Matilda’s 2017 Reading List

“What sort of a book would you like to read next?” Mrs. Phelps asked.

Matilda said, “I would like a really good one that grownups read, a famous one. I don’t know any names.”

Mrs. Phelps looked along the shelves, taking her time. She didn’t quite know what to bring out. “How,” She asked herself. “Does one choose a famous grownup book for a four year old girl?” Her first thought was to pick a volume by Charles Dickens or some other really good book that grownups read, but for some reason she found herself instinctively walking past that particular section. “Try this.” She said at last. “It’s very famous and very good. If it’s too long for you just let me know and I will find you something a bit shorter and a bit easier.”

“The Road to Wigan Pier,” Matilda read. “By George Orwell. I’d love to try it.”

“I must be mad.” Mrs. Phelps told herself, but to Matilda she said, “Of course you may try it.”

Over the next year, under Mrs. Phelp’s watchful and compassionate eye, Matilda read he following books:

The Road to Wigan Pier, by George Orwell
Politics and the English Language, by George Orwell
Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James Loewen
Candide, by Francois Arouet
Tale of a Tub, by Jonathan Swift
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
There is Life After College, by Jeffrey Selingo
LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Dummies, by Donna Serdula
Getting From College to Career, by Lindsay Pollack
Job U, by Nicholas Wynman
What is the Color of Your Parachute?, by Richard Bolles
Juliette, by Donatien Sade
Milton: A Poem in Two Books, by William Blake
Jerusalem! The Real Life of William Blake, by Tobias Churton
Who Rules the World?, by Noam Chomsky
A Grief Observed, by Clive Lewis
Endgame, by Derrick Jensen
Contesting Nietzsche, by Christa Acampora
The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
A Critique of Atlas Shrugged, by Adam Lee
Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, by Leo Damrosch
All Art is Propaganda, by George Orwell
The Screwtape Letters, by Clive Lewis
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach
Women & Power, by Mary Beard
The Conference of the Birds, by Farid Attar

It was formidable list and by now Mrs. Phelps was filled with wonder and excitement, but it was probably a good thing she did not allow herself to be completely carried away by it all.

“I learned from reading all these books that the world is a horrible place ruled by slavedrivers who have been perfecting the art of governing over thousands of years.” Matilda said. “To govern all civilizations, you must master the skills of manipulating the people through lies and coercion; there are no exceptions to this rule.”

Is all that true, Mrs. Phelps?”

Mrs. Phelps nodded grimly. “Almost everything in politics we regard as ‘common sense’ or ‘common knowledge’ are lies. The beastly slavedrivers either give us myths their rule is just or sell us a marketing scam to get more money. It is rather difficult to tell the difference between the two these days.”

Matilda admitted the truth, “All is lost. Mr. George Orwell states how even the very language I speak has been so corrupted it rots my very consciousness. Mr. Jonathan Swift reveals our human nature makes us nothing more than Yahoos who use our shoddy wits to be as beastly as possible. Yet our beastly natures make us living beings and give life meaning to us. The rational Houyhnhnms are practically zombies.

“The writers of the career self-help books mean well, but they only reveal my doomed future. As soon as I begin school, my parents will force me into college by lying to me, promising me that you must have a college degree to get a good job or amount to anything in life. In truth, I will fall into deep debts, all to learn very little about how I could ‘get a good job’ or ‘amount to anything’. That is if I was born lucky.

“My father is a used car salesman and my mother is a ditz who plays bingo. I snobbishly sneered at my trashy parents at first, but now I have a more nuanced knowledge of their lot in life. My father grew up with no schooling or job training, so he could not go to college or get a decent job. Instead, he became a crook to make ends meet, using whatever talents he has the best way he can. My mother went to school but could not pay to college. She could work in fast food, work in the sex trade, or mooch off a man who can support her. She chose the best option she had, and she now plays bingo every day so she won’t think of how horrible her life is, something she is all too aware of.

“Mr. Noam Chomsky tells us we are doomed, and rightly so. The slavedrivers will do nothing but gain more power and oppress the people of the world more severely, using any means they can. Every day, they fight us in a gruesome class war, and not only are we ignorant; we have entire sects of people who protect our masters at every turn. All of this occurs while global warming and nuclear war loom nearer each day; Armageddon.

“Mr. Derrick Jensen proposes a radical idea. All civilizations are, by nature, built from slavery, and can only survive by robbing the earth and human beings of more resources than either can return. Civilization can never be stable, and acts like a cancer on the earth; the more it grows, the more it kills its host body until, finally, the land dies, and civilization dies with it. Mr. Jensen wants to destroy all civilizations before they destroy all life on earth.

