February 17, 2014

The Bizarro World

Dear Wafers (and Waferettes):

You all know how much I like the Seinfeld show (“Call Marla Penny to the stand; Marla Penny!”), and some of you may have read the essay in A Question of Values entitled “A Show About Nothing,” which argues that the scripts are actually an indictment of the American Way of Life as being antisocial, perhaps even anti-human. This climaxes in the final episode, in which the Gang of Four is arrested for violating a (nonexistent) “Good Samaritan” Law in Massachusetts, which purportedly requires citizens to help people in distress. Nothing, of course, could be further from their minds, and so they wind up getting sentenced to a year in jail. They are shown to be callous, indifferent to the plight of their fellow human beings, and always mocking other people—which, it turns out, is how they relate to each other as the norm. Yes, the jokes are hilarious, but they are also nonstop. Practically every remark Jerry et al. make to one another is a dig, a put-down, a bit of witty repartee at the other person’s expense—thrust and parry, all the time. If these were one’s friends, I’m thinking, it would be exhausting to be in their company for more than an hour. One is either defending oneself or attacking someone else, and this is the essence of the “dialogue.”

The fact that the dialogue is, in fact, quite funny manages to hide the fact that the relationships are aggressive, competitive, and even bellicose in nature; which is how Americans of every stripe tend to relate to one another, though typically without the humor (let’s face it: we’re a grim lot). This is daily fare in the U.S., which is probably why the rates of loneliness, depression, mental illness, homicide, screen addiction, and drug use are off the charts. (In terms of dollar-volume sales, 67% of antidepressants sold worldwide are purchased by Americans—who constitute roughly 4.5% of the world’s population. And this is leaving illegal drugs aside, in which the nation is literally drowning. Then if you add in alcohol….) I’m amazed, over and over again, how folks who disagree with something on this blog, or something I said, are literally unable to simply state: “I disagree, and here is the evidence for my views.” Oh no; that practically never happens. It would be un-American; it could lead to genuine dialogue. Instead, they almost invariably show up in War Mode, enraged, sarcastic, parading themselves like peacocks—the whole nine yards—and then get even more enraged when I refuse to post their fulminations (clearly, I’m not willing to engage in “dialogue”!). The entire nation seems to be a collection of children, and certainly, of flawed human beings. And it’s not likely to change anytime soon, here on this blog or in “normal” conversations out in the larger society. It’s as though it were part of our DNA.

Besides the Seinfeld “Finale,” one other episode stands out in my mind as reflexive, i.e. as commenting on the nature of the interactions itself. It’s called “The Bizarro Jerry,” in which Elaine meets three friends whose mode of relating to one another is 180 degrees from what she is used to. She can’t get over it: Kevin, Feldman, and Gene are loving and supportive of one another. They fight to see who will pay for the check in a restaurant, each one wanting to treat the others. They buy each other groceries, or tickets to cultural events. They read, they think, their lives have actual meaning. They put cash (bills!) into the cups of homeless people. And so on. She can’t help it: she defects. In one memorable scene, when the two groups of three confront each other in the street, she looks first at her old companions, then at her companions-to-be, and the difference is so great that it’s obviously a no-brainer. Why hang out with people who are completely self-serving, who care about nothing but themselves, as opposed to those who are genuinely kind, genuinely selfless? So she switches teams.

But the transition proves to be more complicated than she anticipated. As the writer of this particular episode, David Mandel, explains, Elaine is too flawed for her new group; “normal” behavior with these folks, such as goes on with Jerry et al., is something they find offensive. Instead of trying to fit in, she is rude and domineering. She raids Kevin’s fridge without asking, kicks the door shut with her boot, throws her purse any old place, and when given a ticket to see the Bolshoi with them, yells “Get out!” and shoves Kevin in the chest so violently that he falls backward onto the floor. They aren’t interested in having a barbarian (read: typical American) in their midst, and so they reject her. Her stay in the Bizarro World proves to be fairly brief.

Of course, Mandel felt the need to make the alternative group a bit extreme in a goody two-shoes kind of way, for the sake of comic effect. Which works: their love for each other is finally so sugar-coated that it is cloying, claustrophobic—nuts in a different way. The show would have been much less funny without this contrast—or perhaps, not funny at all. And that’s the point. Had the alternative group been just your (truly) normal, non-American bunch of folks, such as I have experienced all over Latin America, for example, then the indictment of American society would have been out in the open: depressing rather than comical. Roll back the exaggeration, tone down the sweetness, and you would have healthy, non-American interactions, in which people do care for one another, are supportive in conversation, and are not living in competitive little narcissistic bubbles that they erroneously take to be the world norm. In which case, we would see the American psyche for what it really is: warlike, severely disturbed. The jokers who show up on this blog in War Mode literally can’t help themselves; it’s what they were raised to do from birth. Elementary courtesy is not really part of the American repertoire. We are degraded and debased;trolfoons.

A year or two ago, I think it was, one of you Wafers posted a link to a YouTube video in which some guy walks around the streets of an American city with a clipboard, stopping people and asking them whom they thought we should go to war with next. Every single person interviewed, including a university professor, named the country of their choice: Iran, Syria, China, etc. Not one of them said, “We shouldn’t go to war with anyone.” Not one. Now that is the Bizarro World.

©Morris Berman, 2014

159 Comments:

Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

Your supermarket story made the highlight of my day. The people there were actually genuine. There was nothing contrived and that family actually wanted to share their food with you.

America is the fakest and phoniest country that has ever been in existence. In American supermarkets they follow an artificial script. They have to stick to this script of risk losing their jobs. Even the smiles are so artificial. I have done mystery shopping and this script is very extensive. They don't genuinely like you at all. They don't give a crap about you.

For the most part, relationships aren't genuine at all. It is about getting ahead and one up man ship. This country lacks, substance, genuineness and soul.

Tim

What you're talking about is this extreme form of internal locus of control meaning one control his own destiny. Anything negative that happens to a person is their fault. Free Will and One's control over his destiny is absolute. No external entities are ever considered.

There is this whole idea and focus on positive attitude and confidence. Attitude and confidence are emotional reactions which are really electrical impulses in the brain. One's thoughts and beliefs come from the external world. One's positive attitude comes from success and so does confidence. Success comes from wisdom, knowledge and ability.

The focus is on attitude and confidence instead. They tell you to be positive and be confident. It is similar to saying that the birth of a child caused the conception of the mother.

Anytime, I try to use reason, rationality, and logic even the most intelligent person can't seem to let go of this belief at all even if I show how their logic is fallacious.

I remember setting up computers in a work crew. It was for different schools in the county. I noticed a poster in one of the classrooms that said "one's attitude is more important than the facts" which was a quote by Charles Swindoll. I was just so aghast at this. Who comes up with such fallacious reasoning?

Here is another thing. We're not even allowed to question or challenge any of this in front street or on any other social medium. It is socially unacceptable to do this. Americans are always beating their chests that they're free. How are we free if one is not allowed socially to question and examine the culture he is in without negative repercussions and possible ostracization?

America is a whole bunch of contradictions on top of contradictions.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Since Seinfeld is a favorite show, could we assume that you also [insert approving verb here] "Curb Your Enthusiasm"?

I only recently started watching the show, beginning with the first season, because when I'd previously "dropped in" on the show I found the situations David depicted to be almost painful to watch, consisting as they did of extremely awkward social interactions and the unpleasantness arising from them.

I can imagine you would count Larry David as a prototypical WAFer, eh?

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

A Russian-American blogger, whom I have quoted in a previous thread, put this post up yesterday:

"Creeping Fascism or maybe it's just me... (Saker rant) "

http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/02/creeping-fascism-or-maybe-its-just-me.html

I saw this coming 15 years ago, which is why I left.

My own motivations for leaving were very similar to Prof. B's. However, in my case, it was a lot more than just not having anyone I could talk to. It was my ever-increasing sense that I had to "walk around on eggshells" with everybody. Not just a few psychos here and there - I mean everybody. In my last 5 years in the States, I lived in a vacation home which I rented. This house was located on top of a small mountain in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The nearest neighbor was 5 miles away, and the nearest town was 20 miles away. Twice a week, I commuted to my job (I was an IT contractor) in a large city, stayed two days, and commuted back. Each time, I felt like I was venturing into potentially life-threatening situations, where any slip of my tongue could get me fired (if I was lucky) or beaten or shot (if I wasn't). It was that bad. My isolated mountain house was the only place where I actually felt that I could breathe. Seriously!

Thankfully, the police state had not yet coalesced to the extent that it did after 9/11, or I likely would have been shot before I could get out!

My family, of course, was no help. They all thought (and still think) that I was just being wilfully psycho myself. I am sure most of you can relate!

Like MB, I had to spend my first two years overseas just decompressing from the anti-culture of the U.S. Those of you who are in the midst of emigrating need to expect this process yourselves.

So, that's my own story of how I became a "Wafer" before Prof. B ever wrote any of his trilogy!

3:19 PM  
Blogger dale said...

Since I have traveled much through Mexico and have known many and their warmth and soul, I get your point Dr. Berman, but I have an alternative interpretation. The crew from the bizarro world is more like the USA where I live--a smaller, remote, relatively well off area. But the manners, concern and empathy is only a veneer and saccharine. There are so many who have a totally feigned enthusiasm and positivity. What despair these people must be masking. That people put this despair under the surface is what causes the antidepressants etc. There is no real connection between people, only artifice and indifference is at the heart of it. The bizzarro world is for those who can-as you write about Dr. Berman- accept the narrative, but not for those who can take a sober look at it.

Like Elaine, because I cannot be an insincere zombie mannered automaton, I have often been rejected too. It is not easy to find some meaningful human relationship here. The original crew was where they could be more honest, flaws and all. Where they could work out their neurosis and maybe even grow instead of locking them down. Though in the end they proved not to be redeemable, they still had each-other. For tens of thousands of years humans only lived in small tribes, maybe that is all we can expect. Living in these large social structures of modernity is what is dehumanizing us, where human intercourse is hollowed out and unholy.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

"Social capital,""investing in the future," etc. - read Lakoff & Johnson's "Metaphors We Live By." My wife and I read it in a book discussion group a year ago and are continually amazed how insightful the book is. Ties in nicely to the somatic view of the world discussed in CTOS.

I enjoyed the Judith Regan interview but wonder what to do about the contradictions of book distribution. Amazon announced last fall that they were willing to destroy some prime farm land for a "distribution center" in the neighboring town (Windsor, CT), provided, of course, that the town officials showered them with substantial fee and tax breaks, which said officials were happy to do to "create (meaningless) jobs" (for a business model that is going down the tubes as transport costs inevitably rise). Amazon = No Book Stores = More Sprawl, so what do we do to quit feeding the beast? (Currently I buy from Powell's but that's not really a solution.)

4:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kev-

Check out "Cheap Words," article on Amazon in Feb. 17/24 New Yorker by Geo Packer.

dale-

In ex-pat communities in Mexico, where there are large concentrations of gringos, the Mexicans are outwardly polite, but actually regard the Americans as daft (accurate assessment). Thankfully, I don't live in such a place. Altho I'm sure I'm daft, I have always had the feeling that Mexicans are sincere in their courtesy--not just w/me, but among themselves as well. They have different DNA than we do, luckily for them, and consistently rank much higher on 'world happiness poles' than does the US, as a result. In any case, it wasn't a case of Elaine needing to pretend, or be an automaton; but rather, to be a human being rather than a douche bag. Americans are douche bags, and she found a strange, non-douchebag pocket; wh/rtly rejected her for being a douche bag.

Michael-

We need to do a survey of pre-Berman Wafers. I'm guessing there might be as many as 15 or 20 of them!

Jas-

I found 'Curb' too negative and depressing. Larry's vision of America is appropriately dark, but when he was co-writing the Seinfeld show w/Jerry, the vision got modified into something much more upbeat, as a result. I discuss this in my QOV essay. The "Finale," however, was written entirely by him, and it shows. When "Jackie Chiles" (Phil Morris, a kind of Johnnie Cochran knock-off) says: "You don't have to help *anybody*! That's what this country is all about!", you see the raw (accurate) cynicism of Larry coming out.

cube-

Glad you enjoyed it. In future, pls stick to half a page, max. Thanks.

mb

4:24 PM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dr. B and Wafers,

The Drugging Of America Summarized In 19 Mind-Altering Facts:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-02-15/drugging-america-summarized-19-mind-altering-facts

Thank you,
Himanshu

7:22 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Dr. B and assorted WAFeristas :

Perhaps "Seinfeld" was the '90's creative satire along the lines of how science fiction became the venue for irony and criticism during the McCarthy era.
Of course, for every Asimov, Serling, Bradbury there were the authoritarian and elitist counterparts as Rand and Heinlein.
Obviously, the space race and other 'modern' inventions with the threat of mutally assured thermonuclear annihilation added to the mix. Most of these were morality plays ...Dr. Strangelove being the pre-eminent comedy being an exception.

Yes, America and most Americans are SICK; only it is a progressive, degenerative psychosis. It is a collective malady that is anti-social, anti-human, anti-culture that I now argue has manifested to be anti-civilization.
It's not just a kook fringe that exhibits this combination of arrogance and ignorance ...it's practically everybody!

Here's a recent article by Joseph Palermo that explains how the ultra-rich are affected this way:
Plutocrats Despising the Poor: An American Tradition
http://josephapalermo.com/archives/521

Maybe this is the end game ... the "Red Death" or apocalypse of extreme 'affluenza', where no one ....not even the super wealthy, have ENOUGH ?

7:47 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

A sports commentator this weekend was talking about the Philadelphia Phillies chances to win the pennant. He concluded that the only way they could win the pennant is for a mid-air collision of planes carrying the Atlanta and Washington teams. Funny, huh? Would a sports commentator anywhere else on the planet make such a comment?

11:21 PM  
Anonymous Kathy said...

As always, Professor Berman incisively gets to the heart of the situation. I have been experiencing this boorish, willfully ignorant, narcissistic, jingoistic behavior on a regular basis for several years. It is particularly virulent on the internet where people can hide behind computer screens and spew their bile with no inhibitions.

I do advocacy work on women's rights and for a number of years focused on the sexual commodification of women, giving the lead presentation at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in 2010 on the media's sexual objectification of women & girls and its violation of their human rights. When I became Program Director of the Council for Responsible Genetics, I delved deeply into biotechnology issues and immediately understood the direct parallel between the sexual commodification of women and the reproductive commodification of women through commercial surrogacy and egg trafficking. As I have traveled around the country the last few years educating people on these issues, creating awareness, testifying and being interviewed by the media, I have been appalled by the aggressive attacks I've been subjected to for speaking out against the exploitation of poor, low income & otherwise financially vulnerable women and against the commodification of women and children. The sense of self-absorbed entitlement (in this case to a child), the refusal to recognize the class-based exploitation going on, the dismissal of the serious health risks to the women being used, personify the American capitalistic mentality of commodification of all living things. Personal desires become "needs" which then become "entitlements" and ultimately "human rights." Commercial surrogacy contracts turn the women serving as surrogates into human chattel. Pregnancy becomes a service for sale and children into products for purchase, an "entitlement" for those with the financial means to procure one.

When I testified in support of a bill that would have banned commercial surrogacy/contract pregnancy, a lobbyist followed me out of the hearing and screamed at me, telling me to "Get out of Kansas!" And this from a so-called feminist!

The vicious attacks I have witnessed and been subjected to as a board member of a prominent national organization by fellow board members are so toxic that I have disengaged from it. I was even silenced by the president for my outspoken advocacy who ordered me not to state the fact that I'm a board member in my public speaking. I replied that I understood how Galileo must have felt when he was silenced by the Church for speaking the truth.

When I stated that Wendy Davis had lost my previous strong support when she announced support for the open carrying of guns in Texas, I was attacked by my feminist colleagues, some of whom actually said they own guns and support "Second Amendment rights." This was a bridge of hypocrisy too far for me. As Chris Hedges says of the American race to self-destruction and planetary annihilation, "gun the engines!"

11:22 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB,

LD and the Sein appear to be collaborating again.

http://www.uproxx.com/tv/2014/01/larry-david-revealed-big-huge-gigantic-secret-project-jerry-seinfeld-working/

11:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan H.-

I'm literally fainting w/anticipation. Call Marla Penny to the stand!

Kathy-

If yr dealing w/Americans, yr dealing w/buffoons. It really doesn't matter if they are male or female, feminist or sexist, Protestant or Catholic, prominent board members or anonymous individuals: if they are Americans, they're buffoons. However, that quote from Chris sounds like me, not Chris; he tends to give inspiring talks about changing the system (wh/I'm quite sure he doesn't believe; he's too smart for that). Cd he, along w/Noam, be turning into a Wafer? That gives me a frisson of joy...

