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Culture War Roundup for the week of April 24, 2023

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Most western intellectual movements have been disproportionately jewish, including fascism at one point.

The most parsimonious explanation is that they are a small enough group that any significant representation is over-representation, combined with (in the Ashkenazi wing of judaism) higher average IQ and disproportionate representation in intellectual pursuits. New political movements come out of a very specific demographic, upper-middle-class intellectuals who view their lack of power and authority as an indictment of society, hence the drive for change. Jews in the west are highly overrepresented in this class, and thus in most political movements.

They are also over-represented among conservative intellectuals, anarchy theorists, communists, anti-communists, dadaists, SocJus inquisitors, etc. Pretty much any intellectual fad popular with that demographic is going to be "disproportionately jewish".

I really think that the motte-and-bailey of many (often bad faith) questions like this is that "Jewish" is both a faith and several ethnicities.

Imagine if worship of Greek gods had survived to the present day--a religion of, say, 20 million, with half living in Greece but the other half in various diasporas around the world. In that hypothetical world, who is plausibly "Greek?"

Only the people who live in Greece? But, despite the ethnic cleansing of Turkey, presumably many Turkish people are ethnically Greek even today, at least arguably--it was only in the early 20th century that the purest of the Greeks were expelled. Besides, surely the Greek god worshippers would say "we're Greek too!" And what about people whose great-great-great-grandparents were Greek, and who still like to make pitas for lunch? Are they Greek, too? What if they insist that they are Greek? Also Greece has a long and storied intellectual tradition. The whole edifice of Western academia is literally named after an Athenian hero, because Plato's Academy was the Academy. Is academia "disproportionately Greek?"

In a way, the present day status of Greek versus Jewish (both ancient traditions and peoples!) is an interesting illustration of the costs and benefits of being cosmopolitan and culturally promiscuous, versus being insular and protectionist. Greece and Israel have similar populations today, both ethnicities have been subject to (differently executed, but nevertheless) centuries of subjugation, exile, and ethnic cleansing. Greek philosophy has arguably conquered the world; they literally invented formal logic, which no other culture ever independently accomplished, and laid the foundations of all modern sciences, including social sciences like politics and psychology.

(Indeed, Ashkenazi Jews--the Jewish ethnicity most often associated in popular perception with disproportionate intellectual prowess--are the Jews whose ancestry comes predominantly from southern Europe!)

And yet there are no grand conspiracy theories concerning Greek influence (though I admit I have never been to Turkey, maybe they have such things there?). Greek people in America are just treated as "white" people--even if they, as southern Europeans with noticeable genetic overlap across the Mediterranean, are suspicious about that classification! Meanwhile Jews of plainly and overwhelmingly European descent are often given a pass for claiming to not be white. That insularity and ethnic conservatism comes with a price (in particular, the kooks who allow Jews to live rent-free in their heads) but also with clear benefits.

(This same pattern can be observed about American culture in the era of mass media. Cultural differences, including linguistic accents, do continue to exist in the U.S., but American culture has become surprisingly homogeneous, historically speaking, given the size and population of our country--and much of the world has been caught in that phenomenon through mass media, as evidenced by e.g. people in the U.K. and (especially) Ireland participating in bizarre "Black Lives Matter" protests. Cultural "assimilation" or "integration" are interesting topics to me, I guess is what I'm saying here.)

Anyway, my main point is just that "disproportionately Jewish" is an easy target to hit in part because "Jewish" sounds to most people like a group with clear boundaries, but in fact it definitely isn't. It's a historical accident that they get any attention at all; Christianity started as a sect of Judaism, too, so arguably Jewish ideas have also conquered much of the world. But it's not at all clear to me how a question like "what would feminism look like without Christian (or Greek) influence" helpfully informs us about, well, anything.

as evidenced by e.g. people in the U.K. and (especially) Ireland participating in bizarre "Black Lives Matter" protests

While I agree that 'Black Lives Matter' makes little sense in a domestic context, protesting about American racial politics something the Irish left were doing decades ago, and it's no further from home than tagging along with the 'Free Palestine' (still a staple of Irish protests), 'Free Tibet' or 'End Apartheid' movements.

What's new is that while Israel, South Africa and Tibet are clearly foreign countries, Black Lives Matter has developed a cottage industry of finding racial injustic within Ireland. Their high points have been getting statues of Egyptian princesses removed a hotel because they mistakenly thought they were slave girls (the council later returned these statues to their plinths), protesting the shooting of a knife-wielding black man by police as if it were evidence of pervasive racism (given how scarce police shootings are this might be the first black man ever shot dead by police here), and calling for an end to the 'Direct Provision' system of processing refugees as the movement's Achilles heel is there not being many black people here in the first place.

It's a strange thing to look at. All of the infrastructure for making race an issue is ready to fire, the NGOs, the university professors and the street protesters, but with Ireland's immigrant population mostly consisting of Slavs (who don't really care about Irish politics and dream of going home) and well-paid Western Europeans whose only complaints are rent and petty crime, there is a severe shortage of discontented minorities. Give it a few years I guess.

The spectacle of various European countries desperately trying to import enough disgruntled minorities to give them analogous race problems to the US so they can participate in the collective guilt has truly been incredible to watch.

The right sees it as a plan to import voters who will be reliably left, but I think it's even dumber than that. I think they literally have dysfunction-envy, and so desperately want to ape the US that they need a minority to oppress so they can hate themselves as much Americans do. How's a good self-hating Swede leftist supposed to denounce "socialist" Sweden as a right-wing racist hellhole if they don't have any other races there?

How's a good self-hating Swede leftist supposed to denounce "socialist" Sweden as a right-wing racist hellhole if they don't have any other races there?

By reference to Sweden's past in supporting ("white-on-white") eugenics and WW2 era cooperation with Nazi Germany, as is traditional.

I've been active in left-wing politics for a long time, I know (at least at some level) people very high up locally, and there's no "plan to import voters" or "desperately ape the US" or anything like that. For most local leftists, the whole immigration issue is quite low on the list of concerns, and insofar there's a concern it's mostly about maintaining a certain immigration policy to comply with international human rights treaties (of course there's a lot of variation on how those are interpreted). If that immigration policy leads to many immigrants, so it goes; if it doesn't, so it goes, as well. The most important thing is not the number, it's the human rights treaty compliance.

Sounds like a cop-out to me, bypassing the argument entirely. The 'it's the law' defense. Is policy X or Y preferrable? Well, X is the law, I guess that settles it forever. Progressives turn into paragons of legalism all of a sudden.

That reminds of a discussion we're having in germany right now, about the closing of the last nuclear plants. The greens harp on about burocratic hurdles as a reason not to keep them open. Oh no, the plants would have to renew their license! The paperwork, the paperwork! Guess our hands are tied then. Let's just keep that terrible burden in mind when they ask for a policy change.

This isn't supposed to describe an "argument" or a "defense", it's obvious that it's not that good an argument against someone who doesn't share the underpinning ideological assumptions. It's supposed to describe the genuine reason why whatever immigration-related policies are advanced.

And it's not just that it's the law; it's the human rights treaty framework, something greater and larger than law, kind of a global constitution that underpins the entire global liberal world-system. The linchpin of civilization, if we were talking about people who think in terms like "civilization".

