Friday, July 09, 2010

Manliness-ness, the sequel

This is interesting:

What if your million copy-plus bestselling inspirational book calling on men to act more manly, aggressive, even violent became a key source of inspiration for a ruthless cultic Christian paramilitary fundamentalist crime syndicate that controls most of the Crystal Meth traffic in the US and is fond of tossing severed heads into Mexican discos ?
The awkward confrontation between a religious conservative's celebration of a more aggressive manliness and the actual horror of real aggressive manliness reminded me of something I wrote back in the early days of this humble blog, in which I concluded:

Those who do long for a return of the 'real man' should be careful what they wish for.
The rest.

As an addendum, those interested in the reality of more traditional male violence cultures in the US should check out Randolph Roth's recent book American Homicide (UK/US). I'm going to be commenting on the book at a panel at a conference in Chicago in November. It's thoroughly compelling.

(via Blood and Treasure)


cohu said...

I have this masochist thing where I read books which I know will be really really unberably terrible (ideologically and/or stylistically). Some weeks ago, I finished Atlas Shrugged. It was a once-in-a-lifetime cathartic experience. I'm looking for my next unbearable book now. Would you recommend Mansfield's Manliness, or should I rather read Left Behind? Both sound enticing. Any other recommendations?

John Carter Wood said...

I tried to read Atlas Shrugged last year. I ran out of steam on about page 350 or so. They were still building this stupid fucking railroad, and I think I'd just read the second (or was it third?) cringe-inducing sex scene between Dagny and Hank.

There is part of me (perhaps a part that I want to keep firmly locked in the subconscious cage) that appreciates the epic, deranged majesty of Ayn Rand's fiction; on the other hand, I'm just not masochistic enough to endure that much juvenile self-indulgence and obvious psychological disturbance masquerading as serious philosophy.

So, you have my respect for slogging your way through.

I would say that Mansfield's book probably has enough gestures toward sanity to make it merely mildly appalling.

It occurs to me that you have, in some way, caused a problem for yourself: having already read what is probably the pinnacle of awfulness (and in this case both ideologically and stylistically), anything else is going to be a letdown.

Though the Left Behind books might just be the thing. I've never read them, but a friend of ours (and sometime reader of this blog) gave a fascinating talk on them a couple of years ago that I saw. Even just the excerpts he offered were excruciating.

I think that would be my 'recommendation'.

But the risks you take to your sanity are your own.

cohu said...

Ok, I think I'll try Left Behind this summer. Strangely enough, Atlas Shrugged hasn't even been the "pinnacle of awfulness" in my experiment so far - that place definitely goes to Twilight (which I thought would be at least OK, if trashy). Words can't describe how much I hated that book. Dagny Taggart should meet Bella Swan some day, and slap some sense into her. I'd like to read about that.