Thursday, September 22, 2022

Cult Above the Rest

Common sense ceases to be common when sense loses all perspective and purpose. All it takes is enough watering down of truth and sowing enough seeds of distrust to break normality and flip the universe on its head. This has been the entire legacy of the 20th century, and we are desperately trying to make the 21st even dumber as a response.

Needless to say, this is not the way to create a stable and functioning society, never mind one that celebrates truth and beauty. If you showed Current Year to anyone who lived even over ten years ago they would rightly call it insanity, and everyone knows it.

How did it happen? Very slowly, like boiling a frog. Now it has accelerated to the point that the wheels are coming off as we barrel into a volcano, and those in charge are telling you that volcanos are actually very safe. Only evil people dislike volcanos. You're not evil, are you?

Imagine how it would have looked if it happened overnight as so many of us seem to think? One day, you woke up and up was down and down was up. One day, you realized common sense was no longer very common. One day, you realized that the old idiom of sticks and stones had become a vicious statement on par with the most heinous slur. One day, you were told that everything you know is wrong, and unless you change everything, you will be labeled and cast out from "polite" society to the wolves. The reaction would have been far more antagonistic than it has actually been in real life. There would more solutions and far less grifting and glad-handing because it would be taken seriously instead of being ruled with folks monetizing depression and anger. It is an antisocial tripwire of inhumanity that takes one wrong stop to snuff you out as if you are an opposing force.

And yes, those in charge see you as an enemy. Fanatics always look down on non-Fanatics. If they didn't they wouldn't be Fanatics to begin with. Your ancestors knew this, and so did you until a few years ago. Now "normies" are the problem, am I right? You might want to question where that notion originated from. It is as untrue as it is needlessly divisive. Subcultures were never meant to be divorced from normality. Doing so leads to disaster, destruction, and death.

This change wasn't natural, and those who lived through Cultural Ground Zero might be able to see where a lot of it came from if they aren't being lazy. Nonetheless, after a stagnancy in culture that led to a decline, western society became inundated with insanity posing as sanity, and many are left scratching their heads as to how to make it right again. They are confused because they do not understand that the game was changed, and it is all thanks to Fanatics usurping everything under the sun. Fanatics are what now rule the world, and what a world they have made.

It was a long time coming, but after much deception and perversion, they eventually managed to seize the levers of power for themselves. As a result, normal folks like you are now the enemy. All because you are not a member of the cult.

What exactly is Fanaticism? For the longest time, ever since about the 1960s, we have been taught it as simple, normal religious thinking and little more than that. Due to this outdated "nonsense" thinking that was prevalent for thousands of years, it was now necessary to change popular thought to "fix" the world, therefore demonizing the past was the way to go. Everyone who lived before you was crazy and stupid, but because you live in Current Year, all the new things you are being taught is right and everything that came before is dumb, because we said so. That no one saw this as its own brand of Fanaticism is especially telling for how shallow and materialistic the 20th century and its accompanying thinking really was. We just wanted an excuse to be morally lazy, and just like everything else, we went out of our way to do it the best we possibly could.

Alienation, depression, and spiritual emptiness, fills so many with anxiety and agony, yet we are taught this is a good thing. Just keep ignoring it, fill it with sugar and caffeine, scream "Both sides!" until you're blue in the face, and hole yourself up from the rest of the world. That is sure to fix the hole deep inside yourself.

It hasn't worked for the past quarter of a century, but surely it will at some point, right? You know what they say about insanity. Well, maybe you don't. That was spouted by old people which instantly means its stupid. Only new ideas can be smart. And wouldn't you know it, all new ideas and philosophy say you should mindlessly consume corporate product because it is good for you. Why are you so miserable when you're clearly living in paradise! They told you that you were, after all. The hole inside must be because you're not happy enough about the nihilistic life they prescribe you. Just take some pills and alcohol and everything will be alright! It surely won't contribute to the suicidal epidemic sweeping the western world. No one could be that evil! Who could possibly hate normal people enough to want to sweep them out the way of progress for their own gain?

Turns out, the answer, is Fanatics.

But I digress. We didn't get to this madness overnight, and it won't be broken or changed overnight. We took a long time tumbling downhill to get to this moment, and our decaying art and entertainment world gleefully helped get us here.

How many movies were made since the 1960s where the villains were simpleminded Christians blindly following dogma they didn't understand, where the brave and smart modernist agnostics had to give sagely advice with their three minute old knowledge showing how calm, cool, and very rational they were? Hard to see this as anything but what it actually is these days, huh? Ask yourself some simple questions about this nonsense. When was the last time Hollywood made a movie where the hero was a practicing and believing Christian who wasn't either in "doubt" or made fun of for it? Try something even more simple: when was the last time they made a vampire movie that followed Bram Stoker's rules without explaining away or watering down the Christian aspect? Are such things forbidden now? Why would that ever be the case? Weren't we supposed to be free to do whatever we want now that the old ways were destroyed? Isn't freedom supposed to be the name of the game? If that's the case then why does every piece of art and entertainment look, sound, and act the same, as if it is one pile of grey goo produced on a factory built for consumption? Where is the freedom and creativity we were supposed to get by ejecting "Fanaticism" of the old ways?

Oh that's right, we simply replaced religion and tradition with cult thinking based on every new thought that pops into your betters' heads. In other words, we simply downgraded everything across the board and wonder why things are so much worse and dull these days than they were in more repressive and inferior times. It is very simple: nothing can improve in a system designed to decay, and the truth of Cultural Ground Zero has already shown that we are in objective decay. Nothing will change unless we change first.

For those unaware of the differences between a personality cult and religious thinking, because education really has gotten that abysmal, it is a difference of intent. Religious thinking exists to give you purpose outside yourself, a connection to a higher meaning and a reason to live in a world that makes little sense otherwise. It encourages you to expand, to grow, and share your talents and abilities with the world, because it all has a purpose. You have a place in the universe, and you matter. There is a reason this led to centuries of beautiful art, music, and traditions, all of which still influence everything today. Religion encourages humanity to be the best it can be.

Cult thinking is the opposite of all of this. Here you exist to be an unthinking cog in a system that materially benefits another and "higher" human at your expense. You are not encouraged to find a higher purpose, because meaning is meant for your betters, not you. However, whether you believe or not you better do what the Leader tells you, or else risk ostracization from the mob. There is a reason no cult has ever produced anything that has endured or positively affected the world: because it does not exist for the world. Cults exist for the individual to glorify themselves at the expense of the rest of humanity.

As you can tell, modernity is a giant cult with smaller cells called "communities" that are destined to be run by true believers, if they aren't already. You will eventually join, or have yourself cast out and shamed, your name tainted and spat on, your life destroyed for all to see in order to keep the masses frightened and in line. Hard to deny this as real when there are so many examples one can pull from, especially in the age of "cancel culture" where lives are crushed on the daily.

