NRA: Cater to their feelings

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 120-122

First, a quick reminder that Buck Williams is a jerk:

It was nearly time for Buck to head for Palwaukee Airport. Verna Zee was back at the Global Community Weekly office with the new (to her) used car Buck had promised to buy her from the fleet of leftovers from New Hope.

Verna, you’ll remember, had graciously loaned Buck her car so that he could go to look for Chloe after the bombs fell.

He abused it, blowing a tire, and then abandoned it. He’d promised Verna to replace it with “a better car,” and, apparently, has fulfilled that promise as minimally as possible.

A few chapters back Buck bought a car for himself. He used his Global Weekly credit card to buy a $100,000 Range Rover even though it was for personal use, not for work. (Buck stopped doing work in the last book, although he still collects his salary.) But he won’t use the company credit card to replace the car he took from his employee. She’ll have to make do with one of the Rapture-surplus cars Loretta had collected at New Hope.

I’m sure Loretta and Donny Moore gave Buck a competitive price for the car — just like with the laptops. I’m picturing them in the church office, counting the money, as Donny asks, “Do you think Buck will ever realize we just sold him Irene Steele’s car?”

Loretta, we’re told, “was at the church office fielding the constant phone calls about Sunday’s memorial service.”

And here’s how I imagine those calls going:

“No, it’s just for Bruce. Only Bruce. … Yes, I realize that our church lost dozens of members in the bombing, and millions more are dead all over the country, but … no, no, you’re right. You’re absolutely right, but it’s not up to me. … Buck Williams planned it. … Exactly, yes. …”

Chloe hobbled around on a cane, needing crutches but unable to manage them with her sprained wrist in a sling. That left Amanda to take Buck to the airport.

“I want to ride along,” Chloe said.

“Are you sure you’re up to it, hon?” Buck said.

Chloe’s voice was quavery. “Buck, I hate to say it, but in this day and age we never know when we might or might not ever see each other again.”

“You’re being a little maudlin, aren’t you?” he said.

The last time Chloe left the house she was badly injured in a car wreck due to a nuclear bomb. She also knows, for a fact, that the second, third and fourth seals of divine wrath are being poured out on the world, meaning that “a fourth of the world” will be dead in the weeks to come. So rather than seeming maudlin, her comment seems appropriate.

But the authors have to treat this like a “quavery” bit of overly emotional thinking on her part because that will allow Buck to callously dismiss her feelings, after which the authors, through Amanda, can deliver yet another Lesson in Christian Marriage.

That’s the point here, with this lesson meant to be some Mars-Venus business about men being too practical and unfeeling while women are overly emotional. The authors here are thus reminding good, godly husbands that they need to cater to the sensitivities of the weaker sex and pretend to be paying attention when their wives prattle on about their feelings. This is similar to the earlier Lesson in Christian Marriage in which godly husbands were urged to pretend to appreciate any “frilly,” feminine knick-knacks their wives have used to decorate the home.

That’s my summary, but look at what the authors have written here and judge for yourself if it’s accurate:

“You’re being a little maudlin, aren’t you?” he said.

“Buck!” Amanda said in a scolding tone. “You cater to her feelings now. I had to kiss my husband good-bye in front of the Antichrist. You think that gives me confidence about whether I’ll ever see him again?”

Buck was properly chastised.

The lesson here seems to be, roughly, “Husbands, cater to her feelings and make her think you’re really listening when your wife talks about … oh, you know … whatever it is that wives talk about when they talk about all that woman-ish stuff.” I can’t figure out whether the authors are simply unaware of the way their lesson on listening reveals that they don’t listen, or if this is actually meant to sound patronizing. I may think of “patronizing” as a bad thing, but I’m not sure the authors agree that it is. (If husbands are patrons, after all, why shouldn’t they be patronizing?)

After the lesson, Buck, Chloe and Amanda pile into the Range Rover — Buck driving, of course, because it’s his car and because penis — and head toward Palwaukee Airport.*

Buck was amazed that the built-in TV had survived Chloe’s crash. He was not in a position to see it, but he listened as Amanda and Chloe watched. Nicolae Carpathia, in his usual overly humble manner, was holding forth.

