish) at the middle class. The working class has its own culture and will have no truck with fanciness of any kind. The upper class owns the world and thus needs know no more about the world than is necessary for its orderly exploitation. The notion that art cuts across class boundaries to stir the hearts of hoe hand and Morgan alike is, at best, a fiction useful to the artist, his Hail Mary. It is the poor puzzled bourgeoisie that is sufficiently uncertain, sufficiently hopeful, to pay attention to art. It follows (as the night the day) that the bourgeoisie should get it in the neck.



Political reaction comes from the middle classes

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#8


Impper
there should probably be a distinction between blase political reaction and the sort of aesthetic reaction that writers tend to engage in, e.g. mishima adopting the bushido isnt exactly a standard japanese form of reaction

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#9


animedad
I don't really like political categories applied to stuff like this but I think that there is always a bit of delusion in actively pursuing a change and thinking that a personal dissatisfaction with the world and a little proselytizing is enough. It's not that world shouldn't change, it's that writers live in the land of particularity where dogmatic leftism is a ruse. Good fiction is always better than the best political writing imo, because it's the best way to show the cracks and symptoms of the fantasy that a political movement needs to sustain its vigor.

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#10


Tsargon

babyfinland posted:
I guess I make a distinction between reactionary and radical right, where a reactionary is intensely rigid in defense of the status quo to the point of "radicalism" (Barack Obama), the radical rightist advocates revolutionary politics from a rightward stance (what exactly that consists of depends on context) and has no fondness for capitalism or modernity generally

A contemporary reactionary in Russia would be rabidly pro-Putin and probably Duginist, while the radical right would be something more like the Nazbols. USSR is far left



there is some overlap though - when the aristocrat camarilla that killed rasputin got together, there was also some preliminary discussion of maybe killing nick 2, if the situation deteriorated further. the line between reactionaries and conservative revolutionaries can be very thin, depending on the context.

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#11


germanjoey

babyfinland posted:
ORWELL

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#12


tapespeed
Dostoevsky - doctor daddy, university
Nabokov - government parents, had to flee from worker uprising
Bulgakov - academic dad, grew up with opera, etc.
Limonov - weirdo ideology, not really reactionary
Yeats - landed family, mother from successful merchant roots
D.H. Lawrence - poor but lucky
Pound - westons of new york connections, 6 bedroom house
Junger - not sure which one you mean
Mishima - military/bureaucratic aristocracy
Nietzsche - weirdo ideology, not really a reactionary
Schopenhauer - patrician aristocracy roots
Dazai - wealthy landowners, father in house of peers
Houellebecq - doctor daddy, paris boarding school, etc.
Celine - insurance business daddy, sent abroad to learn foreign languages, privilleged enough to want to pursue being a doctor
Faulkner - Southern aristocracy, daddy started a railroad, family started a bank, fraternity guy, etc.

In conclusion, (Lawrence being the real outlier in that list,) the law of averages. Classes that have more comfortable lives with more idle time, more connections, more education, more exposure to classic writers will produce proportionally more writers, and the small minority of great writers that emerge will be proportionally higher as well.

Also, most intellectuals of any sort that emerge from not being super wealthy want to use their ability to become wealthy, and so take up ideologies to please the higher classes and make connections with them, etc. so that has a reactionary tending pressure as well

Edited by tapespeed (Sept. 15, 2011 13:37:12)

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#13


babyfinland
yes. writers come from the middle classes. thanks tapespeed

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#14


tapespeed

babyfinland posted:
yes. writers come from the middle classes. thanks tapespeed



Do you disagree that they come from comfortable lives more frequently, or do you disagree that middle class lifestyles end up leading to defense of the status quo and wanting to be nouveau riche and impress the elite, etc?

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#15


babyfinland

tapespeed posted:

babyfinland posted:
yes. writers come from the middle classes. thanks tapespeed

Do you disagree that they come from comfortable lives more frequently, or do you disagree that middle class lifestyles end up leading to defense of the status quo and wanting to be nouveau riche and impress the elite, etc?



the latter

leftist writers are middle class as well

artists and theorists/politicians both

capitalism is actually destabilizing of the class system so it produces alienated people from all classes

its a huge error to take that idioitic psuedo-marxist perspective that only the working class has any substantial grievance against the status quo

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#16


getfiscal
honestly any tapespeed (or getfiscal) post that doesn't include aggressive sexual harassment is probably a win we should pocket and move on.

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#17


tapespeed

babyfinland posted:
the latter

leftist writers are middle class as well

artists and theorists/politicians both

capitalism is actually destabilizing of the class system so it produces alienated people from all classes

its a huge error to take that idioitic psuedo-marxist perspective that only the working class has any substantial grievance against the status quo



would you maintain the proportions are roughly equal?

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#18


babyfinland

tapespeed posted:

babyfinland posted:
the latter

leftist writers are middle class as well

artists and theorists/politicians both

capitalism is actually destabilizing of the class system so it produces alienated people from all classes

its a huge error to take that idioitic psuedo-marxist perspective that only the working class has any substantial grievance against the status quo

would you maintain the proportions are roughly equal?



i think its far more dependent on the specific character of the society than anything else what the proportions are

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#19


Impper
the tape speed argument is really dumb. nobody in here is talking about the proportions of writers by class background, but rather why the consistently best writing is done by reactionaries. there are far more "good writers" who are middling liberals or social democrats or boring conservatives, and sure you're probably right that most of them were rich, but the point of this thread is that those writers actually are no good

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#20


animedad
well the reason the OP cherry-picked those particular authors probably has more to do with this forum's taste than anything. we weirdo internet folk that hang out on a political forum would probably be most apt to embrace repulsive politics than would someone that takes things on a "PC"/surface level basis, without a well-honed skill for synthesis. like i doubt if you took authors straight from the Western Canon that you would find the same proportion of reactionaries. could be wrong tho

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