This Friday, Terror House Press will release its 15th book: The White Swan by Faisal Marzipan (aka the Lebanotarian), an exhortation on beauty and cultural renewal, featuring satirical essays, song parodies, book and movie reviews, and much more. Bronze Age Pervert describes The White Swan as “show[ing] you how to oppose the regime of numbing lies, where heroic brotherhood of savage men will support each other in samizdat against the lords of lies and in feats of strength in the coming years.” I recently sat down for an interview with Marzipan to discuss his book, comic strips, the experience of being an immigrant, and other topics
Matt Forney: You’ve been a notable figure in our corner of the Internet for quite some time and have become known for your Tweets and short stories and articles published The Autistic Mercury, Terror House Magazine, and other sites. What inspired you to write The White Swan?
Faisal Marzipan: A young buck once told me that at 20, all of your nightmares are about not finding a condom when a lady is ready and willing. Personally, I don’t believe in contraception, but you understand the frustrating aspect of this. I used to have a nightmare about losing a fistfight to a man over a girl. Now, if that dream comes up again, I am fighting back; I am the one winning the battle.
At least in a direct conflict, you have a resolution. Imagine a situation where you are locked under house arrest and you cannot visit family and janissaries are marching and destroying entire cities en masse and your children are being read to by literal demons?
Oh, so that is not hard to imagine is it? The answer is not only to be prepared to fight if possible, but to prepare for the ideological and memetic fight as well. When, seemingly all of the sudden, a novel religion sanctifying lifetimes criminals and entire cities are burning to the ground, and premises underlying them must not be questioned, you must wonder, “How did I get here?” So, if we are going to talk about, comment dit on “Modest Proposals,” why not I make a few modest proposals, sort of like a Great Reset of our own? So that’s where The White Swan comes in. After so much misinformation, telling someone a White Swan is white (and graceful and elegant) is a revolutionary act.
MF: The title of your book is an obvious reference to Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan. What influence has Taleb had on your work and how do you see The White Swan in relation to his work (if there is any relation)?
FM: It is hard to criticize someone who correctly called 117 out of the last two recessions. I kid, you know, and despite Taleb’s somewhat abrasive persona on Twitter, his book The Black Swan was actually enjoyable for Faisal. Taleb here also introduced many to other intellectuals such as the author Umberto Eco. Eco for me is a fascinating figure; his approach to religion is reminiscent of that of a pseudo-lothario who makes a career out of teaching young men to approach and bed young women while remaining a virgin. Eco was challenged as a critic to “write something fictional” and his first attempt was the wildly successful The Name of the Rose. The Name of the Rose also commemorates Jorge Luis Borges and thus Taleb’s introduction of Eco led to Borges and so am grateful for this.
But to specifically answer your question, The Black Swan buys into the frame of common wisdom of the crowds in order to play contrarian. Taleb is by nature a contrarian investor because there is great upside in being ahead of the crowds. But, now, all the dissent, the contrarian nature, is in samizdat literature. Mainstream publishing houses will only support the nightmare reality celebrating trans coming-of-age story of Brahmin immigrants. So, the thesis of The White Swan is to buy into the realities that are plain as day and not chase “rare events” for wealth or even knowledge. A White Swan doesn’t need a black swan event to legitimize its beauty and grace.
MF: I rather enjoy your writing style, which combines academic rigor with humor and whimsy, which anyone who’s read your short stories can attest to. Which writers and thinkers have had the biggest influence on your ideas and the way you write?
FM: In the non-fiction world, I find that a strong set of the basics is important. I like St. Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine, Seneca, G.K. Chesterton, Goethe, and Schelling to name a few. I particularly enjoyed Jung’s Psychology and Alchemy. But in our modern world, you need to read Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, even if you disagree with some of their anti-Christian tenets, because you must understand the attempt of logocentrists to use Church doctrine as handcuffs on masculinity and vitality. It is why you must read Bronze Age Mindset and the work of E. Michael Jones. Because both of those guys are successful as self-published authors, and as such they are allowed to be uncensored, which would be impossible in modern publishing.
