Life

NVSQVAM (Nowhere) by Ann Sterzinger

Author, publisher and editor of TakiMag, Ann Sterzinger recently released her latest novel NVSQVAM (Nowhere) on Kindle, allowing impatient cheapskates (and those of us living at the ends of the earth) to part with a few shekels for this 300 page-long tome. It is a story of one Lester Reichartsen, ailing Latin scholar, cracked genius, alcoholic, absent father to an eight-year-old child prodigy and unenthusiastic husband to the more successful Spanish professor Evelyn.

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We are led through Lester’s wistful reflections of misspent his youth as a budding rock star, before his retreat into the unforgiving drudgery of academia, having been ‘forced’ into the responsibility to provide for his unplanned family. His is a struggle with the material, the social and the personal. What is it that makes one a ‘failure’, in the eyes of family, society and oneself?

He put his elbows in the sink-filth, tried to look like David Bowie, and thought to the mirror: I am a doctorate student in Classical Letters, and have no recollection why I ever decided to do such a thing. I am the only drop of blood in my line to have ever learned any more Latin than is in a mass, and it’s too goddamned late to impress anyone. I am married to a chiropractor’s daughter who is writing a brilliant dissertation in Spanish, which is useful, gods damn it, and she named her fucking cat after Frieda Kahlo, and she wants me to feed it. I am forty thousand dollars in debt for a degree that people will only make fun of unless I become a college professor, which means my life is over except for the part where I make myself available as a font of knowledge that nobody wants, and meanwhile my country is pissing away everything it has on a war that makes us look like 300 million Stooges, so even if I wanted to try to get a regular job to pay off the loans I’d be screwed blue anyway. But I’m a lucky guy, because I can still get an erection, and I have somebody to get an erection for, and furthermore I live in the West and do not live in a radioactive mud hut in Cambodia. Hooray.” Lester giggled. ‘Radioactive mud hut.’ Good one. If I could work that into my dissertation …

 

I started this paragraph with “Sterzinger makes extensive use of inner monologue to draw us into the mayhem of the protagonists’ world” and then I realised that I’m not writing a litcrit essay but a review or reflection for the small audience of the probably male, alt-readers who grace these pages. Women in general have an advantage over men because they read more fiction. Yes, I know, ‘quality over quantity’, chick-lit, 50 shades of Grey and Stephanie Myers, but sadly by spurning reading in general, but especially fiction, one neglects the indirect reflections on life, spirit and the human condition that can be learned by the trials of the tragic anti-hero, the personal effects of their decisions, and the madness that awaits us far enough down the rabbit hole:

Lester was suddenly whomped by empathy again, stupid empathy for this thing; whomped by the indirect, helpless sensation of the dullness and pain and ordinary pointlessness of the creature’s future, for which it no doubt had vague and hopeless hopes. Except for its ‘relationships’—a silly word for truces between bags of meat before the puny soul of each was sucked into the void—its life would be dumb work done so that another dumb animal up the hierarchy could dumbly seek and gather luxury clothes and foods without joy, simply so that others could see that more ‘important’ animal doing so, and perhaps be persuaded to give themselves sexually to that animal, to create more animals in its image to suffer and cause suffering.

Lester is both simple yet flawed and complex. The curse of Lester’s intelligence brings him disgust at the lives of all others – too good for his current life, his only chance of happiness lies in ‘what could have been’ had he continued his music career. His (hilariously) witty cynicism prevents any and all happiness, except for brief periods of gleeful spite, or the relief of his tortured existence afforded by his fifth glass of whisky. He is so warped, the fact that Evelyn stays with him defies belief. I say this as your run-of-the-mill young misogynist who believes in biological differences and everything. His disintegration is like death from a thousand cuts, with a couple of heavy swings to speed up his deliverance.

Although she is a woman (Ah like ’em lit-erate!), Sterzinger deftly traps Lester in the cruel social scaffold that defines the white, middle-class male of his generation – not on the way up, but instead peering down precariously at the peons below, as they thump their bibles, massacre the English language and drive around in expensive tanks.

In this way, Nowhere is genuinely thought provoking. How much do we blame the ugliness of the world, of pop culture for our own failings and weakness? What is more pitiful, the banal bleating of the ‘breeders’ and ‘car-people’, or our own never-realized delusions of grandeur? Are we wretched and jealous of those who have made happy, healthy, comfortable lives for themselves, who ‘sold out’, whilst wallowing in the lazy discomfort of unrealized potential?

