More on the Death of the Spirit: Why English Majors Can’t Read Literature

I wrote last time about the truly spiritual life—a life of forcing one’s principles to engage a hostile world and one’s preferred order to negotiate inconvenient necessities. In opposition to this stands the spirit-stifling life of embedding oneself in fantasy and demanding that everything and everyone around one flatter the assembly of illusions.  As in all human truths, there’s great irony here.  People who stifle the spirit will insist that they are “engaged”. Yet manipulation, intimidation, distortion, suppression, and prevarication don’t get at the kind of engagement I have in mind.  I suppose they could work, for a verbal contortionist; I suppose plowing a house under and leaving a rubble with an entry point to crawl through could be called “redesign”.

Certainly the people who declare the mud hole where they nestle to be holy ground and then rail against passers-by might be said to expend a kind of energy in their endeavor.  They never seem to know a moment’s peace, for practically everyone is moving in relation to them and thus needs a good dressing down.  When you declare your entire life a safe space, denounce all that you see beyond your narrow borders as offensive, and charge every intruder who doesn’t utter the password with failing to give a trigger alert, you probably won’t get much rest.

But that’s perfectly okay; because, as I wrote earlier, the ultimate objective of the exercise is precisely to keep one busy denouncing morally inferior people—to prove over and over again, every day, that one belongs to a unique group of higher beings.

I know this subject well.  I’ve passed virtually my entire adult life in Academe, as a formal college student and a teacher employed in some capacity: six or seven years as the former, and about thirty-five as the latter.  From either side of the lectern, I have observed “professionals” mutilate classic literature by insisting that no such qualities as “the classic” or “the literary” ever existed, but that—instead—only some specific socio-political dialectic or other is for real: only the struggle of women, or Hispanics, or blacks, or gays, to rise above white male patriarchal oppression.  All else is smokescreen.  All else is the established power structure conditioning you to revere a value system that locates its elite members on top of the heap; and by “mystifying” your conditioning so that its parameters appear holy and questioning them becomes strictly tabu, your masters spellbind you into mistaking your chains for artistic worth—for “beauty”.

If this sounds exactly like the hoodwinking our educational gurus are trying to work upon the upcoming generation, we shouldn’t be surprised.  An integral part of the mud-dweller’s m.o. is to project the ugliest impulses of his own soul upon that surrounding world which he strives constantly to condemn as inferior.  The snobby elitism, the abuse of power, the intolerance of open exchanges, and the magnification of a self-serving design to the authenticity of religious revelation all belong to the Playbook of Dead Souls.  There can be no more classic case of the Pot calling the Kettle black.

As a result, I have for several years now taught senior-level English majors—within months of receiving their degree—who cannot read a classical text like the Iliad without inveighing against how women are carried off as chattels, or one like the Odyssey without harping on the hero’s detainment by Circe and Calypso as if he were whoring in Las Vegas.  To them, Euripides’ Medea slays her two sons because of post-partum depression, or because male-dominated society has left her no other options.  As a teacher, I should say that I fail more than half the time ever to convince them that the mythic backdrop of such narratives puts them closer to symbolic commentaries about the human psyche than to social histories.  Our latest graduates don’t understand how there may be a “Medea side” in all of us: too tribal, too passionate, too irrational.  This ancient text and every other are all about men versus women: that’s as far as most of them can go.

Or else they instantly, almost reflexively (thanks again to their academic conditioning) see a Marxist class struggle unfolding.  I was at considerable pains last month to sell a class on the notion that clannish cultures do NOT have an autocratic ruler atop a steep pyramid and masses of slaving peasants beneath—that such stratification occurs only with the rise of complex settlements, as certain people abandon herding or tilling to learn martial arts and protect the community.  And while class struggles are by no means invisible in, say, the Odyssey (whose hero spends much of the epic disguised as an abused beggar), I’m uncomfortable with a student of literature’s retreating immediately to that level of interpretation as the right and only one.  Odysseus is not leading some kind of Marxist revolution.  If anything, he’s showing us that humility and awareness of others are increasingly esteemed virtues in a society where lions and floods are no longer the only kind of existential threat.