“Mr. Clive Lewis writes wonderfully, with a deep and compassionate knowledge of the human heart, but the foundations of all religions and moralities are false, and he secretly knows it. Mr. Donatien Sade knows this, and creates a perverse philosophy so he won’t feel bad when he rapes teenage girls. Yet he fails to understand, like all smug atheists, that his philosophy is just as shaky and self-serving as any religion. Or, he purposefully created a parody philosophy to turn morals on their head and reveal the hypocrisy of civilized society. Either way, Mr. Sade secretly feels guilty about raping teenage girls, so he goes out of his way to defend himself in the most tedious manner possible.

“Only Mr. William Blake, Mr. Richard Bach, and Mr. Farid Attar give me a tiny ray of hope. They sincerely believe we can reach a higher existence, where the meaning of life is greater than violently oppressing poor people or raping teenage girls; this is the deepest most desperate desire of all our hearts. Yet they deceive themselves. They know the game is rigged so they call quits. They wish to renounce the world and kill themselves, which is reasonable, but they pretend it is all about reaching Enlightenment, which it really isn’t.

“Why did you let me read so many terrible books, Mrs. Phelps?”

Mrs. Phelps, who knew the truth the whole time, sat by Matilda to comfort her. “At first, I thought it would be better if you read the frivolous twittering writings of Englishmen who write ‘great novels’ and ‘really good books grownups read’. You are a bright child, Matilda, and surely if you read Mr. Dickens or Mr. Thackery you would impress many grown ups. They would point at you and say, ‘Look at this bright child! She reads really good books grownups read unlike the dumb kids who play video games and play outside! She reads all the sanctioned books parents, teachers, and principles want her to read! Surely, she will go to college, become a doctor or lawyer, and live in a big house in the suburbs with a husband, two children, a dog, a cat, and a goldfish!’

“I could no longer lie to a child. I wanted to educate you on what being a grownup is really like. I did not want you suffer through decades of despair, disappointment, and indignation, only to learn the truth too late. This is what real reading, real education, is like.”

“What should I do, Mrs. Phelps!” Matilda cried. “Is there an answer to the darkness?”

Mrs. Phelps put her hand on her chin, thinking for a very long time, considering perhaps there was an answer, a way to truly live a good life. “I believe Mr. William Blake and Mr. Friedrich Nietzsche may point to the way, but the journey will be rough. We will travel through a great black sea of terrible waters. We will have to challenge everything we have ever known to find the other shore. Are you ready, Matilda?”

Matilda nodded, the bravest human being Mrs. Phelps had ever seen. “Yes,” Matilda said. “I am ready.”

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Dr. Fabiszewski Answers Life’s Biggest Questions

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MOLLY: It’s so good for you to be with us for this interview, Dr. Fabiszewski. So many students and young adults are trying to navigate the world during these dark and troubling times while so many extreme ideologues battle it out on media platforms to win as many souls as they can.

FABISZEWSKI: That is exactly what is happening today. So many different kinds of churches emerged over the last decade, each with their own scripture, congregation, logos, proselytizing, and attempts at converting people to their cause. The biggest examples that come to mind are media outlets: Brietbart, Infowars, the “skeptic” community on YouTube, The Young Turks, Jezebel, and Buzzfeed just to name a few. No church worships a god yet we haven’t seen so much persecution, partisanship, and religious fervor since the English Civil War.

Meanwhile, our professors at University have cloistered themselves in their ivory towers. They rarely use reason and education as an antidote to the toxic info-wars (as it were) outside. This forces drunk, stoned old satyrs like me to take the battle of the books to the street when I’d rather be fucking one of my freshman. When reason sleeps, monsters are born. Our professors hide in the classroom while bullies stand on the tub. Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour: England hath need of thee! But Milton is of the Devil’s party in Hell so poor old fools like me have to stand in his place.

MOLLY: Do you suggest that professors must take the pulpit and become preachers themselves?

FABISZEWSKI: Yes. It is inevitable, but they can still use reason and nuance to some extent to enlighten us all and not merely preach to the converted. Or they can be me: the gadfly who the nonexistent God attached to the State, always fastening upon you, arousing and persuading and reproaching you. Kids out there can use my answers as a short guide to life; a down to earth manual free of academic jargon and twisted abstractions, or get triggered by it. I don’t care as you dance, laugh, and think about it.

MOLLY: So let’s get to it, Dr. Irasmus Dominico Gregorovic Alexander Fabiszewski’s Guide to Life! Let’s start with one of the biggest questions out there. Is there a God?

