June 20, 2012

The Rain in Spain

Dear Friends:

As some of you know, I just returned from 2-3 weeks in Spain, where I went to promote the Spanish translation of Why America Failed--translated there as Las raices del fracaso americano (The roots of the american failure).  This included interviews with a number of newspapers, and also a video interview in Madrid with an outfit called periodista digital (the digital reporter). For some odd reason, they insisted that I do it in English, and that my publisher/editor/translator, Eduardo Rabasa, provide a running translation of what I was saying. So it comes off a bit uneven, but the interviewer did manage to ask questions that went to the heart of the matter. Hence, a decent job overall, if rather brief (which could be good, of course). For readers of this blog, or of WAF, this material may be a bit redundant, but I offer it up as another take on the whole issue of why the US is slowly sliding into the sea (along with Spain, which foolishly chose to follow the American socioeconomic model--a guaranteed recipe for disaster). Apparently, this interview is also running on YouTube; but the link I have for it is as follows:

http://www.periodistadigital.com/ocio-y-cultura/libros/2012/06/14/morris-berman-sexto-piso-raices-del-fracaso-americano-crepusculo-cultura.shtml



49 Comments:

Blogger Remonster said...

I just watched the interview and I have to say that your english is terrible. You start then stop then start and stop again. This video is unwatchable. Remember. if english was good enough for The Lord it should be good enough for you too. Bless your heart.

3:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Re-

I guess u didn't understand the constraints here. I wanted to do it in Spanish; after all, this was Madrid. But they insisted I do it in English, then stop for my editor to translate it into Spanish, then have me start up again in English. So as I said, the interview is a bit uneven or 'lumpy', the way it came out. I'm not sure the Lord had much to do with it.

mb

3:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile, some quotes from Richard Powers' novel, "Generosity":

-“You can never have anyone’s full attention anymore…Focus has gone the way of other flightless birds.”

-“[They] felt something hopelessly magnificent about the human adventure, its ability to channel the brute instinct of a few hard-pressed hunter-gatherers into creating Athens, Byzantium, Florence, Isfahan. But…the project had been running in reverse for more than a century; the beasts of unlimited appetite were loose and weren’t going back into the kennel anytime soon. Every individual being with any skill had to fight the fatuous, disposal present with everything of worth.”

-“the industrial fear state”

-“Technology changes what we think is intolerable.”

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Remonster, "the Lord" you're referring to spoke in Aramaic. English hadn't developed yet in the year 0; what we know as English didn't get started until arguably the Norman Invasion in the 1100's. And even the "Old English" of Beowulf and the like was arguably a product of about the 400's or 500's. Which is still five centuries too late for Jesus Christ to have used it.

It looks like even the fundamentalists are starting to like you, Berman. First you get commenters ranting about America's decline being all the fault of the "homosexuals", and now this person who insults you for using a language "the Lord" never used.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

You may already have heard the story about the middle school students taunting an elderly school bus monitor & driving her to tears. here's one of many links:

http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/21/us/new-york-bullied-bus-monitor/index.html?section=cnn_latest

What was that study about the steady decline of empathy in college students over the past 20-30 years?

But they're just doing what they've been taught by this culture: snark, humiliation, tearing down anyone else for amusement-- that's what's cool now, that's what makes you a Somebody instead of a Nobody.

There's a quote from a late Heinlein novel that I'll try to find & post, where his protagonist states that one of the surest signs of a civilization's decline is the loss of courtesy & manners, the rise of rudeness & callousness.

Compassion? Consideration? Tenderness? So old school, so weak & pathetic, so un-American!

11:04 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Dear MB,

I, too, watched the interview. It may have left me wanting more, but it was not terrible in the least.

I particularly like the last quotation, regarding the insidious nature of technology, which is in fact -- and Heiedgger saw that early on -- a technological framing of the entire planet, and, as such, the construction of a vast gulag.

Technology itself breeds ever more technology: its growth has no immanent terminus, it is iteratively infinite, it generates ever more complexity, and its reach into matter is ever more encompassing, both macroscopically and microscopically, thereby endangering the mesocosmic, average world of ordinary experience and daily life.

