Zeroed in Review: “Awake in the Night”

Lest one think I’m being unfair to Wright, here is my review of “Awake in the Night”, the first novella in the collection.

I have read Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I have read Lewis’s Narnia series. And, for one story, John C. Wright stood up to Tolkien and Lewis and looked at them, not as one looks upon the faces of giants, but as one looks on the faces of equals.

“Awake in the Night” is that good. It is Tolkien level.

Certain passages in the story have the air of being divinely inspired. How can I pick just one passage? Here is the final passage in the story, if you’ll excuse the spoiler (skip the blockquote if it bothers you):

Here, on the panel carven long ago by Hellenore in a former time, was a small depiction of one small event of what, to her, had been the future, now our present. Here was a man without a breastplate or helm, wearing only gauntlets and greaves, carrying a one-armed man on his back; a blindfold (but I knew now it was a bandage) covered his eyes.
The image showed a star shining down on them, and the gates of the Last Redoubt opening to receive them. Only one pair of footprints led in.

One feels almost like standing up and applauding. It is impossible to come up with a more perfect ending.

Or perhaps this section:

That the Night had power to quench the stars was too dread to believe; but that the stars should have the grace to push aside the smog and filth of the earth, and allow one small man one last glimpse of something high and beautiful, was too wondrous to hope.
I cannot tell you how I knew it was a star, and not the eye of some beast leaning down from a cliff impossibly high above, or some enigmatic torch of the Night World suspended and weightless in the upper air, bent on strange and dreadful business.
And yet more than my eye was touched by the silvery ray that descended from that elfin light; I saw it was diamond in heaven, indeed, but somehow also a flame and a burning ball of gas, immensely far away; and how such a thing could have a mind, and be aware of me, and turn and look at me, and come to my aid in my hour of need, I cannot tell you, for diamonds and flames and balls of gas do not have souls; but neither can I tell you how a hill, shaped like unto a grisly inhuman thing, could sit and watch the Last Redoubt of Man, without stirring and flinching for a million years. Is the one more unlikely than the other?
I felt strength burning in me, human strength, and I raised my head.

And there are more, but I don’t want to spoil all of it. You should read it.

Some writers can write poetry. Some can write of the divine. In “Awake in the Night”, John C. Wright wrote poetry touched by the divine. Honor and friendship, love and sacrifice, death and hope beyond reason, all is here, and all is beautifully told, with a command of language rarely seen. This is, ultimately, what it means to master writing: The ability to say important things but with great beauty.

For this one novella, John C. Wright did not follow the footsteps of giants. He became a giant himself.

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How Homosexuality Dilutes True Friendship

From this great article by Life Site News:

It is clear that love between two people of the same sex can be profound and deep—this is established in literature and history. But, incongruously, these friendships are now taken as evidence of homosexuality.

In The Last Battle, Lewis says that mixing truth with a lie makes the lie much stronger. People point to the truth of friendship—and the very real love that’s found there—and say: ‘Here is proof of homosexuality!’

“To say that every Friendship is consciously and explicitly homosexual would be too obviously false;” Lewis states, explaining that ‘wiseacres’ then accuse deep friendship of being somehow subconsciously gay.

“The fact that no positive evidence of homosexuality can be discovered in the behaviour of two Friends,” Lewis continues, “does not disconcert the wiseacres at all: ‘That’, they say gravely, ‘is just what we should expect.’ The very lack of evidence is thus treated as evidence; the absence of smoke proves that the fire is very carefully hidden. Yes – if it exists at all. But we must first prove its existence.”

Looking for subconscious homosexuality in friendship, Lewis argues, is like looking for an invisible cat: “‘If there were an invisible cat in that chair, the chair would look empty; but the chair does look empty; therefore there is an invisible cat in it.’ A belief in invisible cats cannot perhaps be logically disproved,” he says, “but it tells us a good deal about those who hold it.”

If anybody takes a look at the fandom of “Sherlock”, or “Les Miserables” (Grantaire and Enjolras, of all people), or “The Lord of the Rings”, one can see the obvious truth in this statement.

This idea of erotic love secretly buried inside of friendship cheapens both erotic love and deep, true friendship – something just as valuable.

Sam and Frodo do not need to be lovers.

They are friends.

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Review: Awake in the Night Land, By John C. Wright

Well.

That was WEIRD.

This book got praise. A lot of praise. A lot of lavish praise. A lot of unbelievably ecstatic, incredibly lavish, over the top wonderful praise.

Did it earn it?

I think the answer depends on what you’re looking for.