FABISZEWSKI: How the fuck is anyone supposed to know! Assuming gods do or don’t exist with such certainty is ludicrous. Atheists and theists are retarded; the debate is that pointless. This is one of the dumbest, most cliché questions out there so I’m glad to get it done over with. Hopefully none of my others answers will be as long as this.

The quests for spiritual answers are deeper than this, and there are different levels of being woke. The least woke position is thinking your dogma and scripture, word by word, is the only correct one and your soul goes to heaven after you die. The atheist version is taking life painfully literally, like believing there is only the physical universe, being “rational” will solve everything but everyone else is just too irrational and stupid, and only the so-called “hard” sciences matter. Ditch your Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, C.S. Lewis, and William Craig; they’re pleb tier garbage. Read Heraclitus, the Buddha, and Spinoza instead.

Every deeper view of the world is something like this: the universe is constantly changing through creation and destruction, new miracles and horrors begin and end all the time. The universe is awesome and awful, it’s all part of the greater package. You are part of that cycle, always growing and self-generating, you will one day return from whence you came and transform into something new. Life is best lived without expectations or submission to people who try to make you live your life as they want you to; it’s best to be surprised by joy and live doing what you love. The best understanding of God is being totally loved by someone and receiving that love with gratitude. Wow, C.S. Lewis was more woke than I thought.

MOLLY: Whew! That was a big one! You seemed to cover all the basics at once!

FABISZEWSKI: You bet I did, sweetheart!

MOLLY: So what about philosophy versus science? Which one is better?

FABISZEWSKI: Science is part of philosophy. Everything that uses the human brain and heart is part of philosophy in one way or another, and thus can’t be truly boxed in a narrow discipline or way or thinking.

MOLLY: Speaking of academics, is academia useful or a waste of time?

FABISZEWSKI: Depends on how you use it. Studying different academic ways of thinking is useful in learning how to critically think about the world around you and analyze it in a thorough and nuanced way. But reading books too often makes you near-sighted, both physically and mentally. I made this mistake when I was young. Your body needs to move, work, get knocked around a bit. Your body needs to touch and smell; it can’t do with just a mental image. You’re not a mind in a body, as much academic writing trains you to assume; you’re a body.

MOLLY: Are the so-called soft sciences and philosophy itself a waste of time? More right wing pundits seem to value only the so-called hard sciences.

FABISZEWSKI: Philosophy is fun, best done while dancing, laughing, and fucking. Get dirty. Right wing pundits are tedious, joyless boors, who can’t even realize that there are no “hard” sciences without “soft” sciences. The very distinction is ridiculous; pundits made it up only to demean and demonize something they’re scared of and don’t understand.

MOLLY: Nietzsche is one of your favorite philosophers. Can you tell us more about him?

FABISZEWSKI: Don’t quote Nietzsche or even try to live by him until you actually read him. I’m talking to you, edgy atheists!

MOLLY: Is it okay to punch Nazis and cops?

FABISZEWSKI: Yes, but be prepared for a long, violent, difficult fight. Mind viruses like fascism and racism are hard to cure. Nazis want to fight and they won’t rest until they get their asses kicked.

MOLLY: What is the meaning of life?

FABISZEWSKI: Forty-two. Duh.

MOLLY: What about the social justice politics that’s been going on recently? And the people for social justice and against it?

FABISZEWSKI: I’m all for social justice. The fact people are still as bigoted as they are today is why aliens don’t contact us. Our monkey brains can’t see past our made up factions, or even see how absurd morals and politics are most of the time. I’m a university professor who is always high, so of course I’m a degenerate-commie-pinko-Marxist-Leninist-Illuminati-reptoid-Jew-pedophile who brainwashes innocent children into thinking people who look weird or different to them are people too.

But I can’t applaud how progressives go about their social justice quest. Their politics are naïve and useless. Standing against thinks like cultural appropriation and micro-aggressions while standing for things like safe spaces is fine, but cultural appropriation and micro-aggressions are superficial manifestations of deeper problems, and can’t be solved by just “educating” liberal-minded people (which most Americans are) on how bigoted they are. When I was a student, we progressives went for the state’s jugular. We stood strong against the cops who enforced racist laws and turned the fire hose on black people. We forced sexist bosses and politicians to acknowledge women as human beings. The fact such direct, effective leftist politics has been so demonized in American culture by the right wing is proof the right wing have a big advantage. We are fighting by their rules when we shouldn’t.

