Archive for March 8, 2020

Fantasy and Indoctrination: Rough notes on a few fantasy novels: part two

Posted in analysis, anthropology, books, consciousness, elite, empire, empowerment, fascism, Feudalism, freedom, imperialism, neo-feudalism, Orwell, philosophy, police state, political philosophy, propaganda, psychology, reading, religious philosophy, social theory, sociology, spirituality, Uncategorized, war on democracy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2020 by jtoddring

Here are two more fantasy books that I could not get through. That makes three in a row. And to think, I had a love affair with Terry Brookes’ Shannara series!

(I read something like 20 Shannara novels in a row, and loved all of them, other than the last two that I read, which had morphed into fantasy/sci-fi, which was not my taste (do one or the other, but not a hybrid, please); and worse, had taken gruesome, graphic and grotesquely disturbing scenes, to new lows – well beyond anything I care to read. That was The Jerle Shannara trilogy. Yikes.)

The novel described above, in Part One of this review, New Yawn, The Novel, was incredibly boring, as I say, to me at least; and increasingly felt like it was entirely devoted to depicting life in a rich girl’s boarding school. Amazingly boring. And disgusting in its love affair with feudalism, and the infantile grandiosity that comes generally with a love of status and power.

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The book I just put down, at page 5, likely to never pick up again, might be well-loved by many; and maybe a great book – I don’t know. To me, it was just another Harry Potter imitation, like the above book – and again, written for pre-teens. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course – I just happen to be 53. Teenage and pre-teen humour and interests don’t generally interest me.

I can’t say if the book is suitable for pre-teens, or teenage readers, or “young adults”, to use the catch-all term; or whether, like many “young adult” books, it would seem to me akin to feeding rat poison to your 10 year old,12 year old – or 17 year old. The things that children are freely allowed to ingest, both physically and mentally, is pretty appalling to me, in this now highly lackadaisical society.

(We went from overly strict and authoritarian, to letting kids do, read, eat and watch, just about whatever they like, far too often, and in too many ways. Balance is needed. And guidance. And a little more reflectivity and discernment – or a lot.)

All I can say is, it’s not a very engaging read for anyone over the age of 15, from what I can see. (I do wish fantasy novels would be marked as young adult, when that is clearly who they are written for.)

This is the first book of the widely, it seems, acclaimed Spellslinger series. Since puberty passed a few decades ago for me, I’ll pass it up. I do hope others who are younger enjoy it. And I hope it has writing quality, and also content, that are above banal, and definitely above putrid in terms of content or ideology/mythology/values. I couldn’t say anything much about it after just five pages, other than it’s age level was not suitable for me.

The Rage of Dragons? Now there is a book that qualifies as genuinely putrid to me, judging from what I could get through. After 20-some pages, of, again, extremely boring, flat, lifeless writing, that was filled with action, but remained entirely on the surface, and without any depth; and was even worse in terms of content than style, by far; I had to put it aside before my stomach turned.

The book seems like another Harry Potter / Tolkien spinoff/imitation. Not that that would necessarily be bad, if done well; but it wasn’t. The style was entirely flat. Far worse, the mythological/ideological/philosophical content was grotesque.

Tolkien, and his star pupil, Terry Brookes, like CS Lewis, wove tales of magic and adventure that not only entertained, but also had a moral vision. Egotism, greed and hate were depicted as faults to be corrected and overcome, not virtues to be emulated and lauded. Narcissism, vanity, arrogance, self-importance: these were mocked, scorned, or held up as something foolish and childish at best; dangerous and insane at worst. And lust for power, like sadism and malice, was portrayed as simply evil – to be opposed and vanquished, not imitated and esteemed.

Both New Spring and The Rage of Dragons had the values inversed. That makes them ideologically putrid, to my mind. Both books, and especially the latter, seem to me to be morally bankrupt, and poisonously misguiding to any who read them. The love of power is not glorious. It is a deeply dangerous social evil, which poisons the mind of the person who succumbs to it. Both books seem to rejoice in it. The former more subtly; the latter, overtly.

The Rage of Dragons is worse, maybe, because in addition to its unabashed gloating over power, ego, status, and feudal/class/caste relations, it seemed to me to tell the reader that, yes, black people and people of colour can be unabashed, ruthless, brutal imperialists, as well – and isn’t that just lovely! (We now have a gender-inclusive, multi-cultural imperialism. Isn’t that just swell.)

Again, both Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell would roll in their graves. So would Mark Twain, Martin Luther King Jr., and many others of sound mind and great character, who opposed and despised imperialism, in all its forms.

So no, “light reading” is not always neutral, or harmless. Sometimes it is nothing less than mental poison – like the corporate-state “news”.

Just turn it off. Change the channel.

Now, back to Dickens, Dumas, Shakespeare, and Le Guin – where sanity still reigns, and the values are not in the sewer.

JTR,
March 7, 2020

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