Where do students learn to apply such hermeneutical hacksaws to great books?  Why, from their “mentors”, of course!  Only look at the “cutting-edge” publications in a literary database: this same level of severely reductive thought is on display in all the “best” journals.

In my view, we need to know much about a distant work’s cultural environment precisely so that we may filter out those practices that keep us from the common humanity of its creators.  I’m not sure that I will ever quite understand what induced the Aztecs to cut the pumping hearts out of young girls in hideous human sacrifice… but I’m willing to keep trying.  And, yes, it’s grotesque that Achilles should have bestowed his love upon a woman whom he carried off as plunder after murdering her husband and family; but not only was this an unfortunate custom of the times—it is very likely intended by Homer as an ironic indication of how tragically cut off from normal human exchange the shamanic superhero is.  Can we really not get beyond the wounded feelings of the twenty-first century coed who has “sexual harassment” ringing through her head like a persistent migraine?

The squirrels in my back yard have destroyed my apricot harvest for years.  They start when the fruits are green and bitter, taking one bite and then throwing the rest away.  It continues until the tree is bare, usually before a single apricot has actually turned golden.  That’s the Ivory Tower: that’s the “engaged” mud-dweller who sits deeply where he is and slings grime at anyone who won’t stop and jump in.  It’s a world without beauty—a world without spiritual fruition: a mere hall of mirrors whose occupants can see nothing but themselves.


The Next Generation Is NOT Our Salvation

We’re in trouble… or maybe the die is already cast, in which case we’re beyond trouble and deep in the garbage dump.

Our young people, as was borne in upon me this past week, gather virtually all of their news from… not CNN, not Yahoo’s sidebars, not Facebook, but… Twitter.  Yeah.  Virtually everything they know about the world comes to them in bursts that cannot exceed 240 characters.

Either that, or they tune in to unfunny puppet shows staged by the Kimmel buffoon and whoever succeeded what’s-his-name’s mock newscast.  (Sorry… but I’ve never watched any such fare and don’t care enough about its purveyors to track down their handles.)  After all these years of hearing that the professoriate was responsible for radicalizing and lobotomizing our youth, I now realize (and I had long suspected as much) that it really ain’t so: students are too absorbed in their “smartphones” to be programmed by any professorial bloviation.  It is through the incoherent flickers of those devices, precisely, that they see and “learn” everything.

I had dismissed several classes of freshmen (or “beginning undergraduates”) for one class meeting so that they could go research a project, though I showed up at the usual place and time myself just in case some few should wish to discuss any issue informally.  Much to my satisfaction, two of my most thoughtful students were waiting in an otherwise empty room during two of these periods.  So I had two stimulating private conversations… whose lasting impression on me, nevertheless, was quite depressing.  Here is some of what I “learned”:

That all CEO’s everywhere have simply pocketed Trump’s tax breaks for businesses in the form of salary increases;

That private industry operates only to maximize short-term profit, whereas the public sector is staffed by people who are dedicated to helping humanity;

That the rightwing fear of gun legislation’s proving a slippery slope toward universal confiscation is mere paranoia, whereas the progression from gay marriage to man-boy and three-party marriages now evident in Germany can simply not be happening (though I’m the one who actually reads German, my sources must be wrong);

That the NRA is massively underwriting political resistance to new gun bans, whereas the talk of George Soros’s underwriting the race riots in Jefferson (for instance) is an utter canard;

That the NRA donated three million dollars to Marco Rubio last year (the leftist Guardian puts the figure at $4,950);

That the Second Amendment was intended only to put meat on the table back in frontier days;

That shooting a spray of bullets into a crowd is essentially the source of all our mass-murder incidents, and that well-aimed single shots are not a concern;

That, contradictorily, Britain’s ban of handguns has eliminated school shootings and should be emulated;

That Britain had a rash of such shootings before the ban;

That the machete attacks in Xinjiang province a few days ago which killed at least thirty and wounded over 130… wait a minute… say what?

