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.

Blood, Soil and Food Courts

metro_center_70s
MetroCenter Mall, Phoenix Arizona, 1970s

People often take it for granted that no one in cities like Phoenix could feel any connection to the local buildings because many of them are so recently constructed and thought to be from times when buildings had little to no spiritual or architectural significance other than for utilitarian commercial use or cookie cutter, tract housing.

“Would you fight and die for North Park Mall?” Richard Spencer asked jokingly (referring to a Dallas, TX shopping center that was presumably near an area where he grew up) during a recent Millennial Woes podcast titled, “The End of America.”

Well no..I wouldn’t, but mostly because I’m not from Dallas. However, I would fight and die for Paradise Valley Mall in Phoenix, not because I’m some kind of libertarian zealot or free market fanaticist (if anything I’m closer to a crypto-communist) but because the building and surrounding area was an integral part of my childhood and teenage experience. Admittedly, I grew up around the eastern side of town. Other 80’s kids on the west side would have spent their youth cavorting around iconic Metro Center mall (one of the film locations of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.) MetroCenter was the vastly superior establishment before it became overwhelmed with nonwhite gangsters and wiggers in the early to mid 90’s and was too ghetto for civilized people to hang out at.)

Believe it or not and disturbing as it may seem, people who grow up here actually do feel connected to many of these local landmarks. They’re a part of our identity and culture. Humans are territorial creatures of habit, often becoming attached to familiar haunts, no matter how superficially or artificially contrived those habitats are. It isn’t the mindless consumerism of these old malls that people identify with, but their place in our hearts as social and community hubs. I have more aesthetic affinity for a 1970’s futurist Phoenix mall or swanky mid century modern dwelling than I do for any of the 17th century churches or old office buildings in the northeastern US. Those particular eras and places do nothing for me compared to the unfulfilled space age promise of mid-century modernism, and I’m not the only one, as there are a great many advocates here who attempt to preserve structures that many outsiders would reflexively deem significant.

Robert Fairburn, Architect of MetroCenter Mall
Robert Fairburn, Architect of MetroCenter Mall

Whether it was The Wanderers or Monster Kody, street gangs have always fought over what outsiders no doubt perceived to be worthless territory, in the trivialest of turf wars. Would you fight for your home? What about your neighborhood? What about your home away from home?

Some self-proclaimed photographer “activists” have managed to convince themselves that the “death of malls” signifies some kind of broader decline of American capitalism, but the reality is that these malls were simply devoured by the very machine mechanisms of capitalism that helped spawn them in the first place. They’re in fact being replaced with an even more atomized form of capitalism, consisting of online shopping and big box stores, with “social media communities” and phone app browsing replacing local shopping and social communities, taking depersonalization to a new level entirely. Instead of gloating over an illusory victory, leftists should be preserving and re-purposing these malls into the futuristic communal living and socialization centers they were originally envisioned as. You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

metro-center2

Like Spencer, I don’t have any real attachment to the abstract values which comprise the contrived, constitutional “American” identity that conservatives fetishize and deify. And no, I probably wouldn’t actually fight and die for these local Phoenix malls, but only because they’re already ruined or nearly demolished. Much of this area is already overrun, and it’s too late. Some areas sadly have to be written off, because we just don’t have the numbers. Yet by necessity, the un-luxurious of us that remain (outnumbered) are compelled to gravitate toward a more biological identity, preserve the collective desire and genetic foundation that offers the greatest probability of creating the types of societies we wish to live in, somewhere. We’ll make a stand there. See you at the Orange Julius, Caesar!