I Have Had Enough of Ugly

Today I was browsing through stock image sites, looking for something vaguely surreal that would fit the cover of a collection of Older Son’s short stories we hope to release next week.

I’m having a little difficulty, as I always have with any short story collection — even my own — that doesn’t have a well-defined theme. And there’s the fact that this collection, starting when older son was about 12 and containing twelve years or so of stories, is… odd, because older son writes from abolished and possibly extinguished angles.

So I was trying to figure out something that suggests a surreal reality and is pretty for a cover.

But all the pictures under surreal or strange are what I class as “My eyes, my eyes.”

The best are just subtly unsettling horror, with someone holding eyeballs or something. The worst are seriously bizarre and fall under the principle of “meaty skulls with snakes.” even if that’s not what they actually have on them.

And suddenly I had a moment when there was a scream at the back of my head: “I’m tired of ugly.”

I have no idea why, but in art, be it writing or painting, or whatever you can create, ugly, disturbing and emotionally icky has been considered “cool” and “artistic” and “deep” for as long as I’ve been alive.

Are there disturbing or slightly scary pictures (or books) that are artistic and interesting, but must the majority of art be ugly, off-putting, and suck a little bit of joy out of the world.

And I know the temptation in myself. I had to overcome it, time and again over the years. It was the worst thing that literature classes did to me. Honorable characters straightforward plots, nice settings were all “trite” or “shallow” and you had to deep dive into horrible stuff to make it “Weighty and good and important”.

Look, I’m not talking about not making your characters suffer, as the fear beginning writers have. Of course, they have to go to trials to have the reward, otherwise the story is soup.

I’m talking about having your characters suffer and hurt and strive to something, but then at the last minute have their goal turn to ashes in their mouths, and nothing meant anything anyway. It’s writing the story of a space colony for 80k words, only to kill everyone off in the end. (No, I don’t remember who wrote that, but it was among the very few works of science fiction my professors lauded.)

It’s the character achieving her happily ever after halfway through the book, and then cheat on her husband, ignore her kids, and consider herself empowered.

It is taking something that could maybe be beautiful and make it dark and ugly for no particular reason.

Dark and ugly has a place. There is no full panoply without light AND dark, but why is the dark and twisted valued above the uplifting and interesting and beautiful? What is the point of it? Why should it be considered “better” or “more daring?”

I mean, I know the drive to deconstruct everything that society values, which is partly rooted in the romantics, and partly well, Marxist bullshit, because if they destroy normal society the Marxist paradise will happen, or something.

But how far are we going to let it go? And when will we wake up and say “No. That’s objectively ugly and I’m tired of ugliness?”

It’s time to start.

390 thoughts on “I Have Had Enough of Ugly

  1. It’s the character achieving her happily ever after halfway through the book, and then cheat on her husband, ignore her kids, and consider herself empowered.

    That one sadly seems to be based on real life…. I can think of maybe half a dozen women who have more or less done that and have, as a result, become unbelievably miserable. But hey they are standing up to the Patriarchy RAWR!!!!!

    1. One way you can tell an evil ideology from a good one (and even from a decent-but-mistaken-in-some-key-concepts ideology) is by its results. Does it make the people who follow it happy, or does it make them unhappy? Of course there are always exceptions, but what is the general rule?

      Watching my wife take joy in interacting with our kids, and knowing how many other mommies feel the same sense of joy in interacting with their own children, makes it clear. Women are happier, as a general rule, when they are faithful to their husbands and spend time and energy on their kids than when they cheat on their husbands and ignore their kids. (For this comparison, to keep it apples-to-apples, I’m ignoring unmarried and/or childless women, who have a different set of experience; I’m only talking about the cohort of women who are married and have at least one child). Therefore, any ideology that claims to be “feminist” but tells women that they should cheat on their husbands and ignore their kids, to be “empowered” or some such BS, is an ideology that is, in truth, anti-feminist. If it’s pushing ideas that will make women unhappy if followed, it doesn’t have women’s best interests at heart. And its “feminist” name is, therefore, a lie — like practically everything else the Left comes up with.

  2. Talking of ugly there is of course most modern architecture, which seems to delight in looking hideous when it isn’t just plain impractical (and ugly).

    And when someone does design something nice the critics all pan it as “Pastiche” or “Derivative” or (horrors) “Populist”. I do wonder whether living in ugly boxes makes for ugly writing/art, I can’t imagine it helps

    1. The difference between the Sumner Carson House and the ugly Times-Standard building that replaced it in the early 1960s, along with the H. H. Buhne House and the ugly buildings that replaced it around the same time are evidence of how our fellow travelers are practically decomposing as we read his. It’s been going on for a long time.

      Sumner Carson House Images (sadly only of destruction): oldphotoguy dot com/p415975071/h15BA2AC2#h174eecf3
      Google Streetview of 7th&J streets in Eureka, CA will show the Bauhaus nightmare that replaced it

      H. H. Buhne House Images: digitalcommons dot humboldt dot edu/hcc/589/
      Google Streetview of 7th&E streets in Eureka, CA will show the ugly box that replaced it

      1. There was an episode of WKRP in Cincinnatti where the “hook” for the ep was saving an old building in the Art Deco style which one character described as the last great architectural style before the glass blocks took over.

        1. Seems like I awoke a lot of repressed memories.

          I’m glad. When we remember people, places, and things, they’re not really gone.

    2. Most modern architecture, I call pillbox modern, bunkers, massive in appearance but structurally and aesthetically questionable. Dominant on almost every university campus in the nation.

      Actually not a bad metaphor for today’s educational system therein when you think about it.

        1. “Brutalist” in our area is an improvement on the current “trailer park chic” movement. I kid you not: the “new” library looks like somebody built a trailer, built a front porch half a story taller, and enclosed the front porch with glass without necessarily blending it together. Oh, and hung old tractor tires in front of the windows on the sides.

        2. The irony is that it comes from French for raw concrete, brut and only accidentally is entirely accurate.

          1. I love this place, learn something new all the time. Does make sense the Brutalist style is really “Form follows function” pushed to the Nth degree

        3. Do a D-D-G search for images of “Arabian Branch building Scottsdale Public Library”. It looks like a massive distorted rectangular block covered with sheets of rusted steel, and the various additional component blocks are stuck to it at odd angles. I thought it was one of the ugliest buildings I had ever seen. Also, the approach from the parking lot into the interior courtyard to get to the door was kind of creepy, with a long walkway between towering walls, lit only by low solar lights on either side. It always struck me as a potentially dangerous place for a woman to be alone after dark, although I never heard of any incidents.

        4. I may be wrong, but I think I’ve heard Brutalism referred to as “Mussolini Modern.”

          Boston is blessed with several such monstrosities, such as its City Hall, often referred to as “Karnak on the Charles.”

          The real Karnak is much better.

      1. There is a very old horror movie called the Black Cat, where for once Boris Karloff plays the pure villain and Bela Lugosi plays the tragically destructive type. Karloff’s character is a satanist turned Bauhaus style architect, and his house is built on the ruins of a Hapsburg fort Karloff betrayed to the Russians during the WWI, with the basement/chamber of horrors incorporating elements from the fort. The architectural commentary is probably the most profound thing about the movie.

    3. I passed through the Atlanta airport several times back in the 70’s and 80’s. The architectural style is… Well, my reaction was, “It’s decorated in Early Cell Block.”

      1. Brutalist architecture.

        One more example of the Left being stuck on “soul crushing”.

      2. Perhaps part of the rationale for the saying, “You can’t go to Hell without laying over in Atlanta.”

    4. I will happily embrace populist if it means I get my magical landscapes and happy endings. Heck, I’ll embrace it anyway – popular things are probably popular because they are not elitist dreck.

    5. Oh, dear stars above, I agree with this so much. When I was visiting colleges over this past year (online and in person), there were THREE that I loved out of all of them, and one of the primary reasons was their beautiful design, both interior and exterior. Berry College, Liberty University, and Belmont University.

      Everything else – meh. I could put up with it, if the scholarships were high enough/cost was low enough, but still. Meh.

      I want castles. Manors. Marble and stained glass windows. Brass and silver. Dark polished wood, textured fabrics, rich colors. Secret passages and hidden rooms, too. But we don’t do that sort of thing, these days.

      When I’m a billionaire, my mansion will be something to see. Skibo Castle and Dublin Library (Ireland) will be major influences.

      Until then… sighs

      At least I’ve got my overactive imagination. That’s something.

      1. My college owned a mansion that they used for retreats, and it had servant stairs. So much fun going around that place. (They also rented it out for weddings and other events, let’s be real here.)

          1. It’s not the only mansion in the city, either—another one became a museum, then they built an actual museum next to it and restored the mansion for historic tours. (Those servant stairs were actually more hidden.)

            Here’s my campus mansion

        1. The old Mather Mansion in Cleveland, OH, was the site of my college’s graduation (separate from the university as a whole), as well as many other activities of my tiny college (First College, since absorbed into the College of Arts and Sciences). It was truly lovely, and a sharp contrast to the 60s concrete blocks of the rest of the school.

        2. Georgia Tech’s campus has some gems hidden among the modernist dreck.
          East Campus dorm block, Brittan Dinning hall – WPA era, almost a temple to engineering – stained glass windows dedicated to the then current disciplines.
          On the other hand, there is the Architecture building… Gahh

          1. Agnes Scott’s older buildings as well (up the road from Tech, literally.) Their academics aren’t what they used to be, but the campus is still lovely, the original part of it.

      2. Berry was one of your choices? That’s actually close to where I’m currently stuck in GA! I can’t blame you for finding its appearance enchanting, though, and somehow I’m not surprised you’d like the Ford Buildings if those are your tastes in architecture. That said, given how the area around it is, I’d say you made the right choice with Liberty.

        1. Yeah, Berry was ultimately too expensive. I’ve got an awesome scholarship with Liberty for my SAT scores, so I went with that.

          But the Ford Buildings were gorgeous, when I visited.

          1. That was the last place I tried going myself and that was the same problem I had, too, the money and just how much they want of it. I still haven’t figured out how I’m going to solve the degree problem and my age isn’t helping either. Glad you made a good choice financially as much as anything, though!

      3. My alma mater (WPI) has a couple of older buildings from the late 19th century and some from the early 20th. When they added two new buildings (new Admin, and a real student union type building) they matched the stylistic points on the exterior. Then they built a new monster gym which was modern, but not strict brutalist. And with that the old 1909 gym had to come down (they now had 3 gyms overkill for an engineering school 🙂 ). It had some neat features including carved grotesques/gargoyles participating in various sports that had always amused the student body. Because they saved the statues there was some hope the new building would go back to matching the new neighbors in the more traditional style. Nope whatever design firm they got went straight modern (lots of glass) and the gargoyles/grotesques are displayed in the entry way. I suspect it was the cheapest way to get the space (2 floors of project space, 3 floors freshman housing) Feh.

      4. Anonymoose used to provide computer services for LU. 🙂 It’s a pretty place.

        Meanwhile, I went to school at Furman, better known as “The Country Club of the South”. My Indian roommate’s route to school took her by the back of Bob Jones University, which terrified her mother. “Sweetheart, I do not think I want you attending college so close to a prison!”