I could go on.  These, I repeat, were two exceptionally intelligent young men.  You see what’s happened: not that some evil conspiracy has filled young skulls with mush, but that the accidental result of our massive shift to e-communication has bred a generation that hasn’t the patience to double-check dubious assertions and shows an insatiable appetite for prepackaged info-morsels, especially when these latter are soaked in a worldly cynicism sure to make their regurgitation sound “mature”.

For some reason which I’m at a loss to understand, my Facebook page has lately been bombarded with “friend requests” by Nigerians, Arabs, and residents south of our national border.  Am I becoming big in the Third World, I asked myself (skeptically but hopefully)?  Well, if Americans don’t want to listen to me, I’m only too happy to preach elsewhere.  Then this morning the truth (or part of it, at least) came crashing down on me.  Most of my requests come from young people—and most of these are trying to hook up with someone.  No, they’re not interested in my columns; they’re doing what my students do during class—looking for love and adventure.  And in that, too, they are utterly clueless.

My friends, I leave you with this cold gust of grim reality.  Any course we attempt to chart into the future must assume that the youngest generation of voters is held thrall by utter claptrap (e.g., the young libertarian enthusiasm for socialist Bernie Sanders).  If we save them, it will have to be done in spite of their best efforts to destroy us all.  We’ll have to hide the lifeboats somewhere… obviously, not on the Internet.

Orwell Has Arrived

A German woman of a certain age named Mona Maja published an impassioned plea on YouTube last week for her fellow citizens to join her in a peaceful demonstration.  The emotion in her voice was driving words out at a rate I couldn’t quite keep up with—and my German is none too perfect, anyway.  On top of that, she was filming in a suburban back yard, apparently, that admitted frequent streams of background noise.  Yet this much I can assert: there was no incitement to violence whatever in her speech (unless anxiety over the high probability of being spat on, raped, or knifed on the city sidewalk is incitement in the form of a call to self-defense).

Nevertheless, YouTube removed the video after it had attracted about 150,000 views on the grounds that it was “hate speech”.  (The video was republished on Facebook, where it has topped half a million views: we’ll see how long it is allowed to run there.) If your daughter is murdered by a Turkish “refugee” and you organize a march to protest the passivity of the police, then you are a hate-monger and rioter in today’s Western world.  That’s the Orwellian society that is threatening to overtake us on this side of the pond, as well.

Netflix has lately been trying to force down my throat a documentary blaring the praises of feminist ambulance-chaser and courtroom stormtrooper Gloria Allred.  Also salient on the docket of recommended choices are opinion-flicks featuring Michael Moore and Robert Reich about how to repair the capitalist system they so love (hint: it begins with outlawing the profit motive).  Something called Dirty Money keeps trying to run a trailer every time I log on; the series tag promises to reveal how corporations are laundering money for drug cartels and otherwise outbidding Satan for the rule of Hell.

That’s all fine and dandy… but I’m still awaiting the exposé about how Eric Holder’s DOJ covertly ran guns to said cartels in order to get so many innocents slaughtered that the public would cry out for the Second Amendment’s repeal.  (The gambit was partially successful; a dozen kids were murdered with the guns at a birthday party in Juarez, for instance.)  My eagle-eye is still cocked, as well, for the bold new docu-drama that will follow a progressive-utopian Secretary of State as she abandons her personnel to an overseas mob and later sells massive amounts of uranium to a nation whose leadership once vowed to bury us.

Still on the lookout, too, for the first of Dinesh D’Souza’s many documentaries to make the Netflix roll call.  Still waiting for ANY of them to appear.  D’Souza, you may recall, did hard time over an unwitting violation of an obscure law governing political contributions for whose infraction only minor fines had been levied before. Courtesy of that forementioned lion of justice, Eric Holder.

