Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Everything Published After 1940 is Inauthentic

Everything published after 1940 is inauthentic. To explain why I’m going to introduce my own “three-legged stool” theory of successful literature.  The three legs are thrills, wonder, and romance.

Thrills, because no one wants to read a story where nothing exciting happens. Adventure, heh! Excitment, hrumph! A jedi maybe isn’t supposed to crave these things. But everyone else sure does!

Wonder, because no one would settle for a mere story when they could instead experience a legend. An epic, even. An encounter with something truly mythical! Underworlds, overworlds, gods, and heroes are fundamental to the human psyche. People crave encounters with the superlative and the transcendent.

And romance. Ah, romance! Because face it, there is only one thing that can truly motivate an adventurer to risk everything in a daring journey into the unknown. Sure, there are all kinds of other motivations out there you could think up. But this one trumps them all!

What happened in 1940?

In a word, modernism. A tepid materialist outlook that decreed that the transcendent was out of bounds. An unctuous, slinking cowardice that insinuated that all heroes have feet of clay. A smarmy, contemptuous pretentiousness that insisted that our concepts of good and evil were arbitrary social constructs.

These losers rolled into town and kicked away the old stool. They declared it juvenile. They sneered. They mocked. They made a lot of noise about their “literary qualia” and the supposed deficiencies of their predecessors. They beat their chests and gave each other awards. And then they went on a decades long crusade in order to ensure that people couldn’t even imagine what the old stuff was like. And they made a new stool: instead of thrills, wonder, and romance, they gave us lectures, “realism”, and a celebration every conceivable evolutionary dead end you could mention.

But on a fundamental level, that stuff really doesn’t speak to who we are. They thought they could take the reins of culture and write whatever they wanted on the supposed blank slates of our minds. Yet time and again in field after field we see the same pattern: the greater the success of these sorts of people, the more astonishing the ensuing market correction.

They told us we were on the wrong side of history. But all this time it’s been them that had this distinction. And watching this play out, it’s clear: those “childish” stories of the ancient Greeks that we’ve told and retold over the course of centuries…? They’re far more applicable to describing what is actually happening in the wide world than anything the Poindexters have managed to put forward.

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13 responses to “Everything Published After 1940 is Inauthentic

  1. Jesse Abraham Lucas March 22, 2018 at 11:48 am

    The essence of pulprev is culture shock. Reading the old masters feels like encountering an alternate universe where Modernism didn’t infect literature, where PC didn’t infect discourse, where grotesque architecture didn’t infect the public square, where Joyce Kilmer lived and James Joyce did not. When we’re told the world we live in is “progress,” simply the inevitable march of history towards a goal, we read old books and find people with minds astoundingly like ours, and they’re not misfits, they’re not fanatics, they’re normal people of the era, and they don’t believe in these things, they don’t live in this disgusting world that’s formed around us.

    To read the old masters is to realize that you aren’t the sick one, the world is. It is to make contact across time with your countrymen, who you’d lost hope of ever meeting. You cannot read them without standing a little taller for the experience, no longer a man without a country but a man fighting to restore one.

  2. Cane Caldo March 22, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    In a word, modernism. A tepid materialist outlook that decreed that the transcendent was out of bounds. An unctuous, slinking cowardice that insinuated that all heroes have feet of clay. A smarmy, contemptuous pretentiousness that insisted that our concepts of good and evil were arbitrary social constructs.

    Post-modernism is the word you’re after.

    Modernism, basically, is the idea that Now is better than Ever. The next Now will be even better than this because then it will be Now, and this will have fallen to mere Ever status. Modernism still believes in better. The Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection is an almost perfect example of Modernism: The belief that whatever is–whatever exists–Now, is the best possible for the moment, and certainly better than whatever came before in Ever.

    Post-modernism is the idea that all concepts of better are at best wholly unknowable, and most likely an illusion; so the only thing to do is whatever we want, and to make everything equal for everybody…which is not what everybody wants, but don’t let that bog us down, man.

    • Jesse Abraham Lucas March 22, 2018 at 12:17 pm

      No, Modernism did a number on us around that time, and it laid the red carpet for pomo, which ate it alive. It’s become the stodgy conservative default position.

    • Nathan March 22, 2018 at 5:39 pm

      Literary modernism gave birth to the “Realism” mania that’s gripped fiction for over a hundred years.

      • Cane Caldo March 23, 2018 at 1:37 pm

        Nathan,

        Agreed. It also birthed Post-Modernism because that’s what you get when you are disappointed by Modernism, but won’t repent back to Transcendent Reality.

  3. Cane Caldo March 22, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    @Jesse

    I don’t disagree that. But, specifically, what Jeffro described is Post-Modernism. That doesn’t mean Modernism doesn’t play some role, or even the major role. It just means that the word which goes with the definition Jeffro gave is Post-Modernism.

    Post-Modernism was an inevitable outcome of Modernism and was blooming before the word Post-Modern was coined.

  4. Robert Eaglestone March 22, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    “Generalizations are always wrong.” — my dad, tongue in cheek.

    But since you’re referring to pulp adventure, it seems like you’re right.

  5. The Practical Conservative April 6, 2018 at 2:36 pm

    I primarily read old stuff that outsold pulp when it was published. How this makes me a modernist remains a mystery.
    Some comments I posted on my blog expanding on the premise of my post:
    https://thepracticalconservative.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/why-pulp-fiction-is-inauthentic-the-acu-theory-of-literature/#comment-10321
    https://thepracticalconservative.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/why-pulp-fiction-is-inauthentic-the-acu-theory-of-literature/#comment-10320

    I do read quite a bit of YA published between 1940-1990 and will end up rereading a lot of the stuff I read as a kid for recommending to my children.

    I bought your book, I bought a lot of books and shorts from Castalia or authors mentioned in its blog roundup posts. I am going to buy more in the future. Now that I finally got around to the sprawl, it was, uh, not quite the direction I thought most of the responses would go. Cheers!

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