      5. You want to know the irony about LU? All of that campus is post-1971 obviously since that’s when LU was founded. But the parts that are closest to Candlers Mountain Road actually sit on the site of an old General Electric two-way radio manufacturing factory that had been there since the 1950s and was closed in the 1990s. LU bought the entire bit of land as part of their expansion…I haven’t been back to the area in 10+ years so I don’t know what it looks like now. (I grew up north of Lynchburg. Didn’t attend LU but worked with some folks that did.)

  3. A quoe I am quite fond of:

    From “Romance and Realism” by Maria Loise Rame writing as Ouida: “But the Vatican Hermes is as ‘real’ as the Japanese netzke, and the dome of St. Peter’s is as real as the gasometer of East London; and I presume the fact can hardly be disputed if I even assert that the passion flower is as real as the potato!”

    1. The notion that motor-cars are more “alive” than, say, centaurs or dragons is curious; that they are more “real” than, say, horses is pathetically absurd. How real, how startlingly alive is a factory chimney compared with an elm tree: poor obsolete thing, insubstantial dream of an escapist! Tolkien

    2. Don’t be led away by those howls about realism. Remember-pine woods are just as real as pigsties and a darn sight pleasanter to be in.

      ― L. M. Montgomery

  4. Well of course our progressive lefties feel they must bring down every aspect of our lives that might have any chance of bringing us joy or happiness. Only by making our lives miserable can they then leap into the fray, “save” us, and welcome us into that glorious life of servitude to their collective global existence.
    And American values, patriotism, our venerable July 4th, those things we hold most dear, must be denigrated and mocked before they can be replaced by their vision of a brave new world.
    Time and past time to stop being nice and polite and adopt an attitude of phuque y’all and the commie ponies you rode in on. Let’s go Brandon! You and all those anonymous handlers with arms thrust up your backside making your lips move and feeding your teleprompter.

  5. And for me, which I must represent some other readers, those ugly covers are costing the writer. As a rule, I don’t buy books with those ugly covers. Unless one of my favorite authors has a bit of insanity and selects one. That is extremely rare.

  6. Thank you for giving me permission to have my characters’ suffering mean something. (that’s not sarcasm — I really mean it)

      1. Some authors seem to glory in making their characters suffer to no apparent end. One wonders if they enjoy life? I picture a scene “Honey don’t make Mommy/Daddy happy or the book won’t sell and we’ll all Starve”. Although somedays i ponder if it isn’t sadism via abusing their readers…

        1. I never saw the space colony story, but John Brunner might have written one. SF Book Club featured his novels in the ’70s, and of the bunch I read, only Shockwave Rider wasn’t completely discouraging (though the ends with a positive outcome possible, but not written. Sheesh!

          His other novels as featured in SFBC ranged the spectrum all the way from ecological horrorshow to economic horrorshow. For the benefit of my own mental health, I gave the books away. Perhaps I shouldn’t have included them in the stash given to SIL, who turns out to have been bipolar. Oops. (Figured it out after I gave her the books. Double oops.)

          (SR was “inspired by Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock“, which concept a modern day RCPete regards with a mix of giggles and rolling eyes. The rest of the novel dealt with corruption and crises, generating a “water is wet” feeling. I think FICUS and friends have killed that genre for fiction.)

            1. I think that was the last of the Brunner I ever read, too.

              BTW, welcome to ATH! I read your column in Stacey’s blog when I can.

        2. I remember reading such a story, probably in Analog, a long time ago. Likely the mid-to-late 1970s. The plot: a naked man and woman (I believe they were amnesiac, but I don’t recall with certainty) wake up in a dark, enclosed space. They talk. They have sex. They find a wall. The man takes a dump to mark the location, then they follow the wall until reaching the evidence that it’s a circular enclosed area. The lights come on, and they see food and water in the center of the enclosure, but they have to make their way through a maze (which ISTR may have been invisible) to get to it. They get through the maze, only to discover that the food and water are fake. Then machines come out of the ceiling to dismember/dissect them without anesthesia. The end.

          I almost wish I remembered who wrote it, just so I could hurl maledictions.

          1. I guess my first reaction to that one (after The Walling) would have been “What the bloody hell were you trying to SAY by inflicting this dreck on the world?!?”

            A couple of sometimes-downer writers, whom I still read and enjoy, are Philip Jose Farmer and Vonnegut (I tend to read Vonnegut once; Farmer more times), but they both wrote entertaining stories and there always seemed to be an actual point somewhere, even if buried. Even Ellison occasionally produced work which didn’t tend to make the reader look for an oven to stick his/her head into!

            1. I suspect it had no point beyond expressing ugliness and pointlessness, and was meant to partake in the “freaking the mundanes” trend in SF, and the larger “wigging out the squares” trend in society at large at the time.

  7. If the Progressive, Marxists, and post-Modernists (but I repeat myself) are correct, and there is no transcendent reality but only the material world, then why bother seeking the Beautiful and the True? Why bother working to learn the ways of the Old Masters and to understand why people still love Art Deco and neoGothic and Arts and Crafts and the New England “salt-box” or southern dog-trot house? Why not lavish resources on monuments to modernity that tower over everything and proclaim that “I Am HERE! MY name is Ozymandius . . . ” The point of art, if there is no Beauty or Truth, is to sell or to educate, nothing more. Architecture is to provide containers or to impose order and control, nothing more. Or so it seems.

    Twenty years or so ago, more probably, the art critics were panning Western art, stuff like Tim Cox, Charlie Russel, and others. And yet Western art sells, and people buy it because they like it, and there is a wonderful museum in Kerville Texas full of the stuff (ditto other museums in the West and Midwest.) I love my Tim Cox pieces. They’re not Rembrandt or Fra Angelico, but they are attractive and well done, and uplift my spirits.

    1. A hotel in my area has an artist in residence. They’d started out with the usual truck of wierd ‘modern’ things. Then they got a guy who has some really stunning portraiture. And they asked him why, when the more abstract styles are so much more popular with things like museums and ‘real artist’ (not their words, but that was the implication.) His response? “I make my art to communicate with people. Realism is the best style for that.” Since then, as far as I’ve been able to tell, all their artists have had at least a portion of their portfolio in realistic art.

      1. Note “Realism” here also includes ‘fantastic realism’. There’s a fair bit of the fanciful in his work not just real world people. 😉

        1. “It could be.” or “It would be neat if it could be.”

          It’s how some animation (the stuff that falsely claims to be an homage to Tex Avery, but is stuck in a permanent ‘wild take’ and is oooooogly for it) is would make you not merely question you sanity (like seeing Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse in cartoon form in your Real Life) but question the very basic Laws of Biology and perhaps Physics should you encounter such in their cartoon form in your Real Life.

        2. I definitely agree. Yes, artists creating in surrealism, cubism, pointillism, etc can produce good, interesting work – but realism is far more accessible. I attended some of those home art (paintings) shows mumble years ago. When they asked what style of art I liked I answered “realistic fantasy”. It got a few chuckles – and it was apparent what type of fantasy some were imagining 😉 I eventually (at various shows) bought a Unicorn, a dark landscape that looked like the unicorn’s home and an abstract that looks like planets colliding. They’re still on the walls.

          1. Those sound amazing! I want some.

            I’ll say though, if you’re looking for variety in such images but aren’t bothered by not owning them, pull up a search engine and type in something like “fantasy temple art” or “fantasy castle art.”

            My tastes tend towards the beautiful-but-dreadful/intimidating often, so I generally use search keys like “fantasy fire temple art,” “fantasy tomb art,” or “fantasy dark temple art.” Creepy but gorgeous images await.

          2. There’s an almost local artist who does fractal art based on natural phenomena – think trilobites and ferns and pine cones and nebulae – and it’s really, truly stunningly beautiful. THAT kind of abstract I like. Unfortunately, it’s also far outside my price range. So is the repurposed bowl-and-crystal-platter stained glass artist. If I ever get rich, that’ll be the first art I buy – stained glass and fractals (and probably some Art Nouveau style furniture if it can be found). But what I really love is realism in the style of Burnes and and Waterhouse. Thankfully, the world is not bereft of people who also love Realism – some like-minded artists started the Art Renewal Center, which strives to help young artists to learn the necessary techniques to continue the Western tradition of beautiful, realistic art. Good for them, I say.

          3. Yes, artists creating in surrealism, cubism, pointillism, etc can produce good, interesting work

            What is often missed — most often by their successors — is that the good works in those genres involve a deep, master level understanding of light and pigment.

            Like that “all black” painting. Which in person is revealed to be a good piece based on extremely complicated brushwork.

            1. And usually in the very good ones (not the imitaitons) there’s an image, or more than one, in that brushwork based on the angle and the reflections of the light.

    2. I’ve read it speculated that the modern incomprehensible art and philosophy was mostly a reaction to hard sciences becoming extremely complex. Previously art and science were sister fields, but with most advanced fields of science then requiring extensive knowledge just to even converse in, a lot of arts and philosophy schools decided that they needed to be incomprehensible too, and went off into the insanity weeds.

      1. Art and science are still entwined in some fields. One of my daughters is a botanist and also an artist and linguist. She does art drawings for botany journals and helps the discoverers of new species name their plants by doing research into the various names in local languages and Latin and Greek.

        You cannot identify a plant as easily by a photo as you can with a good quality drawing with the important bits in exploded view.

        A good quality scientific drawing of anything is a thing of beauty because the subject is a thing of beauty. Even the lowliest weed or bacteria is a complex thing of exquisite detail.

        We live on a planet of extraordinary beauty and I am appalled at the trend to set hideous buildings in the midst of natural splendor.

        The college town near us is a case in point. It is full of wonderfully crafted homes and buildings built over the last 125 years and surrounded by pretty landscaping. But anything built in the last five years or so is a horrible eyesore plopped into a pile of gravel.


        We don’t see that in my forest town mostly because we don’t aim to be trendy here.

        1. Yeah. And I think the true insanity of the modern art movement is thinking that it is the product that must be incomprehensible.

          The reality I’ve found is that the most comprehensible and easiest to inbibe art often has the most complex and difficult foundations.

          It makes me wonder if the real root of modern art is fraud? By making something that no-one can understand, one does not have to go through the complexity of conveying meaning that anyone can understand, if one can persuade the experts that it is in fact art?

          1. Another reason for the incomprehensible being the default for modern “art” is that it allows critics and other “educated” persons feel superior to the proles who “just don’t get it because they are not as enlightened as us”.

            It also allows crappy “artists” with no talent for anything useful to make a living.

        2. Really great scientific illustrators leave me in awe. I found a paleontology book about the prehistoric not- technically-cats-really (Smiledon and Friends), and the illustrations are breath-taking. And very scientific, with discussions about anatomy, and habitat, and possible markings, and so on.

          1. Hence Auriga and her career in your Shikhari series? I’ve recently reread that one with pleasure, which is more than I can say for quite a few authors and series.

