The Goal of the Superversive

Throwback Thursday Superversive Blog Repost:

Subversive Literary Movement

Any new venture needs a mission statement. So, what are the goals of the Superversive Literary Movement?

Well…let me tell you a brief story.

As a child, I distained Cliffsnotes. I insisted on actually reading the book. I would like to instill the same virtue in my children. But recently, I made my first exception.

My daughter had to read Steinbeck’s The Pearl for class. We read it together. She read part. I read part. The writing was just gorgeous. The life of the people involved drawn so lovingly. The dreams the young man had for his baby son were so poignant, so touching.

Worried about what kind of book this  might be, I read the end first. It looked okay. So, we read the book together.

Turns out, I had missed something—the part where the baby got shot.

Not a happy story.

Next, she brought home Of Mice and Men. We started it together. What a gorgeous and beautifully writing—the descriptions of nature, the interaction between the two characters. A man named George, who could be off doing well on his own, is taking care of a big and simple man named Lennie, who accidentally kills the mice he loves because of his awkward big strength. In George, despite his gruff manner and his bad language, we see a glimpse of what is best in the human spirit, a glimpse of light in a benighted world.

The scene of the two camping out and discussing their hopes of someday owning their own little farm, where Lennie could tend rabbits, was so touching and hopeful, so filled with pathos and sorrow, and so beautifully written. Steinbeck is clearly one of the great masters of word use.

But I remembered The Pearl.  I glanced ahead, but this time, I looked more carefully.

On the next to last page, while discussing how their hoped-for little farm with rabbits is almost within their grasp, George presses a pistol against the back of Lennie’s head and shoots.

Now, in the story, he does it with a terribly heavy heart. He does it for “a good reason”—Lennie accidentally killed someone, but…

That doesn’t make it better.

I sat there holding the remains of my heart, which Steinbeck had just ripped out and stamped on. The devotion of this good man George had led to nothing. All their golden hopes turned to dross, sand.

And it wasn’t just the end. The book was full of examples of “the ends justify the means” type of thinking – such as a man killing four of nine puppies, so that the other five will have a chance.

Very realistic? Check. Very down to earth? Check. Very “the way of the world”? Check.

Why give a book like this to children to read? What are we trying to teach them? That life is difficult and meaningless? That sometimes its okay to kill something we love for a “good reason”? That life is pointless? That dreams and hopes are a sham? That no matter how you try, you cannot improve upon your circumstance, so it’s better not to even hope? (That was what The Pearl was about.)

What possible good is such a message doing our children?

Maybe if a child grew up in posh circumstances and had never seen hardship—maybe then, there would be a good reason for letting them know that “out there” it can get hard.

But this was my daughter—whose youth resembles that of Hansel and Gretel, and not the fun parts about candy houses and witches. There are many things she needs in life—but pathos-filled reminders of how harsh life can be is not one of them.

The book was also full of cursing. I’m not sure I would have noticed, but my daughter kept complaining.

I closed the book and refused to read any more of it. I told her we’d find the answers online. She ended up getting help with it from her brother (who had been forced to read the book at school the previous year) and from a friend.

I’ve seen some of the other books on the school curriculum. Many of them are like this. In the name of “realism,” these works preach hopelessness and darkness.

They are lies!

So, you might ask, why does it matter if our children are being fed lies? They’re just stories, right?

What do stories matter?

Stores teach us about how the world is. They teach us despair, or they teach us hope. In particular, they teach us about the nature of hope and when it is appropriate to have it.

So why is hope—that fragile, little flutter at the bottom of Pandora’s jar—so important?

Because hope needs to be hoped before miracles can be requested.

In life, some things will go badly. True. Some things will go well. But what about everything in between? What about those moments when hope, trust, dare I say, faith, is required to make the difference between a dark ending and a happy one?

If we have been taught that hope and dreams are a pointless fantasy, a waste of time, we might never take the step of faith necessary to turn a dark ending into a joyful one.

Think I am being unrealistic, and my head’s in the clouds? Let me give a few examples.