I'm not sure rightists completely understand just how large a role the global human rights treaty framework plays in modern European left-wing consciousness.

A text is not a genuine reason, though it may contain a reason. They used to point to the bible, now they have this. If they won’t give the true reason found in or around the text, but instead merely refer to its authority, they are avoiding debate. If I want a genuine justification for ‘murder is wrong’, a reply pointing to the law, the bible, or human rights misses the mark.

I'm not sure rightists completely understand just how large a role the global human rights treaty framework plays in modern European left-wing consciousness.

Perhaps, but if so, that is a failure of pedagogy and debate on the part of the left, of the kind described above. There are plenty of liberals on the right, including, believe it or not, people who like civilization.

I wish such disagreements were settled more often with ‘you have a more restrictive understanding of the right to asylum than I do’ instead of ‘you reject human rights’, but we’d need to actually discuss human rights, not use it as an applause/boo-light.

I live among Nordic leftists, and I can tell you with certainty that they legitimately don't believe that mass immigration comes with problems.

Also, Sweden does have a historically-oppressed minority group, the Sami.

They can’t just declare the travelers oppressed? Hispanics broadly not cooperating with left-wing socjus posturing doesn’t stop it over here, and it can’t exactly get dumber than posturing over the plight of mostly non extant black people in Ireland.

They can’t just declare the travelers oppressed?

You mean traveller gypsies? They have done that, but travellers are a very unsympathetic people and there's no European or American scale media/activism working in their favour to overcome that issue.

A while back, in response to the so frequent it's hardly noteworthy claim that Jews dominate banking, I did a survey of the executive teams of the largest banks in the US and found that, while there was overrepresentation, it wasn't anywhere close to enough to suggest that there was any disproportionate control. A certain category of poster on here attacked my methodology; since I normally can't just look up someone's ethnicity or religion, I had to use names as the basis of my analysis, and I was assured that a lot of Jews have names that aren't immediately obvious (and I admitted myself that married women complicated things). Yeah, I know. But that wasn't really the point—if you're making a claim that a certain group dominates a certain industry that I'd expect, on the low end, plausible evidence that at least 40% of the people involved are members of that group. I thought I used liberal criteria, but even if I missed half of the Jews in the banking industry it would still be a long way from 40%.

I noticed something similar on whatever TheDonald is calling itself now during the height of the FTX debacle where there seemed to be agreement that Caroline Ellison was definitely Jewish. Ellison is not a Jewish name, and she was raised Catholic. But... someone noticed that her mother's maiden name is Fisher, and Fisher is a "typical Jewish name", and Judaism is matrilineal. Well, sort of. While I don't doubt that there are Jews named Fisher (or, more probably, Fischer), it's hardly dispositive. I've known several people named Fisher or Fischer and, to my knowledge, none of them were Jewish. I've also known people named Diamond, Gross, Stein, and Schwartz who definitely weren't Jewish. If you're going to claim that some industry is dominated by a particular group, the onus is on you to provide real evidence that that is in fact the case. And that's before we even start talking about what that's supposed to mean.

For anti-semites, Jews are a symbol. It doesn't matter if it's "a long way from 40 %"; they'll just say you missed the crypto-Jews. For those with more consistent concerns in the objective sphere, like fascists, it's just a stepping stone to saying that the majority can decide what proportion is too much.

What is the evidence that Jews were over-represented in the development of fascism?

That’s pretty interesting. However, I don’t think it proves that fascism at one point was disproportionately Jewish, as a majority of the leading intellectuals and writers of fascism were not Jewish in Italy. Unless you mean, “Jews were more likely to be interested in the fascist movement”, but if the topic is “leading figures/influencers”, I don’t think that is evidenced. Fascism as a movement was, going by writers and major thought leaders, almost exclusively non-Jewish.

Given that Jews make up a very small portion of the Italian population, they can be overrepresented without constituting a majority of the leading intellectuals and writers.

There another’s explanation, which is that Jews by the mere fact of always being a minority within a larger culture are often forced into seeing the wider culture in an outsider’s viewpoint. If you travel around, especially if you spend appreciable amounts of time immersed in another culture, you can kind of get a similar viewpoint. You can help but notice all the weird stuff those other people do that you don’t. Or weird things other people think that your people don’t. They aren’t raised to think of race the same way as whites do. Or women. Or poverty. So seeing a different perspective and perhaps not being attached to the dominant one let’s them poke holes in theories that others wouldn’t see.

When you’re done figuring that one out, let us know where themotte would be today without the involvement of jewish men. Presumably there would be even more of these boring questions hinting at nefarious jewish influence, but how is that even possible.

If there is anyone in the world that has the right to complain about Jewish women, it is Jewish men. For most of the world's masculines they are a folk tale told to scare impressionable youths but they (the Jews) have to live with and marry them. The closest thing in our reality to an actual monstergirl.

When I think of Eden Polani, Gal Gadot, and Bar Rafaeli, I don't think "monstergirl". Israeli girls are hot.

I think "monster girl" also usually has the connotation of "hot," so I don't know what crushedoranges is implying.

This is not intended as a dig against any of the named women but there is is nothing about being a monster that says one can't be hot. The black widow and femme fatale are tropes for a reason.

I don't know if this was a failed attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor or what, but if so, it failed abysmally.

"Jewish women are the worst" is about as low effort as a "boo outgroup" post gets.

Banned for a day. Don't post like this.

Was there a unique contribution that Jewish women made to feminism

Seems probable.

and if so, how would women's rights look today had there been minimal Jewish involvement?

Approximately identical.

I would expect their contribution to be high, because jews are wealthy, disproportionately represented in the media industry and live in places where voices are heard (LA, NYC).

Antler estimates that two-thirds to three-quarters of the women in these collectives were Jewish.

It could be as high as 40% (while being 7% of the population) and I wouldn't bat an eye. But, at 66% there certainly was something about being Jewish that led to the numbers being so high.

If Jewish conspiracy theorists would quiet down for a bit, it would be really interesting to do good faith studies into why urban WASPs and secular Jews behave so differently. But I don't think there is any world in which such a modest proposal gets interpreted as anything but anti-semitic.

Was there a unique contribution that Jewish women made to feminism

Is "being a post-industrial society in pre-industrial times" not enough?

Post-industrial peoples tend womanist because there's no longer any biological advantage to being a man, and considering Jews tended to make (or be made) people who worked in occupations that we would recognize as the dominant components of post-industrial (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate) economies.

So it would make sense that this sub-culture would have felt this influence early thus been a vanguard of it as the rest of the Western world "caught up". Interestingly, this also (to a degree) will erode their position simply because "success in a post-industrial environment" is no longer limited to Jews, though they still have 200 generations that selection pressure relative to the general population so it's probably going to take a while for their overrepresentation to end.

The decline of the Literary Bloke: "In featuring just four men, Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists confirms what we already knew: the literary male has become terminally uncool."

Just some scattered thoughts.

The Great Literary Man is no longer the role model he once was. The seemingly eternal trajectory outlined by Woolf has been broken. The statistics are drearily familiar. Fewer men read literary novels and fewer men write them. Men are increasingly absent from prize shortlists and publishers’ fiction catalogues. Today’s release of Granta’s 20 best young British novelists – a once-a-decade snapshot of literary talent – bottles the trend. Four of the 20 on the list are men. That’s the lowest in the list’s 40-year history. In its first year, 1983, the Granta list featured only six women.

