Muses of Law and Chaos

Everything “Woke” turns to dreck. But why?

I have been long fascinated as to why it is that the Liberal Left of my youth reliably produced works of popular art, even works of genius, whereas the Progressive Left of the present day cannot make art, cannot tell stories, cannot even generate convincing propaganda using the intellectual property inherited or purchased from their forebears.

I restrict my comments to science fiction as this is the field I know best. Those who know other genres and other arts must speak up for themselves.

Sadly, the mystery is one that continues to baffle me, despite having at times drawn near to one convincing answer or another. None of the convincing answers have the ring of solid conviction.

To be sure, this may be a defect of my curiosity, where I am looking for a deep answer when the obvious answer is plain to see: The Progs lack talent and so their only tactic is to destroy the works of others, scribbling graffiti over the creations other men made. The Progs hate life, and so their art reflects that hatred to the point that none can pen a convincing plot or realistic character. The Progs serve the Devil, and as the Father of Lies cannot create, only destroy, so it is for his children. The Progs are Marxists seeking the downfall of the West. And so on.

And yet how can all of them lack talent so utterly that not one can tell a true tale? How can a man forget the workmanlike habits of plotting, pacing, and character development merely because his theme and point is dark and grim? Dark stories with grim themes have been written before, and none were as grim of the Book of Job or the Book of Ecclesiastes. And the Devil knows the art of disguising himself as an angel of light. Why have his children lost their masquerade masks? And Marxists in times past could make expert propaganda, or even works of real artistic merit, even if bent to serve their evil ends, such as Battleship Potemkin, or Alexander Nevsky. And so on.

Nothing explains the utter and galling lack of even the smallest trace of artistic talent or creative effort in such offerings as Star Trek: Picard, or Star Wars: The Last Jedi, or the entire modern output of Marvel Comics.

Rare is the science fiction fans who fails to include Star Trek and Star Wars among his favorite SF media offerings, and rarer still the fans of my generation who fail to include Asimov, Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke – so much so that in some circles these are called “The Big Three” writers of John W. Campbell Jr’s golden age of magazine SF. In fantasy stories, the name of Ursula K. LeGuin looms larger than any American writer, except, perhaps, for that of L. Frank Baum; and few names from any nation have wider appeal, in novels, comics, and films as Neil Gaiman.

But Gene Roddenberry, as well as most of the writers penning episode of Star Trek, including Harlan Ellison, was an outspoken advocate of leftwing social causes. George Lucas of Star Wars fame is as clearcut an example of open leftwingery as one could hope to find: he even likened the evil Empire in his galaxy of long ago to America, and his plucky rebels to communists insurgents.

I have heard a famed psychiatrist explain this oddity in terms of personality types, claiming that the compassion and sentimentality of the typical artistic temperament are the same traits leading to bleeding-heart idealism of the Leftwing political temperament.

And yet all these artists told stories that were notably Rightwing in terms of their worldview: the Big Three won fame by telling stories of technological progress where sentimentality, usually portrayed in the guise of religion, was merely a hinderance to be overcome. Rigorous discipline in through or deed, hard sciences, an unsentimental knowledge of history, was what allowed protagonists in these stories to be starship troopers or psychohistorians, and keep civilization afloat.

Star Trek, with its consistent and repeated theme that life as sinful man, yet free, is better than slavery in a false utopia, is as rightwing in theme as can be imagined. Star Wars, at least in the original trilogy, was as all-American as the Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon space opera serials it was deliberately imitating in style, look, and theme. This was not just conservative, it was nostalgic.

So in none of these cases is the personality type typified in the works that made their makers famous.

Moreover, while I was careful to list Ursula K.LeGuin as the largest name in American fantasy, it must be confessed that, like the Beatles in Rock & Roll, we colonials did not lead the way and set the standard in fantasy literature. That honor belongs to names like William Morris, Lord Dunsany, E.R. Eddison, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

These last two are Christian writers, founders of the Inkling school of writing, and conservative even beyond what an American would call conservative: as well call them medievalists. Of later fantasy writers, only Gene Wolfe (if his genre-breaking works can be called fantasy) can challenge them for place of pride, and he is as old-fashioned Catholic in his worldview and the works of his pen as Tolkien.

So while fantasy stories of later days are a cesspool of liberal and leftwing writers, including sexual perverts like John Norman and Marion Zimmer Bradley, they all follow the expectations set down by Inklings, or else deliberately subvert those expectations, and end up writing themselves into unsatisfying dead ends.

