A chronic problem with the arts and politics is that explicitly political art is often not the best art, regardless of the message. Jared Taylor of American Renaissance has noted that novels which are written with the intention of delivering a pro-white message are generally not very good. We see a similar problem in contemporary films, where the obsession with delivering a “woke” message recently created a movie so terrible that it was cancelled after filming was complete.
This does not mean that the right cannot produce good art, however. Pseudonymous writer Lomez has released a book showcasing the winners of last year’s Passage Prize, a contest for dissident writing and art, as well as the work of numerous other contestants who were judged as among the best 2 or 3%. The contest was centered on the theme “escape from the longhouse” — that is, escape from the stultifying egalitarian culture of today, and many previous ages as well. The results are of widely varying style and accessibility, but some pieces express a spirit and aesthetic that should certainly resonate with many readers.
When I received this book in the mail, I was not sure what to expect. The book begins with essays by the contest’s four judges, the last of which is a serious analysis of storytelling in the current year. Zero HP Lovecraft explains why he rejected a story with a feminist and humanist framing, while he accepted one with a plot more similar to the biblical tale of the prodigal son. As he puts it, “the stories that we tell each other teach us how to think about other people . . . about right and wrong,” and the reason many people accept “woke” morality is that they are constantly exposed to a similar morality in stories, from movies to children’s cartoons. To turn things around, we need to tell our own type of story.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the first story I turned to was hilarious. Submitted by someone called “Burt Offering,” the story covers the experience of a man in a presumably near-future dystopia who pretends to be other people for a living. He is not an actor or a porn star, but a surrogate character in other people’s lives.
One client of his is a single woman who hires him to be a father for her daughter. The mother, Yui, is concerned that without a father, her daughter Sarah will suffer from bad influences and end up with a low social credit score. When the 7-year-old Sarah wonders where he has been for so long, he explains that he has been at a business meeting. He provides her with helpful services such as playing a fleeing victim in a school shooting simulator, while she plays the shooter.
Another of his clients is a group of Maoists for whom he plays the victim of a struggle session. Their leader chastises him for not being victimized properly. After they put him in a “poorly constructed” stockade, they have lighthearted selfies taken with him. In true workers’ revolution fashion, many of these people are members of the equestrian club, which like the Communist group itself is run by the local government.
Another client is an old man with dementia in a nursing home, for whom he is playing the grandson. The facility is surrounded by a concrete wall with barbed wire, which ostensibly protects it from attacks by people with such low social credit scores that anyone in their vicinity has their own score lowered. What these people have done to deserve “Undesirable” status is left to the imagination, as is what they want from the nursing home. However, someone — presumably one of the attackers — has left graffiti on the movie screen inside reading “why won’t you do what you know you must?” The people inside apparently have so little interest in this that they continue watching movies without even having the graffiti removed. What did the author mean by this?
Another interesting story is “How Lady Rosamonde and Lady Cariad Assayed Sir Cymrandon and Sir Marrigan,” which the author explains is inspired by the spirited style of “old chivalric romance tales” and is part of an upcoming novel. This is notably different in several ways from modern storytelling, including the extemporaneous style, as if it was dictated in a manic state to someone who would consider it sacrilege to edit it for clarity. Indeed, it is more reminiscent of the Bible, with its run-on sentences, needless repetition, archaic vocabulary such as “meseemeth,” and Chad-like refusal to elaborate in answer to the reader’s expected questions. In detailing the style which he means to emulate, the author, Laurence McFunk, refers to “bizarre internal logic,” recalling a simpler time when stories did not need to make much sense. The work is an interesting example of creativity unconstrained by the typical modern concerns of efficiency or consistency, let alone the complaints of sensitivity readers.
Lady Cariad, who expresses a low opinion of knights despite being married to one, suggests to Lady Rosamonde that they test their husbands’ loyalty. They visit an evil wizard who disguises them as more beautiful ladies, so that they can tempt their husbands to be unfaithful with what the knights believe are strange women. Lady Cariad finds Sir Marrigan in battle with another knight, and after the battle is done explicitly asks him to sleep with her, even reminding him that she knows he is married. Sir Marrigan takes her into the woods where they eat together, but ultimately leads her to a nunnery. Here he denounces her at great length, and commands her to repent and live there for a month and a day, otherwise he will put her in prison. After he leaves, she denounces him in more modest terms, but concedes that he is at least faithful to her:
My husband is a vicious churl, a wrathful peasant bastard, and a foolish, niggling, fool, and a bigoted dastard, an impious tyrant, a belligerent boaster, a filthy libertine, a cruel, rapacious, untrustworthy, ungrateful knave; petulant, unruly, rabbish, caviling, seditious, turbulent, froward, and a reprobate, who hath gotten him some gain through the strength of his hands; but what shall I say of this? For he is true to his lady.