Example One:

I heard a story on the radio the other day. A woman named Trisha is dying of cancer. She has an eight year old son named Wesley and no one else. No close friends. No relatives. No hope for her son.

Trisha met another Trisha…the angel who ministered to her in the hospital in the form of her nurse. When the news came that her illness was terminal, Trisha worked up the courage to do something astonishing. She asked her nurse: “When I die, will you take my son?”

The nurse went home and spoke to her husband and her four children. They said yes. They not only agreed to take Wesley, they took both Wesley and Trisha into their home, caring for them both as Trisha’s illness grows worse.

What if Trisha, laying in her bed in pain, had not had the faith, the hope, to ask her nurse this question? What would have become of her little boy?

If Trish believed the “realism” preached by Steinbeck and other “realists”, she would never have had the courage to ask her nurse for help.

Example Two:

Don Ritchie is an Australian who lives across from a famous suicide spot, a cliff known as The Gap. At least once a week, someone comes to commit suicide there.

Don and his wife keep an eye out the window. If they see someone at the edge, Don strolls out there. He smiles and talks to them. He offers them a cup of tea.

Sometimes, they come in for tea. Sometimes, they just go home. On a few occasions, he’s had to hold someone, while his wife called the police. Sometimes, the person jumps anyway.

Don and his wife figure they’ve saved around a hundred and sixty lives.

What if Don had believed that hopes and dreams are dross, and he never walked out there? What if he had spent the years standing in his living room, shaking his head and cursing the fact that he bought a house in such an unlucky place?

There are people living lives, perhaps children born who would not have been, merely because Don did not give up on those caught by despair.

Example Three:

Andrea Pauline was a student at the University of Colorado. She traveled to Uganda to study microfinancing for a semester. While she was there, she discovered that some of the local orphan children were being abused.

Andrea refused to leave the country until the government did something. She received death threats. She would not back down.

The government of Uganda took the forty-some children away from their caretakers—and gave them to Andrea. She and her sister now run an orphanage in Uganda called Musana (Sunshine). They have over a hundred children. (Matthew West was inspired by her story to write the song Do Somethinghttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_RjndG0IX8 )

What if Andrea had believed the things preached by Of Mice and Men and The Pearl?

What if she had come home to America and cried into her pillow over the sad plight of those children back in Africa? What if she pent her time putting plaintive posts on Facebook about how the sad state of the world and how blue it made her feel?

Over a hundred children, living a better life, because one teenage girl refused to give up hope.

This is what the Superversive Literary Movement is for—to whisper to the future Trisha’s, Don’s, and Andrea’s that miracles are possible.

That hope is not a cheat.

The goal of the Superversive is to bring hope, where there is no hope; to bring courage, where without courage, hope would never be manifested.

The goal of the Superversive is to be light to a benighted world.

The goal of the Superversive is:

To tell the truth.


Moira offers unique insight into Milo’s words

We at Superversive SF will soon be welcoming the lovely and talented Moira Greyland Peat among our members. For the moment, here is a guest post in which she gives us her unique perspective on #Milogate

I am the child of a gay father and a lesbian mother.  As a result of their interests and their friends, I was exposed to the gay community from the time I was very small.  I knew that there were many things that went on that straights would not understand, and still more that we were never to talk about.

Recently, Milo Yiannopoulos has gotten a lot of ink over speaking openly about the parts of the gay community that straights will not understand.  We do not understand, for example, that where girls want relationships, boys NEED sex, and adult men can provide that for them.  We also do not understand that sex, as early as possible, will get rid of hangups and make everyone happy.

One reason we straights don’t understand this stuff is because it is a load of horse manure.

And yes, I identify as straight myself, even though it was a great disappointment to my parents when I came out of the closet.  My mother was eventually able to joke about it, where my father simply found it infuriating to have me anywhere near when he had a boy he was interested in over to the house.

