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Razib Khan's Unsupervised Learning

Jun 16, 2024

On this episode of Unsupervised Learning Razib talks to Jonathan Keeperman, an former lecturer in writing at UC Irvine and proprietor of Passage Press. Keeperman also posts on the internet under what was until recently an anonymous pseudonym, Lomez. Unlike many anonymous accounts on X, “Lomez” developed a decade-long identity, to the point where Keeperman wrote articles under that name for publications like First ThingsThe Federalist and The American Mind.

Razib and Keeperman talk about what it is like to go from someone with distinct and separate identities, a well-developed online life as well as a fairly conventional offline world, and how to reconcile them when they collide. Keeperman talks about the peculiar and often offensive scripts and modalities of the world of anonymous commentators, whose goals seem to be to have hidden discussions in plain sight, hiding their discourse through shock and obfuscation, and how difficult it can be to communicate this reality to people with more conventional outlooks. 

Keeperman admits that he understood that at some point his anonymity would be stripped away from him, but admits that it is still a difficult path to negotiate. The Lomez identity was unabashedly on the political Right, but as an academic and writing lecturer he was much more discreet about his views, and many of his friends and acquaintances were shocked as to his true politics. Keeperman’s father was a liberal and a Jewish American, so many of his relatives would no doubt have been surprised by his political commitments. 

Razib also asks Keeperman what exactly an MFA means as a credential, and what it teaches you. Though he does not think much of the credential itself, Keeperman explains that the MFA is a terminal degree for many interested in writing and literature, two loves that pulled him away from a life in the corporate world. He explains that one of his goals in entering the writing profession was to bring a masculine sensibility that he feels has been marginalized in the world of creative writing, which is today dominated by women. Razib and Keeperman talk about the marginalization of certain masculine values of vigorous competition and biting debate in many parts of the culture-producing industries, and how Passage Press is an attempt to cultivate voices that otherwise might not find  a platform. In this vein, Keeperman ends by asserting the importance of free speech for all views, from the most offensive to the most anodyne, as an essential part of American culture and the life of the mind.

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