Paul StJohn Mackintosh

Writing * Poetry * Dark Fiction * Weird * Fantastic * Horror * Fantasy * Science Fiction * Literature

Category: Personal

Power and perversion

Power is the most perverted passion of all, far beyond molestation or bestiality. Remember that every time you look at a political figure. More twisted, more insidious, more pervasive, more far-reaching, more damaging, more depraved. Power does not corrupt: power is corrupt. Because the moment we upset the natural balance of power between ourselves, and give any one person power over any other, we unleash their passions as far as that power will allow. And the perverted power-mongers always want more.

Power is perversion. Power is perverse. Yes, you need power to do anything to anyone, or anything at all. We each have our own natural will power. Exactly how strong or weak, no one can measure, certainly not science. Without measurement, for accuracy as well as fairness, we might as well assume that it’s equal. Muscle power, brain power, stamina, health, height, luck, everything that constitutes power at any one time, are all likely to naturally even out in the end. But to take away or reduce someone else’s own natural will power, and autonomy, to take power over them, is already unnatural, a distortion of the natural order. It twists things out of true. No wonder perverts love to do it. And the more perverted they are, the more power they want to acquire.

Sadistic abuses are mostly about power first, and any satisfaction after. The specific satisfaction is a turn-on purely because it’s a manifestation of power, whether power over someone smaller, weaker, or less mature, or power to hurt and maim. What the abuser wants ultimately is power itself – the supposed fulfillment is an afterthought. And the purest embodiment of that perversion is the sociopath, without empathy or affect. In their dead-eyed, empty lives, the only passion is power, the basic volitional impulse devoid of any object. All other emotions are atrophied or absent. They have no fellow-feeling because they have no feelings, no real human being. Power is all they can feel. So they pursue it single-mindedly, in any guise, regardless of any cost or consequence, because nothing else can affect them. All the rest of us can do is guard against that, constantly.

Knowing this, what will happen, why does anyone voluntarily give up their own share of power, to be abused? Usually, identification with anyone they see as stronger. It’s an easy cop-out for the weak, the foolhardy, the fearful, the unstable and vulnerable identity. As a slave, you gain a protector. As a clan chattel, you gain a totem. Fear and incoherence feed the perversion of power. The power-monger and the powerless are natural allies, so if you’d rather keep your own power, allow others theirs.

We are all perverts. Potentially if not actually. Which is why we all need a framework of negative checks and balances to keep our wills in check. Negative Golden Rule. The power we give up collectively is the forfeit we pay to check the perverted abuse of power over us. And as soon as that power is taken out of balance, the cycle of abuse begins again. None of us have any right to have power over any other, but we strike the balance as the cost of saving ourselves. We share power to check each other. Which power-mongers can’t bear. And if they’re not kept in check, the perverts shall inherit the earth.



Why I titled my book “Black Propaganda” – and why I retitled the ebook “Blowback”

13936765_10153649316586269_638035292_nBecause Black Lives Matter. That’s the short answer. The longer one needs more explanation – of my first choice of title, my second, and why I made the change.

Last item first. It wasn’t about kneejerk political correctness. If I was that concerned about dogmatic PC, I wouldn’t have been writing about hardcore dominance and submission, human trafficking, and human sacrifice in the first place. I first came up with the title around 2014, in Budapest, when I started putting my dark and weird short and (nominally) erotic fiction together on a plan dating back to 2012. I went with it till early 2016, when I worked out the cover design and jacket image with my (Danish) publisher. I liked the cover so much that I put it out on Facebook for the horror/dark/weird fiction community. I had plenty of positive feedback, and no cautions or criticisms. I liked it so much that I made a t-shirt out of it. Then I looked at the design, and thought again. I asked some members of the same community whether they thought anyone would object to the title or cover design in the context of Black Lives Matter. They said no one in the horror/dark/weird community would notice or mind. I asked: what if I wore it as a t-shirt? Pause. Then: Better not do that. I tried the same test with a bunch of US media/journalism academics at the Central European University in Budapest. Same reaction.

I wouldn’t presume to speak for Black Lives Matter. There are others far better positioned to do that than me, from a far more informed and involved point of view. This time at least, I have to talk about me. And inadvertently, I had ended up with something that could, at a glance, or through a casual misreading, be seen as endorsing the Fox News/Bill O’Reilly/All Lives Matter bleating and barracking of the movement. A casual misreading as in, passing on the street, on a t-shirt. And if you can’t wear your slogan, on the street on a t-shirt, there is a problem with your slogan, no?

