Rhapsody in G Minor 3/21

I missed this last weekend as the godfather of my soon-to-be son came up to stay with us for a week so I’ve been playing the role of host. I’m almost certainly going to miss this coming weekend too, so the best I can do is throw up a post in the middle of the week to try and tide anyone following this over. Everything I do content wise has been slowing to a crawl with the third trimester of this pregnancy and it probably won’t let up. There are other things precluding me from creating however, things that have wrapped up and things that soon will be done too. Things change, but not as much as one might think.

With Kassad (pseudonym) here a lot practical things that we put off are finally getting done. We’ve figured out how to create an outdoor gym and it’s been fantastic. Getting to an actual gym has been a a hassle and it became something I simply didn’t want to do because of the demographics, rules, and sterile environment, and despite having the equipment I needed I had no space in my home to do it. We’ve slapped together a solution that seems to work however. It’s amazing being outside, feeling the grass beneath your feet, and lifting the heavy weights in the sun and wind. It feels right and natural. Gyms are already a simulation of natural exercises, but the environment makes it feel so antiseptic. The option I have pursued will not be open to most people but if you have the means in the way I do highly encourage it.

In addition to the gym, and another reason this post didn’t get out sooner, is that I have been working on a new book. It’s a novel this time, the same one that I’ve started and restarted, with actual progress being made now. I had put it on hold to work on Cultured Grugs, partly to prove to myself I could complete the process of writing a book. Cultured Grugs I will always have fondness for as my first published work, but it’s online essay nature in some ways doesn’t really feel like my first book to me. I hope that will belong to The Credit Bureau. We desperately need good fiction, and I feel ready to do it.

I was amused when someone tried to use–irrelevantly–use my status as a “self-published” author as a knock against me. Leaving aside that Antelope Hill is an independent publisher, regardless of their young age as a start-up, thinking about it it just simply becomes absurd that being self-published has any kind of negative connotation when many books have quite clearly outsold books published by established conglomerates. The negative connotation, of course, comes from the glut of vanity publications. This person wasn’t acting in good faith though, so trying to explain it is moot. It’s funny though.

Rhapsody in G Minor by Brahms

This week’s music courtesy of the wife is Brahms’ Rhapsody in G Minor. Even before I really knew I had been interested in Brahms’ biography. I told her this and one of the first gifts she ever sent me was an actual biography of Brahms. I had been drawn to his gruff but sensitive personality; not without reason my wife might say. Without going into all of that, he was also known for his love of going on long nature walks and being a friend to children, often carrying candy to give them when he came across them on his walks. Sadly writing something like that gives off a more frightening connotation now. Such are the times. There’s no more country for kindly, conservative and traditional men like Brahms. There’s no society for anyone, really.

The rhapsody in its Greek word is rooted in epic poetry. It also has the sense of being effusive in emotion, perhaps even with an epic quality. Hence why the word lends itself to pop songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The musical rhapsody became very popular in the 19th and early 20th century. As a musical form they sought to break out of more rigid and traditional musical structures, highlighting a more dynamic range of emotional and tonal expressions by being more freeform. Brahms wrote his rhapsodies at the peak of his career, once his fame had started to grow in its own right, after he had escaped the shadow of his mentor and dear friend Robert Schumann. It had been three years since his first symphony. He grew his famous beard and became known for his practical jokes.

My wife sees music in colors on account of her synesthesia. I don’t. I don’t even hear much when I hear music. I might get glimpses of an image, or a notion of a feeling. I work in lyrics, but write to instrumentals. Sometimes what I hear bleeds into the text. Most times it just sets the rhythm. When I hear this rhapsody however, I hear a man filled with overwhelming emotion who is keeping it under control. He doesn’t know how to express it except in controlled bursts, like a madman in a fit of inspiration. Maybe I’m talking about myself again. I sometimes do that too much.


