Roger Blackstone: The Politics of Aesthetics

Blackstone speaks as if he were a god, “I’m Roger Blackstone. I have dedicated my life to advancing civilization and furthering human progress, from finding cures to deadly illnesses, to radical life extension, to building utopian cities. Imagine a world where you can get on a fast train in Miami and be in New York City in 30 minutes. Imagine an end to aging and illness. I have the power to re-write the human genome and end all human suffering. Imagine an end to all ecological degradation, preventing utter ecological catastrophe. I have the solutions to end our petroleum based economy, implementing high speed railway and monorail networks; vertical farms and renewable energy from unknown energy sources. I will help rebuild our suburban wastelands into magnificent walkable communities, accessible to mass transit and parklands; but most importantly true freedom. The freedom to live in the utopia you desire, whether it is a vertical garden-city, a neon-lit retro wonderland, or a European-style village. I’ve actually built these things and understand that true freedom will only occur when people can live in their very own utopia.” Noam’s mom scoffs, “Sounds like just another one of his commercials for his real estate developments, rather than an appeal from a public statesman. He wants to turn all of America into one giant theme park. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about ecology.” Blackstone continues, “Imagine no work! Robots will do all the work, and there will be a guaranteed basic income. People will no longer be slaves to dead end jobs and will be free to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential. Imagine no ugliness! I will offer economic incentives for the most attractive women to have multiple offspring and implement an immigration policy limited to only the most attractive women; the best looking European models and economic incentives for all young blonde Israeli women to immigrate to avoid military conscription. I will further human enlightenment with the legalization of LSD and DMT. I will fix our broken economy with a repudiation of all debt, home mortgages, and student loans, and an end to all interest with nationalization of the banks. Vote for me. I will make your dreams come true!” Noam’s mom interrupts, “Faux populist fascist pig! His gaudy casinos prey on the working class, his tastes are stuck in the 80s, he objectifies women, and he has done nothing to empower women and minorities! His father Alistair wrote this bizarre creepy fascist manifesto advocating for the aristocracy to enslave the proletariat, and I know Roger is influenced by that fascist shit.”

The following is a brief set of observations on Roger and Alistair Blackstone’s political agendas in Robert Stark’s novel Journey to Vapor Island. There is also an episode of the Stark Truth that covers much of the content here.

On Alistair Blackstone’s manifesto:

“Those who were born to serve.” – bears some resemblance to notions of a natural aristocracy, see: Ralph Waldo Emerson, HL Mencken. Also, this is what Marx would have called the lumpenproletariat, and the “petite bourgeois” is actually a name that some Marxists gave to the distributist movement, but at the same time there’s some evidence that Alistair is sympathetic to distributive economic philosophies, because capitalism has this negative effect or this stultifying effect on the creative class. Later on the term “aristocratic radicalism” pops up, which I think is used to describe Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy, but I don’t think Nietzsche himself came up with it.

“An immigration policy limited to only the most attractive women.” This makes humans, rather than just art and architecture, the subject of aesthetic concern.

“Conformist masses.” This is part of the idea (espoused by Crowley and others) that society is made up of loners (non-conformists) and “the herd” (conformists). Some would suggest, as per aristocratic radicalism (or Crowley’s term, “aristocratic communism”) that society ought to be geared towards empowering and emboldening those people who are naturally non-conformists, artists and intellectuals and so on, and maybe creating some more of them.

“Garden paradise.” – Environmentalism?

“A new priest class descended from a lost ancient civilization shall decide who is fit to rule.” This reminded me, although I suspect it is probably unintentional, of Roman myths about the founding of their city, i.e. there was the notion that the patrician elite were descended from the officials originally appointed by Romulus. It makes sense that this would be a concern given the references later in the book to Roman sexual mores and aesthetics.

On Roger Blackstone’s Politics:

“Advancing civilization and furthering human progress.” This implies a rejection of the NRx reading of history (inverted Whig view of history) and assumes, contra NRx, that some forms of progress are actually meaningful.

“I have the power to re-write the human genome and end all human suffering.” Reminded me of recent developments in genetics, how one could completely re-engineer the human genome to enhance human potential, etc.

“European-style village.” New urbanism and the necessity of creating aesthetically pleasant living spaces. Also possibly reflects a kind of implicit racialism since European architecture is treated as superior or at least as the default.

“Live in their very own utopia.” Relates to the idea of simple libertarianism just not being enough and how we need people to create intentional communities for every possible group both racial/ethnic and ideological.

