Sunday, August 14, 2011

Third Draft Update: 8/14/11

It's about time I stop writing revision notes and start rewriting Spanner Chapter 1. At least for now.

The reason I'm not taking part in this year's AugNoWriMo is that I'm working mainly on the third draft of Book 1. For the past week, I've been writing revision notes for Chapter 1 parts 1 and 2 and wasting time surfing TV Tropes in order to hunt for tropes to list in my notes. That hunt has been successful. I've left some excess tropes and plot ideas behind as I've revised.

The third draft is turning out to be as different from the second as the second revision is from the first. One major motif that's finally beginning to emerge is that the protagonists are supposed to be the bad guys, while the antagonists are supposed to be the good guys. This is, of course, how cop shows and superhero comics always work: only the villain is allowed to initiate the story, making them the actual protagonist. The secret story behind the hero's triumph is the tragedy of the bad guy. After all, isn't the gangster genre a form of tragedy in which the bad guys who are the tragic heroes lose even when they win? However, only now am I seeing the story finally manifest the central motif I adopted for it so long ago: "good bad guys vs. evil good guys", just like in the tales of heroic pirates such as Pirates of the Caribbean and One Piece.

Face it: Shira is an amoral superslut, Leila a horribly depressing bitch with a bad temper and a death wish, Jennifer an insufferable know-it-all who isn't too fond of men, and Sparks — well, he's the stereotypical Cyberpunk Hero, who I named after Akira's Kaneda. Their personalities are pretty unappealing, really. Their appeal actually lies in fanservice, crazy awesomeness, and Rule of Cool.

Now for the (technical) heroes...

The problem with Conservative Revolutionism is that it's The Moral Substitute for the perceived chaos and immoralism of secular humanism and its political expression, liberal democracy. The position I've arrived at in the wake of the Obama Administration's failure is that the liberals are wrong because they want big government in your pocketbook and conservatives are wrong because they want big government in your pants. Conservatives are perfectly fine with suppressing political freedom because they believe economic freedom requires the public to be made morally pure. Note to conservatives: China and Iran are your true models. The problem is that, just as Socialist Revolutionism is the Moral Substitute for the (assumed) inherent immorality of economic freedom, Conservative Revolutionism is the Moral Substitute for the (assumed) inherent immorality of political freedom. So where the 20th century was plagued by the Stalinism of the Left, we're stuck in the 21st century with the Stalinism of the Right. In fact, "Stalinism of the Right" is precisely Trotsky's definition of Fascism. Which makes Stalinism the Fascism of the Left. This is the central irony of Spanner.

Want a real-world example of a Moral Substitute? How about Christian Rock! Even better, Islamic Rock in Iran. Best of all: Patriot Country! Another example: Christian TV, which has its exact counterpart in the all-anvilicious socialist programming on Venezuela's government-owned TV channels. Apparently Comrade Chávez is as disgusted by American commercial TV as Brothers Crouch, LaHaye, and Robertson are. Therefore, like his Evangelical enemies, he provides the Moral Substitute. As Jon Stewart once mocked LaHaye's (lousy imitation of a) novel, Left Behind: "I just Saved that guy right between the eyes!" Did you know there's such a thing as Christian spanking porn domestic discipline romance fiction?

Well, anyway...

One more theme I'm foregrounding in the third draft is the political thriller genre's central opposition between official spin and objective reality. The Conservative Revolutionaries, of course, try to replace objective reality entirely with their official spin. So do the Socialist Revolutionaries. And the Earth Revolutionary Front. And the neo-Nazis, and the Nihilists, and all the other political factions that aim at seizing and/or holding onto supreme political power. We know from the disasters of the 20th century that left-wing dictatorships are just as bad as right-wing ones. Also, late in the century, a growing number of experiments showed that democratic organization is superior to traditional hierarchic organization, because authoritarian leaders inevitably fall prey to isolation and lose accountability. This, needless to say, was no surprise to Dr. Laurence Peter, whose famous principle states that every employee of a hierarchical organization tends inevitably to rise to their level of incompetence. The official spin is really aimed at boosting the collective ego of the incompetent hierarchs so they can swallow their consciences more easily and put down the restless masses a.k.a. the Threat From Below more ruthlessly.

Last but not least, I've decided to incorporate slasher-film tropes and motifs into the political thriller. After all, if the political thriller has hitmen, why can't some of the hitmen be serial killers turned professional? Some would think that, by definition, all hitmen are serial killers turned professional. Which, of course, reflects badly on the political and corporate overlords who hire them. Now consider this: Objectivism is one major strain within Conservative Revolutionism. Problem: in the 1920s, Ayn Rand had a monster infatuation with a mad slasher named William Hickman. Why? His Stirnerian credo: "Whatever is good for me is right." It is said that he was not true to it in the end: he reportedly "died yellow", having to be dragged to the noose, trembling and fainting. Yet of him, she wrote: "Other people have no right, no hold, no interest or influence on him. And this is not affected or chosen -- it's inborn, absolute, it can't be changed, he has 'no organ' to be otherwise. In this respect, he has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'" "He shows how impossible it is for a genuinely beautiful soul to succeed at present, for in all [aspects of] modern life, one has to be a hypocrite, to bend and tolerate. This boy wanted to command and smash away things and people he didn't approve of." And so I based my character Johnny-Johnny Johnson on Hickman, and he is not heroic — except to the Conservative Revolutionaries, who consider compassion and other social sentiments to be a mortal sin.

"Extremist beyond all extreme is what we need!" cried Rand. Well, being the kind of "emotional terrorist" John Ralston Saul calls for novelists to be in his most influential book, Voltaire's Bastards (his 1992 book against technocracy), you'll definitely get just that from me, or this ain't Chaos Angel Spanner. Extremism, after all, is in the very name. How far can an angel of chaos go? There is only one answer to that question: Beyond The Impossible!

Back to Spanner’s World...

No comments:

Post a Comment