The origin of a lot of these weekly posts come from morning conversations with my wife when she gets home from work. I rarely ever know what’s going on in the world, I’m not someone who checks their news feed when they first wake up, so around the breakfast table we mostly reflect on yesterday or other goings-on within our small sphere of concern. We have some neighbors who have been fighting awful lately and we wondered what it was people say about us when we aren’t listening.

My wife could tell it was bothering me and we ended up talking about some awful memories from our own pasts. For me the end and beginning of my life was college. My negative view of college was shaped by it, from the politicized brainwashing classes to the awful students and the stifling atmosphere. The predatory culture did much to shape how I viewed the world as a very ugly place for a very long time. It took too many lost years to rebuild a cohesive and healthy worldview from it. I received a lot of snide commentary from my infamous humiliation essay, but since I’ve been constantly vindicated I have no issue admitting that I poured a lot of what I saw for four years at a university and what I experienced into it. The essay was an exorcism if anything, finally closing that chapter of my life for me.

If my writing could be accused of anything I’d agree when people call it sentimental or emotional, maybe a bit wrought in trying to write to the heart. The line of people who influenced my writing from early Dostoevsky to Haruki Murakami and now to D.H. Lawrence is clear, to me at least.

Dissident activity

I love sperging out about organizational theory, especially as it pertains to online communities, so I’m going to talk a bit about Eternal September and the 1% Rule. In my opinion, these two phenomena should be the foundational principles to anyone interested in organizing an online community, whether that has a political or hobbyist bent.

The Eternal September refers to when the internet was the realm of tech geek hobbyists and people at universities, when everyone was on Usenet. Every September at schools new people would need to be acclimated and assimilated into the Usenet culture. That changed when AOL got everyone on internet with access to Usenet. The flood of new users changed Usenet and there was nothing that could be done about it. It also signified a change in the culture of the internet. It became known as the September that never ended. I would argue that Facebook and the iPhone did the same thing to the culture that sprung out of the original Eternal September, giving access to even more people it would be impossible to assimilate into that culture.

The second to know is the 1% rule. Basically, 1% of the users create the content and 99% lurk or consume it. The variation, which I agree with more is “90% of the participants of a community only consume content, 9% of the participants change or update content, and 1% of the participants add content”. Broadly this appears to just be explaining participation inequality, but the 9% of that is key to understanding the problem that occurs. We’ve seen this play out a lot in hobby circles. If the 1% is the original content and associated creators, then the 9% are often the ones that come in and end up destroying the product and its community. That’s how few it takes to do it through the participation inequality problem. You arguably don’t even need 9% of the users to destroy it, the number can actually be smaller than that due to institutional support or clout.

These are important phenomena to understand because in real life communities are typically built on physical presence, shared space, and ties that are established through blood and/or religion. Online however, especially when it’s tied to any kind of “movement”, communities are actually fragile entities that are extremely easy to upend through. It requires a dedicated and forceful 1%, a vanguard as it were, to maintain not just the rules but the culture of a place. A model that allows anyone in will either overwhelm the vanguard and change the place to its new common denominator, or a clique will attempt to enter the 9% and force a coup from within.

Brandenburg Concerto No 1 in F (3/7)

Writing is a difficult habit, even more so that there fewer people reading. We do not live in a literate society. Yes, people can read, but reading is not the same thing as literacy despite what the CIA World Fact Book might say about a nation’s illiteracy rate. This is the problem when liberalism does as it does–quantify everything into numbers and digitize it. Digitization leads to illiteracy, I’d argue. People can certainly sound out the letters and attach rudimentary ideas to them, but when arguments boil down to pointing at headlines and asking the supposed smart set “what’s the last non-fiction book you read” can utterly devastate them, it doesn’t really signal any meaningful literacy.

