- Counter-Currents - https://counter-currents.com -

“Boy Meets Greeks, Boy Loses Asian Chick”
Ryan Andrews’ The Birth of Prudence

TheBirthofPrudence [1]4,358 words

Ryan Andrews
The Birth of Prudence [2]
Vdare.com, 2014 (paperback and Kindle)

“You are a white. The Imperial Wizard. Now, if you don’t think this is logic you can burn me on the fiery cross. This is the logic: You have the choice of spending fifteen years married to a woman, a black woman or a white woman. Fifteen years kissing and hugging and sleeping real close on hot nights. With a black, black woman or a white, white woman. The white woman is Kate Smith. And the black woman is Lena Horne.[1] So you’re not concerned with black or white anymore, are you? You are concerned with how cute or how pretty. Then let’s really get basic and persecute ugly people!” — Lenny Bruce

I do not feel that I would do the author of this slim work an injustice if I stipulate that it is best not to judge it on purely aesthetic grounds. It is clearly intended as a work of agitprop; its publisher, Vdare.com, does much invaluable work raising White racial consciousness and the book is clearly intended to do the same. Whether it will succeed or not on those grounds is to be seen; some in its intended audience may construe its lesson as “racially conscious White guys should resign themselves to lives of virtuous celibacy,” but that would be something of an oversimplification.

So this is not a work to be approached as one would, to choose at random, The Spoils of Poynton, or The Sorrows of Young Werther, or even any of the Greek works the reading of which — or should I say, the non-reading of which, but more of that anon — has such a profoundly tragic consequences on the protagonists.

On aesthetic grounds, however, the author does show himself to have not a little skill, especially for what appears to be a first novel. I take it that his model has not been the Greeks or the Modernists, but the early English novels of the Richardson or Fielding school, in which an author, himself informed by a classical education, takes a lofty view of his puppets, their sentimental antics and their fate, commenting now and then on their doomed shenanigans, at least based on this early passage:

Our day-dreaming hero was hardly a voracious reader. What he saw around him was nothing like what he read about in his mostly 18th and 19th century English novels. The books were so much better; everyone is comely in one way or another, if not beautiful, and passionate lovers and extremely sensitive people feel every turn of life. Much as he felt that, he did not see it, so it was not ordered reality to him, it was a fleeting escape, growing more bittersweet all the time. That life had vanished overnight. And so he scanned his small literature collection; perhaps what he felt, he could now see.

There is something of an epistolary or bricolage approach as well, more in the spirit of Sterne than any postmodernist; thus the author solves the problem of conveying how his main characters, Prudence and Mark, arrived at their current mental orientations by pasting in without comment whole term papers of theirs, and prevents his main drama from being cluttered up with implausible stretches of dialectic by outsourcing the debates to a pair of minor characters in a separate, middle section; rather as if Mann, in The Magic Mountain, had staged one huge debate between Naptha and Settembrini, sandwiched between chapters devoted to the doomed affair of Hans and Clavdia. The reader might miss the subtlety of Mann’s approach, but also the likely failure of a young novelist of ideas taking on more than he can handle.[2]

So, to return to a distinction, first brought to my attention by Edmund White,[3] this is not the kind of Modernist work that requires, and repays, close attention to each word. Still, I found myself annoyed by a couple of stylistic tics that first noticed in Tito Perdue’s recent, well-received Reuben, which I hope will not become features of alt-Right literature.

First, a kind of stutter, amounting to no more than the useless repetition of a redundant pronoun: “Reuben, he . . .”

Repeat, as required. If there’s a name for this rhetorical device — Biblical Hemingway? Faulkner Pseudo-Mythological? — it escapes me, but at least a good ten pages could have been sheared off by eliminating all occurrences of “Reuben, he” or “he, Reuben” and the like from Perdue’s manuscript.

Similarly, there are the word-wasting repetitions and redundancies

“He now had two rooms, rather than half that number.”

“He might catch himself . . . eating every other day instead of the other way around.”

Andrews tends to fall into this, especially when recounting dialogue:

“Yeah, yeah, well I know, but I thought maybe you meant. . . . You know, I didn’t know that you like it, like it.”

“Oh, okay. Yes, yes, I know. I know . . .”

At times, I was reminded of Eric Cartman’s attempts to imitate the little girl from Aliens: “They mostly come at night . . . mostly”

Of course, it could be said that this is the way we talk now, or at least among the college aged youth Andrews is characterizing, but a very little of this goes a long way.