In any case, Milo has simply spoken openly of what we all knew.  Older gay guys like the younger ones, usually teens and barely teens, and my father even liked them younger than that.  He used his scholarly treatise, “Greek Love,” (J. Z. Eglinton, 1962) to bolster his position.

The judge was less sympathetic than his friends, and threw away the key, and my father died in jail as a result of my 1989 police report.

For some time now, I have been saying that the center of the gay community is the initiation of younger people by older people. One example of why can be found in the most popular porn genre: father-son porn. My father was not alone in his crimes, and our house was populated with lots of older men who wanted younger men, although back then they were called “chicken,” not Twinks.

Milo has said openly what is done in secret: these relationships are very common, and usually the way a young men comes into the gay community is through a rape or another sexual experience which is forced on him. The boy then is in the position of admitting he was unmanned, admitting he was a victim, coping with prosecution and victim status, or shutting up and hoping it will go away. Worse, because bodies respond, the boy is in the appalling predicament of having not hated all the sensations. For many, the easiest conclusion is to decide one is really gay, rather than to decide one is a victim.

Often the victim part is not figured out for years.

The fact is that Milo is alive and breathing and wildly successful, and that is exceptional in itself. My father’s victims are all broken, and some are dead. I refuse to criticize Milo for talking openly about what is practiced in secret. He is an exceptional writer and humorist. If we are to be truly diverse, we allow all viewpoints, not simply those we believe in.

I, for one, am delighted to tolerate him. Can you?

Reference:
Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth

 

Milo Libeled, Fools Fooled

From the blog of John C. Wright:

The whole thing is a libel. Hope Milo sues them into bankruptcy. Found this interesting tidbit not long after hearing about the smear attack:

An anonymous journalist on 4chan posted a detailed warning of the media’s upcoming pedo-smear attack on Milo one day before it happened.

An image of the 4chan post can be found here:
https://twitter.com/correctthemedia/status/833834249673404421

H/T to gxg on Vox Day.

I have been on the receiving end of a coordinated libel Campaign like this but smaller and not this vicious.

The tactic is simple: simply edit what the victim says to make it sound like he said what you want him to say.

Then you have your Newsmen and paid trolls repeat it.

By the time the truth comes out, everyone already believes the narrative and it’s too late.

I realize that if you have never seen a fake edit job before, it will fool you. What you do to do a fake editing job is take parts of one sentence parts of one conversation and clip them to another. In this case you take a conversation about how many times two college students engaged in copulation are required to ask each other about the continued ongoing state of their consent, and then you clip in a discussion of the consent between a 17 year old and a 27 year old gay couple.

You take a sentence where the speaker uses the word ‘boy’ to refer to a seventeen-year-old and you clip it to a question when someone is asking about a 14 year old boy , clever editing makes it sound as if he is talking about lowering the age of consent to 14.

And even wary and careful viewer will be deceived.

In an unrelated news story,

Salon scrubbed it’s site of Todd Nickerson articles.
https://archive.is/search/?q=Todd+Nickerson

Here’s his main one though:
“I’m a pedophile, but not a monster”
http://archive.is/TBuaR

Signal Boost: Mr. Superversive Strikes Again!

Many people feel Tom Simon, Mr. Superversive himself*, is the the best essayist living today. However, he writes fiction, too! Here we have six excellent short works of fantasy by Mr. Simon:

Worm-of-the-Ages_613

The Worm of the Ages on Amazon

Join Tom Simon for a light-hearted excursion through the fields of the imagination, from legends of ancient days to laboratories of a twisted future. This collection of six stories by the author of WRITING DOWN THE DRAGON includes:

The Worm of the Ages
Droll’s audition
Magic’s pawnshop
A case of vengeance
Kundenschmerz

And as a bonus, a new story, ‘The wrongs of the matter’, never before published in any medium.

Buy yours today!
Be the envy of your friends and the puzzlement of your neighbors!

Enjoy!