There are Burkean conservative types like John Michael Greer or quasi-libertarian types like John Taylor Gatto who bemoan the loss of the kind of democracy that was once prevalent in America, the type that Alexis de Tocqueville marveled at when he looked at the American project as an outsider. Writing on what literacy meant two centuries ago, John Taylor Gatto reports in The Underground History of American Education:

“Looking back, abundant data exist from states like Connecticut and Massachusetts to show that by 1840 the incidence of complex literacy in the United States was between 93 and 100 percent wherever such a thing mattered. According to the Connecticut census of 1840, only one citizen out of every 579 was illiterate and you probably don’t want to know, not really, what people in those days considered literate; it’s too embarrassing. Popular novels of the period give a clue: Last of the Mohicans, published in 1826, sold so well that a contemporary equivalent would have to move 10 million copies to match it. If you pick up an uncut version you find yourself in a dense thicket of philosophy, history, culture, manners, politics, geography, analysis of human motives and actions, all conveyed in data-rich periodic sentences so formidable only a determined and well-educated reader can handle it nowadays. Yet in 1818 we were a small-farm nation without colleges or universities to speak of. Could those simple folk have had more complex minds than our own?”

On the topic of democracy, as literacy and democracy in its highest ideal are linked, John Michael Greer expounds on this at same length in his book Decline and Fall.

“It’s common enough to hear claims that American voters of previous generations must have been as poorly equipped in the skills of thinking as their equivalents today. I would encourage any of my readers who want to make such a claim, or who like to think that the inhabitants of our self-styled information society must inevitably be better at thinking than people of an earlier age, to take the time to read the Lincoln-Douglas debates in their entirety, and then compare them to the 2012 presidential debates. Lincoln and Douglas were not speaking to a roomful of PhDs. They were in a hotly contested congressional election, in front of audiences of farmers, millworkers, shopkeepers, and craftsmen, the ordinary voters of 1858 Illinois, few of whom had more than an eighth grade education and many of whom had much less. It does not speak well for the pretensions of today’s America that its presidential candidates in 2012 pursued their debates on a level that a crowd of Chicago feedlot workers in 1858 would have found embarrassingly simplistic. Nor was this unique to 2012; it has been true of almost every American presidential debate since the 1960s.”

I have a gentle sadness for what America once was even though I knew there were some rotten roots from the start. That democracy in America was because America was a Protestant, Anglo-Saxon construct and it carried with it that Protestant work ethic and value in self-education. My Muskrat ancestors must have admired something in that at least since they were willing to stick around instead of going back to Quebec.

Brandenburg Concerto No 1 in F

Speaking of what was great in Protestantism, this week’s music is Brandenburg Concerto No 1 in F by the great master Johann Sebastian Bach. I won’t have as much to say about this one as I simply don’t understand music and don’t have a great ear for it. I can transmit how it makes me feel, but the technical qualities are quantum physics to me. I like to embarrass my wife by describing the music she recommends with the intellect of a caveman. Chopin’s Nocturnes are “pretty piano music”, Baroque Bach’s concertos are “fancy music”.

There’s a lot to love though. I’ve been lost in them while writing this post and I’m already up to No 4 in G Major. My enemies like to mock my people for supposedly fetishizing a made up concept of Western Civilization without even understanding anything about it besides marble statues and Renaissance paintings. While I will not give the devil his due on this, there’s still a lot of work to be done in improving cultural literacy. If I’m encountering skinheads though well-versed in the works of Brahms and Schumann, then my hope still springs eternal.


Thinking about how quickly I got married, I’ve had to learn how to live with someone else on the fly. It makes me understand the complaints about “adulting” a little better. Suffice to say I loathe the term and so should anyone else, the twee tendencies of my generation being among the most abominable things about us, but the root of the complaint I do understand. I heard some song from some band that sounded emblematic of the “failure to launch” Millennial generation that bemoaned the feeling of being left behind and being at fault for it. For as much as people like to accuse of finding blame in others, I think there’s more self-loathing that we couldn’t seem to figure it out than people are willing to admit.