If you are one (like yours truly), who shares Lester’s pretensions, who feels his sense of entitlement, you won’t be delivered into a warm fuzzy acceptance of your faults, and of the world around you.

Quit fantasizing, Lester, you’re never going to be anything but a smart peasant.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I know you! All this talk about upper-middle-class assholes has always been a cover-up for the fact that you want to be an aristocrat.” He sniffed. “Well, I should be. Instead of a serf in an oligarchy. With fifty thousand dollars of debt and three pretty pieces of paper[..]

Despite his impulsive, childish nature and relentless adventures in self-sabotage, I still found myself rooting for Lester. Like a tape set on replay (yes, you read tape; this is set in the late 90’s/early 2000’s – there’s even an incriminating ‘tape’ in one of the more theatrical scenes), the constant self-criticism, doubt and insecurity that plagues his every waking (and non-waking) moment is familiar to any man who rejects the norms of his time and place, yet castigates himself for being unable to assert himself and gain the respect of those whom he scorns.

Nowhere is not a quick read, although I ate my way through it over several late-night binges. It’s not clear where some parts fit in (perhaps I’m not lateral enough to understand the lengthy dream-sequences), but it’s long enough that one becomes invested in his character. As his links with the real world become more tenuous, I became less connected with his character, reminding me of Notes from Underground.

It’s hard to describe the tragedy that accompanies Lester to someone who hasn’t read the book – in fact I’d rather discuss the book with somone who has read it (this will be my belated Christmas present to a few friends, so I can selfishly do this). I won’t reveal spoilers here, but Sterzinger clearly is not trying to win anyone over with the ending.

The broader sense is that in life things don’t end well. So much of the bestselling, Pulitzer prize-winning claptrap at your local Barnes and Noble is designed to lift the human spirit, to inspire and entertain, to provide hope and escapism from the dullness of modern life. Nowhere dispenses with this convention, and faces head-on the possibility that there is only suffering, and there is no meaning but comedy to be gleaned from it.

To conclude, Nowhere traverses the normal path laid out for modern novels, and confronts questions that no amount of blog, newspaper or magazine articles could. Dark, tragic and hilariously funny, Sterzinger’s third novel will likely resonate differently with everyone, and should be considered a sound addition to your reading list.

The Alternative Right: Why You Should Stop Living On The Internet

I’ve always liked to push-the-envelope, border on inappropriate, and to rustle the jimmies of the self-righteous. I reserved this for the idols that I found contemptible, or at least not beyond reproach – I never thought there was much that was funny about mom, baby or Jesus jokes. But the morally-hygienic SWPL, the uptight snob or boorish jock was fair game for a bit of rabble rousing when conversation lulled or I’d over-indulged in the wrong company.

Being a Millenial, the focus of our cultural environment has been to tear down, rather than build up. Since the 60’s the left has taken aim at the cultural symbols that they believed were ‘holding us down’ – traditional marriage, gender roles, Christianity, Capitalism, Colonial history inter-alia. Having decisively won the ‘culture wars’, the left, through film, TV and music gave us the ‘itss the corrporrationss maaannn!’ spaced out hippie degenerate, and its modern incarnation, the SJW/tumblrkin special snowflake who demands you evil fascists alight your Panzer tanks and ‘listen’ to their ‘conversation’, ‘check your privilege’ and self-flagellate for your ‘micro-aggressions’.

The liberal media employs techniques of snark and mockery to undermine who they consider their inferiors, (in nerdy neoreactionary parlance, the Vaisyas), usually what they call the blue-collar, red state ‘hicks’ and ‘white trash’. The hysterical screeching over Sarah Palin is a case in point (conservative womyn, don’t lean in – kill yourselves). Programs like The Daily Show and Rachel Maddow use the point-and-sputter, and the rehearsed self-righteous moral indignation, with a bit of snark thrown in for good measure.

But there is little left for them to ridicule. The mainstream media is liberal, and has the support of both government and major corporations. As much as these ‘journalists’ wish they were Woodward and Bernsteins, their role has been reduced to selling products, harvesting clicks and promoting the progressive agenda. ‘Useful idiot’ caricatures like Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, come along every now and then for them to resurrect the spectre of the dangerous, crazy self-reliant redneck Christian man, but for the most part, the role of the dissident is now firmly in the hands of the Right.