It has to be pointed out that any such "great upcoming young novelists" list must be comprised of mostly women, out of necessity. Otherwise the organizers of the list would be painted as sexist and privileged and out of touch and it would probably jeopardize their careers. You don't even need to reach for the more subtle types of criticisms that revisionists make of the traditional canon: "yeah, I know like you feel you were just judging works solely on literary merit, and you just so happened to collect a list of 100 deserving authors where 99 of them are men, but actually you were being driven by subconscious patriarchal bias and you need to escape from your historically ossified perspective and so on and so forth". What's going on now in the publishing industry is far more overt: "it's time to hand the reins over to women, period". In such a cultural context, how could a list of the "20 best young British novelists" be taken as unbiased evidence of anything?

The irrelevance of male literary fiction has something to do with “cool”. A few years ago Megan Nolan noted – with as much accuracy as Woolf on these men in Mrs Dalloway – that it might be “inherently less cool” to be a male novelist these days. Male writers, she continued, were missing a “cool, sexy, gunslinger” movement to look up to. All correct.

It's true that literary fiction is not as cool as it once was, although this in itself is not a great moral catastrophe. It's part of the natural cycle of things. The "cool" things now are happening in TV, film, video games, and comic books. When was the last time a literary fiction author of either gender captured the imaginations of millions of people the way Hajime Isayama did? The literary novel is not eternal (many will argue that historically speaking, it's a relatively recent invention) and it is not inherently superior to other narrative art forms.

The decline of male literary fiction is not down to a feminist conspiracy in publishing houses

Correct, it's not a conspiracy, but only because there is nothing conspiratorial about it. If you were to ask any big (or small!) publishing house if they gave priority to voices from traditionally marginalized groups, they would say yes. If you were to then ask them if women are a traditionally marginalized group, they would say yes.


It's not a conspiracy if they just tell you what they're doing!

The most understanding account of male literary ambition was written by a woman.

There's been a meme for some time that goes something like, "men don't understand women, but women understand men - maybe even better than men do themselves", which I find to be quite obnoxious. If there is any "misunderstanding", then it surely goes both ways. There are plenty of things in the male experience that have no natural analogue in the female experience, same as the reverse.

Lol "We discriminated against men and wrote a million think-pieces about how shit they all are, and now they publish fewer books with us, proving that women are better at writing!"

It's quite noticeable at the library, in the new releases section. It often looks like it's 100% women and minorities in American general fiction. Still get the odd continental European or Asian male writer in there. I guess they're just serving what the market has become. And I imagine there isn't a lot of counter-pressure because if you're dissatisfied with that kind of narrative, you can always read the classics.

Is it the case that literary fiction is mostly pseudo-memoirs and filled with pity and sympathy stories? I checked once and this is what I found, but if someone familiar with the genre can inform me that would be cool. The issue could be that that we call this writing “literary”, when it’s really just emotional novels/novellas, ie what women have been consuming for one hundred years — gossip and wives’ tales that calls itself literature. Surely the weighty mark of “literature” has nothing to do with what the writer intends or what some capitalistic publishers desire, but how culture at large sees the work in the future.

I just… why would I ever want to consume the writing of someone who has merely been trained to write, who has spent their formative years regurgitating what their trait-conformist teachers have told them should be written, from textbook straight to to text? That’s incredibly boring and I will gain nothing. Imagine if Harper Lee and Hemingway grew up in suburbia and spent all their time gunning it at school to make it into the best graduate programs for writing. They would write nothing of value. Their writing comes from their experiences that began in formative years, their culture and inner culture. Graduate students in English are writing “literature” for reviewers and magazine writers who are also graduate students in English, none of which gunned it at developing a personality or any unique insight into living.

I think another thing that makes it "literary" is adding allusions to stories in the Western canon and name-dropping famous thinkers. E.g. Iris Murdoch's The Sacred and Profane Love Machine does it right in the title. The big disappointment is that the references usually don't add anything or help make an argument, they just make things seem more profound.

Probably a good example of literary fiction that does actually make a sort of argument is Mann's Death in Venice, which is about an aging pedophile realizing that being educated doesn't actually make him or his desires cool.

Largely, yes. The bright side, however, is that there is more than enough good stuff that you'll never have to fall back to the personal novellas.

I'd personally recommend jumping in the deep end: Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Remember it was published in the 1980s and probably penned throughout the 1970s. I wonder if any editor at a publishing house today would even read draft chapter nowadays.

When there are more men writers it’s prima facie evidence of discrimination; when there are more women writers it’s because men suck.

This type of asymmetry is everywhere and it is always completely predictable how it will go from relative positions on the oppression hierarchy.

I've had similar thoughts when it comes to language. Is it sexist if a gendered language (like Spanish) treats the masculine as the default case, or e.g. that words like "mankind" is based on the masculine word? If it was the inverse, would people complain that the male had it's own superior "exceptional" category and the female was simply generic?

To avoid trying to draw conclusions from hypotheticals, do you have any examples of

people complain[ing] that the male had it's own superior "exceptional" category and the female was simply generic?

If so, it would show that hand-wringing over masculine-default terms is who/whom / motivated complaining / isolated demand for rigor.

I can provide here.

In French we've had multiple waves of performative linguistic alterations of gender in many contradictory directions.

In my youth it used to be appropriate to refer to women in positions of power by using the masculine (Madame le Ministre) because to use a special word would imply women in those positions were different or lesser in dignity.

These days it's appropriate to use the feminine (Madame la Ministre) because to not feminize titles would imply that women were not worthy of such titles.

The paradox here of course is that properly speaking French has no masculine, only neutral and feminine, and this state of affairs can and has been twisted in all possible directions for linguistic novelty, from creating all new feminized titles where neutral titles existed (Autrice) to adding dots in the middle of words to signify explicit inclusion in the political sense (

All this forever in the service of the cause of women of course.

Though I might also have an interesting counterfactual. Because a very long time ago the switch to the grammatical rule that says groups of mixed gender are considered masculine (that is to say neutral) instead of of the last gender mentioned was done on political grounds because men were deemed of a greater station. Or so I've been taught.

Of course all that I've been taught of linguistics tells me this prescriptivism is nonsense and of those proposed fads only persist those that actually simplify use. But who can say?

Of course, and as with any endeavor of this nature, all that has happened is that the true talent has been pushed underground. And it will either find another way to reach us or be redirected elsewhere as the carcass of what was once great walks itself proudly into the garbage bin of history.

The people around these parts are all to familiar with this exact process happening to Science-Fiction, and to many other institutions by now. Oh what a Hugo used to mean!

This piece is written as triumph, but it is the epitaph of the institution that penned it. The great wordsmiths of our age won't get published in places so racist and sexist that they refuse to entertain greatness. And this is somehow to be celebrated. This is progress. It certainly is. Nay, this is reactionary. Why

Some will say, with great wisdom, that "get woke go broke" is wish fulfillment, that the tides of ideology can remain staunchly ignorant of market forces and continue to produce drekk with aplomb thanks to a steady supply of magic money.

And they are right in the short term of course, as we have seen. "Institutional buyers" can sustain these sinecures for a long time, for decades possibly.

Things will get worse, they may do so for the rest of our lives.