Relationships aren’t real unless there’s real skin in the game. I was in relationships before my wife, but they were obviously never serious things. I’ve known people who were together for ten years–ten years!–before they got married. I don’t understand it. If you’re in it for the long haul then why not just do the ritual and complete the puzzle? I suppose I’m old-fashioned like that. Old-fashioned enough to marry someone after barely knowing them a few months. By my grandparents’ standards though it was a longer engagement–ours married after only knowing each other a month. They all stayed together, but that’s the power of cultural coherency and institutional inertia.

There seems to be this fear though that if you don’t have it all figured out before the pop question, then you’re just hurtling toward potential failure. Here’s the thing about relationships though; they all end. Either you call it quits or one of you dies. Every relationship has a timer on it, and no amount of trying to remain vague so that you can have some kind of plausible deniability to yourself is really going to change that. I’d rather just figure it out as I go along instead of waiting to say yes to life and death.

I’m posting a day early on this one as why not, no sense in waiting. I’m sure some people would love to have something to read Sunday morning at breakfast. My book is still available, as always, from Antelope Hill Publishing and the reviews are rolling in. People seem to like it. That’s all I can really ask.

The Death of Aase 2/28

A late post this time, but it couldn’t be avoided. There’s been much to celebrate with the publishing of my book, Cultured Grugs–a collection of posts from this site, my American Sun articles, and some new material written for the book–as well as visitations from friends and family. You’d think they were excited about the upcoming birth of a baby or something.

Life has been good lately and God has been rather good to me. Our age of precarity puts the fear of the other foot pressing down in you but despite it one must stop and appreciate what is good. My mind has been focused on the good life and what it means to live one since I’ll have far too much to teach the next generation.

Peer Gynt

The music for this week’s post is Peer Gynt, specifically “The Death of Aase“. Most people will be familiar with a separate piece from this suite, “In The Hall of the Mountain King”, though they most likely don’t know the origins. Peer Gynt is both a musical suite and a play, Edvard Grieg writing the music for the play by Henrik Ibsen. The work is rooted in the fairy tales of Norway and Ibsen production with its accompanying incidental music among the most popular cultural works that Norway has produced.

There is a Faustian quality to the story but it retains its very Scandinavian character. After living a brigand’s life in the hills, Peer Gynt comes down to the mountains to be there as his mother Aase dies. He said he had something heavy to fetch. Children burying their parents is a certainty for most. What comes next is the mystery, something many never solve. Peer travels to North Africa in order to find himself. He never does, he’s lived his life as a troll. He believe himself lost. There is resonance here, as the soul of the northerner is always on the move but there is the fear he’ll never find himself. What we have traveled for our whole lives if we are nothing? The ending is ambiguous. For Peer Gynt, and for us. The heaviest notes however remain with the deaths of our mothers.

“Peer, we shall meet at the last crossroads, and then we shall see if… I’ll say no more.”

Some Kind of Heaven

We watched Some Kind of Heaven, the documentary about the artificially constructed Baby Boomer retirement community in Florida that is population to over one hundred thousand. It might have been a mistake. I don’t know how to describe it as other than a docudrama sequel of Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism with Jean Baudrillard as consultant. That might not make sense, but it’s weird to peer into this artificial bubble and watch these sad stories play out. It left me with a weird feeling I didn’t like as I’m allergic to the kind of “gawking at white people” entertainment that’s peddled by Jews, white liberals, and the vegetable medley of mediocre strivers.

I can’t really recommend it. For a documentary it’s got some beautiful cinematography and it’s nice getting an inside look into The Villages, but there’s just this miasma of sadness that settles over you while you watch it. We were bothered a lot after watching it. I can’t think of any other time in history when a people just retired to completely different part of the country en masse, especially one artificially constructed for that purpose with its own fake history. Seeing the Villages on the inside is like watching a pristine train set being run in a dusty attic in a house with no children.

Our parents often know more than they let on. I’ve had enough conversations with older relatives to know this is just a simple fact. The frustration that many in my generation feel is in some large part the result of the massive alienation we feel at not having any sense of country that our parents were able to take for granted and not really understanding the kind of cultural conditioning they underwent which was different from ours, but they do on some level understand. It’s an incomplete understanding though, and that may only frustrate people more.