But returning to the topic of buffoons: I've had only one trolfoon attack in response to this post. I was expecting a deluge, to be honest, because these people are so clueless. But then, I'm sure he'll be back, probably more than once. There's simply no stopping trolfoons. Once again, America has an endless supply of 'em, and they can't really arrest their own behavior, short of an act of God. (It's hilarious: you identify them as rude, and then what do they do? Write an insulting message! I love it, I tell u; these people are too much. Do they ever look in the mirror and say: "OMG, I'm a complete horse's ass!"? When pigs fly, maybe.)

Dan-

Yet another American douche bag (redundant phrase). His audience probably laughed at this remark.

mb

12:24 AM  
Anonymous Bossu said...



Michael said
"It was my ever-increasing sense that I had to "walk around on eggshells" with everybody."


Recently I have strongly felt this - thanks for letting me know I'm not alone. I'm in Europe so perhaps this infection has spread here.

For example, I would politely express a view on an issue (online or face to face) which was not in agreement with the other's opinion. A variety of negative reactions might follow, from rage to coldness. My feeling is that this has increased in the last decade.

3:41 AM  
Anonymous Maxwell said...

"Practically every remark Jerry et al. make to one another is a dig, a put-down, a bit of witty repartee at the other person’s expense—thrust and parry, all the time. If these were one’s friends, I’m thinking, it would be exhausting to be in their company for more than an hour. One is either defending oneself or attacking someone else, and this is the essence of the “dialogue.”'



Gotta say it's not a satire of America-that's a big misreading. Poking fun at itself, yes, but not some deep-seated critique. That behavior is very much a part of the 'traditional' culture of NYC , ESPECIALLY the comedians,
Anyone who grew up in the milieu sees that immediately.

4:03 AM  
Anonymous Dilz Johnson said...

@Kathy

I have to go on record as someone who considers himself fed up with the current state of things and say that I also own guns and enjoy shooting them regularly. I've never understood the knee jerk opposition to people owning guns by people who are otherwise staunch supporters of all the other rights we afford our citizens (or try to). Do you think anyone who owns/shoots guns is a big weird, right wing, evangelical, prepper-tard? LOL because I'm not. I read Hedges, Berman, and a whole lot of other things you probably don't associate with "gun owners." I also voted for Jill Stein in 2012 as a sort of protest vote. I just wanted to try and represent the population of WAFer type gun owners out there who believe in self defense, especially in this crazy pot of crackers. Carry on.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Maxwell-

Rather than a misreading, I think it's rt on target; and believe me, I'm quite familiar w/that milieu. "The Finale" makes that pretty clear; it's very much a 'deep-seated critique', as is "The Bizarro Jerry'. Of course, as I indicate, most of the episodes are not reflexive or satirical; they just show the 'traditional' culture you speak of--and that's precisely my pt. It's endless potshots at one another, and I suspect most people wd find it exhausting. In any case, you might want to have a look at my essay on Seinfeld in QOV, that I refer to in the post.

mb

9:44 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Greetings all,

I just listened to this video interview w/ Margaret Hefferman (link below). And I immediately thought of Wafers: far & wide. She has An interesting take on things (the statistics on "competition" were eye-opening , for me). Anyhow, I can say this will give you something to "chew on," (that is, when the default 'deli meat' selection isn't available) if by chance you find yourself in "one of them there," (let's say) "cogitative," "pensive," or "ruminative" moods. The video interview is called "How Willful Blindness Keeps Everyone Living a Lie." And, finally, I'll say that surely Margaret H. would be, at the very least, 'amenable' to the Waferian perspective. Enjoy:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsPIfQLvdl8&sns=em

P.S. Thanks MB, for another unsettling (and for that reason terrific) take on "Seinfeld."

11:57 AM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

A little something for a Tuesday...

http://news.yahoo.com/quarter-americans-convinced-sun-revolves-around-earth-survey-062143342--abc-news-topstories.html

Always wondered why any company would name themselves Yahoo? maybe we ought to think about changing the name of the country... any ideas?

12:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Near-

Thanks for the link. I listened to the 1st few mins of it; she sounds, indeed, like a Wafer. All of this helps to explain my extraordinary popularity in the US, the enormous volume of sales of my bks, my dominating presence in the media and on the lecture circuit, etc. I'm encouraged to go on.

mb

12:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

pol-

I'm thinking Shit-For-Brains might be gd...

mb

12:28 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Dilz: I also am a hunter and camper, etc. There is nothing inherently wrong in that, of course. Growing up in a small town, everyone had firearms. There were zero gun-related murders when I was growing up. Something has definitely changed in the culture, which is driving people insane. The guns simply make it easier for those who are on the edge to go over the edge. But I agree that demonizing sportsmen and hunters is really going after the symptom, not the problem. Urban dwellers are way too out of touch with rural life and what that entails.

I hate to make a movie recommendation which is sure to raise some hackles, but here goes. Iron Sky is a great piece of satire. It seems to be a Finnish-German production, and it makes fun of Americans and Nazis in equal measure, and shows how similar the two groups are! The premise is pretty funny - at the end of WWII, a group of Nazis escapes to the "dark side" of the moon, and set up a base. In 2018, the president of the USA sends two astronauts back, as a publicity stunt to help her campaign, and to find helium-3, which could solve the energy problem. She sends a minority astronaut who is really a fashion model, as part of the propaganda (the signs say "Black to the Moon. Ouch).

Anyway, it's over the top, which I guess explains the hatred for it in the Netflix reviews, as it is unsparing of how our life is based on lies and consumerism, etc.

In one telling scene, when the President of the USA (a Sarah Palin lookalike) discovers that the rest of the world has weaponized their satellites and spacecraft just like the US has, she accuses the rest of the world of lying and deceiving on the space treaties.
"But you lied, too," complains a foreign UN diplomat.

"Yeah, but that's just what we do!" responds the US president.
Great stuff. It portrays US politicians and citizens as techno-buffoons and shallow, self-obsessed narcissists with no concern for fairness, the future, or ethics.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

Actually, I think the NRA might have a pt when it insists that people, not guns, kill people. But they shd correctly say: Americans kill people. We are so angry, hurting, and fucked up, that if guns were outlawed we'd probably start killing each other w/knives and tire irons, and probably at the same rate as we currently do w/guns. The homicide rate, from whatever weapons, is a symptom of a culture that long ago parted w/reality and has become basically loony tunes.

mb

1:20 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

An insightful post, MB. You know, all this discussion about "Seinfeld" and how good sitcoms reveal a certain side of America has really got me thinking. What the world really needs is a Wafer-oriented sitcom. Imagine, MB and groups of Wafers sitting around in delicatessens and cafes discussing the American scene and striking up conversations with ordinary American buffoons about politics, Palin, OWS, Kim, Ovomit, good/bad pastrami, collapse, etc. Hell, I bet we could even get Jerry and Larry to write a few episodes for us. Not that we would need any help, of course. Tina Fey could bankroll the entire project, or at least do a cameo. I'm telling you guys we could have a real hit on our hands. We could call it "WAFER-ly Incorrect" or something like that. "Shit-for-Brains" could be our first episode. Surely, this would earn MB a few Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe or two. Whaddya guys think?

Jeff

2:30 PM  
Anonymous mysteriousmose said...

I have to agree with Michael that Seinfeld isn't some brilliant satire and more reflecting the milieu of Americans, in particular East Coasters. I moved to Oakland from NYC two years ago, and was completely floored with how nice people are in California. No one grumbles while waiting in line, people invite you over and cook for you, and they do things for you without an ulterior motive. People enjoy good food, there is less hustle (at least in East Bay) and there is a sense that we're in it together that does not exist on the East Coast. There isn't as much racial segregation as there is back east either. Back east, people have tried to pick fights with me for flubbing a debit card purchase. I also got called disgusting racist names on a weekly basis. The worst thing anyone's ever said to me in California from their car is, "hey man, I love your shirt!" (I was wearing a kick ass Hawaiian shirt.)

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Maxwell said...

"Rather than a misreading, I think it's rt on target; and believe me, I'm quite familiar w/that milieu. "The Finale" makes that pretty clear; it's very much a 'deep-seated critique', as is "The Bizarro Jerry'. Of course, as I indicate, most of the episodes are not reflexive or satirical; they just show the 'traditional' culture you speak of--and that's precisely my pt. It's endless potshots at one another, and I suspect most people wd find it exhausting. In any case, you might want to have a look at my essay on Seinfeld in QOV, that I refer to in the post.

mb"

I'm not sure how to get this across to someone who did not grow up in NYC, but "constant potshots" was in the fabric there, and I can say unequivocally that neither Jerry Seinfeld nor Larry David would have it any other way.
Who is their idol?

Groucho Marx. The most sarcastic man ever.

I mean the entire borscht belt comedic word was this sort of thing 24-7.

The bizarro episode was self-aware comedy, it was irony, not a plea for more niceness in the world. It fits firmly into a certain tradition of NY Jewish comedy- recognition of one's own screwed-upness while exhibiting condescension to more 'normal' (usually non-ny) people.

Think about the Festivus episode. It's knowingly dysfunctional, but it's also a bonding experience for people who don't celebrate christmas. No one would describe it as a satire of people who don't care for christmas.

Admittedly, I dont recall the final episode clearly at all, but for the subject matter of the rest of the series, I think what I said holds.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Maxwell-

1st, pls post only once every 24 hrs. 2nd, no need to repeat what I said in yr own post. You do seem to be missing my pt entirely. Yes, I agree w/u: being very familiar w/the NYC milieu, I'm aware that constant potshots is in the fabric--that's precisely what I am arguing. And I'm also arguing that such a way of life is exhausting. Nor is 'Bizarro' a plea for more niceness--not at all--but as one of the very few reflexive episodes, it certainly is an expose of the fuckedupness of the 'Seinfeldian' way of life. The writer, David Mandel, said as much in an interview: that what one gets to see is how flawed Elaine is as a result of leading the Seinfeldian way of life, which is why the Bizarro group rejects her--and that way of life. He certainly knew what he was doing when he wrote that script; it was hardly just one more borscht-belt comedic shtick. The Festivus episode was not satirical, yr rt: but then as I said, most of the episodes aren't. In a word, you seem to be unable to grasp where I agree w/u--and the pt I'm trying to make in those cases--and where I disagree; which (in those few reflexive cases) do analyze/expose/satirize a certain way of life. I suggest rdg my QOV essay, and also checking out "The Finale" episode, wh/leaves abs. no doubt as to where Larry David was coming from (in neon, so to speak). But your own confusion, and scrambling of categories, makes it difficult 4u to see what I'm actually saying. You keep thinking that I'm presenting a one-size-fits-all analysis, and I'm not. As a result, we're just talking past each other, wh/is not likely to resolve anything.

Mysterious-

You also seem to be scrambling the categories. Satire is one thing; portrayal of a milieu is another. The 1st is reflexive, the 2nd isn't. Offhand, only 2 episodes I know of are in the 1st category; the rest (i.e. abt 178 episodes) are in the 2nd. What u.r. describing abt the East Coast is precisely what one sees in the nonreflexive episodes. So I guess yr agreeing w/me...anyway, similar confusion here to Maxwell's, I fear.

Jeff-

If only Tina would marry me; that wd solve so many problems, really.

mb

5:10 PM  
Anonymous dawgzy said...

l;kqHi. I hopped on to post something else but am taken by the topic. That we have an exploration of "manners" on USA TV almost necessitates a cartoon outline of the issues. One problem that I had with a certain kind of 60s hippy was that the alternative to everyday social intercourse was exaggerated, earnest, sincere, sweet but cloying- but I hope that I got the impulse to be humane, attentive. There weren't enough role models and it wasn't as woven into the social rituals (hand holding among friends, tu-toi, bis), so people formulated it sometimes and it clanged too often. There weren't role models for conviviality but they weren't the norm .
Nevertheless, I live in these united staes sand see 'consideration for others' often- those who exercise it in my workplace are loved/valued- caring is magnetic.
Anyhow, am here on 2 errands:
Saw the post about the Chemical Marriage (sp?) and this morning came across it in vol 4 of John Crowley's amazing Aegypt cycle- with an outline of the dramatic narrative nested in a much larger set of contexts. I recommend it, and any of his books strongly. That so many of his books are available only as remainders says a lot about the culture.
A question: to the WAFers who grew up in the USA. Can you say what it is that gives you perspective on the americano culture? I was going to list some of what gives WAF resonance for me but don't wan to go on too long. Profound alienation and working my way back from it with the help of several others was key, among other things.
Am somewhat baffled by log-in protocols- hope this isn't repeat

6:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

dawg-

You raise an impt pt. In a very real sense, and on a comparative world scale, Americans don't know how to be human. So when there was, at long last, a reaction against our inhumanity in the 60s, the result was typically forced, phony, and cloying. It was so bizarre, that Americans had to go to encounter groups, or 'Human Potential' workshops, to learn how to parrot what folks in (say) Mexico do as the norm; except that when it is scripted, so to speak, it comes off like so much b.s.: talk abt 'luv' etc. I lived thru that era, and can tell u it was truly vomit-provoking. Not all of it, of course; there were some genuine individuals among the snake-oil salesmen, the latter of which comprised at least 90% of the crowd. The general problem is that you take folks who are basically hustlers and try to teach them love, and what they then do is hustle love, because on a cellular level that's all they really know. Sokei-an, who was the 1st Japanese buddhist teacher (sensei) to come to the US (he d. 1945), said that transplanting buddhism to America was "like holding a lotus to a rock." You hold the lotus there for a few yrs and then, guess what? If you remove the lotus, the rock is still a rock; the lotus roots did not manage to penetrate. We were born hustling, and we'll die hustling; no amount of Human Potential, Buddhism, or 60s love-ins is going to change our DNA.

Abt 20 yrs ago I had an oppty to watch something like this in action. I joined a distance-learning, 'alternative university'. It stunk; the quality of the students was only slightly lower than that of the faculty, and the 'education' in the place was a joke. Anyone cd get in, and anyone cd get a Ph.D.; academic stds were nonexistent. (I got out after 2 painful, useless yrs.) Anyway, part of the ideology was to combat American individualism, and promote group consciousness. Except that Americans are extreme individualists; they aren't wired up for community. So the whole thing had a scripted, role-playing feel to it. Everyone behaved as tho they were in a Kabuki play, complete with masks and programmed behavior. (Or in a Maoist 'reeducation' camp, if u will. I describe this experience in the Twilight bk, BTW, where I refer to the place as 'Alt U'.) If it had been a satire on the counterculture, it wd have been fabulous; but these people were actually serious. And completely phony: when any real decision had to be made, it was done not by their much-vaunted process of 'consensus' but by a hierarchical power structure, the few who were actually running the show. These were the only occasions when people became real, i.e. showed their true colors. 'Community' was little more than a smokescreen for power.

In a word, real change is spiritual; it's not just a question of mechanically adopting a certain language, or striking poses. Douche bags do that, and man, were these folks ever douche bags. (Reminds me of 'green' corporations, but that's a whole other subject.) In the end, Americans simply aren't wired for ordinary decency; it's just not in our genes. (Which is why they show up on this blog in War Mode, aggressive and stupid, while thinking that they're hip.) 'Love' is just another marketable commodity in the US, and 'romance' is typically little more than market exchange. In the days when Americans still read bks, they wd read Martin Buber's "I and Thou" and then go to cocktail parties, using the language and concepts of a Jewish mystic in order to get laid, or set up a lucrative business arrangement. Oy vey, Buber wd have said (maybe he did, for all I know).

All kinds of studies have shown that most Americans don't have close friends, people they can really trust or confide in. Gee, no shit, Sherlock. We're a pretty sad lot--probably the saddest people in the history of the world. A pity we don't know it.

mb

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Look at this! The main stream media is noticing that the official inflation figures don't fit what people are experiencing at the stores. Should we point CBS News at the Shadow Government Statistics site and see if they can put 1 and 1 together? But if they talk about this too much they will no doubt be accused of "promoting class warfare", so most likely they will stop mentioning this discrepancy soon. There is already quite a bit of awareness that the official inflation figures don't mean anything anymore, though.

CNS News: Food prices soar as incomes stand still

Writer Jen Singer, the mother of two teenage boys, wrestles with her grocery list every week to keep the household budget from getting away from her.

"I'd like the government to stop by my house, come food shopping with me and see where the real costs are," she said.

The adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is impossible thanks to apple prices, she said.

"We go through one of these every few days," she said, holding a loaf of bread. "It's a big part of my take home pay."

It is not her imagination. While the government says prices are up 6.4 percent since 2011, chicken is up 18.4 percent, ground beef is up 16.8 percent and bacon has skyrocketed up 22.8 percent, making it a holiday when it's on sale.

"Oh my god!" Singer said as she spied bacon for $3.

...