More damaging is another, more dangerous meme: the assimilation of Western culture over a weekend. It’s ironic, since Andrews’ theme is, to an extent, how Western culture can’t just be learned from a reading list, but must, in some sense, be in one’s bones, while on his part Perdue has devoted several books to the education of his protagonist, Lee.

But in Reuben, Lee manages to get his deranged protégé, a rural bumpkin, to assimilate all the best books of the West, per his list and library, in a couple of months. Andrews tries a similar sleight of hand:

During the preceding week, he read all the Greek tragedies and, of course, spent hours captivated by the Greek ideal cast in bronze.

Of course, the bronzes too! I imagine Mark racing around and pausing to stand in front of one such suitably Greek bronze, like Clark Griswold at the Grand Canyon.[4] But really, would anyone at all familiar with the Great Books (itself, a dubious example of miniaturization in the name of American post-War “can-do” spirit)[5] really move a plot forward like this? One begins to suspect those term papers were also welcomed by the author as a bit of padding, and when a whole section of the Bacchae is recited, one’s fears come close to realization.[6]

Before getting to my second caveat, I must provide a bit of a plot summary (I know, finally!)

[The Birth of Prudence tells the story of] 21 year-old, white, working-class Mark Thompson and Prudence Suh, a 21 year-old, Eurocentric, Korean-American,[7] University of Chicago student. Mark, an introvert with a great soul[8] but an average mind, was without an “identity,” perceiving nothing “to fight for,” too restless for action or understanding until being inspired by beautiful Prudence. Prudence, a deeply sincere humanist, decides that Mark is a passionate lover, and thus deserves to be loved passionately.

And so they quickly fall in love, each the great hope of the other. Under her love and guidance, Mark learns about, and comes to admire, classical music and the ancient Greeks, further increasing their love of each other, until the same studies awaken in the boyfriend’s heart a feeling which can only be called white pride.[9]

The key element here is that this is no mere love affair; Prudence is essentially Mark’s muse,[10] as various passages make clear:


She identified him as an especially loving and caring man. . . . More importantly, he was a man of deep feeling. He could be her inspiration, and the best canvas for her talents. [An interesting inversion of the usual Pygmalion theme]

Now with Prudence at his side, she was so beautiful, he could feel much more, and he discerned an emerging clarity, these two reinforcing one another in a virtuous cycle.

She was moving him in the direction of the Good.


He notices that his most exalted, and most sustained, yearning was always for those that looked something like him, for female version of his own form, made more beautiful. “Aristophanes’ idea is in harmony with Socrates.”

The men who built these monuments must have been inspired by beauties like Prudence.


He is a very good and sincere man, I really think. And so what I want is just to help put him on the right path.

Impatient Roommate Ethan:

You love another because you believe that he is the best, and is therefore the one most worthy of care; girl decides that the most sensitive soul is the best, and is therefore the one most worthy of care, girl decides boy is the most sensitive soul, and is therefore the one most worthy of care, girl loves boy.

Then, the Regency Author makes his dramatic reappearance, to prepare us for the denouement; what fates await these randy but presumptuous mortals, at the hands of the amused gods?

We are now back at the point at which we began our observation. Their relationship was then at its apogee. The required background having been provided, let us now discover, as well as appreciate and understand, the fates of these idealistic lovers.

Why, their fates are not very ribald at all![11] Alright, everyone got their powdered wigs to hand? We now find ourselves indeed back at the virtuous social world of Richardson’s Pamela.

Even if the stars aligned perfectly though, even if they could love and fight together, his solutions could never pass one crucial stumbling point.

“My child . . . I want a baby, that is one of the most important things to me, and I can never . . . we can never do that together!”

Although the book opens with our heroes bickering about marriage, I must admit this comes as a sudden development. At this point, I need to refer back to my opening Lenny Bruce quote. Let us, as he says, examine his logic, which I think somewhat resembles Andrews’ as well.

I recently offered this quotation in an online discussion of miscegenation as an example of Judeo-Negroid individualistic sex-mania versus Aryan race-thinking. Two things happened: I misremembered it as involving a desert island, and one reader immediately replied: “An alpha male would take both.”

Both points relate to the rather artificial nature of the choice. Under what circumstances would it be, as William James would say, an option both live and forced?[12]

How would I be “forced” to marry either? An eccentric relative makes it a condition of an inheritance? The Duke Brothers try another experiment in eugenics?[13]

To be forced, we must imagine either a desert island or a “post-apocalyptic” scenario. (Remember when horror movies involved such scenarios, instead of zombies and cannibals?) Really, only the latter is relevant: we imagine the stern White Nationalist demanding that we ensure not merely the survival of the human race, but of the white race.[14] But even so, my interlocutor responds: who cares about marriage beyond Thunderdome? YHVH? Be an alpha male, and take both!

