Thursday, March 26, 2015

Who will be buying Rod Dreher's Dante book?

To get people in the proper frame of mind to purchase a book about how a book saved one's life and could very possibly save theirs, too, and starting next month, to boot, one subtle and extremely shrewd move is to casually pose the question, was there ever a book that saved your life?

So, question to you: was there ever a single book, other than the Bible, the Koran, or a holy book, that saved your life, in the sense that it brought you back to reality, or kept you from making a serious mistake? If so, what was the book, and how did it work for you?

The sort who probably will be buying Dreher's Dante book:

Blog commenter Mark Hamann says:
March 26, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Yes. The Ink Dark Moon, a book of Heian period tanka written by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu. Once in the early 90's I was suicidal over the lack of traction in my love life, and that book made me realize that I’m supposed to suffer over that. And write tanka to express my suffering which I did on index cards which I still have.

Blog commenter McKay says:
March 26, 2015 at 2:50 pm

If you haven’t read David James Duncan’s The Brothers K, you are living an incomplete life. I read it in the midst of my PhD program, while I was reading all this counter-Enlightenment philosophy stuff and critiques of modernity (MacIntyre, the Southern Agrarians, Camus, et al.), and I really was growing profoundly depressed about the state of the world. The entire structure of secular modernity, and thus the structure of daily life, was starting to seem like some cruel techno-managerial artifice designed to force us into solipsism, atomism, and self-absorption...

The sort who probably will not:

Sherelle Taylor* says
March 26, 2015 at 3:09 am

Yeah, well you know Shirley got beat up real bad, yo, that man never did treat her right but they're gonna let me take her shift too since it starts right when mine ends, mmh hmmh, but I'm young and in pretty good health so God willing I can pull it for at least a month if I need to while she gets better which means I can get Jayden that bike he's been wanting for his birthday instead of putting my Mama's ring in the pawn shop again which is pretty sweet if you ask me though I really feel bad for Shirley she deserves better God knows she does.

* Cashier, 10:00 pm - 6:00 am shift, Big Bargain World. Not suicidal over the lack of traction in her love life, just has her hands full at the moment. But ask her nicely anyway.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rod Dreher's View From Your Death

Rod Dreher turns a family tragedy into a freak show for his personal gain, then blames the rubes he just roped into the tent for criticizing him for putting it on:

I certainly understand people not agreeing, but I have been shocked by some of the vitriol this simple photograph has drawn forth from some commenters. I am going to close comments, because life is hard enough for the Tippetts family now without having to read such harsh judgment visited on them for smiling through the pain.

Rod, why not just get out of the cozy corner bunker from time to time and ask normal people, those different from you, how these things are generally regarded in their lives? Think of it even as a possible icebreaker with your estranged family.What could it hurt to begin to consider treating people as human beings with legitimate feelings and sensibilities of their own rather than only as sensational blog product to make a buck from?

And so, with his anticipated expansion into visually arousing death porn having proved problematic, Rod quickly returns to his old standby, visually arousing food porn. His quick, palate-cleansing follow up to the the visually arousing image of an unusually grieving family? A visually arousing picture of some dead pig:

Yes, that is exactly what you think it is. My neighbor loves him some pig.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Phlogistetheron Option

When your J-school degree turns out to be worth about as much as the 8-track player your daddy still keeps in the garage for sentimental reasons, you boldly turn to new reasons to live, namely, to become famous for nothing more than making up word couplings and then trying to get paid for writing as many more words about them as possible.

This, in a nutshell, is Rod Dreher's Benedict Option (™), or, as I like to think of it, the Phlogistetheron Option, a mystical, ever-evolving something-experience that will ignite the ether of our imaginations the more it is referred to and discussed by thoughtfully serious consumers of ignited ether.

Today, we learn a new, never before revealed aspect of Phlogistetheron:

The Benedict Option will be in part about fighting for reality against the Matrix.

Really? That should keep us busy for awhile, yes indeedy. Except, um, what can that possibly even mean? Everything. Nothing. Whatever Neo Dreher wants it to mean as he bends the bullets of examination and criticism around him and his Phlogistetheron cloud in slo-mo.

The Matrix was at best a bad Wachowski Brothers-waddling into mystical secular eschatology that only got worse with each reload. Is this how we are to approach living Christian lives? Through the eyes of insecure adolescents yearning for mystical super powers to use against an over-weening adult establishment?

This Phlogistetheron Option does remind me of a different movie, though, John Carpenter's The Thing: a shape-shifting mutant that, as soon as you think you grasp what it is, melts and flows and mutates into something entirely new and unrecognizable.

There, on that plate there. Is that really a ham sandwich? Or could it be Rod Dreher's Benedict Option (™), in a new disguise, preparing to spring and ignite the very ether of our imaginations?

