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Workshop of the Second Self
by David Huntwork
10/30/06
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We increasingly live in a society where everyone is a victim; and just one step from everyone having a disability. We have gone far beyond the physical handicaps, or the obvious mental illness, that were normally and traditionally defined as disabilities. Now it encompasses alcoholism, being shy, being ugly, anxieties of all sorts, phobias of every strip, fear of crowds, fear of open spaces, and of aliens abducting you in the middle of the night. Nearly everything that might conceivably or conjecturally ‘hold one back’ or make it more difficult to be successful is an automatic gateway to victimhood. It has reached into race, religion, social and economic class, and even just being born as anything less than the stereotypical upper class WASP so vilified by modern political ideologies.

The social engineers of the day have declared that the old notion of opportunity is not good enough. Those who start at a higher disadvantage than others are no longer encouraged and praised to overcome the obstacles beyond their control or bestowed upon them by birth, but to declare ‘victimhood’ and ‘disability’. And with such designations comes the expectation of exceptional accommodation and ‘just compensation’ from society at large. The burden of success and achievement is shifting from the individual to an obligation that must be provided by the government and the culture at large.

Author Gary Wolf explores many of these concepts, as well as several others, in his newest novel entitled Workshop of the Second Self. Wolf has long told the tales of various futures arising from the misguided ‘isms’ that pollute modern societal thought and actions. The modern architects of cultural engineering seek to tear down civilization as we know it and replace it with an alternative utopian vision of how things ‘should be’. And no annoying stumbling blocks like logic or common sense will stand in the way of their quest for the fountain of perpetual equality.

The Workshop of the Second Self is set in the not so distant future where victimhood is synonymous with disability. Wolf’s main character is Clifton Pembroke, a ‘disability advocate’; and a pioneer in the field of ‘rediscovery’. Rediscovery is a method used by some who assert that their very birth was an injustice and that they should have been a different person. They even know who that other person is, and they use the field of ‘disability advocacy’ to legally seize the other’s identify.

Clifton finds himself not only the target of the same process and out of a job, but the subject of an assassination plot by a group known as the East Side Bombers who in their quest for the novel idea of ‘group rediscovery’ are targeting and killing all those who stand in their way.

With his life turned upside down, and questioning his own belief in all that he had known and advocated, Clifton embarks on a series of adventures. Wrestling with a variety of ethical dilemmas he ends up with a cast of eccentric characters who belong to something known as the Workshop of the Second Self. An eccentric mix of historians, philosophers, artists and intellectual rebels, the members of the Workshop are the last of the searchers for reason and truth in a world wallowing in irrationality.

The small band of merry men in the Workshop believe that popular culture and the indoctrinated minds of society can be eventually overcome one person at a time. They believe that Truth can be passed person to person and that, if kept alive, can eventually reestablish itself. It may take ten years or one hundred, but they believe that true reason and logic will be able to rescue civilization as long as it is kept alive, if even by a few.

The task is immense, due to the confusion in which the world is mired. Something happened to our civilization, Clifton, that caused it to arrive at the situation in which we find ourselves today. Somewhere along the line, perhaps due to the great strides in technology or the unprecedented material wealth, we became drunk with our own power. We adopted a grand illusion, that everything could be rationalized and perfected. That we could set up our society exactly as it pleased us, according to some preconceived notion of what’s best for everybody. Such thinking leads to disaster, for the simple reason that it is contrary to the way things happen… – Munk, a member of the Workshop of the Second Self.

For the last several years Gary Wolf has been exploring alternative futures based upon the logic, reasoning and goals of the various political ideologies that inhabit the Left. He has also authored Shaya, The Embracer, and Alternating Worlds.

Workshop of the Second Self is available for sale at all the major online stores including www.Amazon.com.

Author Gary Wolf was formerly an analyst and commentator on international and strategic affairs. He currently works for a major global software company. Raised in New York and London, he now lives in Paris.

Western Civilization is under vigorous assault by strong forces from both within and without. It deserves to have its defenders and its champions. Through his books Gary Wolf is doing his part to help defend Western Civilization and I salute him for his efforts.


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