On the difficulty of using internet terminology to describe a Great Man of History
This is my first subscriber only post for a while, too long. I think I'll also do a follow up ''quick-take'' on the Dan Snow tweet deconstructing the Napoleon myth.
This is a welcome corrective to an overreliance on memes. Simple is good but sometimes nuance is lost, and that depth can be the essential element. But then, I think that we are more than equal to the task - indeed there's a creative tension between the meme and the theorycel effortpost within our thing. The renaissance of long form writing happening on Substack right now is balancing out the Twitter hot take machine that has dominated right wing discourse since 2016. Thinkers such as yourself are a case in point.
Conversely, while the left produces walls'o'text on a regular basis, the meme so far exceeds their ability. One needs both intuition and reason to think effectively ... The left has neither.
Another highly thought provoking piece Morgoth. I am of an age (just) where I hand wrote letters to my first few girlfriends and them to me. Whilst not as shall we say, flowery and soul-baring as Napoleon's, I meant every word I said in them - as I'm sure he did too. I'm guessing today's equivalent is a WhatsApp message saying "fancy it up the arse Friday night Chardonnay?"
This makes me wonder, has a man's desires and lust always been the same, whilst his culture demands or allows how it is expressed? Or has culture actually changed those basic urges - clearly in the Internet age if the case, beyond all recognition?
You have also left me with a new existential nightmare - we are all going to be rounded up and dealt with by "rainbow-coloured garrottes!" Cheers and keep up the good work!
A tour de force yet again, Morgoth. There's quite a lot to unpack, and a second reading is definitely warranted when I get home. Whilst surreptitiously reading your piece on my afternoon break, I almost bellowed out 'too bloody right!' when you said that for normal white men, there's been literally no reason to visit a cinema for years now.
Slightly off topic, I have often wondered at the significance that much of the slang used by the online right ("based," "simp," "thot," etc) apparently derives from black slang.
There were a great deal of early heretical churches prior to the consolidation of Catholic thought that held that the great mass of people simply had no souls and so the true purpose of the church would be to identify the elect and work toward their salvation. When you read most online discourse, it is hard not to agree with this sentiment—and it has nothing to do with politics. Most people are either incapable of expressing themselves or they have no strong emotions or true beliefs. If this sounds elitist or condescending, then believe me I would love to be disabused of this notion.
I would like to compliment you on this excellent piece, but I can´t find the words to do it justice.
Thank you for this- you start with a movie review and move into areas that really need to be discussed. Memes have moved people in dramatic ways, have confronted them with inconvenient truths and changed their political outlook, but they have also narrowed their vision, and made their thinking shallower.
I started to read this out loud to my husband, a life long Napoloeonic nerd. He has a library of books on him, and has played napoleonic war games all of his life. We stopped reading and watched the trailer and immediately caught the out of place Black aristocrat. I really don’t get this as the jarring effect of it dominates an important scene.
When you started to compare Josephine to the notorious and boring girl bosses now dominating the screen my husband objected, citing the fact that Napoleon’s army loved Josephine, and felt that their luck deserted them when he divorced her. It would be hard for even a modern movie to exaggerate her importance, there is plenty to be said for her, she was seen as much more than influential at the time.
But of course this was not your point. A skillful use of how we are all jumping to conclusions, the sure and certain feeling that they will destroy yet another strong man of destiny and reduce him to a chump that just got lucky for a while, his actions directed by another of those millions of gifted women out there who needed a man through whom their abilities could be realized, because of the um, you know, patriarchy and all.
The shorthand of thinking this implies does away with the subtleties of relationships between men and women, a major part of the both the joys and anguishes of life. A man is not weak who heavily invests himself in a romantically turbulent realtionship, the opposite can be true. A woman is not necessarily a manipulative bitch because she encourages an ambitious and able man in his ambitions, even as she benefits from his success.
It is wonderful if discussions on twitter lead people to more reality based thinking, but it is necessary that those thoughts be deepened through reflection, wider reading, and historical literacy.
We live in a time when neither men nor women have an opportunity to live as they were meant to. It would be a pity if people continue to cut themselves off from a fruitful life because they are inhabiting some internet constructed persona that they allow to define them.
A great piece, thanks again for writing. I love the interviews but it’s grand to have something to read, and Napoleon is a wonderful subject.
Reminds me of how elements of the right - back when they were still vocal about the benefits of stoicism - struggled to embrace Marcus Aurelius as a man to be admired for embodying the ideal; in spite of the fact that he was regularly cucked by his wife, whom he continued to love even after her several bouts of infidelity.
Ridley Scott is more miss than hit. But even his garbage has some redeeming qualities. Think of how much mileage the “deus vult” thing from the counter jihad days got out of clipping battle scenes from the atrocious Kingdom of Heaven. (There goes the meme brain thing again).
I’ll probably check it out. As you’ve said, it’s the first thing that looks promising out of Hollywood in a long time. Ridley Scott, for all his faults can make a hell of a movie if he puts his mind to it.
I have very little to add to such a thought provoking article, so I'll keep my comment short and point out that Scott also made the execrable "Kingdom of Heaven" a few years back. A Napolean movie by Scott circa 1981 would have been mind blowing, but the man has bought into the stupid woke nonsense as he's gotten older. I expect this movie to have fantastic set pieces, thrilling battle scenes, top notch acting, and a thoroughly revolting feminist message.
Watched the trailer, don't think Scott is going ot better this.
Waterloo, 1970, the camera tells the story as much as the actors.
People upset with the apparent simping of a Great Man like Napoleon might consider the medieval European tradition of the courtly romance, wherein a brave chaste knight adores a lovely maiden whose affections may never be returned, at least not physically.
A very interesting piece Morgoth. I very much enjoy how you use contemporary internet terms in tandem with analytical breakdowns and philosophy. The Blade runner joke was hilarious, but addressing the potential for wokeness for the movie but also tackling the ugly truth of historical Napoleon's simping was very engaging. I look forward to you reviewing this movie when it comes out, for better or worse. For as you say, self respecting white men with a modicum of intelligence and an interest in history haven't had any reason to look to Hollywood in quite some time.
Yes, real people are complicated. Fiction is easier to arrange, but also requires fewer complications and it require simplicity. Hence the phrase, truth is stranger than fiction. Just like Belisarius, Napoleon was a great General, one of the greatest, with a sluttish and whorish wife whom he was devoted to.
So I am, as you say, cautiously optimistic. There hasn't been a truly satisfying film made about Napolean's life, particularly his rise to power. At the very least, this should be better than Dunc part 2.
A new category of Chad simp must be formed behold the chimp.