But eventually, inevitably, every nation runs out of ruin.

I wrote a comment and gave it to my sensitive reader. Here is it's feedback. I am "The auther" for clarity.

"The author believes that institutions have successfully brainwashed young people. The author first noticed this in video games, where games like Diablo II introduced a slot machine-like element that has now become the norm. Young gamers and game developers can hardly imagine games any other way. The author believes that this has destroyed the discerning game audience and the culture of sophisticated gaming.

The author also believes that younger generations have been trained to expect diversity in entertainment and recoil when it is not present. This has led to the removal of great cultural artifacts from curriculums or their presentation as offensive and wrong. The author believes that this has replaced our entire society.

The author believes that our nation ran out of ruin 10-20 years ago and was replaced by a new nation that is still establishing its new order. The author believes that anticipating this new nation to run out of ruin is premature and compares it to anticipating the Roman Empire running out of ruin the day after Caesar was assassinated. The author believes that by the time this new nation finally runs out of ruin, America of old may be just as much an antiquity as the Roman Republic was to the Roman Empire."

Now if you could get your sensitivity reader to write in the first person and vary its wording a bit... (though it seems like part of the point is defeated by this exercise: it's good that the result is more palatable to those that would disagree, but bad that you are not forced to break the spirit of your own misplaced confidence to post)

On the object level, I am not sure I agree that Roman timelines can be expected to generalise to the present day, since technological advantages and population density seem to otherwise have accelerated turnaround.

While I could be mistaken and it could just be a trick played on me by my filter bubble, I believe this:

The author also believes that younger generations have been trained to expect diversity in entertainment and recoil when it is not present.

is an illusion cast on us to make it seem as if it is fait accompli, so we do not resist it. My impession is that young generations, save a loud activist minority, do not care about this and would rather consume entertainment that prioritise quality over "activism" when both are on offer, which is why it seems like an imperative for people pushing this illusion that all remnants of past quality entertainment must be "remade" and tainted with activism, as its mere presence next to its modern counterparts shade it entirely. This is where I believe we differ, they must destroy the past not because they've won, but because they fear its presence will break the spell they've put on us.

How can you try to figure out if your filter bubble has played a trick on you? It sounds what you're describing (I think this too) is that institutions control the kinds of common knowledge that can be formed. This is independent of the fact that most young people prefer quality over activism.

Maybe I'm just trying to flatter my worldview by saying, "the institutions are oppressing me, but also they're wrong and stupid!!1!"

It is also weird to see how more than half of the top 50 followed tiktokkers do not have Wikipedia pages. What does it take to be notable these days. Dominik Lipa (who is not a Mexican guy, as I presumed) has 65 million people who follow her and does not get a Wikipedia page. Perhaps people can't tell her apart from Addison Rae or Charli D'Amilio, or perhaps all girls of that age look vaguely similar to me.

Perhaps Wikipedia is not young thing any more.

Perhaps people editing Wikipedia are old geezers, relics from primeval times when people went to www to read things, not listen to music and watch videos, people who do not know what Tiktok is and do not care.

Perhaps the wrong side won in the most important war you never heard about - Wikipedia deletionist against inclusionist struggle. Had things went the other way, Wikipedia would today have 66 million articles instead of 6.6 million and nine tenths of them would be about Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pokemon, Dungeons&Dragons and similar nerd crap.

I think this “sensitive reader” gimmick is dumb and ugly.

Sorry: it’s an inelegant solution to your problem. Applying Gaussian blur to text is aesthetically unappealing on the object level, which I realize is intentional. It’s also unpleasant on the meta level, representing a middle finger to the community ethos.

You don’t need GPT to write with some tact.

You don’t need GPT to write with some tact.

Perhaps you don’t have this issue, but I do. It’s something I’m working on to the best of my ability.

The preceding text was fed through my sensitivity reader.

Come on, you got modded for being combative, not for using a no-no word.

In fairness, it does seem like ChatGPT has tempered Coil's tone, but still.

I think it's preposterous to think of this regime as bearing the innovation, strength and potency of youth.

Nowhere it goes does it create, and everywhere it steals and vandalizes. Where is the progressive Augustus? Where are its novel institutions? Where is the peace created by its unquestionable bright future? The few rays of sunlight that exists in its grim vision are all coming from technocapital dissidents who would not mind its destruction at all and even they are undermined at every turn by it for fear of becoming a rival castle of managerial moralism.

You are right to analogize us with murdered Caesar. But "such another" hasn't yet come.

Look, I think the metaphors are getting a little mixed here.

We don’t see much in the way of novel institutions because our existing ones work. About as well as they ever did, anyway. No murder there.

Woke media is sort of fashionable at the moment. I don’t think this is the culmination of a Long (Ides of) March. Neither is the counter push for anti-woke products. Who’s supposed to be Caesar, again?

We disagree in premise. The current institutions do not work. They do not work on so many levels I want to ask you to pick any topic and explain to me how you can possibly read their behavior as serviceable. Even basic thing like public order are fubar. The economic system is broken to the point of hilarity, not to mention logistics and infrastructure.

Everything is fucked that is, except remaining in power, which is literally always the last thing to go.

Public order?

I can drive ten minutes down clean, well-lighted streets and get to a functioning police station or courthouse or other outpost of civil society. The worst I might see is a couple homeless. No drugs, no shootings, none of the apocalyptic tenor that shows up on this board. An armed robbery with no casualties is considered shocking, even exciting.

When I vote, I have every reason to believe my vote is fairly counted. Our polling places operate just fine. My vote may not make the difference, given that my neighbors would probably vote for a log with an R next to it, but that’s okay. That log is not a threat.

I can buy gas and groceries. Go to one of the innumerable big box stores flowing goods to the metroplex. Get a good lunch out with my family. Prices are inflated but manageable.

My job is quite secure—I have reasonable skills, and the regime always needs new weapons for its foreign commitments. We impose some level of order on half the planet. It may not always be this way, but for now, America is the best in the world.

That’s public order.

I mean if you’re judging by the lifestyle of someone living a middle class life in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area, I mean sure. But there are major portions of almost every major American city that are lawless enough that “good people” no longer go there and if misfortune puts them near those areas, they flee as quickly as their modern automobile will allow them.

My city had more than 250 murders last year. Not even that bad. Chicago had more. There are places in America with such high crime rates that stores have their good — all of their goods locked up, and for good measure have metal bars over their windows. You can look on YouTube for the skid rows of various cities, entire streets filled with people hopelessly addicted to drugs. Or you can look up the Los Angeles feces map. A map to help people avoid steers covered in human feces. In most of the inner cores of the city, it’s common practice to leave a car door unlocked and signs on the windows telling thieves there’s nothing of value and to please not break the windows. That’s the urban rot.

Now if you go to rural areas, especially in the south, it’s often very poor. There are no big stores giving the fruits of civilization to rural Georgia. They don’t have good jobs, they don’t have much in material wealth. Most of the buildings are in poor repair. And most of the people still there live in poverty. Those with means fled when the last good jobs were taken with the factory that left decades ago. No new business has come in, and what remains are the people too poor to move and who don’t have the job skills to make it worthwhile.