And all of this is fueled by the corporate gruel you consume. If you think this merely about money then you are a bit behind the times. They wouldn't still be copying the failed Ghostbusters 2016 playbook over half a decade later if it wasn't about ideology.

It is about controlling and changing you, and it is getting harder and harder to deny this without having to lie to yourself.

Others clearly see this, too

It is here I should mention that I wrote about this exact topic in The Last Fanatics: How the Genre Wars Killed Wonder. In that book is the story about how materialist Fanatics took adventure storytelling, diced it up, and sold it in lesser pieces to shrinking audiences, all while making you accept that they did it For Your Own Good. Starting from HG Wells and rolling out from there to the ascension of John W. Campbell came an anti-life and anti-romance attitude that flowered into the arrogant bitterness of modern Fandom that consumed the industry. It is difficult to read the book and not see that clear pattern emerging as I did when reading about the topic.

The book exists because a lot of readers specifically asked for me to write and compile it, so I severely doubt this is something fringe that no one else sees. Fandom is the largest community cult cell around today and the biggest obstacle stopping us from creating outside of ourselves again due to corporate control over the industry.

Calling it "religious" thinking is giving the creators of this modernist thought a lot more credit than they deserve. Real religions have thousands of years of history, theology, and thought, put behind them, all of which trample into the dirt any shallow humanist creed based on vague things like being nice and not mean and accepting anything your neighbor wants to do, because apparently not caring about your neighbor's well being and being apathetic to their plight is morally commendable. As I said, up is down and down is up. Don't question, just consume.

The change from calling hobby spaces more accurate titles like "subcultures" into calling them "communities" was one of the slight of hand tricks used to create this climate. Because modern western communities basically no longer exist due to the prevalence of apathetic thought to neighbors and the destruction of the family, the Average Joe no longer has comfort in where he lives or has a high-trust attitude towards the society he was raised in. He has had doubt sown in him, and is always expecting the worst from those he should have the most trust in. Up is down, down is up. This attitude poisons the mind into skepticism and doubt over everything outside themselves. The only thing they can trust is their interests, because their tastes comes from them, and they can only seek out other likeminded souls to give them fulfillment they will never get from anything else. Not to mention, who can you trust but the person that gave you that physical product you love so much, anyway? Certainly those who made it own the IP know what is best for you, since they understand what makes you tick by giving you those precious dopamine hits. There is no higher purpose other than to consume--just ignore that undefinable sadness that grips you from time to time between the sugar highs. They have pills and prescriptions for that now.

In this climate, is it any wonder things are as bad as they are? This backwards thinking is the result of earlier backwards thinking to fix a problem our ancestors never had to deal with. We have actually regressed despite lip service to progress. Now everything is a pale forgery of better things, and no one understands why things refuse to get better again. They can't, because they have been disordered for decades at this point and require a radical change in approach to even begin to address the plentiful problems we are facing in the endless Current Year.

Suicide rates and mass depression have not improved with the existence of online "communities" because they offer no physical connection or comfort to the victim. Once you click or swipe away, those people are gone and so too is the connection turned off. It is a poor imitation of the real thing, but the real thing barely exists anymore as it is. If you are patting yourself on the back right now for having a proper community, then you are missing the forest for the trees. The end goal is to make it so the forgery is all that remains, and to make you loyal to the product above all--but only the product as they define it. Your "interpretation" of the scripture is negligent, and you risk banishment for misunderstanding the new normal the owners of the IP the Leaders decide on for you.

You don't get to decide, you get to follow.

This was once thought of as a joke. It's no longer one.

There have been a lot of articles in recent years talking about this subject, but few seemingly wish to treat the subject with much seriousness. We know Fanaticism is a problem, and have known it for years, but still we cling to the destructive mindset that has totaled lives, destroyed relationships, wrecked souls, and ruined art and entertainment for decades as well. Modern cultism has not led to anything good, and we would do good to tear it down immediately.

But we can't do that until we understand just how deeply the cult of modernity has been ingrained into us.

This article from Inverse (saved to an archive) entitled "Is Fandom a Cult?" is probably the best recent example of this new attitude that would have been considered insane to anyone who lived even two decades ago. This was once the sort of joke people made on late night television and adult animated cartoons, now come to life. 

Let us go through this piece and see just what the modern cult of today is like. Hopefully you, dear reader, do not see yourself in the examples.

It starts like this:


"Hassall was there that day to see The Force Awakens, the sequel to the sixth episode of Star Wars, The Return of the Jedi. He would later see Rogue One and The Last Jedi on their opening nights, too, he tells Inverse.

"“It felt like such a communal bonding experience,” he recalls. “Like you had a unique relationship with that piece of art because you experienced it first with such a dedicated group of people. It reminds me of worship services, to be honest”

"Being a fan means sharing a story, or even a worldview, with others. It means gathering people together to talk about the story. But some stories are so vital as to define entire civilizations, while others are trivial. If that’s true, then where does the Marvel Cinematic Universe fall? Or Star Wars? Are super-fans in some Disney-controlled cult? Ultimately, recognizing fandom as religion may be the best thing to happen to you."

Stories are important, yes, and for the very reasons stated. But what isn't mentioned is how stories also have to tell the truth, not the truth the storyteller wishes to be made into reality. There is nothing unique about the copyrighted space battle brand that didn't exist a century ago in pulp magazines, the only thing that is new is that you were bathed in crass commercialism that exalted its "importance" including a fabricated back story involving Joseph Campbell that helped sell undeserved credibility to the whole venture. It was essentially marketed to you and others as Important, and you bought into the Brand due to it. There's nothing wrong with liking such a product, but it becomes a problem when you believe that buying something enough constitutes and defines truth and beauty.

Somewhere around Cultural Ground Zero, the space battle franchise went from being just another franchise into being The Most Important Thing Ever that it wasn't for the near two decades it existed beforehand. At some point, perspective was lost, and madness reigned supreme. All because the marketing on one series out of countless was simply done too well.

What also isn't mentioned is that the "communal bonding experience" once used to be among those who lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same places of worship, shopped in the same stores, and went to the same workplace. In other words, a real community. They were all in this together. With the advent of online, non-physical spaces, that aspect of tangibility was lost and replaced with flimsy replacements such as social media, pop philosophy podcasts and videos, online stores, and digital jobs where you never have to leave your apartment. You have essentially been isolated from reality, as have your neighbors, and this forgery is now the only meaning you have. But at least you can order food to avoid having to to step into the market!

So what other choice do you have other than follow the cult? You are isolated from every other aspect of reality that we all took for granted. Should you get cast out of the community cult, you have nowhere else to go except another imitation. This is how the cult strengthens in power, even as it clearly weakens in quality with every passing year. That is one thing a cultist cannot ever admit--reality must be ignored to preserve the purity of the cause.

