When most people think of “saving the white race,” they certainly don’t think of cosmic oneness or a desire to ameliorate the suffering of all sentient beings. More likely, they imagine joining a Trumpist militia, disseminating hate facts and rare pepes on campuses, venerating the strong men and great thinkers of the West, and trying to replace mass immigration with an identitarian consciousness. Such marble-statue worship and activist trolling is mostly well and good, according to HAarlem VEnison, but it won’t save Western civilization from destruction. Though VEnison recalls other alt-rightists in identifying the dogma of racial sameness as the root of the problem, he radically departs from them in proclaiming its falsity to be an open secret that can be discredited not through loud scientistic argumentation but, rather, through unlocking the hearts of the masses with appeals to universalist moral considerations. This is a message he has sought to articulate in his debut novel, DEATHTOTHEWORLD, an “interracial racist love story” that chronicles a “vagabond racist poet-warrior” as he rages across America, takes a self-hating biracial woman under his wing, and attempts to place the flag of revolution upon the moral high ground of our era.
VEnison – recently featured in The New York Times and Vice – is best known for his esoteric backpacker videos on YouTube, in which he appears at mountainsides, highways or coffee shops from Ireland to Kyrgyzstan to Mongolia, delivering poems and polemics and musings. While the video-log as a medium has been leveraged for “glorious” masculinity by The Golden One or for conventional alt-right ends by Millennial Woes, VEnison leaps onto the stage among the artists of the alt-right – complementing creative expression from White Hot Takes’s parody songs, Lauritz von Guildhausen’s deathcamp skits, Murdoch Murdoch’s animations, Sam Hyde’s “World Peace,” and sundry memes of esoteric kekism. In VEnison – who’s recently released a poetry book, LO! a Racist Exhile, has a forthcoming manifesto and collection of stage plays – we see someone reaching past the esoteric memes and poz-of-the-week essays and approaching a man of letters (and videos): a philosopher king with a unique worldview.
DEATHTOTHEWORLD, VEnison’s short novel, could be described as Jack Kerouac’s On the Road meets Steinbeck’s tales of Middle American outcasts, all wrapped in a Hermann Hesse philosophical gauze. As Allen Ginsberg said about another work of “transgressive literature” – Hubert Selby, Jr.’s Last Exit to Brooklyn – it seeks to “explode like a rusty hellish bombshell over America and still be eagerly read in a hundred years.” But whereas Selby’s age pushed up against the taboos of sexuality and drug use, Venison takes aim at the great taboo of our age, (anti)racism, which looms like an albatross upon the zeitgeist. DEATHTOTHEWORLD introduces us to two characters – Zeb, a dharmic bum who rides freight trains across America carrying little more than his ideology, and Natty, a mixed-race 18-year-old who disdains the antiracist Cathedral that led to and still defines her existence.
When they meet outside a convenience store in Middle America, they run off and hop freight trains around the country in their own conjugal and ideological roller coaster, skinny-dipping in lakes, fleeing the police, getting high, crashing Rainbow Gatherings, brushing up against Insane Clown Posse groupies and other sociological curiosities, and making their pilgrimage, ultimately, to the antiracist mecca that is New York City.
This journey across a forgotten America – the crumbling railway towns, coal towns and fly-over counties with ubiquitous flags and gas stations – documents a world left unexplored by Iowa Workshop graduates, who remain within the confines of probing the manners of the Park Slope clique, or techno-sexual alienation, or immigrant life, or, at best, some coming-of-age conciliation of yuppie signaling with life outside Brooklyn. In DEATHTOTHEWORLD, we get a fly’s-eye view of two Americans wandering like lepers around the fringes rather than acting out the dreams of the plugged-in, self-obsessed Instagram generation. Hitchhiking is described thus: “It has its moments and periods where it feels like one long walking meditation, but really boils down to lots of waiting, lots of homosexual propositions, and lots of interference from cops.”
Like the author, who eludes categorization, the character of Zeb, even by the novel’s melancholy end, continues to elude us, to stand apart, to perpetually contain another layer underneath – like a Matryoshka doll – that we will never see, despite him spilling his guts:
“Zeb has for some time now come to grips with the fact that he’s fucked, locked out of life. He feels like he’s the ghostly remnant of somebody who died in a firebombing long ago, and that his beliefs are but the skeletal remains of a once crystalline, amaranthine, cathedral-like spire rising up toward the heavens, but now he’s resigned himself to dancing the dance of death across the four corners of the globe. He once aspired toward cosmopolitan glory, but flouted it in favor of altering his course, tacking against the trade winds into a storm of ideas governed by the random machinations of historical convergence, written in the air between the lines, between the pages—between peoples, between civilizations, between eras, between that which has been and that which shall be. He knows he’s lost at sea and that he is rapidly drowning, but poverty, ostracism and brutalization have worn away all but his most precious of neural pathways. He’s down to his mantra-studded reptilian brain stem, underwritten with the full authority of God.”
Venison’s novel is not without flaws. Besides some overtly writerly phrases and a sort of catatonic, mechanistic pacing, the main dramatic question of the novel will leave some readers wishing for a clearer explication of VEnison’s thought, as he seems to have avoided lapsing into a Randian didacticism, despite a few preachy passages. When I spoke to him about the punches he appears to have pulled in this regard, he responded that Zeb’s critique of antiracism is like his own – that it “needlessly fans the flames of the evolutionary furnace by attempting to preserve maladaptive, antisocial traits that are ultimately doomed to vanish from the human genepool, one way or another, as we as a species drift irrevocably toward our evolutionary horizon” and that antiracism “needlessly fans the flames of the human misery by pursuing an inefficient, unsustainable evolutionary trajectory.”
While talk of restoring humanity’s “evolutionary horizon” might not be the cup of tea of your average TRS reader, who may simply dismiss VEnison as a confused lunatic who’s taken too much acid, I would urge that he could be considered a Trojan horse through which more traditional alt-rightists could see their views brought into the mainstream with newfound moral credibility.
Fans of “The Final Negro” – as VEnison until recently called himself on YouTube – will see DEATHTOTHEWORLD at times as a conversation with these videos. Despite the drugs and whimsy and dharmic consciousness, however, this novel shows how deathly serious its author is. For the book never succumbs to sustained impish performance, or shtick, or rapture, always instead returning to forward momentum. Therein lies a misconception about Venison – that he’s merely a walking performance piece, seeking to shock, titillate and retreat to a cloud-laden fortress (or a cheap hostel). Yet he insists that he does not want merely a cult following, but “wants roots deep beneath the soil, and [doesn’t] care for growing a flower that everybody can walk around, scrutinize, lavish adoration on or scorn, standing on either side. I want the outcome to fade into the background, having transformed the world.” In the service of leading us to what he considers to be the unalterable, inevitable horizon of human evolution, he seeks to “do something Promethean, without fear of violence and without fear of being wrong.”
Skeptics who look askance at Venison’s fusion of hippie culture, white identitarianism and universalism might ask themselves whether their ideology (often Anglo-Germanic revivalism) and methods (mouse and keyboard) are protean enough. For while they might understandably be in no hurry to drop a tab of acid and probe their inner racist, neither do they seem eager to get off the computer and forge something new in human consciousness – the kind of technology of the imagination and upgrade to societal firmware that could leave anonymous campus fliers and cry-in-the-dark podcasts in the trash bin, the kind that just might be needed to save the white race from a shadowy future on the fringes, exiled in their homelands and resentful, like, VEnison reminds us, another group in history.