Lena is one of my very favourite characters in A Lion in Heaven. Here is more of her.
As she worked later in the day of that conversation with Cindy—bussing, serving drinks and food, cleaning up here and there, dropping a glass in a moment of absent-mindedness to find that, as always, it bounced—she found herself thinking about Dyke.
By the time she'd met him he'd been going by the name Dylan Kelly—his father and mother's first names pried back out of the ridiculous portmanteau they'd given him. Earlier in his life, he'd told her, he'd respected them too much to change it, even after their natural enough deaths, from lung cancer in his mother's case and heart disease in his father's. They'd both been smokers, and while they'd lived long lives, both into their eighties, they'd succumbed finally to the predictable signatures of their now long obsolete vice.
It was Cindy's ludditism that had triggered this. She hardly thought about him anymore, she told herself. Ludditism? Seriously? Was that still a thing? She'd come to assume, as long as she'd been up here (and maybe this was something he had instilled in her, for better or worse), that people living on space stations understood, as they absolutely had to, the importance of technological progress and the perfection of tailored ecologies. He'd been the pioneer of that. He'd been an actual, literal pioneer, in the sense that his next step might always have been genuinely fatal, as it had been for the many, many early Olympus settlers Cindy had correctly pointed out had died in the early days.
That those people had died in droves then and that their descendants no longer did was evidence against Cindy's position, as far as Lena was concerned. When smallpox had killed millions, advancement had come, and now that dreadful sickness didn't exist anymore. It was like Cindy was harbouring a love for disease and poverty and death, like she was afraid of losing her humanity, (whatever that word really meant), to a clean, happy, prosperous life.
Yesterday SpaceX landed a first stage on a deck barge in the Atlantic, in heavy seas and high winds. That was a historic moment, at least as important as, for example, the Gemini rendezvous, and probably at least as confusing to explain. Most of the world, if my facebook feed is any indication, didn't notice, or didn't understand. Many, if comment threads are any indication, didn't even believe it had happened at all.
As landmark firsts in human spaceflight go, the first suborbital spaceflight, the first orbital spaceflight, the first orbital rendezvous, the first lunar orbit, the first lunar landing, the first deployment of a lunar rover, the first shuttle launch, Skylab, the ISS, Virgin Galactic's X Prize win, and the first SpaceX flight that wasn't paid for with Elon Musk's personal funds are pretty key. This one is at least as important, and it opens the door to a whole host of possibilities.
Now, I'm aware that's a pretty bold statement. In fact, last night I was arguing with a friend in a bar, and he told me outright that I didn't know what I was talking about and that I must have just read some breathless press release from Elon Musk.
Let me begin with the more facile justifications, and then move on to the more technical explanations of why this is so important.
First. A commercial enterprise just successfully landed the first stage of a rocket they designed and built themselves on a ship in the Atlantic and recovered it for reuse. They did not do this for the sake of whimsy. They're a commercial enterprise. They did it for profit.
I am, in many ways, the ideal audience for a certain rogue University of Toronto psychology professor.
In case you've had your head in the sand for the last few years--and I continue to encounter this, even this late in the game--the putative 'most important public intellectual in the west' is no longer Noam Chomsky. It's now a different older white guy named Jordan B. Peterson, and this new guy is about as stodgy as they come.
I remember hearing the descriptor 'stodgy, tweed-wearing traditionalist' somewhere way back when, probably in the early 2000s, back when I was in the first year of my obligatory degree. It was perfect at the time, a way of poking fun at quaint ivory-tower-dwelling academics who commented on stuff they didn't really understand, bleary-eyed, from behind piles of books, and never ventured out into the glaring light of the mainstream, where practicality reigned rather than desiccated theory.
Reactionaries traditionally dislike that kind of academic for a host of reasons. They're not robust manly-men, generally, though many of them support the idea of that sort of thing. The stately dignity of the tenured professor who's been on the job so long he falls asleep at his lectern is hard to smuggle past the gates of their world. He comes from the university, which, we are repeatedly told, is a haven of marxism. That's the place where they won't let Richard Spencer or Gavin McInnes speak. The people at the university, we're told, go on about tolerance all the time, but they don't tolerate hate. They're totalitarians, see? Who but a totalitarian wouldn't look breathlessly forward to being harangued by people trying to articulate a program for a world where they either don't exist, or at least where they have the good sense to stay out of the way and not rock the boat of western civilization, which is a thing, we're told, that was invented by white European men, and it's good, you see--there are warts, but it's good, and these persistent attempts, often by people who don't look like white european men, to dismantle it are bad.
So yeah. I'm the exact perfect audience for this guy's perspective. I'm in a fraternity. I'm in the service. I'm a white dude. I participate in a whole bunch of old boys' clubs. I like model trains. I own a kilt, a sporran, and a sgian dubh (though my dress kilt is more than a bit moth-eaten). I consider myself, with some authority, to be a 'classical liberal' just like he does with somewhat less authority (given the shit he says and the company he keeps). By all rights I should be a libertarian, just based on my demographic characteristics.
I sincerely believe that if Warren Kinsella had written Web of Hate today, a significant percentage of Canadians would have pointed their fingers at him and said, 'no, you're the nazi.'
Almost each and every white supremacist profiled in the book is careful to point out that they don't hate anybody, they just want a nation for themselves like people who aren't like them seem (to them) to be allowed to do and everyone else, for whatever reason--usually that they're brainwashed by whichever conspiracy--either doesn't have all the facts they have, or is wilfully refusing to look at them. They all have subtly different ideas of who 'their people' are, but the narrative is the same, often to an almost eerie degree--their people are really the victims here. Just as today we have people stumbling upon far right ideology and not quite realizing what it is (to find you're espousing white replacement or railing against cultural bolshevism can, I imagine, be shocking to somebody who doesn't realize what kind of history those ideas have), it's almost like each one of these people was somehow blind to the fact that they were just a small, unwitting part of a long, broad continuum of hateful historical revisionism that has piled misinformation on misinformation for generations, building a semi-mythical alternate history that's as fictional as David Icke's weird brand of panspermia, or Joseph Smith's epic con job.
To be told you're wrong, that you don't have any idea what you're talking about, that the history is different, more complex, older, stranger, can be frustrating. It can feel like you're being silenced. It can be mortifying, if you've invested a lot in your paradigm and you've become proud of your apprehension. It can feel like the globalists, or whoever, have a grip on the person telling you that. It can be easier or more comfortable to denounce everyone as having been brainwashed by whichever jigsaw piece you've slotted into the omnipotent global conspiracy position.
The fact is, nobody is actually being silenced, least of all the people getting loud about it. Dr. Peterson has made a big deal about free speech recently, but he's still got all his soapboxes, and he's making more money than any of his predecessors ever did by a long shot, including the ones who literally robbed banks and Brinks trucks. He's not explicitly a racist, you see, and neither is Gavin McInnes. Gavin McInnes and Rebel Media erased 10 Things I Hate About Jews, you see (the optics were not good) and Mr. McInnes would never be so gauche as to call for genocide. In public.
George Burdi was usually like this, for example. He wouldn't publically, in Canada, say anything stupid. He was usually careful to keep the narrative clean. This was over 20 years ago. Nowadays I doubt he'd even say 'white people.' He'd probably say 'old stock Canadians':