8:38 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I've never liked sitcoms. I've always hated every one of them, albeit in varying degrees. I don't know if this is because they were American sitcoms or because I just don't care for that genre. The canned format and the canned laughter have always put me off. The only TV shows I ever liked were the ones I enjoyed as a child, which invariably had a fantasy element in them - the Munsters, the Addams Family, I Dream of Jeannie, that sort of thing. Programs which purport to depict reality while presenting us with a Vaseline-lensed image of suburban family life in all its anomie and spiritual putrescence strikes me as akin to endlessly broadcasting footage of the corpse of Lenin as it slowly decays in a glass coffin, accompanied by an endless sound track of rousing speeches and patriotic music.

Okay, maybe I liked the Bob Newhart show, at least a little bit. But it still had the canned laugh tracks. Even the shows I preferred did that. And perhaps I only watched those because nothing better was on offer.

I also hate cop shows and detective programs: all of them, from The FBI to One Adam Twelve onward. No, Kojak is not an exception. No, Columbo is not an exception. Every one of those programs at bottom is about the transparency of each of us to the eye of the law, a notion that appeals to me not one bit.

I also hate team sports programming, especially American football. Yechh.

Sorry if I'm sounding a bit grumpy. To make up for it, later I may try to enumerate some of the stuff that I like or even love. But the general run of American popular culture as reflected in our TV programming - truly, it's a desert.

I think that shows and stories I tend to like are those which suggest that reality is not merely what it appears to be - that it's actually filled with magic and archetypes and invisible realities and governing principles which may be beyond our ability to fully grasp. That's probably why I prefer fantasy, in literature and onscreen. But as U.K. LeGuin pointed out long ago in one of her essays, Americans by and large are afraid of dragons.

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

@MB: "In a word, real change is spiritual; it's not just a question of mechanically adopting a certain language, or striking poses."

Absolutely correct. As I said in previous threads, I knew, even as a young man, that I was, psychologically and spiritually, a mess, and that I needed to get better. I took Dale Carnegie courses in my 20's, which did teach me basic social skills on a monkey-see, monkey-do basis. I took a lot of other courses to try to teach me how to be human, because I sure didn't get that in my home or school when I was growing up. (Most Wafers can probably relate).

Nobody becomes a human being (a mensch) unless one is raised that way. So, what do you do, when you are an adult and you realize that you are not a mensch and that you need to become one? Well, guess what? - you have to "raise yourself."

How did I manage it? In my case, I became an Orthodox Christian, then immersed myself in my church community, all of whom are first-generation immigrants and their children. I simply decided to "become as a child" again, imitate whatever I saw around me, and absorb the cultural reflexes of my fellow parishioners by osmosis. After all, isn't that how a child is raised, mostly by example and osmosis?

Well, this has been going on for 14 years now, so, if you count my "birth" from my Baptism, that makes me (emotionally) mid-to-late adolescent. Pretty embarrassing for a middle-aged man, but a lot better than if I had stayed in the US. Overall, the quality of my relationships is now better than at any time in my life before.

One more thing! As MB points out, again and again, you have to have a real community around you to flourish and survive. Virtual relationships don't cut it. In my case, I tithed 10 percent of my pre-tax income to my church community for over 10 years. I also did lay reader's church services for 5 years, when we did not have a priest. So, for a five-year period, I carried my parish on my back, liturgically and (to a large extent) financially as well. There were periods when my monthly contribution kept the lights on.

Now, the situation is reversed. We have a priest, and the parish is flourishing. I, however, have been poor since my company downsized and laid me off. Now, my fellow parishioners are helping to keep me afloat, as I did for them in years past. That is how it works - you pay up front for your community. There is no "buy now and pay later" option on this. I paid my dues and earned the respect and love of my parish, and now it is my turn to receive aid and comfort. More than the material side of it, though, is the sense of groundedness, rootedness and meaning my church gives me. I am still the lead singer (cantor, to MB), so that gives me something important to do in life.

I know, this is a bit long (sorry!), but I think it is important, and I hope this helps other Wafers get their bearings, especially those who are emigrating.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Michael-

Thank you. But yes, try to stay w/in the half-page limit, if u can.

Listen, I personally have no interest in organized religion; what I think is important are the sacred concepts, and every religion (and every great thinker: Freud, Gandhi, Mittney...) has them. To me, religion is just the scaffolding for these things; as Wittgenstein said, once you've climbed the ladder, you can toss it away, because you don't need it anymore. (That's my belief, in any case.) However, what I see in your story is the classic concept of kenosis, wh/exists in Buddhism (sunyata) and Judaism (in the cabala in particular: Simone Weil called it 'decreation') as well. Without this in one's life, one can never grow up, or even learn anything, really. America is the ultimate anti-kenotic society, and hence, a land of children, of hubris, and of course, of violence (as a result). A lot of what I was trying to say in SSIG revolves around this: surrender, emptying of the self. I haven't the foggiest notion of what's gd for me, of what I need. But if you just sit in the silence, just watch your breath, the answers come, eventually, and the path becomes clear. This is abt a deeper layer of reality, one most (i.e., 99.999999999%) Americans will never know or understand. Which is why they remain miserable and unhappy. From the early 17C, we could have chosen service and community; instead, we opted for power and aggrandizement. 400 yrs later, the results are plain for all to see, and our future as obvious and predictable as the daily setting of the sun.

Empty space (mu, in Japanese) is the basis of it all; ontologically speaking, the only truth there is.

mb

11:36 PM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

MB and Wafers,

Here's an eye-opener from today's Independent:

Nearly 6,000 people killed themselves in Britain in 2012 alone, official figures revealed today, as the University of Bristol and Samaritans announced the first extensive research project to look into the link between internet use and suicide.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/after-death-of-tallulah-wilson-in-clutches-of-toxic-digital-world-scientists-to-study-link-between-internet-and-suicide-9136645.html

Are there any statistical studies like this in the US of the links between suicide and internet use? Are the mindless techno-boosters even going to countenance discussion of the adverse effects of our Brave New World of techno-addicts?

Check out the documentary Talhotblond for a look at American techno-depravity. Anyone thinking Americans haven't descended into hopeless idiocy has to see this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYOIL7tsxqk

12:14 AM  
Anonymous American Stuntman said...

Hello Mr.B,

just wandering where would you place a thinker like robert anton wilson in your '3 counter-tradition' model ...

glad to know SSIG is going to come into a spanish tradition ... is 'Destiny' going to be translated as well?

2:55 AM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

MB often reminds us about the stupidity of the population.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/one-in-four-americans-dont-know-the-earth-orbits-the-sun-and-only-half-believe-in-evolution-9131721.html

It's pretty sad and frightening that this country should have so many weapons, such aggression and such wilful stupidity. The other day the US envoy to the EU was caught on phone saying "Fuck the EU"; hacked as they hack others.

Friends on a world motorcycling trip were passing through the US; they stopped by chance in some military dominated town. They were subject to suspicion and then abuse because on the bikes they had a tourist sticker saying "I visited Libya" or something. One idiot called for his friends and began to make threats.And they give these thugs weapons.

I saw last night a standard TV documentary series about Canadian Customs and Imm. at the US/Canada border. There were many instances of US citz carrying concealed handguns, on visits to ordinary tourist sites. They hadnt troubled to find out what Canada's laws were.

Yet I must repeat that most USers I've met were very pleasant. I dont get it actually. Maybe that's more dangerous.

5:04 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

OMG, I think I get what you're saying. It took me a moment to grasp what you're saying because it takes me a bit longer to grasp the context and subtext.

You're not literally emptying your mind as in giving your brain complete amnesia. What you're saying is thoughts are still in your brain stored as synapses it's that you choose not to focus on your thoughts. You're focusing on your own breath only.

I think I understand what you're doing. You're removing your thoughts from active foreground and putting them into passive background.

A computer has background processes meaning that it works and follows it's algorithmic programming behind the scenes. What you did was you quit actively trying to figure out the path in your conscious mind and put it into your unconscious mind.

When I had to create different algorithms I had to do something similar to this. I didn't do as you did. I played a game like SimCity if I was having problems trying to figure out a solution. When I did this for a bit sometimes the solution crashing down on me like a ton of bricks.

Are we talking about the same thing? If not, am I at least on the right track or completely way off base?

8:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Stunt-

I read only 1 bk by Wilson yrs ago. Not much of a 'thinker', imo; it's a kind of bizarre pseudo-intelligence. As for 'Destiny', no Span trans in the works, sad to say.

Bossu-

When I lived in the US and had a TV, I usta enjoy "Judge Judy," because the show typically showed how clueless Americans are. "Morons on Parade" wd have been a better name for the program. E.g., some tenant shows up in court to sue his landlord for some infraction or whatever, and didn't bother to bring a copy of the lease w/him. "You did understand that you were going to be in court today, regarding the nature of your rental agreement, right?" she says to him. The dumb bunny just shrugs, or stares at her. In various ways, that scenario got repeated on her show over and over again. At one pt Judy said, "Just go out into the street, and put your hands on the 1st person u.c. Odds are 1 in 3 that person is an idiot." And I thought: Don't you mean 999 in 1000?

For the most part, the nation evolved into a large collection of violent dummies. Didju catch the video of Ted Nugent screaming that Obama was a 'subhuman mongrel'? And did this lead Greg Abbott, the GOP gubernatorial nominee (TX) to disinvite Nugent from being on the campaign trail w/him? Not at all!

Of course, I don't believe Obama is human either, but I wdn't classify him as 'subhuman'. Rather, I think he is a robopath, in Lewis Yablonsky's famous phrase. From the back cover of Yablonsky's bk on the subject:

"The robopaths are the people who pull the triggers at My Lai, Kent State, and Attica, make policy in Washington, and live next door. Dehumanized by regimentation, bureaucratization, and indiscriminate violence, they are growing more numerous in today's society."

This was written in 1972. Since then, folks like Obama have indeed grown more numerous, and indeed live next door 2u. Like most Americans, Obama is little more than a machine: a robot who 'thinks' in slogans and follows the unconscious programming of traditional American ideology (see my essay on 'conspiracy' in QOV). In 2016, a nation of robots will elect another robot to replace him; e.g., Hillary. Unconsciously, as if in a dream, she too will promote the goals of empire, also becoming a war criminal and a shill for corporations and Wall Street, while most of the country approves. What future can such a nation possibly have?

mb

9:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Hard for me to relate to yr algorithmical-logical language. In fact, I have a slight headache now, and need to go eat a pastrami sandwich. You might wanna forget abt all that logic and just sit quietly in a corner, watching yr breath. That's all it takes, muchacho! No need to analyze it--remember what happened to Georg Cantor.

mb

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Talk about bizarro!

Georgia House votes to allow weapons in bars, churches

Under the Georgia bill, churches and bars would be allowed to decide whether to allow weapons inside their buildings, according to the legislation's sponsor, Rep. Rick Jasperse, a Republican.

"We don't need to be penalizing law-abiding citizens and taking away their Second Amendment rights," Jasperse said, referring to the U.S. Constitution's right to bear arms.

The legislation would also allow secondary schools to decide whether to allow teachers and administrators to carry weapons.

"The legislation does not represent the majority of people of Georgia, but only a small number of gun advocates," said Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, a Democrat who voted against the bill.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/19/us-usa-guncontrol-georgia-idUSBREA1I05P20140219

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Kathy Sloan said...

Here is the epitome of the obscene culture we live in. Writing about the uber capitalist fashion industry and all the various "fashion weeks," from London to New York to Milan, the Guardian encapsulated the entire society in these quotes: "The Sartorialist posted a photo of a homeless man in New York. Under the caption "Not Giving Up", blogger Scott Schuman expressed delight at the destitute man's matching of blue glasses with blue shorts and boots. Readers concurred: "I love that although he is homeless, he hasn't forgotten about the color blue"; "You can just tell by looking at him that there's some sense of style wanting to be unleashed"; "LOVE the blue boots and wonder if they were a conscious choice or if they're simply something he was lucky enough to find in a dumpster. Either way, they're fab."

Every so often, the fashion world imitates Zoolander. In this case it was the film's launch of a new clothing range, Derelicte, "inspired by the very homeless, the vagrants, the crack whores that make this wonderful city so unique"."

11:08 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Well, they've put an 84 year old nun in prison for 3 years, for her civil disobedience against the military industrial complex!

And you know what? Nobody really cares. Nobody at work, anyway.
Yesterday a good friend (for a coworker) was let go. Fired. And you know what?
Nobody cares!
Here's the edited email:
As of today, Judy Thompsonis no longer an employee of Software Company ABC Inc. We thank Judy and wish her luck in her future endeavors.

That's what gets sent out every time.
And nobody says anything.
It's eerie.
Prof. Berman: I'm one of the lucky Americans who does have close friends. I'm sure you do, too. When you left the US, did you miss them? Does that make it hard to leave? I am confident we'll make new friends when we leave...

Has anyone else noticed that most Americans can't tolerate the idea that their fellow citizens might be "bad", even though they think of foreigners as "bad" without hesitation?
My most progressive, socialistic, communitarian friend got mad at me when I suggested that our fellow citizens are dupes, non-thinking consumers, and anti-social lunatics.
He simply said, "I think most people are good..." with a strange, beatific stare on his face, and a sadness in his voice, as though he knew what he said was not true.

James Hillman claimed that there is a great sadness in the American soul, because of our attempt to cover everything up: cover up history, cover up the shadow side, cover up our genocide against the Native Americans, etc.
I really can't take it much longer.

I see the EU and USA are paying the anti-gov't protesters in the Ukraine (pretty much proven). I hate to advocate violence, but I really hope that Putin and the Ukrainian gov't clean house. F*#! Victoria Nuland and the USA.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

MB-

Just today, I read that Lewis Yablonsky passed away. His obit. stated that he was a very "hands-on" and "unconventional scholar." He was also "committed to the idea that sociology had a practical side to it and could make a contribution to society." Boy, it certainly makes one wonder who's gonna fill the shoes of men like Yablonsky...

http://www.latimes.com/obituaries/la-me-lewis-yablonsky-20140219,0,4839429.story#axzz2tmpNjT7L

Jeff

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/02/19/w-va-pizza-hut-worker-caught-urinating-in-sink-fired/

12:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers:

Thank u all for various notes on "This American Life." What a wonderful country, indeed. I'm surprised they didn't beat that nun senseless w/a nightstick. As for me, I may hafta avoid Pizza Hut in the future.

Note to 'progressives': tell me again how yr gonna turn this country around...I'm interested in the specifics of yr exciting new plans.

mb

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Maxwell said...

Alright, after a little research (specifically some of Larry David's remarks) , I'll have to concede there's a good deal to what you said regarding Seinfeld, and I stated some things that don't hold water. However....

Jerry Seinfeld himself (credit card commercials, superman, etc) is hardly agreeing with your views in reality, is he?
I watched 1 or 2 of his "comedians in cars" webisodes, and he comes off like a hypercritical, materialistic douchebag himself. His stand-up, from the little I've seen, is hardly reminiscent of G Carlin.


Larry David has stated that his role in Curb Your Enthusiasm is how he would like to be all the time in reality-

"The character really is me, but I just couldn't possibly behave like that. If I had my druthers, that would be me all the time, but you can't do that. We're always doing things we don't want to do, we never say what we really feel, and so this is an idealized version of how I want to be. As crazy as this person is, I could step into those shoes right now, but I would be arrested or I'd be hit or whatever."

Jerry Seinfeld said he viewed Larry's character as behaving very logically. The character behaves extremely rudely (to sometimes hilarious effect).
Here's what Larry David said about religion (not on the HBO show, in an interview)

" Religion should be made fun of, it's quite ridiculous isn't it. Think how people spend their lives, they have no idea. They go around as if this is a fact. It's so insane you know. If I really believed that stuff I'd keep it to myself. Lest somebody think I was out of my mind."

That's actually further than Dawkins (who was criticized on this site for 'militancy') has gone in any of his rhetoric, I believe. I happen to agree with Larry on this point (at least in regards to the larger organized faiths), but my point is you actually enjoy the cultural products of people, who, using your own standards, are rude, materialistic, douchebag Americans!

12:43 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Pub: We talked about this on the blog before, but some of the newer WAF-ers might have missed it. What you are describing is the astounding lack of empathy most Americans display. This lack explains a lot actually, hustling (i.e. get to the top and screw everyone else), violence, etc. That, on top of this crazy "victim culture" thing (see: http://www.alternet.org/economy/5-signs-americas-super-rich-are-going-deep-end and http://www.commondreams.org/further/2014/02/18-2 where Douchbag Zimmerman says he is "absolutely a victim, just like our fallen soldiers" ... for example) makes America the land of mental illness.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

WAFers may find the YouTube recording linked below to be of interest: Professor Richard Hofstadter (Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, The Paranoid Style in American Politics) speaking at UCLA on 11/8/68 on violence in America. Hofstadter speaks for the first 49 minutes of the recording.

He died two years later, on 24 October 1970.

http://youtu.be/F7AkKe7xUSc


MB: I am in inveterate watcher of Judge Judy, and attribute my basic grounding in contract law to my years of faithful viewing, gained at considerably less expense than would have been the case had I accepted the place at law school I was offered lo these decades ago.