This is a deeper problem than a few bad brand products. It is a hole deep inside yourself that will never be filled by material things, and there is little way to convince others of this problem, especially when you are taught that it is noble to be uncaring and brave to let others destroy themselves. That might feel a bit coincidental to the goal of the cult consuming all, and that's because it isn't coincidental. The less enemies you have, the less people fighting you, the easier it is to consume all in your wake. Scream "both sides" all you want, the cult doesn't care as long as you pay tribute.

The article continues:


"Cults and extreme beliefs fascinate us because we are all susceptible to their pull. Cult Week explores these stories — and the liminal spaces between the real and the imaginary.

"“One way we define a religion is a way that people have a network of relationships with things that are both human and superhuman. It’s also a way that humans make homes, confront suffering, and find a way of being in the world,” Jodi-Eichler Levine, professor of Religious Studies at Lehigh University, tells Inverse. These are all themes not only of Star Wars but of countless franchises with huge fandoms supporting them.

"Levine caused an uproar on Twitter earlier this year when she mused that “Disney adults” (people whose lives revolve around Disney) use pop culture to fill the same need that a “legitimate” religion might in another person’s life. But ultimately, she argues, “all fandoms have the potential to become very religious.”

"Sitting outside a movie theater waiting for the doors to open on the latest installment in your fictional universe of choice, for example, may be more akin to sitting outside a shrine waiting to pray at the feet of a saint than you think."

Here is what no one wants to teach at those overpriced babysitting factories called schools: every single story ever written contains themes about suffering, purpose, and understanding the world around you. There is no story that doesn't contain these aspects in them, even if not overt. The only real difference is in the advertising, how you have been sold them. This is the reason more people talk about Indiana Jones instead of Romancing the Stone despite them both being of similar quality. One had a marketing machine behind them and the other didn't. But you will only go on and on about the one that has a large industry powering it.

That isn't unintentional.

The main difference with religions has always been that religions have sought the higher truth of existence before anything else. Why are we here and for what reason? What do we have to do to attain happiness? It is people going outside themselves to ask the big questions to find eternal, unmoving Truth, a bedrock to build your life on. Corporate product made to cash in on trends and philosophies that change with the wind are cynical cash grabs only meant to part you from your money so they can call one extra hooker in before the cocaine really hits. The current masters of the space battle franchise even stated that telling people what to think was their goal with their newest movies before they even came out. That isn't art and it isn't religion, it is a cult leader's declaration to the masses on the plantation.

Religion is the search for Eternal Truth and meaning. Art is a way to express those things in a way that makes sense to the audience and the creator. Any attempt at deception ceases to be either--that is the game of the cult. At some point you stop using it as a way to understand life, the universe, and everything, and instead as a product meant to give you the equivalent of a sugar rush. The product becomes the purpose, instead of the means to understand your purpose.

It is one thing to sit outside of an establishment to get a product or a ticket to something likely to sell out otherwise. It is another to do so for days just so one can be the first in line before the riffraff to show your personal loyalty to the Brand. That becomes idolatry at that point, and is obvious Fanatic behavior. It simply isn't mentally, spiritually, or physically healthy, and encouraging such things is questionable on the part of your betters.

But the space battle franchise isn't the only source of Fanaticism. There is also the most popular dying comic book company and their unending stream of formulaic movies. They've been pumping out the same gruel for nearly 15 years at this point with no end in sight. Nonetheless, the cult will buy because it is their scripture and it needs constant updating with the times. There are plenty of examples here: we do not need to stick with one.

Nonetheless, the more important issue is the warping of terminology and definitions in order to bed towards whatever the cult leaders desire at that moment. You can even see it happening in the very article we are discussing at this very moment.

As the article mentions:

"What we call “religion” is increasingly nebulous. More than a quarter of Americans consider themselves spiritual, but not religious. The role religion used to hold in society is slowly but visibly giving way to a more secular ideology — and pop culture."

"Increasingly" is a jargon word meant to deceive you. It has no relevance to eternal truth or understanding of it. Not to mention if only a quarter of the US population considers themselves "spiritual, but not religious" which is an empty term from two decades ago, then things have not changed nearly that much. You might not consider yourself religious because of how unique and big-brained you think you are, but you are religious. The only people who aren't are those who have unfortunately already ended their own lives. And the amount who increasingly choose to do this should be a sign that something needs to change.

A definition of "Religion" is only nebulous today because postmodern thought has striven hard to muddy the definitions of words and terms that existed for thousands of years. The only way to regain clear thought is to reject these attempts at changes totally, which is increasingly difficult to do and also avoid being ostracized from polite society who get meaning from the cult. This is only more proof of it being a cult, however.

You don't have to accept this flimsy frame the article sets up. You can be normal without the cult and you can find purpose beyond yourself and the here and now. You can have meaning with swallowing their constantly updating scripture.

It is not a coincidence that a large segment of these secular cults exist under the Disney umbrella. They have made it their goal to own every franchise and product to control the way we see the world and the universe, to meld it with their everchanging modern heresies and strengthen their hold on reality. It's been an issue for some time, but now it has hit critical mass. This sort of notion would have seemed like a conspiracy theory back before Cultural Ground Zero, but the pattern has been going on far too long now to ignore.

The explosion of weird Disney adults make this warping of reality clearer than ever. The billion dollar behemoth has made itself into a modern cult and wish to pull everything into their maw. Do explain how Disney isn't run like a cult when madness like this exists:

"Disney adults can make trips to Disney as a “pilgrimage,” decorate their homes using the “We Do Disney” manifesto as the theme, and participate in innumerate rituals. Disney “cast members” — the firm’s name for its employees — are even required to sit through a training class called Disney Traditions.

"Any fandom, be it for a sports team, a celebrity, a band, or a franchise, can functionally be someone’s religion.

"“I have a very capacious definition of religion, and I think quite a lot of our contemporary fandoms would fit under that definition,” Eichler-Levine says.

"But not all religiosity is benign — some groups stray toward harmful and isolating practices, sequestering their members away from broader society in the name of purity — and control. At the extreme, these sects can be called cults.

"The most prominent examples of cult-like behaviors in fandom can be found in sci-fi. Especially in (Disney-owned) Marvel and Star Wars. At the same time, many real-world cults take direct influence from sci-fi and vice versa."

And you now see how it wraps around again to the genre fiction cult. As I said in The Last Fanatics, this is where the modern attitude we deal with today really all sprang from. This was the first industry to willingly allow a fringe minority take over the machinery for itself and order to enshrine their own cult philosophy of existence. This lead to dropping sales, cultural irrelevance, and a disconnect from the Average Joe. They frame rejecting the audience and tradition as a "Golden Age," too.