And the worst part is so many progressive have such a defeating attitude. The far right, ironically, has the most slave morality (as Nietzsche would call it). Whether you’re talking about Neo Nazis, white nationalists, so-called Men’s Rights Activists, Pickup Artists etc. they’re philosophy is never “How can I be a winner?” but “Why am I a loser?” Progressives have the same bad habit. – All political factions do in fact as resentment and hatred over hurt and loss bring people together and are easy to exploit. – If progressives want to win they need to spend more time enacting solid plans that truly empower themselves and the people they’re fighting for. Our dear leader Donald Trump said, “I don’t like losers.” It’s the only thing I agree with him on. But that’s just me talking, a privileged white male shitlord who fought in politics before my students were born.

MOLLY: What would you tell any of your students who are alt right or against social justice?

FABISZEWSKI: Pepe memes are pleb tier. They’re neither original nor insightful, and are as common as dogshit in a park. As Walt graded Jesse in Breaking Bad, “Ridiculous! Apply yourself!” This is why you fail my classes.

MOLLY: Do we live in a simulation? You know, like in the Matrix?a

FABISZEWSKI: Probably, but who gives a fuck.

MOLLY: What do you like more, Star Wars or Star Trek?

FABISZEWSKI: Star Wars. It’s a silly fantasy for kids but Star Trek pretends to be serious sci-fi when it isn’t. Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov it ain’t!

MOLLY: Any advice to your students about sex and relationships?

FABISZEWSKI: Fuck to your heart’s context but don’t delude yourself into thinking you love someone. You’re too young and stupid to know what love is let alone share a mortgage with someone.

MOLLY: A lot of your students are New Age? Any words to them about that?

FABISZEWSKI: New Age is a bullshit fantasy. It sounds profound at first glance but the more you think about it the dumber it gets, like the racist fantasies of right wing blowhards. Being a badass in video games is a fantasy for little boys, being a badass in video games is a fantasy for men. Being a princess is a fantasy for little girls, being a Wiccan princess with goddess powers is a fantasy for women.

MOLLY: How many genders are there?

FABISZEWSKI: Only two. You conform to what society thinks you should be or you don’t and act as your own person.

MOLLY: What would you suggest to your students who want to become academics in the future?

FABISZEWSKI: Value humor, wit, and play. Stodgy idiots of all stripes devalue humor and satire as something superficial. They’re wrong and should die in a way that makes people laugh at them. Humor gives an extra dimension to experiencing life through irony. It redeems us of our proverbial original sin.

MOLLY: What TV shows would you recommend to children?

FABISZEWSKI: I have two daughters. I recommend them Hey Arthur while they’re young kids, Batman the Animated Series for when they’re older kids, Daria for when they’re teens, Rick and Morty for when they’re young adults, and Bojack Horseman for when they’re mature enough to understand life.

MOLLY: Is it better to be an optimist or a pessimist?

FABISZEWSKI: Optimist. After two centuries of soggy and pretentious cynicism and angst, Renaissance and Enlightenment ideals should once more emerge. Personally, I take life in stride, admire power and strength in the creative sense, attract towards dynamic people and artworks that convey an ongoing process of growth and deepening, love to be around people who enlarge me and make me laugh. I do not neglect the dark and difficult sides of life, neither do any of the people I admire. I revel in the dark and difficult in life; it gives me strength and challenges to overcome, and I feel no greater joy than when I overcome terrible things.

MOLLY: Last question, who is the Ubermensch?

FABISZEWSKI: The Ubermensch is not a person. It is an achievement when a human being overcomes the cycles of fear, hatred, and resentment inherent in the human condition and lives fully and joyfully as a creative being. It’s like Nirvana except way cooler.

MOLLY: Thank you for your time, Mr. Fabiszewski. You’re wisdom is truly appreciated.

FABISZEWSKI: No, thank you. May the Force be with you, always.

BIOGRAPHIES:
Dr. Irasmus Dominico Gregorovic Alexander Fabiszewski is a revered and long-standing Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorodo-Boulder. An iconoclastic thinker, Dr. Fabiszewski eschews more academic approaches to philosophy in favor of direct real world learning experiences. His favorite philosophers are Socrates, Spinoza, Sade, and Nietzsche, with honorable mentions to Osho, Alan Watts, Deepak Chopra, and Terrance McKenna. He is the notorious instigator of marijuana festivals on campus, once forcing the University to close down for a week. His favorite hobbies include smoking marijuana, having orgies with his students, getting drunk, getting high on psychedelics, looting capitalist centers during riots, and annoying people in festivals and protests.

Molly Jane Wesley is a senior at the University of Colorodo-Boulder, Mastering in Philosophy and Fine Art. A long-standing colleague, favored student, and Assistant Professor to Dr. Fabiszewski, Molly has ambitions of starting a jewelry and arts and crafts business on Etsy and founding an alternative pharmacy of witchcraft and alternative medicine. Molly enjoys getting high on Miami Beach during vacations and starring in pro-sex feminist pornography.