Judge Judy rules, as the young folk might say.

2:38 PM  
Blogger Robo said...

Not being much of a TV watcher, I've never actually seen an episode of "Seinfeld", but my wife is interested in winter sports, so we've borrowed a television to watch the Olympics. That event has certainly been an exercise in savage triumphalism, plus our relentless consumerism and desperate hunger for power and prestige as reflected in the commercials is pretty disturbing too.

Anyway, with the TV set sitting right there in the bedroom after the extreme snowboarding was over, I ventured to stay up and watch the second night of the new Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and there was the fabled Jerry Seinfeld performing a standup routine. I've never seen him actually doing comedy before. Apropos to this discussion, his topic was our degenerate modern cellphone culture and its corrosive effect on personal relationships in general and the Postal Service in particular.

Big laughs, of course, but Jerry was right on target. He was just being funny, right? As with Jon Stewart, only comedians seem to get a pass on telling the truth around these parts.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

Hofstadter called America a "democracy of cupidity." He said the whole country was itself an ideology. The man was no fool, and I quote him in WAF and elsewhere. Judy rocks.

jwo-

The country is nuts; the govt just jailed an 84-yr-old nun, fer chrissakes. Zimmerdouche is typical. 315 million people w/shit for brains. I keep asking the 'progressives':

1. Yr gonna turn this around how?
2. Who is it u think u.r. saving, exactly?

They have no answers. They too have shit for brains. If u can't call a spade a spade, you have shit for brains.

Max-

Well, yr attack on me at the end isn't much of a pt, as far as I can see. So what that Jerry doesn't agree w/my views? That makes him less funny? But I'm glad you finally managed to actually think somewhat (10%) more coherently. No, I never said Larry and Jerry were the same person; in fact, I explicitly made the pt (see QOV article, e.g.) that they weren't. Jerry didn't write "The Finale" nor "The Bizarro Jerry"; he wasn't part of those. Of *course* he's part of the materialistic culture--but now I shd feel guilty for finding the regular skits funny? Yr serious abt that?Holy cow. Anyway, I had a friend yrs ago who lived on W. 81st St.; Jerry had a garage on W. 82nd, filled with vintage Rolls Royces etc. that probably amounted to $50 million in value. So I'm well aware of his tendencies; I just don't see why they are relevant. Yr coming outta left field w/a whole different subject.

Anyway, your latest missive is all over the place, and not terribly persuasive. What the heck, I tried. But I think we've come to the end of this little discussion, in any case. I await your analysis of Laurel and Hardy.

mb

3:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Robo-

A new turn for Jerry, much more sophisticated than commenting on bags of peanuts on airplanes and so on. Who knows, he might sell off a few of his Rolls and open some homeless shelters and soup kitchens. The nation is watching...

mb

3:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Just got an email from a Wafer, wh/he signed: "Wafer Since 2012." Now this is neat. I'm thinking that beyond our proposed line of T-shirts, we shd manufacture buttons that say: "Wafer Since 2006", 2007, etc. Then Wafers can run around w/them pinned to their shirts, generating huge jealousy/rage/existential strain among the non-Waferian population.Another one, undated, might also say: "The Only Blog You'll Ever Need".

I'm really excited abt this...

mb

5:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Required Reading Dept.:

Adolph Reed, "Nothing Left," Harper's Mag, March 2014

Reed is Prof. of Political Science at the U of Pa. Pts he makes in this essay:

1. The Clinton admin was a complete sham
2. Obama admin, even more so
3. Identity politics is a red herring

He also takes a swipe at OWS, tho only in passing; it wd have been gd to have a full page on their irrelevance and stupidity. As for the purported Left, he characterizes their election fever--"electoralitis"--as being guided by the demented belief that "True, the last Democrat was really unsatisfying, but *this* one is better." Yeah, right.

Here's a quote from the last paragraph:

"We need to reject the fantasy that some spark will ignite the People to move as a mass...admitting our absolute impotence can be politically liberating."

Do we have a Wafer on our hands?

Anyway, highly recommended.

mb

5:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Max-

So yr response to my argument is to personally attack me some more? Not to take in anything of what I said, and just be rude and offensive? This is yr idea of dialogue? Jesus, u.r. one sad dude (tho I doubt yr gonna figure that out any time soon). But I'm grateful, in a way: there are tons of u out there, as I know from running this blog for several yrs, and this assures me that there really is no hope. What dishonesty, what stupidity! As they say in LA, Yr beautiful, don't change, lunch Tuesday.

mb

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Yes, for every genuine hippie trying to discover a more humane way of life, there were dozens --hundreds! -- of posers who were mainly interested in free love, free dope, and the all-American hustle. I was more an uncertain, introverted observer as a teenager, but the few real hippies I met impressed me with their innate decency -- such a shame there were too few of them. Lotus on the rock indeed, alas!

And of course, as MB has noted (and Marcuse before him), anything & everything can be turned into a money-making commodity. Same Time, Next Year is a minor (if enjoyably undemanding) film, but well worth watching for the 1970s sequence where Alan Alda is operating & speaking in full human potential mode, as so many were at the time, after paying gobs of money to "grow" (ahem). Remember how that turned into Tony Robbins-style programs? What's the phrase so many self-help programs use -- "Fake it until you make it!" -- as if something genuine can grow from a fake. And the same thing happen to the men's movement in the 1990s. So many things began with sincere people & laudable goals, but all of them were swiftly trivialized, neutralized, and every possible penny extracted from them before the husk was tossed in the trash.

I watched My Dinner With Andre again today, prior to reading this blog, and I was reminded of just how much work is required for an American to seek & maintain a modicum of humanity. Especially in a culture that values sensation over reflection, isolation over empathy, contempt over compassion. I especially noted Andre's comment about the need for monasteries, or a monastic life, against the coming Dark Age.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tim-

Just wanted to recommend a film called "A Small Circle of Friends," starring Karen Allen, wh/captures the flavor of the sixties--the sincere part of it--very well.

mb

7:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

He's an all-American (hustler mentality + bad grammar):

Last month, Obama was discussing the value of manufacturing jobs at a factory in Wisconsin when he said, "You folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree."

Progress of the War Dept.:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/18/us/soldier-steven-green-suicide/index.html?hpt=hp_t5

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/topvideos/2014/02/19/tsr-dnt-starr-military-bomb-accident.cnn&hpt=hp_c2&from_homepage=yes&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F%3Fhpt%3Dsitenav

mb

8:27 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

Maxwell,

If you think that LD quote is harsher than anything youve seen from Dawkins, you havent seen much Dawkins. He can be quite hysterical.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

What I like abt the US is that there's so much *love* out there:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/20/justice/oregon-swastika-assault/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

mb

8:51 AM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Anecdotes from the field:
Last Sat. I was between harmonica lessons ( I teach ) and play practice. Had to get some gas for the buggy. Street is wide - 2 lanes each and a center lane for left turns. I get close to my L turn for the gas station, so I signal and get in center lane. As i approach my turn, a huge SUV is immediately to my right, blaring the horn, the woman driving appearing crazed.
evidently, I was impeding HER more important left turn.
I go on, ignore, and get my gas.
Still time, I visit a small art fair in the village, then check out a local antique store haunt. I exit out the back, an alley with parking ... but as I head right to walk, I walk into a low hanging flag that I struggle with momentarily. Another giant SUV draws up on my left, and thw woman driver screams out the window to me "EFF you !" ( except it wasn't EFF ).
These, within in hour. Sheesh !

Something WAFer's might enjoy reading about: the pre-hippie culture of beach hermits and bohemians called the Dunites of Oceano CA. There's actually a book:
"The Dunites" http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/548002.THE_DUNITES
Numerous short articles available that describe this 'unhustling' lifestyle that existed for a brief time in this "Babylon of Competition" environment.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB-

Many thanks for Adolph Reed's swift and savage article in Harper's Magazine. I read it with great sobriety and found Reed's assessment of Obama, Clinton, and the Democratic Party in particular to be dead right. I would also argue that this very honest and honorable argument is the opening salvo against Hillary in 2016. Hopefully, it will resonate and take root. One thing tho: Reed's reference to Obama as "brand Obama"; although true, this should have been credited to Chris Hedges. I don't know if Hedges was the first to say it, but he has characterized and referred to Obama in this manner since 2009. Anyway, nice to see, even in the darkest crevasses of CRE, a dim light does flicker.

Who needs an art history degree, right? Better to work on an assembly line or some manufacturing job until your balls are full of tumors! Obama is even beginning to sound like GW Bush. Perhaps next week, Obama will tell us that his favorite political philosopher was Jesus Christ.

Jeff

2:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

JS-

One doesn't hafta look hard to see how sick Americans are, just in normal daily interactions. 315 million degraded buffoons, on the streets, in the stores, and on this blog (the infamous trolfoons). I keep wondering if the 'progressives' have any idea of whom they are supposedly going to liberate.

mb

2:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

It's more than 20 yrs now since Daniel Boorstin wrote "The Image," abt events in America actually being pseudo-events. How much truer that is today. Obama is nothing more than a logo, which stands for--? Nobody seems to know. Not much different from Kim K., or Paris Hilton, really. He's basically a Nowhere Man, but since the purported 'Left' is desperate to hang onto The System (wh/includes the absurd belief that elections matter), they projected all their aspirations for the country onto him. Oops, wrong guy! What a farce. But what I like abt Reed's essay is that he is aware that the Left isn't going to wake up; the mantra is: "Well, that last candidate didn't work out very well, but the *next* one will change everything..." And then after Hillary's term in office is over, and she shows herself to be little more than an apologist for empire, 'progressives' will find another target to project their hopes onto. Reed's essay is a plea for these bozos to stop doing this shit, but--they are bozos, after all. To move from bozodom to Waferdom requires something like an act of God; few can do it, and few will. Somebody on this blog, a while back, calculated the percentage: out of 315 million people, 132 are registered Wafers. That %, that fraction, is the exact index of the possibility of positive social change in America.

Of course for me, as I've said many times, Bad Is Good. The only structural change possible at this pt is a collapse of the system, and the emergence of genuine alternative formations on the far side of that. Yes, 40 yrs down the line, perhaps more; but this is the only realistic possibility left to us. Having a dimwitted, stupid 'Left' ramming its head even deeper up its ass can only hasten the process. It's why I enjoy the occasional trolfoon attacks on this blog: confirmation that the public at large is a collection of dummies. The more dummies, the more CRE, the faster the national collapse. This might mean that serious alternatives cd emerge in 30 yrs instead of 40, or 50. It's also one reason that, to quote Gore Vidal, "Stupidity excites me." Occasional flickers of intelligence on the part of Americans actually depress me, make me nervous. But obviously, that don' happen v. often. So let's jail another 84-yr-old nun, let's persecute heros and exalt assholes: rt now, it's the greatest show on earth. And for heaven's sake, don' go telling me that the analogy w/the late Roman Empire doesn't hold.

mb

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Capo pops in briefly said...

MB,

Its interesting how some will come and ingratiate themselves on your blog, enter into discussion and then go on attack mode. Alas, they may be psychopaths! http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/online-trolls-are-psychopaths-and-sadists-psychologists-claim-9134396.html

I noticed the them of people who get angry here and it tends to be people who have either very strong views which are not usually interesting, typically some variant of the american civic religion and or democratic party views (gender, environment, good government, republicans, capatilists bad etc..) or people who have a need to be right but tend to emote. Either fools, personality disordered or cliche repeating automatons. I would add that they are not specific to your blog and in fact you probably get fewer than most--its just that these douches are ubiquitous. Or if american douchebags would fly you would never see the sun.

Now on to my idee fixe....some are in pain, some are just evil and or sick and then there are garden variety schmucks. As things continue to unravel in the U.S. one can expect to see a rise in douchebaggery and the so called leaders will engage in more antics to keep population alarmed and fearful of imaginary dangers (ignoring the real ones) and well things will get worse. Two hunder douchebags are bad enough but when fully shorn of money, illusion and consumerist ethos they will be a marvel to behold.

America has failed and things will get worse. A true slow burn. We will see many more marvels. While old and tired, I am keen to hang on and see (from afar) the mental gymanistics of the progressives, the speeches of Hillary Clinton and the political ascent of her and ovomits spawn.

Why watch TV--the show in D.C. is incomparable.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Prof. Berman:
Well, then, you'll like this: CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou is being threatened by the Feds in retaliation for his letters from prison.

This is a man who heroically exposed our official policy of torture overseas.

However, I have to ask you if you really get pleasure from seeing 84 year-old nuns imprisoned, and the other cruel acts being perpetrated by the evil empire? I understand that you honestly believe collapse is the answer to change. But you can't really feel pleasure at seeing innocent women, children, and men abused, extra-judicially murdered, and impoverished!
I guess I need to believe you are being rhetorical, and not really taking pleasure in the pain of innocents.

Has anyone else here watched the series Lillyhammer, about an American mobster played by Steven Van Zandt, who chooses to go to Norway under witness protection?
What I found disturbing about it, in retrospect, is that it seems to glorify American hustling, and paints the Norwegians and their naivete as quaint and old-fashioned.
A sort of interesting clash of cultures tale, but overall, not worth watching.
Not much is worth watching, other than the classics of film.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

“When you're born into this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. If you're born in America you get a front row seat.”

― George Carlin

A little something I try to keep in mind...

3:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

pol-

He also said: "Where do u think our leaders come from? Mars?" Smart guy.

pub-

I wish I cd tell u that I was basically a nice guy, but I'm not. I'm truly an awful human being. Even my close friends say this to me. Several times a week they fone or e-mail, and they say: u.r. truly vicious. And I get all teary-eyed and say, "Oh, thank you!" This is clearly not the response of a Good Person, as I'm sure you'll agree.

capo-

Well, the DBD (Douche Bag Density) is quite high in America; actually, the highest in the world. You may be rt, that most of them are now avoiding my blog (maybe there *is* a god), but it's clear, as u say, that most are quite stupid, and in a lot of pain (Maxwell was champs in both categories, e.g.). There is so little in their lives that they feel compelled to come here to strut their stuff, like peacocks, in the hope of some sort of pathetic 'victory'. But as I already said, stupidity excites me, along w/the emotional rage they bring w/them, so I can't really complain: I'm having fun! And of course, as far as the collapse of Amer civilizn goes, the more Maxwells the better, is my feeling. O&D!

mb

4:00 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Prof. Berman: (sorry for twice in one day rule-breaking. My first time):
I do get irony.
We all know you are a "nice" guy, whatever that means.
You wouldn't have put so much of your life energy into the books you have written if you didn't care about your world and the people in it.
Sorry to appear to be densely oblivious in previous post. Well, maybe I am...

4:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

pub-

Not to worry; but *please* post only once in 24 hrs, thank u.

-Attila the Berm

4:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Waferinos:

I've been rdg this great bk by Dan Hancox, "The Village Against the World," abt the socialist-anarchist town of Marinaleda in Andalucia (thia). This is a town that fought The System and won; an inspiring story. Political murals adorn the town, and one of them shows a baby w/a TV instead of a head, holding a euro. Written on it are the words: "Turn off the TV/Turn on your mind." Can you imagine such a mural in the US, where nearly the entire population is focused on TV and money, and has no mind to speak of? It's also instructive that the citizens of this town fought the gov't for 30 yrs, something I can't imagine Americans, who are essentially spineless, ever doing. And then, Americans are just plain dumb: instead of focusing their anger and directing it against their oppressors, they direct it against each other! What intelligence! Anyway, I'm reading this on the rec of my pal Nomi Prins, who did a review of it some time ago on AlterNet. Check it out, I think you'll enjoy it. And remember to consult yr post-it every morning: Americans Are Mindless Buffoons.

mb

6:33 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

MB,

As a counterpoint to The Village Against the World (which I must read as soon as possible), let me mention the latest iPad commercial, which has a Robin Williams sound-alike reciting his "Make your lives extraordinary" speech from Dead Poets Society over dazzling vistas from around the world -- but the people in those vistas aren't looking at those actual vistas, they're looking at images of those vistas on their iPads. Somehow I don't think Professor Keating would call experiencing the world via a screen something that makes a life extraordinary. However, I'll bet he'd heartily approve of the town of Marinaleda.

Just about every ad for a digital device uses the conceit of having the entire world available at the touch of a finger, even though they're clearly all about people looking at screens, rather than actually being in the world. If they can invent the holodeck of Star Trek (and I'm sure they're working on it), all too many people will be happy to live there permanently. And they'll call it "real" too. More real than an actual town where people create their own lives, rather than obediently buying pre-imagined, pre-digested imitations of lives.

P.S. It's been years since I saw A Small Circle of Friends, but you're absolutely right about it. I must watch it again soon.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Capt. Spaulding said...

Good evening, sir -- It's been a while since I've dropped by but I read an interesting piece on truth out.org today, which recalled WAF. Basically this author argues that the southern variant of American elite have taken over the country, and launched a vicious assault on all manner of social welfare and political equality.