Last month we were told to lament and deplore the repeal of Obama-era codes claiming to enforce “Net neutrality”.  Let’s see: YouTube is closed to any non-progressive point of view, individualist appeal, or inconvenient news flash: Netflix… closed; mainstream television… closed; Facebook and Twitter… as apt to close suddenly as the Symplegades.  But the Internet remains dangerously reflective of actual public opinion.  It’s lopsided.  Views that garner about 15-20 percent approval on a good day do not receive a “fair”, half-and-half manner of exposure.  Yeah, we really need to fix that—to “netfix” it.  And anyone who says otherwise should be indicted for hate crimes and sent away for a couple of years to rethink his position.

Welcome to what we called, in my youth, the Free World.


Teaching Barbarism: The Contemporary University

Shock of the week: my discovery that freshmen (excuse me: “beginning students”) do not know how to analyze a text in terms other than seeing it as audience-manipulation.  I had already ruefully observed, here in the final semester of my career, that I enjoy but a tiny fraction of the academic freedom I used to know. I scarcely get to decide what’s done in my own classroom any longer, as if I were teaching third grade.  I can’t choose my own textbook; the state has mandated that I thrust an online tutorial into my syllabus (full of nanny-nags about intellectual honesty that wouldn’t be necessary if our robotic curriculum taught thinking instead of imitation); and my department tells me that every paper assigned must have a citation page, marginal annotations, etc., etc., even though you’re not going to cite other sources if your topic is to think through an issue for yourself.  We once called that “critical thinking”… and, oh yes, the phrase still holds an honored place among various buzzwords.  We just don’t actually teach it any more.

Instead, students for probably about two decades now (for the lifespan, that is, of my fresh-beings) have been taught to profile the intended audience of any given piece, and to adjust their “rhetorical choices” to that audience.  Sounds damn near the same thing as selling a used car.  And what’s the difference, really?  The capitalist system in general, and advertisers in particular, are universally loathed by academics in my area… and yet, what do we teach our own students?  To pitch their position so as to make it maximally appealing where the “target audience” is likely to be most vulnerable.  Apparently, manipulating people for the prospect of reaping a lucrative material profit is squalid and disgusting—but manipulating them for ideological reasons is a skill that every educated, enlightened person should acquire.  Academe agrees entirely with the “putrid business community” that no such thing as objective truth or absolute value exists; but “those people” deal in dollars, whereas we deal in… ideas!

I’m supposed to be preparing students for writing within their special discipline in upper-division courses, so I have attempted to get them to see why science needs quantifiable data reached by replicable experimentation, whereas any field related to human behavior is allowed to consider anecdotal evidence, surveys, art work, and so forth.  What did I find out?  That an archeologist, for instance, takes aerial photos of an ancient site so that the reader won’t get bored, and that a biologist divides a paper into paradigmatic sections so that readers won’t get lost in a complex discussion.  Everything is a courtesy to the almighty reader; none of it is ever a concession to researching the specific kind of truth reserved for the field’s study.

Well, this is what we’ve taught them; this is how we raised them.  If there’s an idiot in your son’s or daughter’s college yearbook, it isn’t one of the kids.  We’ve taught them to ape thinking—to dress up in the costume of a thinker: we haven’t taught them how to connect and prioritize propositions on the basis of logic, probability, common sense, morality, or anything else.  And indeed, the articles that we ourselves grind out as “scholars” are long with needless citation intended to show the world how dazzlingly erudite we are (known as “ethos” in composition textbooks, after a dull-witted misconstruction of Aristotle).  Our writing is full of obscurantist jargon aimed at the same end—and which, frankly, could well stand to be a little more reader-friendly.  The purpose of “scholarship” in our own lives isn’t to draw closer to the truth; for—to repeat—truth does not exist objectively.  No, our publications are engineered to show how incredibly bright we are.  Always ourselves, front and center.