Nicolae Carpathia, we have just been told, usually comes across as “overly humble.” He seems like a fake, in other words, a condescending phony.

He is a fake, of course. He’s the Antichrist — a false messiah. But the thing about any decent false messiah is that he has to seem like the real deal. That’s the salient fact about actual phonies — they seem genuine.

I think part of the problem here is that the authors simply do not trust their readers to dislike Nicolae without making him utterly unlikeable. This despite the title of the book: Nicolae: Rise of the Antichrist. His rise, we are told, is due entirely to his charisma, his preternatural charm and superlative eloquence. Yet they’re afraid to allow him to be or even to seem charismatic or charming or eloquent.

Instead what we get is every bad writer’s favorite method of making one character seem smart: making everyone else seem stupid. Consider poor Chaim Rosenzweig. He’s supposed to be a genius, but he comes across as clueless and dimwitted, utterly fooled by Nicolae’s obvious fraudulence and “overly humble” phoniness.

In this scene it’s not just the foolish Rosenzweig who is fooled by Nicolae’s obvious pretense — it’s the entire world.

Jerry Jenkins’ provided himself with another way of handling this. Back in the first book of the series he went to great lengths to establish that the Antichrist has supernatural powers of mind control. I keep waiting for him to make use of that in scenes like this — to suggest that Nicolae is working his mojo on the whole world through this broadcast while only the redeemed, those who enjoy the magic of divine protection, can hear what’s really going on.

But Jenkins doesn’t do that here. Instead, he falls back into the trap he set for himself by insisting that Nicolae is the greatest orator and most convincing speaker of all time.

Again, don’t ever do this to yourself as a writer. Don’t ever give a key character any superlative skill that will at some point have to be demonstrated on the page. Robin Hood stories are fine — you can describe an arrow hitting its target without having to wield the bow yourself. But don’t try to tell readers about the world’s greatest poet, or the world’s funniest comedian, or the most compelling orator of all time, because eventually you’ll have to back that up by supplying the poetry, jokes or oratory that live up to such descriptions. And unless you are, yourself, the greatest poet, funniest comedian, or most compelling speechwriter in all the world, then you’re trapped.

Jenkins is trapped. He is not the greatest speechwriter in the world. He is, rather, a terrible writer of terrible speeches.

And instead of great, or good, or even adequate oratory from Nicolae, what Jenkins gives us instead is this:

“Make no mistake, my brothers and sisters, there will be many dark days ahead. It will take tremendous resources to begin the rebuilding process, but because of the generosity of the seven loyal global regions and with the support of those citizens in the other three areas who were loyal to the Global Community and not to the insurrectionists, we are amassing the largest relief fund in the history of mankind. This will be administered to needy nations from New Babylon and the Global Community headquarters under my personal supervision.”

So New Babylon, the capital of the one-world government established after all nations were abolished, is going to oversee the distribution of “relief funds” to the various nations that need them. What?

“With the chaos that has resulted from this most sinister and unwise rebellion, local efforts to rebuild and care for the displaced will likely be thwarted by opportunists and looters. The relief effort carried out under the auspices of the Global Community will be handled in a swift and generous way that will allow as many loyal members of the Global Community as possible to return to their prosperous standard of living.

“Continue to resist naysayers and insurrectionists. Continue to support the Global Community. And remember that though I did not seek this position, I accept it with gravity and with resolve to pour out my life in service to the brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind. I appreciate your support as we set about to sacrificially stand by each other and pull ourselves out of this morass and to a higher plane than any of us could reach without the help of the other.”

It’s difficult to imagine that banal, contentless speech uniting the entire world behind its beloved leader. I’m not sure I can imagine anyone listening to the whole thing without changing the channel.

Buck shook his head. “He sure tells ‘em what they wanna hear, doesn’t he?”

Set aside that the meaningless pile of throat-clearing noises above is being presented to us as an example of superlative oratory. Focus, instead, on the idea that this speech is also the authors’ best attempt to convey an oily politician pandering to the masses and giving them exactly “what they wanna hear.”