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/10126-how-a-brutal-strain-of-american-aristocrats-have-come-to-rule-america#.UwLDxx6taFU.facebook

Naturally, her view on the South is very different than yours; its the fairly traditional view of the South as one of backwardness and reaction. But it does seem like she has a point: the Southern value system does have a strong strain of bigotry, intolerance and anti-democracy about it. I certainly don't want to reopen the long dormant issue over "ch. 4" - but I thought you might find this an interesting counterpoint to some of your characterizations of Southern culture. For whatever its worth…

10:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

Sorry, I don't post Anons. Pls pick a handle, and try again. I suggest Sam Schmeck, D.D.S., or perhaps Cranston Butterworth III.

Captain-

Yr rt, I haven't got the strength to keep arguing abt ch. 4. What I can say, however, is that the antebellum South, and the South of today, are two v. different creatures. 150 yrs later, any nonhustling characteristics of the South have clearly been destroyed, leaving--well, I dunno what, but it's not v. gd. I shd also add that my characterization of the antebellum South, even besides the slavery issue, was hardly uniformly positive. As a very traditional type of society, it had many of the drawbacks of such cultures (think Islam, e.g.). All I was trying to suggest is what Vann Woodward and Gene Genovese had already said: there were and are aspects to those traditional cultures that are fundamentally central to human being, and as these get crushed or wiped off the map, what is left is a neoliberal world of "depraved affluence"--what we've got today. As I say in WAF, I personally cdn't live easily in a society like the antebellum South, but I find life in contemporary America pretty hellish as well; which is why I moved to a small town in Mexico (the best decision of my life, bar none).

mb

11:10 PM  
Anonymous Kanye West said...

Hello Morris,

I am currently reading the first book of your trilogy on the American Empire, which I am almost finished with. It's frightening how prescient the book is; certain parts of the book feel like they were written a week ago. There is a small part of me that thinks there is "hope" for America, but considering where the country is now, as to where you predicted it would be 14 years ago, I'm slowly beginning to realize that it's game over, and that I should start planning to emigrate. You don't have to respond to this comment, but excellent job on the book, will have more to say when I finish the trilogy.

A quick quote from one of my friends, worth sharing here.

"The American public is now so divorced from reality, on almost any subject, that to call this place a madhouse would be a gross understatement."

11:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

K-

Glad u liked the bk. I encourage u2 start your plans to get out asap, because it does take research and a lot of organization. Once done, however, you can't imagine how much happier you'll be. As for yr friend's quote: it's not merely that Americans are insane. They are, but equally impt to understand is that they are assholes. This takes us back to the question of emigration:

1. If Americans are assholes, what are the chances of positive social change occurring? Roughly negative infinity. Hence, hitting the road becomes abs. essential.

2. Why wd u want to live among assholes? I personally recall the typical daily conversations I had w/people when I was living in the US, w/a kind of horror.

mb

12:49 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Capo,

Good post. My only reservation is that I think we give Americans too much credit when we say, "They are simply lashing out because, deep down they are hurting, angry, alienated, etc." Indeed, Dr. Berman himself sometimes makes this point, but I think that represents an older paradigm which was more true, say, twenty or thirty years ago. I believe what we're dealing with now is actually a new kind of human being, who is somehow living BELOW the threshold of things like sadness, anger, or emotional pain--even on an unconscious level. That is, the average American would need to be more alive than he is even to possess such feelings in his Freudian depths. At any rate, it's a mistake that hypersensitive types continually make: projecting onto the other guy their own inner states, and assuming that, deep down, "everyone is like that."( i.e. the lion is just growling at you because of that painful splinter in his paw--otherwise he'd be a real prince!)

In short, I would argue that the majority of Americans are FAR thicker-skinned than we give them credit for, and that underneath that thick skin of theirs, there is precious little to speak of. Which is to say, no subterranean vault of empathy, sensitivity, love, repressed feeling, etc., just waiting to burst forth when the thorn is removed. No, the lion is not growling because of the splinter in his paw, he's growling because he's a selfish, ferocious animal all the way down! So I say stop even looking for anything recognizably human behind/beneath all these grotesque behaviors(trolling, etc.). Indeed, our obnoxious, ruthless and empathy-free countrymen sleep far better than you think!

2:56 AM  
Blogger Aidan said...

I used to live in the US now back in NZ with family. I enjoy the discussions here. Have read and enjoyed very much DAA.

5:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Megan-

Well, that applies to the sociopaths in gov't, Wall St., corporations, Pentagon, etc., but I'm not sure abt the rest. Tho you cd be rt. Maybe we have finally reverted to a primal, troglodytic existence, a kind of Deep CRE (DCRE), where all our fellow countrymen can do is grunt and drool. It's an interesting thought. This might suggest something like it:

http://libertyunyielding.com/2014/02/13/homeless-selfies-another-sign-culture-decline/

mb

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Megan,

I'm afraid you're probably right, because current American culture ferociously encourages shallowness & just as ferociously discourages depth. It may well be that empathy, complexity, reflective thought, etc., are qualities that have to start developing at an early age -- and if that window is closed & missed, there's no making up for it later.

I'm thinking along the lines of the studies Nicholas Carr cites in The Shallows, which strongly suggest that crucial thinking skills & the neural capacity to enable them must be developed very early indeed. The same is true for language itself -- if a child isn't exposed to sufficient spoken language when very young, it can't be fully developed later, no matter how hard teachers try. (See Russ Rymer's Genie: A Scientific Tragedy for one heartbreaking example.)

So if you're born into this current culture, getting the sort of education & experience that helps to shape a reasonably whole person is more of the exception than the rule. I think we've all met plenty of people who simply can't grasp or comprehend what used to be considered basic human decency, which we thought innate.

And maybe this particular culture simply crushes, mocks, dismisses, all those positive qualities of being human. So even if we're all born with the potential for it (barring sociopaths), that potential is squelched early on in favor of the prevailing one-dimensional model preferred by a rapacious consumer culture, one that consumes the populace trained to consume its products.

I really want to believe otherwise, that the human spirit can triumph no matter what ... but the current evidence doesn't seem to tilt in that direction.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and fellow WAFers across the Planet:

Today, I wish to draw your attention to an interesting blog by Yves Smith and today she writes a piece on why "Positive Thinking is Bad for You". http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/02/positive-thinking-bad.html

Quoting, "It’s a bizarre belief system wrapped around a justification of being lazy, of fantasizing that you can magnetize good outcomes, as opposed to rolling up your sleeves and getting to work in your life. The New-Agey extreme form is just creepy, where people talk about love and light, which therefore means refusing to acknowledge all the twisted stuff in their psyche that actually runs them, as well as their routine bad behavior, like undermining their kids or being stingy......
People try to shut those who convey unpleasant truths down by claiming they undermine creativity....And that sort of refusal to allow certain topics into conversation because they might be upsetting makes critical thinking and analysis impossible."

Yep, it's another way to keep bad things out of your mind so you can ignore the depressing reality all around you.

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regiime said...

MB,

Democracy and keen intelligence at work:


http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/20/obama-must-take-bieber-petition-seriously/

Ah such dolts! Certainly the "progressives" can take this example of americans civic mindedness and take great solace!!

9:30 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

I have decided that certain personal issues are worth airing, as they shed so much insight.
My brother, who I have lots of issues with, texted me last night. He's broken up with another g/f (he's in his mid-40's, makes a lot of $, but can't find a girl to settle down with). He wrote (edited for clarity and privacy):
"What's up bro? I am drunk, kind of feels good versus the mundane existence of sobriety LOL"

Then, "I mean what do I do with $500,000 per year? The existential angst gets unbearable at times?"

I responded, "Separate the concepts of money & happiness. Free yourself from slavery to convention & confining ideas of what you ought to do. But really, that is a philosophical & spiritual issue that would take some time to discuss. Part of it is that we live in a fake superficial culture. Try to relax and meditate."

His response, "I just like making a lot of money so I can do whatever I want I guess. I can't think of anything more enslaving than a relationship. Free as a bird now! Can go heli skiing, jump cliffs. I am obsessed with improvement and can't go backwards. Turning into a workaholic but I love it."

Good lord
I was left speechless. Or textless. He is going to really have to suffer before he changes, if he ever does.
Makes me very sad.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

Oh Lord, she wants to be brainless and real-life barbie doll:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/19/blondie-bennett-barbie-woman-hypnotherapy-stupid_n_4815495.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

12:25 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings all,

Morris Khan-

You know, MK, progressive things *can* happen from abominable, vicious, and awful human beings. ;)!

An example to consider:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1350272/Genghis-Khan-killed-people-forests-grew-carbon-levels-dropped.html

Cheers,

Jeff

12:48 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

How will we turn this country around? LSD in the drinking water. I'm talking really good Owsley acid, the pure stuff such as aficionados tell me you can't get any more these days. Americans need something that'll dissolve their world view right down to its dungeon-like foundations. Then, while they're freaking, we'll make them listen to speeches of Alan Watts; those few who are literate perforce will read Thoreau and Emerson to the accompaniment of Tibetan bells and chimes. It'll be a great awakening.

P.S. - I think I'd like to move to Uruguay. I've been reading up, and it seems not only saner than most places but probably has a relatively good future too.

Kevin the Alchemical Artist

2:37 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

WAFers may find the book review--cited below--to be sufficiently interesting to warrant examining the book itself, perhaps even buying it. And even reading it, who knows.

Written by Fareed Zakaria, the review is for The Kennan Diaries. The review concludes with the following sentence:

"George Kennan shined a powerful light on the world beyond. But in his own land, from the beginning to his last days, he remained a bewildered guest."

Several sentences in the review leave me with the impression that Kennan may have been WAFerish, if not necessarily a bona fide WAFer.


http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/23/books/review/the-kennan-diaries-by-george-f-kennan.html?nl=books&emc=edit_bk_20140221&_r=0

2:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

Yes, George was one of us. Check out discussion of him in DAA. Among other things, he understood that the American public was a bad joke.

Jeff-

Jus' call me Attila.

pub-

Most alcoholics 'hit bottom' the other side of death. Empires as well.

mb

4:59 PM  
Blogger Franchesca Lebrón Marte said...

George F. Kennan's quote here doesn't sound too Waferish, but rather more typical American Douchebag, right-wing Tea-Partyish:

_______________________________
Kennan was attracted to the Second Vermont Republic partly because he deplored the Hispanicization of the United States. Instancing Mexican immigration, Kennan saw “unmistakable evidences of a growing differentiation between the cultures, respectively, of large southern and southwestern regions of this country, on the one hand,” and those of “some northern regions,” including Vermont. In the former, “the very culture of the bulk of the population of these regions will tend to be primarily Latin-American in nature rather than what is inherited from earlier American traditions.”

“Could it really be that there was so little of merit” in the American Republic, asked Kennan, “that it deserves to be recklessly trashed in favor of a polyglot mix-mash?”

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_F._Kennan#cite_note-96

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/free-vermont/

________________________________

The continent was trashed by a polyglot mish-mash of violent Trash from Europe who slaughtered everything in their path (indians, animals & themselves), but that apparently doesn't bother Mr. Kennan, which is quite the opposite of a Wafer, I believe.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fran-

True, but he was a rather complex figure. Many sides to him.

mb

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

The politics of hate:

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/02/how-the-gop-sabotaged-marco-rubio.html

9:49 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

We're in no position to leave the USA so I keep my social interactions limited to here and other places. I don't wish to hang out with a bunch of assholes. I don't relate with them at all.

Megan


http://www.wrongplanet.net/postp5925058.html#5925058

That's where I start in, in the thread.

I am debating a man who fits your description. He is one anecdotal out of many. The doltism has no bounds.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Dr. Attila ( strange how that has never acheived currency, seeing how the Mongol empire is the greatest in land area ever throughout known history ) & assorted WAFeroonies...
I'm in a bit of a reverie today.
One of my harmonica students ( a psychiatrist ) introduced me to another student ...except this one wants to be an editorial cartoonist.
[ I am an editorial cartoonist of limited repute ]
This young fellow recently graduated with an English degree ( good luck there, a deader language than latin ), but has raw talent that only needs direction and shortcuts. Could be the new R. Crumb.
Definitely NOT CRE or a dolt.
I introduced names historical and present, many of which he was already familiar with ( even Sylvia Plath !

Cut to the chase, a protege may be in the works !

Now, you may ask, WHAT does this have to do with WAF , or the end of Empire ?
We wade through seas of doltish excrement...walking bags of wasted flesh that are useless consumers leaving behind nothing but garbage and toxicity.
Still, we go on.
We don't sink or submit or blow our brains out ( Well, some do ), but for those of us that decide to stay, we sometimes find that glimmer among others. It's not in ourselves, but if it is, it is not ours to own.
The only worth of knowledge is the ability to pass it on.

Thanks, Dr. Attila and assorted WAFarers. You ALL expand my cranial capacities !
Tim Lukeman and Publius' comments get special crtedit from me.

1:38 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Tim, Dr. Berman,

I was also thinking of "The Shallows" in my comments. I do think that has something important to do with this. Along the same lines, another book that really made an impression on me, is Jean Twenge's "The Narcissism Epidemic". One of the main themes of Dr. Twenge's research is that the old idea of "compensatory narcissism" (i.e., acting like a brute to cover up an inner sense of personal inadequacy, etc.) is no longer empirically sound. Instead, what Dr. Twenge found in her extensive investigations, was that rather than being compensatory, the narcissism of today really filters down to the whole person. In other words, the bullying, obnoxious loudmouths we meet everywhere around us, are not in any sense secretly dissatisfied with themselves. No, deep down they really do think they're all that! And Twenge supports this claim with a great deal of methodical and fact-based evidence. For me at least, her statistics were simply breathtaking. (Read the book and you'll see what I mean. In its lighthearted way it's as devastating as Hedge's "Empire of Illusion." For a brief summary of her work: http://www.jeantwenge.com/html/Research_Articles.html)

Publius,

You might consider getting a DNA test. I doubt very much that you and your brother came from the same parents!

Cube,

Yes, it looks like he fits the bill!

2:58 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Publius,
Sounds like we have the same brother. Mine is a high paid lawyer. In Judaism you should not buy anything expensive for about a month after a death of an immediate family member. Two weeks after our father died he went out with his 2 kids ( I mean talk about blowing a teachable moment) and bought a flat screen TV. Interestingly, he tried to entice me to do the same probably to share the calumny.
As for living in Shitland ( my name for the USA), I passed a beggar woman singing opera in a beautiful soprano voice. Not only did the lumpen not give her anything but they made fun of her voice as they passed her by. So you are right again, Doctor. Why even entertain progressive change since the people you are trying to help are not worth helping.
Finally, yesterday I had to give a standardized practice test. Downtown thinks so little of poor brown and black children that the font was too small to read and the pages were not in the right order. So now I not only have to administer this garbage, but I have to help rectify it as well. On top of this the school goes into lock-down mode; that is, no one is allowed to go to the bathroom or even be in the hallway. So what happens? Two students wet themselves. I mean nothing like taking a standardized test with the smell or urine waffling through the room.

7:26 AM  
Anonymous Wow said...

Dr Berman,

Long time lurker, but a WAFer since reading Twilight way back when, and continuing with the other 2 books in the trilogy.

It looks like the Ukrainians could teach OWS a thing or two about mass protests against the govt. (Full disclosure - I'm of Ukr heritage)

Based on some of the comments about emigrating to E Europe, depending on how things turn out, Ukr may be a promising possibility.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wow-

Glad 2c u stepped outta the shadows! The OWS crowd cd also learn a lot from Dan Hancox bk, "Village Against the World."

Dan-

There's also now a hip trend to get a foto of yrself w/a homeless person, lying on the ground. This is considered funny, by Americans. I'm wondering if any nation has had so many people who matter-of-factly hate other people, as the US.

mb

9:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: note that the Ukranian police just defected to the other side. This is the one thing that cd *never* happen in the US, and one of the 3 basic conds required for successful revolution. (The other 2 are widespread dissatisfaction w/the current way of life, and the existence of a coherent, organized cadre w/a clear ideological platform. On the latter, OWS never even came close.)

mb

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Dilz Johnson said...

@Megan

That book sounds interesting but I have started to avoid such books and movies etc.. Last night I started watching a documentary called "Ethos" on Netflix. It's about how corporations control our government and make things shitty, blah, blah, blah. I agree with all of it, much like I agree with what little you've posted about that book's contents.

But, so what? I always follow up such information with, "and?"

I've grown tired of simply reenforcing the obvious. I've been aware of the crappy state of things for a long time now and I've come to believe that there is no forthcoming solution to it all. And if there is no real solution, why worry about it? We are doomed here in the USA (and the world, as the USA has infected the entire globe). I'd much rather spend my time involved in things I enjoy rather than study the cancerous, incurable, Facebook culture we have cultivated here.