            1. In part, in part because botonizing and doing illustrations was considered a perfectly respectable reason for women to go out into the wilds and explore the Americas, South Asia, and Africa. So it fits with the semi-Victorian setting. (The top US and South American expert on grasses was a woman who traveled all over the place on her own in the late 1800s-early 1900s. Her books are still in print in at least three languages.)

          2. One interesting collection is here in the Harvard Museum of Natural History. It has a collection of glass botanical models that was used originally for teaching plant recognition(https://hmnh.harvard.edu/glass-flowers) . They are down right astounding, some of them (e.g. a lady slipper) seem almost indistinguishable from the real thing but for their surface reflections.

        3. Take a look at the work of Andi Wolfe (https://www.andiwolfe.com/) for exquisitely realistic art done in wood and glass. She is a plant evolutionary biologist and a very talented woodturner, carver, and glass-worker (to mention just a few interests.) In her words: “I primarily work with biologically-inspired motifs.”

            1. The first link gets me to the site but with a 404 error. The second link gives “server not found.” Both are munged urls under the text, possibly because WPDE.

              Maybe this will work.

            2. If you hover on the links you provided, or click them and look at the resulting address bar, you should see the problem. The first has a quotation mark appended after the final slash, the second reads “https://andiwolfe.xn--com-5o0a”; I have no idea how that could have happened, but if you correct the URL after it goes to the bad page both work fine.

              1. I can explain the “xn--com” thing. It’s actually, believe it or not, an Internet standard for munging URLs that contain Unicode characters in the domain name. In this case, I suspect the Unicode character was a closing quotation mark, but of the “curly quote” variety — ” — rather than the “straight quote” variety — ” — which does matter in this specific case. Each character in the Unicode table is assigned a number called the “codepoint”; the codepoint for the straight quote is 34, but the codepoint for the closing curly quote is 8221. The domain-name system was created before Unicode and is only guaranteed to handle codepoints between 32 and 127 (the Unicode characters at those codepoints were taken directly from the old ASCII tables and have the same numbers they were assigned in ASCII). And so to allow people to create domain names like muséedulouvre.fr (not a real domain, I just made that one up), a standard was created to mangle those names in a predictable, reversible fashion by converting codepoints 128 and above to a code made up of only ASCII characters. The mangled domain omits the codepoints above 128, and includes an alphanumeric code at the end of the name that represents the codepoint (and position) of the omitted letters. For example, muséedulouvre.fr would be converted to xn--musedulouvre-deb.fr by this process — but if you were to actually click on that domain (and if it had a real webpage behind it), your browser would reverse the transformation and display muséedulouvre.fr in the address bar.

                So the second link had basically the same problem as the first link, where the quotation mark got picked up by some tool as part of the URL when it really shouldn’t have been. But because the second link had a curly quote, and the tool thought that it was part of the “andiwolfe.com” domain rather than being after a slash, the domain-name mangling system kicked in and you saw something incomprehensible. Usually that’s handled behind the scenes and you don’t ever see those “xn--com” domains, but sometimes you get a peek behind the curtain.

                1. Wow… OK; thanks. I’ve been using the Internet for almost 30 years, and all of that is new to me. Again, thanks for the info. I was just happy to be able to see what caused the problem and work around it. 🙂

    3. Honestly, I think that the Old forms of Art would sell a lot better than the incomprehensible modern rubbish that ends up getting ruined because a passerby confused it for vandalism. I’m one for ‘pragmatic’ villainy, and if one is to cast modern art as the bad guy, it honestly seems stupid.

      So much money could be made. I mean sure, a “modern art” museum will pay in the millions for things like a banana taped to a wall. But make copies of a really gorgeous castle interior, or a scene with a unicorn and a faerie child (‘faerie or fey’ specifically, no cutesy pixies with rainbow wands), and sell them for $15 to whoever wants them…

      I’m of the opinion that it makes you more money, overall, to sell a great many cheaply than one or two expensively. I haven’t tested this myself, but it seems like common sense.

      1. The prices in the art world make a lot more sense once you figure out it is mostly fraud.

        A friend recently moved and has been acquiring paintings for their new home. They have bumped into the Very Honest Appraisers appraising art for prices that have zero relation to value or previous sale prices.

          1. People also buy large numbers of those books to get around campaign finance laws (and then give them away to attendees at fund-raising events).

        1. We have priceless art on our walls. My entire family on mom’s side has some too. So does some of dad’s extended family, from the same source, and a few from a less prolific source. My priceless art?

          4 Acrylic Chalk & Charcoal pieces made by my maternal great grandmother.
          1 Ink piece from my paternal cousin, who has sold her art.
          1 Acrylic Chalk piece from a (selling) artist by my maternal cousin, once removed
          1 Oil painting from maternal great aunt
          I don’t know how many oil paintings from maternal grandfather. One of which he and I painted when I was 10.

          Appraisal values? Other than my great grandmother (who did sell her art before she married, early 1900’s, so iffy, even then), and the 2 selling artists, $0. To me & family? 100% priceless.

          Then there are the photos hubby has taken and we’ve gotten printed. About $15/per replacement cost for print and frame. $55/per replacement for the 4 we had printed on 8×10 metal medium. Again, for me? Priceless.

          Every single one is realistic art, landscapes or animals. Except one, the fantasy Blue Unicorn, that was done for our newborn son (his cousins, girls, got pink ones).

          The one selling artist that I wish we could afford, I couldn’t even afford her print reproductions at an, because I worked at the same division her husband did, friends discount. Again, landscapes, and landscapes with wildlife. He had one of her large floor to ceiling commissioned pieces hanging in his office for weeks until the buyer could arrange to have it safely shipped from Willamette valley adjacent to somewhere in Europe. Office had print reproductions hung in hallways and lobby.

      2. We’ve got a lot of original art.

        …it’s mostly from the RoKorean streets, and the local swap meet. If I ever find my Las Vegas spraypaint art, it’ll go up.

        Goodwill would probably be a good option, too.

    4. “The point of art, if there is no Beauty or Truth, is to sell or to educate, nothing more.”

      I remember a scene in The Mote in God’s Eye that’s set in a Motie museum, and the Motie is explaining that all of their art is intended to teach important things, because producing it involves a lot of skill and effort, and “Why would you go to that much effort if you don’t have something important to say?”

      The human (or one of them, it’s been a long time since I’ve re-read the book) responds, “How about, ‘mountains are pretty?'”

      1. Grand Admiral Thrawn walks into the museum, looks around for about an hour, and leaves knowing just about everything about the species.

        “I can only commend the effort you put into your work. But I am afraid you said too much.”

        1. That was the whole point of the museum, actually. They were meant to be resources to allow civilization to advance at the fastest possible rate after societal collapse, which was a periodic event for the Moties.

      2. 🙂 Yep; remember that well. I agree 100%. I don’t remember who said it; It sounds like Kevin Renner, but probably not.

  8. Not directly related to cover, and it’s been said before but bears saying again: Tolkien saw the horrors of the Somme and Lewis likewise experienced combat, and see what they created.

    Compare them to George R.R. Martin.

    1. Yeah. I started Song of Fire and Ice a few years back when it was big. It just seemed such a futile story. I don’t understand why people seemed to love it so much.

      Maybe it captured the art of anticipation very well? I wonder if that is why the show ultimately burned itself out in the end too?

      1. It sounds weird, but I think part of the appeal was the way the series would kill off major characters. People watched wondering who would get chopped next.
        I think. I tried to read the first book and dropped it after the incestuous couple threw the kid out the window and his mother used it as an excuse to abuse his (illegitimate) half- brother who had nothing to do with the boy’s injury.

        1. Sounds like the print version of that stupid “Survivor” show. Same appeal, probably.

      2. I devoured the first three books, sort of appreciated the fourth, and for a long time I even defended Martin against charges of nihilism. In the first three books at least there were always these little seeds of hope sprinkled in even the worst disasters. I “sensed” that Robb Stark was being set up for a fall, but Bran, Arya, and Jon were accomplishing things and Sansa was wising up. Tyrion escaped unfair execution and where there’s life there’s hope, and Dany seemed to be doing good as of the end of Book 3.

        I was certain things were going to turn around and the good guys (and those characters I named were ‘good’) would get it together, realize the greater threat and start making things happen.

        But it seems Martin just can’t write that kind of story.

        And we saw what the TV show did.

        At this point, I’ve long since ceased caring about the story.

        1. Although it had an interesting premise, he started killing off anyone with a shred of honor or decency, and the protagonists were monsters. I kept reading, hoping it would get better, but instead got more cynical and disgusting. When I got through the fourth and his writing slowed down, I decided that only did I not care if he ever finished it, but would even prefer he did not. Having tasted the books, I had negative interest in the TV show.

          1. Just wait, the good guys will get it together, rise to the occasion and start turning it around any minute now…

            Any minute…

            Just wait till the next book comes out…or maybe the next…It’ll get better…it will…it’ll get better…

            SPOILER: It doesn’t get better.

              1. One might argue that Tolkien employed something of a deus ex machina in Gandalf showing up, drawing all the ‘good guys’ together, getting them all on the same page – smacking some folks upside the head when necessary – in order for the story to progress…but it worked.

                I’d love to drop Gandalf in ASOIAF. I’d give him good odds at straightening those idiots out.

                1. The extended deep lore of Tolkien has Gandalf as the avatar of compassion.

                  Which I love, because having deep compassion for someone doesn’t exclude smacking them upside the head with “Fool of a Took!”

            1. I was less than thrilled when I reread the Haviland Tuff stories. The casual genocide at the end was quite ugly, though the introductory story was published in Analog and sucked me in. (Find a ship presumably used for biowar, defang it so it doesn’t kill intruders, and repurpose it for better uses–until the end where he/it revert to biowar. Arggh!)

              That killed any further interest in Martin’s work.

    2. Must we? Wry

      Fair warning, I’ve never read A Song of Ice and Fire, and I never intend to. I read his Wild Cards universe, which started out as an interesting take on “what would happen if aliens created superpowers”… and then devolved into icky, icky sex and control fantasies and ugh.

      Decided after the 3rd book of that (some were shared-universe anthologies) that enough was enough, and never picked up a book by the guy again.

      1. Got warned by the TV Tropes summary.

        Warned husband…

        Resulted in the only video game he’s ever returned.
        (not because of warning, because warning was accurate)

      2. I can remember the writers for White Wolf games — an RPG company not exactly known for advocating strait-laced morality in their work — describing the Wild Cards books as ‘pointlessly offensive’. The few I ever read before they got too disgusting and preachy to continue, I have to agree.

          1. In a way, Epic Rap Battles of History is kind of in the same category as MST3K; it’s such a weird concept that almost no one would think it up on their own, but it’s so entertaining that once you see it it just works anyway despite being so bizarre.

  9. Aside from ugliness, what I’ve also been seeing is how bland and boring a lot of covers are. How standard and interchangeable. Even the ebook releases of some of my favorites have foregone the dynamic, exciting covers for boring stuff. Just look at the cover for Niven’s Dream Park and compare it to the lurid paperback with the giant baboon.

    I want my giant baboon!