Next, if I say to you: “Choose between going out with your umbrella or without it,” I do not offer you a genuine option, for it is not forced. You can easily avoid it by not going out at all. Similarly, if I say, “Either love me or hate me,” “Either call my theory true or call it false,” your option is avoidable. You may remain indifferent to me, neither loving nor hating, and you may decline to offer any judgment as to my theory. But if I say, “Either accept this truth or go without it,” I put on you a forced option, for there is no standing place outside of the alternative. Every dilemma based on a complete logical disjunction, with no possibility of not choosing, is an option of this forced kind.[15]

The novel under review wants us to assume Mark has a live and forced choice: he can love Western culture, or he can marry and have children with an Asian; his love of the first leads him to realize he cannot have the other as well. The element of tragedy is that it is the “Asian chick” who has fostered this love of his own culture and thus of his own people; the Birth of Tragedy if not of Prudence.

But whether Mark personally decides to have Asian-Caucasian children can’t possibly make any difference to the survival of the White race, even under today’s admittedly dire conditions, any more than his vote, or anyone’s vote, makes a difference in an election. And it’s not as if Mark were a leader of the movement, or in some way a role model; far from it, he’s a barely literate high school grad working as a marble cutter in a Chicago shop run by Lithuanians.[16]

What began and continues through about three-fourths of the book — Mark awakening to the glories of Western culture under the guidance and inspiration of Pru — suddenly jars to a halt. The ending is rushed and false, the characters voices and actions almost hysterical.

If Mark were truly interested in saving his relationship with Prudence, there are more than a few paradigms that he could find in his studies of the Western Tradition, but this wouldn’t suit the author’s pedagogic aim.

Real Traditional societies[17] have solved this problem — accommodating social needs to individual desires — by simply requiring marriage and children from all respectable adults; with all the proper eugenic requirements, too.[18] Once that was taken care of, an adult male was essentially free to do whatever he damn well pleased.[19]

If that seems too blunt, and not relevant to today’s world (in James’ terms, not a “live” option), then why not Chivalry?[20] The ladies love it!

Courtly love was understood by its contemporaries to be love for its own sake, romantic love, true love, physical love, unassociated with property or family . . . focused on another man’s wife, since only such an illicit liaison could have no other aim but love alone. . . . As formulated by chivalry, romance was pictured as extra-marital because love was considered irrelevant to marriage, was indeed discouraged in order not to get in the way of dynastic arrangements.[21]

They seem not unaware of this option; as they visit a museum,

The armor collection excited Mark, and they spent far more time in that room than Prudence would have liked . . . she saw a healthy wonder in her boyfriend’s eyes and so was happy to indulge him. “A chivalrous outlook and moral certitude allowed those men to bear those heavy outfits, far more than a man today might endure.”

Nor am I assuming Prudence has no choice in the matter. Granted, even if women may have had little voice in the matter with say, the Greeks or Hindus,[22] the whole point of chivalry was to earn milady’s favor, and even failure to do so just led one to redouble ones efforts.

If, for her part, Prudence were to demand marriage and children, and cut Mark out of her life if he can’t do it, how does that effect his courtly devotion? And if he does decide to forget marriage, how does that prevent Prudence from continuing to be his Muse? Did Dante abandon Beatrice when she married another, or even after her death?

Obviously the author has made Prudence is Mark’s muse; why on Earth should she be dragged down to the level of some peasant’s wife?

One can only imagine the horse-laugh Diotima would have let out if Socrates had mewled something like Mark’s “I want a baby, that is one of the most important things to me, and I can never . . . we can never do that together!” And look how Socrates treats Alcibiades!

For Socrates, for the courtly lovers, the aim was to “beget in beauty,” to perfect ones soul, to use love as a ladder to perfection, not mere physical reproduction.[23]

A Judeo-Christian-bourgeois problematic has been overlaid on the true Greco-Pagan-Traditional picture;[24] like Pamela, the reader feels it needs a riposte from its own Shamela.[25]

Having already brought The Birth of Prudence up against Perdue’s Reuben, I am struck by another unfortunate similarity: in both works, alt-Right readers are asked to accept a kind of Frankenstein monster as a hero (“our day-dreaming hero”).[26] This, I suggest, is an unfortunate trend, intimating a destructive culture of Hagen-like despair.