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In a recent article, Andy Nowicki at Alternative-Right posited that dissidents will be dissidents, and will change their stripes to become new dissidents as time requires, because it fulfills a fundamental need:

Yet how much of the coalescing counter-culture is an authentic challenge to the repugnancy of the predominantly-enforced mindset, and how much is but a mirror image of its essentially identical proclivity to sacrifice authenticity for conformity in a rigidly proscribed and witlessly contrived manner? Put another way, will anything essential have changed when today’s radical egalitarians are replaced by tomorrow’s ethno-nationalists, or will we merely see the flip side of the same phenomenon, the future “tails” to match the present-day “heads”?

This a question that deserves an answer. Are we just as bad as the wannabe Bernsteins? I think that there are large elements of the ‘Dissident Right’ that fringe for fringe’s sake, and enjoy getting into infantile games of ‘I’m more right-wing than you’ until they reach complete and unutter Skyrim LARP irrelevance. In a recent episode of The Daily Shoa 14.88: Right-Wing Pokemon, The Death Panel discussed some of the more absurd libertarian-induced strains of edgy-autistic reactionary thought. Read the transcript of Ghoul’s great analysis here. But I don’t buy into Nowicki’s nihilism that we are all just depraved puppets, searching for a master to pull our strings. I acknowledge there is a real undercurrent of malcontent that is based upon a dispossession, that is a product of the institutional machinations of a hostile, leftist zeitgeist.

What I’ve come to realise, the more I have read and immersed myself in ‘the edge’ of the dissident right, is that all of the thoughts and feelings that you have and things you experience have been shared by so many others. In your personal life and social circle, you might be frothing extremist for not believing in equality, or risk becoming a pariah for expressing doubts about the fruits of ‘womens’ liberation’, but online, you’re a milquetoast sellout conservative beta male who enables the matrix and promotes the feminine imperative because you have a job, vote and want to get married at some point. The initial ‘rush’ of the red pill is intoxicating and feels great, and a bit of ranting and vicarious travel through the similar experiences of others is warranted. But there is only so much that can be gleaned from this, and it’s easy to be seduced by your own ‘rationalisation-hamster’. If you listen too closely to the likes of Roosh and Captain Capitalism, you could be misled into thinking that all western women are useless sluts, and forget about achieving anything in your professional life because ‘the economy is stuffed’ and ‘the lefties are out to get you’. By being extreme, right-wing reactionaries polarise their audience and draw more loyal support, as well as those who just enjoy audacity and snark for its own sake. They need this to stay relevant, create twitter wars and make themselves heard.

Coming to this realisation is important. The fact that I want to live in a stable economy with low crime, not be displaced demographically, and be able to go about life without dildos being shoved in my face is actually pretty normal. It is to play into the progressive narrative to think that these are extremities, relics of a bygone era that belong in the dustbin of history. We are the normal ones. It is all-too-tempting to get carried away with becoming the truest Scotsman, so that you becoming a LARPing child, posting medieval images of knights and dames on your twitter feed, who belongs in the sand-pit.

That is not to say that the internet is not an extremely valuable, decentralised mechanism for spreading dissenting thought and generating followers and new content. We need writers, artists, publishers and authors to continue their great work, and publishing online does not in any way diminish what they do. As a subscriber, reader or just as ‘one of us’ you have found a community-of-sorts, which can be a rabbit-hole of its own. Navigating Vantardism, and just the generally antisocial-freakshow that is social media can be difficult for us ‘big-tent’ special-snowflakes.

So for the millenarian, hard-right reactionary reader, take heart. Yes, your university is leftist and your corporate diversity training fires up the ovens buried deep in your Schutzstaffel heart. Yes, the media and culture-at-large has lied to you and is actively subverting our own proud history, tradition and culture of the West. Instead of churning out Magic card Gravatars of yourself as a Neo-Monarchist-Papist riding a silver stallion, summoning thunderbolts, engage with your (real, physical) friends and colleagues. Read real books, find others open to your ideas and become a better man (or woman) by actually living out the values you have chosen. Ask questions about the narrative collisions that are becoming more and more pronounced, and accept some of the realities of the time and place that we live in.