About the author: (This was so amusing, I felt compelled to share it.): Tom Simon has been writing fantasy for many years, but it was only in 2012, with LORD TALON’S REVENGE, that he began publishing this work. Like most writers, he has had a wide range of peculiar jobs, from sysop of a dialup chat board (before the commercial Internet) to assistant in a Member of Parliament’s constituency office. One of his MP’s constituents was an ardent advocate for the population of elves who lived (so he said) in a patch of wild ground in the midst of the city. Mr. Simon regrets that he was never personally involved in dealing with elf issues. However, he has met the usual assortment of witches, wizards, and one creature who styled himself Archdruid of Canada.

 

  • — Tom Simon is called Mr. Superversive himself because he is the one from whom the rest of us borrowed the word. For years, he has been known as Superversive on LiveJournal.

Signal Boost: The Ironwood Staff

The Ironwood Staff by J. H. Hamilton

This is a Superversive book. The story is like a high fantasy set in Africa with Zen elves, but the progressive ideas of the villains and the way in which evil corrupts and spreads, as well as what the hero must do to fight it, lends a Superversive thread to this simple fantasy.

Tomas the Lame was a scribe, until the goblinish Kchabani invaded his home, sacking the library and enslaving the people. Escaping to the eladi in their forest home, he fought back until he was injured and unable to fight.

When the eladi found he had strange gifts in communicating with animals, he thought he had a new life as a Magus – what he didn’t know was that the invaders were seeking him by dark arts and vile monsters, putting his new friends and new love in danger.

On a desperate mission to the cold, wet south of the world, Tomas joins a party seeking the aid of an eladi king, leader of a people who have hidden themselves from the rest of the world for centuries. Will the southern eladi help? And, will they be in time to save the Sunlands from the kchaban hordes?

Available on Amazon

Holy Godzilla of the Apocalypse: or How to Identify a Superversive Story

Throwback Thursday–early Superversive Blog repost.

So, you want to be Superversive? Eager to join the new movement but not sure how to tell if you have? This post will, God willing, help sort out a bit of the confusion.

So, without further ado: The Benchmarks of the Superversive:

First and foremost, a Superversive story has to have good storytelling.

By which I do not mean that it has to be well-written. Obviously, it would be great if every story was well-written. It is impossible, however, to define a genre or literary movement as “well-written”, as that would instantly remove the possibility of a beginner striving to join.

What I mean by good storytelling is that the story follows the principles of a good story. That, by the end, the good prosper, the bad stumble, that there is action, motion to the plot, and a reasonable about of sense to the overall structure.

Second, the characters must be heroic.

By this, I do not mean that they cannot have weaknesses. Technically, a character without weaknesses could not be heroic, because nothing would require effort upon his part.

Nor do I mean that a character must avoid despair. A hero is not defined by his inability to wander into the Valley of Despair, but by what he does when he finds himself knee deep in its quagmire. Does he throw in the towel and moan about the unfairness of life? Or does he pull his feet out of the mud with both hands and soldier onward?

Nor do I mean that every character has to be heroic, obviously some might not be. But in general, there should be characters with a heroic, positive attitude toward life.

However, many, many stories have good storytelling and heroic characters. Most decent fantasies are like that.

Are all decent fantasies Superversive?

No.

Because one element of Superversive literature is still missing.

Wonder.

Third, Superversive literature must have an element of wonder

But not ordinary wonder. (Take a moment to parse that out. Go ahead. I’ll still be here. )

Unknown Object

Specifically, the kind of wonder that comes from suddenly realizing that there is something greater than yourself in the universe, that the world is a grander place than you had previously envisioned. The kind of wonder that comes from a sudden hint of a Higher Power, a more solid truth.

There might be another word for that kind of wonder: awe.

Specifically, the awe that comes when you are pulled out of your ordinary life by being made aware of the structure of the moral order of the universe.

That kind of awe.

To be Superversive, a story needs that moment when you are going along at a good clip and you suddenly draw back, because you have been lifted outside of yourself by the realization that there is something Bigger.

(And I don’t mean bigger like Godzilla. Just the God part. No zilla. Unless this Godzilla works for God. Godzilla, Holy Monster of the Apocalypse, or something.)