Some of this results from simply how both radical and extremist my generation and the next are, whereas the Baby Boomers, for all of their propensity to say very actionable things, have a sense of security and stability they can recall and wish to go back to. When we watched Some Kind of Heaven, I was struck by how the design for The Villages was based on ‘the town squares we all grew up in’, or however exactly one of the people in the documentary explained it. That’s not a cultural memory that I can draw upon and I know that’s true for millions of my generational cohorts. It might go a long way towards explaining Josh Neal’s thesis in American Extremist about the different between radicals and extremists.

There were many parents who didn’t try, I know. There were many who did though, and if we had tried like them we would have failed too. We might have done worse, probably.


Bad news continues to trickle out of the states that were badly affected by the ravaging snowstorm that blew through a couple of weeks ago. In Texas you have thousands of people at risk as they can’t get water for their dialysis, in Arkansas they’re crapping in bags, and in Tennessee they’re sending water tankers to hospitals. It’s become a real spotlight on America’s infrastructure and the nation’s precarious relationship with its water. It reminds me as well that Michael Burry, the first man to foresee the mortgage crisis and bet against it moved onto water futures after that.

Collapse is always a difficult thing to talk about. All processes are difficult to talk about. There’s a certain simplicity people would like to have, and that’s understandable. Is the patient healthy or sick? Just break it down for me, doc, I don’t need the details on how the complexity of his nervous system works. Collapse works the same way and unfortunately this leads to both misunderstanding and a kind of binary thinking where people will believe that decline and collapse are so intrinsically different that you cannot call America a place in a state of collapse unless you have Lord Humungus from Mad Max 2 scouring a scorched wasteland and rummaging for catamites. Or they may believe that because the elites are perfectly fine and running their system then that’s indicative of its total health and ability to keep running. The irony that people in what is supposedly the greatest nation on earth are arguing what collapse means like angels on the head of a pin while cities are without water thanks to a bad snowstorm seems lost on some.

Excuses can and will be made that there’s nothing you can really do about catastrophic weather, it’s always wrecked countries and required places to rebuild and recover. The Devil’s advocate would say “was the San Francisco earthquake at the turn of the 20th century indicative that the United States was in a state of collapse?” It’s a fair question, which is why to understand the process one has to look at how the response is managed. Empires don’t die because they failed to prevent catastrophe, they die because they failed to manage catastrophe. The Roman Empire could have fallen in the third century, it was teetering on the brink, but the reforms of Diocletian restored stability and gave the empire a new life to continue. This crisis prefigured Constantine the Great, showing that proper responses to catastrophe does not give any empire a certain fatalist inevitability, that it will still be able to produce great men down the line.

Does America have that capability? I think if you were to present this as it is to people, they’d be hard pressed to say yes, or if they do would struggle to explain how. “Well, they’ll just think of something” is a common refrain. Maybe they will. Is that what you’re planning to bank on though? To paraphrase my father however, you can crap in one bag or hope in the other and see which one fills faster. From what I’ve seen people are beginning to give up on hope and are beginning to invest more in emergency kits and supplies. The worst it can do is take up some space.

Excerpt from Cultured Grugs

I’ll end this week’s post with an excerpt from now my available books, Cultured Grugs:

Finally, this society is intolerable. There is no other way to get around it. There is no other way to explain it. It is full of deceit and it is full of predators. It is full of malevolent sadists and it is full of people with no courage. It is disgusting on so many levels, and you’re absolutely right to reject it. And you will absolutely be punished for that. You will need to be careful over what you say and who you trust as this society has no honor and no sense of justice. It is ruled by hostile, evil people who hate and despise the normal people who live in it. People like your mother and I. People like you.

Now you know it. So what do you do now?