By the by, I, too, am a friend of the archaic, and have been since childhood.

Pierre

1:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Smith-

What if Chaucer was channeling God in Middle English? (Something to think abt)

mb

1:29 PM  
Blogger abigail said...

Tim, I think the Heinlein quote was from _The Moon is a Harsh Mistress_ and it has something to do with too much comfort breeding rudeness. I think about that quote a lot, so now I have to see if I can find it.

MB I read your blog avidly but don't post much commentary. I'll listen to the interview, but you really need to post more written word for those of us who are stuck in cubicles parched for something intelligent to read... (yes I've read six of your books -- the 2 trilogies. Guess I'll start over on them unless you've got something else in the pipeline).

2:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

M. Bergot welcomes M. Berman back
to almost his country America. An
item of concern=
http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2012/06/science_education_myths_that_keep_us_from_fixing_the_system_.html

2:13 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

I listened to the video, and I wish they separated completely English version from Spanish – for easier, smoother understanding. You said: 1) “If you are a hustler, you eventually become a gangster” and 2) “The US needs to rethink its foreign policy relative to the outside world”.

Here is an excellent application: relationships with others based on lies, threats, and thuggery:

“That no U.S. charges or extradition case are open against him is irrelevant to this fantasy.”

“If Mr. Correa seeks to appoint himself America’s chief Latin American enemy and Julian Assange’s protector between now and then, it’s not hard to imagine the outcome.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/asylum-for-julian-assange/2012/06/20/gJQAZpuJrV_story.html

If the US is not interested in hanging Assenge, then why the demonizations, why the threats, and why the name-callings? Who are the members of this “global anti-American left”?

Compare to:
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/wikileaks-stratfor-emails-a-secret-indictment-against-assange-20120228

http://www.salon.com/2011/04/27/wikileaks_26/

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could be wrong but I think the comment by Remonster was just being funny and didn't mean to be taken quite so literally.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Abigail-

Glad yr such an avid fan. Why not (a) Read previous posts, if u haven't already? (b) Check out "A Question of Values"? There's also my novel, "Destiny," and even a vol. of poetry.

But yr rt, I shd post more text; trouble is, I really do have a life! I travel a fair amt, give talks now and then, and am up to my ears in a new bk--which will probably appear in 2017. In terms of posting, I tend to write something up when the spirit moves me, and that's kind of unpredictable. (It's also how I write bks.)

Bergot-

Actually, I live in Mexico. But it's only a few hrs away by plane.

mb

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Tim, re: the college students and the fading empathy, there is a great book that discusses the phenomenon with cited research. "The Narcissism Epidemic" by Jean Twenge. Forgive me if I've mentioned it here before. Covers lots of other stuff too, but I know the college stuff is in a chapter or two. has a 'ray of hope' type chapter towards the end, which troubles me, but it's definitely worth a read. The grotesque, painful nature of interactions with my countrymen struck again today...I was attemtping to schedule a doctor appointment, and the lady on the phone sounded like she possessed a morbid combination of disgust, stupidity, anger, and ADHD. After 15 minutes of taking my information, she informed me that the practice didn't take my insurance and hung up. No goodbye, no "sorry", nothing. It actually made me laugh, the pure absurdity of it. Maslow thought we'd desire actualization once the other needs on the Hierarchy were met; Americans prove that once the basics are met, we only desire more fucking basics being overmet until we're fat, bred, and left alone by our fellows unless they can feed us or breed us more.

Dr. B, I enjoyed the video. It's cool watching El Maestro speak the truth, regardless of forced English, bumpiness, or the like. Man, I appreciate the living hell outta your work and this blog. I hope you realize how important this to us few (i think I can speak for the other DAAers, right?) I'm not even stoned, and I almost just said "i love you man". sorry.

2:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Joe,

Thanks for the appreciation--it means a lot. After all, we've got about 82.5 people reading this blog, and in a nation of 311 million I sold 3,000 copies of WAF--less than .001% of the population. This oughta tell us something, eh?