Poor Prudence is a kind of Victor Frankenstein, using her considerable knowledge to create a monster that ultimately, self-pitying and awash with “deep feeling” (Greek tragedy this time, rather than Romantic poetry and Werther) and second-hand knowledge, will tear her life apart. Originally incarnating Pygmalion,[27] she winds up as, in Shelley’s subtitle, “The Modern Prometheus.”

One advantage of seeing Birth of Prudence through the lens of Frankenstein is that the ending becomes less random. Mark fades away, like the monster on his iceberg, while as for Prudence,

She found a modest cottage in a remote Swiss village, and settled there, becoming a local tutor. There, her children and her ideas might have a fresh start together.

She might even meet Mary Shelley, and find a home in an intellectual circle closer to her own level than Mark and his idiot pals.

Of course, all this does not affect his basic point — white men should have white children. But it does illustrate the hazards of harnessing literature to propagandistic ends — the aesthetic logic may take you places you don’t want to go, especially if you want to appropriate a pagan heritage to promote Judeo-con nostrums.

As one of Hermann Hesse’s typically oppressed schoolboys sneers, “All this classical stuff is a big fake. If one of us tried to live a little like a Greek he’d be out on his tail.”[28]


[1] If you’re too lazy to google them, think of Kathy Bates and Halle Berry.

[2] If you are looking for an accomplished first novel that takes all the boring dialectic out of The Magic Mountain, consider A. E. Ellis’ The Rack (reviewed here).

[3] See his Introduction to The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oxford World’s Classics Hardcovers), 1999.

[4] National Lampoon’s Vacation [3] (Harold Ramis, 1983).

[5] See Alex Beam’s A Great Idea at the Time: The Rise, Fall, and Curious Afterlife of the Great Books (Public Affairs, 2008).

[6] “Q: Another essay? How many essays are in this darn thing?

A: Just the two. And like I said, they are not very long; suck it up. Besides, I thought you said you were more into politics than literature anyways?” — “Back To School 2014: Ryan Andrews On The Birth of Prudence,” Vdare.com, September 7, 2014, here [4].

[7] I don’t find any indication that Pru Suh is specifically Korean; she’s introduced and referred to later by characters as “that Asian chick” (hence my title). She gets a Korean history book as “a present from [my parents]” but must we assume they are so hide-bound by tradition that they think she should only read about her own people? Perhaps so, and her own indifference is part of her hyper-assimilated character. Or, perhaps, they’re all alike anyway.

[8] I can’t help but think Aristotle would disagree; does Mark “excel in all the virtues”?

[9] “The Birth of Prudence: Identitarian Fiction,” an interview between Alternative Right coeditor Andy Nowicki and author Ryan Andrews, 2 Oct. 2014, here [5].

[10] Not, perhaps, to be confused with Mark Musa, editor and translator of various works of the Italian Renaissance, including both the Divine Comedy and La Vita Nuova.

[11] “Tales of Ribaldry” was a series of sketches starring Jon Lovitz as Regency era dandy Evelyn Quince, presenting supposedly “racy, randy, ribald!” tales, presented initially as “bodice rippers” which, to the host’s clear and vocal dismay, develop into rather straightforward, “not very ribald at all!” sexual encounters between consenting adults.” — Wikipedia [6].

[12] See his “The Will to Believe, An Address to the Philosophical Clubs of Yale and Brown Universities.” Published in the New World, June, 1896.

[13] “Trading Places is a 1983 American comedy film directed by John Landis, starring Dan Akroyd and Eddie Murphy. It tells the story of an upper class commodities broker and a homeless street hustler whose lives cross paths when they are unknowingly made part of an elaborate bet.” — Wikipedia, here [7].

[14] I read a biography of Cioran where a Romanian ethnic nationalist said in the ’30s, about fielding an Olympic team with Transylvanians (apparently, the Negroes of East European athletics; perhaps though I have them reversed?): “It is not enough to win; you must win with your own people.”

[15] James, op. cit.

[16] “Pete: Mr. Cooper, he’s a fraud and a liar. A criminal, even. Cooper: Even if this were true, who cares? This country was built and run by men with worse stories than whatever you’ve imagined here.” Mad Men, Episode 1.12: “Nixon vs. Kennedy.”

[17] For the biological and historical facts, see James Neill, The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies (2009); for Traditional data, see Virtue, Success, Pleasure, and Liberation: The Four Aims of Life in the Tradition of Ancient India by Alain Daniélou (Inner Traditions, 1993).

