March 28, 2014

218

Dear Wafers (and Waferettes):

Time to start a new discussion; or continue the old one, if you prefer. What was it, anyway? Something about the Ukraine, and a Yuppie...I forget. My brain gets softer by the day; I can't even remember what I had for breakfast. Anyway, nothing profound to say at this point. Just remember that you are Wafers, and wear your T-shirts proudly. And don't forget to start the day by consulting your post-its.

I leave for Japan in less than two weeks. For those of you who will be in Tokyo on April 17-18, I'll be speaking on the Komaba campus those afternoons. Most of this 'holiday' is actually work: lots of interviews to conduct, that sort of thing, so I can complete my book on Japan, which will probably never see the light of day anyway. (BTW, I'll try to stay in touch with the blog during April 10-May 15, but it'll necessarily be touch and go. Please bear with me if things slow down a bit.) I may just run it off on a laser printer and distribute free copies at Times Square, what the heck. And after that, I might pull a Roth, and say: enough! No more writing. I'm moving to eastern Oregon to run a rhubarb farm. Many years ago, in fact, Roth calculated that for every 75 serious readers in the US who died, they were replaced by one. We now see the results of that ratio all around us.

But it's a great spectacle, collapse, n'est-ce pas? I'm sorry that Ovomit didn't botch the Ukraine thing more than he did, but perhaps we're not yet ready for a full-blown Suez Moment. Never fear: 2014 will give us much to gasp about, possibly even a return of Sarah (my true love) to public life. Or Mittney? Wouldn't that be a hoot. All of us keep saying, after each verkakte event, Well, it can't get any dumber than _______. And then--it does! I'm telling you, kids, we have much to look forward to.

kiss kiss

mb

194 Comments:

Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and All Worldwide WAFers:

Today, I bring to your attention a remarkable book which adds important new theoretical foundations to WAFerism. Thomas Piketty’s new opus magnum
“Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, http://amzn.com/067443000X is already generating much debate around the world.
Let me quote Doug Henwood, a WAFer like economist:
” The core message of this enormous and enormously important book can be delivered in a few lines: Left to its own devices, wealth inevitably tends to concentrate in capitalist economies. There is no “natural” mechanism inherent in the structure of such economies for inhibiting, much less reversing, that tendency. Only crises like war and depression, or political interventions like taxation (which, to the upper classes, would be a crisis), can do the trick. And Thomas Piketty has two centuries of data to prove his point.” Source : http://equitablegrowth.org/2014/03/25/2366/dialogue-ten-so-far-worthwhile-reviews-of-and-reflections-on-thomas-pikettys-capital-in-the-twenty-first-century-wednesday-focus-march-26-2014

Of course, in America concentrated wealth also delivers concentrated political power which locks in the system in a downward spiral.
And in America, the highest aspiration is get wealthy but only in the financial sphere.

6:19 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Trout-

A board game called "Class Struggle" invented by Bartell Ollman many yrs ago demonstrates the same thing.

mb

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

MB,

Sure, Ukraine didn't bring on the collapse this time, but don't be so pessimistic! Remember that glorious American can-do spirit! That's the great thing about American positive thinking -- we'll just keep trying, over & over again, until we can proudly proclaim "Mission accomplished!" over the smoldering ruins of our society! After all, we're number one, right? Especially in stupidity, greed, willful ignorance -- all the things that made us what we are today, a beacon unto the world!

Ahem.

On another note, I came across an interview with you re: public atheists like Richard Dawkins & Sam Harris. You made a strong point about their embodiment of the True Believer mentality. I dismissed Harris after reaching the point in his first book where he justifies torture & vilifies pacifism as immoral. Dawkins is a strong champion for scientific literacy, but he clearly has a blind spot about spiritual hunger (for lack of a better phrase).