The experience you had on the phone with the dr's ass't reminds me of what I happily left behind when I moved down to Mexico. It would be literally impossible for a Mexican person in a service position to behave like that; down here, that would come off as grotesque, even mentally ill. And even outside of someone in a service position, daily interaction with strangers is almost always courteous, and frequently gracious. Regardless of all of Mexico's problems, the ambience is one of "other people count," whereas in the US it's basically "other people count for nothing." I literally had 4-5 interactions like the one u describe per week, when I lived north of the border; and there is no use complaining, because Americans don't see treating other people like shit, as treating them like shit; it's just daily fare. Oh sure, there are lots of exceptions, but I know the overall picture, because I lived it for many years. If there is one single reason why I left the country, it's that it just got too depressing on a social level, and there was abs. no one to complain to about it, or anything one cd do abt it.

mb

6:15 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. B DAAers
Well along with promotion of mittnism(I think thats how you spell that), according to Mother Jones, we will have to suffer through Romnesia. In seeking the anti-immigrant vote in the republican party primary, he spoke about how he was going to make life miserable for immigrants so that they go back on their own. Now he is cozeing-up to the Latin community for votes for the presidency. The Latin community(which I have a lot of respect for being where I live I have mucho interaction) will probably lean towards Obomnation(like in damnation) and help re-elect the pres sadly.

BTW I'm amazed at how many Authors who have influenced me over the years are mentioned on the Blog. Heinlein, Dick, La Guin, Pinchon, Bradbury just to name a few.

Joe: I second the motion. Like Louie says to Rick in Casa Blanca "Just as I thought your a rank sentimentalist".

8:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DM-

It'll be a close election, but I suspect Obomination will just squeak thru. Which is a shame, because altho he's a lot of things, he isn't funny; whereas I think in his own campy way, Rom Mittney (the Walking Haircut) is. Obama is a chic, empty person who turned out to be a war criminal and destroyer of the Constitution; a corporate shill and stooge of the Pentagon; basically, an agent of American totalitarianism. But he's *not funny*, and this is perhaps the worst of it. Mittney could be all of those things, plus funny, and thus we need to get behind him--even tho, granted, he's no Sarah, Michele, Herman, or Rick (now *that* would have been funny!). He will write a book, "The Principles of Mittnism," that everyone will be required to read, along with a workbook that one can color in, "Cornerstones of the Mittnaic Philosophy." It grieves me deeply to think he will not be occupying the Oval Office in 2013, and will instead, like John Kerry, sink into total obscurity and never be heard from again.

Mitt, Mitt, we suffer for your loss!

mb

9:51 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Joe:

Ur post broke me down. El Maestro is the man. And, contributors like yourself who keep me going.

Abigail: I'm parched beyond imagination.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous abigail said...

Dr. Berman,

Alas, I've read a lot of the posts, AND I've read AQOV (I guess I meant *7* of your books in my prior post. Hey, I'm Amurkan, I'm not expected to be able to count). I'll check out _Destiny_, and the poems, too. For now I'll continue lurking on your site.

I cannot imagine what this country will be like by 2017, and how unlivable it will be, given rising temperatures and sinking IQs. So by the time your next book comes out (is it on Amurka, or is it on consciousness, or something else?), I'll either be out of here, catatonic, or holed up in a cave somewhere with the few bats who've managed not to go extinct watching the very air become a commodity.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Rossana said...

Speaking of authors (see recent David M. comment), I've paid close attention to the sources which inform your writing and analysis, Dr. Berman, and have even read a few (The Dumbest Generation and The Shallows, for example).

What do you think of a Reading List for the DAA blog audience (like me); that is, a list of articles/books you'd like to recommend?

Just a thought.

Rossana

4:20 PM  
Anonymous TonyU said...

Look and see if you can catch something strange:

“The wife of embattled ex-Chinese politician Bo Xilai has reportedly confessed to the murder of a British businessman, putting an exclamation point on a scandal that helped end her husband's promising career”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/22/gu-kailai-bo-xilai-neil-heywood_n_1618885.html

I bet that you missed it!
Hint: what is the difference between ex-American politician and American ex-politician?
Or, what is the difference between former American politician and former American who was a politician?

5:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Abigail: It's on Japan.

Rossana: I fear I just don' have the time to do it, but here's a thought: go thru the Notes sections of my other bks, and compile a biblio from the refs listed there. Much better than anything I cd construct from memory, I assure u. In the meantime, here's a 3-vol. novel I read recently that's fab, recommended to me by Chuck J, on this blog: Javier Marias, "Your Face Tomorrow." Divine, and will keep u busy for several wks.

Tony: Why do I now have a headache?

mb

7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MB,
Do you know how many WAF copies you sold outside the U.S.?

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Doctor, history shows that no president has won re-election if the unemployment rate is 7.2% or above and it should be much higher by November. And I still believe the election of Obama was in some way to assuage white guilt. Having now done so, white AMericans will feel little incentive to vote for him again. Yes,some famous wit did once say that the worst crime you cam commit is to be boring and for that alone Obama should be dragged to the Hague.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

No idea, but given shipping costs, I can't imagine it was more than a few. (Leaving Canada aside; but I don't have those figs either.)

mb

10:18 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

MB,

While most of your pessimism regarding Americans' political bent is justified, I would like to point out that even though only a few thousand Americans have read some or all of your trilogy, Chris Hedges' books have all been bestsellers.

I would say a good 3% of Americans have sane and conscientious political views. Now of course that isn't much, but it's alot more than the .001% of Americans you seem to have said are decent people.

And yet, that 3% number that I've hypothesized is remarkably small compared to any other country in the world, except perhaps Britain. A country where 97% of the people are sociopathic to a greater or lesser degree is not a country with a future. One does not need to exaggerate the scarcity of good American people to come to the conclusion that America is a colossal failure.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Noah-

?!

I never said, nor do I believe, that the # of decent people in America is limited to those who have read my work. Are u kidding me?That WAF sold 3000 copies does, however, suggest that there is not a very great appetite in the US for the type of argument presented there, one that goes down to the very origins of America; and certainly not for a pessimistic one.

I hardly begrudge Chris his terrific sales; in fact, I'm quite happy abt it, because it means he's reaching a lot of people with stuff they need to hear. But the two of us are doing very different things, really: he's a journalist and writes in a certain style; I'm an historian, and the slant tends to be more academic. Few Americans are interested in the latter, and certainly very few in a pessimistic outlook. But this hardly makes them "indecent." It may, however, make them just a tad out of it--which is hardly the same thing.

Anyway, I think you misread me--"big time," as my buddy Dick Cheney likes to say.

mb

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Stone said...

Here's my contribution, if I may, to Rosanna's request for a reading list:

Robert J. Lifton and Greg Mitchell, Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial (Putnam's Sons, 1995)

Chalmers Johnson, Blowback (2000), The Sorrows of Empire (2004), Nemsis (2006), and Dismantling the Empire (2010)

John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (Plume book from Penguin, 2006; this is the second edition)

Russ Baker, Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America's Invisible Government, and the Hidden History of the Last Fifty Years (Bloomsbury Press, 2009; paperback edition, with new afterword by the author)

Paul Rea, Mounting Evidence: Why We Need a New Investigation Into 9/11 (iUniverse, Inc., 2011) [copiously covers a great many aspects related to that fateful day, including the official inquiries into 9/11 (the chapters devoted to that topic alone make the book worthwhile), and the air defense failures; no talk here of no-Boeing-hit-the-Pentagon or of voice morphing; very much empirically and rationally oriented]

Arthur Nainan, 9/11 The Simple Facts: Why the Official Story Can't Possibly Be True (Soft Skul Press, 2011) [unlike the previous work, very brief, but just as empirical and rational; also no talk of no-Boeing-hit-the-Pentagon or of voice morphing]

Best wishes,
Pierre

11:45 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

M. Bergot reminds MB how happy he was during the Reagan/Bush years.
Once my man Mitt takes over, I am certain that MB will pack up and move to Stockton. Talk has it that he will keep tottering Late Capitalism from hitting the floor by doing what those other guys did,
namely, borrow wildly from dem f'r'ners. Can't you see the joy in
living off other people's money?

