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This novel excerpt from The Dagger was started as an attempt to understand the rise of alt-right extremist groups in the United States, as well as the conditions that made their rise possible. It aims to accomplish this through the perspective of a fictional young man from a middle-class background, Tom, who reaches adulthood near the apex of the movement’s overt social influence between 2014 and 2017. In the novel, Tom is drawn to a self-help and meditation retreat at a place called Sun Ranch, located in the Inland Empire of Southern California. The retreat, which targets disaffected young men of primarily white backgrounds, is led by a charismatic but reclusive yoga teacher named Curtis. In his lessons, he blends Californian interpretations of Hindu and Buddhist mysticism with fascist political precepts. As the retreat goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that Curtis has more than his students’ wellness in mind, and that he has a plan for the rights-based society he sees as his enemy.
Thesis, MFA Master of Fine Arts
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