Lady Rosamonde is discovered by Sir Cymrandon in a situation of which it is implied she has arranged it for herself; she is surrounded by ten knights who aim to bring her as a gift to their lord and have their way with her. Her husband attacks and disperses the knights, then asks the lady to give him a quest. She propositions him, but he shows even less interest in this than Sir Marrigan, responding with “Nay, my lady; but you shall give me a quest.” Finding that she has no quest to give, the knight declares that he will return once he has found and completed one. She protests, but he leaves while she is still speaking.
Our hero rides off into the woods, and apparently by divine providence meets three knights who are on a quest. Consisting of Sir Borsalhoof and his companions with the strangely Italian names of Sir Lisettegeriuteamore and Sir Flaviugiumludovicia, the knights seek a sacred relic. During the Last Supper, a crumb of bread fell from the table and was preserved by a pious mouse. Recognizing the meaning of the morsel, the mouse christened it the Holy Crumb and founded an order of mouse knights to protect it, which still persists at the time of the story.
After a long and unnecessarily complicated journey with Sir Trapoleoncus’s inefficient assistance, the knights finally attain the Holy Crumb, which was being kept in a vault by a group of monks. They take it and put it in another vault, to be guarded by another group of monks. There is no mention of any material or spiritual benefit to possessing the Crumb. For this achievement they are hailed as heroes; there is a feast and a tournament in their honor. At this tournament, Sir Trapoleoncus does “great deeds of arms” despite being a mouse.
It is mentioned in passing that the Crumb is now lost again, and perhaps other knights will go questing for it in the future. The story ends with Lady Cariad conceding to Lady Rosamonde that neither of their husbands are unfaithful, but both are “damned fools.” This may be so, but their story conveys none of the foolish current-year morality.
The book is especially impressive in terms of visual aesthetics. The first place prizewinner for visual art, an artist going by the name of Wide Dog, submitted a set of eight pieces entitled Memories of a Golden Future. Two of these seem to be inspired by the late Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico’s Piazza D’Italia, with its strangely empty open plaza. As the art judge notes, this is not crude propaganda; the images make no reference to any of the themes we might expect in dissident condemnation of “clown world” or its architects. The artist has, however, included a blurb explaining his work as showing “a place where nature and beauty are not stamped out and there is open space to build.”
Most of these pieces share the themes of open spaces, female figures, and the color white. All but one of the images feature some kind of tower, contributing to an uplifting effect. True to their umbrella name, the pieces look both traditional and futuristic. There is no clear sign of modern technology depicted, and two of the images include ancient-looking water jugs, while another two figures are holding what could be medieval lutes. One piece looks like a museum exhibit, with a mannequin showcasing the clothing of an unknown culture in front of a photograph of a tower presumably built by people of the same kind. This is not the only image where the figure seems to be a mannequin; perhaps such vague approximations of people are used because the actual people who would fit these fashions do not exist yet. The architecture in these pieces is unfamiliar, and for all we know it could come from far in the future. The whole series gives the impression of great possibilities.
There is a great variety of visual art in this volume, some of it compelling and some of it painfully modern, but the best is from the second-place prizewinner, an artist going by the name of Zach Brown who submitted three paintings. The first piece, Momma Death, depicts a woman wearing a fine cloak and holding her hand out as if beckoning. The shape of the image reminds the viewer of a triptych of religious icons, as if this is someone we should hold in high regard. The fact that she is called “momma” implies that this is someone familiar, who we should trust. But her skin, unlike the rest of the image, is in black and white, as if it has no vitality, and the landscape behind her is barren, as if we would be wrong to follow her if we value our lives. Scapegoat depicts a goat on a fiery background who has been shot by multiple arrows, but that is still moving. As in reality, the scapegoat is a white male.
