The Brilliance Abounds!

On this post ranting about Deepak Chopra, I got a comment which I decided not to publish and mock, because I’d rather excerpt the crap in a post and mock in a more public venue. You might want to read the Chopra post, but then again, if you know me from this blog, I’m sure you can guess what I had to say, and the comment is pretty tangential, so you don’t absolutely need to read the post. The comment, sitting there in my Comments Awaiting Moderation box in all its glory (like a flaming paper bag of turds), went as follows:


To the dumbass [email protected] [my edit] who wrote this article. Evolution is the most racist theory that was ever created. Why? because Darwin and all the other [email protected] who believe in Darwinism reckon that white people are the most superior form of humans on the planet. There is no denying this. I have done science at university and when i found this out i was disgusted.

Human beings were created by reptilian humanoids. Sound stupid? Read about David Icke. That makes more sense to me than saying thats blacks are a bunch of primitive animals and that the glorious white race evolved from them.

From Deepak Chopra: Who Is This Idiot?, 2007/12/03 at 9:09 PM

Clearly, this commenter is a person of superior intellect. Here I am, sitting at my computer and trying to think of what to say, but you know, it strikes me that I don’t need to. This hoser mocks himself. I will throw in a link, though, full of quotes from Darwin that show his attitudes on slavery (he was against it) and criticizing other racist behaviors and policies of his time. Darwin was actually among the English liberals who repudiated Edward John Eyre for his excesses in suppressing the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica. Who was against punishing Eyre, and following the Kim Il Sung-like law he created in Jamaica rendering it illegal to punish him for those same excessess? Ah, there’s a surprise: Dickens? Tennyson? Ruskin and Kingsley? Damn, why so many literary types? That’s an embarrassment.

But then, as some say of the poor, I say of bigoted dorks: the wicked shall always be with us. (The subject of Buckell’s post, not Buckell himself.) Being bookish, and SF-bookish, even, doesn’t make you good, or decent, or even particularly smart. There are many rooms in the mansion of SF, including some with poo smeared on the walls.

Which, by the way, reminds me of this article on David Icke from last year, up at Strange Horizons, asking what he’s doing that mainstream SF isn’t. Short answer? Preying upon the mentally and emotionally vulnerable for make a fortune. I like to think that good SF does the opposite: in singing the praises of intelligence, of human adaptability, and so on.

But that dichotomy is problematic, isn’t it? Where’s that line between good SF and “the other stuff”? Maybe a better analogy is types of alcohol: someone like Ted Chiang or Maureen McHugh puts out a fine, wonderfully-aged cognac rich with flavours, or a lovely, textured, and heady wine, and it’s a thing to savor and celebrate, not to get hammered on. Bruce Sterling? A bourbon you know from years back and can have fun with, though it does funny things with your head. (Especially in the stories collected in A Good Old-Fashioned Future and Globalhead.) Greg Egan? Absinthe, my friends, absinthe. (But didn’t you know, it was never the absinthe that killed people anyway. Or so they say.) Scalzi? A dependable, smooth, and surprisingly tasty hits-the-spot microbrew, the kind of thing you enjoy more because you know he’s just making it seem easy to brew something like that.

I could go on, but you get the point. If this is the analogy we’ll work with, David Icke (like L. Ron Hubbard and very few others in the world of SF) is the malt liquor factory boss, putting out what I think I remember Spike Lee calling, somewhere in the director’s commentary on Bamboozled, “liquid crack” — stuff that builds dependency, that distorts minds and lives deeply, and that finally and fully screws up any and all partially-screwed up people who come into contact with it. People can get screwed up on the bourbon, the microbrew, the wine or cognac; people can do absinthe till they’re in the gutter. Hell, there’s a million ways to skin yourself. But malt liquor has no other purpose than to make money, and no other effect than screwing people up and turning them inside out.

And that’s just like David Icke, as the comments above clearly demonstrates. You should thank your lucky stars I’m not quoting the email correspondence that followed.

(Do three or four emails constitute a correspondence? maybe it’s an exchange… no, wait. It was flaming paper bags of feces on my electronic doorstep.)

The appropriate response, of course, is pity. But every human heart has its limits.

8 thoughts on “The Brilliance Abounds!

  1. Generally agreed, though malt liquor is pretty nice under the right circumstances, unlike Scientology. LRH = MD 20/20.

  2. I should note that I’ve never had malt liquor. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen the stuff, I only know it by reputation. I had in mind a hard-liquor version of that awful, horrid beer you can get in Quebec, anyway, that’s high alcohol, bad flavor, and exists solely for skaters and alkies to get hammered as fast as possible.

    (I’m sure high-alc beer can be good, but this one kind a skater I worked with “recommended” (and I tried out of curiosity at how bad it really was) was, well… unforgettably disgraceful stuff.)