You want working institutions? I don’t see them. Politics is mostly for show and at best ignores real problems in favor of theatrics. You mentioned the inflationary pressures on the economy. So what exactly has our government been doing while people struggle to afford healthcare and food and so on? Well, we had a nice conversation about January 6, we overturned Roe, and we’re desperately concerned with the contents of elementary school books. We can muster the energy to condemn various political heresies in public and private life. We can perhaps find time to elevate a trans woman to celebrity status. But we cannot fix any real problems. Roads don’t get fixed, crimes in many larger cities are ignored, kids get shot in schools, and for that matter our schools plain stink as compared to other countries.

I guess you just don't live in a big city. Good for you D-FENS, but I question the relevance of your personal experience to the health of your regime when those lawless places in your country do exist.

I spent the last Saturday on the train through Dallas, actually. It was…fine. A couple “don’t make eye contact” moments. Certainly less comfortable than my glorified suburb. Do you live in one of these hellholes, or do you just hear about them on TV?

Their existence doesn’t outweigh all the functional, ordered parts of the country. Since you disagree—when was the last time they did?

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I wrote a comment and gave it to my sensitive reader.

Dude, I like your comments. Stop this nonsense.

Diablo II

Went and googled this because "Diablo" makes me think "relatively recently" but I did not know Diablo II was older than WoW! I figured RNG loot mechanics have been in roleplaying games forever, not even that WoW created it. Or is there a qualitative difference between gambling money and gambling time?

For extra clarity, couldn't you just curate & edit the output of ChatGPT and replace "the author" with "I" and fix the resulting grammatical errors? If your goal is to translate your thoughts into the tone expected in this place, then using tools to help you sounds like a great idea! If your goal is to own the sensitive readers here, I think that counts as waging the culture war, right?

Went and googled this because "Diablo" makes me think "relatively recently" but I did not know Diablo II was older than WoW! I figured RNG loot mechanics have been in roleplaying games forever, not even that WoW created it. Or is there a qualitative difference between gambling money and gambling time?

I acknowledge that RNG loot has been a part of CRPGs for a long time. However, my issue with Diablo II is how it amplified the use of RNG loot. Before Diablo II, I cannot recall playing a single player CRPG and grinding for loot. After Diablo II, however, many RPGs tried to copy its success.

Different games tried different approaches. The Infinity Engine games were pressured to do real-time combat, which was compromised as “real-time with pause” to not alienate its core audience. These games were successful but not as successful as Diablo II.

Other action RPGs such as Nox, Titan Quest and Dungeon Siege were released. These games were successful in their own ways but not as successful as Diablo II. Titan Quest/Grim Dawn focused on skill trees while Dungeon Siege focused on building a massive party and evolving into a tactical combat system.

However, it turns out that what gamers really loved about Diablo II was the presentation of loot with light and sound effects and psychological addiction. This was implemented in many other games including mobile games, freemium games and AAA games with season passes, loot boxes and cosmetic drops.

The preceding text was fed through my sensitivity reader.

Before Diablo II, I cannot recall playing a single player CRPG and grinding for loot.


Let me clarify. I remember playing CRPGs with random loot before Diablo II. I do not remember grinding them for loot. Like as an integral part of the experience. One I would feel compelled to repeat long after I'd beaten the game.

Um... grinding for loot is the very definition of trying to get a rare random drop.

Right, and I'm saying, I never tried to get a rare random drop before Diablo II. I played Wizardry, Might & Magic, Bard's Tale, Pool of Radiance, Final Fantasy, etc, and I got what I got. When I was strong enough to beat a boss, I beat it and moved on. When I was strong enough to beat the game, I beat it and moved on. I grinded for XP primarily, and even then only to whatever bar was required to advance. I never grinded for loot. The loot just happened. In the best of those games, I didn't grind for XP either, I explored a game world because it was fun, and the XP sufficient to advance just happened. Shout out to Pool of Radiance for stopping random encounters in an area when you've had so many you've "cleared" it. I'm aware some players did grind RPGs for specific rare loot drops, even in older RPGs. It was not he predominant mode of play.

Diablo 2 was the first game that was primarily about grinding for loot. Other games had it. Diablo 2 was 95% primarily about it. To the point where beating the game was incidental to playing it. Other players would rush you straight through the end of the game simply so you could get to the meat of the game faster, which was grinding for loot. I had never, ever, seen that happen in any other game ever.

Ah, the true talent of…Vox Day?

I can’t tell what’s supposed to be “written in triumph,” either. The original article bemoans a lack of women in tech men in lit-fic. He alleges that being a starving artist has become cringe. The OP goes further and blames identity politics for keeping men out of published lists. Neither of these looks particularly triumphant.

I don't care for Vox Day, but where are this generation's Heinlein, Vance, Bujold or Spinrad? Because I refuse to believe the hot garbage that makes the Hugos now is it.

Where's the triumphalism

If you don't get a sneering tone from the original article, maybe you haven't read enough editorials about how the old dinosaurs of the past are no longer relevant and never really were that great anyways. Either that or I've read too many. It's a prolific genre.

Come to think of it, this article is so particularly insulting to /lit/ and it's denizens I should probably post it there and see what they make of it.

I found the OP article on /lit/ lol.

Women purchase a lot more fiction than men, a trend that goes back at least to the early 90s and precedes the dominance of female authors in the market. The share of female authors in general ticked sharply upwards starting in the 70s but only cracked 50% in the last couple of years. Why this is I'm not sure. When I was in high school a couple of years ago all the girls read for fun but few boys did. Men tend to read non-fiction a lot more than fiction but even there I think women read a bit more.

To what extent could the difference be carried by erotica? It is widely believed that men prefer visual titillation and women prefer narrative. New media that proliferated since the '90s has much more of an advantage over books in the former than the latter domain, so it would stand to reason that more men who were at least partially in it for the porn jumped ship to the internet. I still remember being annoyed that the semi-trashy criminal fiction I read as a teenager always had to include an ill-fitting gratuitous graphic sex scene, so the proposition that it matters for large swathes of the audience seems not too far-fetched.

(...or perhaps the "men are more visual" thing extends to entertainment beyond the explicitly pornographic. Do men also prefer videos of {violence, heroism, drama} over written stories about them more than women do?)

Probably part of it. Romance has always been the biggest seller in mass-market fiction by far, something like 50% of all units sold yearly are romance. I think the trend holds across most genres though.

Women seem to use Tumblr a lot, which had a lot of porn back in the day.

Interestingly, the surge in female sexlessness corresponds exactly to the 2018 Tumblr porn ban. This has to be a coincidence right? There’s no way it’s as simple as “femcels stopped having sex as soon as they stopped being turned on by hardcore porn on their social media feed,” is it?

There’s no way it’s as simple as “femcels stopped having sex as soon as they stopped being turned on by hardcore porn on their social media feed,” is it?

Simple sanity check: does the number of femcels match the number of regular unique tumblr users?

Also: doesn't it correspond more to COVID?

I have a feeling they were into the former far more than the latter..

And that's leaving aside the lack of availability of video pornography during Playboy's heyday.

...or perhaps the "men are more visual" thing extends to entertainment beyond the explicitly pornographic. Do men also prefer videos of {violence, heroism, drama} over written stories about them more than women do?

I have difficulty getting into the mind of the modal male here. For porn I typically prefer words over images. Words simply allow you to explore a broader and more nuanced range of concepts.

Ultimately both words and images have their place though (for both sexual and non-sexual topics) and I wouldn't say that one is "superior" to the other in a global sense.

