In a modern church it is not uncommon to come across, in a modest form, say a lady with a set of rosary beads with professional team colors on them. Or, if you prefer a megachurch, an entire shop with goods produced from fair trade African labor run by missionaries. Now many might see such merchant behavior in a holy place as repulsive, this instinct is understandable. But what most people, we call them “normies”, don’t realize is that if you pick up a normal Men’s Health or Fashion magazine, you pay basically $10 for a magazine of advertising. Or, maybe you or your dad you did this before the internet swallowed our attention.
What normies don’t appreciate, and what is central to the thesis of Brian Eckert debut novel, is that irrational, superstitious, or religious thought did not die and is not sequestered to the confines of a building with cross inside. It permeates the nation-state, and the media, globally. When you buy a copy of GQ magazine, you are TITHING to a particular lifestyle, mindset, and civic religion. Similarly, if you buy a baseball jersey you are tithing into a civic religion based on high trust values of strict rules and boundaries. If you buy a basketball jersey, it is similar but with the added benefit of supporting black supremacy. (I just checked with social media mods and want to highlight that this is a GOOD thing.)
Once in a group chat it was mentioned by my friends that if you want to avoid getting shadowbanned, it was best to engage with specific brands in a positive way. As a goof we began “ironically” posting frog adjacent advertisements for Nissan, Lexus, etc. Thus it is these tributes that open gates to a broader audience in social media and real world platforms.
Brian Eckert (@_eckit) is one of the sneaky powerful accounts on twitter. I like to kid that accounts with less than 200 followers are the most powerful accounts on twitter because they can say whatever they want. Brian is a good example of this. In “Into the Void”, the protagonist Zayne Moxley is a lifestyle writer for GQ that is sent to the West to investigate the supernatural occurrences of a spiritual shaman. Brian’s
writing is sardonic and has a dry humor.
For the Sedona feature, GQ had secured a spot for a new line of Patagonia jackets made from ocean-salvaged plastic and Fair Trade Certified sewing. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $800. Nobody every said saving the earth is cheap.
The opening chapters lay these out in good detail and he has a sense for setting a good hook. Brian lives in the American West and seems to know how to ride a horse, and Zayne Moxley’s tour through a Western style riding resort felt like it came from the heart. Wry observations pepper Zayne’s commentary in a way reminiscent of American Psycho or the early chapters of Fight Club, but not in a way that is a hack copy of those classics of the dystopian genre.
Into the Vortex begins like a standard mystery story but veers into the surreal and supernatural adventures of Zayne Moxley and a cast of very colorful characters. An interesting interlude involves a man who identifies as a goat and refuses to be acknowledged as a person. Brian does well to show and not tell the forces behind these cultural phenomena, the void being the lack of a cohesive appreciation for the divine and resultant grasping at new age concepts, high end elitist environmentalism, and the bedrock of this being consumerism.
My favorite character in the book was not Zayne Moxley, but rather his boss at GQ, David Falkenberg. Falkenberg has a minor arc at the helm of GQ and beyond that ends rather explosively. He is a genuine type of character reminiscent of Michael Savage, a straight-talking tough Brooklyn Jew who nonetheless made it to the top of the publishing industry. He is believable and knows he is caught in the middle of dying print industry, as his superiors at Conde Nast simultaneously attempt to become more centralized and flailing into boneheadedly bad decisions. The fall of traditional publishing can provide a great opportunity for masculinity. For example, the Raw Egg Nationalist (@Babygravy9) is currently putting together a Men’s Journal in January with friends on the internet and without corporate influence. It should be interesting, maybe some familiar friends will contribute?
I do want to note that I feel like the ending of Into the Void could have been written with a bit more patience and care that the beginning displayed. I wanted to pause and take a breath as Zayne Moxley entered into different permutations of his metamorphosis. Still, it had the joyful nihilism many will remember when they first heard Nirvana or contemporary musicians like School Shooter. I hope that Mr. Eckert’s next novel also displays a rejuvenating vitalism so lacking in modern literature. If you are going to tithe in a consumerist way, tithe for your bros and check out Into the Vortex for a guilty pleasure.