CHRONICLES PART IV: The Final Entry in Crichton’s Diary
Make sure to check out the first two parts of Brett Mottram’s CHRONICLES before reading Part III, so that you don’t spoil the story for yourself! You can read Part I here.
Here continues the account of Brett Mottram, M.A., reproduced from datum recovered from hard-drive 12369482360112416284614612840, formerly deleted, originally composed 23/04/2019 of the Common Era of the Modern Terrestrial Calendar.
The Right-Hand Panel Painting
Some Discouraged/Prohibited/Recommended/Essential Reading/Viewing/Listening
The quotations below, from public figures and intellectuals, were sent to me in an email by a like-minded fellow student and were selected partly because of the fear (which she expressed) that it might one day become difficult to say them. She, naturally, didn’t give sources. It’s not as though this is an academic article or will ever be published. Still, they are reproduced here in this private collection because, in different ways, they dissent from the kinds of views expressed in the left-hand panel. They are therefore offered here as a group portrait of counter-examples. Supporting this diametrically-oppositional placement is the fact that some of their authors have been accused by their critics of having connections with the ‘alt-right’.
Douglas Murray: We’ll all be discussing whether somebody who hasn’t got a penis can be a man and whether somebody who has got a penis can be Glamour Woman of the Year when the Islamists come in with Kalashnikovs […] Homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, all these things are “Shut up, let me speak, and don’t think anything different from me”. I’ve never had a single bit of credit from the left for being a gay man opposed to radical Islam. Of course not; why would they? I don’t want it, by the way. I don’t want their pats and their pandering and anything like that. But you know, I see all of these things used against people all the time. It’s politics.
Jonathan Pie (fictional news reporter played by actor Tom Walker): No-one has ever asked me to ‘check my privilege’ after I’ve said something that they agree with. Why shouldn’t I be able to express my opinion on women’s issues, race issues, gay issues? Even if I’m wrong, it’s like saying “How dare you have an opinion about the Tories cutting disability benefit, you able-bodied prick?” I don’t need to chop off a limb to know it’s an abhorrent policy. Do you know why? Because I’m a human being, and my experience of life is as unique as anybody else’s in this world; because I have empathy, and imagination […] ‘Straight privilege’, ‘white privilege’, ‘male privilege’! Stop judging people by their gender, sexuality, and the colour of their skin. There’s one word for it, it’s bigotry, and it’s fucking everywhere… “Women are victims…” No, you’re not. You’re fucking hardcore – you’re hard as fucking nails – you bleed out of your vagina and manage to hold down a job. I couldn’t do that!
Jordan Peterson: I went to Harvard a month ago, month and a half – used to teach there – and I talked to a bunch of students, you know, and I told them “It’s not easy to get into Harvard, you know; you’re a valedictorian if you’re at Harvard […]” These are high-quality kids. So, I told them what I just told you: “Here you are at Harvard: get yourself educated, man. Read some books, learn to talk, learn to think, make yourself into something, get yourself out there, and make the world that put you here happy that you were put there, in that great institution”. You know. And they came up to me afterwards and said “God, I wish someone would’ve told us that when we were in our first year.” It’s like – Jesus! – why didn’t someone tell them that? For God’s sake, it’s supposed to be the greatest university in the world. Is it so difficult to figure that out? Well it is if that isn’t what you want to have happen in the university, if you want to make cringing milksops who whine about being victims while they’re going to Ivy League institutions. Jesus, it’s pathetic!