Do you hear anything about the potential next BIG one: the bursting of the Chinese real estste bubble?

1:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pierre,

Thanks for the list. All other Wafers are encouraged to add to it.

mb

4:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

You might find this interesting:

"The proportion of college graduates who are creationists is exactly the same as for the general public. That’s right: 46 percent of Americans with sixteen long years of education under their belt believe the story of Adam and Eve is literally true. Even 25 percent of Americans with graduate degrees believe dinosaurs and humans romped together before Noah’s flood. Needless to say, this remarkable demonstration of educational failure attracts little attention from those who call for improving our schools."

From an article on Alternet, What is Wrong With Our Education System?

5:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon:

1. Pick a handle, already.
2. HRIR! I love it.

mb

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This interview, although a little cumbersome due to the back and forth translations was excellent in content. Only doable in Europe where discussions on capitalism do not have to end with people being labeled "pinko commies" and where there is more substantive rather than fluffy discusssions.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

MB,

I never meant to imply that you were saying that Americans who do not read your work are indecent.

I think, because of the clumsy word choices I used, you misread me - but this is my fault.

No hard feelings, I hope. This is the kind of shit that happens when you try to communicate over the internet.

As far as optimism vs. pessimism, what is interesting is that Hedges is almost as pessimistic about America's future as you are. I do not know if you read this particular article I am thinking of, but he said that he believes America's total collapse is "inevitable". He holds out some hope in the long term, but only after a painful age of totalitarianism of a duration that nobody can really predict, followed or accompanied by mass starvation and bloodshed caused by resource shortages due to global warming.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

I would also like to add something to your theory about American optimism. Beneath the "optimism" of Americans lies a very deep and bleak pessimism, for Americans, while being very optimistic about the country's future, are actually very pessimistic about political processes themselves. Having resigned themselves to whatever fate has in store for them, Americans have decided to simply hope for the best, to believe that things will be alright, as they think that nothing else can be done to change things for the better.

In short, they embrace solipsism as a quasi-solution. Willful ignorance is used as a defense mechanism to avoid having to face reality, although problems are now becoming much too intense to ignore.

Beneath all the magical thinking of the Christian Right and the Obamatons is the deep and dreary pessimism I just described, for without a solution that magically appears, whether through God or through Obama, these people would be despondent, hopeless, and probably insane with terror.

Suffice to say, none of this constitutes genuine optimism.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Julian said...

I don't know about American optimism -- to me that looks more like delusions.

But Western Europeans aren't any better either. I have encountered similar levels of ignorance and self-assured stupidity in France, Italy, Spain, and the UK, with the added unsavory element of a delusional form of provincial exceptionalism.

Can we just agree that the West is, at this point, a done deal and that America and the rest of the West are quickly drowning into their own respective cesspools? After 500+ years of Western hubris, I say it’s about time!

12:35 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Noah-

Well, yr original email regarding my estimate of 'decency' seems clear enuf; I dunno what else to tell u. But leaving all that aside, I'm not sure yr rt abt American pessimism, because there is always excitement over any presidential election, as a promise of 'real' change (the Obama fever of 2008 is as gd an example as any); and the American ethos seems to be forever 'bright-sided', as Barbara Ehrenreich put it so well a few yrs ago. I do think there is a deep substratum of fear and uncertainty, however, which then surfaces as braggadocio ("We're No. 1!"). But you may have a pt, since something like 40-50% of American eligible voters don't vote in presidential elections; which might mean, they've simply given up (or just don't give a damn--which is more apathy than pessimism, I'm guessing).