Yeah, but not like words on a page. Its different if it's actual audio.

Women buy more fiction: "We must cater to women, they are our natural market"

Men buy more fiction: "We must cater to women, they are an untapped/underserved market"

And your reference for women purchasing a lot more fiction than men?

While little publicized and hard to document, it is a widely held belief in the book business that more women buy books than men -- perhaps as much as 70 or 80 percent of fiction.

So, at least in 1997, they didn't even know. It was just a "widely held belief" that couldn't be documented.

In fact, that same reference makes the case that, if there is such an effect, it's push rather than pull -- publishers are refusing works which appeal to men:

Last fall Matt Bialer, a book agent at William Morris, sent publishers the latest manuscript by Ed Gorman, the author of 17 works of fiction, primarily suspense novels that have had steady, if not spectacular sales. But Mr. Gorman's newest, ''The Poker Club,'' which is about four card-playing professional men who accidentally kill an intruder and see their lives unravel, was turned down flat by nearly a dozen houses.

''People said it was a good story but it was too male-oriented,'' Mr. Bialer said. ''They said it needed a stronger female protagonist.''

Do publishers really cater to men? Or do they have imprints that minimally cater to men in ways that people who aren’t men think won’t give men harmful notions? For example, I have some French comic adaptations of Conan stories that are amazing. They’re full of action, adventure and excitement. The original short stories are also included, as if daring the reader to find fault with their adaptation. I have heard that modern domestic comic productions of Conan are less intense by comparison.

The preceding text was fed through my sensitivity reader.

The preceding text was fed through my sensitivity reader.

This is obnoxious. Stop it.

Stop doing it, or stop saying I'm doing it?

stop saying you're doing it. that's much more off-putting than idiosyncrasies of speech.

[EDIT] - I think the mods have dinged people before for having GPT write their posts for them and not announcing it. On the other hand, it seems to me that if you're going to pass every post through it, just declare that you're doing this from now on, and then everyone will know it without having to be told.

Sigh. Both?

We have already modded people for using ChatGPT to write posts without announcing they were doing this. It's disingenuous and not speaking clearly.

OTOH, this schtick where you pretend that golly-wolly you just don't know how to write words that won't randomly "trigger" people anymore is also disingenuous and obnoxious.

(If you think I'm being harsh, you should read the reports. Nobody is impressed by this routine, dude.)

Realistically, if your "sensitivity reader" is good enough not to be obvious, I am not going to play "spot the AI," so sure, go ahead and have ChatGPT rewrite your posts for you and treat it like a proofreading pass, minus the passive-aggressive "sensitivity reader" bitching.

That said, come off it.

(If you think I'm being harsh, you should read the reports. Nobody is impressed by this routine, dude.)

I'm unconcerned with impressing anyone. Have any reports been for language, being uncharitable or combative? No? Then I consider it a resounding success.

More comments

If you say "I have some..." and "I have heard that..." and the text was written by ChatGPT, you are lying unless you personally actually have some or have heard.

For clarity. I type how I normally type. Then I copy and paste it into ChatGPT and ask it "Can you rephrase this to be less offensive". Sometimes it defaults to "They author believes..." and I have to ask it again, specifying to rephrase it in the first person. Most of the changes are subtle IMHO. I really have those Conan comics, I have really read them, I have really heard domestic Conan comics are weak sauce compared to them.

Every set of hard numbers I've ever seen suggest the same thing. I chose that article from the 90s to show that it's an old trend.

See numbers here for 2015, on pages 71 - 72.

Also dovetails with my personal experience so I don't really have trouble believing it. If it was a matter of being pushed out by a market that caters to women, there's plenty of older stuff men could read, but while I know girls that like to read older stuff I can't remember the last time I met a guy who reads Hemingway or Bierce for fun. Men IME have different hobbies.

There is literary fiction whose readership is heavily tilted toward men. Think Pynchon, DFW, etc. Heavy, pretentious, ponderous tomes whose reading indicates some kind of status achievement. I think with less certainty that some literary journals (namely n+1) are also more heavily subscribed to by men.

Those have fallen out of fashion, though, to the point where it's a meme that having Infinite Jest on your bookshelf is a literary red flag for potential dates.

Women also fantasize to fiction.

I know 1 guy who actively prefers reading + fantasizing over porn. I know a ton of women who never saw the appeal of porn, and purely go off scenarios in their own head.

It's an entire industry the size all porn on the internet, that is contained purely within fiction novels for women.

Maybe TMI, but now you know (of) at least one other guy, being me. I have always found erotica more exciting than pornography (it used to genuinely annoy me as a teenager how hard it was to find porn with actual plot). That makes sense though because I've always considered myself to have a more feminine kind of mind in a lot of ways. I used to write a ton of fanfiction in HS, and as mentioned above a supermajority of fanfic writers are female. I was in a few fandoms where just about every single other fan I interacted with was a girl.

That's really interesting. I am not sure if that supports my anecdotes or balances it out ahaha. Either way, useful nuance.

I bet it makes for more creative love making. Porn is creatively bankrupt.

I know 1 guy who actively prefers reading + fantasizing over porn.

I've always been puzzled by the notion that pornography is something to masturbate to seemingly as its own end and (by extension) the people who claim to do this. While I understand that PornHub's analytics is censored, I'm willing to believe that its logs for time spent per visit are accurate, which is (experimentally) about the time it takes for the anecdotally-average man to find something then jack it to orgasm.

(I wonder how long the average AO3/Wattpad visit is?)

It's an entire industry the size all porn on the internet, that is contained purely within fiction novels for women.

Comiket (and assuming it's representative of the (both ero and not) manga industry, the industry itself) is also majority female, and Japan is sufficiently outside the woke orbit that this is probably a natural equilibrium. For reference, this festival is a celebration of fan work, but quite a bit more commercial than any other Western country would tolerate (their rights-holders either can't or won't take action against it, as they also know full well that that's where its future talent comes from; you don't get 50 Shades of Gray if Twilight fanfiction is sufficiently criminal).

I would argue that hentai (mostly manga, though some anime can count as well) and VNs are a much better balance between the visual and the emotional; being hyper-real makes it possible to engineer specific facial expressions and scenes in a way you can't do as well with real actors (the ones who can are Hollywood A-listers and a bit too expensive for even the well-heeled porn studios... well, other than Stallone anyway).

You can hit both needs at once provided you're competent enough at drawing and take at least some time to establish characterization, or at least that's how I've observed it to work for me. It's not like you can't just "borrow" characters from another franchise and get all that characterization for free if you don't want to do it yourself, which is partially the reason why slashfic is so successful- and because it's drawn, you not only get something to see, but it's superstimulus at the same time since you can make sure your characters look good (they don't even have to be human) and properly expressive from every angle, and the stuff you have them do doesn't even need to be anatomically possible.

I'm not going to argue that H-manga is the pinnacle of storytelling by any means (though there are a few that most certainly are; Katawa Shoujo is probably the best example but there are many others) but what little there usually is still beats "lemon-stealing whores".

I've always been puzzled by the notion that pornography is something to masturbate to seemingly as its own end and (by extension) the people who claim to do this.

I'm confused by what you mean here, can you elaborate?