On this blog, I will often talk about Christian Superversive stories. Stories that have that moment, when the greater truths of the Creator of the Universe are suddenly glimpsed by the reader and/or the characters in the story.

If the Superversive Movement is about storming the moral high ground—bringing a moral order into our stories, adding the power of a greater truth. Then, the most effective stories are likely to be the ones that reflect the author’s highest sense of truth. For me, that means the truths of Christianity, as I understand it.

However, I want to make it clear, right from the beginning, that Superversive literature does not have to be Christian. You can write Jewish Superversive or Buddhist Superversive. It does, however, require a moral order and a glimpse of the awareness of this order in the story.

My favorite movie of all time is Winter’s Tale, the movie made from Mark Halprin’s novel. Winter’s Tale is Jewish Superversive.

What makes it so good is these moments I refer to above, moments that take you out of yourself and make you realize that something Bigger is going on. (Again, not Godzilla…except for Holy Godzilla, who most likely lives in a Pokaball on Batman’s belt…so Robin can shout out: Holy Godzilla, Batman! And Batman can shout, “Holy Godzilla, I choose you!” and Holy Godzilla can appear and stomp on the Joker (and probably half of New York, too, but…ah well.)

My favorite TV show, Chinese Paladin Three, is Taoist Superversive. You are going along, minding your own business, enjoying this pure fantasy romp, and suddenly, toward the last third, there is this section where the villain tries to convince the Taoist priest of the futility of the human condition.

The story line suddenly becomes so deep and so touching, so insightful and so unexpected. The depth of the moral questions being presented to the priest character and the horror of what he suffers adds a whole vertical dimension to what had previously been a lighthearted adventure.

It brings a sense of awe.

Two questions come to mind:

1) Can you write Wicca or Pagan Superversive?

Possibly, but it would be difficult. Why? Because fantasy…gods, myths, etc…is the matter of Pagans. If the story starts out about such things, adding more of the same is not superversive.

However, if the story were about, say wizards or nymphs and fauns, or any other worldly matter, and the gods made brief unexpected appearances in which they put across moral ideas that lifted the story to a higher level, that might possibly be superversive. (Gene Wolfe’s Solder In The Mist comes to mind.)

2) Can  Christian Fiction (or Jewish Fiction, or Taoist Fiction) be superversive?

Probably not. It certainly could be inspirational, if done well. But if something starts out already being about these matters, then it is not superversive to introduce them. It is just part of the tale. Such a story could be written in a way that would make it enjoyable to those who love superversive stories, but it would not be superversive in and of itself.

An Example:

I don’t want to give too much away about Winter’s Tale, part of the wonder of the story is that everything is so unexpected. But I think I can describe this scene without ruining too much of the joy.

Crime boss Pearly Soames approaches another man in 1915 New York, reminding the second man that he owes Pearly a favor. He asks for help in his plan to kill Beverly Penn. The second man wants nothing to do with it, but Pearly calls the debt and insists.

Then, suddenly, in the midst of this intrigue scene, Pearly says:

I’ve been wondering.

With all these trying to go up…and you come down.

Was it worth it, becoming human?  Or was it an impulse buy?

You must miss the wings, right?

Oh, come on. You must.

And in that instant, you suddenly realize that something very different is going on that you first thought, and it opens a glimpse into some greater working of the universe, a glimpse that makes you pause and think…about heaven and fallen angels and what it means to be human and whether it is a good thing or no.

And that, my friends, is Superversive.

 

Kickstarter Opportunity, last few days!

Quite some years ago, my friend Danielle Achley-McPhail invited me and a couple of other friends to jump on board and help her edit the first Bad Ass Faeries anthology, fairytales with a kick. The series ended up being four books long and was a great deal of fun. It included some excellent stories from a wide variety of SF and fantasy authors.

Now, Danielle’s publishing company, eSpec, is republishing the best of the BA Faerie stories along with new art. The kickstarter is nearly over, but it has been very successful, which means that if you jump on now, a lot of extra goodies have already been unlocked.