In an act of reading, the reader is of course front and center.  So, you see, it all holds together: put yourself in the middle of everything you do.  If you need people to read your crap, seduce them into believing that you’re serving them hand and foot.  If you need the masses to gape at your opera magna uncomprehendingly, write gobbledygook.  Whatever it takes.

Any wonder that our society is in its present shape?


There Are No Lines in the Sand During a Sandstorm

I continue to read a lot about the desperate situation in Germany.  Without any specific intent, I’ve blundered into adding both Thilo Sarrazin and Peter Helmes to my daily reading.  The former makes the very strong case that recent waves of (mostly Turkish) “refugees” are doomed to undermine German culture without profiting from the German educational system.  Their own cultural conditioning both denies to women any extended exposure to book-learning and disdains in men any preoccupation with it.  The latter, as a columnist, provides a more “on the ground” view of the decline.  For instance, I read a Helmes piece this past week that described how a courtroom in Mannheim was mobbed by dozens of young “guest workers” (during prime working hours on a weekday) who shouted down witnesses and threatened the testifying victim.  Such scenes are now a fixture in parts of Germany.

Something in me wants to join the chorus of voices insisting that Islam is irredeemable: that the Koran explicitly prescribes violence against infidels, that Muslims have always practiced aggression upon their neighbors, and that the innate human decency in many individual believers is overridden by a cultic conditioning that treats members of rival faiths as sub-human.  Perhaps Kipling was right: “East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.”

At the same time… well, what exactly is the priceless German education system teaching these days?  Helmes has chronicled many a time the ascent of the “Green/Red” coalition to strangle-hold control over public-school curricula.  An initiative to indoctrinate elementary-school children into the “joys of sex”, with heavy brainwash in favor of the notion that gender is entirely fluid, clearly aims at undermining the nuclear family and paving the way for Big Brother to become everybody’s universal daddy.  One has to suppose that Germany’s Muslim community isn’t too happy about this.  If Muslim schoolboys are calling their teachers whores and punching on male instructors… can one say they’re utterly, one-hundred-percent unjustified?  The “teachers”, after all, are doing the work of pimps. Where is the invertebrate Christian community, in any of its denominational forms, during these troubled times that require people of principle to stand up?

You can draw analogies between Germany’s predicament and ours as you see fit.  The parallels are far from precise; Mexico’s Catholic “guest workers”, for instance, are scarcely as alienated from their host nation’s culture as Europe’s “refugee” horde.  The moral meltdown of Western civilization, on the other hand, hasn’t been cooled or stalled by the Atlantic’s waters.  The behavior of tens of thousands of “pink pussyhats” in public spaces last weekend inspired in me a disgust to which no words are adequate, and would simply not have been believed by our grandparents—by mine or yours, no matter who you are.  The epochal moment when human beings consider their genitalia to be the major determinant of their identity has always been a downward-turning indicator for a society’s survival, and no sane adult can suppose that it argues for a strong-willed, independent spirit. The self-governance of a mature will and subjugation to hormones are of two irreconcilable houses.

I honestly don’t know where to turn for truth or support any more, other than within; but as for political parties or religious denominations or educational cohorts… none of it seems to mean anything.  I wrote the other day in a different context that the greatest damage wrought upon us by the 9/11 attacks was what did NOT change the next day… or month, or year.  Our “culture wars” had come to a head as the millennial calendar turned over, and we were poised to “have it out” in some definitive fashion, I think.  Then we were all drawn together as one in defense of “our way of life”… and we failed to notice in time that we no longer shared a way of life.

Now half of us appear passionately to believe that something Donald Trump might have said or might have thought is an imminent threat to Earth’s preserving her orbit and must be punished with fire and sword.  The other half rightly identify the maniacal overreach of CNN/Pelosi-style charges—but respond reactively by embracing any proposition that the Oval Office decides to float on a given day.  I’m not suggesting that the two sides are equivalent.  Lunacy is lunacy, and barbarity is barbarity. You shouldn’t go spitting on your teacher even if she is encouraging your little sister to join “study groups” formed to finger themselves and one another.  Common sense exists, truth and right exist, and manners ought to exist.