Who, ever, in all the long history of human experience, has ever wanted to hear that? How are the masses being pandered to by that indecipherable puddle of rhetoric?

This echoes the problem we saw earlier with the Lesson in Christian Marriage. Husbands are instructed to seem like they’re listening to their wives when they say all that stuff they’re probably saying, whatever it is. And politicians are criticized for pandering to the masses for saying all that stuff the masses want to hear, like …  you know, whatever that stuff is that the people want.

The authors have no idea what it is “they wanna hear,” because they view ‘em — the masses, the maddening crowd, the hoi polloi — the same way they view their wives: as alien, inscrutable and unknowable. As a different, and subordinate, species.

And thus it doesn’t occur to the authors that it’s actually very easy to portray a politician saying what everyone wants to hear. Just have him say what you want to hear. To portray a crafty Antichrist spinning words to deceive the entire world, have him say the kinds of things that would deceive you.

Sometimes the authors’ lack of empathy is due to a lack of imagination. But here — with their world as with their wives, with the masses as with the Mrs. — they avoid empathy because they regard it as impossible. Empathy works by remembering the ways that you’re just like everyone else, and the authors refuse to accept that they are.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* This is not a long trip. I looked it up. Palwaukee Airport is only about 7 miles from Mount Prospect.

Yes, they’ll be driving through a post-nuclear wasteland, but we’ve already seen that the roads are fine. The only after-effect of the nuclear attacks on Chicago’s highways seems to be that there’s less traffic than usual. And anyway that’s downtown, in Chicago itself. The city was attacked with nuclear weapons, not the suburbs. If things that happened in cities were in any way connected to life in the suburbs, then, why, suburban churches would have to change almost everything they’re doing. And that’s just silly.

Palwaukee Airport is a good 18 miles from downtown, so no problem there.

Oh, and Buck Williams is certainly the only person who decided to fly out of the smaller suburban airport after O’Hare was destroyed in the bombing. So no need to worry about crowds or a riotous mob-scene when they get there.

In real life, it’s not called “Palwaukee Airport” any more, by the way. It’s now “Chicago Executive Airport” — they changed the name about 10 years after Nicolae was written.

There may be a lesson there for anyone writing stories with a near-future setting. It’s probably best to avoid using the present-day names for any airports, stadiums, concert venues or convention halls. Those names are too likely to change, making your “future” seem oddly antiquated.

I’m not criticizing Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins for failing to foresee this name-change. It’s just a novel, after all, it’s not like the authors claim to be prophets or something. Oh, wait …

The fact that, 15 years after this book first came out, Palwaukee is now called “Chicago Executive” does not undermine the credibility of their prophecy. What does undermine their credibility as prophets is the fact that, 15 years later, the airport — and the rest of the world — is still here.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    A few years back, I read a science fiction novel where one of the villains had a Nicky-esque hypnotic power. He was a magnificent idiot who could barely string a sentence together without tripping over his tongue, but everyone who listened to him speak saw him as a lot more intelligent and charming than he really was. There was one kid who was immune to the effect, and his reactions made the situation seem a lot more surreal than it already was.

    I got that feeling whenever I watched George W. Bush give a speech.  

    Zing!  :D

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    Uh oh.  It is suddenly obvious why these books seem so awful to us and yet are so popular among RTCs.

    It’s Nicolai’s mind mojo.
    To all of us non-RTCs, his mojo makes the heroes seem like selfish, petulant buffoons and himself like a quite harmless and ineffectual character.
    But the RTCs are immune to this effect and see Rayford and Buck as the glowing saints they are and Nicolai as the embodiment of evil.

    It’s like ‘They Live’, only with Jesus instead of Roddy Piper.

  • Bificommander

    Sadly, any interesting ambiguity is unacceptable, because the whole shtick of the author’s argument is that everything is really plain and simple. It’s obvious that this is what the Bible predicts, and it is obvious who the Anti Christ is. The purpose of the characters in the story reading LaHaye’s own prophecies is to hammer home how obvious those prophecies are, and how incredibly literal they are coming true. 

