(urth) Predictions Re: The Politics Of Gene Wolfe

James B. Jordan jbjordan4 at cox.net
Wed Aug 1 13:38:24 PDT 2012

It's odd that a man who has written from a Christian, in his case 
Roman Catholic, strongly libertarian, anti-welfare state, and 
traditional conservative semi-isolationist perspective -- which after 
all is and has been advocated by people with IQs well over 150 for 
centuries and was the position of the founders of the United States 
-- is considered loony for doing so.

People who think this way need an education in history.


At 01:15 PM 8/1/2012, you wrote:
>Thanks for the response. I just wanted to call out one bit...
>YOU WROTE: "I'm very inclined to agree with you, but at the same 
>time it seems valid to wonder exactly how self-aware on this point a 
>man in his 80s can be."
>I'm not sure if you have ever had the good fortune to hold a 
>conversation with Mr. Wolfe, but as of last year, I found him to be 
>the type of conversationalist that always to seem to be two steps 
>ahead of you, ready with a quip, eager for an anecdote, anxious to 
>counter point your point, in a wry, light-hearted, jovial manner.
>And that LAUGH! Equal parts genuine and sinister; the type of laugh 
>to comfort you at the same time it sets you on edge.
>Not sure if any of that translates to acutely self-aware, but his 
>opinions and outlook seems very grounded in relevant, present-day 
>culture and not a paranoid Cold War outlook or anything to that extent.
>Just wanted to add that piece of perspective. I would be curious to 
>any others who have gotten to know Mr. Wolfe how they compare my 
>assessment, or if I am speaking from the minority on the matter.
>On Aug 1, 2012, at 2:04 PM, DAVID STOCKHOFF wrote:
>>From: Ryan Dunn <<mailto:ryan at liftingfaces.com>ryan at liftingfaces.com>
>>To: The Urth Mailing List <<mailto:urth at lists.urth.net>urth at lists.urth.net>
>>Sent: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 9:18 AM
>>Subject: Re: (urth) Predictions Re: The Politics Of Gene Wolfe
>>On Aug 1, 2012, at 8:55 AM, David Stockhoff 
>><<mailto:dstockhoff at verizon.net>dstockhoff at verizon.net> wrote:
>> >>> Sure, of course it was a lark. And yes, one could easily 
>> interpret each one as /half /true. Where does that get us?
>> >>>
>> >>> As clarification, I didn't mean Wolfe /intended/ to predict
>> >>>
>> >>> "what cranky, ill-informed old people will believe/fear/desire in 2012."
>> >>>
>> >>> And yet he succeeded---in my estimation, by /more than/ half. 
>> That must mean something.
>> >>>
>> >>> BTW, literacy paranoia has been in vogue in the US since at 
>> least the 1960s.
>> >> Since a few posters were giving varying amounts of weight to 
>> these predictions and letting it color their impression of him, 
>> the place my observation was hoping to get us was actually out of 
>> such a lofty critique of what I took to be a half joke blip of Mr. 
>> Wolfe's musings.
>> >>
>> >> ...ryan
>> > Understood. But what's "lofty" about making an observation about 
>> the written word---or trying to make sense of another reader's observation?
>> >
>> > One could easily write whole books of criticism about the 
>> paranoid style in Gene Wolfe, and in dystopian SF in general (as 
>> someone has already noted). I don't know what they would conclude, 
>> but I'd be interested in reading them.
>> >
>> > 
>> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paranoid_Style_in_American_Politics>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Paranoid_Style_in_American_Politics
>>I was not inferring your critique was lofty, in case I gave you 
>>that impression. I was referring more to the earlier passion on 
>>this thread, and felt that we (as a collective of readers with a 
>>shared interest on a common mailing list) may have been taking his 
>>written word a bit seriously.
>>My point is that he seems to be a bit flippant, half smiling, and 
>>not all together serious in these predictions. So when someone 
>>takes "a great interest in predictions and what they reveal," for 
>>instance, I would hope that Mr. Wolfe's five fingered prediction 
>>would have revealed that he is indeed a sly, shifty, elusive 
>>prankster, even when portending to dole out 25 year predictions.
>>I got the vibe that it was not being interpreted with as light a 
>>hand as that, however. In fact, I got the impression they were used 
>>to support a feeling of disenchantment with him as a man, which may 
>>have gotten me riled a little bit. While he may write from an 
>>extreme, and detailed perspective on society, he does not seem at 
>>all to be a dystopian, right-wing loon who is increasingly using 
>>his prose to somehow push a conservative, anti-socialist agenda 
>>(which was also inferred on this and other threads recently).
>>Hope that clarifies my points on this matter a little bit better.
>>Yes it does, thanks!
>>Of course, in order to reach a conclusion that Wolfe was playing 
>>specifically with "right-wing loon"-ness, one must first agree that 
>>he came off a little "right-wing loon"-y. If you think he wasn't 
>>doing that, there is still that cast or quality to explain. I'm 
>>very inclined to agree with you, but at the same time it seems 
>>valid to wonder exactly how self-aware on this point a man in his 80s can be.
>>Ultimately, there's plenty of room between raising that question 
>>and suggesting a conscious agenda. And I see no reflection on the 
>>man himself---he's probably way more together than Heinlein was in 
>>his later years. Gwern may choose to speak on that point, or not.
>>In fact, the question tends to weaken the suggestion of an agenda, 
>>which I find quite un-Wolfe-like. Much more likely that he was not 
>>trying to be loon-y at all, in his own mind, just playing along in 
>>his provocative way. But people do get set in their mental pathways 
>>with age, and maybe these moments of candor can be revealing. As a 
>>frinstance, my dad is also in his eighties and still very liberal 
>>in outlook, but even he passes along silly emails that reflect a 
>>certain, er, something. (No, setting fires out West would not be a 
>>clever way for a terrorist to create terror. It would require a lot 
>>of work by a lot of people and they'd get caught. And so on.)
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James B. Jordan
Director, Biblical Horizons
Box 1096
Niceville, FL 32588
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