The Homestead Fantasy

It is something of a ritual for young 20-somethings to read Walden; or A Life in the Woods, and pine for the simple truths of life to reveal themselves while amongst nature, to follow the path laid out by the 19th century transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”

Combine this spiritual quest with the modern incarnation of the American frontiersmen, the Tea Party constitutionalist, who wishes to escape the clutches of the bureaucratic police-state, and be left alone to fly his Gadsden Flag and watch Alex Jones, and you have the 21st century Neo-Homesteader. (more…)

On Language and the Modern Male

I’ve been reflecting on the dissatisfaction of young men in the west. I think that in a large part, it stems from the nature of the modern economy. Our jobs are removed from our communities. Upon moving out of home, we are given a choice of either living an a rat’s nest inner city apartment or a commute in traffic for hours from the vast wastelands of outer suburbia. To buy either of these less-than-preferable real estate options requires debt-servitude to the banking cartel, making your life’s mission to pay them, rather than your family, community or your own pursuits. (more…)

The Right Side of History

Success may be interpreted as a combination of being content with one’s position and satisfied with accomplishments that are in some way recognised within a broader community. (I don’t recognise the authority of your LARP King – or your WoW level 42 dwarf existence!). I posit that being on the “right side of history” is an essential element to overcoming hurdles and taking advantages of the changes that occur on a major scale around the world. This involves a degree of luck for many who happen to be in the right place at the right time. What I am concerned with is how one can identify trends on a macro level within countries and around the world; socially, economically and ideologically, so as to profit from them personally. (more…)

Class and Status in the 21st Century

18th century hunting party

Society has undergone a process of democratization. Whereas once one’s parents’ occupation, and one’s own, as well as corresponding tastes, speech, dress and mannerisms could designate one as ‘blue collar’, ‘middle class’ or ‘upper-middle’, the economy has undergone such a restructuring that it’s longer possible to reliably estimate a person’s background and lifestyle having only observed one or two of these markers.

Take for example, the working class. (more…)

Why you need an online business

In this ‘post-industrial’ age of service and consumption based economies in the western world, jobs are not what they used to be. The days of working for an employer for 25+ years, taking long service leave and retiring with a gold watch are relics of the past. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but I point out the key difference – most commentators will tell you that the key to success in the modern workplace is to abandon loyalty, stay ‘adaptable’ and ‘dynamic’, and deal with chopping and changing employers, and even careers. There is usually some mention of ‘Gen Y’ and how they have different values. What a load of poppyco*k. The real reason why young workers don’t have ‘loyalty’ (as though this is a measurable metric) is that the employment market with its needless credentialism (‘Masters preferred’ for your clerical job, anyone?), insecurity and low rates of pay do not offer a steady career path of meaningful, and dignified work.

Time_Millennial (more…)

Welcome to Treason and Treachery!

I’ve been reading blogs for years, and have spent countless hours scrolling, immersing myself in the depth of analysis and discussion that occurs on the blogosphere. I started with the standard US style pro-liberty, ventured into the Survivalism/Prepper world for a while, then to the lifestyle design a la Tim Ferris, then to the Appmosphere, then the Financial Planning/Advising/Newsletter world and then to what is referred to as the ‘Manosphere’.

At different times, different areas appealed to me. When the long hours and drudgery of the Corporate world got me down, the ‘Four hour work week’ mentality really hit home. When I was a poor student, partying and driving everywhere, the anti-police state movement really got me passionate about liberty. What I’m trying to do is tie the whole thing together. I think a lot of young men in the western world have experienced the same powerlessness, frustration and anger with the world around them and the seemingly limited options available.

One of my greatest passions is wealth. Not being ‘rich’, having bling and ostentatious social markers or the snobby martyrism of ‘I don’t need to show my wealth so I drive a beaten-up Volvo’. What drives my interest is the concept. The idea that there is this intangible, bought and sold thing called known as ‘wealth’. It controls some and is controlled by others. It does not flow to the most talented or intelligent, the righteous or the worthy. It can be built up over a life given away working day by day, or come across by the sheer luck of a lottery ticket number or the ‘right’ parents.

I am on my own path to find value in the world around me. I know what my passions are right now: surfing, skiing, wine, eating, hunting, sunshine, wilderness and stimulating conversation. I know they will change in the future. What I want to find is my niche. My way of living, truly living, without all the compromises that we are taught to concede to at such a young age. This is why I write and I invite you to read about my experiences and ideas, comment and contribute.

Gustav