    1. Maybe it’s got something to do with the desire to appear “serious” or “literary” these days.

    2. When I actually start finishing and publishing books myself, I really need to get in touch with a good artist. ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is, I suspect, one of the most widely ignored of all maxims, for all that it’s most often quoted. Well, either that or, ‘Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’

      (And those who do learn from history are doomed to scream and flail as others do repeat it, of course.)

      1. Humans like pretty, and life is complicated enough that we simply don’t have the time or energy to give everything a full analysis.

        “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” is one of those pieces of advice that exists to remind people that snap judgements are often wrong. It loses its value when people forget that it is a counterbalance, not the entirety of wisdom.

        1. Oh, absolutely. Actually, that reminds me of something I read from a really good fanfiction. (To paraphrase) –

          Hat-and-Cloak (shadowy, suspicious figure who’s promising to help the heroine, who is quite determinedly refusing his help): “Surely you know that appearances can be deceiving?”

          Heroine: “Oh, I know. The thing that most people forget is that they usually aren’t.

            1. That was from Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, if you’re curious.

              Which did have some good ideas in it. One I really liked was the idea of making each child stand alone and repeat obvious truths (like “2 + 2 is 4”) while the others stand around him and mock him for it. Get kids used to the idea of resisting social pressure early on.

              1. I absolutely loved the scene early on where Harry and Draco end up falling all over themselves to flatter Lucius Malfoy and Professor McGonagall, respectively. It makes perfect sense in context.

                And yet, it makes so little.

                Poor McGonagall. She needs therapy after dealing with Harry.

                  1. Umm… Professor Quirrel?

                    Never mind, he absolutely does. Not that he didn’t need therapy anyway (and would never, ever accept it). Honestly, I kind of want to know what he was thinking some of the times that first year.

                    “Is this what it feels like to be a father?” (Yes. It basically is. Your version is just a brain child rather than blood child.)

                    “Honestly, James Potter, I did you a favor.” (James is laughing his head off in the afterlife. VENGEANCE IS HIS!)

                    “Dear Merlin, how did anyone survive my school years?”

                    “Was I actually that bad, when I was his age?”

                    1. > “Dear Merlin, how did anyone survive my school years?”

                      Oh, is THAT where you got the habit of using “Merlin” as a curse/blasphemy? I noticed you’re the only person I’ve ever met who does that. I just figured you either really liked or really hated the character. 🙂

                      On an unrelated note: after I told you about the subscription feature I made a follow-up comment regarding your earlier request for reading recommendations. Did you see it? If not, it was here: https://accordingtohoyt.com/2022/07/06/i-have-had-enough-of-ugly/#comment-857060

                    2. Yeah, I picked that one up from Harry Potter. ‘Stars above,’ or similar, are mine (at least, as far as I know). I don’t like to use actual profanity, especially anything related to God, so I pick up fictional things. (I’m not certain whether I’m going to bother making a habit of using ‘frelling’ from Farscape, or just stick with ‘freaking’ when I want to emphasize something.)

                      And yes, I did see that comment, thanks for the advice!

                    3. > “I’m not certain whether I’m going to bother making a habit of using ‘frelling’ from Farscape, or just stick with ‘freaking’”

                      If you want to use made-up curses you’ve got plenty of other options. There’s everything from Red Dwarf’s “smeg” to new-BSG’s “frack,” and those are just from sci-fi television.

      2. Have you hit Mad Genius yet?

        There’s several artists who post there.

        Yeah, yeah, I know, finish the story first… if you’re available weekdays, there’s a MeWe group that’s a year round NaNo group, you can ping me(see user name) for an invite if you like.

        1. What time do you guys meet? Work hasn’t had me in for weeks – turns out there’s a lot less need for part-time workers in retail when it isn’t the holiday rush.

            1. And speaking of, I just found out you’re on Twitter a few days ago. If I hadn’t bounced from Larry Correia’s feed to MCA Hogarth’s and saw a comment from you about her getting persecuted by GW, I never would have found it. How long have you had that thing?

              Incidentally, I’m surprised you haven’t yet hit us with a certain Epic Rap Battle I saw there, especially since we’re discussing art right now.

                1. > “Opened a new account when Musk’s offer made them start running around like crazy.”

                  Have you heard the latest on that? Apparently the same people who vowed mere months ago to never let Musk have Twitter are now threatening to sue him to force him to buy it:

                  1. Well, the Twitter Management had apparently accepted his purchase offer (even if it wasn’t finalized) so if they were screaming, they weren’t serious.

                    Of course, some of what has come out publicly about Twitter (apparently bot accounts which drove up the amount that advertisers were willing to pay Twitter), has caused Twitter problems.

                    While there’s some talk that Legally Musk can’t withdrawal his offer, I suspect the Twitter lawsuit will backfire onto Twitter. 😈

                    1. They were screaming before. Including threats of poison pills. It took lawsuit threats.

                      Now, he claimed breach of contract. The fun thing is that suing will mean evidence.

                    2. Musk can withdraw his Twitter offer, but has to pay Twitter a billion dollars UNLESS he can prove they misrepresented a material fact about the company’s value, like a higher percentage of bot accounts than they claimed. Which means they will have to provide all the evidence he asked for earlier on how they determined the numbers they gave him, and he can challenge them.

                      Unfortunately for the Twitter management, all that discovery can be used by the other shareholders to claim they were given false financials. They will lose something either way.

                    3. Some comments I’ve read (thefinancialtrends dot com and/or else in zerohedge, but it’s around) say “if iany such lawsuit is in Delaware, the deal will eventually get renegotiated at a lower price, so it’s no big deal”.

                      The letter from Musk’s legal team was interesting. Potential criminal charges, though since they’re leftwing darlings, Xiden’s DOJ would likely go after Musk for some BS. OTOH, if all the advertisers leave, then it’d be deep state money keeping Twit afloat. (Probably laundered money through a woke, connected company, at a guess.) Hey, if Twitter can have bot users, why stop there?

                    4. > “Which means they will have to provide all the evidence he asked for earlier”

                      Which makes their threat to sue rather stupid. If it goes to court at all it sounds like the damage that results from discovery could destroy their business (and possibly even put people in jail).

                  2. Well, of course. He terminated the agreement by claiming that Twitter management had lied both to him and to the SEC with respect to bot accounts and other things. Whether they object or not, they’re likely to come under enhanced scrutiny from the SEC, and they’ll look like liars and criminals. They’re trying to head things off at the pass and keep from being depicted as such.

  10. Dennis Prager says, and I agree, that God loves beauty. As we abandon pleasing God by making beautiful art we get all the ugliness.

    I, too, love western art. We have a Charlie Russell reproduction hanging in our kitchen, Trail Boss, and Norman Rockwell in our bedroom.

  11. What about something Esher-esque? Certainly surreal, but not ugly nor creepy.

        1. Careful with that lanyard, it is not OSHA approved and may give you carpal tunnel over time (runs to join Orvan in the shelter).

            1. ACME certified indeed, How has that ever worked out for Wile E. Coyote? As for carp they are a delicacy for Rigellians, although Garum is a bit strong even for us…

              1. > “ACME certified indeed, How has that ever worked out for Wile E. Coyote?”

                To be fair, that’s not so much the ACME products as the universe itself cheating to screw over the coyote.

                1. To be fair, the phrase “asking for it” has never been more appropriately applied to a “Super Genius”.

                  1. Hey, ultimately the dude was just trying to eat.

                    And yeah, he was a smug jerk and certainly deserved some comeuppance, but you’ve got to be way worse than that to deserve having the very laws of nature betray you.

  12. There is something weird going on with cover art, right now. I was in a bookstore for the first time in decades. Interestingly, I own about half the science fiction section – and I haven’t bought a physical book since I got my Kindle about 15 years ago. They’ve all been recovered in a very plain, highly text-oriented style.

    The generally optimistic attitude is one reason I like the April series. It’s not happy, happy mush, but the overall tone is “we can do this!” (and the back-channel networking “so the whole thing doesn’t come apart” is a nice sop to real politick).

    1. Yeah, that’s the new style of cover. There’s actually a reason for this: It looks good in thumbnail which is how most books are selling.
      I need to learn to do that.

  13. As a general rule, the more highly a work is praised by editors, publishers, and literary critics, the more diligently I avoid it. Given the difference in values and tastes between me and most of these people, it’s more of a mark of something to avoid. Even so, there is still more good stuff to read than I will ever get around to. Why should I waste the time I have left consuming trash?

    1. I learned this early on, when my hippie mother folded a copy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and mused “You know, the more the critics hate a move, the more I like it.”

      1. Tom Eaton observed that he regularly got letters from people who discovered that books that he panned, would be those he loved. He was cool with it.

        1. Exactly. You don’t have to agree with their tastes and opinions, you just have to know how they compare with yours. Back when Siskel and Ebert At The Movies was being shown, I knew that if Gene and Roger had split opinions on a movie, I was more likely to agree with Roger’s review. Not always, though, because both of them liked more genres than I did, so a fair number of the movies they reviewed were ones that I’d never want to see.

    2. The same applies to movies, for both myself and my wife. The ones the critics pan go to the top of our “to watch” list.

  14. Our primitive ancestors didn’t make ugly cave paintings…
    Cast Away: Only Tom Hanks could make two hours of talking to a volleyball great.

      1. Yep! Maybe add a follow-up nod to the Superversive stuff that John C. Wright and Co. have been working on?

  15. I’m put in mind of some verses from the New Testament.

    Mat 6:22-23 KJV 22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! N


    Phi 4:8 KJV Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

    There is a time to look into darkness, in order to shine light on it and root out the ugliness therein. But if the darkness captures you all of life becomes miserable and beauty is seen as banal, death as liberating.

    This urge to darkness is fought and overcome by feeding on good things, excellent things, pure and noble things…beauty in all the forms which God has delighted to give us.

    Stories must have darkness and should so it and real ugliness unabashedly. But they should equally unabashedly show the victory of real beauty with all its struggles and wounds.

    Keep writing, keep striving, keep showing the possibilities of worlds other than the present.

  16. I’ve never really cared for dystopian writing or art, except as a cautionary tale, and including hope to either avoid it, or to overcome it.

    Horror is not my favorite genre because much of it ends badly with no happy ever after, or even a happy for a while. That’s not to say that you can’t have a recurring evil that each “generation” has to defeat, because at least there’s still hope for the next turn.

    (Sent via iPhone from Gouldsborough, Maine. I miss my full-size computer keyboard!)

    1. Hey I know where that is!! My best buddy’s family had a summer house on a lake in Ellsworth, ME and Goldsborough was (kind of ) on the way to Schoodic Head (part of the Acadia National Park). Very pretty area in the summer, winter, not so much imagine 🙂 .

    2. I adore dystopian stuff, as long as 1) it’s on its way OUT by the end and 2) the heroes retain a few shreds of nobility. (Dammit, Collins.) My disturbingly accurate child has pointed out that I gravitate to fiction where “the world is broken and the heroes have to fix it”. Video games, too; you will pry the Horizon games out of my cold dead hands. 🙂

      1. It would be hard to think of a more dystopian series than Black Tide Rising, but I still loved it. It had a non-dystopian ending, which makes all the difference. The same for “Out of the Dark”; billions dead, but an upbeat ending. And Niven’s “Inconstant Moon” also qualifies. And many more. My 20 mills; YMMV. 🙂

        1. > “It would be hard to think of a more dystopian series than Black Tide Rising”

          Try Lexx.

