Tag Archives: modernity

Snowflakes Don’t Last

Nassim Taleb is smart enough not to spell it out, but the concept of antifragility is profoundly conservative. The antifragile is what lasts, and more than that, the antifragile is what defeats every attempt to extinguish or deny it. In Lacanese, it is what insists, the relentless, constant pressure of the drive. Fashionable ideas, enthusiasms, hysterias: these are the things that come and go.

In this context, we can think of modernity as an arrogant revolt, a humanist attempt to emancipate humanity from human nature with the help of technological magic. This is what underlies every modern calumny against tradition. Modernity is the promise of emancipation. In a peculiar way, the slave resentment that Nietzsche detected in Christianity has only become more virulent with the secularization of Christian moralizing into the doctrine of “human” rights.

Only now, after modernity’s complete triumph and entrenchment, does it begin to become evident that the constraints it imposes are actually worse than those of patriarchal tradition. Only now does the radical unnaturaleness of modernity and the harshness of the measures needed to sustain its “emancipations” begin to register, revealing the paradox that modern emancipation is predicated on totalitarian social administration, that liberal ideas can only be realized as illiberal impositions.

Specifically, today it becomes ever more clear that the protection of wholly artificial, gender-emancipated snowflakes requires nothing less than the eradication of masculinity.

This is not going to happen.

For one thing, modernity itself has conditioned us to find value in what is socially proscribed. Thus, at some point, we can expect the stigmatization of masculinity to turn on its head. An early indications of this is the rise of the populist right, congruent with the growing realization that feminism is the priggish ideology of a privileged elite.

But even if the Western elites have their way, the demolition of Western masculinity can only be prelude to the West going under, to the profit of other more vigorous, unrepentantly virile civilizations.


How can one fail to see that everything denounced by Céline at the end of the Thirties is true and even worse since then?

Quite. And the current squalid kerfuffle over the publication of his retroactively criminalized pamphlets merely adds to the evidence of how little the country that claims his genius deserves it. But then, what country could possibly stake a legitimate claim to Céline, the quintessential vagabond, the man who seemed to have a knack for making himself unwelcome wherever he went?

To really appreciate Céline, you have like him to lack roots in the modern world, to be a traitor to every party, to be intellectually and culturally homeless. Céline’s made himself an untouchable out of dogged loyalty to what he saw, touched, heard, smelled, tasted. His undoing was the the result of his steadfast refusal to lie. You sense that this refusal did not arise from some abstract moral principle. It came from artistic pride. Céline refused to lie because he was an aesthete of the highest order, uninterested in finding beauty by keeping his head upturned and contemplating the heavens but possessed by a fury to give form to the chaos encroaching from all sides. The lesson of his work is that beauty is not in the world but in suffering it, in enduring it, in voyaging to the end of the night.

Along with Nietzsche, he is one of the, perhaps, handful of writers who matter to me.

Stop Your Ears

Freud’s fundamental error is that he listens to women. He listens. He encourages complaint. Freud teaches men to listen to women when what women actually require in order to not become bitches and shrews is men refractory to female protest. Hard men. Dominant men.

Not for nothing did Odysseus stop the ears of his sailors against the keening of the sirens. Women will drive men who listen mad. Freud listened. The result was psychoanalysis. Women have not stopped talking since, and men have lost the ability to shut them up.

In Shakespeare’s time it was understood that indulging a chronically dissatisfied woman would only makes things worse. Petruchio’s cure for the shrew was to acquaint her with real deprivation. Unlike Freud, Petruchio did not ruminate over “what a woman wants.” A woman reveals what she wants not by what she says but by the kind of man she surrenders to. She wants a man who will put her in her place. But for a man to be capable of putting a woman in her place, he must know her place without asking. And he must show he knows by adroit conquest.

A man who starts down the path of asking what a woman wants, as Freud does, never gets to the end of it. For such a man has forfeited the knowledge that should constitute an essential part of his masculinity. The man who asks will never know. He is impotent.

A woman becomes a woman through subjugation. To ask her what she wants is to undo her as a woman. The question hystericizes her. Freud’s technique makes hysterics. It does not cure them.

This undoing of woman does not produce a man. It produces a malformed creature who is neither woman nor man, neither fish nor fowl: a harpy. The harpy is a creature who loathes herself and takes vengeance on the men who failed to make her a woman.

Expressed as feminism, this inchoate rage against ineffectual men is legitimate punishment for the white male abdication of virility. The old covenant between the sexes has been broken. Men preoccupied with the vast modern enterprise of subduing and exploiting nature have forgotten how to conquer women. They only have themselves to blame if in their modern cities they are now beset by the disordered, misgendered creatures they have loosed upon the world.

Freud was an early exemplar of the inadequate man engendered by modernity. What he invented was not a cure but a symptom, a symptom of a spent, ineffectual patriarchy no longer capable of form-giving and resigned instead to suffer the incessant chatter of disappointed women.