I think that book is probably dead on but why read a book about loud mouth morons who believe their own hype? IN the end what matters is what can be done about it. Answer? Nothing. Enjoy the ride!

9:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dilz-

Not true! There are 2 intelligent responses. #1: emigrate! You can't imagine how much better yr life will become; you simply can't imagine it. #2: become an NMI (see Twilight bk). This is a kind of 'inner' emigration. Not as gd, but not bad, in the general scheme of things. And part of that path is staying in touch w/the real, including the ongoing and inevitable American collapse. There will, after all, be a light at the end of this tunnel, tho probably not here and probably not any time soon; but Dual Process is going on, even as we speak, esp. in Europe. In SSIG, I defined 'success' as 'living in reality'. This is the Wafer life. And I hafta add, that documenting the collapse, in bks and discussions such as these, is providing a great service. 1st, it hastens the collapse: the more who recognize the collapse, the more likely the collapse, because it means seeing thru the American Dream and w/drawing energy from it. 2nd, it serves as an historical record, a documentation, and a warning to other societies: Fer fuck's sake, don't do what we did! We are the destruction of everything human! Do NOT take us as an example! Finally, by being a Wafer, you offer hope to the very few others who might take this path; a chance to fish a few lost souls outta the drink. If I were to address a high schl audience of 1000, let's say, I imagine 998 wd react w/laughter and scorn. But 2 kids wd hear me, and their lives wd be changed accordingly. So if I were to receive such an invitation (not terribly likely), I wd accept it, and brave the scorn of the buffoons, for the sake of the 2 diamonds-in-the-rough.

Really, I have only 2 goals in life: Love and Truth. Walking the Wafer Path is the best way I know of achieving these, difficult tho it may be. Megan and others encourage u2 join us on this exciting adventure. The alternative, really, is to be one of those 998--a douche bag, in short.

mb

10:35 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/02/18-10

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Hi WAFers--

Here's a lovely piece about treating children as flat-out commodities; the mother seems like a real thoughtful gem. The context? There's a 15-year-old tennis player named Tornado Alicia Black who's about to hit the pro tour:

"Black, who turns 16 in May, has a younger sister whose given name is Tyra Hurricane. Last fall, Black’s mother, Gayal, revealed that she gave her tennis-playing daughters unconventional names for marketing purposes. Here’s what Gayal told espnW:

'I have a marketing degree . . . and I knew I needed to do something for them to stand out, and we thought it was cute,' Gayal said. '[Tornado didn't like her name] a few years ago. Kids tease you. But now they understand it’s marketing and it’s very big to say a storm blew through the US Open.'

'It’s great for everybody, for publicity. Greg Norman was the Great White Shark. Sir Richard Branson said you have to have a brand to use. We don’t want them to be the next Williams sisters or those African-American sisters. They’re Tornado and Hurricane so people can identify them as something other than the next Venus and Serena. And what better marquee above the US Open than ‘Tornado and Hurricane Black?’"

O&D--

Brian

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dovidel said…

Wafers-

I’m entering the homestretch of my escape. It’ll be a couple of months before I get settled into Mexico and back in the swing of things in Wafer World.

Pub-

A few years ago I would have described your brother as an extreme case of the Midas syndrome. A person who is able to surround himself with gold and then starves to death for the lack of anything human. Nowadays I’m not so sure he’s very extreme.

As 21st Century capitalism comes to know itself, it seems to prefer isolated individuals to even nuclear families. Narcissistic individuals make the best consumers, and they have the same values as the capitalists themselves – all “Gesellschaft”, without a trace of “Gemeinschaft”, and not a thought for future generations.

Dan-

Wow, what a contrast! I mean between your brother’s lost ‘teachable moment’ and what you and your students have to endure. That is teaching by example vs. by rote memory and recall. Teaching respect for another human being in contrast to standardized testing under prison conditions. And by now it takes an unusual American to even see the difference.

Years ago, after talking to white working class parents, I realized that what they really meant by a ‘good school’ for their kids, was ‘fascist discipline, and no blacks.’

Keep on Wafin’.

David Rosen

4:45 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Megan - What a horrible, nasty thought you’ve expressed. And you’re probably right. So you got me thinking that there’s been this fundamental change in human nature in the past few decades. Here’s an attempt at putting it in a 10,000 year context:

The scenario starts with the (probably not widely accepted) assumption that, as hunter-gatherers, we had the full quotient of psychological health. I.e., in our relationships and behavior, we were at the furthest possible opposite extreme from that of the typical, Americanized douchebag. Psychological health was like an ever-renewing, seemingly inexhaustible ocean. Each succeeding generation was exactly as healthy as the previous one because we all knew (through instinct, native intelligence, whatever) the essentials of how to maintain health. So we did.

Then, as civilizations emerged, we became progressively disconnected from felt reality and therefore progressively less able to sustain the full quotient of psychological health. Each generation became a bit less healthy. No longer being renewed, the ocean of psychological health slowly began to evaporate and turn murkier.

Over millennia, what had been a life-filled ocean became a muddy bog. And then, within the past few decades, the last remaining moisture of true psychological health finally burned off. Now, we’re left standing on a dusty-dry, cracked ocean bed. Those of us born say 20-30+ years ago can at least remember what life was like when SOME amount of moisture remained. Some of us even still carefully guard a teaspoon or two within ourselves. So we at least know that something is seriously missing from modern life - and can still long for and seek it. But people born more recently don’t have that reference point. All they’ve ever known is a world devoid of the moisture of psychological health. Their entire being is shaped to this never-before-seen reality, as if it were normal. (In this view, these people may, ultimately, still be “lashing out because, deep down they are hurting, angry, alienated, etc.”; but they’ll probably never be capable of consciously knowing this. So it’s as good as if this were not true at all.)

If this scenario captures anything of what’s been going on, we’re entering very strange new waters in our newly dry world.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Sean Hunter said...

MB,

I saw where someone mentioned George F Kennan and posted a statement that he made that does indeed make him sound a lot like a typical Tea-party member.

You responded by saying that Kennan was a complex figure with many sides to him.

While Kennan may have had many sides to him, if he made such a statement he makes himself sound like an ignoramus who considers Mexicans as well as the indians of the continent lesser beings or inferior and that certainly puts him outside the fold of what we here call a Wafer, unless there is a part of the Wafer definition that I missed and/or am unaware of.

Christopher Hitchens had many sides to him also, but he was a wishy washy ignoramus for whom I had lost all respect for by the time he died for similar reasons that make Kennan seem not worthy of respect.

10:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sean-

Well, I wdn't put Kennan in the same category as Hitchens; Kennan never repudiated his own ideals. You might wanna check out my discussion of him in DAA, as well as some of his correspondence, autobiography, etc. I personally can't write him off that quickly; he was a courageous anti-cold warrior in a time when that was very difficult, and his insights into how misguided our foreign policy was, proved to be quite accurate.

mb

10:53 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Dilz,

I can't give a good answer to your reservations, because to a large degree, I share them myself. Personally, I do think one should at least read Herr Berman's "Decline and Fall" trilogy, and Hedges, "Empire of Illusion." In my opinion, they are at the top; and regarding the hundreds of other similar, "Why Modern Life Sucks" type books, one can read them or not, depending on one's degree of interest. Twenge's book is not on the same level as Hedges or Berman, but I do think it's a notch or two above the other second-tier works of the same category. At any rate, I personally like to spend about 90% of my reading time on the classics, poetry, and so forth. (I prefer Middle Earth to Google Earth by a long shot!) Because however good the essay style books may be, they can't get you to that transcendent place of magic/enchantment that a first-rate novel or poem can. So yes, your issues about "When is enough enough?" are well taken. I guess the answer is that we all have to figure out that balance for ourselves.

Greg,

It's hard to say factually what the hunter-gatherers were thinking, but I'd guess that your analysis is probably pretty close to accurate. In any case, I have the exact same feeling that you express about the last few decades: However dreadful the 70's and 80's were in many respects, I feel like they were perhaps the last gasp of the "human world", and that we've somehow slowly awoken into an unprecedented, inhuman nightmare. Perhaps the postmodern Me Generation is actually fortunate in not having that sense of something irretrievably lost?

And speaking of "too much knowledge", "Dry New Worlds", and Google Earth....how readily I'd exchange our shabby, disenchanted "GPS reality", for the reality indicated by those ancient maps; with the black river circling the known continents, and the words, "Here Be Dragons".(!)

2:31 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Megan, Greg -

Like you, I prefer to focus on the many joys & delights of a truly civilized life. That's what had me taking a few months away from all news & discussion of collapse recently. Books, music, art, Nature, and my wonderful wife most of all -- that's what mattered (and matters) to me.

Here's a perfect example of why current American culture is rapidly collapsing into the black hole of greed & narcissism, all revealed in a minute or so:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGJSI48gkFc

We could spend quite a lot of time picking out every stupid & destructive line uttered in this commercial!

Instead, since I just watched My Dinner With Andre again, I'll let Andre have the last word.

See, I think it's quite possible that the 1960s represented the last burst of the human being before it was extinguished, and that this is the beginning of the rest of the future now. That from now on, there will simply be all these robots walking around -- feeling nothing, thinking nothing, and that there will be nobody left almost to remind them that there once was a species called a human being with feelings and thoughts, and that history and memory are right now being erased and that soon nobody will really remember that life existed on the planet.

OK. Yes, we are bored. We're all bored now. But has it ever occurred to you, Wally, that the process that creates this boredom that we see in the world now may very well be a self-perpetuating, unconscious form of brainwashing, created by a world totalitarian government based on money, and that all of this is much more dangerous than one thinks? And it's not just a question of individual survival, Wally, but that somebody who's bored is asleep, and somebody who's asleep will not say no?

9:41 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tim-

Yes, that commercial is a gem: a perfect summation of the American Dream, and why Americans have no future at all. The issue Megan raised of "what u.c. is what u get," that there is no deeper layer beyond a stupid narcissism, may (for all I know) be true. And Andre may be rt: the 60s were our last gasp to get out of The Matrix, and w/the collapse of that came the effective end of the human race. The guy in the commercial, after all, *is* The Matrix; his whole life is The Matrix, and he thinks it's just swell. This is the 'hologram' Joe Bageant wrote abt, or in my terminology, the 'glass sphere', in wh/everything bounces back to confirm this empty way of life, tricking Americans into believing that it's full.

This is why I come back to my reply to Dilz (above). I don't really believe there is any hope for America, on any level, except for a tiny % who might escape The Matrix. I mean, this is really the subject of the last few bks I wrote, novel and poetry included. But I also don't believe, despite worldwide Americanization, that Europe, Asia, and Latin America are finished. There are many areas throughout those vast land masses that are *not* in The Matrix, and that know what real human life is abt. When u have a town like Marinaleda in Andalucia, or 325 alternative currency expts arising in Spain, or strong Green parties in other parts of Europe, or the daily life of small towns in Mexico--or Vietnam, for that matter--you know that the American machine has not managed to destroy everything. And altho it's a long shot, I do hope that Chinese historians will discover my work 50 yrs from now, along w/that of a # of others (Chris Lasch, Robt Bellah, etc.), and say "My God, Belman was onto this decades ago!"NMI's can all lead a life of true Waferism, and pass it on.

Of course, the odds are not great. As Gandhi said, Nothing u do is impt, but do it anyway. And as far as the US goes, wh/is the epicenter of human destruction, of soul-killing, I can't imagine a successful outcome: not even 50 yrs from now, really. (Dual Process is feeble here, for example, and is already being coopted by the American Dream, in forms such as 'greenwashing'.) I often say this is The Only Blog You'll Ever Need, and in a sense, I mean it. Wafers are alive; the guy in that Cadillac commercial is completely dead. But we shall never arrive at a point where instead of having 132 registered Wafers, there were 132,000,000; that wd mean we were a completely different country. But you never know what difference you might make, or where yr Waferian way of life might lead, down the road; all you can do is live it, and hope for the best.

As for the trolfoons, and the sad folks out there who have nothing better to do w/their lives than attack me, or the blog, or anything I write, personally--it amazes me on one level, since I'm such a minor figure, really. But it also shores me up, because I know, as a result, that I'm on the rt track. I do believe Americans are hurting, and suffer terribly from existential strain. If they see someone out of The Matrix, someone just pointing to the obvious in plain English, it drives them nuts, because it wakes them up, momentarily, and they'd much prefer to stay asleep. That's their fate, of course, and I can hardly expect them to change course. But us Wafers don't hafta change course either. As an old Arabic proverb goes, "The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on." I do take heart that outside of America, of the land of lost souls (las almas perdidas), there are fewer dogs. One can only hope.

mb

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Red on the Head said...

Dr. MB,

That commercial is fantastic. My redneck Buddha, Joe Bageant, referred to Americans as “willing prisoners”. Btw, this blog first introduced me to Joe and I am eternally grateful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mxS4AAWBl0

2:24 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

MB and WAF-ers. A sad happenstance this weekend. atear and I were having a chat after the rugby match this past Saturday. Talk was mostly on how a collapse will happen and when. It strayed to how the central Minneapolis library was (a few years ago) thinking of putting in showers for homeless people and I brought up Switzerland's guaranteed income thing (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/04/us-swiss-pay-idUSBRE9930O620131004) and the dude at the next table just goes crazy on us!

All sorts of pull yourself up by your bootstraps and Bill Gates didn't need any government help and how homeless people should just get a job ... blah, blah. Tear said he was a little mental and I agree. But can you imagine the utter lunacy of someone to jump up and start accosting two strapping young WAFers? I still feel bad about it because, well, I had a few beers in me and I got in his face a little. Of course, that just made it worse and we left to a hail of vitriol.

Oh well, just chock it up to trollfoonery I guess. Plus, I gained some valuable insight into my own reactions to things like that. I forgot my Dr. King: "The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral..." By getting mad I made it worse, ironically it is me that feels bad about it, not him.

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regiime said...

Hello Wafers,

Lebron Marte--seems that Kennans view in terms of keeping some sort of nation state organized along the lines he recognizes is consistent with the quote you wrote. The quote is actually well balanced you and the other poster seem to have injected more meaning to it than is there. I would hasten to add that douchebaggery is not limited to Tea Partiers (I doubt Kennan would have anything to do with them) or white southerners or republicans. The current crop of multi-culti progresssives led by a black man are more effective and indeed bigger douchebags. IN fact, last I checked black americans are now worse off by any measure than they were at the time of Ronald Reagan. Waferdom--facts matter....

If we do not read the work of people who do not adhere to some contemporary purity standard (as say approved by the new york times, NPR and the DLC and Oprah) you will be left reading nothing but dreck.

Kennan was a smart guy, it took courage to do what he did. I respect that and enjoy his writings and I am a mexican. I have the first hand experience of Hispanics from central america and particularly the carribbean (PR and DR and Cuba) tend to have more antipathy toward mexicans than southern whites. I recall Earl Shorris popular book "Latinos" where a Puerto Rican reviewer in New York was upset that Shorris spent much more time on Mexico that Puerto Rico! Think of the absolute absurdity of that!

Agree with MB. There is no hope at all for the U.S. and even less hope for "minorities" who have assimilated. Its very interesting that a few years ago a former colleague William Vega now at USC found that Mexican Immigrants had pretty good mental health, but by the second generation they deteriorated to the american norm. Lets think about this for a moment. Its not the air or water its the idea system, the values and the matrix.



4:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

That was a great longitudinal study, tho I think his name was Ricardo Vega (I cd be wrong), and at that time he was at UC Berkeley. It was published in 1998. The rate of mental illness among Mexicans lvg in the US was almost exactly 2x that of Mexicans lvg in Mexico. End of discussion.

jwo-

When I say almost all of America consists of douche bags and jerks, this is not hyperbole or some sort of metaphor. When I lived in the US, I saw it all day every day, and it wasn't pretty. But this yokel also seems to reflect existential strain: if yr secure in yr beliefs, u don't go nuts when someone has v. different beliefs. He wasn't secure abt them; it's even possible at some level, he wished life were easier for Americans, not having to compete and succeed all the time. Next time you might try: "Well, you cd be right; thanks for the input," and turn back to yr friend. Keep in mind also that a lot of these douche bags are literally mentally ill.

Red-

He was a truly great man, and w/no pretense or 'mask'. True humility. As for that commercial: what an empty, stupid life--exactly what 315 million Americans aspire to.

mb

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dr B said: "note that the Ukranian police just defected to the other side. This is the one thing that cd *never* happen in the US, and one of the 3 basic conds required for successful revolution"

It will never happen here in USA because of hustling mentality among the American workers - the members of the police forces will outdo each other trying to abuse or kill more protesters so as to increase their salary and bonus - it is all about money, material possessions, not about principles, moral or otherwise. This is why the country is going down fast!

7:23 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

@JSRank: Thanks for your kind comment. My comments are not very profound. I gave up on trying to be profound years ago, when I realized I just wanted people to think I was smart or something. Now I just try to tell the truth as I see it. I am personally just trying to see the beauty in the world, nature. Trying to use own imagination more. Trying to be kinder to those around me, while not giving up my principles.