Glad to hear that Chris has switched to the long-range view, which I believe is the only realistic way to look at things. His enthusiasm for OWS did tend to worry me; the latter had as much chance of turning things around as a plate of overcooked linguini. Personally, I think the time is long overdue to hold a major conference called Game Over, on the immediate future and the pseudo-solutions being offered to save the planet or the US. Topics might include:

1. The coming (and ongoing) American collapse
2. Why repeated conferences on global warming and environmental destruction won't change a damn thing, are little more than exercises in buffoonery, and need to be stopped forthwith
3. Resource shortages and the coming Age of Austerity
4. Soon coming to a local theater near you: totalitarianism, mass starvation, and bloodshed; and the role of the recently developed surveillance-security state as a 'rehearsal' for controlling the inevitable mass unrest
5. Why, if u have half a brain, you'll emigrate
6. Statistics of the sheer raw stupidity of the American people, plus ongoing Leno-style interviews with the 'wo/man in the street' (to be conducted by Jay himself, along with Judge Judy)
7. Mittnism: the philosophy of the future
8. A special session on Ted Koppel's haircut, and what, if anything, can be done about it

Speaking of haircuts, this list is just off the top of my head. Wafers are encouraged to expand on it, and also to offer suggestions as to whom we might approach to sponsor said conference. Given that it needs a venue like Madison Square Garden, I'm guessing $2 billion oughta do it; but it's possible that that wd only cover the catering costs.

mb

12:41 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

J: Check out Steven Hill, "Europe's Promise," which I found somewhat encouraging.

mb

12:51 AM  
Blogger Manol said...

I write from Chile, South America, and I think it would be great for you to pay a visit to our country to present your book in Spanish. Here we have TV programas like "La Belleza de Pensar", "Siganme Los Buenos" or radio shows like "Desde Zero" where your opinions I think could be appreciated.
I recommend you take a look for example on Youtube to "Patch Adams en Chile" where you can watch Patch Adams opinions in "La Belleza de Pensar".
Saludos amigo!
Manuel

1:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Estimado Manol-

Actually I was in Chile in January of 2009, where I gave a lecture at the Universidad del Desarollo. I have friends in Santiago and Temuco, and it would be great to come back; unfortunately, someone would have to sponsor me. If you know anyone at a university or institute who might be interested in doing that, perhaps you could ask them if that's possible.

Gracis por su interes, amigo-

mauricio

6:36 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

The comfort and genius of this blog is knowing there will be no bullshit.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. B & DAAers
It seems to me that the best discription of American attitudes would be cognitive dissonance and schizophrenic. Folks I talk to seem to suffer from delusion, apathy, pessimism, enthusiasm and optimism(not to mention Mittnism) on a rotational basis and/or in some cases at the same time. For instance one will be talking about holding on to an investment (security or property) for the long haul and with-in a few minutes talk about how we have no future. Completely illogical. They can't connect the two.

I like the idea of DAAers shareing book list. In the past I have gotten many good recommendations from everybody. Along with Dr. B.'s trilogies here are a few that have influenced me and helped me become more conscious or aware.

1.A People's History by Howard Zinn
2.The Souls of Black Folk by WEB Du Bois
3.Orientalism by Edward Siad
4.- 5.Farming: A Handbook and Leavings by Wendell Berry
6.Notes of An Alchemist by Loren Eiseley
7.Waldon by Thoreau
More recent
8.Failed State by Noam Chomsky
9.Empire of Illusion by Chris Hedges
10. Rainbow Pie by fellow Appalachian Joe Bageant
As I am writing this a hurricane seems to be forming right over the state of Fl. Me thinks Texas need this weather.
O&D!

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Rossana,

Just a few other books I've found useful:

The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer

The High Price of Materialism by Tim Kasser

Essays from the Nick of Time by Mark Slouka

The Lost Art of Reading by David L. Ulin

Against Happiness by Eric G. Wilson

World, Beware! American Triumphalism in an Age of Terror by Theodore Roszak

The Fever by Wallace Shawn (also available as a performance on CD by the author, and as a film on DVD)

A few useful films:

The Joneses

The Bothersome Man

The Truman Show

The Adam Curtis documentaries The Century of the Self & The Trap

Holiday w/Cary Grant & Katherine Hepburn - funny, with a very serious point, and still quite relevant some 70 years after it was made.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner - do you play the game & get ahead, or do you live your own life & suffer the consequences?

And for some relief, see if you can find the Czech film (circa 1960) Holubice (The White Dove) - a beautiful meditation on art, humanity, creation, empathy.

