December 27, 2010

Could This Country Be More Full of Hot Prunes?

27 Comments:

Anonymous gregg said...

Thanks for the holiday greetings. As an apatheistic bound for heck sinner, my heart was touched by this sacred display of the true meaning of X-mass in the USA. USA! USA!
Bill is usually right on with me and this sure was. I don't have, by choice, TV, I do have one for watching DVDs that don't lower my will to live by 90% but my wife does (long story) and we both dig Bill....man.
My working conditions changed, involuntarily as it were, to one where a TV was on constantly. And lo! Lets make a deal and Ellen and Price is right and American Idol were the thang. I was hip again!. My dog...what I saw there was, to paraphrase a Celine quote I can't fully remember, put such despairing images in my head that I will carry them to my grave. Oh yeah...what to say?...USA-1 USA ! USA!.
And I give up..is there some meaning to "hot prunes" I'm unaware of? other than a connection to shit.
gregg

5:56 PM  
Blogger Gary A-- said...

I can't think of anyone more instrumental in turning child abuse into a form of entertainment. A decade back when my wife was in nursing school, we were horrified by how many of her fellow students (females in their early twenties, mostly) thought Oprah's show was a legitimate and enlightening venue for serious issues, as though Oprah was some glorious feminist role model--and this is in Canada! I'm reminded of being subjected to some fairly recent spoken word thing by Yoko Ono in which she (really) goes on and on about the evils of greed--and this is coming from a billionaire!

6:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Gregg-

No, I meant shit.

mb

6:30 PM  
Blogger Gary A-- said...

As I suspected, apparently Oprah doesn't spend a cent of her own money on her "gifts" for her audience. (http://www.taxsupport.ca/cost-oprah-free-gifts/) The labyrinthine levels of hypocrisy and duplicity are equal to that of, as Mr. Maher would say, the church. As Gordon Comstock says in my fave book (Orwell's Keep the Aspidistras Flying): Money is the new God.

6:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

BTW, everybody pls check out Chris Hedges' column on truthdig.com today (Dec. 27)--essential reading.

Apparently--someone recently mentioned this on the blog--Obama is keeping Guantanamo open, and extending the NSA surveillance apparatus on American citizens.

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you guys trying to tell me Op-rat isn't what she says she is?...At last all hope is gone...not to mention the fact that an alternate me, who had really just hoped for a breather(for me that is), from Bushanity, voted...voted! for this...I think the whole thing was a set-up to make me think ill of the wonders of democracy.
As much as I'm a sarcastic 56 year old punk in my comments...well, in the end, I have hardly any heart or hope left in this worse and weirder than any dystopian science fiction world I continually wake up to. I do have wine and whatever that stuff is Bill M keeps talking about. thanks for this forum. gregg

7:39 PM  
Blogger tide said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Yes, it looks like our Nobel-peace- prize-winning-ex-Constitutional-law professor prez is keeping "indefinite detention" at Gitmo and whatever other hell holes we run around the globe.

I looked it up the other day and the widely recognized as immoral internment of Japanese-US citizens lasted 3 years. We're now in year nine of rounding up and imprisoning "the suspicious".

Glenn Greenwald @ Salon may interest some in following the detention of Pvt. Manning of Wickileaks fame. Extended detention and probable inhuman treatment.....never charged w/ a crime.

Hedges articles is, as usual, on the money. Brave New World as they say....

ElJuero

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Except for Maher's constant defense of Israeli attrocities, he does some nice stuff on occasion- this being one of course. What got to me this holiday season was how many Cristmas song lyrics were change to promote products. And can't the government at least pass a law prohibiting children to stop shilling for products designed for adults?
Spent a lot of time the past few days watching interviews with Gore Vidal. He too, Dr. Berman, is totally digusted by the American character (or lack of it) and says that Americans are the least adept people in history to have an empire since they are so ignorant of the world they aim to control.
Still, he says, that it will be economics that will bring this country to a screeching halt. Character did though have much to do with it, don't you think?

11:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Gore is probably right, and it's closely related to character as well. A nation that lives by the dollar, dies by the dollar--this will be our epitaph (we also lived by the sword, sad to say). But also, if u make money the center of yer value system, then you *have* no value system, and the nation then generates individuals who have no character. What else could it create, really? In such a system, folks of quality--and there have been many, in American history; our record is literally breathtaking on that score--are truly exceptional; indeed, one wonders where the hell they came from. How does a nation like ours produce a Lewis Mumford, a Theodore Dreiser? I'm still trying to figure out their secret...

mb

12:01 AM  
Blogger Luciddreams said...

The problem with America is that we perfected the Corporataucracy. It's hidden by a seudo capitalistic democratic republic. Maybe seudo is not the right word. I think bull shit is probably a better description of what we've got goin' on round here.

