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Misfit at Harvest
A Dissident Mind Typology
Extracted from Good Book Bad Book on 5/17/20
I have previously outlined the three basic types of dissident mind, or social outcast: genius, misfit and abused persons, in what I figure is an order of purity, with the genius superior, the misfit exterior and the abused anterior. I count myself as mostly a misfit, with maybe a spark of genius here and there and some obvious history of abuse. Whatever my gravity may be as a developed personality, came primarily from the vantage of the natural misfit. Early in life I demonstrated no special talent or faculty and was mainly defined by an inability to keep up with my peers in play, schooling—with no ability in mathematics, having never passed a quiz or even completed one in my life and an inability to learn to read until near the end of elementary school—and in athletics.
Below is a discussion of a story of a man alienated by class, circumstance, bondage, and race, a fictional character inserted into an account of an historical battle, written by a supremely alienated literary figure.
In the novelette Spears of Clontarf, which was also rewritten as the Grey God Passes, Robert E. Howard paints the picture of the social misfit, Conn the kern [unarmored Irish foot soldier], a lowly Irish clansman, who, due to his physicality slew one of his social betters and was exiled by the King. He was then taken captive and enslaved by a Viking, a cruel man of another race, and sold to another Viking, no longer even held by the man who overcame him, but by some lesser specimen who purchased him. Howard wrote this story in two different ways, one focusing on Odin appearing to Conn the kern after his escape from slavery, and the other omitting the Grey God and focusing on the protagonist’s escape from slavery, which was this version, Spears of Clontarf.
Of course, class is based in race. Most class stratification in supposedly racially homogeneous societies is a legacy of one race conquering and enslaving another and enough rape of conquered women and marriage of conquered women occurring to reduce the upper and lower races into racially related classes or castes. This tends to deposit seeds of upheaval in the mixed caste just below the upper echelons. How long an empire can hold sway is largely determined by how much loyalty it can maintain among the mixed-caste sub-elite in wrangling the lower orders. In modern settings, from the Plantation Era and thru the Industrial Era to our Information Era, this function is largely fulfilled by a mixed merchant caste, essentially an economic race. The dissident mind must not lose sight of this dynamic or mistake it for some sort of world-wide ethnic conspiracy, for it is a natural default setting for an economically dynamic civilization, as opposed to an economically stagnant tribal or feudal setting.
This is a clear pattern in Great Britain, still ruled by Normans, and in India where one can note the level of Dravidian to Aryan admixtures as a lowering of caste.
In this story, Conn the thrall [and most of us have forgotten that thrall is our Northwestern European word for slave] back-talks his Viking master, who reminds the slave that he, the master, wears the armor and bears the sword. Today gun ownership or police powers would be the focus of such a yarn. The slave simply smashed his master’s head in with a fire log and takes the sword. This bluntly diverts the artifice so crippling in literature and society, by pointing out that the tool is less potent than the man.
Conn is on his way, remaining a misfit through the remainder of the story, an outsider status which permits him to be more useful to his Irish kin against his Viking enemies than if he were a fully socialized cog in the hierarchal machine. He is also—through his exterior status—more useful as a narrative perspective for the author, a lesson that should be heeded by those of us involved in exploring the competing social narratives of our lie-riven age.
This is perhaps Howard’s only flirtation with the Omega man, the loner, the social outcast of pure type. What he usually sketched was a Conan or Kull like character who achieved alienation through racial distance but was a highly socialized Alpha man. Even Bran Mak Morn, the mythic Pictish king, is of a different racial strain than his folk and is hopelessly alien to them. An exception in his literature is Solomon Kane, who is anti-social to a crippling degree due to his religious fanaticism and ascetic austerity. However, Kane is essentially written as an undead vector of vengeance stalking an evil world. In these various treatments of the alienated soul who is fated to orbit and intersect with normal social intercourse, Howard experiments in story with how such a vantage might serve as a potentiality, a dynamic angle which might serve a greater good than the doomed hero.
Conn does not become king or discover that he is the heir to the throne, as would be written in standard, sentimental literature. Rather Conn tries and fails to save the king from death, and although he wins his freedom and has his collar removed by the only Irish chieftain remaining alive, he remains a kern, a lower-class man. This lack of the elite transmogrification, so rare in heroic literature, offers a vantage that might help the dissident mind of postmodernity, who has been inculcated with the idea that his purpose is to change the world with his vote or his opinion. Howard speaks first through the validating brute who cut the thrall’s shoulder with the axe he used to remove the slave collar, which would have ushered in a half-decade of legal battles in our time, but which both of these primal men fail to even note.
First the last hero alive, speaks:
“You who were a thrall are a free man… The king has fallen and all his heroes and though we have freed the land of the foreign chains, we too are as but ghosts waning into the night.”
Does this not speak to the American man of the working and soldiering class who has toiled and warred across the world in service to international financial interests?
The freedman responds in a practical mien beyond our more modernity-addled minds:
“I know not. I am but a kern. And the wisdom of chiefs is not for me—but this day I have seen kings fall like ripe grain and have fought at the side of heroes, and surely a man need ask no better fate than this.”
Way to go you dumb fuck! That is a character at peace in the midst of national despair, wrought by a writer incapable of peace on earth, a man who wrote furiously for a decade while he waited for his mother to die, so that the woman that kept him alive as a frail boy would not suffer the heartbreak of seeing her son take his own life. Howard’s every story is a message, perhaps to a future self, that there are more parts to play in the grim stage production of life than the master class lists in its ultimately fictitious program.
For this reason of brute clarity in a seething sea of racial despair and cultural ennui, I suggest Howard’s fiction to young men frustrated with being a natural misfit. The natural misfit, less so than the abused misfit, is in a better position to be useful to the normal folk, to cloak himself in at least a veil of normalcy, and to be able to successfully network with the willful hero, the complaisant herd and especially the abused and abrasive anti-hero.
For me, I was a natural misfit due to having less athletic ability than my peers, by dreaming more, by being less able to comprehend my schoolwork, by being more sensitive. When I saw that my lack of social prowess resulted in social trust that was supposed to protect me being abbreviated, violated, withdrawn and mal-applied, I was able to perceive that my parents and other elders witlessly lied for a greater force which despised us—namely the celebratory [1] upper class—and that I must strive alone, but not necessarily away into hermitage.
Over the decades of life I have slowly learned to support the heroic souls that are unable to resist the urge to strive, to help in various ways the abused souls, to ally with the other born aliens such as myself and to network with the sloe-eyed cattle of humanity, the steers and the cows, in such a way as to avoid being gored, or trampled by their shuddering mass. I have come to appreciate that Howard, whose work I have reread every decade of my life since age 13, as having inculcated this sense into me, a sense I have only begun to appreciate as having flowed through his typewriter recently, since achieving Age Fifty in a world that hates me.
I intend to use more Howard stories as discussion fulcrums throughout this work. But, first, before we continue on to a discussion of what good and what bad will probably arise from Shamdemicism, we should examine a real-life example of the man alienated through abuse.
-1. As a mature man I came recently to understand that there were racial underpinnings here, that those socially above me, who looked like me, hated me and favored those socially below them who looked different than me, because they knew from the vantage of their high place, that I and my lowly kind were born with the ability to usurp their rarified space. Again, this theme is at the core of Howard’s work, with a racially related barbarian [read low-class] rising to rule a kingdom of his betters as a usurper, this being the core appeal of the matchlessly popular Conan character and his populist proto-type, Kull.
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