“LSD and DMT.” Could be related to the book The Chemical Muse about the prevalence of drugs (especially entheogens) in premodern societies, e.g. Graeco-Roman societies, the importance of drug use to a lot of artists and anticonformists, etc.

Governor Breck Reconsidered

The original Planet of the Apes sequels may have had lower budgets and far fetched premises (even moreso than the first installment) but they became more imaginative and at times the line between hero and villain became somewhat blurred, leaving speciest (human) audiences conflicted about whom to root for. One example of this is Dr. Otto Hasslein, the villain (or is he?) from Escape From the Planet of the Apes who reluctantly sets out to kill Cornelius and Zira, when he realizes doing so may prevent intelligent apes from overtaking humanity in the far future. However, I will deal with the subject of Hasslein another day. Instead, I want to focus on the archetypal fascist character, Governor Breck, from the 4th installment of the series, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972).

Governor Breck is the authoritarian leader of Central City, a futuristic totalitarian city featuring some aesthetic uniforms and awesome 1960s brutalist architecture (the film was shot in Century City in Los Angeles.) Breck is the main antagonist of the film and is mostly depicted as a rather cruel villain. Yet while he seemingly rules with an iron fist, it becomes easier for the human viewer to empathize with Breck’s methods and actions over the course of film, as events unfold and the apes revolt, rioting and burning the city to the ground. While the audience is sympathetic to the plight of Caesar (the protagonist ape and surviving child of Zira and Cornelius in the previous film) in the first half of the movie, one begins to understand the motivations of Breck toward the end of the film. Having been warned at some previous time about the possible future where apes rule over humans, Breck realizes the existential threat the apes pose to human civilization if they are allowed to become dominant, and therefore his actions seem less harsh within the context of what he is trying to prevent. While Breck is largely presented as a kind of cold hearted, fascist strawman….near the end of the film, when he is captured by Caesar and the apes, he gives a brief, yet powerfully humanizing speech:

“Because your kind were once our ancestors. Man was born of the ape. There’s still an ape curled up inside of every man, the beast that must be whipped into submission, the savage that has to be shackled in chains. You are that beast, Caesar. You taint us. You…you poison our guts. When we hate you, we’re hating the dark side of ourselves.” – Governor Breck

These unexpectedly cogent remarks serve as an important insight into our “hateful” attitudes towards those we dislike or deem to be uncivilized. It requires a great degree of self control, emotional discipline and empathy for humans to moderate ourselves and keep our base impulses in check. Yet this is required to sustain and build upon our civilization. Each of us maintains some variable capacity to behave bestial and savage-like. So when we observe people that lack impulse control, are prone to random violence and seem unable to behave civilized in a public setting, it registers with us a visceral disgust. We recognize these tendencies within ourselves as the savage genies we successfully manage to keep bottled up everyday, “genies” we’ve gone great lengths to resist unleashing upon our fellow man (as well as our furry little friends.) Those individuals or groups we observe as failing to control these negative impulses, we see as the physical manifestations of our own primal desires and the violent thoughts we don’t dare act upon, the manifestations of such that need to be dutifully kept in check by any means necessary, in order for the civilization we love and ultimately our species to survive.

Robert Stark Talks to Ashley Messinger About Retro Futurism ( Part II)

Robert Stark and co-host Brandon Adamson talk to returning guest Ashley Messinger. Ashley is based in the UK and writes for Brandon’s AltLeft.com. You can also find Ashley on Twitter.

Interview can be found here.

Topics Include:

A continuation on the topic of a “Redpilled” SWPL culture and it’s viability
The implicit Whiteness of progressive causes such as Environmentalism, Effective Altruism, and Transhumanism
The importance of being technologically advanced in contrast to gun culture and “Becoming a Barbarian”
Creating City States based on shared interest
Biopunk, Biomorphism, and vertical gardens
Brandon’s interest in 70’s Retro Futurism (ex. Logan’s Run)
Steampunk, Urban fantasy literature, and the technology of Victorian England
Decopunk; the film Dark City
The lack of vision in new architecture and urbanism
Roman Archeo Futurism
80’s Retro-Futurism, Cyberpunk, and Fashwave
The Bearer of “Trad” News
Hip to the Moon: Brandon Adamson Drops Out to Conquer the Stars
Robert’s Journey to Vapor Island; Roger Blackstone’s “Neon Nationalism”
The Man in the High Castle series; the alternative society portrayed and the Retro-Futuristic architecture
Whether Fascism was anti-modern or about creating an alternative modernity
Ashley’s review of the film Call Me by Your Name
Age of Consent Laws
The film The Crush Starring Alicia Silverstone

Compare and Contrast

New EP out, Compare and Contrast. Well actually, it’s been out for a little while. It’s a folkish EP / mini album of organ-based, minimalist pop songs, featuring unassuming vocals and a retro, lo-fi sound. It is reminiscent of 90’s and early 00’s indie pop. One critic described the EP as containing “songs that sound like they belong in a Hammer film.” It’s available for purchase almost anywhere for only a few bucks.

