September 07, 2019

Shane

One of the most iconic American films is Shane, starring Alan Ladd, which came out in 1953. I remember seeing it around that time, or maybe shortly after, although I cannot now recall what I thought of it at my tender age. Oddly enough, I ran across a copy of the book on which it is based in a cafe in Mexico City a few days ago, and read the text for the first time. I don't know how faithfully the film follows the novel--66 years later it's hard for me to remember much of the details--but I think the basic narrative is the same: a quiet, rugged, handsome cowboy comes into town, rids it of the bad guys, and then rides off into the sunset.

I call the story "iconic" because it seems to encapsulate key elements of the American value system. First, the basic plot line--the story of America, as it were: Good Conquers Evil. There is no complexity here, no character development; most of the dramatis personae are cardboard figures, and indeed, the tale is told from the viewpoint of a young boy.

Second, Shane is the ultimate loner. Nothing is revealed of his past, and nothing is said about who he actually is. He is self-contained and silent: the rock. He comes out of nowhere, does what he has to do, and then disappears into nowhere. He has no family or community ties, and doesn't really want any. He offers support to the boy's parents, but he himself depends on no one. He is described in almost animal terms: alert, powerful, always ready for action. Shane represents the radical individualism of the American West, the ultimate self-made man.

Third, no one in the story has any intellectual interests whatsoever. No one reads, no one owns a book, and no one has any interest in the world around them beyond their immediate physical environment.

What the narrative tells the American reader or filmgoer is that this is what a true hero consists of. The boy is starstruck by Shane; he wants to grow up to be just like him. I imagine films with John Wayne or Clint Eastwood have had a similar impact on the American psyche. But exactly what is it that is being idealized? Shane might as well have landed from the moon. He is a one-dimensional character, bereft of all human ties. His horse and his gun are apparently the only serious attachments in his life. He's a kind of atom, floating in interstellar space--an ideal millions of Americans aspire to. From inside the narrative, Shaneworld is dignified, heroic (and very masculine). Looking at if from the outside, however, it comes off as a species of insanity--alienation taken to its logical conclusion.

Joe Bageant used to say that Americans lived in a kind of hologram. I have, on a number of occasions, likened American life to a sphere lined with mirrors, such that American values are constantly reflected back, and where no light (or air) from the outside ever gets in. Shaneworld is very much like that, and in the end it can only suffocate, and implode (which is what is going on today). For this America--our America--is a mythological construct, and very few of its citizens manage to get beyond the myth, which is essentially a form of (very successful) indoctrination. Shane is probably the myth in its purest form.

"Don't go, Shane, don't go!" the boy cries at the end of the film. But Shane goes. He has, in effect, been apotheosized as a god. To stay, after all, would have been human.

(c)Morris Berman, 2019

September 06, 2019

370

We are imploding on a daily basis. It actually has more to do with what America is, than with Trumpaloney. Altho I love Trumpaloney, and want him to keep doing what he's doing. Other than that, let's all remember that this is the only blog that deals with Reality. Everything else is a thick syrup of warm dog poopy.

-mb

August 23, 2019

369

Well, onward and downward. Nothing could be clearer.

A couple of replies to previous comments:

Sam: Statistically speaking, it's purely American.

trying: for starters, check out last essay in AWTY.

As for Obama and the Martha's Vineyard estate: Only Progs don't get it, that he was never anything more than a silver-tongued hustler. They were too busy getting excited about having a black president, to understand that hustling and soullessness and rank dishonesty are hardly the exclusive prerogative of whites. God, is this country fucked.

-mb

August 14, 2019

368

Wafers-

Well, we've been having a pretty rich discussion as of late. I am always impressed with the quality of this blog. I think of other blogs, none of which can attain to this high level, and I feel kind of sorry for them. Why don't they just pack it in? In the face of our brilliance, what are they sticking around for? Hard to say; I guess they don't have much else to do. Well, obviously it's not our problem. Our own goal is clear: to continue being a shining example of what the most spiritually evolved consciousness in the universe looks like.

-mb

August 05, 2019

The Fix Is In

Waferinos-

Dark days, with all these shootings. No surprise to declinists, really. I mean, we're in the end game now, and the historical record is that the end game is ugly. I've said this many times before. Things that seem impossible now will in fact occur; Trump as president falls into this category. And don't kid yourself: he will get reelected, and things will get more violent and self-destructive by the day. Americans are on the edge of The War of All Against All; we shall slip over that edge within the next few years--as a number of novelists have already predicted. To outside observers, whether allies or enemies, we have the appearance of a nation not merely out of control, but irrevocably fucked up. We are certainly not a nation which other countries can admire, look up to. The lights are going out for the "City Upon a Hill," and I think there is a worldwide understanding that our end is in the cards. For most nations of the world, I suspect, this will come as a relief.

-mb

July 23, 2019

The Happy Book (at last)

Well, Waferinos, it's been a long haul, but at last The Happy Book is finally available. I call it that because it made me happy to write it, and I'm hoping it will make you happy to read it. One thing that got omitted from the Amazon listing: the book has 21 plates, 14 of them in color. I say this because $25 is a lot for a short book, unless it has so many illustrations. I've asked Amazon, via my publisher, to add this info, so potential buyers won't be put off. Whether or not Amazon will do it is, of course, anyone's guess.

https://www.amazon.com/Genio-Italian-Genius-Morris-Berman/dp/1626548838/ref=sr_1_16?crid=AVW0KGXC4GWO&keywords=morris+berman&qid=1563889558&s=books&sprefix=morris+berman%2Caps%2C156&sr=1-16

Anyway, put it on your coffee table, get all your friends excited. :-)

-mb