Why not? If Bellow can channel Breitbart, putting words in a dead man’s mouth, why can’t I channel Bellow in the same way?
In sum: Urf.
I slogged my way through Bellow’s Russian-novel-length screed on his vision of a hippy-dippy New Right counter-culture, and as you might have guessed by this point in the sentence, I was less than whelmed.
I don’t, don’t, don’t want to be hard on the Liberty Island Magazine editorial team. I’m nobody’s ass-kisser, and yet I know I’m never going to sell anything to them – and they don’t pay, anyway. But I picked on them twice before, and they don’t seem like the type of folks who can process criticism productively. Plus which, taking account that they are crowd-funding for what look to be day-to-day expenses, my guess is the original investment is burned up and gone and Bellow, editor David Bernstein, et alias, are about to be voted off the Island.
Sic semper tyrannosauris. Thus, always, to dinosaurs.
I pulled a few quotes from Bellow’s National Review essay, but they’re not worth bothering with. Here are the Cliff’s Notes:
1. It’s hip to be square, rah-rah identity politics.
2. Hip squares give money to Liberty Island Magazine.
Yes, there’s more, but it’s all either flattery of the reader or self-indulgent auto-biographical chaff. My big wonder about the LI team, all along, has been whether they can in fact read the words they publish.
A strip-tease is slow not because the mooks want the delay but because the ownership does: Slow shows mean fewer performers to be paid and more cocktails sold per performance.
Airport books are thick to imply lengthiness and value – even if this is a bulked-up-paper bait-’n’-switch.
Magazine articles are long because, otherwise, you would wonder why you stupidly sprung for a magazine instead of reading your phone, like always.
Internet posts are short.
Yes, I’m one to talk, but I didn’t waste 5,000 words on – astoundingly enough – nothing. Bellow and Bernstein don’t have any idea what a ‘conservative’ esthetic would be, as distinguished from the pandemic cultural Marxism in which we are perpetually enmired. ‘Conservative’ in this context means nothing – something like ‘sufficiently non-Marxist’ maybe – which may explain why Bellow has nothing to write about.
Here’s the first problem: Sufficiently-non-Marxists who care enough to write what they think are Ds and Cs in the DISC system – they are either Driven or Computational in their most basic motivations. The people who are most swayed by art are Ss and Is – people who are very Social or very Image-conscious. The art that Bellow and Bernstein (and conservatives generally) seek to promote is not just preaching to the choir and to no one else, it is preaching to a choir that doesn’t have much respect for art.
Take note: Even if Bellow’s counter-intuitive conservative counter-culture had decent art to purvey, it is aimed directly at an audience that does not exist. There are conservatives who like genre fiction, but there is no one who is going to be converted to any kind of anti-Marxism, post-college-age, by the kinds of works that Bellow aims to publish.
Heinlein captures a lot of young people, and Kipling gets a few older kids, but after that, it almost always begins with Ayn Rand. She is the reason that both National Review and Bellow’s non-fiction authors have an audience, just as she is the intellectual force behind everything Tea Party. But, while Rand’s converts are strongly converted, her appeal is limited to high-Cs who are also INTx in the Briggs-Meyers assessment. In other words, the hard-core choir really amounts to around one-percent of the population, if that much.
Ah, but pulp fiction can appeal to more readers than the aging post-Randians. It can, assuming they can read proficiently. Assuming they feel the need to pay for text when there is already so much available for free. And assuming they’re not already too busy authoring their own lives and following their friends’ lives on Facebook or Pinterest or Deviantart to read anything at all.
Print is dead. For-pay writing is dying. And Adam Bellow’s got a pocketful of dinosaurs for sale.
Cause for despair? To the contrary. Whether the author is William F. Buckley or Ayn Rand, anti-Marxism persuades zero adults. Religious zealots have already worn out the road to hell, and the market for painful reminders of frailty and mortality is surprisingly small. If you’re of an age where you can picture yourself on that train in that tunnel, as Whitaker Chambers clearly could, you’ve missed your Miss Rand window.
The art that moves adults is comedy – not farce or satire but the story arc in which the hero triumphs in the end by learning and mastering new ideas. This is the art of egoism – of a rational love for your own life and values based on an honest assessment of your own past behavior. Comedy shows the de facto egoists in the audience how their egoism can be expressed in real life.
I like this message in stories and novels and plays, in songs, in cinema, in television and most especially in the incipient art of immersive fiction, the interactive film you star in by your own choices. But that one persistent message – you will live better when you learn better and do better – is the art that has driven The West forever, and it is the only art that can redeem The West from here.
Will anyone get paid for creating it? I’ll let you know. Will it change everything in due course? You can bank on it – with no need for crowd-funding.