    That leaves no room for the classical Greek approaches to prophecies, i.e. let the characters completely miss the ambiguous other meaning of the prophecy, or let them make the prophecies come true while trying to prevent them. The latter approach would really work with this kind of story, to make the heroes seem likable and the villain sinster and powerful: The heroes try to prevent the rise of the villain, but the villain shows his might and the inevitability of his reign by subverting or hijacking every attempt, providing a feeling of dread and helplessness until the Deus-sans-machina ending. 

    Provided the mistakes made by the heroes are believable (unlikely with Jenkins at the keyboard, but hey), it would make them much more sympathetic than these dillholes who realized the prophecies have nothing to say about their actions, and that since god is just everyone on earth deserves to be punished, and end up doing fuck-all besides quietly thinking about how much more righteous they are.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    t, so what does he have to gain from blowing up his own people under fake pretenses?

    Couple of possibilities:

    Divine Mandate! Nicolae’s as much a puppet of prophecy as everyone else. It’s not a question of gains or losses, but what he’s there to do. 

    “Consider the source, son!” Yes, the Book of Revelations says he’ll lose, but don’t you think the author might have been biased? Who’s to say that What Was Written wasn’t written down differently somewhere else? Nicolae could be following a game plan he thinks will lead to victory.

    One Thing Leads to Another. If people need to die of famine, utterly destroying major transportation hubs would certainly help that. If 1/3 of the waters need to become undrinkable, well, several megaton detonations casting fallout might move things in the right direction, right?

    The people will rise up against you, and they are too numerous to defeat! Tricks like relying on police and military, using the media to confuse, and hollowing out the power of the existing governments will work in the short term, but as things get worse and worse and those structures break down, control is maintained by force. It’s a lot easier to control the population of a planet by force if you whittle down that population to a more manageable size. 

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    Oh I see now why Jenkins never mentions all the dead children, or talks about the bare facts of all the people who’ve died and what that means. To do so would be maudlin

    Buck is perhaps the least observant human being in the history of the world. This is not a quality one should give to one’s viewpoint character unless one is an absolutely brilliant author. It is definitely not a quality one should give to one’s viewpoint character if said character is supposed to be the GIRAT.

  • Michael Pullmann

    It’s hilarious on several levels that Jenkins, through Chloe, uses the cliched phrase “In this day and age” to refer to the Apocalypse.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FRDTPMBW7IBKWIU3763AI6FYOM Steve

    I guess Nicky should have used the big radioactive nukes instead of the apparently tiny, nonradioactive ones that affect only airports.

  • Magic_Cracker

    “I have come to to fulfill the law and kick ass … and I’m all out of law.” [FLAMING SWORDTONGUES humanity]

  • Jenora Feuer

    There’s certainly no way Midway and Palwaukee could accommodate the enormous volume of air travel formerly handled by O’Hare [...]

    O’Hare barely accommodates the enormous volume of air travel handled by O’Hare.  If a plane is late arriving, they have to start shuffling other landing times around it, and it sets off a chain reaction of altered schedules across most of the continent.  O’Hare is already booked to full capacity most days, and it’s a really big airport.  A snowstorm hitting O’Hare throws off travel all over the place.

    And yes, I’ve to reschedule flights because a snowstorm hit while I had to fly through O’Hare to get where I was actually going.  Have I mentioned I hate hub-and-spoke flight planning systems for their lack of redundancy?

  • Magic_Cracker

    Is “maudlin” the Evangelical equivalent of Catholics’ “despair”?

  • http://twitter.com/Zornorph Zornorph

    I’m a man, but I want someone to cater to my feelings, too.

  • GDwarf

     

    It’s not Nick with the mind mojo; it’s L&J. They actually managed to
    convince millions of people that this was worth reading.

    That’s because “Tell, don’t show” works. I used to be an uncritical reader: If the author said something was so, it was so, even if what actually happened didn’t match that. So I’d have actually seen Buck as a great journalist because that’s what the narration said.