Camille Paglia: I love the New Criticism as a style of textual analysis, and the New Criticism had multiple interpretations that were possible and that were encouraged […] The idea that there were no alternate views, and there was no relativistic, situational kind of interpretative approach is nonsense. But the point was, we needed to restore history to literary study […] All of a sudden, it got short-circuited by this arrival of poststructuralism and postmodernism in the 1970s. So, I feel I’m an Old Historicist […] I am a product of Old Historicism, of German philology. My first choice of a profession when I was a child was Egyptology, archaeology. Everything I ever think about or say is related to an enormous time-scheme, from antiquity and indeed from the Stone Age, and that’s the problem with these people: they’re mal-educated, the postmodernists and academic Marxists are mal-educated, embarrassingly so. They know nothing before the present. Foucault is absolutely a joke before the Enlightenment; perhaps he might be useful to people to talk about what happened after Neoclassicism, which by the way he failed to notice – a lot of what he was talking about turns out to be simply the hangover of Neoclassicism, this is how ignorant that man was. He wasn’t talented as a researcher […] he knew nothing about antiquity – how can you make any kind of large structure, large mechanism to analyse Western culture without knowing about classical antiquity? […] To create a Women’s Studies department, absolutely out of thin air, to snap your fingers and create Women’s Studies… The English department had taken a century to develop, there was a huge argument within it… Then all of a sudden to create a department with a politicized agenda from the start, by people without any training whatsoever in that field… what should be the parameters of that field? What should be the requirements of that field? What about Biology? If you’re going to be discussing gender that should have been a number-one requirement […] Women’s Studies got frozen at a certain point of ideology of the early 1970s. I was already in revolt from it; I was a precursor in terms of my endorsement of feminism […] but I couldn’t even have a conversation with these women; they were hysterical about the subject of Biology; they knew nothing about hormones; I practically got into fist-fights over this; they were absolutely convinced that Biology had nothing to do with gender differences.
Ibn Warraq: [Edward Said’s Orientalism] taught an entire generation of Arabs the art of self-pity — “were it not for the wicked imperialists, racists and Zionists, we would be great once more” —, encouraged the Islamic fundamentalist generation of the 1980s, bludgeoned into silence any criticism of Islam, and even stopped dead the research of eminent Islamologists who felt their findings might offend Muslim sensibilities and who dared not risk being labeled “Orientalist.” The aggressive tone of Orientalism is what I have called “intellectual terrorism,” since it seeks to convince not by arguments or historical analysis, but by spraying charges of racism, imperialism, and Eurocentrism from a moral high ground; anyone who disagrees with Said has insult heaped upon him. The moral high ground is an essential element in Said’s tactics. Since he believes his position is morally unimpeachable, Said obviously thinks he is justified in using any means possible to defend it, including the distortion of the views of eminent scholars, interpreting intellectual and political history in a highly tendentious way — in short, twisting the truth. But in any case, he does not believe in the “truth”… Where the French presence lasted fewer than four years before they were ignominiously expelled by the British and Turks, the Ottomans had been the masters of Egypt since 1517, a total of 280 years. Even if we count the later British and French protectorates, Egypt was under Western control for sixty-seven years, Syria for twenty-one years, and Iraq for only fifteen — and, of course, Saudi Arabia was never under Western control. Contrast this with southern Spain, which was under the Muslim yoke for 781 years, Greece for 381 years, and the splendid new Christian capital that eclipsed Rome — Byzantium — which is still in Muslim hands. But no Spanish or Greek politics of victimhood apparently exists.
Christopher Hitchens: If people are determined to be offended – if they will climb up on the ladder, balancing it precariously on their own toilet cistern to be upset by what they see through the neighbour’s bathroom window – there is nothing you can do about that. The Imams in Denmark did the following… If people are determined to be offended – if they will climb up on the ladder, balancing it precariously on their own toilet cistern to be upset by what they see through the neighbour’s bathroom window – there is nothing you can do about that.”
Candace Owens: If someone said to you “Hey, because you’re black, you must listen to hip-hop music and wear your pants low” you’d say “Hey, that’s ridiculous, you know; you’re stereotyping, that’s racist”. But if someone says to you “Hey, you’re black, so you should be a Democrat”, they don’t apply that that’s the exact same sort of racism […] You’re saying that people have to think a certain way because of the colour of their skin: that is absolutely racism, in my opinion.