@Megan: thanks for the humor. I'm pretty sure we are at least 50% real siblings! It's amazing how much there is to who we are than either genetics or environment. I think James Hillman was right about that mysterious "soul" thing we all have, which he wrote about in The Soul's Code. Hillman also wrote about the dangerous fact that Americans suppressed their "shadow," thus opening up lots of opportunity for violence, depression and repression.

@Dovidel: My brother's life seems to be the ideal of more and more people. Such as the crazy SOB in that Cadillac Commercial. I saw that commercial live during the Olympics, on the one occasion when I tried to watch that awful spectacle as a family thing. I almost puked. And the guy in the commercial immediately reminded me of my brother. And an android.

@Dan: kudos to you for trying to help those kids. I don't think I could tolerate that environment. A literal prison. A nation that treats its children as prisoners has no hope!

@JWO and Tear: Wow. It's a good thing I wasn't there. I've found that I can suddenly snap nowadays when faced with a real a-hole like that. The last time something like that happened, a woman in a BMW SUV got mad at me for existing as a cyclist on the river road. She kept honking and tailing me, so I stopped. She rolled down her window to yell or something, then looked fearful. I must have a psycho mean icy look when I want to, because I didn't say anything. She apologized somehow and drove off.

Regarding Kennan, I thought the Kennan critics comments were... strange. It is possible to be a WAFer or critic of our culture, and not be a pro-diversity progressive ideologue. Burkean types, for example, might want to see their culture preserved. In fact, lots of the multi-culti progressives want every culture preserved: except that of the type that Joe Bageant himself wrote about. We hicks from the sticks aren't allowed to have a culture, I guess. Regardless, Kennan's views on immigration don't negate the wisdom of his critique of American foreign policy at all. Pure ad hominem.

Well, I gotto somehow prepare myself for another week of the American Corporate Dream, full of buzzwords and fake enthusiasm. I am, however, going to start performing action items relating to our possible emigration. If it happens, it's still a long ways away!

Thanks everyone, for being here.

9:04 PM  
Anonymous ijcd said...

Hello all,

I have been on and off to try disconnecting from our depressing reality in hopes of maintaining my sanity, although it is quite difficult simply by living in this land. I just want to point your attention to a curious book which I should have written. Well, at least I have been using the terminology for quite some time, for the same reasons the author, a sociologist, does.

"Sociopathic Society: A People's Sociology of the United States", by Charles Derber

MB,
by the way, I do not know who Anna is and I never engaged in any discussions here under any other names. I am what you see... but unlike with a typical inhabitant of the USA, you need to stay much longer and stare much deeper to see it.

Franchesca, I really agree with your assessment of this "land of the free/home of the brave". It is difficult being so brutally honest:
"The continent was trashed by a polyglot mish-mash of violent Trash from Europe who slaughtered everything in their path (indians, animals & themselves), but that apparently doesn't bother Mr. Kennan, which is quite the opposite of a Wafer, I believe."

To which I would add: After the western frontier was opened, mostly the worst of that Trash thrived, grew wealthy and powerful...now we live in the nation/world they helped create.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Remonster said...

Pubes needs to get his own fuckin' blog and there is no such word as trollfoon muthafucka! I kno 'cus I'm straight outta Compton bitch.

1:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ijcd-

I'm sorry, but I don't know what you are referring to when you speak of 'Anna'.

Wafers-

I wd normally just delete messages like this one from 'Remonster', but I just wanted to give u guys an idea of the sickness that pours into this blog. I'm telling you, this poison is the real America, and there is an absolute shitload of it out there. He'll keep posting, of course; nothing can stop these people. Tho after a few months of troll attacks, and just being deleted repeatedly, they presumably migrate to another blog and do their thing there. What garbage the late-empire is spewing, eh? A gd example of the dreck that 'progressives' are so intent on liberating.

mb

2:43 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

MB said: "Next time you might try: "Well, you cd be right; thanks for the input," and turn back to yr friend." Exactly right! Now I need to find some more trollfoons to practice on so in the heat of the moment I don't regress. Also, the post from monster was hilarious!

Pub: Keep at the emigration my friend ... it is 39 degrees in Oslo right now!

8:46 AM  
Anonymous capo regime said...

ijcd,

Who can know if the late Mr. Kennan was bothered by the antics of Western expansion of european settlers in the americas. He was a man of his time but beyond that very smart and principled.

Humans as a matter of course are predatory--all humans. The Aztecs in one day had the signal acheivement of conducting 50,000 human sacrifices in one day! They leaders of the Aztec empire would dine on Posole made with human flesh. The plains indians were also prone to acts of utter savagery. The native americans also despoiled their environment. Where the europeans violent--sure but the amerindians where quite something as well. Some societies are better at taming human nature (norway) than others (Somalia) but alas underneath we remain baser than we care to admit.

The Erupoeans coming to america did what humans always have done--engage in violence to achieve their ends. The cro magnons native americans, amerindians, africans, the cariebe all did the same to one extent or another. The "noble savage" myth is just that. The progressive vision would have it that only europeans do bad things. A saner approach is to look at the totality of human nature empirically shorn of ideology. I would submit that tossing aside some ideology and simultaneously embracing the reality of human nature and the beauty of life is sanity enhancing and the way of the wafer.

Publius--great comments. For some reason the Scotts Irish in the U.S. are allowed to be the object of scorn and derision---notice how even among posters the terms "southern white" are usually tineged with venom toward people who are probably among the biggest victims of the U.S. I suppose there must always be a "an other" to blame for your own troubles...

MB-what kind of people are these trollfoons? It would be interesting to find one and follow him/her about in the course of their day and ask them about their animating and guiding princiles of life. Painful exercise but thus disproving once and for all the myth of human progress:)





9:01 AM  
Blogger Gordon Gekko said...

Howdie Wafers,

I thought you might enjoy the following video. It's surprising to find out that coca cola, out of all places, seems to have a few wafers in its ranks. Is change on the way?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u3BRY2RF5I

Cheers.

Alexey

9:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Gordon-

Great video. What a collection of douche bags Americans are.

Capo-

Trolfoons are all around us. Just go out into the street, follow the 1st person u.c. This is why we have trolfoon candidates (Mittney, Ovomit, etc.).

jwo-

This is a trolfoon's idea of dialogue: stupid and aggressive--a true American! Can u imagine having so little going on in yr life, that posting shit like that on someone's blog seems like a worthwhile activity? The population has devolved into trash, along w/its IQ.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Publius,

Do you find (as I have) that such drivers almost always tend to drive new, expensive luxury cars? The fancier the car, the louder & angrier the mouth?

The trollfoon -- has anyone done a serious study of this phenomenon? It gives people a false sense of agency, of having accomplished something, when all they're doing is sitting in front of a screen. It enables them to feel superior, powerful, clever, witty, cool -- without actually having to possess any of those qualities. It keeps them pacified for the most part -- instead of (God forbid) changing their lives, growing as human beings, or trying to change tneir world for the better -- well, they sit there & shoot off their "thoughts" & feel momentarily satisfied. And of course it cheapens & coarsens & infantilizes them even further, which suits The Powers That Be quite nicely.

And this is the model of adulthood that dominates our culture today.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's an interesting essay:

http://www.truthdig.com/report/page3/creating_the_world_we_want_20140224

I particularly like the notion of Renaissance, as opposed to Revolution: It's what (following World Systems Analysis) I've been arguing now for a long time, that we are talking about a long-term replacement of capitalism with something else, just as capitalism (over centuries) managed to replace feudalism. The only thing curious abt this essay is that it makes no ref to the American Dream, and in fact talks about economic growth as being desirable, at several pts. No mention of a steady-state economy at all. Hence, a lot of interesting ideas, but still trapped in the old paradigm, it seems to me. (Socialism is capitalism w/a human face.) Worth discussing, in any case.

mb

10:31 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Prof. Berman: Wow. So you have to read and filter through garbage emails from trash like Remonster every day? You don't get paid enough for that!

Also, I'd like your take on something. My in-laws, of course, know of our emigration thinking. These are thoughtful progressives, who are somewhat constrained in their ability to imagine alternatives.

I did find out last night that they had contemplated moving to Australia in 1970, because of the evils of the Vietnam War. They even filled out the application - at that time, Australia was actually paying people to move there! However, they elected to stay.

My mom-in-law stated that if they were younger, they would move, but as it is, they "will probably die in this country." Their resignation made me sad.

Also, my mom-in-law stated that "people are the pretty much the same everywhere." She stated that you could live a different, better life in the USA as well as in some other country, just by choosing who you associate with, and filtering out the BS.

I pointed out that the increasingly violent police state alone is enough to make me want to leave. And not wanting to support the empire's wars and violence, etc.

However, I felt she was telling me that it was silly to think that people would be fundamentally different in a different country.
How to respond? I tried to explain that cultures do differ, and those differences are important.
Part of the problem is that they've never really traveled in a non-English speaking country....

My pa-in-law then helpfully pointed out that one of the countries we are considering sort of "collaborated" with the Nazis in WWII. Not sure what his point was. But it would seem that they are nervous about the prospect of us leaving.

Hey everyone! Here's the police-state event of the week: A 14-year old kid answered the door while holding his video-game controller, and was shot by the police woman on the other side. And killed.
That's it. I'm outta here. People may be the same everywhere, but they aren't psychotically deranged everywhere.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

People aren't the same everywhere, and Americans are, by world standards, weird. Check out writings by Ethan Watters on the subject. However, in my experience, folks who are worried abt what their inlaws, or anybody, think abt their plans; or who keep intellectualizing it, turning it over and over, finally don't move. It seems to me it's slowly turning into a kind of game 4u, something to play with, but not actually do. I've seen this happen time and again: in the end, yrs go by, and all they've done is think and talk abt it, but like the 3 sisters in Chekhov, they never quite get up off their asses and make it to Moscow.

The same thing happens w/writers, in fact. The ones who talk constantly abt their work, never get down to publishing anything. The ones who keep their mouths shut crank out their daily 4 pp., and eventually, there's a book.

You need to become clear abt what yr doing; and to fish or cut bait. Otherwise, 'planning' to leave is just a safety valve to make staying tolerable, but it isn't really serious.

mb

1:35 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Megan - It’s true we don’t know what hunter-gatherer’s from 10k+ years ago were thinking, but if the few surviving ones we westerners managed to study give any indication (reasonable to assume they do), then they may be the real masters at leaving their maps of reality blurry and undefined enough around the edges to allow for truly endless possibilities. Which is one of the things I admire most about them.

Tim - Hard to imagine better examples to encapsulate this whole topic than that Caddy ad and the quote from My Dinner With Andre. What’ll keep me feeling nauseous for some time is knowing that the people who came up with that commercial stared the depravity of our lives directly in the face, but only to figure out a way to make $ off it - and thus add to that depravity.

Capo - I get the point you were making in the context of the Kennan discussion, but there are some meaningful ways that not all human violence is equivalent. The “all humans are just as violent” notion is as much of a myth as that of the “noble savage.” Perhaps the most fundamental difference is that civilized peoples - whether Aztec, Roman, or western European/US - generally believe that their way of life is the “one best way” for all people - and so aim to impose it on as many others as they can manage. Non-civilized people generally engage in skirmishes or raids, at the end of which both groups continue in their chosen way of life. But even if one non-civilized group ends up eliminating another (just as, in the natural course of things, one species might outcompete and eliminate another), this does not occur as part of a plan to expand/impose their way of life on others.

The result of this difference is that, in the non-civilized world, we see endless sustained variety of ways of life while in the civilized world, we see a trend towards mono-culture.

From this p.o.v., Kennan, in some of his "racial statements," may simply have been mourning the loss of cultural diversity in the face of cultural homogenization - even if he didn’t realize that it was his own culture that was, far and away, the main destroyer of that diversity.

4:01 PM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

Interesting article on truthdig. My question with any system is the problem of corruption which I think is more prevalent with large scale systems as opposed to smaller ones but I could be wrong.


Anyway, here's an interesting article on the trouble with democracy...

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/nov/08/trouble-with-democracy-david-runciman

References to De Toqueville on the American system as well as our continued plodding through world wars and other conflicts. Mentioning of our envy of dictatorships which I thought was an interesting insight... Certainly, the package is larger and more complex than bartering vegetables and chickens at the local market... considering the state of the world and 'competing' ideas.

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Outtahere said...

Dr. B -- long time! I've been trying to get caught up for the last 2 hours and still have more to read. Wafers is a hilarious name -- go WAFERs!

A question i thought of while I was reading all the comments -- why don't you disable Anonymous posts on the blog? Then people won't have the Anonymous option and you don't need to tell them to pick a name over and over. Change it to Registered Users and then they'll use the name that they make up. Easy!

Oh another thing, instead of asking for "half a page" maybe you should tell them a word count. Because who knows how many words are on a page? Post that on you masthead instead of "feel free to write and participate" and I bet people will learn quickly.

Anyway, back to reading the archives. It's a goldmine, who knows how long it will take me to catch up?

Outtahere

5:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Greg, Capo-

Archaeological record shows no war (organized aggression) until the Late Paleolithic. Aggression, yes; war, no.

mb

7:30 PM  
Blogger Patrick D. Fitzgerald said...

Pubilus,

I have to chime in from the peanut gallery here and back up MB; people are definitely not the same everywhere. We are talking culture here, not biology. Do not let yourself fall for that line, it is most certainly a line.
If you are considering leaving, DO IT, get the ball rolling. MB is right, you will not believe how much more you will love your life, this cannot be overstated.
You will stop having nightmares, your head will stop pulsing at the temples, complete strangers will be kind to you, bland food will taste wonderful. If we are to assume that we all only live once, make the best of it! The best of it is not to be found in this country. Feel free to email me if you want someone to discuss it with, I would love to elaborate...

3:25 AM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

If people dont mind, I'd like to revisit the topic of getting out, moving. Newer readers may have missed this issue.

Some people have the 'luck' to fall in love with and marry say an EU citizen. Others look at the many South American countries and see what's possible. There's Mexico to look at, Central America. Is Canada an option? What about Asia? I know that in recent years tho', India has been making moves against long stay Westerners. Still, check it out.

If you think you can move to a certain country, why not take a trip there and sniff the air? At least you'll get a break from the AirConditioned Nightmare. Can't lose really.

All of this requires some/a lot of research, and it's never been easier in the history of humanity to do that, online.

For those who are considering getting out, take a little time to note some ideas you have, follow them up and ask around. At least take this step, however nervous you may feel. Being nervous about it is quite reasonable, so put that worry aside. "Don't follow leaders, watch your parking meters".

I delayed getting out in a destructive job in London. When I did move it was almost too late, being diagnosed with a potentially fatal lifestyle/stress related illness. I left thinking these were my last days. Long story short, I lived quietly on tiny money but now am clear of this illness.My finances are improved now. All anecdotal, yes, but my experience.

If WAFERS want to share practicalities, that would be mutually beneficial I think....

The Buddha said "Seek your own Salvation".

5:45 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Greg/MB,

Well no need to split hairs. Suffice to say that humans in several groupings (the civilized non civiizied term is Greg besides the point what does that mean--is the mara salvatrucha gang civilized--no but they do engagem in orgranized violent behavior or the residents of camden or trenton NJ) have been engaging in aggression or other poor behavior for thousands of years. The key point--Europeans in the colonization of the americans were not the first or the last grouping of humans engaging in violent behavor (war, individual cruelty, etc). And most groups of humans have tended at one time or another to violence--not a myth but amptly recorded and physically required to survive--hunter gathers at heart no?

What is interesting is the large scale and order of violence, murder and imprisonment imposed by the U.S.A under the leadership of a black progressive with the support of progressive media and various minority organizations and the other sensitive "progressive" organizations. People such as a some of the posters here and found throughtout media and unversities in the U.S. very upset that some white settlers killed some native americans two hundred years ago, Cortez 500 years ago or that Geroge Kennan did not like the mexicans, but perfectly o.k. with Obama having drone operators zapping some Pakistani family on the way to a toddlers birthday party.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Yr certainly rt abt Ovomit, but not abt hunter-gatherer society. Check out "Wandering God," by MB.
HG's were practically a different species. A lot of this had to do w/storage and sedentism.

mb

7:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: a poll taken in 2012 revealed that 62% of Americans approve of predator drone strikes:

http://rt.com/usa/drone-strikes-pew-cia-603/

98% of those killed are civilians. Disapproval of this in other countries is huge. Hard to find a more callous population in the world than Americans.

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Megan,

Great insights! I agree, Freudian psychology simply does not apply to Americans simply because they are a collection of 315 million degenerate specimens driven entirely by their id. Their mind is lacking a superego, and their ego is entirely dedicated to serving their id. In other words, they are animals running on instincts, greed, and selfishness. More recent psychological theories, such as object relations, are not applicable either, because Americans are such extreme individualists, human relationships are virtually nonexistent in their midst.

