I spent several decades of my life as a fervent evangelical Christian. The first time I doubted my faith I was thirteen years old. I didn't understand why God allowed horrific suffering. So my father bought me a book about basic Christian apologetics, which directly addressed the problem of evil, and I was satisfied. For many years I read only apologetic literature by the likes of Lee Strobel and Ravi Zacharias.
Bad, bad idea.
Here's Mark Manson on the concept of epistemic humilty:
Knowledge is an eternal iterative process. We don’t go from “wrong” to “right” once we discover the capital-T Truth. Rather, we go from partially wrong to slightly less wrong, to slightly less wrong than that, to even less wrong than that, and so on. We approach the capital-T truth, but never reach it.
If you are unwilling to step outside of your assumptions and reconsider everything, you've locked your feet into place. You cannot move. You cannot evolve. It's a form of fundamentalism, really. Confirmation bias - seeking out only those things that agree with you - is a toxic, costly fault that's built into the human brain. Like gravity, you have to exert energy to fight it. But if you don't fight it, you might just waste years of your life believing in magic.
Eventually I snapped out of it, thanks to a year long process of thorough reading. I delved pretty deeply into the philosophy of religion, read widely on the problem of evil, the historicity of the Gospels, evolutionary theory, epistemology, the problem of the mind, and so on. Luke Muelhauser, formerly of Common Sense Atheism, pointed me towards some amazing books, debates, and papers. I'll always be indebted to him - this person I've never met (incidentally, this is why I've linked to him on my main page).
In conclusion: if you don't want to waste years of your life, challenge your assumptions.
how to write a book about a white supremacist misogynist without being a white supremacist misogynist
This summer, I was in rural Scandinavia, and saw a group of black kids get beat up by another crew of kids, maybe 20, all white. At the end of the brawl one of the white kids throws a heil hitler salute and shouts some nationalistic slogan. The rest of the night, I couldn't relax. I was on edge, wondering if I'd need to throw down.
I have never felt anything other than love from the European side of my family. Speaking the native tongue helps, obviously. But such is the life of a hybrid - every now and then, you remember yourself looking in from the outside. The world reminds you there is a part of you that is the Other, a part that does not belong.
When I was a kid growing up in Canada, I always understood what Whiteness was. Quickly, one learns what it is and what it represents. And I hated it - I hated it so much.
That which you can never join - you learn to despise. Either that or you repudiate your heritage so thoroughly that none of it remains.
Beta Male was a novel I knew had to be written. I wrote it because I had to. I was sick of these straw-manned, simplified moralizing tales about race, these fucking Hollywood movies packed with platitudes and moral epiphanies and wholehearted redemption.
That's not the way the world works. It's not that clean.
If you're going to write a novel about bigotry - especially from the first person - it's easy to focus on a simple redemptive arc, like American History X. This is the easy thing to do. It's easy to ignore the fact the overwhelming majority of organized racism centers around some form of scientific racism.
This is the Hollywood way: avoiding the very core of an ideology, throwing in some heartwarming epiphanies, and calling it a day. The alternative is something like Atlas Shrugged - basically, constant speechifying where the protagonists or characters are mouthpieces first, and people second. Of course, that's not a real story. That's an essay with characters. Narrative is unique in its ability to move others.
Here is the ironic thing: to write a novel about a bigot, you have to humanize him. That's the only way. You have to draw him in a full sketch. You can't leave anything out. You have to focus on his vulnerability, which is the core of his hatred. You have the acknowledge his beliefs. Then, you confront the costs of his anger indirectly. You don't need a Paul on the Road to Damascus moment when-everything-suddenly-becomes-so-clear. You can show his shell cracking, and the light peeking through. That's both more realistic, and more powerful.
It's the same thing with misogyny. It's a simple thing to return hatred with our own hatred, to just match it. The very concept of a labeling someone as an "oppressor" is inherently dehumanizing - even if they are oppressing you.
Hath not a Jew eyes?
Consider "The Red Pill," a subreddit that has been roundly condemned for perpetuating extreme misogyny. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it's basically a group of men who've combined male dating advice with pop evolutionary psychology. Here's a post I found that showed me the vein that runs through this ideology - and if you've "taken the red pill" and don't think it's an ideology, then you're wrong.
I am "bipolar," or in retrospect finding temporary meaning in external things (money, women, career, physical image, fame) resulting in mania and elation, only to see all these temporary things fall away leaving me depressed, and sometimes suicidal / hospitalized. I'm not being general, I made 100k one year, "dated" 8 or 9 women this year, put out two albums, etc. Yay, ego!
Does this sound like pure madness? There are grains of truth almost everywhere. Who among us has not had a bad experience with a relationship and had a dark night of the soul? If you haven't had an epiphany like this, you haven't been paying enough attention, regardless of your gender.
My theory of misogyny is that it's a form of nihilism - a belief that love is unattainable. Here is the process by which it occurs:
Science is a difficult enterprise fraught with errors. Here's a post by one of the fathers of The Red Pill that argues that women are able to move on easily after a breakup because their ancestors were captured and raped by warring tribesmen, and those who couldn't bond with their rapist captors and raise their children were wiped out of the gene pool.
Based on what evidence? Is this anything more than a just-so story? Why are the Yazidi women captured by ISIS trying to kill themselves, then?
Except, interpreted through the experience of a young man who's just been dumped by his girlfriend, it starts to look like the unassailable truth, doesn't it?
Confirmation bias is a prison that traps the best of us. If you read only Manosphere blogs and you'll lose sight of any counterarguments. You'll lose the balance that makes you into a fully rounded human being. Jason Silva once said that cynicism is like going through life with dim glasses.
"ALL WOMEN ARE LIKE THAT," The Red Pill says, emphasizing the selfishness and solipsism of women. Yes, that's why women like Nancy Yoko died fighting Ebola in Western Africa.
I don't want people to spend their lives in a prison that they've built for themselves. That's what nihilism is, and that's the real reason I wrote Beta Male.
Of all the things in this world, hope is what you should give up last.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis