A slip of the mask

I have to admit that I was impressed with this woman’s review of A Throne of Bones, less because she was willing to recognize its strengths while correctly identifying some of its flaws than by her ability to observe what so many other critics simply do not see:

“I hadn’t yet found Mr. Day’s talents to be equal to his claims of superior intelligence. Do pay attention to my verb tenses, please. I had always found his nonfiction articles to lack nuance, but later discovered that this lack of nuance left him open to attacks on his logic, which then created situations of counterattack wherein Day revealed how very coldly logical he was, and in a way that most people couldn’t follow. This led me to believe that Vox Day is a master manipulator, who directs the dichotomous thinking of others [most people, I’ve found, are black and white thinkers, even if they boast high intelligence. And that personality trait is exploitable]”

I think this description is probably a bit too colorful; after all, what sort of master manipulator never attempts to manipulate anyone into doing anything?  I may have some of the abilities and perhaps even the right psychological makeup(1) to be such a creature, but the only thing for which I habitually use my Machiavellian tendencies is to encourage my critics-to-be to expose themselves to an inevitable counterattack.  If you think about it, it’s really nothing more than setting up a defensive position with kill zones, then guiding the enemy’s approach into those zones with the use of misdirection.

However, she is absolutely correct concerning the exploitable nature of the binary thinker.  Regardless of how smart he may be, all one has to do to fatally trap any such thinker is to encourage him to lunge at the lure. Convince him to think that white is black, he will immediately begin to argue in favor of white in reaction, at which point one has no more to do than remove the illusion and he is yours.

Many, if not most, of the questions I initially ask people are simply intended to sound them out.  It’s much more important to know how someone thinks than what they think.  If you know what someone thinks on a certain matter, it may offer a clue as to what they think on another one.  If you know how someone thinks, you can fairly accurately anticipate what they are going to conclude about practically anything, assuming you’re both privy to the same information.

Anyhow, I was particularly pleased to read Mrs. Domschot’s generally positive conclusions about the book because she clearly views the author in a skeptical light.  But one always has to respect those critics who genuinely attempt judge a work on its own merits, regardless of what they think of the author and no matter what their ultimate conclusions happen to be.  Of course, given that she describes herself as a “a non-compliant, anti-authoritarian misanthrope who writes speculative fiction”, it may be that we have more in common than she would like to believe.

(1)After a round of personality tests in high school, the psychologist administering them commented that my profile was an uncommon one as I was unusually high in two areas generally observed to be contradictory.  Apparently it showed that I was an honest and straightforward Machiavellian.