Available on iTunes:
Brandon Adamson – Compare and Contrast

Bandcamp: Here

A Cornflower By Any Other Name

Call Me by Your Name is a 2017 film about a transient ephebophilic romantic entanglement between two diasporic Jews living in “northern Italy” (not otherwise specified) in the 1980s with a shared interest in European high culture and in the fact that they are both Jews. It is the type of premise that makes a typical person of These Circles™ apoplectic, and one could almost say that it was that, combined with simple curiosity, that made me watch it.

I am continually amazed by how many people flippantly throw about the term “paedophilia”. I recall Ryan Faulk remarking once that the word “racist” is useless because to brand someone with it tells one nothing about what he believes; it is used only to manipulate. Ditto here, it seems, when the younger person in the relationship is 17, which is fully four years removed from what clinicians would define as paedophilic territory. Equally amazing is how many people are saying, “But the age of consent in Italy is 14,” as if that even matters. Would this become a “paedophile movie” to these people if Italy’s age of consent were 18 in 1983?

Why Italy was chosen is indeed interesting (much of this may apply to the source material as much as the film) and segues into several other curious choices made in the film about what to show explicitly, implicitly, or not at all. Debates rage on whether Italy or Germany deserves to be called the heart of European civilisation, but it should be borne in mind that both are young countries, and the region of Italy in which the film is set was part of the same political entity as what is now called Germany for a significant chunk of its history. The two protagonists – Oliver (the man) and Elio (the teenager) – roundaboutly evoke these themes in a dialogue about classical composers, eg Bach (a German) and Busoni (an Italian).

If one draws a line, roughly, under Bologna, everything above is unambiguously white. Everything below is white too, but it is palpably not the same. Northern Italy is also the least Jewish part of the country, as Elio notes quite early on, to which Oliver says that he is from New England and is “used to being the odd Jew out.” Elio is plainly uncomfortable with his identity, which is one of the things that cause friction between the two at first. Oliver, though, is overbearingly confident and looks like a figure from a 50s film noir poster, just at the time America’s Anglo elite had begun its steady decline. One could easily believe that he was indeed a New Englander, and he spends most of his life absorbed in European cultural artefacts, but internally he cannot bring himself to abandon his apartness, his selectness, his (I dare say) chosenness. He also has five-pointed stars on his trainers, on which the camera at one point lingers for a few seconds – as if this were connected to the Star of David he wears on a discreet necklace. It is not, though. It really only puts one in mind, again, of old films, and of that place which is home to all things formless, superficial, and vacuous.

Elio is attracted to these qualities in Oliver, but when he tries imitating Oliver’s behaviour, wearing a Star of David round his own neck, it comes across as strange and hollow. His mother would apparently disapprove of it, because his family are “Jews of discretion”, but she never comments on it, which makes one wonder what was the point of even mentioning it in the first place.

Elio’s family, naturally, are odd. He sounds American. His mother and father sound English and American respectively, but it is still not clear. All of them speak at least four European languages, and they live in a bucolic Italian paradise, but it is apparently only one of their houses (do they have one for every season of the year?). They act almost as a mosaic arrangement of the clichés of European Jewry; deracination, neuroticism, feigning detachment from things.

Elio’s father, “Mr Perlman”, is an archaeologist, so the film is replete with discussion about classical antiquity, particularly their aesthetics. However, despite taking place in Italy, most of the names I remember hearing were Greek, which I found interesting because Greece had few settlements in that part of Italy – the northernmost outpost of Magna Graecia was at Adria, but it was very much an outlier. Mr Perlman waxes lyrical a few times in the film, the first time when he is showing Oliver a slideshow of classical statues and saying that they look as if they are “daring you to desire them”, at which Oliver gives a quizzical look. This comes on the heels of escalating tension between him and Elio – and afterward, his inhibitions seem to diminish. That is the explicit link to Hellenic pederasty. The implicit one is by far more interesting. Although both actors (Armie Hammer and Timothee Chalamet) are adult men, they could not have found two men who were more physically different. Hammer is above the 99th percentile in US male height and nearly as fetching as the Greek statues, whereas Chalamet is glabrous and gangling. Elio is at an ephebe’s age, more or less (he is played by Chalamet). He is cultured but rather unworldly and naive – and by the end of the film (like an eromenos, one is tempted to imagine), when he is inconsolably broken-hearted, one finally sees a change in his demeanour. By then he has come to terms with himself in multiple ways, not just with his incipient sexuality.