I'm not going to argue that H-manga is the pinnacle of storytelling by any means

It's not, but works like Subahibi are really interesting. More interesting than a lot of what gets published today.

I'm confused by what you mean here, can you elaborate?

This is "I masturbate while watching porn". Even though I'm told this is generally how most men use pornography, I find this incredibly strange.

More interesting than a lot of what gets published today.

Yeah, I agree; I think the VN as "novel, but a bunch of other stuff happens too outside of the specific text" really goes a long way to improving on raw text. It also happens to be something that AI image generation (and a suitably uncensored LLM) is already capable of, which likely hasn't gone unnoticed by some of the more niche startups and hopefully they get big before they get targeted by the usual suspects.


I’ve brought up this point before, but what relation do those lists of ‘best new writers’ and awards and the like have to, well, sales?

My priors are distinctly that sales are dominated by 1) porn adjacent novellas and 2) James Patterson-esque high-volume authors with a dozen-odd ghost writers, with institutional sales in a distant third.

Obviously if the fashion in lit fic is to have books with emotions instead of plot, women will dominate the list of ‘best new writers’ compiled by lit fic reviewers. But it’s unclear to me that they can compete outside of that niche.

Your priors are right insofar as fiction sales are dominated by romance (maybe unfair to class it all as porn-adjacent--there's a lot of romance without graphic sex scenes. It's certainly a very formulaic, paint-by-numbers genre tho even by the standards of genre fiction). Second-biggest I believe is mystery/thriller, though female authors predominate there too these days.

Here's the NYT bestsellers list.

How is this a thing?

The pleasure of transgression?

Why wouldn't it be a thing?

I’m begging no one from my school sees this 😘😘 // #readingsmvt #bookslvt #LinkBudsNeverOff #smut #book #booktok #foru #foryou #foryoupage #page #waterstones #wattpad #crystal #spice #itendswithus #getmefamous

Is… is this what TikTok is?

I thought tiktok was less literate... Shouldn't these short-form videos be attracting the lowest common denominator?

"Look, they're having sex in my book. Tee-hee I'm such a bad girl"

Seems very much to be a small but common denominator.

TikTok's a pretty wide platform. It's like taking a post from /r/anime_irl and saying "Is this what reddit is like?". But I think there's definitely a large swath of tiktok like that

if the fashion in lit fic is to have books with emotions instead of plot

Notes from the Underground? Ulysses? In Search of Lost Time?

Plenty of classic literature is high on emotions and low on plot. There's no reason to assume that it's a naturally feminine domain. If anything, the most complex and probing investigations of human emotional life have been written by men.

While I concur that sales are going to be decoupled from literary criticism, the list in question is from a lit-crit magazine. Lloyd is complaining that there’s no money in lit-fic, and only women can get reputation from it, so men wandered off.

emotion instead of plot

What do you mean by that? I don’t think of lit-fic as stereotypically emotional so much as…thematic. Technical. Willing to eschew a normal plot, but in service of conversations with other lit-fic, not “emotions.”

I do buy what the other posters have said about literature demand being female dominated although maybe less so than game is male dominated. I think it could be interesting to compare the reaction of this gender domination knowledge in the two media types. Is there an equivalent to criticism of tropes such as the damsel in distress pointed at tropes found in romance novels? Or is it jsut considered kind of a silly thing to even critique? Why or why not?

Although wokism has certainly a significant impact on the nature and demographics of modern fiction, it is not the only problem. Another problem, it seems to me, is that more and more modern writers have limited life experience outside of the realm of intellectuality. There have always been highly intellectual writers, of course, but fiction has also greatly benefitted from being pollinated by the works of adventurers and all sorts of other weird rugged characters. I think that there is a similar problem in Hollywood. Many modern movies seem like they are made by people who have lived their whole lives inside the LA celebrity scene.

Literary fiction is very poorly defined anyway. Do works like The Iliad, The Divine Comedy, and Paradise Lost, which depict supernatural events, count as literary fiction? Is Moby Dick literary fiction, or is it an adventure novel? How about White Fang? Is Wuthering Heights literary fiction or is it a weird tale / horror novel? Is Huckleberry Finn literary fiction or is it a young adult novel? Sometimes what should technically probably be called genre fiction becomes so famous and revered over time that even people who care about the supposed genre fiction / literary fiction divide call it literary fiction. Is the notion of literary fiction anything other than a snobby term meant to evoke status differences?

I don't think modern genre conventions really make much sense to apply prior to the mid-twentieth century or so. Calling the Iliad literary fiction would be ridiculous, but it would also be ridiculous to call it fantasy, or military fiction, or thriller, even though it could fairly be said to share elements of all of those genres.

Young Adult in particular is barely a decade old as a real publishing category. Even Harry Potter doesn't really fit into the formula conventions of modern YA (despite the fact that the YA genre was in large part a product of HP).

I have always understood literary fiction as fiction where the beauty and skill of the prose and the thematic exploration are meant to be as big of or bigger draws as plot or characters. You can have literary fiction where not much happens plot-wise, but not really in genre fiction. Lines are blurry of course. And yeah a lot of it is probably just snobbery.

Young Adult in particular is barely a decade old as a real publishing category.

LOL. This is some real Year Zero stuff. Wikipedia notes many earlier examples, and notes that YA was big in the 1970s and 1980s, which I can personally attest to.

Even Harry Potter doesn't really fit into the formula conventions of modern YA (despite the fact that the YA genre was in large part a product of HP).

That is because the early Harry Potter books were not YA; they were a category younger.

"Literary fiction" as a category probably goes back to the late 19th century.

People wrote books about young people in the 70s, but that's not the same as YA as a publishing category with genre conventions almost as strict as those of say, romance, which is a much more recent thing.

YA was an established category in the 1970s and 1980s. There were sections in libraries dedicated to it, by name. There was fiction recognizable as what we now call YA well before that, of course (the coming-of-age novel is particularly recognizable, but also teen adventure like Robinson Crusoe or the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew serieses, and the Heinlein juveniles)

YA was not, and is not, a genre.

Indeed, stumbling upon a YA novel in a publishing category can be jarring. I was reading through Battletech fiction and you might think that pulpy action novels based on a game would already be considered YA. And yes, if you define YA as books read by young adults, you would be right. But that’s not what YA is.

I came across a Battletech novel that was specifically designated as YA fiction. The strange tropes it introduced into the 100+ novel body of work that is Battletech were jarring and uncomfortable. Other Battletech novels involved kids, even kids at academies dealing with cliques and bullying. So how different could an explicitly YA novel be?

It’s hard to describe. All those other kids in Battletech were more “Hero’s Journey” stories, whereas a YA novel is more of a metaphor for puberty. YA fiction, even for boys, is predominantly written by women. This Battletech novel was no exception. So it was a metaphor for puberty with a female perspective.

Dude the GPTese accent is so strong on this one that it barely makes sense.

Which novel was this?

The Nellus Academy Incident I don't recommend it.

Inferential distance strikes again.

As some of the other comments here get at, there's at least a significant difference in YA-before-it-was-really-called-YA (your Nancy Drews, Hardy Boys, Outsiders, and so on; books aimed at tweens and teens that deal with heavier issues but don't contain content we'd judge unsuitable for a mind barely ready to know what sex is) and the 2010's style of YA that blossomed in the wake of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games (Divergent and so forth; books aimed more at literal young adults, who want the mature content and some of the pretension of the hard stuff); the former sort of book might typically be about groups of teenage friends getting into adventures and hijinks and learning some important lessons, the latter sort of book might typically be more about a Special Teenager being sorted into a faction, except they're so special they're above the concept of factions, and they're going to bring down the oppressive system and find themselves and all that feel-good jazz.