For some background I read Awake in the Night a couple of months ago, separate from all of the other stories. I LOVED Awake in the Night. Loved it. It might be my favorite Wright story of all of the ones I’ve read. It is a triumph of the human spirit, a beautiful story of love and friendship and hope beyond all reason, hope when all hope is lost. It is mind-bogglingly brilliant.

So I was really, really looking forward to this book, especially after the glowing Castalia House review.

It is, easily, the oddest book I’ve ever read. The best story by far is the first. It is brilliant. But I’ve went through that.

Cry of the Night-Hound is second best.  I think what makes these two stories is that the Night Land is still really horrifying. In the first story, we’ve never seen it before. We know it will be horrible, but we don’t know how horrible.

In the second story, an unprepared, untrained woman enters the Night Land. We’ve had it drilled in our heads that all who enter the Night Land MUST be trained, and women must never enter. So when the main character enters the Night Land we know that things are going to be really, really tough. This story took a bit to get started, but when it did it was very entertaining. However, it didn’t have the spiritual quality of Awake in the Night. Wright tries to end it on an up note, but in this story I did not see the hand of God; in Awake in the Night I did.

Silence in the Night was just a rehash of the other two trips to the Night Lands. Different nasties, same general idea. This time the main character was not only a prepared male, he was a prepared male from the even further future with the power to block out evil thoughts from the night land and revive his body via mental techniques. It’s most notable for being insanely depressing. That, though, isn’t really a knock against it. Silence in the Night was definitely designed to be read along with the final story, The Last of all Suns – on its own it just leaves you hanging with nothing more than assurances of death. Not how it was designed.

The Last of all Suns was just bizarre. I have no clue what the Hell happened in that story. It certainly had very little to do with the Night Land stories except insofar as it took place in the same universe. Wright has a talent for technobabble, but the flip side of that is that he sometimes overuses it with the result that my eyes glaze over a bit while I wait for the adults to talk about something Junior can understand.

Wright ended the book on an up note, I guess. I’m not sure why doing something that all of the characters had been doing throughout the book was suddenly the solution to all of their problems, but what do I know? I would have liked to actually read another Night Land story though, as opposed to the utterly bizarre…thing that was The Last of all Suns.

It would have been cool if the early stories had been referenced by the later ones (not improbable if traversing the Nigh Land is really such a rare, memorable event), but alas, that was not to be.

That’s not to say, by the way, that it was bad. It wasn’t. But it was just weird. The previous stories had set up a certain universe with certain rules. I now expected the stories to take place in this universe, but then The Last of all Suns came along, and it was like reading something entirely different. It was as if The Last Battle took place entirely inside of some weird netherworld and ended with Tirian riding Jewel back into Narnia.

So, I don’t know. I guess I just don’t get it. The promise was enormous. Awake in the Night is a towering work of genius by a man clearly touched by the divine. The second novella was very good as well. And the last two weren’t exactly bad. But classic? 10 star? Brilliant? No way.

It gets a thumbs up. 8 of 10. Would be 7.5 if Awake in the Night was simply good and not incredibly brilliant. Recommendation: Just get Awake in the Night, it’s free if you use the free Amazon Trial of Kindle Unlimited and it’s the best story by far anyway. Still, if you’re a huge Wright fan and you want to see what the hype is about, you can’t go wrong for five dollars. Like all Wright books, it’s going to be quality regardless of whether or not it’s overrated.

City Beyond Time is still better overall.

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7 Controversies White People Talk About Becase it Makes Them Feel Better

A brief fisking of this article, 7 Things I Can Do That My Black Son Can’t:

First, a moment of unintentional clarity:

But when you’re a parent, those privileges stop being invisible. It’s the reason why male congressmen with daughters are more likely to support women’s issues. It’s the reason why Ohio Sen. Rob Portman suddenly declared his support for same-sex marriage after his son came out as gay. And it’s the reason why, everywhere I look, I see hassles that my son will have to face that I don’t.

He has a completely valid point: Being emotionally close to an issue tends to make you more sympathetic. What he does NOT explain is why we should be more trusting of the opinions of people whose emotions are MORE bound with their opinions. On most things, emotional distance is considered valuable, because it allows people to be more objective…unless, of course, the cause happens to be liberal. Then straight white Christian men will NEVER UNDERSTAND.

1. I Can Walk Through a Store Without Being Followed

To take one high-profile instance, Macy’s and the city of New York recently settled with actor Robert Brown, who was handcuffed, humiliated, and accused of committing credit card fraud after buying an expensive watch at the store.

I never have to worry about this happening to me.

What is not mentioned in this article: The policeman’s side of the story, or what he actually DID that made him look suspicious. I doubt the policeman would agree with the claim that it was “because he was black”.