    Amusingly, it was probably MST3K and such that broke me of that: Once you start making fun of bad movies you start training your brain to question what you’re enjoying, but, at least for me, it wasn’t an automatic thing. It was a learned skill.

    Now, that’s not to say I enjoyed Left Behind when I read it. In part I was too young, something like 12 or 14, but it also bored me to tears. I didn’t know why I found it boring, but I did. But then, my parent’s (and, at the time, my) theology is quite different from Ellenjay’s, so I didn’t have the “Yeah, right!” reaction to all the prophecy stuff, which can be quite powerful.

    So let’s say you don’t read overmuch, because most people don’t. Further, the stuff you can read is somewhat restricted by cultural norms and expectations. That won’t be true for everyone who reads these books, but the core audience isn’t even allowed to read books that have swearing or non-married romance in them, which rather limits their exposure. Let’s also say that you haven’t been trained to question everything you read and that, most likely having at least a bit of an authoritarian bent, you have a mind that doesn’t notice contradictions very well*, and the books keep dropping in bits and pieces of things you genuinely believe, it’s not hard to see why you might find these books at least tolerable, maybe even enjoyable, and then all your friends say they tolerate/enjoy them, too, so your opinion of them goes up…

    *Lots of studies showing this to be the case: The more die-hard an
    authoritarian you are, the less you notice contradictions, especially
    made by “your” side. There’s also a strong correlation between the
    target audience of these books and authoritarian tendencies

  • Magic_Cracker

    I guess Nicky should have used the big radioactive nukes instead of the apparently tiny, nonradioactive ones that affect only airports.

    They probably came across the term “suitcase nukes” and thought “Well, since this is fiction, and if they already have nukes that affect only suitcases…” 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    I admit I’ve read any number of books that were problematic and didn’t really notice the problems until after I’d read them… or even after someone else pointed them out, depending on how hard I thought about it after I’d finished.

    I don’t think any of them were as badly written as these, though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bobby.herrington.1 Boze Herrington

     Thank you! Words fail me

  • fraser

     And if they tried saying what they imagine the liberal unsaved want to hear, it would be a disaster.  “You have my permission to force Christian churches to celebrate gay marriage” or something like that.

  • fraser

     I’m reminded of an article from Focus on the Family i read a couple of years back, explaining that romance novels are evil, evil things because they present women with the absurd vision of loving husbands who will actually listen to their feelings–something which is, of course, quite impossible for real men. The specific term for the books was “emo porn” because they supposedly fill the same need in women that pron fulfills in men.

  • fraser

     John Gray believes that the reason there’s so much violence in the world is that women no longer believe it’s their duty to have sex with their husbands, even when they don’t feel like it. No I’m not making that up.

  • fraser

     This is a good point. There are lots of books I don’t read closely and errors fly past until reviewers point them out.

  • fraser

     There was also an article from David Brooks some years back that waffled on (it’s Brooks, after all) about how bookstores are completely gender-segregated with the Men’s Section holding books of adventure and the women’s section holding books about “feelings, I guess.” So i guess it’s not just LH&J who have issues.
    And yes, I know Brooks is full of shit, unless he assumes the SF and mystery and general fiction are all really “men’s section” and women only go and giggle over the romances.

  • ACTUALLY DAD, DUBSTEP IS COOL

    Personally, I think of Jenkins as a magnificent writer of terrible speeches. If you ever need a really bad speech, he’s your man. He should write eulogies for dictators.

  • Damanoid

    I can’t get over how the author goes out of his way to point out  how Buck passes off somebody’s leftover death car on Verna.   Oh, it’s new– “to her!”   Practically every single thought or action these “heroes” perform is awash in selfishness and pettiness.  Even the tiniest detail of their behavior, such as the above, is driven by the need to aggrandize themselves at the expense of others.  And somehow, this is all intentional– this is somebody’s studied, carefully considered representation of how they believe Christians should act.

  • Turcano

     It doesn’t even need to be a villain speech, especially since the Antichrist is still pretending to be the good guy at this point.  Personally, I would have gone with something like a more modern version of Lincoln’s second inaugural address.