This is just a random sampling, of course. I'd also welcome suggestions of humane, soul-nourishing books & films. We must be aware of what the world is like, but we don't want to be overwhelmed by it, either. Best to remind ourselves that there are alternatives we can take as NMIs ...

Julian,

What's especially disheartening is how many people happily disparage & discard the best of what the West once had to offer culturally & instead embrace the absolute worst. It's just not virulent anti-intellectualism, it's anti-humanism - evne blatant anti-humanity, I suppose. Which suggests one more book, Erich Fromm's The Heart of Man: Its Capacity for Evil.

Joe doesn't know,

Getting the Twenge book as soon as possible!

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Rossana said...

Thanks, Dr. Berman, for your suggestion on the Reading List and thanks also to those of you who have suggested titles.

Much appreciated =)

1:08 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Hello all you WAFers

Browsing through all the comments posted here over the last couple of years is an excellent way to build up a reading list of books and articles; thanks to all of you who share what you read:)

As skeptical and critical as I've become over the years towards all this 'social' technology and its increasingly Sauron's Eye-like qualities (read Alone Together if you haven't already), I really need the comfort of a virtual 'community' of folks who read and think. I mostly lurk, making me a free rider rather than a real member here, but even that rather cowardly connection is very important to my mental health. Many thanks to you all who actually write and contribute, and to you MB for hosting/inspiring/maintaining.

I live in Seattle, a mere 10 minute walk from Elliot Bay Bookstore (great reading here MB; how did our turnout compare to your other readings?) in one of the country's great dense urban eclectic neighborhoods (12 years carless) and yet I must admit the sad truth that even here, I have still not made any friends with whom I can actually talk to in real life about many of the ideas expressed in this blog. My friends are just as f-d up as most regular americans, taking pills, feeding addictions, seeking escape and distraction, suffering alone and avoiding any insight as to why they live this way. Derrick Jensen is so right, we are all made crazy from living in this toxic culture of death.

I want to yell at the authors of these latest books on loneliness. Where exactly do they expect us to find the people and relationships that they are so eager to lay out as solutions, if almost everyone around us is stupid/ignorant/numbed-out/thuggish?

I envy your friends MB who get to enjoy your actual company, and any of the rest of you who have found/built a RL community. Not being able to escape (the downside of simple living/poverty), I suppose I'll have to wait for the Intimacy Aisle to open at the nearest suburban Walmart. That whole renting friends thing they do in Japan might have a real future here. But I think they will have to import them too (along with the endless plastic crap) from places where people actually still know how to do it. Until then, I thank Kolob for libraries and blogs.

In case any of you missed this, here's a link to an article about the world impact of another great american achievement--and now export, obesity. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/18/study-world-faces-food-crisis-if-american-weight-gain-trends-spread/

And on a more upbeat note, How to Live: A Life Of Montaigne is a great and thought-provoking read for any of you who haven't already found it.

May the Mitt be with you:)

4:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Eric-

You oughta write in more often, eh?

Yours in Mitt,

mb

4:44 PM  
Blogger Remonster said...

Eric,

Your comment gave me hope. I too live in Puget Sound and think like you do, but do not have the ability to write what you wrote so cogently and concisely. I hope you write more here and connect through the pixelated ether.

Oh, MB, apologies for the snark in my first comment on this post. My attempt at 'humor' is a 50/50 proposition.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

In the future, I see all American dissidents being jailed, tortured, and executed. I see every non-Christian being forced either to convert or undergo prolonged torture followed by execution. I see the Pentagon dropping nukes on dozens of cities and most Americans starving and malnourished.

Perhaps this is a bit extreme, but I fear that it's not that far off-target.

Noah

6:08 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Noah,
Sounds a bit like David Bunch's Moderan stories.
Back in the 70's I thought his pessimism coefficient was a bit over the top.
Now he seems more like a prophet.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Noah Linden said...

MB,

I admire your decision to live in Mexico, but I can't help but think that Mexico's close proximity to America is quite dangerous. As America unravels, it will take out its rage on Mexico (as well as other countries) for sure.

I think that in the long run, you'd be better off in Brazil or some other Latin country further away from America.

12:22 PM  

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