[18] Something the Christians and Judeo-Cons perversely abhor, leading, as Evola pointed out, to a self-defeating tsunami of the unfit rather than racial survival. Contrary to the author, “to survive and reproduce” is not “the sole goal of all life,” only of animal life. Rather, as he also says when promoting the Greeks, “the goal must be to discover and create an oikos worthy of him.” The dilemma, as we shall soon express it, of overlaying Judeo-Christian values on pagan — that is, human — culture.

[19] Augustus did implement the first “Back to Family Values” campaign, but then as now, it was only a smoke screen to cover up the degeneracy of his own family. See James Neill, The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies (2009), p. 212. Alain Daniélou opined that the Raj was doomed when Britain began allowing wives and families to emigrate, thus destroying the idyllic relationships British functionaries could establish with the natives.

[20] “Greek love [which Plato expounds in the Phaedrus and Symposium] and chivalrous love form two extraordinary and exceptional phases of psychological experience.” — John Addington Symonds: The Dantesque and Platonic Ideals of Love (1893), online here [8].

[21] Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (Random House, 1978; reissued 2011), p. 66.

[22] “[Greek love] did not exclude marriage, nor had it the effect of lowering the position of women in society, since it is notorious that in those Dorian States where the love of comrades became an institution, women received more public honour and enjoyed fuller liberty and power over property than elsewhere.” — Symonds, op. cit.

[23] As Neill documents, in both animals and primitive societies, the Big Man or “alpha male” dominates reproduction; in Traditional societies, rules of caste and other social distinctions would make Mark’s choices even more circumscribed. Ambisexuality has arisen in primates to provide outlets for the other males, thus diffusing conflict and ultimately, in higher human societies, leading to the development of culture (which offers outlets for the heterosexual as well, of course). Andrews has some inkling of this, unconsciously or not. As mentioned, he outsources or off-loads the debates to two roommates and friends of Mark and Pru, comprising an ungainly large middle section. That these characters live together and carry on the intellectual debates while Mark and Pru carry on, albeit badly, their reproductive strategy is . . . interesting. As Andrews introduces them, he mediates on their origins in his Restoration narrator mode. “Both longed, of course, [!] for female companionship, but they could not dedicate themselves to the pursuit of it [the “desire and pursuit of the whole”?] In fact, each avoided the few opportunities that did present themselves, unable and unwilling [?] to rise to the occasion. . . . Were they too reflective to simply take another for themselves? ‘If each is good enough, why would they need each other/’ Such was their classic condition.” I don’t know why all this backstory is here, unless Andrews unconsciously knows his story needs a couple of hors de combat males to fill in the Platonic background.

[24] Which is interesting, as that is essentially what happened historically, when the bourgeoisie appropriated chivalric ideas and applied them to mundane marriage.

[25] “An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews, or simply Shamela, as it is more commonly known, is a satirical novel written by Henry Fielding and first published in April 1741 . . . It is a direct attack on the then-popular novel Pamela by Fielding’s contemporary and rival Samuel Richardson and is . . . a sustained parody of, and direct response to, the stylistic failings and moral hypocrisy that Fielding saw in Richardson’s Pamela. Reading Shamela amounts to re-reading Pamela through a deforming magnifying glass; Richardson’s text is rewritten in a way that reveals its hidden implications, to subvert and desecrate it.” — Wikipedia, here [9].

[26] Reuben is, of course, Frankenstein’s monster: the creature of Lee, the surgical boot, ragged clothes, height and strength, random violence and rage at encountering obstacles, soothed by classical music; like Shelley’s original, massively educated, but not into Romantic sensibility alone; having been introduced to English romantic verse by Leland’s wife, he claims that “Half of him was scientific and the other half Romantic.”

[27] Hence, via Shaw, her disparagement of Shakespeare? Given the tidal wave of revulsion that greeted by essays on Wagner, I felt even more sympathy for Prudence when Mark bridles at her Platonic dismissal of Shakespeare as a lightweight: “Well, it sounded good in theory, but now that I see that you would exclude the bard too, well, I don’t know if it can be so good. But like I said, I should have known.” Prudence might want to take a look at Martin Lings’ Shakespeare in the Light of Sacred Art (1966, various subsequent editions and titles). On the other hand, Bardophobia is not uncommon, from Shaw to Colin Wilson, who described Shakespeare’s “dramatic conflicts” as being as interesting as listening to two drunken queers arguing at a party.

[28] Beneath the Wheel (Picador, 2003), p. 75.