I couldn’t claim to be unaware of the issue, from the moment I first realized this. Way back when I was first mulling over titles, in Hungary, perhaps. But certainly not now. So I had to take a position on it. Practically, if I just wasn’t able to change the title, I would have to live with it. But the space between print book and e-book edition gave me some room for reflection. And the original print edition with its original title is still there, lest anyone suspect me of trying to (ahem…) whitewash myself, and airbrush out my past choices. But if I didn’t at least try to make a change, to my mind, I would be either indifferent to the Black Lives Matter movement … or worse. In any case, not acknowledging it. And even within the dark/weird/SF/horror fiction community, after recent debates on inclusion, H.P Lovecraft’s bust in the World Fantasy Awards, the Rabid Puppies assault on the Hugo Awards, etc. such choices do have resonance.

This is not a neutral context, if it ever was, and it is a space where I could make a public choice. A relatively small, insignificant space, fine, free from harm or consequences beyond a few sales gained or lost – but my own space, the one involving and implicating me, where I got to exercise personal responsibility. My space to make authentic choices, as author, not bandwagon-jumper or well-wisher; choices that directly impacted me, with implications for my own writing career; choices that put my skin in the game, however trivially, and allowed me to take a stand and do the right thing.

I also anticipated that some critics, on all sides, might accuse me of selfish opportunism, currying favour with a fashionable group for self-promotion and audience share, parlaying the suffering of others into a bigger readership with zero personal pain. Yes, I did think about market, and audience. But that kind of priority surely also acknowledges that Black Lives Matter. Black readers matter. Their opinion, their spend, their sensitivities, their economic as well as their political and moral power, matter. If you literally cannot afford to be indifferent to them, then that is exactly how things should be.

So why did I choose “Black Propaganda” as the title in the first place? First off, because partners and other members of the BDSM community were regularly referring to my sexuality as “dark” – and the stories in the book all ultimately stemmed from my own sexuality, as an exponent of the BDSM lifestyle. And of course, to evoke Fifty Shades of Youknowwhat. And because the collection is dark fiction. But I took the term itself from psychological warfare terminology, because it suggested exactly the kind of self-questioning, self-subverting, backbiting, reciprocal, ironic, self-interrogation that I wanted for the book’s focus on BDSM-style dominance and submission – a title that questions its own premises and implies that it may be the direct opposite of what it appears to be on the surface. Because of the mutual dependency, the interdependence, the sharing, that lies at the root of consensual power exchange and BDSM. Also because of “propaganda” in the original Roman Catholic sense – propagation of a dogma, in this case the dogma of dominance and submission. With again, the implication that this is a creed whose practice absolutely contradicts its explicit premises.

And why “Blowback”? Because it has a similar pedigree in psywarops terminology, and also describes something that rebounds on and undercuts its explicit purpose. And an obvious sexual implication. And also because it describes pretty much what happened to my first choice of title – unintended or unforeseen consequences. In fact, the new title fits the book so well that I don’t even need to change a single line of the original foreword to accommodate it. And that also reflects how any book is in a state of evolving, even reactive dialogue with its audience.

Except that part of that audience is literally in the firing line. Facing military grade firepower, or insanely empowered itchy-finger vigilantism. Facing plenty more besides, and elsewhere, certainly, but let’s focus on that one, uniquely American, thing that started this whole movement off in the first place. Dickens may have protested (quietly) against slavery in America in the 1840s; Einstein may have protested far more vociferously against segregation in the 1920s and 30s: neither was directly protesting against summary, serial, judicially sanctioned, public execution on suspicion, on the streets, without trial. Post Civil Rights. In a notionally free, fair and democratic country. To riff off Joss Whedon’s remarks when asked why he writes strong female characters: Black Lives Matter. Because what’s the alternative?


(If you’re interested in the actual book, the paperback version, Black Propaganda, is here. The ebook version, Blowback, is here – at least until it gets onto the Kindle Store.)



Got interviewed on Xpatloop:


Calvary chapel in the snow

Central Europe is blanketed with snow at the moment. Here’s one of the results – the Calvary Chapel in Piliscsaba, in the snow.


Esther Mackintosh!

Our second daughter, Esther, was born on the morning of 18 February, in the Matilda Hospital on Hong Kong Peak. She’s a beautiful, big, bouncy girl, and her mother and sister – and father – love her!


Personal changes

Due to some personal changes, almost all the personal information in this site is now subject to change. Please check back soon.


A whale in our garden

Lilla looking very cool and sparkling this morning in a blue WWF t-shirt that exactly matches the colour of her eyes, with white swirls that suit her white bikini bottom. Out in the garden, drawn by the sprinkling of overnight rain, snails are crawling around baby’s inflatable whale.


Nothing lonelier in the world

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than the morning news in a hotel room.


Diana’s first birthday

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A bucketful of stars

Lilla goes up to the roof and comes back down with a bucketful of stars for baby.