Neither one of these characters is straightforwardly gay; Elio has a girlfriend for the second half of the film with whom he copulates, and Oliver eventually ends up getting married. It is better this way, I think. If they were gay then their relationship would be that much less remarkable, since it would be the default for them both to be attracted to members of their own sex anyway. Since this is not the case, attention is drawn not to the same-sex nature of their attraction, but to everything else about them – their erudition, Oliver’s strange obsessiveness, etc. Oliver’s doctoral thesis, the reason he is staying with Elio’s family, remains a mystery except for the fact that he is assisting Elio’s father in some way, but that is never really explained either, and there are probably a load more things like that that I have missed. The performances of the two lead actors, who eat up >90% of the screen time, are among the most “real” I have ever seen in a film, and I do not recall any scenes that you would have to be gay to enjoy. There is also not a single histrionic outburst from anyone in the entire film about Elio and Oliver’s relationship, which stops it from falling into familiar(ly tedious and clichéd) territory, and Oliver even seems to remark on this towards the end when he says something to the effect of, “You are so lucky. My father would have had me carted off to a correctional facility.” In fact, the extent to which their relationship is even mentioned explicitly by any of the other characters is very limited even at the end.

So it’s worth watching, I think. But if you are the sort who would be put off by Robert Stark’s novel, this is probably not for you either.

5 Rad Christmas Jams

1. The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping

I used to always hear this song in department stores and never realized who sang it, though I recognized the singer’s voice as being similar to the girl who sang the “I Know What Boys Like” song, (which I hated and would instantly flee the dance floor when it would be played at mid 00’s hipster DJ nights.) Well, turns out it is the same singer and band, and I just couldn’t compute that a band that played a song I despised so much could have created one that is an absolute masterpiece. Christmas Wrapping is an amazing song, maybe the best Christmas song ever. Patty Donahue unfortunately died at a young age (only 40.) RIP

2. Taylor Swift – Last Christmas

I know I know, but seriously I prefer this version to the Wham! version. This song is just better with a female voice and preferably one that doesn’t morph it into some kind of excessive adlib R&B monstrosity with all kinds of extra eeee’s and aaaaaah’s (like what is commonly done to the national anthem when singers get unnecessarily creative.) Anyway, the first time I really began to appreciate this song was in 2012. I was in Las Vegas alone and miserable on Christmas that year in what I look back on as my favorite vacation of my life, and there was a band on Fremont St called “Candy and the Canes” which was playing this song in the Taylor Swift style. Now whenever I hear it, it takes me back.

3. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Christmas All Over Again

Admittedly, I have never been much of a Tom Petty fan. His songs typically remind me of a really horrible era in the early 90’s where kids in my class would randomly belt out lyrics to Free Fallin’ in phony southern accents. It was a dark time period. Christmas All Over Again on the other hand conjurs up an entirely different memory. In the winter of 1996, I was living on my own in Phoenix, coming into my (now long gone) prime as a young man. This song would play in a jam packed, Paradise Valley mall (now almost literally a shadow of its former self.) Melrose place reruns aired daily on the E! Channel, and most of the people in my family were still alive back then. What an exciting time it was. Also, RIP Tom Petty.

4. Captain Sensible – One Christmas Catalogue

Not much to say about this one. Another department store classic. I don’t have any personal anecdote that colors my perception of this song. It is just a really great song, and just has that “1980’s lost in thought on a drive in the middle of the night through the city” feel to it. If you know, then you know.

5. Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters – Mele Kalikimaka

Of course, this song always reminds me of the diving board scene in Christmas Vacation. That is reason to like it in and of itself. It’s also one of those songs where everyone butchers the lyrics and just mumbles something random at the “mele kalikimaka” part. What most people don’t realize though, is that this is a great tune to repeatedly sing when you want to annoy your girlfriend (perhaps second only to pretty much any song by Edd “Kookie” Byrnes.) I only say the main part correctly about 3% of the time, but she rolls her eyes, and pleads for me to stop (in an exasperated tone) no matter what kind of gibberish I try to pass off as the chorus.

Brandon Adamson is the author of Beatnik Fascism