However, we now know this is not true. The pulps still remain the Golden Age in popularity and influence in the industry despite having ended well over half a century ago, despite attempted revisionism and burying by "experts" the the "field" who repeat the party line. The only thing that came close in popularity to the pulps were the New Wave guys who were similarly disliked by the "experts" who adamantly refuse to let people buy adventure books as their sales tank. They did this while every other medium succeeded with the styles they deliberately cast out. Fanatics hobbled their own industry, and they brag about doing so to this day by raving about how they "saved" it by doing so. Up is down, and down is up.

I'm not here to repeat myself again on this issue. One can read through The Last Fanatics for themselves to see that story. The larger point here is that this attitude is the last gasp of an older and outdated materialist philosophy that is currently dying out today. We don't have the boundless optimism brought on by the industrial revolution anymore--that attitude is dead and never coming back. This is where modernist Fanaticism finally reaches its climax as we all wake up and see the emperor not only has no clothes, but no skin. Now, you are seeing some admit it, and others frantically trying to explain away the corpse stinking up the place from behind the curtain. It's no wonder the decline has accelerated so fast in recent years.

Thankfully, it's all over now. All that's left is to reject the cult for Real Religion instead. Then it will finally have no power left to fight with, and die off like it is destined to. The sooner we do that, the less of this nonsense we have to put up with.

The cult warped us from seeing any form of outer worship and praise towards the immaterial into giving that worship to products, objects, and idols of the modern era instead. They ascribe love and desire for physical things that will never give it back to them, because they had to put that religious impulse towards something. So they chose the exact wrong things to give their worship and gratitude towards. This is why everything is so backwards and everyone is so spiritually confused.

You can see this in the next passage:

"Heaven’s Gate, the cult that took part in a mass suicide in 1997, centered its teachings on UFOs and took lots of inspiration from Star Trek. Before he became a cult leader, L. Ron Hubbard was a prolific science fiction writer. One of his works, Battlefield Earth, was even adapted into a poorly performing film starring Scientologist John Travolta.

"If you’re a fan, it’s easy to see your fandom community’s cult-like behaviors if you know where to look.

"“There is an insularity there, where the in-group of established fans or followers are given a separate designation from people who casually engage with the given material,” former sci-fi superfan Daniel Hassall tells Inverse. Hassall once participated in the Marvel, DC Comics, and Star Wars fandoms.

"“You have to prove your credentials, and in many ways, they make it a lifestyle. They can’t allow any criticism of their fandom or faith.”

"Andrew W., another fan, agrees.

"“When a criticism is presented, the response is usually, ‘How can I show this criticism is wrong, even if it’s not,’ instead of earnestly asking, ‘is there any part of this criticism that's valid?’ That’s classic cult behavior,” he tells Inverse."

You can't escape you religious impulses; they are built into you. What matters is what you put them towards. If you haven't seen this attitude among brand worshipers at least once then there is a good chance you don't interact with them much, or you are one of them.

Unfortunately, this sort of thing is getting more common, not less. Until we finally reject it outright, this behavior will only worsen.

It will also worsen by continuing to act as if this nonsense is in any way comparable to a religion. Just like a religion, one needs to set down the "canon" in order to known where the boundaries lay. But who gets to decide what the "canon" is in this case? Why, your superiors and owners of the Brand, of course. Who else would know better about what your soul desires than rich urbanite Hollywood obsessives who can't stop sexually abusing everything under the sun?

Why would you ever need God when you can have this:

"For Hassall, the biggest intersection between fandom and cults lies in a sacred word within both worlds: canon. In the religious sense, canon means the official holy text or founding principles. In the fandom sense, it means the lore that is considered the official narrative.

"Canon can change. In religion, it can mean nixing the Gospel of Thomas as “apocrypha.” In Star Wars, it can mean changing the Extended Universe to “Legends” when the franchise is bought by Disney. Canon is the subject of debate because its elements are so important for those who care — and controlling the canon means controlling the followers, too.

"Another aspect that makes sci-fi so vulnerable to mob followings is the wealth of content to explore. There are fan theories, fan fiction, and even fan films. These have their own religious parallel. Eichler-Levine points out the Jewish concept of midrash, meaning textual interpretation of the Torah, as basically “the first fanfiction.”

"“In a biblical story, if there's a break where we don't know what Abraham is thinking, or we wonder what Joseph was doing on his way to Egypt after his brother sold him, you can fill in those gaps with stories and speculation.”

"Star Wars has always stood on the backs of religion. George Lucas was heavily inspired by the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell and used the Force to create an in-world religion that was universally understood. Luke Skywalker’s story is a tale about the human condition and empathy — as well as a space opera.

"“In Marvel and Star Wars, there’s a real tendency towards redemption and sacrifice,” Eichler-Levine says. “Tony Stark can have this journey from being a solitary playboy to being someone who is there for the greater good. That’s a very religious kind of story.”"

This was allowed to happen because we both forgot how important religion is, and how important stories are. In the modern day, all must be mashed into one grey goo in order to devalue ever aspect of separate and great things. Stories tell the tale of society, yes, but they are meant to supplement the religion, to undergird the morality and bearings of the culture. They were never, ever meant as replacement for the real thing. No one "worshiped" stories, they used them as a way to better understand what they already worshiped.

The reason the Church preserved pagan and Greek classics is because they were instrumental to understanding culture and how they built towards the faith that carried them forward. Everything has meaning in a universe that has meaning. Subverting and erasing these works was never the point, but as you can see from the above quote, this revisionism is a bit of deceit needed to get Clown World the correct and happy morality we have today.

Stories are a reflection of reality, dreams, and existence, a way to both comfort and excite the audience and to stir wonder in their soul about how Good it is to be alive and how dangerous it is to fall from the path. They were never meant to be IP fodder for corporations to stay fat on decades after the original creator has departed this mortal coil. Homer and Dante didn't need 700 reboots with "modern sensibilities" in order to remain enduring and classic for centuries, mostly because they never intended to subvert anything to begin with. They existed to help you, not tear you down.

Biblical stories are a super-reality enamored with romance and the love of God for his people. Fairy tales, folk stories, pulp adventures, Gothic romance, classical poetry, campfire tales, penny dreadfuls, and the like, all exist to supplement and add to such an experience--they never acted to subvert or replace them. It has always meant to be one complete whole, not sections divided by the fetishes of modern materialists looking for a gimmick. When we turned to warping stories in the days since Cultural Ground Zero, we hollowed them out and turned them into disposable products for the machine. Consume one and move onto the next. Rinse and repeat. What do they supplement now? What do they prop up today? What do they point towards? Little else but more product from your masters and the correct moral code they decided for you five minutes ago.

Because this is the point of the cult. There is nothing higher, nothing being aimed at, no one to connect with. It is just more recycled product, far from the purpose of what art was originally meant for. And everyone knows it, even if they won't say it out loud.

