Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Dark Enlightenment in New Pop Fiction?

One of my dear Progressive friends gave me a book by David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas, called The Bone Clocks. I finished it a couple months ago. It’s Mitchell’s most recent work, and I haven’t read anything else by him to which I could compare it. Despite Mitchell’s ability to balance a quick-moving plot with fanciful prose, prose that measures higher than most popular fantasy or science fiction, the book still fell flat for me. My friend is dying of cancer. So to be decent I had to wait to tell him my thoughts on the novel, and discuss with him in person the gift he gave me, before I wrote about it here. Again, for the most part, The Bone Clocks fell flat for me. And it will fall flat for you, as well, if you’re not a Progressive. Here’s why.

The Bone Clocks perfectly illustrates the problem all non-Progs (conservatives, libertarians, Vaisyas, etc.) have in the West: and part of the problem itself is that many of these people aren’t aware of the problem. They believe in mystical—some might say delusional—ideas such as “America,” “the American spirit” or “that shining city upon a hill.” They believe that, deep down, we’re still all Americans (whatever that means). I’m not sure about Europe or other Western nations, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the mainstream Right in those countries were possessed by similar delusions. (David Mitchell is an Englishman, by the way.)
In other words, the mainstream Right is the problem itself, and it doesn’t even know it. Or it denies it. Progressives in the U.S. understand that we are, in fact, not all Americans. Progressives don’t believe in America. America, to them, is ‘merica. And ‘merica is racist, stupid, backwards and evil. Moreover, all traditional cultures, with the exception of Western traditional cultures, are authentic and beautiful. That’s diversity, and to disagree is racist.
Let us now return to The Bone Clocks, in which the protagonists consist of a group who call themselves the Horologists. They’re vegetarians. They celebrate diversity within their ranks—allied to no one particular family, nation or tribe but the universal tribe of global humanity. Oh, they have preternatural powers that allow their souls to inhabit the bodies of both men and women—recently deceased—over long periods of time, exhibiting to the reader how sexual differences between men and women amount to nothing more than Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head parts. The mission of the Horologists is to destroy the Anchorites.
The Anchorites also have powers that allow them to prolong life. Rather than floating from corpse to corpse over time, as eternal souls on the right side of history, however, the Anchorites prey on the living and the innocent, extracting their life-force to remain youthful in perpetuity. They’re also all Caucasian aristocrats, essentially vampires—“soul carnivores”—sans the fangs or classical weaknesses of vampire lore.
            The coolest character in the book, Hugo Lamb, a blue-blooded twenty-something, who likes to seduce beautiful women (we are suggested to believe that he is sociopathic for having such interests), reads Machiavelli and Sun Tzu while reflecting on how he’s different from—how he is above—the plebian “Normals”. While he’s being recruited by the Anchorites, he asks one of the leaders, “So you have no political agenda?”
            The reply: “As long as we are left alone, none.”
            Hm. Is it a coincidence that the political agenda of the antagonists in the novel could be interpreted as a stylistic variant of laissez-faire or ‘don’t tread on me’? Doubtful. What’s not a coincidence is the overall message of the novel: Progressives are on the side of the angels. Anyone who stands in the way of Progress is a villain…an Anchorite.
They really believe this. Mainstream conservatives in the States (and most likely the rest of the West) are in denial about who their “fellow Americans” really are and what they think of them. We sociopathic Anchorites warrant nothing but hatred and destruction. In a word: Death. That is the finale, ultimate point of The Bone Clocks.
            The last chapter of the book (spoiler alert) reveals a new dark age. The Horologists have defeated the Anchorites, but over the years humanity gave into its Dark Side anyway, creating a Progressive dystopia in which climate change has destroyed Western Democracy, marijuana is no longer readily available as a universal human right, and the world is ruled by the Chinese and Russia, while a makeshift and weak though autocratic government called “Stability” manages the ruins of the West as it competes with evil rightwing militias for power over territory and resources.
            And the moniker that David Mitchell slaps on his post-apocalyptic vision? Why…the Endarkenment, of course. Thirteen times I counted (though perhaps I missed a few) that he employs the word Endarkenment to refer to the post-Progressive, post-New Jerusalem Western world that oh-so horrifies the demotist imagination. The Bone Clocks was published in 2014. It’s the first work of popular fiction I know of written for a mass audience that uses DE diction derivative of Moldbug. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence. Perhaps not. Make of that what you will.
            Were the Wachowski Twins to make The Bone Clocks into a film, I just hope it doesn’t suck as bad as Cloud Atlas. Or the novel, for that matter. 

(It was still a thoughtful gift, Sal. Thank you, again.)


  1. It's rare that I stumble across something where I disagree completely with just about every statement made, so congratulations.

    To pick only one thing to take issue with -- "The coolest character in the book, Hugo Lamb, a blue-blooded twenty-something, who likes to seduce beautiful women (we are suggested to believe that he is sociopathic for having such interests)..." -- Really? Come on. Hugo's friend committed suicide after being victimized in one of Hugo's long cons and the only emotion Hugo felt was anger that the classic sportscar was totaled and he couldn't profit from selling it. He visited a man with dementia for the express purpose of stealing valuable stamps which he sold for pocket money. And your takeaway was that we were supposed to think Hugo was a sociopath because he liked to fuck?

    If you fail at basic reading comprehension skills, your book reviews are necessarily going to suck.

  2. Thanks for commenting.