As for fiction, Thomas Pynchon tries to be whimsical and erudite, but his slapstick always seems to be forced. Joseph Heller, by contrast, I found hilarious but shallow. It is a delicate balance when you try to thread this needle. Probably Waiting for Godot is one piece of fiction that marries the philosophical with the humorous, which I think is due to Samuel Beckett embracing the French language, which is better suited for this expression. My favorite in short fiction; well, it’s cliché to say Borges, but where’s the lie, you know? Borges was a librarian, and it is hard to appreciate how condensed his style was. Each five-page story contained a multitude. Before my first published short story, “Theme of the Assassin and the King; or, Schelling’s Aquarium,” I read Borges’ short story “The Theme of the Traitor and the Hero” over ten times. Maybe reading some paragraphs line by line many more times than that. In a similar vein, I enjoyed the French author Jean Ferry’s book The Conductor, the oeuvre of Flannery O’Connor, and, of course, Kahlil Gibran.
MF: One of the most interesting essays in The White Swan is an analysis of comic strips, with particular focus on Krazy Kat, a comic strip that was popular during the first half of the 20th century. What got you interested in comic strips and what is your opinion on their cultural influence?
FM: In my essay I say if I want to laugh I read the headlines, and if I want to tap into the collective consciousness, I read the comic strip.
You know as young kebab my father brought over a stack of MAD Magazine from wholesale auction and in basement with bombs blowing up overhead I learned to read English by the art of Al Jaffee and Don Martin. At the time I did not understand why they were so afraid of WASPs I mean cannot you just use Raid? Anyway, MAD Magazine satirized Amerikwan TV and movies, and as a result did not run advertisements. This meant that MAD Magazine was the most expensive magazine on most newsstands. So, you can find these simple schemas, say, “Spy vs. Spy,” repeated incessantly. It is like a long Mizrahi piece or even Ravel with minor variations on a theme. MAD Magazine was largely criticizing WASP culture. It is clear that culture has very little power, and now, the frogs on Twitter have all of the countercultural energy, which is MASSIVE. Big media ventures can only attempt to steal our memes. And once a well-defined meme like Virgin vs. Chad takes off, you can hijack it for persuasive purposes.
In my Krazy Kat essay, I break down the schemas or memes in action that are the backbone of most comic strips. I compare, for example, the lovable loser Charlie Brown and how influential this must have been on several generations of impressionable young men, to see this protagonist perpetually failing and frustrated. In the writing of that essay I remarkably found Umberto Eco’s analysis of Charlie Brown, which he viewed in a far more positive light. In comparison to these, Krazy Kat, which ran through the interwar period (1913-1944), was far more whimsical, absurd, and poetic. Once you get into that space of memetic communication, with current tools the variations are endless. Liberals fail because they are so inclined to mucho texto word salad reasoning. This is why they need to cheat elections; they are a spent force persuasively.
MF: In the section of the book dedicated to cultural critique, you contrast films of the past such as Destry Rides Again, with their focus on upholding law and the order of society, to modern films such as Star Wars that celebrate rebellion, and the effect that this has had on the body politic. Look at all the leftoid protesters who frame their personalities and beliefs around Harry Potter, The Handmaid’s Tale, or other dreck. How would you suggest building a new culture that celebrates virtues that uphold society instead of tearing it down?
FM: First you must acknowledge that Destry Rides Again is itself, at the outset, subversive. Jimmy Stewart has an umbrella at the beginning of the movie, in an homage to Neville Chamberlain (the movie was released in 1939). The beauty of our current situation is all of the literature and media that celebrates traditional roles of masculinity are all readily available and many are in the public domain. The role of parents and influencers now will be curating readily available content. The number one mistake many parents make is just buying video games or cable television; you are subjecting children to 24/7 pedophile and furry propaganda if they watch Nickelodeon.
Many of us in these circles watch anime or are otherwise weeaboos that support Japanese media, and this is largely because Japanese films and anime promote many of these basic tenets of society; for example, the importance of listening to your elders in a film like Kurosawa’s Red Beard (1965). Japan has this self-contained and ethnocentric culture that many on the right pine for, simply because they do not want to be beaten down with ethnic guilt in every single frame of action.
Last century, there were these regional networks of authors in America; Southern Gothic authors formed a literary community that would edit and promote each other’s work, sometimes in state university presses. Now, the regional identity is more or less dead, and the cultural hegemony is devoted to Trans Black Lives mattering, which is to say boring intersectional naval gazing. So instead of regional nodes, you can search for ideological nodes on social media. Faisal is big fan of developing a Männerbünd and have always like to use group chats to workshop jokes and memes. I have much more in common with international band of brothers than the Lebanotarians that stayed in Cana.