The highest pentacle of success is having the largest amount of stupid shit. Oprah capitalizes on the stupid shit wish list. She has become a goddess of stupids shit. Bill M. has a point here.

12:49 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Well, for a start, they weren't too interested in money I would surmise. They also probably had some contact with foreign cultures. Or, simply they were born differently and worked hard to maintain their unique qualities. Finally, they were more phophet than human and were sent to the one area, the United States, where their work was most ungently needed. I suppose most people like they are now inhabiting India or China since trying to inspire Americans is mostly a waste of time.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Art said...

Also recently posted on Truthdig: "Americans Admire Glen Beck More Than The Dalai Lama"

"Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton top the USA Today/Gallup Poll lists of the most admired men and women in 2010....Only 1 percent of Americans reported that they admired the Dalai Lama above the rest."

Well, that's no surprise; in "Ethics for the New Millennium", the Dalai Lama wrote: "The rich are so caught up with the idea of acquiring still more that they make no room for anything else in their lives. In their absorption, they actually lose the dream of happiness, which riches were to have provided. As a result, they are constantly tormented, torn between doubt about what might happen and the hope of gaining more, and plagued with mental and emotional suffering...so many feel uneasy and dissatisfied with their lives. They experience feelings of isolation: then follows depression."

I wonder what would happen if Oprah suffered a nervous breakdown.

5:44 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I'd like to remind you all to have a look at Janice Peck's bk, "The Age of Oprah," which shows how the 'you make your own reality' ideology she was pushing on her show was perfectly congruent with Reaganomics and neoliberalism.

On another note, what if Oprah and Reagan are/were actually demented, and this form of dementia shows up in the way they behave(d), and in what they say/said? I'll have to check the DSM IV, but I don't think it has a category called "political dementia"...maybe it can get inserted into the DSM V, whenever that is scheduled to appear. It's just that whenever I looked at Reagan's face on TV, in the 1980s, it occurred to me that he was actually mad; and I have the same reaction when I see Oprah on the telly today: this is not the face of a normal person. These folks are/were completely deranged, but in a way that works/worked with an insane populace. Official data have it that 25% of the American people are mentally ill, but surely it must be closer to 75%. How else could folks such as Reagan and Oprah get lionized?

Starkers, u know what I'm saying? Flat-out looney.

7:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Art-

I'm amazed that 1% of the American people know who the Dalai Lama *is*.

I hafta tell u, I had a semi-private audience with the D.L. in the 80s, in the town of Alpbach in Austria. The D.L., me, and abt 20 other people. I was teaching univ. in Canada at the time, and told my colleagues that when I met him, I was going to cry, "Hello, Dolly!" For some reason, I chickened out. But he was kinda cute, in a Tibetan sorta way.

mb

7:26 AM  
Blogger Neb said...

Watching a pentacostal service/oprah's audience is like watching either patients at an insane asylum that killed the professionals or a horror movie. I watch it like a terrible road accident, somehow I find my attention utterly fixed for a moment before coming to.

I think Bill Maher has read DAA. He said something on his program last season that in the tone of MB on leaving the country. But it's also likely that when disparate people see the USA insanity train the ideas and language could easily narrow to something like, just get off the damn tracks. And in 2010 there was real harmonic resonance amoung intellectual outlaws.

I don't think that money is the new God. It's been termporarily dislodged from its center place with the reformation but today there's no question of its place.
In line to be the counter-virus as pointed out in essay "Tribal Conciousness and Enlightenment Tradition" from MBs book QoV, I'm guessing new-ageism, distinct from buddhism, will be the next thing. It's taken people out of churches, as christianity with judaism, yet Money fuels it.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. B,

the DSM - V is expected to be released in May of '13, so you still have plenty of time to lobby for the addition of "political dementia". I am already trying to get them to add a few categories. Perhaps "cranial/rectal psychosis" would be an appropriate one for most Americans. What do you think?

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

You said when you saw Reagan or Oprah's face on TV you thought they were genuinely crazy but they're not mentally ill. They're such profound hypocrites that they no longer even recognize, much less examine, the obvious discrepancies in their professed beliefs and their actions. An article on Alternet this morning, America Will Pay a Mighty Price if it Keeps Pretending to be a Superpower by L. Davidson, has a quote that fits them both:

"the true hypocrite is one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity"

I have a prediction for 2011---Oprah will jump on the "new austerity" bandwagon and lots of shows about the joys of frugality, families moving in together to keep a roof over their heads, cooking cheap meals, success stories of unemployed people starting their own businesses on a shoestring, etc. And Oprah and all of her fans will praise her for being so practical and inspiring

10:04 AM  
Blogger Nicholas Colloff said...

