Of Blogs Past Part Five: Abderitic Review

For me, blogging is an extension of zine culture. Throughout the 1990s I wrote for, and published, lots of zines. These were mostly photocopied works created by my friends and I, and we rarely produced more than 100 copies at a time.

The Internet killed zine culture, so after a few years without any outlets for my hobbyist writing I took to blogging.

I was in school between 2001 and 2010, and that took up nearly all of my writing energy. Short stories and novels took a back seat to research papers, with the occasional short burst of energy directed to blog posts.

By the end of 2010 I was ready to turn my hand to more substantial fiction writing so I took up the NaNoWriMo challenge. I successfully met the challenge in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. In 2015 I decided to devote my attentions to improving my knowledge about the craft of writing. I knew I could produce at great length, I knew I could have fun writing and I found it satisfying, but the quality wasn’t where it needed to be if I were ever to get paid for a piece of fiction. And so, I created Abderitic Review to publicly keep track of my writing goals. Over the course of 2015 I produced a score of stories. The goal in 2016 was to polish these stories and send them out to short-fiction markets. 2016 was to be “The Year of Rejection.”

It turns out I had a hard time figuring out where to send the stories I’d written. The paying market for SF/F and weird fiction is small. I’ve collected a couple of rejections this year, but not nearly as many as I wanted. If 2015 was a successful writing year, 2016 has been less so. That doesn’t mean I haven’t written anything. I’m currently working on a novel that I’m striving to write to the best of my ability. I expect to complete it in the summer of 2017.

So, Abderitic Review was active during 2015, but mostly moribund through the first part of 2016.

Abderitic, by the way, is a reference to an essay by Immanuel Kant where he attempts to answer the question “Is the human race constantly progressing?

He argues there are three potential futures for humanity.

“The human race exists either in continual retrogression toward wickedness, or in perpetual progression toward improvement in its moral destination, or in eternal stagnation in its present stage of moral worth among creatures.”

“The first we can call moral terrorism, and the second eudaemonism …, but the third we can term abderitism because, since a true stagnation in matters of morality is not possible, a perpetually changing upward tendency and an equally frequent and profound relapse (an eternal oscillation, as it were) amounts to nothing more than if the subject had remained in the same place, standing still.”

About abderitism he writes:

“This opinion may well have the majority of voices on its side. Bustling folly is the character of our species: people hastily set off on the path of the good, but do not persevere steadfastly upon it; indeed, in order to avoid being bound to a single goal, even if only for the sake of variety they reverse the plan of progress, build in order to demolish, and impose upon themselves the hopeless effort of rolling the stone of Sisyphus uphill in order to let it roll back down again.

“The principle of evil in the natural predisposition of the human race, therefore, does not seem to be amalgamated (blended) here with that of the good, but each principle appears rather to be neutralized by the other.

“Inertia (which is called here stagnation) would be the result of this. It is a vain affair to have good so alternate with evil that the whole traffic of our species with itself on this globe would have to be considered as a mere farcical comedy, for this can endow our species with no greater value in the eyes of reason than that which other animal species possess, species which carry on this game with fewer costs and without expenditure of thought.”

I was once quite the fan of progress and optimism, but as I move closer to the sweet embrace of the tomb I find myself planted firmly in abderitism.

The term abderitic never caught on, but during Kant’s lifetime there was a popular work titled History of the Abderites by Cristoph Martin Wieland. Abderites were the foolish rural counterparts to the cosmopolitan urban Athenians. Notably, Democritus, the laughing philosopher, was from Abdera. Cicero described Abdera as a republic of fools, and it became short-hand for the classical Greeks for the folly of the self-satisfied and petty-minded. These are indeed abderitic times.

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