More articles on the same subject.

This is what a cult does, it takes from the real thing to make it about itself instead. Cults are insular by design. Their aim is little more than a mockery of true religion, true art, and true beauty. It will never build anything, and we know this because we've had decades for it to do so and have had nothing to show for it beyond recycled and morally "updated" works from dead IP. All it has done is dig a deeper ditch for modernity to finally bury itself in. Participating in such a system is a fool's errand.

There is nothing else left to this busted system except more product to be endlessly recycled for a piece of your constantly shrinking paycheck. There is nothing higher here. This mockery of art and entertainment has never, at any point in history, ever been the point of the real thing. It has never just been a meaningless time waster or a religion replacement to give you a dopamine hit. The fact that we tend to think of it as one or the other more or less proves how disordered we've become since we accepted Fandom's shoddy frame.

As stated earlier, all this forgery does is replace reality with a far inferior version of something we already used to have. This is anti-art.

Just like with "community" and the mockery it has become in online spaces, all is a pale imitation of better things we used to have. Why do we insist on consuming lesser and distorted versions of things we already consumed before? What is the end game? What is the point?

How much longer do we keep the farce going?

"The text is only half the religious experience. Religions, especially ritual-heavy belief systems, bring people together as a community in terms of behavior.

"The Marvel Cinematic Universe understands this fundamental truth better than any other franchise. Because the world of the MCU is so much like ours, it would have to have fans, too. Ms. Marvel introduced the concept of AvengerCon, and its protagonist Kamala Khan is a fanfiction-writing cosplay-making fan herself.

"But for the real-world Marvel fan, there’s no better way to connect with the MCU than a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth. The Avengers and Star Wars-themed areas at Disneyworld and Disneyland prioritize immersion above all else.

"“At Avengers Campus, Dr. Strange does a show about the mystic arts,” Eichler-Levine says. “We know it's an actor in a costume, but all religion is performance. Ritual is a kind of performance. That doesn't mean it's fake, it means that it's structured.”

"Also, like mainstream religion, these rituals are steeped deeply in capitalism. For Yee Y., a Star Wars superfan who requested anonymity, that’s part of the reason people turn to fandoms in the first place. “People don't have meaning in life and have left religion as a whole due to capitalism crushing everything, so people need to resort to corporate media to fill their soul.”

"Eichler-Levine adds that paying money to get something in return is not unique to fandoms. Money has fueled religions for millennia. “Some say if something's making money or requires money, it's not religion, but that's also not an easy dividing line. When we look at the history of religions, when we look at tithing, sacrifices, it’s always been there.”"

More cult jargon to understand their own aversion to cult jargon. If this is as far as we can go then we're in a lot more trouble than originally thought.

The above is all just a vapid materialist understanding of existence that is currently at the end of its rope. Using Fandom's frame will not dig us out of this ditch, because it is what sent us into it in the first place. We are still looking at eternal and supernatural things in modern limited terminology given to us by cultists who had no idea what they were talking about in the first place. It's all utopian nonsense brought about by unrealistic optimism about the long-dead industrial revolution which will somehow elevate humanity apparently through some kind of magic in an alternate timeline that never came to be. We are thrashing around in the dark to find the way out and ignoring the flashlight at our side because someone made a funny joke fifty years ago about how using flashlights make you look stupid and uncivilized. It really is this silly.

Viewing this spiritual sickness through a narrow scope of "money" or "capital" misses the forest for the trees and is only something a college-educated materialist bathed in Fanaticism could come up with. This is the sort of thinking of one who only believes in "real" tangible things but then thinks vague ideas like "hate" and "intolerance" can be bred out of human beings towards some kind of utopian perfection. Humanity is not "fixable" and every world religion and basic life experience will show you exactly how true that is. Cults, however, believe everything is fixable. For the right cost, of course. How much did those college textbooks that gave you your very modern, rational, and educated, world view cost you, anyway?

There is one thing that will snap us out of the haze of stunted modern thinking, and it's not going to be given from a theory that puts all the blame on proportion of material objects as the cause of or the solution to all worldly ills. We have the entirety of the 20th century to prove to you how much of a dead end this sort of thinking is. No one is a materialist anymore or thinks in those terms, except when it comes to fixing spiritual issues. It is bizarre, but just another sign of the cult thinking lingering from the past century. We will not move on until we finally leave this dead end philosophy behind. It has long since expired, like milk on the radiator. Up is down, and down is up.

There is more to the article, but it is clear New Age "I'm okay, you're okay" hogwash that got us to this point to begin with. You can read the remainder for yourself after this point. Let us finish with the final line.

"You can live by whatever code you want. Just don’t lose yourself to a cult in the process."

You, in fact, cannot live by any code you want. This is exactly how Fanatic nonsense was able to consume western culture over the 20th century. We left it all to rational skeptic types, and they left us with a crater of culture where consuming product has replaced meaning. Letting them and their outdated philosophy in charge has destroyed everything built up within one century of idiocy. Look at a photo of anything from thirty years ago, then look at it now, falling apart, unkempt, and dilapidated in Current Year. There is no progress, just entropy in action.

Not exactly something we need to keep doing or striving for.

No, at the end of the day, all this will be left in the rearview mirror as one long mistake never to be repeated. We can see that now, even by asking the common man on the street. Only the willfully blind and the grifters refuse to see it. I can't imagine anyone looking at the state of art in the 20th century then seeing what is being pushed now and come to the conclusion that we didn't just go mad for seemingly no reason except it was novel to do so, destroying plenty of good along the way. Modernity is an aberration on history that will hopefully never be repeated again.

Eventually up will have to be up again and down will have to be down. We can't invert reality forever, it will reassert itself at some point. When it does, it will hit hard, and none of this is even going to matter anymore. This waste of time will have been nothing but a cautionary tale.

Until then, keep your spirit up. Keep seeking the truth, keep striving for beauty, and keep celebrating the life you are fortunate enough to be living. The only way to break the hold of the cult is to reject it and all its empty promises, striving for something much better, higher.

One day, common sense will be common again, and we'll be back on the right road. We can still make the 21st century one to be proud of. Just keep your aim true and eventually you'll hit the target in front of you. You just have to keep yourself steady.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

September Signal Boost!

Find it Here!

Hopefully you're having a very fruitful September! The weather hasn't quite been as smooth as some of us would like, but it has been getting a little better. Nonetheless, I'm writing this because there is a ton of interesting books to talk about. NewPub authors have really been off the chain recently, and I need to share some with you.

The first is Bryce Beattie's Escape From OUB-8, an exciting space opera adventure you should expect behind the creator of StoryHack magazine and the Sidearm & Sorcery anthology (which is currently taking submissions for a second volume!), this one tells you everything by the cover alone. As all such stories should.

The description:

Space pirates murdered his crew. Time for some payback.