The reason why Cognitive Behavioral approaches are so popular among psychotherapists in the US is because Americans are no more sophisticated psychologically than your average dog or cat, and thus similar “training” approaches need to be utilized.

So yes, as you say, they lack the most basic elements of what makes us human. How could such a menagerie have any future as a nation?

Julian

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

John Hickenlooper, Colorado Governor, Discourages Other States From Legalizing Pot

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/24/hickenlooper-legal-marijuana_n_4847440.html

From the article:

"I urge caution," Hickenlooper said at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington, D.C., on Friday. Saying that pot "doesn't make people smarter, doesn't make people healthier,"

"I don't think governors should be [in] the position of promoting things that are inherently not good for people," he said

From the comment section:
Shirley Ujest: He's just afraid it might cut into his profits. My drug dealer is also against legalization

Edward M.: Using his logic, alcohol, tobacco, fast food and reality television should all be banned immediately

Sonny W.: Obviously, here in Colorado we don't care what Gov. Hickenlooper (D) says, because we overwhelmingly voted to do the smart thing, and we all know that his career was as a beer brewer and beer seller. Maybe he thinks marijuana is a threat to the alcohol industry, but either way, he is wrong. And we are in the process of doing a great job of proving him, and all of the politicians with antiquated reefer madness beliefs or pro-incarceration fantasies to be incredibly, historically, and ethically wrong, wrong, and wrong

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Bingo,

Thanks a lot. I think you're right about the loss of the superego and the tyranny of the id. I would only add that in 21st century America, the real story might well be the loss of the ego itself, i.e., the erosion of the last vestiges of anything that could be called "meaningful subjectivity". Of course, we're as egotistic as ever in the normal connotation of the word; but in the deeper sense, well, I wonder how many selves there are even left to analyze?!

Greg,

I totally understand your interest in primitive cultures. Whenever I see books like Carl Sagan's "The Demon-Haunted Word", I always get a pang of nostalgia, and say to myself, "Ah, if only....."

12:59 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B, you said "98% of those killed are civilians. Disapproval of this in other countries is huge. Hard to find a more callous population in the world than Americans."

I looked at this poll and I would like to do a bit of an analysis. I believe there is a common thread throughout this poll. The countries who's population has the highest disapproval have been through tragedies and wars or the country has a lot of the members of the population who are more thinking types. They appreciate things like the fine arts and philosophy.

The countries who have a high approval rating do not meet either condition. These countries have a population who have citizens who have never experienced tragedy like war or they are not thinkers. They are a people who see things as philosophy and fine arts as worthless and things like money, technology, etc as having the most worth. Business, profit and Industry is what is valued the most. The population as a whole don't think about things like ethics, logic and rationality.

The ones who are halfway have a combination of both and both are kind of watered down.

I do notice the numbers for each country's approval and disapproval rating do not add up to 100%. What happened to the other percentage? We have approval, disapproval and unknown. What does this unknown represent? There are details that are missing. It seems like on a quick glance India has the highest of these unknowns.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

A man from Independence Township, Michigan accidentally shot and killed himself on Monday while teaching his girlfriend about gun safety, the Oakland Press reports.

The 36-year-old, whose name has not been released, was showing his girlfriend how his three handguns are safe when they aren’t loaded, according to the Detroit Free Press. He was attempting to demonstrate the safety of the handguns by holding them to his head and pulling the trigger.

The third gun fired, and the man was struck in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three children ages 7, 10, and 12 were in the home but did not witness the shooting, according to reports. The man's girlfriend told authorities he had been drinking most of the day before the incident took place.

This isn't the first time a gun safety demonstration has gone wrong. In January 2013, 18-year-old Florida resident Alexander Xavier Shaw died doing a similar demonstration. Richard M. McLean, a 22-year-old from Michigan, died in a similar fashion in June 2012. Missouri resident James Looney, 40, was also teaching his girlfriend about gun safety when he shot himself in the head in September 2009.

Title:
Man Accidentally Kills Self With Gun During Demonstration On Gun Safety

by Paige Lavender
Posted: 02/25/2014

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/25/man-shoots-himself_n_4853983.html

2:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

It's quite simple: high approval ratings indicate a population composed of vicious, stupid people w/dogdo in their heads.

mb

3:00 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Hola Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Wafers-

For those of you who take offense to George Kennan's views about Mexicans, try this quote on for size: "We have only a group of more or less inferior races, incapable of coping adequately with the environment which technical progress has created.... This situation is essentially a biological one. No amount of education and discipline can effectively improve conditions as long a we allow the unfit to breed copiously and preserve their young." I'll let you guys decide if Kennan is espousing a pro-eugenics view or not.

I personally don't agree with those views, but who here could disagree with Kennan's view that Americans are a shallow lot, overtly materialistic, and essentially a collection of morons. One thing is absolutely certain: Kennan knew how to lacerate American dumb shits. He did so with breathtaking regularity; to the degree that he had serious doubts about democratic forms of government and the survival of the United States. Is this not what we do on a daily basis?

The paradox is that Kennan seemed to care so little for the society he helped to preserve. His writings, his *brain* in essence, of course, staved off a thermonuclear war with the Soviet Union, for which I'm eternally grateful, but for *what* exactly? It preserved a system that now boils down to Honey Boo Boo, CRE (both regular and deep varieties), the 1%, and that asshole who's pushing the Cadillac.

Jeff

ps:

Another T-shirt idea:

The difference between CRE and deep CRE is only a matter of millimeters...

3:17 PM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

"62% of Americans approve of predator drone strikes"

That's because drones only kill
A-Rabs...

A vicious, stupid people... kinda goes well with that flag everone's got wrapped around their foreheads and got stuck up their ass.

just in case you all forgot about our former feerless leader...

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/power-players-abc-news/beyond-911-president-bush-s-new-initiative-to-help-the-vets-he-sent-to-war-230108985.html?vp=1

I guess Bush II doesn't think too much about that war 'thingy' he got us into... killed I dunno? a couple hundred thousand people? .. no worries... plenty of followers in his camp. Heil to the chief!

3:58 PM  
Anonymous SrVidaBuena said...

"However dreadful the 70's and 80's were in many respects, I feel like they were perhaps the last gasp of the "human world", and that we've somehow slowly awoken into an unprecedented, inhuman nightmare."

No joke: If you had told me 25 years ago that someday I’d be nostalgic for the '80's I'd have said you were crazy. But it's true. It sometimes seems like the last time I breathed easy. My experience in the US these days is one of almost constant intensity and exhaustion. By contrast it’s hard to believe there was a time when mainstream US pop culture was bubblegum like The A-Team or anti-establishment stuff like the Rockford Files. Totally empty calories, intellectually speaking… but hey, it reminds me there was once a world without cell phones and the internet. (I think it was Neil Postman who said trash television was the most innocuous since it made no pretense to ‘educate’ - that’s how I rationalize my guilty pleasure!)

4:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

pol-

A-hab, the ay-rab
Sheik of the burning sands...

Jeff-

Kennan understood the CRE concept decades before it was formulated.

mb

4:34 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Apparently trolls are becoming news, and not only in Wafland.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/should-media-sites-stop-feeding-trolls-and-abandon-online-commenting-1.254967

Should media sites stop feeding trolls and abandon online commenting?

I bet they picked the actor in that car commercial because he's also a hero of the Battle of Bastogne.

5:19 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

@MB and Dilz: I endorse what MB said about living a worthy life despite the bad state of things. I'll just add these thoughts:

1. Once you have awakened and educated yourself, you don't have to keep dwelling on the bad stuff. It's OK (and necessary!) to move on, and live a satisfying, human life.

For example, in 1997, I read Hervey Cleckley's classic description of psychopathy, The Mask of Sanity, and immediately realized that it described Bill Clinton to a "T". I spent the next 10 years reading everything I could on the subject of psychopathy. Now, these books sit on my bookshelf as reference works only. I no longer dwell on this, since I am now educated about the subject. The same goes for subjects like the FED, Banksters' Wars, the "deep state," and so on. Once you know, then you know, and that's it.

2. As for keeping up with events, I (like MB) avoid the propaganda mills (CNN, "Faux" News, etc.) and consult a shortlist of websites which, in my experience, actually do real journalism. Time investment: 30 min./day, tops.

@JWO and Tear: That incident is a perfect example of the "walking around on eggshells with everybody problem I faced! Advice? Keep your lips zipped in public until you can make your own escape!

5:45 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Capo, Magan - Yes, I’m pretty focused on early humanity - and have been known to split a hair or two over it. (Speaking of which, Capo, civilized/non-civilized can be a most useful distinction. From an anthro p.o.v., gangs of the type you mention, are most definitely “civilized,” meaning arising only in highly complex, settled, hierarchical societies - even if they aren’t “civil” in the colloquial sense. Even for all their “primal body art,” nothing remotely like them would ever arise among non-civilized peoples).

The reason I sometimes spout off on this topic here is because I take the NMI vocation supremely seriously. I don’t want us to transmit merely the Classical stem and the Renaissance, Romantic, and other such lovely flowers of our human heritage to some future civilization. I want us to transmit the full package, down to the very root - and even the soil - as well, which I believe is contained in the aboriginal psyche. So far, every civilization has turned against this root to some degree, and has been fatally flawed as a result. The dehumanized form of hustling that’s always been part of civilization - and that’s exploded in modernity - is the noxious, choking weed that takes over in this un-rootedness. If we transmit the notion that the worst aspects of civilization are innate in human nature itself (i.e., “all humans are violent in the same basic way”), then we’re not passing the full package of our priceless heritage along. We’re instead unwittingly passing along this deadly weed - right along with whatever good we pass on as well.

Hunter-gatherers really are like a different species, as you say, Dr. B - a species much closer to the Wafer ideal than is readily apparent, until we dig beneath the surface of their external lives - as WG (nice to see you’ve read it!) helps us to do so amazingly well.

OK - done spouting on this one...for now...

5:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Greg-

Well, HG society was hardly perfect, and I'd hate to be an HG w/an appendicitis attack (or even a toothache). But I do vaguely remember the bk--I haven't read it for 15 yrs--and I think it says that once storage and sedentism arose (or sat down), human beings went in a whole new direction. There remains, today, a hatred of those people or their descendants; we're all supposed to play the 'civilization game'. Who really are the savages here?

al-

As I've said b4, if u wanna get a gd idea of the composition of the US, start a blog. The trolfoons are like batallions, really, and one is dumber and more offensive than the next. And the time they apparently have on their hands! I shd be so lucky! But there's a level on wh/I enjoy it. I say, "This is what an asshole does," and then guess what? The next trolfoon attack does *exactly that!* Ya gotta love these retards, I tell ya. These douche bags made America what it is today.

mb

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Jeff T,
On a similar note, whenever I hear that our military is defending our way of life, I keep asking what is there about our way of life worth defending?

6:27 PM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB,

You should start a troll of the day award and actually publish the remarks. Share the fun!! And at the end of the month you could pick the best troll of the month! And to really bug them, don't print the name of the author, just identify them by date.

Seriously, all WAFers should be exposed to the depths of madness that our fellow "citizens" project.

6:29 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB,

Speaking of trolls, perhaps you've got one of these:

"Western spy agencies build ‘cyber magicians’ to manipulate online discourse"

http://rt.com/news/five-eyes-online-manipulation-deception-564/

9:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

50s rock? Chuck Berry? The Everly Bros.? The Ronettes ("Be My Baby")?

Julian-

Hmm...cd be. What we need are crack Trolfoon Units (TU's), like SWAT teams, swooping down on the blog and spreading disinformation. In wh/case the trolfoons are actually brilliant; part of wh/is to fake stupidity. Man, they're doin' a great job...

mb

9:47 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Patrick: Thanks for the encouragement - it would be interesting to connect. How can we exchange emails? I could create a throw-away email if you don't want to give a machine-unreadable version of yours.

@Prof. Berman: I thought about what you said, about talking too much and not acting. You are right, of course (although your comment kind of hurt my feelings or ego). Talking is often a substitute for action. Look at the progressives, liberals, etc. who continue to support candidates who they know will do the same old thing.

Regardless, I took some action, updated my resume, and contacted a possible employer in another country. I will now keep sending out inquiries. One step at a time!

Besides your rather blunt encouragement, I was also impelled by a new incident of American rancour:

The bus driver on the express bus attacked verbally on the way back from work. I had added money to my card in the morning, but due to some kind of computer issue or technical glitch (which has happened before), my additional funds didn't appear.

The bus driver stopped the bus, and took great pains to try to humiliate me in front of everyone. Even though he must know that such tech problems happen, and I promised to pay extra the next day (I've done that before, too).

He was truly atrocious, foaming at the mouth, enjoying his power, claiming I was a freeloader, and didn't want to pay.

My company gives me up to $100 per month for bus fare! I tried to pay.

WTF?

It's funny - a kindly female driver recently asked me to get off the bus without paying, because it was cold out.

What a strange country. One bus driver gives you a free ride.
The next goes psycho.

The foaming-at-the-mouth, petty bus driver, though, really got me down.

I understand that he's probably unhappy with his job, underpaid, perhaps his wife won't put out, but is this type of behavior common in Mexico? In Sweden, where I've been numerous times, the driver would have apologize for the technical trouble.

1:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

1. Try to limit posts to 1/2 page max (thanks)
2. Just leave the country.

mb

2:28 AM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Dr. B .. the world is truly made of retards.
Retards, in that they are STOPPED...retarded in their intelligence.
What difference if they CHOOSE to be so ?
They are STUPID !
That is FACT !
NOW !
Do we have to deal with these idiots ?


THAT is our decision.
I say no.

We have to go our own way, forget those that are incapable.
It's not cold... only what is survivable.

3:45 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

SrVidabuena,

No kidding about the 80's! I can't believe I'm nostalgic for those days either. More than all the bad television, I think I miss being able to open my window and actually hear kids outside playing games like baseball, or just riding their bikes. For the past 10 years, I don't think I've heard a single neighborhood kid doing anything! Apparently no one under 12 years old just hangs out anymore--these days one has to go through the elaborately arcane ritual of singing up for a "play date." Give me a break!

4:37 AM  
Anonymous Bossu said...

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/man-shoots-himself-in-the-head-and-dies-while-demonstrating-gun-safety-9153098.html

Who said there was no justice in the world?!

11:01 AM  
Blogger GregJS said...

Dr. B - I agree HG society was not the “full package” either; and yeah, modern medicine comes in handy at times (although, as in drug commercials, you have to read the small print, which reads as follows: “Modern medical care often applied stupidly, dehumanizingly, hustlingly, non-holistically, over-aggressively; often only masks symptoms, thus allowing underlying disease states to deepen; normal conditions/healthy states of being, like pregnancy or high-spiritedness in children, may be “medicalized”; and in general, more problems may be created than solved.”)

On the other side of the equation, if you made it past early childhood in HG society, you were likely to be gloriously healthy with great teeth (practically no cavities) and very little chronic, degenerative disease. You also probably would have had a much higher toleration for pain and would likely even have experienced pain quite differently than we do (for ex., physical pain triggers, and is greatly amplified by, the sorts of repressed psychological traumas that are endemic to modern life - and of which, again, HG’s probably had little-to-none). So, a medical trade-off: better physical/psych health most of the time versus better medical care for the times when you do need it.

I think you’re right to tie the shift in our overall way of being to the shift from nomadic to settled life. WG offers great insight into this. My own condensed version: Every baby to this day is born expecting nomadic HG life, and the only way we’ve come up with so far to get them to accept settled life is: violently suppressing their HG impulses. So the cognitive, social, physical, and spiritual capacities that rest on those HG-keyed lines of development (many of which are the basis for Wafer values) generally can’t come to fruition; and the silent, frustrated pain of this makes us do no end of crazy stupid things (foremost of which has been going around the world and inflicting this exact same damage on anyone “uncivilized” enough to have less of it than we do). Put all that in a jar, shake for 10K years, and voila - out steps Douchebagus Americanus.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Russ Newman said...

"This is, after all, the only blog in the entire world worth paying any attention to."

Careful how you jest online Dr B., more people than you would imagine (well, maybe not you) will take you seriously ;-)

Although you may have a point: checking in at the numerous "lunatic fringe" blogs & websites I 've been lurking at over the past few years reveals a lot of folks that seemed to make sense fairly regularly now showing increasing signs of completely popping their corks, to put it mildly. Stress levels are getting really high.

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Kathy Sloan said...

If this doesn't top absolutely everything, I don't know what does. Immediately upon reading this, I thought: I can't wait to hear what Berman will say about this. A Baptist church in Kentucky is giving away guns to attract converts. "Beam me up Scotty!!"

What would Jesus shoot indeed!

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/03/04/1282114/-What-Would-Jesus-Shoot-Kentucky-Baptists-giving-away-25-guns-to-attract-converts?detail=facebook#

2:22 PM  

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