Monday, March 23, 2015

From the safety of his bunker, Rod Dreher mocks "safe spaces"

Not that the phenomenon doesn't richly deserve mocking. I've glanced at and excerpted this so that, mercifully, you will be spared reading the whole thing:

So when she heard last fall that a student group had organized a debate about campus sexual assault between Jessica Valenti, the founder of, and Wendy McElroy, a libertarian, and that Ms. McElroy was likely to criticize the term “rape culture,” Ms. Byron was alarmed. “Bringing in a speaker like that could serve to invalidate people’s experiences,” she told me. It could be “damaging.”

Ms. Byron and some fellow task force members secured a meeting with administrators. Not long after, Brown’s president, Christina H. Paxson, announced that the university would hold a simultaneous, competing talk to provide “research and facts” about “the role of culture in sexual assault.” Meanwhile, student volunteers put up posters advertising that a “safe space” would be available for anyone who found the debate too upsetting.

However, what deserves mocking even more, if that's possible, is Brave Sir Roddy standing tall on the ramparts over it

Why America Rod Dreher Deserves What It He Gets

Let's remember that, for decades now, any comment seriously critical of anything Dreher says has had less chance of getting approved by his personal self-validating "curating" process than a poisoned quail would have had making it through the gauntlet of Louis XIV's food tasters.

But Rod has not only been obsessed with making his own space safe for his "experiences" to remain "validated" beyond contest, he's felt it necessary to reach out into other peoples spaces, for example, his local Topix forum, and have content he feels threatens to validate his experiences removed.

Finally, can we recall the very reason itself for Rod's upcoming book on how Dante saved his life? That's right, because out in that horribly unsafe space I casually refer to as "the world" Rod's family remained stubborn beyond his curating, and even dared to invalidate his experiences, throwing him hopelessly into a "dark wood".

So when people think I'm being too hard on Rod Dreher, I beg to differ. I'm only helping him to overcome the terrible crippling condition of being a "special snowflake" he's cultivated in and for himself, year in and year out, now heading into middle age, as a deformed human being, a hypocritical, pathological bully, forever punching down on those weaker than himself while squealing about his suffering and begging for pity, someone manifestly without the courage to recognize what everyone else has long ago, that the qualities and behavioral urges he constantly condemns in others are those he most intimately recognizes and most fiercely loathes in himself - but will forever be too cowardly to address where they really lurk, in that cozy Benedictine Option corner deep inside himself.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Oh, I understand now: Rod Dreher is just like Kara Tippetts

I had begun to wonder about Rod Dreher's morbid, "death porn" fascination with the terminally ill and dying in the wake of his sister Ruthie's death several years ago, particularly his giving such events unseemly rock star status on his blog, but now the reason for this long setup becomes clearer: Dreher wants to claim the same object-of-pity, martyr-to-illness status of terminal cancer patient Kara Tippetts for his own superficial depressive grumpies, grumpies acquired only because his family sees him for the shallow, manipulative asshole he is and doesn't like what they see.

Because, like the little engine that could, he, too, writes while sick:

(Picture caption: Behold, a writer ["Just like meee!!!"])

I have mentioned in the past that my chronic mononucleosis went into remission for a year after reading Dante and experiencing a spiritual and physical healing, but that — irony of ironies! — the intense stress of having to write the book late last fall and winter under a radically truncated schedule (from zero to complete in three months, which is all but unheard of) triggered a relapse. I’ve still not been able to get on top of that. It feels like my immune system’s wheels are spinning on ice, and can’t get traction. And I’m not sure why. The certain thing is that I experienced real healing, but I tried to do too much intense writing — I have never before written under that kind of deadline — before my immune system was strong enough. It was like trying to run a marathon on legs that had only recently healed from being broken. No wonder I fell...

And yet, she writes. That is what writers ["Just like meee!!!"] do.

And, just like Johnny Carson's Ed McMahon or Jimmy Kimmel's Guillermo Rodriguez, Dreher blog sidekick and audience warm-up Charles "Uncle Chuckie" Cosimano sees his opening to cue the pre-scripted audience response:

Rod, don’t beat up on yourself. The only yardstick you need to measure your own work by is you. This condition will not last forever and after it great writing may come. In fact I am willing to bet that it will come.

Take care of your health. You’re doing fine. And when you feel down, think of all your friends here, daily remembering you in their thoughts, prayers and electropsychotronic healing machines that are never mentioned because they are bad for the public image.

That's right, Rod. We understand. We understand the "dark wood" of unhappiness that your family and local townspeople put you in for not buying into your bullshit is just like Kara Tippetts' terminal cancer, which is why it is so important for us to hear everything about her, and, after she's gone, about the next one just like her, because only by understanding their stories can we truly understand the gauntlet of pain and suffering you are to this day still bravely soldiering through.

And yet, amazingly, you still write. Because that is what writers do.

UPDATE (as they say): Kara Tippetts died later today. So did everyone else who will show up tomorrow in your local obituary page, the stupid teenager who took that curve too fast, the little girl screaming in terror, suffocated as she was being raped, that funny homeless guy under the Interstate, the cousin of the person who works two cubicles down; they never did find out what was wrong with him. That is what we humans do - die - even the ones who don't prove useful for blog posts valorizing Rod Dreher as a suffering writer. Let us pray for all of them, indiscriminately.