Cavalier Burns is the first mate on an interstellar freighter, and his only goal in life is to someday become the captain of his own vessel. That dream is shattered when pirates assault his ship. It is only by accident that he is left alive. Burning with hatred toward his shipmates' killers, he is willing to throw his life away if it means exacting revenge on the brutal aliens.

All that changes when he learns he's not the only innocent on board the pirates' space station. Now, Cav must race the clock and find a way to get everyone off the ugliest base he's ever seen.

Fans of furious space-going action and adventure will love this short space opera.

You can find Escape From OUB-8 here!

Find it Here!

Of course I wasn't going to miss including this novelette from J. Manfred Weichsel. His work is always a bit weird and off-kilter, and this one is no exception. Just by looking at the title and cover you can guess what this one is about!

The description:

He didn't want a job, but he fell into a portal, and now he's going to learn that there's no escape from beneath an office planet!

You can find J. Manfred Weichsel's Planet of the Wage Slaves here!

Find it Here!

Keeping up the theme with comedy is Karina Fabian's Shambling in a Winter Wonderland. This is part of Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator series, and just recently released. If you want something a bit wackier, then this might be up your alley.

The description:

When Neeta is invited to a ski contest in Utah to promote HumVans and a national charity, she and Ted think it’s vacation at last! After all, no one’s seen a zombie in Utah in years! They’re looking forward to two weeks of skiing, relaxing, and finally finding time to set a wedding date.

But when competitors from last year’s contest who died in an avalanche come back to finish the runs themselves, Neeta and Ted will have to shred with the undead!

You can find Shambling in a Winter Wonderland here!

Find it Here!

Next is a fantastical short story collection from author Denton Salle! This is a part of his Avatar Wizard series, though it probably makes for a good introduction as most short story collections tend to. You can expect weirdness of the older sort in these pages.

The description:

Return to the world of the Avatar Wizard with this collection of short stories. See how Jeremy's mother first met Arianna, how Arianna convinces Master Anthony to marry her, and other tales not revealed in the main story of Jeremy's path to mastery of the Volkh arts.

Come along as Jeremy rides with the Weather bringer's Hunt, climb with Harald as he seeks the forge of the Sun, and read how Helena's mischief almost catches up with her. See the changes that come to the Keep as Arianna has her kits and both of Anthony's sisters are courted. Go home with Danil as he and Harald venture south to the rich wheatlands to repair the great canal. Visit low dives as Jeremy and Gerasim steal a bard.

In addition, a glossary of people, places, and words has been added at readers' requests. Please note a few of these stories were published in anthologies in shortened form. This is the 'canonical' version.

You can find Tales Yet Unsung here!

Find it Here!

This one is aimed at more of a teenage audience, but that hardly matters to most readers. What they care about is how the story unfolds. Judging from many of the reviews, Rebirths: A Tale of Azuran definitely manages to hit even outside of its target audience. This is the sign of a good read.

The description:

Enraged at the Almighty after losing everything, Derke turns to black magic in hopes of restoring his old life. But the evil one demands a terrible price. Derke, once blessed, stands at the edge of a cliff, ready to lose himself to darkness.

Rebirths: A Tale of Azuran can be found here!

That's all for this week! I hope you've found something up your alley to read. There's quite the selection out there, and much more coming.

As autumn comes in we're only going to have more and more new work and exciting projects to comb through for future posts. I'm definitely looking forward to it.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Weekend Lounge ~ NewPub Talk

I hope you're having a good weekend. The weather finally seems to be changing, and letting us out of the humidity. I don't know about you, but I've had more than enough of that summer nonsense. Bring on the crisp fall weather already.

This time I wanted to share this interview with Dave Martel of The Bizarchives on Aureus Press recently. Here they talk about where publishing seems to be going, and how we can do better than what we have now.

If you need a reminder that the climate has shifted tremendously over the last few years then you certainly will have it beat into your head by the end of this interview. By the 2030s, the world we were trapped in for so long will feel like a distant memory.

As for updates for myself, I just recently finished an exciting story I submitted to an anthology and have another one in the works. I am also in my last pass on Y Signal before I send it to the editor. In case you missed the books I already put out this year, you can find the FREE Generation Y book here, and The Last Fanatics: How the Genre Wars Killed Wonder here.

There's still a lot I want to write, but since I'm only human there's only so much I can put out! Regardless, I have tremendous gratitude for anyone who reads my work or leaves reviews of it for others to find. It helps a lot! And do not worry: there is much more to come!

That's all for this week. See you next time, and have a fruitful September! There's still much to come.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Fall Book Sale!

Find the sale here!

It's that time of year again when tons of cool and new books get put on sale for the next week! Organized by author Hans G. Shantz, you know it's going to be a good one. This one has also been some time coming.

To celebrate passing through quite a scorcher of a summer, why not treat yourself to some books? The above chart includes fan favorites that have been listed here before. You probably noticed a few of mine on there, as well as a quite cool anthology I am in.

Here are some of the names included:

These are some of the top offerings from previous book sales including science fiction grandmasters, established mainstream authors and emerging indie talent. Authors include Declan Finn, Hans G. Schantz, David Humphreys, Robert Kroese, Jon del Arroz, J.P. Mac, Ryan Williamson, Neovictorian, Peter Grant, J. Daniel Sawyer, Milo James Fowler, S. Kirk Pierzchala, Noble Red, Daniel P. Riley, Yakov Merkin, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Iris Paustian, Rachel Fulton Brown and the Dragon Common Room, Paula Richey, Richard Sezov, Kevin Trainor, Jr., David Roome, Kalkin Trivedi, Harry Harrison, C.S. Johnson, David Skinner, N.R. LaPoint, T.J. Marquis, Donavan Walker, David J. West, James Alderdice, Jonathan P. Brazee, Neovictorian, Adam Furman, Michael Z. Willaimson, Fenton Wood, Timothy Zahn, Joseph L. Kellogg, Frank B. Luke, David Weber, Justin Robinson, Michael McCloskey, Andre Norton, Russell May, H.G. Wells, John Taloni, Tom Kratman, Charles E. Gannon, Francis Porretto, John Ringo, Alexander Hellene, Loretta Malakie, Leigh Brackett, Christopher G. Nuttall, J.D. Cowan, Tony Andarian, and Paul Hair.

That is a crazy list of authors! Be sure to check out the returning favorites available for $0.99 or free here. Remember, you've got the whole week to dive in!

But that's not all!

Find new books here!

The sale also includes new works that have never been in the sale before! You might recognize some of these, as they have been listed here during signal boosts before. Even if you haven't, these books go all over the map.

Nonetheless, if you're looking for some top notch escapism, indulge in the selection you see here. You'll never run out of fun stories to read!