  • Turcano

     Due to the fact that the speech started with “brothers and sisters,” I read it in a stereotypical black preacher voice.

  • MaryKaye

    I had the misfortune of sitting next to a young man who was reading _Men are from Mars_ during a longish airplane trip.  I started to read over his shoulder (a bad habit, I know) and within a few pages I wanted to yank the book out of his hands and say, “Please, no.  You’ll be better off, the women in your life will be better off.  Trust me on this.”

    I think the particular bit that set me off was Gray saying that I should never allow myself to light a fire, because it’s a Special Caveman Treat for my man and these treats are super important to him.  Well, guess what?  I like to light fires too.  Gray assures us that I’m kidding myself, I don’t *really*.  Not like my husband does anyway.  It’s about as gender essentialist as you can get.

    There are points at which my husband and I fit the stereotypes:  if someone has to ask for directions, for example, it tends to be me.  But there are also points at which we don’t:  at the moment I go to work and he watches our son.  Gray wants to pretend that everyone fits *all* of the stereotypes, or if they don’t there’s something wrong with them and they ought to be trying to fit better.  It’s pretty dehumanizing.

  • Lori

    I try very hard not to be judgey about people’s reading habits. I’m aware of my tendency to be a bit of a snob and I’m also aware that there are plenty of things I love more or less unreservedly which aren’t actually very good at all. We’re all hypocrites at times, but being so blatant about it tends to make me feel guilty.

    The person who wrote that review is a fucking moron, and I don’t feel bad for saying so.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CUJHSQSQYTYT4DPZSKTVESYNQ B

    Re: John Grey and Deborah Tannen:

    Agree or disagree with her theories, Deborah Tannen has an actual PhD and does actual research on which her books are based.  (I haven’t read anything by her since I took Women’s Studies in college, but IIRC no, she’s not a gender essentialist, she thinks men and women tend to learn different patterns of communication as they grow up.)

    John Grey has a PhD from a non-accredited school that he got via correspondence course and as far as I can tell has done no real research whatsoever, just regurgitated his pre-existing beliefs out onto paper.

    So I think the resemblance is superficial.

  • pharoute

    Jenkins should’ve just borrowed one of Dr. Klahn’s speeches.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Nicolae Carpathia, we have just been told, usually comes across as “overly humble.” He seems like a fake, in other words, a condescending phony.

    Gotta be honest, the image that popped into my head here was that obnoxious “serious” expression Paul Ryan is always putting on. You know, the one where he pretends he’s sad when talking about how he just has to cut your grandparent’s Social Security benefits so that the rich can have another tax break. So, you know, all the time.

  • hidden_urchin

    Hahahahaha! In my family I am known as the master of the fire. I can build it, light it, and keep it burning. (My record is 20 hours straight.) I also occupy the number one spot- on the hearth. I love fire. (More accurately, I love being warm.) A man will take that job over my cold, dead body. (Very cold because no fire.)

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Verna Zee Sensible Shoes Confrontation Countdown: 226 pages

  • Carstonio

    Yuck. I must have missed that in Men are from Penis Planet, because I would have likely tossed the book aside in disgust. That’s what I did with Love for a Lifetime, which I started reading because I hadn’t heard of Dobson.

  • GeniusLemur

     An excellent suggestion. You have our gratitude. *Gong*

  • Baby_Raptor

    I could see it if the wife/girlfriend were pregnant, and was just showing signs of being moody. Something like “Don’t let it get to you when she snaps, it’s just the hormones.”

    Or maybe if the woman is going through some sort of crisis, and I were advising the guy to just be there and be supportive.

    But as a general marriage rule, it’s all sorts of fail.

  • CharityB

     I agree completely. In the first book, Jenkins plays around with the idea of an uncertain Antichrist — some of the characters thought it was the businessman Jonathan Stonagal while others suspected Carpathia. They didn’t go anywhere at all with it before Carpathia executes Stonagal at the UN, but if they had stretched out the drama a little longer, with multiple potential Antichrists each of whom appears to fit some but not all of the checklist requirements, it would have added more suspense.