We can’t orient ourselves to these morally magnetized polarities, however, if our exclusive attention is paid to those who have steered away from them.  You don’t necessarily put yourself on the right course just by avoiding the zigzags of the drunken pilot beside you.  This “Make America Great Again” stuff… just which America would that be?  The one that has given us Hollywood?  The one whose citizens never read a book because they’re too busy texting and “sexting”?  The one whose book-bred class will not allow Orthodox Jew Ben Shapiro to speak on campus because “he’s a Nazi”?!  Or maybe the one, Mr. Trump, that considers confiscation of private property through Eminent Domain a worthy notion if it “creates jobs”?

I don’t know.  I just don’t know.


The Electronic Thumbs-Down Operates With a Lightning Trigger-Finger

I was shocked to receive notice last week that a book I have self-published through Amazon, Hitting Secrets From Baseball’s Graveyard, has been nominated for the 2018 Larry Ritter Award.  I hardly see how anyone can even have heard of the book, since it wasn’t distributed through a major publisher.  Maybe somebody at the Society for American Baseball Research simply Googled the word “deadball” (since the award goes to the year’s best book about the early twentieth century’s so-called Deadball Era) and came up with a short list.  It would have to be short.  Almost nobody cares about the subject!

Nevertheless, I was riding pretty high for a while… for about six hours, to be exact.  Then I logged onto Amazon to order the volumes that the judges would require—and I found that the first online review had been posted.  A meager two stars.  I had to read the review at that point, even though I scrupulously avoid all reviews when I can.  This one had fallen directly across my path, and I couldn’t suppress a craving to know what had rubbed its author the wrong way.

I still don’t know, honestly.  The post claimed that my title and press release were completely misleading—that the book was only about me and my son, and that it presented us both as brilliant baseball material that should have ended up in the Hall of Fame.  In short, my book was just an exercise in incredibly self-indulgent egotism. Not a word did this caustic critic spare to Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Honus Wagner, Napoleon Lajoie, Sam Crawford, Fred Clarke, Babe Ruth… to any of at least two dozen figures who were analyzed quite minutely in my hundred thousand words.  The thumbnail thumbs-down could only be referenced to three or four chapters in the short introductory section; and even there, I found it almost incoherent.

The first chapters had explained that the inevitable guinea pig in my method was myself, since I could ask no young person successfully playing the game right now to throw all his conditioning out the window and experiment with radically different techniques; and I’d added that a balsa wood plane in a wind tunnel can assist the designing of a Space Shuttle, lest anyone imagine that I considered myself more than a scrap of kindling.  This initial testing on tiny prototypes is standard engineering procedure (unless you’re a Soviet rocket scientist, in which case you just build the whole thing to scale from scratch and see how many bodies rain to earth).

As for my son, he was mentioned only in the context of my arguing how severely hampered young people are by a coaching system that refuses to acknowledge the past and arrogantly assumes (along with the rest of our society) that latest is best.  I was especially irritated that he was tossed onto the target range.  The imputation of egotism to me might have been a simple misreading (I did, after all, refer to “my brilliant career”—a phrase whose irony was cliché in my day, but surely lost to kids who are mystified by the reference in “the emperor’s new clothes”).  To garble the part of the presentation where my son figured, however, began to look like willful distortion to me.  And to think that this person, having skipped about 85% of the book, felt licensed to publish such things before prospective buyers!

Frankly, I don’t know how I got two stars from him.  The final line of his “review” almost seemed faintly penitent… which further leads me to believe that he had a personal axe to grind.