Fiction writers may be leftwing in worldview, but the real world is rightwing, and drama, to be real drama, must follow rightwing logic, even if leftwing sentiment can form a cross-currents or counter-themes. Leftwing sentiment without rightwing starch ends up merely as power fantasies or upside-down morality plays.

They are rightly called “upside-down” because such Leftwing parables are foolish and shallow as well as boring: as if Aesop deliberately told parables to encourage vice and deter prudence. One can only be told “believe in yourself” so many times before even Narcissus looks in the looking glass with ennui.

A little bit of “White Guilt” style self-flagellation, such as one might see in Alex Halley’s Roots, mortifies the flesh and is good for the soul. The Puritans of Massachusetts Bay would approve. But a constant diet of whipping yourself merely leads to a sore back, and growing scars of indifference, particularly when the scourge is thrust into science fiction or fantasy settings where such guilt-mongers has no relevance.

So none of these clever and convincing explanations of the inability of the Woke to write well, or even adequately, convinces. There must be more.

Let us look at the mystery of the muse for an answer. What is art?

I have no clear answer for this great question, nor do I think mortal man could frame and answer, except, perhaps, as sibylline riddles sung in the throes of the ecstasies of poets: but I do have an inkling, or a hint.

Jordan Peterson the psychiatrist asserts that individual men, as well as men collected into societies, learn by imitation and imagery when confronting the unknown, and only afterward reduce the lesson to an abstraction that can be articulated with words.

The two halves the human soul, the verbal and the imaginative, the prosaic and the poetical, reflect how we deal with order and chaos in our lives. The verbal and prosaic lessons are orderly, scientific thinking, hence deal with surface appearance only. Logic is typically masculine. The imaginative and poetic lessons wrestle with chaos, trying to capture the ineffable, the mystical, the deep. The muse is feminine.   Theology is a both, for it applies reason to mystic revelations and moral intuitions.

If so, the poet is the pioneer of chaos. The muse, like the great angel seen in the vision of the Apocalypse, stands with one foot in the sea of chaos, and one foot on ordered land. The poet fishes in the oceans of the unknown, seeking images and metaphors to evoke truths that otherwise cannot be put into words, or not properly.

If so, the true poet never truly knows what he is doing. He is guided by intuition and inspiration.

If there is a better name for the mysterious mother of inspiration than the pagan name “muses” none have yet spoken it. To say that inspiration arises from “the unconscious consciousness” — whatever that means — is merely to confess that it arises from where we know not.

Anyone who asks why the muse is depicted as a divine maiden is not a poet, or else is not stirred by the passion that torments her suitors to seek her hand, and engender some immortal work of art from the congress.

Art, then, is like a stained-glass window proffering a vista to view the great mysteries of life, both tragic and comic.

In ancient myths, the young hero ventures into some place of chaos, the perilous wood or the wild sea or the land of the dead where the shadows are, risking life and soul, but should he prevail, some great prize is his, a magic sword or divine word, which allows him to heal and bring order to the sunlit city to which he returns. Should he fail, the monsters of the unknown consume him. Mother Nature shows her cruel side, appearing the myth as witch, queen, or she-dragon; Father Time shows himself as the Grim Reaper.

The tragedies of old, hold moral flaws that lead to the failure; in Bible stories, the ambition of Eve, the jealousy of Cain, the lusts of Giants, the mockery of Ham, and so on. The overweening pride of Greek heroes is generally the root of downfall. Mere depiction of meaningless suffering holds no lesson hence evokes no drama.

Art ventures into chaos with the same wonder and terror as a child learning the basic lessons of life. Wonder arises when, like the hero in an old myth returning to the land with a magic sword found at the bottom of the sea, the child learns a new skill or gains a new level of self control; terror when the confusion and vices of the world shatter his old ways or old assumptions and leave him with no replacement. Note that children spend a great deal of time imitating and pretending. In a healthy society, girls play at being mothers and boys play at being soldiers, dinosaurs, superheroes, and other deadly killers. In an unhealthy society, girls are told to be boys, and boys are told to be eunuchs.

These are playacting ways to grasp the duties and virtues involved in promoting civilization, the roles of motherhood and fatherhood, before those duties and virtues can be articulated in an orderly or verbal way. Such playacting is art, at least in a childish and simple form, the art of play pretend.