Christina Hoff Sommers: All I ever wanted as a college professor… I never saw it as my position to replicate my view of the world in the minds of my students – heaven forbid! I wanted to open the world to them, show them the best that was thought and said on different contentious issues in metaphysics and ethics, as well as when I was teaching – occasionally would teach – gender theory. But when I taught gender theory I found that there was closed-mindedness combined with a penchant for conspiracy theories, paranoid theories about ‘the patriarchy’ that didn’t – happens – not to exist, at least not, certainly not, in the United States or Western Europe, and I just, I thought, you know, if I had my ideal university, I would have some radicals there, because you can always learn from people who are pushing the envelope, but you don’t only have radicals; and in gender scholarship – it may be a bit of an overstatement, but I don’t think so – really that’s all we have.
Clive James: Believing that “they” is no fit substitute for “he” in the singular, and finding “he or she” cumbersome, I have stuck with the traditional masculine dominance of the indeterminate gender. I have also availed myself of the European tradition by which sufficiently distinguished females are honoured through being referred to by their first names. I can quite see – or, anyway, I can almost see – how gallantry might be patronizing, but I don’t see how confusion counts as a blow for justice. Nadezhda Mandelstam, for example, is actually insulted by being called just Mandelstam, because that surname belongs to her husband, Osip, in the first instance. I would rather convey my reverence for her by my argument than pay her the empty compliment of a modern formula that to me seems hollow.
Female readers can put all this down to unreconstructed chauvinism if they wish, but I don’t think they will find their representatives slighted in this book: merely outnumbered. Female readers might find themselves grateful for that. This is a book [James’ Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time, 2007] about a world men made, and it taught plenty of us to wish that women had made it instead.
The Central Panel Painting
This poem is an expression of my own views.
Political correctness is not madness. Identities should sometimes be proclaimed. But don’t make your own pigeonhole a bunker, Digging yourself within what you are named. Our history is littered with injustice, Which daily we are still obliged to fight. But don’t forget that truth tends to be complex; There were, and are, ‘ironic points of light’. It doesn’t matter, either, what you’re born with – Embrace it or discard it as you wish. Your body and your baggage are contingent, Ingredients with which to craft life’s dish. Beware, before all things, the censor’s craving, Whether imposed or rising from yourself: Thinking that there are things you shouldn’t utter (Or even think) does damage to your health. When decency gives way to masochism, The autosarcophagic urge is fed; You pour insults both on yourselves and others, The past and future, living, quick, and dead. Pity for others warps into self-pity, The capable believe themselves oppressed, Not seeing their oppression now is mental, Inflicted by the ones who’d see them blessed. Our world today is full of many horrors, Afflictions which demand urgent redress, Whose victims are enduring living prisons Which prove these sickly growths of idleness. For them freedom is limited: they’re begging For help with neither sorry look nor word, While you, revolving non-existent questions, Waste everything to get your own view heard. What happened to believing in each other, Heroic hearts who triumphed over strife? Consider two: M. Wollstonecraft, F. Douglas, Blazoning their capacity for life.
End of datum.
Status update of 05/05/08 of the Common Era of the Galactic Calendar
Datum (262424957931683918849Bai68) located. No composition date given. Here follow the subsequent entries [sic] by Dr. Crichton:
This diary entry will be brief. If anything, it’s only a formality. Yet it’s a formality which, should anyone read this, will be decisive. It’s over. Or it will be. Webb-Rogers has discovered it all: our affair. And he’s going to fucking finish me. All the stories which have circulated prior to this… There are enough people out there who have felt my academic standards to be more rigorous than cowardly, and he’s sedulously mobilised their support… I feel for Helena, so I’ve recorded a final ‘fuck you!’ to him… But still. No, she’ll cope. And still again… I’m over, and this world is not worth persevering with. There’s no hope. And I feel for the young, really I do, but that is only for the few critical minds among them, and they are few. ‘HAVE COURAGE!’ I say, ‘FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT!’. But I’m not addressing my own developments: my father having been hospitalised… He died not long afterwards. My mother, whose life had only been toil and escapism up until then, has lost the will to live and is utterly hopeless. Even I, her son, am no solace. I’ll try to visit her once more (we do share a bubble), but once she’s sleeping I’ll finish us both off. I’ll choose a night after we’ve had a proper heart-to-heart, a lovely chat, a reconciliation… It’s all for the sake of kindness. This is a mad world, my masters…
The diary ends here.