To this end, having samizdat outlets such as Terror House is important. I was big fan of Fluland and thought there was great potential there in outsider publishing. There is an energy of digital camaraderie reminiscent of the fiction of the beat generation which was devoted to breaking taboos For the beat generation, the taboo was homosexuality, sexual liberation, and drug use. For us, we have the revolutionary thrill of buying a burner phone with cash, waiting two weeks for them to erase the store video card, and following a twelve-step OpSec manual involving VPN and Tor browsers to type “it’s okay to be white” to our buddies.
We also need our own collection of critics. People like Pauline Kael or Roger Ebert were not only gatekeepers; they were promoters of a certain secular viewpoint. It’s not enough to have thought leaders; you need to have “first followers” to generate fan clubs, reviews, to cultivate a scene. Autistic Mercury was intended to do this, but now I’m hoping platforms like American Mind or American Sun can fill this void.
MF: Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of The White Swan is its discussion of professional wrestling, namely your essays on the Muta Scale and the career of Big Van Vader. What sparked your interest in pro wrestling and what role do you see it playing in the greater culture?
Professional wrestling is the only legitimate form of mass media today. When the cable industry was making a big push to centralize media, the vector they used was professional wrestling. The two main companies, WCW and the WWF, at the time were drawing three to five million viewers on Monday and Thursday nights and towering over other shows. Now, the news channels are drawing in this many viewers by adopting many of the same tactics.
When Tucker Carlson was on CNN, he was largely a mid-level jobber, someone that would lose his “battle” on purpose. Once he ditched his bowtie for a regular tie and took the reins at Fox, it was like when Steve Austin cut his hair and became “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Now, Tucker and Fox are doing what is called “a heel turn” (becoming a bad guy) by stabbing Trump in the back. Knowing how professional wrestling works gives you a healthy dose of cynicism when faced with a 24/7 news cycle. My appreciation of Muta and Vader stem from a long tradition of sumo in Japanese culture. Villains, such as Joe Biden, never need to have a character arc. Monster villains such as Vader, we know them only as “beings in and of themselves.” That is, they are monsters, obstacles. We can only appreciate a hero’s journey if the challenges he faces are substantial. Actually persuading people to go to the polls was quite easy for Trump this time, but in order for us to enjoy the hero’s journey, Trump must bleed like Muta, at least metaphorically. In this way, we must appreciate Trump’s journey of Becoming the Hero.
MF: One of the more understated themes in The White Swan is Catholicism, the best example of which is your in-depth analysis of E. Michael Jones’ Logos Rising. Christianity has become a topic of interest in the dissident right as of late, as many people are (re)discovering faith in a world that seems increasingly dominated by evil. What are your thoughts on/experience with Christianity and its significance in our era?
FM: When times are well financially, the apparent union of capitalism and Christianity seems a welcome contrast over a planned economy. This was exemplified by Billy Graham or Pope John Paul II having an audience with Ronald Reagan. But in current times, when we look to be at the end of the Indian summer of the American hegemony, men with families want to take their faith seriously. Global capital is woke now.
Also, there are no Methodists on Twitter. Once you accept you have a woman preacher and rainbow vestments, the truths on here are too jarring, it provides too much cognitive dissonance. In our sphere, you either have King James Version Bible types, the Orthodox, the pagans/bodybuilders, or the Catholics. I am member of a small Catholic church that offers Tridentine Latin Mass, and I have seen the numbers growing exponentially since 2017 or so. It was an anon that clued me into the church. These spaces can provide a vital vector for building a Männerbünd, which is crucial for the future, as so eloquently stated by Bronze Age Pervert and Ryan Landry in his book Masculinity Amidst Madness.
MF: Finally, what other books or projects are you working on?
FM: I poll my Lebanomaniacs often and they keep begging for fiction, so my goal in 2021 is to focus on short fiction and specifically longer pieces that may be thematically related to “Schelling’s Aquarium.” People respond to fiction because you can make a connection with them emotionally, and thus they are willing to buy in, both literally and figuratively.
MF: Thank you for your time.