When Dan and I were first married (maybe two years into our marriage) we took a vacation in Algarve, in the South of Portugal. For those not conversant with the region, it has miles and miles of white sandy beaches, a placid, warm sea, and a generally pleasing climate. All of which were more or less alien to me, since I grew up in the North, where the sea is freezing (due to an arctic current) and has waves that make it a surfer’s paradise. Also, the North is warm — ish. Often hot, actually, but not always — July through September only.
Anyway, Dan likes beaches, I like beaches…. we were young and fairly happy. On the second or third day, we saw an elaborate castle-building shape-set in a window. The kind of play set (to sculpt sand) I used to dream of as a little girl, when I built VERY elaborate castles (including fountains in courtyards) with my hands, a silly plastic scoop and a dorky little bucket.
When I mentioned it to Dan, he of course said we should buy that set and build a castle. (In our defense, the set was like 50c in US money.) So, we did. We spent most of the day building the castle, which had arches and bridges, multiple towers, and a little village inside.
We built it just far enough from the tide line that it would stay up for a few hours. I don’t know about you, but periodically on the seaside I come across such constructions, and they always make me smile. I wanted to pass that “smile” on.
As we were finishing, a group of kids sat nearby and watched us. I thought they were just curious about what these English-speaking strangers were doing, and paid no attention.
However, no more had we finished the castle and — it being dinner time — started to walk away, than these kids ATTACKED the castle, tearing at it, and screaming in a paroxism of hatred.
At the time I was shocked and heartsick. Even these many years later, I’m slightly nauseated.
Sure, it was just a sand castle. BUT I can’t understand the need to tear and stomp flat, nor could I understand their FURY. They looked angry and gleeful at destruction.
And you know exactly what expressions I’m describing, if you go and look at videos of the riots. It’s the same expressions, the same gleeful destruction, as they topple statues and write semi-literate graffiti on them.
But you know, it’s 32 years later, and I do know what animates them.
To understand fully — and I must say I never got to that point — you have to understand I went through 6 years of infertility before I had my first son.
What does that have to do with anything?
Well, while I never got to the point where I wanted to kill pregnant people, or even to make it impossible for people to get pregnant, when you’re trying very hard and every month (and a half. Long story) brings confirmation of your failure; when doctors keep reassuring you everything is working fine, and yet you can’t keep a baby growing in you, you start feeling resentful. Of life in general, and of people who get pregnant when a guy sneezes near them in particular.
Again, I never got to hating pregnant women or babies. But I started viewing every visible pregnancy as a personal taunt and affront.
This was not rational, nor put into so many words, but there was that night I went to the grocery store (we were in the habit of shopping in the wee hours) and EVERY SINGLE PERSON THERE was pregnant. I mean, the cashier was pregnant, the stockers were pregnant, all the female customers were pregnant. I swear even every person on the cover of the tabloids was pregnant.
I came home filled with self-loathing and despair and spent hours crying. Which wasn’t rational. I wasn’t any more infertile before I saw all those pregnant people. And they certainly didn’t get pregnant to upset me.
I think that’s part of what we’re seeing from the left in general, the left in the arts in particular. And I think it’s part of the fury animating the rioters, who are children of privilege (and for the most part milk-white.)
That rage at their…. non-generative impotence is the only thing that explains why statues of saints or generals who fought against slavery, or even writers who were enslaved themselves, must be torn down.
It’s not over slavery. That never made any sense, anyway. And it’s not over George Floyd. The riots starting over his death never made any sense anyway. I mean, the killer was arrested almost immediately and no one, not even the most cop-supporting right winger says what he did was right. So why riot?
Yeah, sure, international interests fomenting it, and paying for it. After all China and Russia both would like us to tear ourselves apart. It would leave the way open for their domination of the world.
But that’s not the only thing. The people taking part in this really are gleefully engaged in destruction, and really believe everything the past bequeathed us must be destroyed, from statues to math or logic. I mean, we joke that logic is a tool of the patriarchy, but feminists do say that. Without irony, I might add.
Yes, most of these people are privileged, never had to work a day in their lives, and are extensively college-indoctrinated.
Why does that matter? Well–
It matters because our current method of education — I had to fight its effects tooth and nail in my kids — is designed to stop people thinking independently. There were a never end of rules, regulations, orders to do things, a preponderance of demands you obey, even if the order is patently stupid.
What’s more, every academic and “intellectual” environment has become an extension of the school. There is an entire method in place, from tainting by association — if you don’t know someone has been unpersoned and you talk to them, you in turn become unpersoned — to shunning for expressing the wrong thoughts, to being told you shouldn’t read the thoughts of bad/evil people because they will automatically “infect you.”
What has been built is essentially a system of training people NOT to think. Of training people to be unable to defend their beliefs, because they can’t conceive of anyone who thinks differently and is a good person. To have “forbidden thoughts” means you’re a bad person. Period. There’s no dissension, no debate, no discussion, no exploration.
What this means, ultimately, is that people indoctrinated in un-thinking can’t create.
To be able to create, or at least to create something new, you have to be able to conceptualize the new and different. Which, frankly, to social apes, is always a little scarier.
It is scarier for social apes who have been trained from a young age to know that a wrong thought can get you thrown out of the band, to starve or get eaten in solitude.
This, by the way, explains the sterile art of the left, both in writing and the plastic arts. All those short stories (and novels) that are extended just-so stories, with their ideology expounded in maid and butler dialogue, all the “art installations” that amount to piles of unrelated things, or strangely ugly shapes randomly assembled. In fact, all the ugly, repulsive and offensive (because stupid) art that your tax money supports and your universities encourage.
It explains much more than that, like all their machinations that keep backfiring because they simply can’t imagine being in someone else’s shoes.
But art? It explains art most of all.
You see, art, real art, engages your emotions. It’s not a screed, and it’s not a random snide attack on the approved targets. It’s something that bypasses your thought process and goes straight for the feelings. It doesn’t mean it’s always beautiful, btw. I know I spoke above about ugly “art” but that’s different, a weird combination of ugly and boring.
Real art can be ugly or terrifying, but it is not simply what’s in front of your eyes. It engages you in another dimension. It pulls at what for lack of a better term, I’ll call “the soul.” You find yourself experiencing whatever you’re looking at, or reading, and it really (no joke) becomes a part of you.
Now, the graduates of the excellent schools of the left, the winners of establishment praises (and prizes) get all the material rewards that it’s possible to reap for their “art”. Because the establishment rewards its own.
But they know they’re missing something. They’re human. They see the strength of past art, art they can’t match.
Just like they see the feats of math and civilization and logic. And because they were taught in schools that believe rote is a bad four letter word and they lack even the basics of math and language and logic, these feats are beyond them.
Because they can’t create, they destroy. Because then beauty and logic, and civilized life do not taunt them with their existence.
Because if they can erase the past — like all the idiots claiming we can’t read older sf writers, or even white ones, or whatever — they can convince themselves their infantile creations, with the thumb marks on them are the height of creativity and intelligence.
And yet, they know they’re lying to themselves. They can destroy and erase the feats of the past, but they can’t remove them from their own minds. And they can’t quite convince themselves these things never existed.
They can blind themselves, but in the eternal light where their eyes used to be, the past will always rise up to mock their inability to create, their inability to generate.
Somewhere, deep inside themselves they know they’ve been creatively castrated; rendered sterile. They know that the future won’t tear down their works, because they won’t need to. Their pitiful creations will never be robust enough to live outside the bubble of leftist self-reinforcement.
Like blind eunuchs, they turn in rage and fury against everything that is not them.
They devour civilization and life and joy. But it profits them nothing.
They can’t be satiated.