I work in a retail store. Once I was told that if a certain customer came up to pay for an item I should call a customer service manager because earlier she had used her mother’s credit card. This was a white teenage girl. A couple of days ago the customer service associate called over a manager and asked them to watch a certain customer simply because his friend seemed to be trying to distract her. This person was white.

I call utter bullshit.

2. I Can Succeed Without It Being Attributed to My Race

When my wife, who is black, received her acceptance letter from Boston College, a peer told her she must have gotten in due to affirmative action, effectively ruining the experience of receiving the letter.

  1. Your wife needs a thicker skin. Seriously?
  2. Yeah, affirmative action sucks. Still support it?

3. I Learned About My Ancestors’ History in School

I can tell you all about Louis XIV, Socrates, and the Magna Carta, but I always wondered when we would finally learn about African history (beyond Pharaohs and pyramids). The subject never came up.

Actually, I more or less agree with this. I will, however, dispute that it has anything to do with racism; far more likely that our education system was never structured around black history because there used to be much less black students – that was just a fact. But it is a more or less legitimate complaint.

4. I Can Lose My Temper in Traffic

Once, an acquaintance who got into a confrontation while driving told me how scared she was of the other driver, describing him as a “big black guy.” When I get heated, no one attributes it to my race.

Isn’t it nice how he accuses somebody of being racist because they DESCRIBE SOMEBODY’S SKIN COLOR when giving a description?

5. I Can Loiter in Wealthy Neighborhoods

No one has ever called the cops on me to report a “suspicious person.” My wife can’t say the same.

What we’re not told: The reason his wife was reported as “suspicious”. I find it rather racist that he assumes all white peoples’ motives of being racist.

6. I Can Complain About Racism

When I point out that black people are incarcerated at alarming rates, or largely forced to send their children to underperforming schools, or face systemic discrimination when searching for jobs and housing, no one accuses me of “playing the race card.”

What the Hell does this even mean? Of course not – he’s not talking about his own race.

Besides, there’s me.

7. I Can Count on Being Met on My Own Terms

If I’m being treated poorly, I don’t stop and think about whether it’s due to my race. But unless we somehow make a giant leap forward, my son will always have to wonder.

Then perhaps you should teach your son to get the fuck over himself like everybody else before he grows up.

Yeesh.

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Come on, it’s a LITTLE suspicious

An actress I’ve never heard of named Felicia Day was afraid of giving her opinions about gamergate for fear of being doxxed, and then was doxxed…an hour later?

Three things:

1) Once again, we’re just assuming these people are gamegaters. Sure, if you identify the movement as “people who hate females who like games and are against gamergate”, it may be gamergaters. But the gamergaters THEMSELVES don’t identify themselves like that, and repeatedly condemn doxxing and harrassment. If these people who doxxed her have not identified themselves with the gamergate movement then it’s more likely they’re just angry people who decided to use gamergate as an excuse to dox somebody with views they dislike. You can be pro-gamergate without necessarily being supported by the vast majority of the movement.

2) Okay, this isn’t related to the doxxing, but she’s afraid of talking to gamers she meets on the street? What the Hell?

3) I know I’m assuming things I don’t really have inside information on, but…it has to be at least kind of suspicious that she was doxxed barely an hour after expressing fears of being doxxed, right? I mean, the speed this occurred is just a tad convenient for her point, isn’t it? Considering that, I do think it’s something that we need to at least consider as a possibility. It’s not like anti-gamergaters haven’t lied before, and as has already been seen this woman is already a little extreme in her views on this.

I’m just saying…

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A Note

It has come to my attention, looking at my stats, that a website which frequently and favorably quotes white supremacy tweets has linked to my latest Zoe Quinn post. I’m not linking to the website because I don’t want it to get traffic, flattered as I am that they liked my post.

If I had a larger, more popular blog I wouldn’t be able to do this, but I don’t, so let me be clear: I am not a white supremacist and do not believe that one race is somehow superior to another. One race may be smarter, one may be faster, but every human being is a child of God regardless of their race, and all should be treated accordingly. No human being should be treated as inferior or belittled because of their race.

This is just in case anybody has come from that site and taken a look at my blog. I don’t want the wrong impression to be given about me.

People I disagree with link to me fairly often, and that’s fine – great, even. I feel, however, as if this is a loathsome enough view of humanity that it’s worth pointing out to people that I’m not associated with it.

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If you think these are biased, you’re probably a homophobe

At the end of the entirely unremarkable Synod on the family (no, really, what was the point of that?), here’s some article titles around the web about the conclusion:

But of course the media had no dog in this fight.

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