I have suspicions about this person’s identity—and I’m certainly not going to counter-attack, even though his “revenge” may cost me sales, because he may feel that I began the battle by challenging the way he and his buddies play the game.  If my suspicions are correct, I actually feel badly for him, because he’s not getting the deeper message: poor coaching probably cut him off from his potential at least as much as it did my son.

In any case, I’m very used to baseball insiders—and academic insiders, and really every kind of insider—treating honest, curious inquiry with contempt.  “You don’t know what’s going on here, idiot!  Go back to your side of the line.  You have no idea!”  (Professors send the same message in more syllables.)

The broader moral to this tale, it seems to me, has much to do with our electronic age of quick information and hair-trigger eagerness to voice an opinion.  I remember a parting of the ways with Alipac’s William Gheen in spring of 2016 because, in his expert opinion, Heidi Cruz’s having once worked for Goldman Sachs completely disqualified her husband Ted from seeking the presidential nomination.  Same magnification of a virtual irrelevancy; same ready imputation of sordid motives where there was no objective evidence; same cocksureness in the conclusion’s propriety.  Don’t slow down, don’t look deeper.  You know this one’s an egotist, that one’s a narcissist (two very popular words whose street definition simply equates with “jerk”).  You know because you’re worldly-wise, and nobody pulls any wool over YOUR eyes!  “I see what you’re doing there!  I see what you’re up to!  You’re just working your own angle, dude!”

Yes, twenty-first century Mass Man, you are far too bright for me!  Now, why don’t you move on to your next election, your next book, and leave me to stagger about in the dark looking for the audience of yesteryear?


Snotty Ideologues of Film Industry Again Rape American Frontier

If I’m any sort of a critic, I’ll claim to be one of culture rather than film.  The two are not widely separated—yet perhaps too widely, for all that, when irredeemable garbage like the “Danish Western” (you read that right) inscrutably titled The Salvation can be released upon the world.  As has become my wont on Netflix, I fast-forwarded through huge sections after witnessing the sick beginning, pausing only to take in two minutes here and there.  I had to see just where the thing was going, you know: I simply couldn’t believe that the only direction was down.  Boy, was I ever wrong!

Here’s a Wikipedia summation of about two-thirds of this sagebrush saloperie.

The family [a rancher reunited after years with his wife and young son from Denmark] boards a stagecoach bound for their small residence while Peter [the rancher’s sidekick or foreman or… who cares?] stays behind. Their coach is also boarded by two recently released criminals, Paul and Lester. Following a tense struggle, the two criminals throw Jon out of the moving coach after which they rape and kill Jon’s wife. They also kill his son and the stagecoach drivers.

With great effort, Jon catches up to the coach to find his family murdered. Enraged, he kills the two convicts.

Unbeknownst to Jon, Paul is the brother of Henry Delarue, a notorious gang leader and land baron. Upon hearing the news, Delarue kills three innocent citizens of Black Creek, the town that reports the deaths to him. He also forces the townspeople to cooperate and find his brother’s killer.

After burying his wife and son, Jon decides to leave the town with Peter and sells his land to Keane, Black Creek’s mayor and undertaker. Before they can leave, Jon and Peter are captured by the town Sheriff, Mallick. As Jon sits in his cell, Mallick tells him that his death will buy the town more time while he tries to alert higher authorities of Delarue’s actions. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Delarue is working with the Standard Atlantic Oil Company and with the help of Mayor Keane, had been acquiring Black Creek and its surrounding land, which was close to an untapped oil reserve. Delarue’s now widowed sister-in-law, Madelaine, acts as his accountant and suffers sexual and physical abuse from him.

I won’t torment you any longer.  Frankly, what little I could make out of the remaining “plot” was merely more of the same ghoulish blood-fantasy.  I’d utterly missed all the crapola about Standard Oil.  Stagecoaches, long-barreled revolvers… and Standard Oil?  Was the CIA also involved, perchance?