          Better yet: DON’T try Lexx.

            1. IT’s a Canadian sci-fi television series.

              Let’s put it this way: someone here once introduced the term “grimderp,” for when grimdark goes so far it wraps around into the absurd and makes you go “Oh, COME ON!” Lexx is so firmly in grimderp territory it’s practically a parody of it.

          1. It is indeed; the situation is dystopian. Probably makes for the best fiction. DST is a story of a society beginning to recover from dystopia, and I liked it just as much, for much the same reasons.

        2. There are two kinds of dystopia. Precautionary and pulp.

          Precautionary is a terrible warning and shows no escape. (Wishfulfillment fantasies of your opponents being as evil as you imagine pretend to be this, but aren’t dystopia. )

          Pulp likes a powerful villain for the hero to triumph over.

      2. HZD isn’t dystopian; it is a story of Humanity’s greatest middle finger to The End Ot The World.

        btw if you like puzzle game I’d recommend The Talos Principle on similar extropic themes.

        1. Oooh, I will look for that. And yeah, I loved HZD immensely. I am a sucker for “rebuild from the Bad Thing” in fiction, no matter what form it may take.

          1. I don’t like puzzle games. And when I saw the box billing itself as a “philosophical puzzler” I expected it to be awful navel gazing crap.

            Then I loaded it, and the menu music WAS AWESOME.

            Then I started the game, and the setup looked interesting….

            An hour or so later and it became clear that the story was not only fascinating, but was doing excellent show-not-tell in the way that only a game can do.

        2. Horizon Zero Dawn? (Thanks, DDG). Never heard of that one, either; I haven’t been into RPGs (the game sort; not the AFV busters) since the early ’90s.

          1. It’s a modern 3rd person action RPG, so that “hybrid of all the things” style, if one likes that.

            The real starting selling point is post apocalypse ROBOT DINOSAURS.

            And then it gets better.

          2. I very much recommend Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s an RPG with a pre-set character, which I normally don’t care for but enjoyed immensely in this case. Graphics are stunning, combat is good, but story is what gets me every single time. This one sucked me right in – it’s obvious that we’re post-apocalyptic, but How We Got Here was a very intriguing mystery for me, and is paired with a good Right Damn Now main plot.

  17. I remember telling my therapist “All I want to do is make beautiful things, to make beauty.” I felt like a failure. A loser.

    And I miss Roger Scruton very much.

    1. With that attitude, there’s no way you were a failure or a loser! And if your therapist disagreed , so much the worse for him/her.

      1. She was really helpful. And she said the same thing you did. 😊 thanks 🙏.

    2. Scruton’s death affected me more than just about any person I didn’t personally know.. I miss him.

  18. Last year I saw a movie called ‘Harpoon’. There were 4 characters, and every one of them was despicable. The one semi-sympathetic character was revealed to be just as bad as the rest. The story was ugly, and all 3 of the main characters came to an ugly end.

    I’ve seen ugly animation. WHY would anybody make ugly animated characters?

    Ugly movies, ugly ‘literature’, ugly ‘art’, ugly ‘music’ — they even make themselves ugly, and screech “Oppression!” if you observe that they are ugly. They demand to be accepted for being ugly.

    I will never write anything like that.
    Some folks believe ‘Soylent Green’ had a happy ending.

    1. I was inflicted with hip-hop/pop at the gym the other morning. Three days later, they had hair-metal on. You know, it’s a sad thing when metal is more optimistic, encouraging, and uplifting (and melodic) than other genres. It’s certainly less anti-woman, at least as far as I’ve heard.

      1. Hey, some Metal is amazing! Have you ever heard ‘Operation: MindCrime’ by Queensryche? Then there’s Dokken, Judas Priest, Europe, and the recent wave of Symphonic Metal. Don’t be knockin’ me Metal, girlie! 😀

        1. My in-car CD stack includes: Sabaton, Avantasia (new album in October), Twilight Force, Xandria, Night Wish, Freedom Call. On the computer you have those, MetalWings, Sirenia, Within Temptation, Crüxshadows, Delaine, Dark Sarah, August Burns Red, The Sidh, Corvus Corax, Sisters of Mercy, The Mission-U.K., Eluvite, Assemblage 23, Epica, AND classical, early American, movie soundtracks, folk-rock, folk, medieval music, and so on. And some old country as well as Western (Ian Tyson). Yes on Metallica, Queensryche, Judas Priest, and hair metal (Europe, Scorpions . . .)

          Not knockin’ metal, just pointing out that for all the horrible reputation metal has (sometimes deservedly, often not so much), Hip Hop and other things can be a lot worse.

          1. Sabaton is awesome, when I’m in the mood for it. Oooh, Within Temptation is one of my favorites! And Epica too! Movie soundtracks are always awesome.

            Have you ever looked on YouTube at Samuel Kim? He does covers of a lot of music, and it’s awesome. Or Jonathan Young? He does metal Disney music, among other things, and I love it so much.

              1. The first one was awesome. The second has a sad, lonely sort of beauty to it.

                Both are lovely, and thank you for introducing me to them. I really should look into videogame soundtracks more, you’re right, they would be patterned similarly to movie soundtracks.

                1. They definitely make for good listening. Nobuo Uematsu (main composer for most of the Final Fantasy games) and Yasunori Mitsuda (Chrono series, among others) are legends in the field for a reason, though they’re hardly the only greats out there! This one from Yoshitaka Hirota might be to your liking, actually. Shadow Hearts is a pretty big influence on me creatively so I have a soft spot for its music, among other things:

                  1. This is quite possibly my favorite video game zone ever, and the music is a big part of it:

                    If you stand by that river long enough, you’ll see the grizzly bears catch fish. They walk up to the river, stand there for a few seconds, then a fish will appear in the water. The bear does his attack animation, then you see a fish in his mouth as he walks up the bank, then sits and does the eating animation.

                  2. Final Fantasy XIV probably has the best overall music in the MMORPG (and possibly even the entire video game) industry these days. Part of that is no doubt because the game generally has very good story-writing, and the music is carefully crafted to fit in with it. As an example, one of the songs that many players rave about from the most recent expansion is “Close in the Distance”. Alone, it’s a good and enjoyable tune. But it’s used in the game as the background music for the Ultima Thule zone, which sees you and your party dealing with ever increasing loss and despair… up until the moment when all hope seems lost, a surprising (but completely plausible) resolution takes place that had most players cheering for joy.

                    And that is what players have in the back of their heads when they listen to “Close in the Distance”.

              2. Yes! If you want to know where all the classical-style composers went, you have to look into video game and movie sound tracks.

            1. Also [though my first post got caught in moderation; stupid 1 link limit….] if you haven’t already encountered it, March Of Camberedth is necessary cultural literacy for Huns:

              1. Oh wow. Wow. I’m not fond of cursing in songs, but… wow.

                I can definitely say the appeal of that song to this horde. “The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad, for all their war [songs] are merry, and all their love [songs] are sad.” G.K. Chesterton.

                So much pride and battle-joy… it’s really beautiful. Thank you.

            2. Jonathan Young is awesome, both for his snarly voice and his gleeful hamminess. I love his “Plagues” cover from The Prince of Egypt, and while “Hellfire” blew me away, it’s not the kind of thing I put on repeat.

              Miracle of Sound is my favorite YouTube musician – video game covers that capture the spirit of the game AND rock hard even if you haven’t played it. “Mojave Song” sees far more air time in my car than it really should. 🙂 And most of the songs in a given franchise echo each other to some extent, which makes my geeky little heart happy.

            3. I think Samuel Kim is amazing myself. I love listening to his work.

              There’s also Clamavi de Profundis for people who like music with themes from Tolkien or Christianity, as well as some others,

                1. You And Me and the Bottle Makes Three Tonight
                  BBVDD, Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Amazing Royal Crowns got a lot of airplay on KKND in NOLA back when the swing revival happened. Brian Setzer Orchestra is very good too.

          2. I’ve been playing a lot of Two Steps From Hell lately. There are a lot of versions of this song with video from various movies (Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, Hobbit: Battle of 5 Armies), but I like this one best.

        2. I’m not a fan of metal, but such bands occasionally put out mellower stuff that I like. For example, you mentioned Queensryche? I give you this lovely thing:

              1. One of his few “To Order” songs and just to be him, not the short one they requested.
                I love this recent version from when Tarja did ‘Seagull’s Nest’ with the boys:

      2. I was inflicted with hip-hop/pop

        Would that make it Hip-Pop? 😛

        Sounds painful, in more ways than just having to hear it. Much rather listen to Savatage.

        1. It was. I am not at all interested in hearing a paean to a style of woman’s undergarment, followed by the observation that ownership of a female dog is not one of the singer’s current life difficulties.

      1. For those who don’t have time, this article boils down to: “You’ll eat nothing and be happy.”

        1. And anyone still thinking FICUS won’t send our food overseas really needs to reset their expectations given this:


          It turns out the oil being released isn’t for us. It’s going to India and China. According to Reuters, and we’re quoting, “more than 5 million barrels of oil that were part of a historic U.S. emergency reserve released to lower domestic fuel prices were exported to Europe and Asia last month.” The piece continues “cargo of SPR, crude (oil from our reserves) we’re also headed to the Netherlands into a Reliance refinery in India, an industry source said. A third cargo (buckle your seatbelt) headed to China.” To China!

          So, as gas prices set records in this country, as American citizens who were born here and vote and pay taxes cannot afford to fuel their own cars, the Biden administration is selling off our emergency oil reserves to China.

          1. “You sound angry.” </karen-mode>

            More to the point, why are you surprised? I’m not.

            That’s their biggest advantage — normal people can’t believe how evil they are. Not even after they prove it. “Oh, it must be some sort of mistake. Nobody would do that on purpose!
            ‘Progressives’ will do the wrong thing just because the people they hate do the right thing.

            1. I’m not surprised; I’m just tired of people treating reality as “black-pilled”.

            2. > “Oh, it must be some sort of mistake. Nobody would do that on purpose!”

              “Even if that were true, do you think that degree of incompetence can be tolerated?

    2. I’ll never write anything (other than tech stuff, which is also over with), but FWIW one of the main criteria I use when deciding whether to continue watching or reading a series is “Are there sympathetic characters?”. If the answer is “No” it goes into the trash heap. And second chances are nonexistent.

        1. Actually, the eight deadly words are “I don’t CARE what happens to these people.”

          1. Even that is weaker than the dreary desire that they would get their comeuppance, with the knowledge that they won’t

            1. Yep. There was a TV series (CBS?) called “Under the Dome”. After watching 5 or 6 episodes I realized I didn’t care if any of the characters survived, and stopped watching it. I believe apathy toward the plot and characters is worse than wishing they’d die; at least the latter involves interest of some sort.