These titles have not appeared in recent sales: a great place to start looking for some fresh reads. Offerings include titles from Michael Gallagher, John C. Wright, Brian Niemeier, Hans G. Schantz, Richard Nichols, Mike Wyant, Jr., Jon del Arroz, John M. Olsen, C.S. Johnson, C.A. Sabol, Robert Kroese, Becky Jones, J.A. Sutherland, David J. West, Ryan Williamson, Paul Clayton, S. Kirk Pierzchala, T.J. Marquis, Moe Lane, Milo James Fowler, Richard Paolinelli, Daniel P. Riley, Denton Salle, Jonathan Moeller, David Drake, David Skinner, N.R. LaPoint, Jon Mollison, J. Daniel Sawyer, Frederick Gero Heimbach, Tom Kratman, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Eric Flint, Ryk E. Spoor, Jonathan Shuerger, and Francis W. Porretto.

Once again, you can find these new works here.

On top of this, there are additional sales from Terror House, Baen Books, Arkhaven Comics, and even a Non-Fiction sale! Check the page for more details on all of those!

NewPub is on fire, lads and ladies. We've always got something to show you, and we ain't stopping any time soon!

As for me, I'm working hard on a few things right now. They're so close to done I can taste it, so I'll be getting back in the word mines now. 

Have a good week, and I'll see you next time! I'll leave you with my works that are included in this week's sale.

Friday, September 2, 2022

A Lost Art

There has been a lot of worry online about the modern state of the arts and entertainment. It used to be because of the attitudes of the older industry stifling creativity and connection with patrons for a system that works more or less like a creaking factory belt, pumping out generic slop with a tired brand slapped on top. Now, the worry comes from the progression in technology that supposedly will make creators of just about every sort of art redundant. Of course, the old industry's obsession with making more money for less effort caused this so-called problem, but there really isn't an issue here at all if one thinks on it. Despite the rise of automation and devaluing of artistic expression by those "in charge" of things, nothing has really changed.

Perhaps you, dear reader, are confused. I should probably start from the beginning: the subject is about the growing usage of computers and AI in the realm of art production. Less and less of it is done by human hands, and more is being filtered through automation and algorithms, something big corporations love more than anything in order to cut costs. Naturally, artists are worried about their place in this new world when they are so easily replaced.

But they are not, this is why these worries are silly. Let me explain from the beginning. We will have to go back to the start to understand how we got here.

If you've been beholden to the talk on social media recently, especially in artist circles, you might have noticed the newest topic making the rounds: that of AI-created art actually starting to shape up into a viable thing, whether for book covers or just general art. There has been a flood of new (and free!) programs offering you ways to construct art based on prompts you put into the search bar to get whatever you want. Naturally, this has become a big topic of debate among those who do such things for a living.

One such example exists at the top of this very post. Author David V. Stewart created that cover for his book using AI. There is no commissioning or Photoshop at play: he simply put it through an algorithm, He writes about the subject here

He also created a video on how he did it on YouTube:

If you are interested in how this all works, I highly suggest watching his video. This is still a fresh new concept, but it is primed to make waves in the future, and far sooner than you might think. AI art is not going away.

Should you want to see more examples of how this works or how to use it for your own benefit, I suggest reading his above post, too. It covers all the bases about where we are. Long story short: putting in the correct information might net you some solid art that can outdo both stock photos (even through photoshop) or commissioned work. And it's totally free.

I'm not going to talk about the process of how AI art works specifically, you can find all sorts of commentary on how that subject for yourself, but I am going to talk about the bigger issue that clings to this topic like smoke to a fire. New inventions like this aren't going to change the general feeling going on in certain circles about how computers have devalued art. Not only that, how audiences have been trained to expect and love such things.

Author Rawle Nyanzi has also been posting non-stop on Twitter about how easy it was for him to create characters through putting cheap and quick drawings through the AI. Check out his twitter timeline for many examples he experimented with to get his desired results. Suffice to say, this sort of thing will only get better as it develops.

One such example:

Here is the twitter thread for this post.

So the question remains: what does this invention's impact mean for artists when potential patrons can simply put a prompt into an AI and get the image they desire instead? Does this new AI source replace artists? Should those who draw for a living be worried they are being replaced? How can you compete with ease of use and a free cost, after all?

This is where it gets complicated. In this case, we have to look to short term vs long term applicability of this invention and who will primarily use it.

Let us first proceed from the unavoidable reality that these programs will eventually be able to pump out the exact picture you desire, pixel by pixel, in the future. This technology will only get better. You have to accept that much. Of course it will never be able to do anything complex like full comic pages or the like, drawings that require specific positioning and flow, and these AI pictures are put in the public domain immediately once created, (though you should look up the legality yourself, don't just take my word for it) which already limits the sort of things these computer brains can create. Putting all that in mind, what it can and can't do, what does this mean for artists of the future when the technology only improves? What can they offer that computers cannot? Well, a lot.

There are a few things that will fall by the wayside, again, should things continue forward in their logical progression. The first is that concept art for bigger projects is a lot easier with AI, at least when building from scratch and is a lot less harsh on the wallet. Finding the basic designs you need and then taking it to a living, breathing artist afterwards to spit-shine it into a proper piece would probably be a lot easier for patrons whose wallets are a bit thin. I don't think anyone would argue about this change not being good in the long run.

The other major thing that will change, and believe it or not this is mainly for the bigger artists who live off these commissions, is pornography. They will take a hit here, and for very obvious and expected reasons.

Think of it as rationally as you can. An AI can easily replicate poses, positions, skin, clothes, or locations, with no real effort except a prompt. Pornography is the most base and easy thing to make, because it is entirely clichés that have been copy-pasted millions of times in every medium. Artists get the majority of their money from commissions of those who purchase this exact smut from them. If said patrons can get their disposable porn for free, and made custom to their specific tastes with a simple AI algorithm, then why would they ever spend money to buy it? It would save them a lot of money. Whoever invents this, and they will invent it, this is how the industry thrives, is looking to make a killing on it. Artists who live off porn commissions should be aware: AI will come down hard on this part of the business.

This means that artists, should they want to survive in this new landscape, will have to work twice as hard for less return than they ever had before. You will be like us writers are today, basically. Artists need to stand out and show their own distinct identity and style that puts them above not only other artists, but machines themselves. They must prove their worth in a landscape littered with easy options. People won't stop commissioning artists, of course, but artists are going to have to put more of themselves and their vision into even the most basic commercial art in order to justify being used over a program that can replicate the basic needs for any patron who wants the base thing. In other words, we are at the point where they will have less of a return on harder work. It's only going to get tougher. This is, unfortunately, the way the industry is today.

The original tweet.