As adults, since no virtue is complete, and no lesson final, and since the winds of change will become destructive gales at times, art of play pretend expresses itself by taking the decorations and images, the chants and words of prehistoric religious ritual, and using them to express secular rather than purely religious myths, myths of the founder of the city or the culture hero who first baked bread, for example, rather than stories of the creation of the world, or of how wintertime first came.

In later era, the religious chants become theater, the long chants commemorating the lordly dead become epics, histories venerating the elders are memorized as poems. Ballads deal with lighter and more comical material, and, eventually, wonder tales and satires and novels become entire fictions, with persons merely representing figments of the author’s choosing rather than the gods and heroes of the tribe and city.

But through this all, art remains the window into the transcendental world.

But the “Woke” as these sleepwalkers absurdly call themselves, are heretics who hate the transcendental world. It is not just the Christian religion they hate, or Western civilization, but anything which serves as a structure for moral order, anything that might check or hinder the mob rule in its passions.

The word heretic here is used advisedly. A heresy is any deviation from an organic body of sacred learning and practice which takes one element of that learning or practice, elevates or inflates it to an absolute in order to denigrate or jettison other elements. A heresy is always like half-men who solves a quarrel between his left and right arms by having one amputate the other. Orthodoxy hence tends to be balanced, based on tradition, and contain compromises or even paradoxes between competing elements; heterodoxy is refreshingly simple or even simplistic.

Wokeness is Cultural Marxism, that is, the application of Marxist analysis of all human life into two elements, the oppressor and the oppressed, locking in a Darwinian and inescapable struggle for power, which is the sole underlying reality of all human institutions and passions. Marx himself used the economic institutions of his day, and the alleged conflict between labor and capital, as the basis for his Apocalyptic vision of world revolution and utopia; Cultural Marxists use alleged conflicts between races, sexes, classes, and between human decency and sexual perverts — with the perverts in the starring role as the oppressed and exploited proletarians —  to break down all peace between races, disrupt the family, abolish public decency.

Marx could, perhaps, peer through the stained-glass window of art and see a utopia in the transcendental world.

Certainly the old-fashioned liberals writing science fiction in my youth could do so. The bridge crew of the USS Enterprise, in a portrayal seminal and unique for its time, portrayed a future where racial and national divisions had been overcome, so that Kirk, Uhura, and Sulu could serve together without any commotion or ado, and old enemies from Japan or Russia were enemies no longer, and female officers served in an equal capacity with male. This was utopian only in a small way, as it proposed no violation of the main virtues and priorities of Western civilization. If anything, the Federation was American federalism writ large, or Wilsonian daydreams of a League of Nations preventing wars.

But the modern Woke have no vision. That was swept away in the nihilism and paradoxes they adopted once their faction, once the counterculture, became the establishment. The modern Woke are as strange and horrible combination of anarchist totalitarians, socialist plutocrats, jihadist atheists, racist anti-racists.

There is nothing but darkness beyond the windows of their art, for they serve the nothingness. That is what nihilism is: the doctrine that no truths are true, all are merely narratives seeking power over the oppressed.

And so none one of them can venture into any element of art or story telling. Not character, not plot, not theme, not setting.

Portraying a character requires that a character have individual strengths and weaknesses, and a character arc requires that he fail, suffer, recover, and learn. So a philosophy proposing any character is defined by birth, sex, race or sexual perversion, allegedly over which the character has no control, the character must be perfect by birth, or a perfect devil. If perfect, the Mary Sue has no room for improvement, if the devil, no hope to improve. The cult is collectivistic, and no tale can be told of mobs of anonymous person-units.

Likewise, plots can only take place in worlds governed by objective laws, where human decisions have free will, and causation leads to consequences for actions good or bad; but if there is no moral order and no law and no free will, there is no way for plot action to unfold.  The cult does not believe in reality, only in narrative, hence, ironically a narrative is the one thing no cultist can depict.

Likewise, settings other than the current day do not concern the current political interests of the cult, and would attract undue attention to the fact that things in the past or future were or might be different from our current concerns. This is insupportable for the cult.

Art serves truth, and the central axiom of the cult is truthlessness. As to why even as propaganda their attempts fail, propaganda presupposes an ability to understand and a willingness to manipulate the emotions of others. Sociopaths lack either.

Pulling down monuments to erase the past is the act of the revolutionary once he has achieved his final stage, when, sensing victory close at hand, he no longer masks his purposes, and no longer pretends that compassion is in his heart nor utopia in his dreams. He destroyed for the joy of destroying, and calls it deconstruction.