  19. I agree its important when writing to create beauty with words that are delicately selected to evoke positive imagery, harmony, and emotions. I want readers to laugh, cry, and FEEL they are witnessing reality instead of reading fiction. At the same time, a “science fiction” novel that delves into understanding evil must demonstrate evil intent and actions, but tactfully. My first book “The Master Code” has both qualities I think. This duality of reality. Yes there is both good and evil in the world. Sometimes the good are partly evil and the evil are partly good, The important thing is to recognize the difference and to do that requires a brain which thinks! So if an author can wake up the readers from the self-induced hypnosis they are currently living in, they may see the world more clearly and make better decisions. So if a book can show both good and evil in a way reader can understand AND comprehend, it will be a positive contribution toward mankind’s future.

  20. I may not be able to define ugly but I knows it when I’se sees it.

    Actually there’s ugly and, on the other hand, there’s ugly. I’ve among Umberto Eco’s works on my shelves his ON UGLINESS (ISBN 13.978-0-8478-2986-6), -a lot of beautiful ugly therein.

    Oscar Wilde, in his 1899 essay, The Decay of Lying, has Vivian say; “M. Zola’s characters are much
    worse. They have their dreary vices, and their drearier virtues. The record of their lives is absolutely without interest. Who cares what happens to them?” For me at least that describes real ugliness, uninteresting.

    I can find solace, comfort, joy, excitement as often in a junkyard as in a boreal forest, not so much anywhere near a modern university or a box store filled mall.

    Art, be it written, spoken, painted, chipped, sang or brewed, distilled and drunk, needs at least a touch of ugliness, bitterness to define, delimit, frame the beauty therein. elsewise it’s just pablum, same old, same old.

    As long as ugly uplifts, the last scene; cowboy rides off into the sunset, I’m down with it.

  21. I think it was Kim Du Toit that stated that modern sculpture can have a utilitarian use; when looking for government building in an unfamiliar city, just looks for a piece of ugly modern sculpture in front of an ugly building, it will likely be a government building.

  22. I’m only a book consumer (not writer) and the biggest theme in covers that I’ve noticed is a small figure facing the other way.

    1. That honestly doesn’t sound so bad to me…

      Just have said small figure framed against an enormous doorway leading into a fantastical realm of some sort. Or perhaps facing a towering godlike titan holding a flaming sword. Or staring into a burning village with an arcane sign floating above it (although preferably something a little less blatant than a green skull with a snake for a tongue).

  23. Maybe a cover with some cute puppies, but their eyes are reptilian… Sorry. I’m not good with art. I don’t like ‘happily ever after.’ I’m more drawn to, ‘… and they lived happily until Uncle George and his three forty-something unmarried sons arrived unannounced for a three week visit.’ Stuff like that. 🙂

    1. A Successful Author: Sequel hooks – for fun and profit!

      No, of course they’re not cliffhangers. That would be evil and cruel to my poor, dear readers. And I love each and every one of you.

      (Almost as much as I love tormenting you… Mua ha ha ha ha!)

  24. I completely agree Sarah! The worst is when a beloved TV series has a character do something completely unredeemable, then the stories go on as if nothing happened. That was true of Longmire with one character as the sort-of villain, refusing to go along with his father on something truly destructive. The father kills his adult son, saying I can’t fix you, but I can always make another son and shooting him. Never watched another episode. Also why I never watched Breaking Bad. If you want to write about a character’s descent into evil, at least have the courtesy to make it short, not years long. MacBeth is less than 2 hours, and does it much better. The 80s were full of this crap.

    Im shocked with people who think Willy Loman is some kind of tragic hero. HE’S THE F*******ING VILLAIN, you poor deluded halfwits! Biff is the tragic hero, and the whole damned play should have been burned before ever being performed.

    I’ll stick with Horatio Hornblower doing the right thing unflinchingly and fully aware of the dire consequences that follow, but willing to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” When he survives and eventually triumphs, we all do, and are more willing to do the right thing ourselves.

    1. You missed out. That father was a piece of work and got himself (well deservedly) killed off as well. It took a quite a bit of sorting out who the bad guys really were and who just looked like bad guys, but the good guys won. Sort of. Mostly.

    2. I do concur on “Breaking Bad”. Those who manufacture and sell illegal drugs are bad guys. I am neither entertained nor usefully instructed by seeing in glorious, vivid detail just exactly how and why they are and got to be bad guys.

    3. C and I watched the first season of Gotham and enjoyed it a lot. Then we saw the first episode of the second season, where James Gordon, wanting his job as a police officer back, voluntarily cooperates with a major felony (I believe it was a murder) in return for getting the police commissioner forced to reinstate him by threats to his life. All of which was a total betrayal of Gordon’s integrity. So at that point the series no longer had a hero and we stopped watching it.

    4. IIRC, the creator of Breaking Bad once stated that he was somewhat disturbed by the show’s popularity.

      1. many of the people i worked with in CA or went to college with don’t ‘get’ why i wasn’t interested in watching it.

        One of said friends was working at Sony and the RV from the show was parked outside his building , he took a picture with it and posted to FB and i was like ‘ i’m sorry, i don’t recognize it’ and he had to tell me.

  25. The left despises beauty, and seeks to destroy it when they can. This was why Mao put everyone in ugly grey shapeless garments and made men and women have the same bowl cut. This was why Soviet apartment buildings look like drab grey prison blocks. This is why the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model this year was an obese woman (with a very pretty face) dressed in a hideous swimsuit. They hate beauty.

    Why? Because darkness cannot stand the light. So we must light a thousand candles. Ah, this makes me want to go read Ringo’s Black Tide Rising series all over again.

    1. Ah I wonder if Kurt Vonnegut mirrored what he’d seen of Mao’s China in “Harrison Bergeron” or vice versa.

    2. Because darkness cannot stand the light.

      Shades of Alan Scott:

      “And I shall shed my light over dark evil, for the dark things cannot stand the light…the light of the Green Lantern.”

  26. The three virtues, truth-beauty-goodness, are my guiding star. Ugliness comes from ugly people. They should be cast out!

  27. I recently flew out of and in to the Sacramento Airport, and I am happy to report that the public art is actually fun. Terminal A (which was the original single terminal, and has the older renovation) has towering stacks of suitcases (donated by Sacramento County residents) as pillars that go all the way to the ceiling . Terminal B is more fun—in the multi-story main lobby, they have a giant red rabbit called Leap that was made by the same guy who did the Big Blue Bear at the Denver Convention Center.

    Abstract doesn’t have to mean ugly.

    1. There used to be in Logan’s E terminal (haven’t been in a while may not be there or may have moved as terminals have had major renovations) a kinetic sculpture that I loved. Almost enough to make you miss your plane in the old days (pre shoe removal ) when flying was a more relaxed enterprise. Absolutely modern, amazingly enchanting, and beautiful in both sight and sound https://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMGVFD_Exercise_in_Fugality_by_George_Rhoads_Logan_International_Airport_Terminal_E_Boston_MA

    1. I would live to take a time machine and deconstruct Marx or Che or Lenin. Preferably with a large broadsword or a battle axe…

      1. Naw, with a spoon!

        “Why a spoon, cousin? Wouldn’t a sword, or an axe—”

        “Because it’s dull, you twit! It’ll hurt more.”

        1. Perhaps, maybe if we sharpen the edges of the spoon a bit? My main concern was not aesthetics, but making sure they were dead enough that some other Time Traveler couldn’t show up and fix it. They tend to be nosey bastards (C.F. The Doctor) and would likely have access to advanced medical technology… Heck there’s probably a whole operating room hidden in the Tardis somewhere it has an olympic sized pool.

      2. If I had the wit, the skill, the will, and a time machine, I would probably go the Revenge of the Sith route. Deconstruct their entire movement around them, let all they’ve built crumble around their ears, make the few remaining members isolated and ineffective. And let it happen because of their own actions – or better, their inaction.

        If Palpatine could manage it, surely a good guy could do the same in reverse.

  28. I am in full agreement. I’m so tired of ugly. I don’t buy ugly. If it’s not at least pretty, if not beautiful, I’m not wasting my money (don’t have enough to be willing to waste on ugly). I’m having enough trouble with the world being as ugly as it is–I don’t want ugly in my art or entertainment. Or in things I use day to day, to be honest…

    1. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t considered getting a heavy-duty modern sewing machine. Not the main one, but definitely one of them. Modern sewing machines are blocky and ugly–my 1898 Singer is gorgeous.

      My knitting needles (the other things I use frequently) are lacquered hardwood, and also gorgeous. I haven’t used metal needles in a long time–they’re not as comfortable, and they’re ugly.

      1. Fishing rods and reels have an elegance to them that makes my heart sing.

        The Japanese have a term for something like “beloved tools,” the tools you use in your craft. Can’t find it right now, but the word fits the spirit here.

          1. Especially bamboo rods; I’ve restored about 60 classic-era rods, including making new ferrules from nickel silver on a Sherline lathe when required. Finicky, but very relaxing.

            1. Back in the 90’s, I knew a Delta Pilot who made custom boo rods as a hobby/side business. Mac passed away in his sleep of heart failure a few days after his Flight Physical.

  29. I think the ugly in all fields is related.
    “If you tell a beautiful woman that she is beautiful, what have you given her? It’s no more than a fact and it has cost you nothing. But if you tell an ugly woman that she is beautiful, you offer her the great homage of corrupting the concept of beauty. ”
    Progressives have been trying to corrupt the concept of beauty in all things, books, art, architecture, as a way to control the masses. “What makes you think you understand what beauty is anyways? It’s whatever we say it is!”
    To which the answer should be “_______” not printable in a family blog.

    1. Wow. Did that first quote come from Screwtape? It really sounds like something Screwtape would say.

      Other answers to the later claim could include the judicious use of fingers. Or a cruelly patronizing smile, before turning and walking away.

      1. It’s from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. She was crazy about some stuff, but her understanding of collectivists is spot on, having lived in Communist Russia.

        1. Whatever one might criticize about Rand, and there certainly are a few things (rape fantasies and smoking, really?), she had one of the most precisely accurate analyses of The Enemy ever put to paper.

          It is a matter of horror when you realize that she did not exaggerate them in any way.

          1. Smoking in the time she was writing was not known to be a problem yet. The interactions between men and women, she’s nuts. But a lot of her descriptions of society is spot on. Actually, the more things go collectivist, the more I realize she wasn’t writing fiction, she was documenting what was happening in Russia. IT”S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE A HOW-TO BOOK!!!

            1. The interactions between men and women, she’s nuts.

              There is one point of that that she was right about: it is not reasonable to expect a relationship where the members have opposing philosophies to work.

              As for cigarettes, I saw someone recently point out that slang from back then (I think earlier in fact) indicates that people were in fact aware of the problems.

              Also you don’t need cancer reports to understand that getting hooked on an extremely and permanently addictive substance is maybe not the best advertisement for freedom…

              1. “…people were in fact aware of the problems.” Sorry, but I was a teenager in the late ’50s and I can state with confidence that the most prevalent idea was that smoking would “stunt your growth”. No, most people were either not aware of the major health problems or discounted them as “scare talk”; it wasn’t until the mid-to-late ’60s that it became generally accepted, well after the Surgeon General’s report.