The above admittedly probably doesn't make a ton of sense if you were never on Tumblr in the 2010's.

Yeah, ( @The_Nybbler ) this is what I was trying to get at. Probably half at least of the books listed by wikipedia as early YA (including The Bell Jar and of all things) would never be published as YA nowadays if they were published at all. I doubt even The Outsiders would make it. Pony Boy is 14 (strike one) and a boy (strike two) for starters.

Modern YA has become more of a genre than an age category, not in the least because a substantial chunk of its readers are in fact grown women and not teenagers. For a book to be classed and published as YA it is not enough for it to be about teenagers, it has to hit certain themes like you've mentioned, the fight against an oppressive and cruel 'adult' society (whether it be a dystopian sci-fi tyranny or just bull-headed teachers and parents), the narrative must be very introspective and feelings-y, the lead must be between 16 and 18 (15 and 19 are possible but really pushing it) and with very few exceptions female, there must be a love story B-plot, and it doesn't have to be written in first-person present but that's strongly recommended. There's also just a certain sine qua non 'feel' to YA prose that is hard to pin down but that I know when I see. It's not quite that it's usually linguistically simpler though that is part of it. There is a certain immediacy and immaturity (not necessarily in a bad way, though it can be, but just a sense that 'this is a kid talking') that is usually not found in adult novels. But I have read so-marketed adult novels that have made me think 'this feels like YA' and so-marketed YA novels that make me think 'this feels like an adult novel.'

That stuff is what YA as a "genre" and a publishing category has meant since the early 2010s or so. Gary Paulsen's Hatchet may be a young adult novel but it is not a Young Adult™ novel.

I doubt even The Outsiders would make it. Pony Boy is 14 (strike one) and a boy (strike two) for starters.

S. E. Hinton is a woman, so that ups the chance of it being published.

What you're missing is that YA as a category is newer than Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, and so on, but much older than 2010. Publishing did not skip from 1967 to 2010, or even 1997. YA, like everything else, has become woke/tumblrized, but there's plenty of older stuff closer to your second category than your first. The Tripods trilogy comes immediately to mind.

Moby-Dick is 100% literary fiction. Melville wrote it after years of mainlining New England literature and Biblical culture. At the time of writing he was contributing to literary magazines and complaining to Nathaniel Hawthorne:

What I feel most moved to write, that is banned,—it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot.

I think this…intentionality…is what separates literary fiction from the rest. Melville is openly writing to convey something he feels deeply and passionately. This is not a substitute for craft, but a complement, as he pays great attention to the spiraling structure and the atmosphere. More importantly, though, it’s part of a conversation with the literary community of the time. He is making use of a common cultural context to compress even more into an already dense book.

The end result is a book that benefits from study in a way that mass-market fiction generally does not. There are countless classics which are better as romances, as adventures, as entertainment. Literary fiction has to ask of the reader something a little different.

There is plenty of so-called genre fiction that is written to convey things that the authors feel deeply and passionately, so it seems to me that maybe the author's passion is not enough to distinguish literary fiction? By the standard of passion, for example, a lot of sci-fi should be considered literary fiction, yet many aficionados of literary fiction would probably object to that.

The literary fiction vs genre fiction distinction isn’t that useful. I mean, I know it when I see it, but I don’t get all uptight about keeping genre fiction segregated from “pure” literary works. Works of surpassing quality can certainly include elements of “genre” fiction too, e.g. fantasy or sci-fi settings.

If there is a distinction that I would choose to maintain, it would be the distinction between works of art vs mere products.

I agree with the point regarding "limited life experience outside of the realm of intellectuality." Let me expand on it.

I've written about this before (too lazy atm to link to it), however, colleges are over-specializing to the detriment of their students. Many (most?) of the pre-WW2 male literary giants had little-to-no college education. They wrote about their experiences and honed the craft of writing via journalistic or similar assignments. Hemingway's terse prose owes a lot to his career as a newspaperman.

Post-war literary, high-brow writers (Updike, Roth, Mailer, etc.) may have had more formal and complete college education, often as English majors. Again, however, they usually wrote for school papers, or maybe tried to submit to a popular magazine. (This is an interesting subplot in an early season of Mad Men).

I'd say starting from the time of the so-called "Literary Brat Pack" (Brett Easton Ellis and his ilk), you have a whole class of "writers" who go to very prestigious sounding colleges in the Northeast take creative writing (not English) classes, and basically brute force a publication maybe through an undergrad literary magazine. Then, with the help of a professor, they immediately get into an MFA program (U. Iowa helps the most!) where they can write - and just maybe publish - for years on end. If that novel doesn't hit, they can get a job as a professor and one of the fancier mid Western liberal arts colleges and get some long form piece published in an online only magazine once a year.

The point is that, much like even the hard sciences, the over-institutionalization of writing has made it brittle. You have "writers" who are writing exclusively for a tiny subset of other writers with the right pedigrees. When you know everyone by name in your market, all of a sudden social/political orthodoxy Trumps actual talent and ability and also constrains real artistic risk taking. Hence, you get so many self-indulgent think piece novels about how hard some rich kid's life is. There's literally one called All The Sad Young Literary Men by the brother of Masha Gessen. He went to Harvard and then got an MFA from Syracuse and now teachers at Columbia's Journalist school. You can't make this shit up.

For whatever reason, women seem more interested in fiction novels and men seem more interested in video games. There's some amount of crossover of course, but they're exceptions that prove the general rule. It only makes sense that women would dominate the field considering they're far more interested in it.

Of course there's the societal issues when reading of any sort, including vapid fiction novels, is held on a ridiculous pedestal whereas video games are seen as a vice and a waste of time. In reality, there's little difference between the usefulness of a teenage girl reading the latest YA novel and a teenage boy playing Call of Duty.

Only, I've noticed older men that used to read having stopped/significantly decreased their reading, and they haven't picked up video gaming, while their female counterparts read as much as ever.

I used to read a lot but I'm frankly interested in very little fiction these days, written by either men or women. Getting a recommendation these days (especially for fantasy) feels like when someone recommends an isekai. No, it isn't different this time either, it's garbage.

I am tempted to bring up one of those unsubstantiated claims : "Men are producers (do-ers?), women are consumers (experiencers?)."

Games force you to act. Books can be passively consumed. Even within books, the ones that force a lot of intellectual friction onto people, seem to be more popular among men. Modern literary fiction often reads like wish-fulfillment and escapism, rather using fiction as a tool for putting the reader in the midst of difficult hypothetical choices.

I am not convinced that there is something here, but interesting coincidence either way.

I’m not sure that something being wish-fulfillment and escapism means that men won’t like it. Take practically the entire isekai/isegye genre in light novels and manga; I am under the impression that popadantsy had similar elements to it as well.

I’m not sure that something being wish-fulfillment and escapism means that men won’t like it.

Of course not. Larry Correia launched his career with that. It just has to be, you know, MALE wish-fulfillment and escapism. Which might not be "literary" enough.