Lit Crit

The Un-manual to Unman all Manuals: Trevor Blake

April 01, 2014

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The Un-manual to Unman all Manuals: Trevor Blake

At the nexus of Anton LaVey and Robert Anton Wilson lies Trevor Blake. In Confessions of a Failed Egoist and Other Essays, Blake combines The Doctor’s brand of deadpan dark wiseacreing with the laughing Irish-Catholic sage of the counterculture’s endless questioning. He consolidates and updates the philosophy championed by individualistic non-joiners in constant evolution since the days of Epicurus. 
Who the hell is Trevor Blake? Why do you care? Among other things, Mr. Blake runs a magazine called OVO. He’s a close and trusted associate of Kevin Slaughter (who published this book), Max Inappropriate, Jack Donovan , and other bad white men™. His hermetic seclusion from each and all echo chambers allows actual engagement in critical thought. His anonymity is a feature, not a bug.

He’s also one of the best friends I’ve ever had and a man I often refer to as my mentor. I sure hope you buy his book, but as I trust will become clear, the review that follows is nothing short of the truth. Trevor wouldn’t want it any other way. 

Blake’s MO is never settling for easy, ego-affirming lies. Confessions of a Failed Egoist and Other Essays displays both his superhuman talent for destroying easy answers and his unparalleled mastery of wordplay.
 
You’ll find no shortage of religious and/or political cults willing to provide easy answers. Blake won’t. Instead, he’ll keep asking questions until your dearest-held assumptions are stripped away one by one. Blake is the answer annihilator. He will not abide them. He takes the lies you tell yourself—the lies that you know are lies—and sets them ablaze.

“Blake is the answer annihilator. He will not abide them. He takes the lies you tell yourself—the lies that you know are lies—and sets them ablaze.”

Don’t worry; there’s a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. Blake appeals to your inner smart-ass to illuminate sublime truths. The burqa, for example, is “poor clothing of the pork loathing.” Patriarchy, Blake tells us, is “neither sorcery nor science, but adopting the worst aspects of both.” On intra-Objectivist rivalries: “Membership has its penalties.”

Blake’s aphorisms have a penetrating freshness about them, even when exploring well-worn territory: “To pretend there could be no violence is fantastic thinking.” Blake has said the thing about violence that needs to be said: A world without it is the province of pop songs and poets.

This is no great intellectual achievement. What is noteworthy, however, is stating it without resorting to faux tough guy silliness. Violence is not a thing to be glorified. It merely is, like rain, trends, and hangovers.

Several essays are seemingly irrelevant to egoism. The best is “So You Want to Meet an Alien?,” a highly poignant meditation on disability, a recurring trope in Blake’s life and work. “Co-Remoting with the Thunderous,” a tribute to a fellow power weirdo, is neither, though it is a profile of egoism in action, for better or worse.

But it’s the eponymous first essay and the last two that stand head and shoulders above the rest. The first explores precisely why Trevor Blake is a failed egoist and includes a prolonged discussion of the problems of egoism, such as the continuing issues presented by the mind-body duality. Such an iconoclast is Mr. Blake that he doesn’t even subscribe to his own cult. 

The penultimate essay, “Triumph of the Wilt,” systematically destroys every victimhood industry, left and right, in plain language anyone can understand: “In my world, chopping up the neighboring tribe with machetes is racism. My world is a tiny subset of the real world, in which telling the wrong joke is racism.”

Blake’s final essay, “Shot From the Egoist Canon,” didn’t thrill me, though it did add to my reading list. Heavy on block quotes, it gives Blake’s weathered and wise take on the egoist tradition, from Epicurus to himself—and what better way to end a collection of egoist essays than by praising the self?


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