Over the last several months there have been several minor blowups in the field of Fantasy. The biggest was probably Leo Grin's Big Hollywood article. It attracted a ton of attention, and because of Grin's political views that quickly became negative attention. By choosing to post that article where he did, he effectively has given those who are in favor of what he is against, the nuclear option. They can now shut down anyone who they feel even remotely agrees with Grin simply, and with that weapon. They've even sought to turn the two writers Grin specifically elevated against the article by pointing out how "Nihilistic" Tolkien and Howard are.
Though not quite as frustratingly overused as the phrases "Ad Hominem", "Godwin'd", etc. It fulfills the same goal of shutting down your opponents by making them look stupid or backwards or gasp, conservative. They are the Internets equivalent of killing their microphone or having security come and remove them from the premises.
Even just using the phrase "Nihilistic Fantasy" is enough to set people off now. It was never a very good description anyway. So far though no one's come up with anything better. I'm not up on epistemology and sociology and all that, so I won't even begin to try and do it. But I can notice certain similarities between the works that are the cause of the issues at hand. They can be called "Grim n' Gritty", "Nihilistic" among other things. They are diverse and various in their forms and from many many writers. The one thing they all seem to have in common is a deep rooted Post Modernist attitude. They are either intently relativistic (who is the reader/writer to decide what is right and wrong for these characters in these situations?) or Deconstructionist. Coyly playing with the traditional tropes of the genre. It's like putting the Gherkin Building up in London. Its an ingenious design for a building. but it can't measure up to the beauty of the buildings from the past. As a result, what should be viewed as a grand architectural achievement is viewed as an Eyesore.
That brings us to what those who support them seem to be forgetting another tenant of Post Modernism. Aesthetic relativism. Just as a lot of people today view Reubans Women as fat. Many today find the older styles of Fantasy stodgy. They enjoy the new books, they find in them parables for the modern "shades of grey world" they feel we all live in. And in their attempts to promote these books they enjoy them are ignoring my take, which is that I find them ugly and without value, I find their lack of a moral poles to be counter to basically everything I believe in. I find the very concept of "Shades of Grey" to be preposterous because they act as if it exists in a vacuum with no black and white poles to anchor it.
I think the idea of calling it Postmodernist Fantasy is probably the best way to view it. As a whole the Fantasy Genre does tend to look backwards and outwards rather than forwards and inwards, That's perhaps a flaw, perhaps not. Sometimes its good to look back at the big picture to see where you came from, it helps inform you as to where you should go next. Looking inwards and forwards just leads to you making up your mind what YOU want now. Its a self centered (not always a bad thing) way to look at the world. Instead of viewing yourself as one floating in the metaphoric sea of humanity, you are the lone island with the torrents raging around you. And in my experience, that is simply not accurate, and my experiences colour my view of these relativist fantasies and preclude the possibility of me enjoying them.
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