The core of this ideology can be gleaned by the various names it uses for itself, from Progressive to Woke, for it deems itself to represent evolution and enlightenment. The core is ignoring the past, ignoring experience, ignoring wisdom, ignoring facts. Instead theory replaces fact. Theirs is an esoteric knowledge that cannot be communicated in plain language, only in the cryptical riddles of Newspeak.

And, unlike facts, theories are not stubborn, and can be bent or warped to suit whatever conclusion is fashionable or useful at the moment.

Most important of all, theories grant perfect certainty, which facts can never do. This certainly allows the Woke to dismiss all opposition as issuing from ignorance or from psychological deformity, from a corrupt motive, as powerlust or race hatred.

Hence, for the Woke, no discussion with any opponent is profitable or possible. The Woke are enlightened; all else is unwoke, hence comatose and benighted. The insane cannot receive the wisdom of the Woke, and the corrupt will not.

Hence, for the Woke, no further thought on any topic is necessary or desirable. All answers are at hand, all is clear, to be perfect means only to recite the Woke slogans as given by the Party leaders, the Media, the Opinion-Makers, the Devil in Hell.

All the answer to all life’s questions are here, and the answers are simple. One scapegoat creates all evils in history: kill them and take their stuff. Voila.

Which scapegoat is selected differs from time to time, but this inconsistency does not matter. Logic and honest are tools of oppression, and the enlightened do not need them. Logic creates confusion. Logic is hate speech.

As with the logical and articulate side of life, so also, and for the same reason, with the intuitive and poetical side of life.

As said above, the poet stands with one foot in the chaos of the unknown, the wonderous, the terrifying, of life as it seems when the previous answers in life cannot answer, and all rules fly out the window. The poet, so to speak, enters the perilous wood, the stormy seas, the bottomless pit, and returns with strange treasures. He may not be able to articulate it logically, but he can capture in metaphors what it means to love your enemies, honor the humble, embrace heaven, to die in love.

A science fiction writer, as if in a time machine, can visit the future, and return with tales of 802701 A.D., where social differences lead to deviant subspecies of man and lead to cannibalistic horror, or stories of Stardate 1313.7, where social differences are cured, and space is the final frontier, boldly faced. This tales can serve as caution or hope, and we can learn the lesson involved.

But the Woke need no lessons. Pretending omniscience is the whole point of all these idiotic presumption from Marx to the present day. This pretense is that science shows the path of future history. This pretense is that history takes sides, favoring one side to make their chosen future inevitable, and dooming any reactionary elements. The Unwoke are any who cling bitterly to the guns and bibles, not knowing their fate is already carved in stone. They are already exterminated as dinosaurs, merely being too dumb to know it, or too venal to admit it.

Hence, there is nothing for a Woke artist to do. There is no unknown in his mental plan of the world. No questions need answering. There is nothing for the past to tell us, and nothing in the future to surprise us. There is no need for history books or for science fiction books. There is no need for fiction, tales, stories, poetry, sculpture, music or art at all. James Joyce is sufficient for all novels, and rap will suffice for all music. Art no longer requires discipline, inspiration, or drama; its only social function is to carry the message.

But, of course, a world in which the future is fixed and set, and all discussions of it are settled by science, has no free will, no decisions, no drama. If the outcome is inevitable no matter what you do, then nothing you do has consequences. If nothing has consequences, nothing is prudent or imprudent, hence nothing is brave or craven, just or unjust, temperate or addicted.

If the Woke actually believe that all life’s answers are in the palm of the hand, then there is no good for the poet to do, nothing for teachers to teach, nothing for prophets to prophecy, and no further research for science to discover. Indeed, in anything, these antics might delay the inevitable triumph of Woke Utopia, and so should be discouraged.

This answer may perhaps explain what we are seeing in the wholesale desecration and destruction of all iconic heroes and tales from popular culture, and the ripping down of statues of heroes and founders and historical figures. If Wokeness is what it says it is, a final and simplistic answer to all life’s complex questions, and a disregard of all human wisdom, reason, and natural emotion in favor of screaming hatred and sullen envy, then art is and must be the enemy of all their efforts.

So perhaps the final answer to explain why the Woke cannot make either good art or good propaganda may be deep and simple: an artist cannot be Woke because Wokeness excludes and opposes art.

Art means posing questions and provoking thought.

Woke means Shut Up.