    Not that suspense was a critical goal of Jenkins at any point in this series, but still…

  • Hexep

    what is this i dont even

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    It’s pretty much impossible to say this phrase without sounding exactly like Darth Vader.

    And this one is playing to the tune of John Mayer’s Daughters

    Husbands, cater to her feelings

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.maki Jon Maki

    It’s pretty much impossible to say this phrase without sounding exactly like Darth Vader.

    I’m actually thinking that with this rambling, incoherent word salad Nicky is coming across like Adam Sandler in Billy Madison.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    What does “cater to someone’s feelings” mean anyway? Have tissues on hand when telling a sad story to someone who cries easily? Don’t make a shy person give a public speech?

  • Dogfacedboy

    Instead what we get is every bad writer’s favorite method of making one character seem smart: making everyone else seem stupid.

    Here’s the trouble.  In order to write smart characters, the author needs to be smart.  And Jerry–well, I’m sorry.

  • Carstonio

    Even if gender essentialism weren’t to patriarchy what intelligent design is to creationism, the concept itself would still be deeply suspect. Putting aside the variations in behavior within the sexes, there’s no way to determine which sex-specific traits are innate and which are learned, because we don’t have a control group of people raised without societal influences. 

    What first bugged me about Gray was his characterization of sex differences as a romantic yin-yang fairy tale. That arguably enabled the homophobic idea of same-sex relationships as biologically and psychologically invalid.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    That leaves no room for the classical Greek approaches to prophecies

    Which is a crying shame, because those ancient Greek tragedies are chilling.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    In my experience, the meaning when people use phrases like “X caters to Y’s feelings” is something like “X does things intended to make Y feel better, or to avoid Y feeling worse, and I don’t think X ought to do that, for reasons I’m not prepared to own.”

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    John Gray believes that the reason there’s so much violence in the world is that women no longer believe it’s their duty to have sex with their husbands, even when they don’t feel like it.

    But there’s less violence than there used to be. Which means even this moronic argument is arse-backwards.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea
  • Sigaloenta

    I don’t think it’s possible for L’n’J to write compelling “oratory”, and not just because every word they write is a failure by the most basic criteria of rhetoric.  I suspect that in their worldview “rhetoric” and “oratory” are synonymous with “falsehood” and “deception.”  Because if you were saying something true and sincere and moral, you wouldn’t need to dress it up and try to trick people, right? (hint: no.)  So for them, all “rhetoric” has to be specious and weaker than the truth, because if it were not specious and not the truth, than it wouldn’t involve rhetoric.

  • Splitting Image

    Speaking of “phonies”, I just remembered a little anecdote from 2001. Ernie Coombs (Mr. Dressup) had just passed away and Fred Rogers was asked on a radio program what made Coombs a great children’s entertainer.

    Rogers’ answer was that Coombs was simply a genuine person who was able to communicate his enthusiasm for what he did. Kids can spot a phony from a young age, he said, and the moment they realize you’re not into what you’re doing, they lose their respect for you.

    I think that answers the question why the kids all had to go during the Rapture. It was the only way to assure Nicolae’s rise to power. If even one of the little rugrats had been able to hear one of Nicolae’s speeches, she’d have pointed out right away that he wasn’t really very eloquent.

  • Carstonio

    I read “cater” as not only paternalistic and patronizing, but also passive-aggressively obligatory. Apparently it’s a massive burden for a husband to listen to his wife, as if she were an equal and not a domestic servant or a brood mare.

  • Ken

     

    It fell out of the tree, nearly crushing Buck. I just still can’t figure
    out *how*. It sounded like it was going to land on its top, but instead
    it landed on its tires and was completely fine.

    Truly, the Lord moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.

  • banancat

    I’m not sure I can imagine anyone listening to the whole thing without changing the channel.

    I actually zoned out while reading it and then realized I was supposed to be paying attention and forced myself to actually read it, and still nearly zoned out again.  That’s some amazingly boring writing.


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