[After Dark (2004), by Haruki Murakami]
The camera draws back slowly to convey an image of the entire room. Then it begins observing details in search of clues. This is by no means a highly decorated room. Neither is it a room that suggests the tastes or individuality of its occupant. Without detailed observation, it would be hard to tell that this was the room of a young girl. There are no dolls, stuffed animals, or other accessories to be seen. No posters or calendars. On the side facing the window, one old wooden desk and a swivel chair. The window itself is covered by a roll-down window blind. On the desk is a simple black lamp and a brand-new notebook computer (its top closed). A few ballpoint pens and pencils in a mug. By the wall stands a plain wood-framed single bed, and there sleeps Eri Asai. The bedclothes are solid white. On shelves attached to the opposite wall, a compact stereo and a small pile of CDs in their cases. Next to those, a phone. A dresser with mirror attached. The only things placed in front of the mirror are lip balm and a small, round hairbrush. On that wall is a walk-in closet. As the room’s only decorative touch, five photographs in small frames are lined up on a shelf, all of them photos of Eri Asai. She is alone in all of them. None show her with friends or family. There is a small bookcase, but it contains only a handful of books, mostly college textbooks. And a pile of large-size fashion magazines. It would be hard to conclude that she is a voracious reader. Honestly speaking, the information regarding Eri Asai that we can glean from the appearance of this room is far from abundant. It gives the impression that preparations have been made to hide her personality and cleverly elude observing eyes. Near the head of the bed a digital clock soundlessly and steadily renews its display of the time. We wait. We hold our breath and listen. The clock displays 0:00.
“A telegram for you, sir.” I poked my finger along under the fold that was fastened down, spread it open, and read it. It had been forwarded from Paris:
COULD YOU COME HOTEL MONTANA MADRID
AM RATHER IN TROUBLE BRETT.
I saw the concierge standing in the doorway.
“Bring me a telegram form, please.”
He brought it and I took out my fountain-pen and printed:
LADY ASHLEY HOTEL MONTANA MADRID
ARRIVING SUD EXPRESS TOMORROW LOVE
That seemed to handle it. That was it. Send a girl off with one man. Introduce her to another to go off with him. Now go and bring her back. And sign the wire with love. That was it all right. I went in to lunch.
[The Sun Also Rises (1926), Ernest Hemingway]
[review of Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—and Why This Harms Everybody (2020), by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay]
After Nazism, Communism, another very bad Western idea: applied postmodernism. Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay did a brilliant job describing, conceptualizing and structuring this new ideology that is taking over universities, businesses, politics, museums, media, tech and, ultimately, society. As far I am aware, this is the very first work that correctly conceptualizes what is happening right now, in the 202o’s West. A return to the primitive, the final deconstructing of the West, where the universal and the individual are rejected, and the tribe (specially, the race tribe) is elevated to the “de facto” sociological and existential unit. As the authors admit eventually, in the end, this is an attack on everything White, Male, Heterosexual. What the authors disappointingly fail to make, is the connection between the demographic transition happening now in the West, from white homogeneous nations to multiracial, multiethnic ones. Maybe this ideology is rising precisely because now there are many other ethnic groups competing for resources, wealth, power, prestige, in the same limit physical space of the old White ethnic tribes? Also, this book is brilliant at denouncing it, but it is also a testimony to why the fight against postmodern Critical Theories will ultimately fail: Helen and James spend several paragraphs explaining themselves, denouncing the “obvious oppression, racism, sexism” of modern western societies and complaining about the evil far-right. In other words, they are weak and feeble. Something that postmodernists are not. The Bolsheviks are getting closer to the palace.
“Power is everywhere, not because it embraced everything, but because it comes from everywhere.” For Foucault, power is present on all levels of society because certain knowledges have been legitimized and accepted as true. This leads people to learn to speak in these discourses, which further reinforces them. Power works like this “not because it has the privilege of consolidating everything under its invincible unity, but because it is produced from one moment to the next, at every point, or rather in every relation from one point to another.” Thus Power is a system we’re all constantly participating in by how we talk about things and what ideas we’re willing to consider legitimate, a system into which we are socialized. This is a process of power but not, as the Marxist philosophers had claimed, one in which religious or secular authorities enforce an ideology on the common people like a weight, pressing down on the proletariat. For Foucault, power operated more like a grid, running through all layers of society and determining what people held to be true and, consequently, how they spoke about it. This view has gone on to become one of the core beliefs of applied postmodernism and Social Justice activism today: unjust power is everywhere, always, and it manifests in biases that are largely invisible because they have been internalized as “normal.” Consequently, speech is to be closely scrutinized to discover which discourses it is perpetuating, under the presumption that racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, or other latent prejudices must be present in the discourses and thus endemic to the society that produces them. These “problematics” need to be identified and exposed, whether they manifest in a president’s address or in the decade-old adolescent tweet history of a relative nobody. The widespread slang term “woke” describes having become aware of and more able to set these “problematics”. [Helen Pluckrose & James Lindsay (2020), Cynical Theories]