I wish I could look down my long English nose at the behaviour of the audience on Oprah and mutter and sigh, 'Americans' but I fear my country persons were out practicing their true religion on the 26th December by trooping in icy conditions to the 'sales' to accumulate more things and more debt. I am awaiting the first shop 'brave' enough to open their sale on Christmas Day - though apparently people bought £150 million worth of 'stuff' on the internet on Christmas Day!

11:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe-

CRP is gd, but we need a term that has a sense of mobility to it. After all, Americans are very busy, going nowhere fast. With heads in asses, they look like donuts, reinventing the wheel, as it were. "Cranial/Rectal Donut Syndrome" (CRDS) might do it, I dunno...

mb

3:21 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Susan,

You're right. Oprah (and those like her) pride themselves on being self-made people ... or is that an anti-self, a construct so skillfully & thoroughly built that the real person has been replaced, hollowed out? Rather like the pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers, ... only now it's more like the Soul Snatchers, and they do it to themselves.

You'll notice key words in their speech, almost Pavlovian in their automatic nature -- "empowerment," "face the fear," etc. No different than patriotic default phrases, or religious ones. In every case, it's a substitute for thinking. Call it iThinking, perhaps.

It's a corruption of language, with a phrase standing in for a worldview, one that's vaguely understood by all, but can't actually be explained in any detail. "Oh, you know what I mean!" But do they?

For example, are you sick of hearing "icon" & "iconic" yet? Notice how that's become the word du jour lately, to the point where it's absolutely meaningless? Just like "awesome" before it. Orwell was right in his famous essay!

I took MB's advice & read Peck's book on Oprah, and he wasn't kidding. It lays out everything in a way that can't be, um, refudiated. After reading it, watch a few minutes of Oprah's show again. You'll wonder how so many people can accept such an obvious facade as something having meaning & depth.

But they do.

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. B,

I like it. I'm on hold with the APA. I'm telling those bastards to put it in and make it sound "biologically based" so insurance will cover it, damnit.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Dave said...

"Americans are very busy, going nowhere fast. With heads in asses"

Or doing their makeup in the rear view mirror like the woman who passed me in Seattle yesterday. We were all speeding but not fast enough for her. I'm not kidding, she was using her little eyelash brush.

It was a big car. Who knows, maybe she was texting too, between changing lanes.

I want to stay home.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill Maher says he doesn't know what spirituality is...

Well, here's my take at 45 years of age - it is our only understanding of a fourth spatial dimension that is (almost) altogether unfathomable to us as perceived and contemplated in three dimensions.

The mistake of dimensionality is the theme of Plato's cave - we are witness to fewer dimensions than actually exist. Also, Magritte's famous "ceci n'est pas une pipe" is again an allegory for the mistake of dimensionality.

The fourth (or higher) dimension(s) are experienced in a variety of circumstances - dreamstates, psychedelics, electromagnetic phenomena, the interior of living bodies...but wait how these all be an experience of higher dimension(s)?

The parable of the blind men and the elephant - each experience grabs onto a different aspect of higher dimension and says "it's like this." So, yes, it is all that and more.

All time exists at once and we make our way through it as we would through a field of grass, each direction in time we turn towards represents different outcomes and possibilities, though there may be very little difference among some of our choices, other choices will cause very different outcomes.

Intention and love can help guide us, more than this - I don't know....

4:30 PM  
OpenID brutus said...

From time to time, I observe that Americans and their leaders are stark raving mad, usually with respect to two things: acquisition of stuff (well beyond need) and paranoia that others are coming for us. Hardly anyone gets it and think I'm simply being arch, but I mean it literally. Our cultural memory includes hardships of surviving, for example, winters on the farm and the Great Depression. So even the hint of deprivation causes many of us to scurry about hoarding things. Also, the two World Wars (not to mention atomic angst) instilled considerable, lasting fear of naked aggression, which already had a long history. So we have overcompensated by fighting even the hint of expansion of non-American ideologies. In both of these processes, we have created our own demons.

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

One commentator about Maher's Christmas message really pegged Oprah by calling her an "anthropoc­enic visionary." Or is it anthroposcenic?

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

I think I've sorted it out. It's anthroposcenic to describe a bunch of anthropods jumping around making a scene over getting an iPod on Oprah.

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Hi Nicholas,

I heard that one clothing store in Spain offered free clothes to its customers who braved the winter weather and arrived in only what we in the U.S. call underwear. Some camped out overnight to be first in queue [no doubt necessitating a disrobing in the morning].

However, I don't think we need worry that Europeans are becoming American. More likely, this behavior is a reaction to the recent austerity measures.

Anyway, feel free to look down your long English nose and mutter, "Stupid Americans." As Dr. Berman noted, never in the history of the world have more dunces been concentrated on one continent.

3:52 AM  

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