    I’m tempted to swap in soju for malt liquor, except I know some people drink it not exactly to get drunk, but out of… well, I’d put it as social convenience. The folks who just have a single bottle with a friend or two, with this or that food. I suppose it’s the same with malt liquor. I wonder if there is a perfect drink for that analogy…

    … besides, of course, the gin circa The English Gin craze. I guess that’s probably a better analogy.

  3. Thomas Jefferson famously made an ale that was around 14% or so (which now bears his name). Very good stuff.

    Religious freak s/f? Soju all the way. Not everyone who reads Icke is a freak, and not everyone who drinks soju does it to get screwed up. Or perhaps Jinro Port Wine (the old $2/bottle stuff).

    If you want a Western equivalent, then fortified wine is probably best (Thunderbird!).

  4. Ah, Tennyson’s infamous “nig*ers are tigers” comment. The complexity of 19th century liberals are so odd and frustrating to reconcile in the 21st. Macaulay’s minute on Indian education–where he goes on about the whole of that continent’s civilization not equal to a shelf of Shakespeare; to make Indians only in skin and Englishmen in their hearts and minds underneath– has that horrible racist bent combined with actively arguing for equal education of Indians and setting up public education. Eh, the white man’s burden still has its proponents.

  5. I have a feeling I’d hate 14% ale!

    I don’t think everyone who reads Icke is a freak, but I do think everyone who takes his claims seriously is, and I can’t imagine people who willingly spend money on more than one book (outside of research purposes) aren’t freaks. I mean, I’ve read Blavatsky and Jane Roberts (ah, Seth) too, but one usually grows out of it, or becomes a freak. (A small margin may find constant fun in it, but I suspect it’s a small number.)

    Jinro Port Wine, oh noooooo! The drinks mentioned on this comment thread are all making me feel ick! :)

    Nah, I’m going with Gin, London, ca 1740. And I’m fully aware I’m like one of those upper class dudes off in my apartments drinkking [alcoholic] “punch” as I fiercely criticize the drunken poor. :)

  6. Frog Lew,

    Sorry, your comment was stuck in moderation.

    Well, even I have argued in the past that we should at least see the notion of the White Man’s burden as a step up from the kinds of interaction (and justifications) involved when cultures or groups of people steamrollered one another in the more distant past, when the dominant approach was simply genocide.

    The White Man’s Burden is a repugnant idea, but there’s this weird ethical dimension to it that I think simultaneously made hypocrites of the people who believed in it, but also allowed those white colonists sometimes to resist the system about as much as any complicit participant can.
    Hell, Gandhian nonviolence worked in part because of that weird, stunted but present ethical dimension, I think, in a way it could never have if it had been, say, the Nazis he’d ended up trying to wrest independence from.

    (My brilliant Indian friend has argued that Gandhi wouldn’t have taken that approach with the Nazis, which may well be true. We were discussing an alternate history by Harry Turtledove, by the way.)

    I should add, though, that part of the reason I think it’s important to think not just of the repugnant idea, but also of the regular people who were raised under the sway of it but strove to be decent, is because my father is one of them.

    He ardently believed into later adulthood — I remember arguing with him in his mid-fifties — that Europe had colonized Africa for the good of the Africans (and as evidence, he cited how much more horrible the postcolonial governments were for the common people). But he also was the kid in his school (in Malawi) who got the shit kick out of him for standing up to the South African kids for treating the local black kids like crap, and he really did also feel a calling to help the people around him who were living in a pretty precarious situation at the best of times. He felt horror at the suffering of Malawians around him, and I suspect he would have even if it were the British government inflicting it, instead of the thugs doing the work of Hastings Banda, whom he routinely called “Bloody Banda” for things he’d seen done to people he knew. (Like the office guy who, intent on cycling to work, crossed three checkpoints where he had to show is [political] party card. He showed the wrong card in each case one day, since it was guesswork sometimes, and was beaten severely at each checkpoint, arriving pretty badly injured and with his bicycle destroyed.)

    Yeah, that complexity is really weird. Then again, it makes me think a lot about what kinds of things I’m ironically blind to that utterly contradict my own ethical beliefs. :)

  7. According to the Wikipedia article on him, David Icke thinks that Boxcar Willie is a reptilian. Suddenly, I am a believer.

    Also, see the symmetry? Boxcar Willie is a fake hobo. What do hobos drink? Thunderbird! Or Night Train or whatever. All the themes of this post fold in on themselves. Also Boxcar Willie is free from contradictions, having no evident morals.

    btw Jinro makes gin.

  8. 아이~~~~~구우우우~~~~!

    Rhesus, I think you’ve pretty much sewn this baby up tight.

    I, for one, am now weirded out.

    One does wonder, though, how Icke proves to his fans that he himself is not a reptilian, or, indeed, a space-amphibian send by the Amphbitironic Empire of Galaxy Z2TN765 to fill human heads with silly claims of imaginary reptilians and distract them from the Ampibian invasion. Or whatever. :)

    Jinro makes gin? That’s… simultaneously very right, and very scary. It must be horrible stuff, too.

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