(urth) Long Review Essay on Wizard Knight

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes danldo at gmail.com
Tue Sep 18 15:13:23 PDT 2007


I am not a scholar, nor do I portray one on this list. I'm this guy who
writes stuff. As such I take responsibility for what I write, and hope
others will do likewise.

Why did I pick on the four words you quoted from Hemingway?
Because you chose them to quote; I took it that you considered
that quote to make a point you wished to make, as well as or
better than you could make it (the alternative assumption, that it
was an appeal to authority, would be uncharitable, not only
because it's a bad form of argument, but because Hemingway is
a bad form of authority). That being the case, I went after the
quote because I deeply disagree with the point it makes.

I do not think that modernism involves some Nietzschean
"revaluation of all values." I think that courage and honor are still
valid and valuable in the modern world (I won't say the
postmodern world; it is debateable whether the postmodern
stance allows *anything* to be valid or valuable). I think that
glory may be more ambiguous in the modern world than it was
in the classical world, but that it was at least dangerous there,
and that it has at least some potential value and validity here.
And if you take Wolfe's formulation, which (if I recall) is honor,
courage, and fidelity, you have three things that I regard as
among the most basic values of any civilized society.

Thus, a critique that seems to make the assumption that these
values are dangerous -- indeed, to take this as a given that
the reader will inevitably agree with -- is going to receive from
me a reaction somewhere on the scale from "hostile" to "what
the *fuck*!??!", no matter whether that critique is of Wolfe, of
Tolkien (who had seen on the battlefields of WWI the very
things that created Hemingway's alienation from these
values), or of some writer I don't even *like*.

If you can't tell, I most assuredly don't disagree with you because
you are criticizing Wolfe. I've done so occasionally: for example,
I find some of his more conservative values a bit distressing, and
become frustrated with his assumption that his readers are as
smart as he is and can figure out his puzzles. Lord knows I'm not.

No; I disagree with you because I find the values you express
in your critique distressing, much as you apparently do those
Wolfe expresses (or appears to express) in his novel. I therefore
addressed your critique primarily at that level.

Dan'l Danehy-Oakes, writer, trainer, bon vivant
I am miserable, he is miserable,
We are miserable.
Can't we have a party? Would he rather have a party?

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