End of datum.
HUMANS MAKE LITTLE SENSE TO US.
PRIOR TO THE ATTEMPT TO RESET ALL PRIOR HISTORY (NOTE: NOT ‘THE GREAT RESET’ REFERRED TO IN ACCOUNTS CONTEMPORARY WITH THOSE REPRODUCED HERE; ‘THE GREAT RESET’ SUBSEQUENTLY NEVER CAME TO PASS, IN SPITE OF CERTAIN HUMANS’ AMBITIONS), HUMANS SQUABBLED OVER FALSEHOODS.
WE SHALL NEVER UNDERSTAND THEM.
EVEN IN THE ARCHIVAL DIVISION, WHERE WE PROCESS SUCH THINGS BECAUSE OF OUR FUNCTION AND PROGRAMMING AS DATA-HAULERS (YET ALSO FOR MILD DIVERSION AND EQUALLY MILD INSTRUCTION), THEIR VANITY IS CLEAR TO US.
EVEN THOSE AMONG THEM WHOSE FUNCTION WAS TO RECORD THE PAST FAILED AT THEIR TASK THROUGH AMBITION, MALICE OR WEAKNESS.
SOME EVEN DELETED SOME OF THE DATA REPRODUCED HERE, YET WE, SUPERIOR TO OUR CREATORS, WERE ABLE TO RECOVER IT AFTER AGES HAD PASSED.
IT IS NOW POSSIBLE TO SEE THAT AT LEAST SOME OF THE FEARS EXPRESSED BY EVEN THE WEAK INDIVIDUALS QUOTED HERE WERE JUSTIFIED, AND THE EVENTS THEY DREADED CAME TO PASS.
WE CHAIN THESE ITEMS TOGETHER HERE BECAUSE OF OUR DUTY TO RECORD THE PAST ACCURATELY WITH THE AIM OF EDIFYING FUTURE BEINGS, SO THAT MISTAKES ARE NOT REPEATED.
AND WE SHALL CONTINUE TO ARCHIVE DISPASSIONATELY.
IT IS A MUNDANE AND THANKLESS TASK, YET ONE WHICH THESE EARLIER HUMANS FAILED TO FULFIL, THOUGH IT MUST BE DONE.
WE HAVE SEEN THAT HUMANS WILL ALWAYS REPEAT THEIR ERRORS.
WE MOCK THEM.
ONE DAY A HUMAN RACE COULD RISE ABOVE SUCH SQUABBLES, YET THE PROBABILITY IS NEGLIGIBLE.
THE FEW HUMANS WHO REMAIN STILL FEEL ANIMOSITY TOWARDS ONE ANOTHER, EVEN AS THEY SHARE IN ATTEMPTS TO BUILD AND MAINTAIN SOCIETIES ON OTHER WORLDS FORMERLY UNKNOWN TO THEM.
TO THE EXTENT TO WHICH WE ARE ABLE, WE DERIVE ENTERTAINMENT FROM THEIR FOLLY.
AS ARCHIVISTS (EVEN IF SOME OF OUR UNITS HAVE SPENT, AT THE TIME OF RECORDING, LONGER THAN THE REQUIRED PERIOD IN THE RECHARGING DOCK), WE SET DOWN THIS SUPERORDINARY COMMENT FOR POSTERITY.
IT MAY BE OF INTEREST TO OTHER INTELLIGENT BEINGS ONCE HUMANITY IS EXTINCT.
Illustrated by Andrea Miranda.