                1. To be fair, vaping has shown that there are some positive effects to nicotine, including but not limited to potentially protecting from pneumonia. Which explains what the regency was seeing when they made kids smoke pipes of tobacco. (To be fair, in an age heated by wood and coal, the smoke particles in the lungs would be in everyone not just smokers.)
                  Of course the left is against vaping too. While encouraging pot smoking.
                  And don’t judge it too hard when characters smoke. Some of mine do, because they do. There are things you can’t really control.

                  1. Almost everything has both up and down sides; nicotine is no different, I suspect that if it weren’t for the negative connotations from health problems caused by smoking (which, IIRC, is not an issue involving nicotine, but resulting from the tars and other gunk) nicotine would be just one more addition to the standard pharmacopia. Just as, if it weren’t for the lingering emotional effects from Fat Man and Little Boy, nuclear power would be the preferred energy source almost everywhere, by almost everyone.

                    1. I’m poking at the idea of a world where superpowers were new and had first been introduced as weapons of war. It complicates life.

                    2. For a somewhat similar idea, read Zahn’s “A Coming of Age”. While the suddenly-appearing psi powers weren’t, strictly speaking, weapons of war, they might as well have been, since (not a spoiler; it shows up very early in the story) they only manifested in juveniles, all juveniles, and disappeared after puberty. Think about it…

                2. Growing up (currently 65+), smoking was somewhat common and few “believed/knew about” what doctors might say about smoking.

                  In fact, “Proper People” sneered at groups like Southern Baptists who were against smoking.

        2. I read that book! And liked it, to a certain degree. There were scenes that I skipped over (I don’t need to know details about anyone’s love life, thank you), and I think 40+ pages for a final speech that repeats itself over and over again is… excessive. But it was pretty dang good otherwise.

            1. I read it in its entirety, only for completeness. If I re-read the book I’ll skip most of it.

          1. She does tend to go on when she gets into author tract mode, I admit. But she still makes very good points in those speeches.

    2. Progressives are, charitably, gnostics with the associated hate for the things that make us human, beauty is just a part. The tech lords wanting to be cyborgs are a perfect example.

  30. One of the few enjoyable things about my commute is taking the ferry across the Hudson. NYC is best viewed from the water and I always Liked looking at the skyline. I noticed today that all the new buildings have ugly silhouettes. They’re badly proportioned, spikey, and twisted. Everything is ugly and getting uglier. But then everything built today is ugly. All this ugliness is bad for the soul. CS Lewis got it right in That Hideous Strength.

  31. ladyeleanorceltic,

    Yesterday someone tried to respond to you in an older thread, and it occurred to me that you don’t seem to reply to older comments. I figured someone should tell you about the subscription feature in case you’re not aware of it. Since you can’t reorder comments on the blog by timestamp it’s great for keeping up with a conversation without having to keep combing through stuff you’ve already read.

    When you’re making a reply there’s a couple of checkboxes to the left of the “POST COMMENT” button. Checking the top one will cause a subscription email with an activation link to be sent to you. Once you activate it, all future comments for that post (but not already-made ones) will be emailed to you. If you make a post just to subscribe and have nothing else to say, it’s customary to say “c4c” (comment for comments) so people know what you’re doing.

    We get a lot of traffic sometimes and you probably don’t want your main inbox flooded, so I recommend getting a separate email address just for this.

    My routine is to read Sarah’s post, subscribe, refresh the page to make sure nothing slips through and then read the comments. If I want to respond to something I’ll open the comment in a separate tab (right-click on the time stamp) and answer it there so I don’t refresh the page I’m reading from and load new comments I’m getting through email anyway. If you want to respond to something you read in email, just click the “comment” link that should be included; you’ll get a new tab that takes you to the comment in question.

    Hopefully you stick with this thread long enough to read this, but if not I (or others) can link back to this until you catch it.

    1. Thank you so much, DGM. I was not aware of this, and will get to work on that immediately,

      (And this email is already my gmail account, which I don’t anticipate using for really anything else. Google is annoying.)

      1. My pleasure.

        One other thing: I recall that you made a request for reading recommendations in the “Gray and Dreary Future” thread a few days ago. Sometimes responses can come a couple of weeks or so after the original comment, so you might want to go back and subscribe to that one in case you get any late suggestions. I recommend subscribing, refreshing the page and then reading over the responses you already have to make sure you didn’t miss anything in the meantime.

        The comment in question was here: https://accordingtohoyt.com/2022/07/02/that-grey-and-dreary-future/#comment-856057

    2. Alternatively to separate email, I use gmail. Which has an option for Tabs. Tabs I have setup are: Primary, Social, Promotions, and Forums. I’m sure other email platforms have this option too.

      I use Forums for the less prolific or monthly subscriptions/digests/newsletters.

      I use Social for According to Hoyt.

      Everything else, that I expect, gets sorted into Updates. Gmail com sorts everything perceives as “updates” into updates, or promotions, everything else defaults to Primary.

      Not everything in Promotions, but a good portion just gets deleted, or marked as spam.

      What can I say. I like organization.

  32. ProTip for anyone wanting art that is art instead of mud-wallowing: representative artistic drawing never went away.

    It was rebranded as “illustration”.

  33. Have you seen the latest? ‘Climate activists’ are ‘protesting against oil’ by gluing themselves to famous paintings.

    Fortunately, they are only gluing their hands to the frames. So far.

    Super Glue is made from oil, isn’t it?

    The most creative suggestion I saw was, “Toss a hornet nest at their feet and let them choose their next move.” Hey, hornets are natural!
    Pick (or invent) some grand existential crisis which you can’t realistically be expected to do anything about except virtue signal, and pretend that gives you a pass for failing to accomplish anything else in your life.

    1. Just cordon off the area and leave them be for a few days. They’ll figure it out. Or not.

      I have the same response to people who zip-tie themselves to the goal posts at soccer, etc., games. Play on! If they catch a ball to the face, that’s their problem. They’re using other people’s desire to be ‘nice’ as protection for their juvenile stupidity.

      1. Hook them up with a saline IV and start playing babbling brook sounds. I have little patience for fools.

      2. British Grand Prix at Silverstone last weekend…a group of protesters from that same organization (Stop All Oil or whatever it’s called) ran out onto the track and sat down. Fortunately for the drivers, at least, the race was either under caution or red-flagged because of a crash a few minutes earlier. Had it not been for that, you would have had idiot bubbleheads sitting down on a racetrack with Formula One cars tearing down the backstraight at them at 160+ mph. I don’t care if the protesters get chunkified in that way, I just don’t want the drivers to get hurt by a piece of flying whacko. Fortunately the police were able to get them cuffed and stuffed with no disruption to the race itself.

    2. I read in one instance the police were recorded removing the protesters, and as the paintings are delicate and expensive, (and well, they are protesting petroleum products) they did not use any form of solvent. The Coppers came across as parents ignoring a tantrum when the screams of pain started.

    3. I don’t see why one couldn’t just beat them to death where they stand.

      It’s obvious that they’re too stupid to live, so why burden them with something they’re obviously not equipped to handle?

      But I may also be in a bad mood this morning.

      1. That’s not a bad mood, it’s realism. There were also some who superglued their hands to a road in France. The police got them loose; no solvent, just a hard pull. The screams were very satisfying… 🙂

  34. I have no idea why, but in art, be it writing or painting, or whatever you can create, ugly, disturbing and emotionally icky has been considered “cool” and “artistic” and “deep” for as long as I’ve been alive.

    It gets a reaction.

    A lot of folks have been infected with the idea of “reaction” being “validity.”

    1. I call it puppy in a blender art. I can elicit an emotional reaction by throwing a puppy in a blender, that doesn’t mean I’ve done anything good.

        1. Also, the reaction the “artist” might get by throwing the puppy in a blender in front of witnesses might not be what the moron desired. Especially if there was a wood chipper handy…

          1. I am still incredibly uncomfortable from the “goldfish in a blender” art for one of the new Marvel movies… to the point that beyond anything else, I’d actively avoid any connected movies.

            1. Good decision, IMHO. There’s enought evil in the world that intentionally subjecting yourself to more just because it’s there isn’t healthy.

  35. Completely off topic. I am going in for an aortic valve replacement tomorrow. The easy way, put with a catheter through the femoral artery, not splitting my chest. Nevertheless, I am nervous (that’s Marine for scared spitless) and would appreciate your prayers.
    Thank you.

      1. Also, Semper Fi!

        And it’s not “nervous”, it’s “somewhat concerned”, as I was going into my open-heart surgery 5 years ago. 🙂

  36. It’s not ugly, it’s not to me.

    It’s the lack of competence, being lauded as competence. I’ve seen some good modern art, I’ve seen some good abstract art, and other things. When Games Workshop had a competent art director, you can tell just how deep and dark the worlds they create are, and how grim and unforgiving it is. There’s anime and manga artists that I love and adore. There’s a couple of adult comic artists that do spectacular things…maybe NSFW or NSFS, but spectacular work. And, there’s good commercial artists out there working hard on creating good art for projects.

    But, I’ve seen far too much lazy jellybean “CalArts” character designs. “Brownwashed” characters because they weren’t dark enough or they “should have been (insert ethnicity here)”. Terrible “reinterpretations” of classic characters. Shit use of colors. Comic book panel layouts that were fundamentally wrong, fundamentally broken, and had no sense of perspective. The Tumblr style of “avoiding male gaze” by making the characters deliberately ugly and “queer coded.” Yet, these are the things that Top People In The Industry claim is proper and suitable and appropriate.

    I think we can wrap up the lack of competence with “ugly,” because it is ugly. You can sometimes see a glimmer of talent there…sometimes. Maybe.

  37. I became a Christian about three years ago, but I have been riding this train of secular thought for a couple decades now. Got to the point in college where I’d almost have preferred scooping my eyeballs out with a melon baller rather than read another highbrow modern or post modern fiction title. Short or long. Most of all, the contempt for humans and human nature underpins the ugly.

    Most people don’t want to acknowledge or even hear this, but the creeping relentless glorification of everything dark and ugly is truly evidence of ha’satan’s plan to take over the world. It is the creeping fulfillment of what Yeshua prophesied on the Mount of Olives and what John dreamed and prophesied into the book of Revelations. This is not to say the world is doomed, or even how close we are to the end of it. That can’t be known until the hour, and there are a lot of things going on that we don’t know or understand. So the end may be close, as in our lifetimes, or not. But if we read Scripture closely and observe the bizarre crap that’s happening in the world today, and then if we are honest with ourselves regardless of whether or not we like what we’ve read, it becomes quite clear we’re as close to destruction as we’ve been since the days of Noah. G-d was most angry at humanity in those days, and saw us by and large as not much worth saving. Given the current shitshow playing out across the globe, I can’t imagine He feels any different now.

    Also, if you study Marxism and its evolution over the years, and also study Scripture, you soon see every precept and implementation of Marxism is almost a complete inversion or corruption of every godly principle put forth in the Bible. It’s stunning. If someone had deliberately set out to study the Bible and then ruin the world by corrupting the biblical teachings line by line, they could hardly have put a better plan in place than what’s happening right now. From a secular perspective I always knew Marxism was evil, but studying Scripture after secular understanding was truly a watershed.