This all pisses me off highly, for several reasons.  First, don’t pretend that you’re making a Western if you can’t play by the chronological rules.  Colts are not AK-47’s.  Stagecoach drivers don’t rumble along obliviously while their passengers rape and murder just under the floorboards.  Frontier towns whose every occupant is equipped with a Winchester do not quake in fear as a half-dozen psychopaths put bullets through the skulls of old women; and as for that, the number of criminals who raped men’s wives, slit their children’s throats, and executed their grandmothers was pretty close to zero in my considerable reading of Western history and first-hand accounts.  Precisely because practically everybody carried a gun, a Charles Manson who sought forcible entry into your house would be sure to meet with a dozen bullets from a dozen directions. I only wish the Manson-in-becoming sixth-grader who composed this script had met with an analogous reception from parents with switches and yardsticks.

Hollywood, of course, doesn’t “get” the fine points of gun ownership.  Europeans, a fortiori, can’t begin to understand the concept of effective self-defense (which is why they’re waiting for us, perhaps, to chase Putin out of Ukraine).  If this moronic video screed were only aimed at the firearm… but my discovering the role of Standard Oil in the sadistic fantasy is a scintillating example of something I’ve written about very recently.  The European intelligentsia, like other cultists of the political Left, knows no bounds—neither those of shame nor of common sense—in the matter of projecting every perversion and atrocity a deranged or over-medicated mind can imagine onto their ideological adversaries.  “Americans?” mulls Danish Filmmaker. “Think big business.  Think brutal, wanton murder.  Think rape and infanticide.”  And the only white hat in the satanic comic strip is a quiet émigré from Denmark!

Jeez, why did we bother helping you guys in 1941?  (Oooh, that’s right–I forgot you were Hitler’s ally.)  And you won’t raise a peep against radical Islam! Who is it nowadays, by the way, that’s requiring young children in public school to finger their pudenda and play sex games before their voices change?  Remind me again… who is the pervert here? On that basis, at least, Islamic fundamentalists and American Christians could agree to throw the EU off the stagecoach.

Yet the “critical response”, according to Wikipedia, was quite positive in general.  Referring to a Web nexus of professional critics, the oracle informs us,

The site’s critical consensus reads, “It’s all but impossible to add anything new or fresh to the traditional Western, but – thanks in no small part to Mads Mikkelson’s [sic] performance – The Salvation comes close.”  On Metacritic the film has a score of 64 out of a 100 based on 19 critics, signifying “generally favorable” reviews.

Look, I get t that historical films are always ultimately about the here and now.  Yet at the same time, you accept certain realistic limitations in selecting a historical period as your context.  Arthurian knights must not greet each other with a hearty, “What up, dawg?”  Al Capone shouldn’t be storing the bodies of victims in a freezer for his dinner.  Nelson’s Victory didn’t fire torpedoes.

From what I’m seeing lately, the film industry throughout the decadent West (and I mean Europe and the U.S.) has developed an obsession with thrusting psychotic attributes onto exotically sick villains said to belong to the past and then having sensitive cosmopolitan types who sport “I’m with her” stickers on their chariot’s bumper or horse’s butt barge in like avenging angels.  This kind of scenario abuses the past in ways that I consider unforgivable and despicable.  At the same time, it sheds no light whatever on the human condition in any age, because its Manichaean moral polarities are childish—“pre-school” childish.  What sickens me most is that I can’t even picture myself, as a creator, imposing some of these obscene, twisted behaviors on history’s true villains.  If I were making a film about Stalin’s unleashing his troops like ravening wolves upon a fallen Berlin now inhabited by no one but women and children, I would still paint some of my lupine characters with a tortured conscience.  After all, in the depths of their depravity, something stubbornly human must have sparked within at least a few of these butchers.

Nope—that’s not how our political adversaries see us.  If we’re not slavering hellhounds, then we’re wimpy pseudo-pious hypocrites. (Did you catch the irony of the mayor-preacher’s being a pimp for Standard Oil?) And they use a grotesque caricature of the American West to give a location to their Hell.  My God, what snotty, overweening arrogance!