This is something I think about lately: this leveling to the lowest common denominator has affected every aspect of life, including the spiritual. While I'm technically an atheist, I do feel there's a need for something sacred, meaningful -- Tillich's Ultimate Ground of Being, if you will. Yet spirit has pretty much been ceded to literalists/fundamentalists on both sides. In this area, as in so many others, there's no nuance, no complexity, no depth. You get (a) pure reason is everything, (b) pure faith is everything (traditional or New Age). Black/white, on/off. The quality of thought (or lack thereof) is so flat & facile as to be non-existent. No Thomas Mertons, no Martin Bubers. It's like so many small children playing at something they've seen adults do, without having any grasp of the substance within the outward form.

I guess I'm wondering just how many people have any concept of what a rich, flowering, nourishing inner life really is -- and I suppose I already know the answer. If anyone here has ever tried to discuss the idea of a meaningful life with others, you've probably gotten the same responses I have: bewilderment, derision, anger. NMI is clearly the way to go at this point.


11:37 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB-

Yes, "Class Struggle" the board game! I remember seeing it in some local game shops in the 1980s. I shoulda picked one up to play with my lefty friends. Only trouble was, I didn't have too many lefty friends at the time! It turns out the game is now a collector's item on eBay... A nice little example of "surplus profit"? Anyway, thanks for the background info about professor Ollman. One learns something new everyday on the greatest blog in the universe. I'm proud to be one of the 134; avoiding the Utter Darkness of eternal douchebaggery.

Jeff

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Dr. B--

This piece in Alternet reminded me of your idea of "existential strain" (in this case, with respect to the unveiling of the self-help ethos). In addition to the URL, here's a passage:

"Thomas Scheff, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara, recently published a paper in the journal Cultural Sociology claiming that in highly individualistic cultures like the United States, where people are encouraged to 'go it alone,' shame is the price we pay for not achieving success.

Viewed through this prism, you can think of the constant simmering anger in our culture as the road rage of self-help culture. Fearing the humiliation of failure, we aggressively lash out at others who prove the self-help nostrums a lie."

http://www.alternet.org/economy/how-self-help-industry-hustles-america?page=0%2C1

Deli meats for all--

Brian

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

MB, Wafers- My apt lease is up unceremoniously due to fire damage to my building (pretty small fire actually, but they're still kicking everyone out) and so, I'm actually seriously considering the idea of spending some time in Mexico or elsewhere. Probably it's talk of emigration on this blog that planted that seed. Anyway, one thing I'm not clear on are the rules for working abroad -- If you did freelance work (illustration, etc.) for clients in the US, while in Mexico or elsewhere, would that require a work permit? And, how difficult is it to obtain a work permit?

Here's something else Wafers may find amusing: I checked out Nicholas Carr's "The Shallows- what the 'net is doing to yer brain," but could not manage to devote any time to read it-- due to said 'net addiction! Then, after the fire knocked out my electricity and thrust me back into the Middle Ages, I finally managed to make some headway thru the book, by candle-light! Also spent some time finally reading great articles I'd printed off Philip Pilkington's fixingtheeconomists blog (he writes about George Berkeley, history of science, much more -- lots of countering the conventional wisdom.)

Carr's book is better than I expected.. I guess because, MB, you often just recommend the footnotes to people, I thought it might be utter shite or something, but it's not that bad... I think I also heard some reviews knocking it when it came out. I wish you well on your trip to Japan.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Sadly, accepting Piketty's conclusions regarding the capitalist system and the implications flowing from them would require the citizenry to reject long-held myths and to abandon favored fantasies.

And, equally unlikely, it would require them to apply critical thinking to the evidence available in abundance that shows that his criticisms are justified and the consequences proceeding from this form of economic organization inevitable.

Better to cover one's ears, close one's eyes, and chant "I can't hear you" or "La la la la la" to drown out the unsettling views.