Brown’s piece Boat Burial depicts the body of a pale white man lying in a floating canoe. Traditionally, some seafaring cultures, including the Vikings, would bury people in boats, and some were even cremated in them. The sky in the background is copper, almost the color of flame, and the boat is jet black, as if it has already been charred. But it has not fallen apart, and the body inside is untouched; perhaps a miracle has occurred.
The man is wrapped in a shroud that does not resemble any familiar textile. Instead, it seems to be a set of unadorned lines, like the contours used to show elevation on a topographical map. The cover of the Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures, a plot of radio signals from a pulsar, also comes to mind, and both put it outside the realm of traditional illustration. Some of this fabric extends over the edge of the boat under the surface of the water, where its shape brings to mind a common meme. The image of an iceberg, the vast majority of which is underwater, is often used, with text superimposed to make the point that there is much more to a phenomenon than initially meets the eye. Perhaps here, what can be seen above the waterline – namely, that the white man is dead — is only a fraction of the story; there is more life in him, or in his descendants, than meets the eye. This is further implied by the similarity to another work of his entitled Lazarus, which shows a white man’s corpse in a similar position.
Contestants for the non-fiction category were asked to “avoid the usual fare of political/philosophical/social commentary that is so prominent elsewhere,” but they did not entirely avoid familiar topics; one prizewinner covered the negative effects of chronic marijuana consumption, while another dealt with the loss of his town’s traditional identity through immigration. One unexpected subject was another death-themed piece, specifically about the killing of livestock. A writer going by the name of Travis J. I. Corcoran has personal experience raising and slaughtering animals which he covers in an essay entitled “I Will Not Eat the Bug.”
Most people eat meat today, but most would be revolted by the details presented here regarding where it comes from. Corcoran writes that modern society is disconnected not only from animals and how they are turned into food, but from death itself. It may seem good that people have the luxury of not thinking about something so disturbing for much of their lives, but he attributes this disconnect to a broader denial of reality. Death is a reminder that we do not have infinite choices; there are limits, and our decisions can have permanent consequences. In this era, where some see every human limit as a challenge to be overcome or simply denied, such personal experience of death is something of a red pill. He also explains that being personally responsible for the death of animals motivates him to provide them with the best lives possible, and to not waste any part of them.
I must admit that I generally do not appreciate poems; perhaps I do not have the mind for anything as abstract as modern poetry, and I doubt I am alone in this. There are still a few pieces here which are more accessible, however. One is based on the Emma Lazarus poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty which is known for the phrase “give me your tired, your poor” and calls for the United States to be a landfill for the world’s “wretched refuse.” This piece, entitled “Fuck Off Emma,” presents an alternative view of the type of citizens our country should desire:
Give me your great, your wise,
Your talented, yearning to freely shout
Eternal truths that hide in noble lies.
Send bold creators, spirit filled, throughout,
I shine my light across the Gotham skies!
Another poem was submitted by Weihan Zhang, the now-banned pseudonymous Twitter user who posted as an English-impaired Chinese man wisely commenting on race and ethics. The poem, written in a similar style, deserves to be reproduced here in full:
I am not allow
Child species incorrect
Bring ancestor sorrow
Friend, please be respect
I am not allow
Ugly tattoo girl obesity
Respect honor tradition
Not are wrong species
I am not allow
BN criminality behave
I am advise caution
Until am advise safe
I am not allow
Study less eighteen hour day
Solve differential equation
Work hard study alway
Here, Weihan denounces the blurring of genetic lines (Child species incorrect/ Bring ancestor sorrow/), bad aesthetics, crime, and idleness. He speaks for many when he does so, and should not be grammar-shamed for this. I hope to live to see the day when, rather than a call for mass immigration, this type of good sense is placed on the pedestals of our statues.
Passage Prize, Volume 1 can be pre-ordered here. The next round of the Passage Prize is now open for submissions. Visual art, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction can be entered here for a chance to win up to $1,500, and more importantly a chance to contribute to a healthy new culture for our people.
* * *
Like all journals of dissident ideas, Counter-Currents depends on the support of readers like you. Help us compete with the censors of the Left and the violent accelerationists of the Right with a donation today. (The easiest way to help is with an e-check donation. All you need is your checkbook.)
For other ways to donate, click here.