Some might say this is a horrible thing to be telling a child, but regardless of when you read this, if you’re old enough to understand the words that I’m saying, you’ll be old enough to understand how important they are. And you’ll be old enough to understand that we filled our home with love because the world is full of heartlessness. We filled your life with nature and art because there are many fine things worth fighting for, virtue most of all.

Fantasia on a Theme (Sunday 2/21)

It’s been some time since we’ve had some content here. I can’t promise that I’ll be able to commit to making this the weekly post that I would like it to be as there’s always a thousand good reasons to be doing anything else, but some things do need to be done simply because they must be done. Five hundred to a thousand words is the least I can do to give you something to mull over breakfast.

Music of the Week: Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams

I’m generally tone-deaf, if not possibly literally, so the music to accompany this post comes via my classically trained missus. She calls this exquisite, and with her synesthesia she sees big green fields and endless meadows. “Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis” was inspired by the 16th century English choral musician Thomas Tallis’ “Third Mode Melody” from his nine psalm chant tunes. The largely 20th century English composer Vaughan Williams broke with many of the musical conventions of the time with composing music that was largely inspired by the Renaissance, Tudor, and folk music compositions of England. He was, in a sense, a true English patriot in his music. Feel your heart achingly swell with visions of a land gone by as the work rolls towards its beautiful crescendo.

We think you will enjoy.

Some Kind of Heaven

There’s a new documentary out by Lance Oppenheim called Some Kind of Heaven, supposedly in an inside scoop slash insane narrative about the Baby Boomer retirement haven in Florida known as The Villages. The Daily Mail wrote a rather lengthy description of what is depicted within the documentary on this place. It’s very anxiety-inducing, a fake wonderland where the most benign expressions of a shattered culture begin to play out in what is essentially an adult amusement park. It’s described as a ‘utopian Disneyland with a seedy underbelly’ and calls to mind what Jean Baudrillard writes on Disneyland in Simulacra and Simulation:

“The Disneyland imaginary is neither true nor false: it is a deterrence machine set up in order to rejuvenate in reverse the fiction of the real…It’s meant to be an infantile world, in order to make us believe that the adults are elsewhere, in the “real” world, and to conceal the fact that real childishness is everywhere, particularly among those adults who go there to act the child in order to foster illusions of their real childishness.”

From the description in the Daily Mail article, one might call The Villages the fulfillment of this. I’m generally hesitant about engaging in generational bashing. Christopher Lasch already wrote the best description of the generation in The Culture of Narcissism and he greatly saw them as a product of what the System had created. If one wanted to trace the chain of blame back you could go back to the Greatest Generation that raised, and probably further back than that. Trying to understand it is of little use though, as we are the same product just down the chain. All we can do is really understand the circumstances, poke a little fun, and try to pick up the pieces. I’m also hesitant to indulge in something like this given the last name of the director and the involvement of Darren Aronofsky. You can’t make fun of our Boomers; only we can do that.

I may watch it tonight, regardless.

Cultural disintegration is worth exploring but it’s extremely difficult to grasp your hands around as it quickly just becomes pointing and gawking at this continental mess. It’s easy to fall into resentment and rage. It’s easy to be mad at another generation. If the Boomers disappeared overnight, which on some level they one day will, the problems we have will largely be the same. If the Boomers had never existed, our problems would probably still be the same, albeit in different forms. The situation and the mountainous climb, almost Sisyphean, that will need to be done by those unhappy is to forge generational connections that endure and safeguard that wealth and capital in all forms that are being vacuumed up by pederast grifters and shapeshifting psychopaths.

The future requires families, intact as they can be. It requires people who can let righteous resentment for the smallest of things become better fury at the biggest of crimes. There is value in virtue in a nihilistic age, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

That’s all for this week. In the future I’d like to add more structure and more topics to these posts but this was done very late in the morning on the shortest notice. Church bells are ringing and the choir is calling. Sound and fury, fury and sound.

Keep an eye on Antelope Hill as they’ll soon be releasing my collection of old and new writings, Cultured Grugs.