It doesn't stop with artists, by the way. I should also mention that there are AI programs in the work for writers, too. I am not writing this from a place of safety or attempting to look down on illustrators. Every nook and cranny in regards to art and entertainment production is currently under the gun of AIs being trained to replace humans. Once Disney gets their own MCU algorithm, for instance, they'll be able to make movies without even having writers pen the clichés out for them. If you think the audience would care about a lack of humanity to the writing, you do not realize how disposable every aspect of creation is seen today after years of devaluing originality and soul for mindless trope worship in art. No one will care when this replacement eventually happens.

This is what happens when creativity is turned into forcing creatives to work on an assembly-line version of art and entertainment at the expense of any higher aim or connection. The end result is that it becomes extremely predictable and able to be made easily by an algorithm. What separates humans from robots is the soul, our inner workings, and outer personality that stems from it. Our observations and musing about life is something only we can do: but that has been replaced with mindless consumption and a rotating door of nihilistic themes. A machine can't replicate the former, but they can replicate the latter, which is what audiences have been trained to expect from their art and entertainment. 

Unfortunately, audiences have been trained to reject anything aside from corporate approved formulas designed to gave the top hats more in their pocket and stories that think base pleasure is all life is for. To break that conditioning that has been going on for decades at this point, creatives have to work much harder than they used to and for much less in return. You will never be a Rothfuss of a Martin in this new world: you can't afford to be.

Is that fair to creatives? Probably not, but it's reality. Much like how NewPub writers have to work twice as hard with half as many resources as OldPub, just to break even, or how independent comic book teams are ignored by supposed aficionados of the medium who report only on giant conglomerate company IP instead, unless you are focused on making the best art you can, you have little chance of finding an audience to begin with. Your audience is a lot more particular, and you have to work accordingly.

You can't compete with the deep pockets of the giant media conglomerates, but you can compete creatively. This is actually the easiest thing you can offer over them. The deficiency in the old system will be even more obvious when they begin to replace their in-house human cogs with AI that can pump their formulas out cheaper and faster. To be honest, looking at the covers and posters of everything the old industry puts out right now, one would have to find it hard to believe they don't already use primitive AI to design everything. It's already soulless.

The old industries are hollowed out as it is. Putting computers in there won't change a whole lot about how they operate. It will just make their descent more obvious for those who care about nothing but consumption and moving on to the next (not-so) new thing.

We're becoming more and more gutted in regards to higher experiences or aspirations these days, almost as if those in charge want us miserable at all times. Thankfully, we have the rise of independent spaces storming the online arena to keep you well stocked in art and entertainment. There you can still find the human touch. These new spaces might not be what you expect, especially if you were raised on corporate gruel, but it's guaranteed to be better than that tired slop the mainstream has been shoveling out for decades. NewPub is just one piece of this ever-growing pie.

Because at the end of the day, this is what your choice is going to be: safe and approved formula handed down from your betters for acceptable consumption, or wild and crazy art and entertainment from those just like you who want to go to different places. They are two vastly different choices before you, and only stands to change and grow as the years go on and the culture mutates and shifts around us all. Only one is a viable path forward.

Which path will you travel, and who will you choose to be? A consumer or a patron? The decision is ultimately up to the customers.

The tweet above is here!

Essentially all of this is just the next step down the road we were already traveling before this possibility was even a punchline in old late night comedy shows. Replacing God, family, and community, with brand labeling leads said brand labeling to be reshaped for whatever purposes those who own it desire. They know they can control you with it. As long as Product has that brand name on the box, you will consume whatever it is--and those in charge know it. This behooves them to control that brand like their lives depended on it: because it does.

This means that the only real way to offer an alternative to this vapid landscape is to offer a real alternative to it, something new and completely unlike what the mainstream offers today. In order to do this, one would have to strive to become the polar opposite of what this dead end industry is currently becoming. Eventually, they will restructure themselves into an AI-fronted factory-line of product meant to satiate the bare-minimum of audience enjoyment while parting you from more and more of your paycheck. That is, after all, what streaming already does. It's basically a click farm for those who think of art as nothing more than a drag on a cigarette.

A true alternative to this system requires going a completely different way from the mainstream. This is why it was called "alternative" rock back in the day. That is, before the mainstream consumed that into formulaic goo, too. The only difference here is that hijacking an aesthetic or a movement based on creativity and freewheeling ideas can't be co-opted to work on a belt-line. This is why, for instance, the Pulp Revolution was never actually taken over. It is built on principles and ideals the mainstream rejected long ago. They can't take over built on the opposite of what they are, because they can't make anything like that. These two paths can never converge on each other. It is impossible when they are each defined by things the other does not do, and the audience knows it. Once the audience realizes their options are a lot better than they think they are, the cultural landscape will change nearly overnight.

Should artists or writers be worried about being replaced by machines? No, because that is a mainstream worker bee problem. You were never part of the mainstream's world to begin with. They were already pushing outsiders to the margins and those with true alternative ideas were being labeled bad names by their media lapdogs long before this. They do not care about the customer, they do not care about their creators, and they do not care about either the past or the future. They just care about what makes it easier for them to part your money from your already thin wallet. There was never a scenario where you reading this (whoever you may be) would have had any control in their manufactured playgrounds or have a platform to spread your unique ideas. At best you would only be a tool for them, and then disposed of later.

All you can do, at this point, is to keep producing and showing the audience, and any potential customer, your own results. It might take a long time, but it is all that you can do. Prove to them that the NewPub arena and independent spaces are wilder, more fun, more exciting, and full of fresh ideas that the stale mainstream no longer has or wishes to engage in. It really is like choosing one of two paths at the fork in a road, and eventually one will be made for you.

Which one will we choose? In order to entice those to go down our path, we will have to give them plenty of reasons to do so. Understand? So let's give them that reason.

The original twitter thread is here!

At the end of the day, there is no reason to despair over computers "taking" your hobby or your career, because it's not and never really can, especially if you are a real artist. You aren't making conveyor belt art that can easily be replaced by a machine checking the correct boxes: the mainstream is. Your own soul shows you that you are irreplaceable.

People will never come to you for mere product they can guzzle like state-mandated soma from the mainstream. That is not what you are here to get from you. Perhaps, if anything, machines being able to sleepwalk art for easy bucks will prove to all of us how important this was to begin with. This could very well be the shot in the arm we need to reevaluate where the art landscape is and where to move forward. Truth be told, we've needed that wake up call for a long time now, and this might finally be what we need.

Times change, and they are even changing right now, but there is no reason to ever despair. The human spirit was made to endure much tougher stuff than this. Even if machines and AI become popular to the point that they consume the mainstream whole, it still won't actually matter to those who care about art. To be quite honest, this is a speed bump at best. Keep your eyes on the road.

Once we forge a new future built on the foundation of a strong past, only then can we finally show what flesh and blood can do in an increasingly artificial world that devalues both. No matter what changes in the future, we will always be human and we will always create.

There is nothing else we can be. Why worry? The future hasn't been written yet, so get creating. We've got trails to blaze.