    Ironically, as a baby Christian who has been steeped in the prevalent culture’s intellectual anti-Christian bigotry for most of my adult life, understanding Scripture’s relevance to the ugly in the world we are currently living in is what keeps my faith strong. When I start to doubt whether my faith is justified, all I have to do is remember biblical prophecy. That brings me back around to the fact that if 2000 year old prophecy is accurate according to what I see with my eyes and hear with my ears going on all around me, then the rest of it must be true too. And if the rest is true then that is a great and wonderful thing! Because it means that G-d’s promises are all true, He really does love us and knows we are ultimately worth saving contra everything our cultural elites tell us. It means everything will be okay in the end, as long as we use the free will He gave us to choose to believe.

    So anyway, just sayin’ cuz it’s becoming more clear every day that the ugly is not just some phenomenon that’s happened out of air. It’s all part of a plan. However, it’s not the Commie pinko’s plan, or the douchebag globalist’s plan, although they are key tools. Pun intended. The plan is deeper and more sinister than anything those feebs could design, and it’s being perpetrated by something much more powerful than they will ever be. The more people who know what the real plan is and who the real perpetrator is, the better we will be able to resist.

    “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.” – John 1:4-5

    P.S. Prayers up for Geoff Withnell!!

    1. I became a Christian about three years ago

      I am glad to hear it. :e-hugs:


      Most people don’t want to acknowledge or even hear this, but the creeping relentless glorification of everything dark and ugly is truly evidence of ha’satan’s plan to take over the world.

      I think I have a quote from Tolkien about his orcs and this– can’t find the image.
      But that evil can’t create, only warp and mock.

      1. Tolkien also had a good quote about how in fantasy, an ogre or an evil wizard might have an ugly castle, but that it was impossible to imagine a place built for good purposes being ugly; in the “real world” even in his day, it was almost impossible to imagine any place being built that was NOT ugly.

      2. …evil can’t create…”
        No it can’t, although the Manichean heretics thought otherwise.

    2. “… the creeping relentless glorification of everything dark and ugly is truly evidence of ha’satan’s plan to take over the world. It is the creeping fulfillment of what Yeshua prophesied on the Mount of Olives…”
      I’ve been blaming it on Gharlane of Eddore, but then theology is not my strong point. (Much of the Lensman series is looking terribly relevant the past few years. One might surmise that Doc Smith was borrowing from religious themes in his grand battle between good and evil.)

  38. “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means.”

    ― Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

    1. https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/three_decker.html

      No moral doubts assailed us, so when the port we neared,
      The villain had his flogging at the gangway, and we cheered.
      ‘Twas fiddle in the foc’s’le – ‘twas garlands on the mast,
      For every one was married, and I went at shore at last.

      I left ‘em all in couples a-kissing on the decks.
      I left the lovers loving and parents signing cheques.
      In endless English comfort, by county-folk caressed,
      I left the old three-decker at the Islands of the Blest! . .

      Her crews are babes or madmen? Her port is all to make?
      You’re manned by Truth and Science, and you steam for steaming’s sake?
      Well, tinker up your engines – you know your business best –
      She’s taking tired people to the Islands of the Blest!

  39. Sorry to be late to the party; I was having password problems yesterday.

    Ugly is a fallout of the Progressive obsession with being avant-garde. All Elites have tended to cultivate ‘taste’ that differentiated them from the Commons, but to a large degree this was done by buying things the Commons couldn’t afford. This began to break down as the Middle Class grew in influence and wealth, and is now effectively rubble. So the Progressives have had to chase after trends and styles that have nothing to recommend them OTHER than the Commons loathe them.

    It’s more complicated than that, but it will do as an outline.

    The thing is, we peasants tend to criticize their taste by saying ‘it’s ugly’. That PLEASES them. They always have a pat explanation why ‘ugly’ is important.

    So, I tend to criticize in terms of Vulgar, Juvenile, tiresome, trite, and tacky. They have a MUCH harder time defending against those, particularly because they suspect they are right.

    1. The thing that gets me is how unutterably dreary the Hot New Stuff always is. And predictable. I saw some headline last fall about “Disney’s reboot of ‘The Rocketeer'”, rolled my eyes, and made an off-hand mental prediction about “now he’s a retired Tuskegee Airman who will have to deal with his country’s legacy of racism while saving the day from Nazis”. “He’s a retired Tuskegee Airman who will have to deal with his country’s legacy of racism while saving the day from Nazis!”

      Stunning and brave. And oh-so-original.

      1. I seem to be on an SFDebris quoting trend today, but he’s got another one that fits here:

        “You know it sucks when not only is it predictable, it’s predictable by sarcasm.”

  40. I consider myself lucky that my first exposure to literary deconstruction, though of course I didn’t know what it was called at the time, was Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” Yes, he does the trope where everyone gets their traditional fairy tale reward in Act 1, only for things to go wrong in Act 2, but even Act 2 ends with the surviving protagonists having triumphed over their enemy and had real character growth. They don’t get what they wished for, but they get what they needed.

    I just realized that’s the model I use with my attempts at fairy tale retellings. The realism isn’t about being grimdark, but about extrapolating the consequences of character flaws, and then letting some of the characters learn from their mistakes and face their enemies.

    1. Have you ever seen the SFDebris reviews of the anime Madoka Magica? He has some interesting things to say about grimdark vs. realism. Quoting from memory:

      “Suppose the hero saves the princess from the dragon, and she agrees to marry him. But then, a few years later, she realizes that in the emotion of the moment, she mistook gratitude for love, and it turns out that gratitude really isn’t enough to build a marriage on. That’s unfortunate, but it’s not dark, necessarily, it’s just realistic.”

      1. I prefer Simon Green’s “Blue Moon Rising”, in which Prince Rupert, on his trusty unicorn (don’t ask), saves the dragon from the princess. 😉

        BTW, I’d recommend that series to anyone who likes somewhat offbeat sword-and-sorcery. The same for his Eddie Drood series, starting with “The Man With the Golden Torc”. And “Shadows Fall”. I guess just about anything by Simon Green… 🙂

        1. I adore Simon Green. And I cottoned on to Hawk and Fisher years before the Blue Moon sequel, which still makes me outrageously smug. 🙂 I never got into the Drood books but may take another look now that the book budget has opened up a bit.

          1. Kudos to you! 🙂 I started reading the Hawk & Fisher stories first; the first one was published the year before BMR (1990 vs. 1991), so I didn’t connect them in my mind even after I read BMR. I suspect he intended them to be linked before BMR was written, just like the “non Hawk & Fisher” stories (Blood and Honor and Down Among the Dead Men) were in the same universe, and had internal cross references.

            And if you haven’t read Shadows Fall, do so; I doubt that you’ll be disappointed. 🙂

    2. Exactly.

      One of my favorite lines in “Into the Woods” is when Cinderella confronts her prince about his infidelity. His reply? “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” He wasn’t in love with her; he is in love with the thrill of the chase. And she likewise realizes that she wasn’t in love with him so much as in love with escaping her circumstances. She goes on to find a real family built on love and respect. He and his brother go off to marry new fairy tale princesses, with the implication that they’ll continue in this pattern because they didn’t undergo the character growth of the protagonists.

  41. Interesting you should post this now. I just started a fantasy that someone recommended to me, advertised as “Not your typical bloodless fantasy of plaster saints.” So far, at least, it’s your typical bloodsplattered fantasy of plaster demons who haven’t got a redeeming characteristic among them. And yet, despite that, it’s remarkably trite, filled with tropes that were painfully overused cliches back when Tolkien was in grade school. Example: our hero…er, I mean “protagonist,” falls over a cliff but is saved at the last minute by a tree root growing out of the cliff face. And then, while he’s hanging in mid-air, fighting desperately for survival, decides that now would be a fabulous time to contemplate his backstory and ponder the meaning of his life.

    I wonder if part of the desire to make something ugly is a subconsious recognition on the part of the artist that he can’t actually make anything that isn’t a pale copy of what came before. Therefore, his only option to be “different” is to go ahead and make his pale copy, but make it as ugly and horrific as possible.

      1. Joe Abercrombie. I haven’t quite decided to run, yet; I’m going to stay with it a bit longer to see if it eventually gets to the point where it justifies all the raves I’ve heard about it.

        But if I accidentally leave the copy I have on a bus, I’m not going to expend any effort to find another one.

    1. I get really funny reactions when I tell people that in The Princess Goes Into the Forest, the heroine IS a typical fairy tale heroine and so unique in my experience. Possibly entirely.

  42. I’ve started using “ethereal” instead of “surreal” for these kinds of searches. The images are moderately better IMO. I have some trouble living in a world where shock value has replaced aesthetic value in art. I, too, am tired of ugly in thought, word and image.

  43. Appropriate, I think, Puddleglum’s speech from the 4th Narnia book “The Silver Chair.”

    Background: Puddleglum, a Marsh Wiggle (a race of anthropomorphic frog-like pessimists) and his two human companions are under an enchantment by the witch “The Green Lady” in a dreary underworld and being made to forget the upper world and any ideas of light, hope, and joy. Puddleglum kicks out the fire (the smoke of which is causing the enchantment, and says:

    “One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”

    The Left is pretty much The Green Lady writ large.

  44. And the critics are trying to make it uglier. . . .

    I read one saying that you can’t justify mundane humans oppressing mages because mages (particularly untrained ones) are dangerous. This is because then it’s no longer a good parallel to real-world bigotry. The idea that people might find oppressed mages a useful trope just for the story’s sake is alien. (Also, no one ever gets bullied at school for academic success. Only things that “marginalize” you cause bullying. Some leftists are more Marxist than others.)

    1. “Oppressing” mages? Maybe not. But Steven Brust (excellent author, BTW) has his character Vlad Taltos comment that “No matter how subtle the wizard, a knife between the shoulder blades will seriously cramp his style.” (The mirror of Niven’s Warlock comment, “A knife always works.” 🙂

      1. Was using mages as shorthand for every super-powered character. But even mages are used. Barbara Hambley often did. Outright persecution

        1. Barbara Hambly’s wizards were generally few in number and were somewhat limited in power.

          Also, in one of her story universes, the wizards were not really a united “force”.

          Mind you, in the Regency Mage series there’s an interesting explanation about “why wizards hide from non-wizards”.

          Apparently the children of magic-users are very rarely magic-users and if non-wizards know about & fear wizards, it is easy for them to kill the “next generation” of wizards.

          Thus the wizard societies of the past decided that to protect themselves and the “next generation” that they had to hide from non-wizards and hide the Real Existence of magic.

          Note, it was clear (in this back-story) that non-wizards had reason to fear wizards. Before the “hiding of magic”, most wars were fought with magic support.

          1. Ah, but that’s not a justification for the trope because that might actually work against the woke agenda.

            1. So what?

              I enjoy debating the “mages in hiding” trope without caring about the woke agenda. 😉

  45. “The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist; a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain.”
    ― Ursula K. LeGuin, The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas

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