1:45 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi Wafers,

I just got off the phone with my cousin who told me something about his recent employer (he quit a few weeks ago) that, at first, I found simply outrageous. But I was able (upon further Wafer-like reflection) to alter my perspective a tad. Anyhow, my cousin was constantly on the road for work (sales & project manager duties) and had to drive a car outfitted with a GPS tracking device that monitored *all* his activity. Something like this device:

http://www.linxup.com/?gclid=CNTasvifuL0CFYyhOgodNHQA9Q

Now get this: my cousin said that if he deviated, even in the slightest way, from his planned (and agreed upon) route or spent 'excessive' or 'unexplained' time at a particular location in (or out of) his designated itinerary (including stopping by his house to check on his pregnant wife who had pre-enclampsia, and fix her some lunch) my cousin would get a phone call and/or have to submit a written documentation that would account for 'unexplained' deviations and 'idling', and thus satisfy the requirement of practicing good and sound 'itinerary' discipline and 'compliance.' (Yeah, this really is America, all actors in another version of that movie "Compliance," t MB has recommended). I said to my cousin, "Tommy, that's no different than being a prisoner under 'house arrest' or being outfitted with one of those ankle bracelet monitors." He just said, "yeah, maybe," and laughed. Yeah, this says it all. What a fucking bunch of morons and creeps Americans are. Pathetic, so spineless and cowardly, what poor excuses for human beings we are. And wage slaves, on top of that. But, gratefully, another sure sign of the U$A's inevitable collapse. It can't happen soon enough. Please God. O & D...

2:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Re: capitalism being a huge con game, and 'democracy' being a shuck, let me refer you to my buddy Nomi Prins, who just came out with another blockbuster: "All the Presidents' Bankers." This bk is a knockout; it takes C. Wright Mills to a whole new level. Turns out, the "power elite" are all related to each other! Anyway, not to be missed.

mb

2:41 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

Based upon what you said about negative liberty then I'm confused about what it is. How can exceptions that does not allow for a free for all be built into the idea of inalienable rights?

Another thing, I don't understand your analysis on Berlin and how you derive your conclusions. It is possible that I'm comprehending his essay wrong but I thought one of the major points was to show the flaw of negative liberty.

Did he not show the flaws of negative liberty in his essays? Is my comprehension way off and if it is where did I zig when I should've zagged?

Let's take the Typhoid Mary case example. I want to be able to choose to not get sick and die. How would it be possible if she was contagious and the idea of negative liberty would not allow anyone to quarantine her? To me, it seems like they had to add some positive liberties to keep people safe.

Am I misunderstanding what Berlin and you are saying here? Will you please clarify?

3:08 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Side note to Wafers: See? You *see* what I mean??! There are 317 million of him, and 134 of you. Think abt that!

Similar to the odds presented to the army of Grand Fenwick in the 60's movie "The Mouse That Roared".

The commander's reply (paraphrased from distant memory):
"Well then, we'll just have to outsmart them."


2nd best exchange in the film (via IMDB):
General Snippet: I warn you, madam - I know the entire Geneva Convention by heart!

Grand Duchess Gloriana: Oh, how nice! You must recite it for me some evening; I play the harpsichord.

RIP Peter Sellers

4:40 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I've just been thinking about specialization and how it relates to authoritarianism. I don't think the former necessarily breeds the latter in all situations, i.e. I think some people are capable of enough self confidence to think critically. But the ratio of the number of this group compared to the rest concerns me greatly. MB, I believe you had said before something close to that you can see hope for individuals, which I agree with. But I'm wondering if our species doom is assured so long as we arrange societies around specialization. I don't think intelligence is distributed evenly/thoroughly enough, genetically, to allow traditions/teaching/wisdom to overcome the deference specialization plants in most people.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Re Dan's post in the previous thread. The people that "think this [stuff] up" are the same people that require the USPS to invest for the retirement of workers who haven't even been born yet. The constant adding of new strictures to public education is not designed to reform it, but to destroy it. The Corporatists in government and behind government (e.g. the Koch brothers) want the public to realize that the "public sector" just doesn't work. So they are systematically demolishing it, in full view. Most of the public is not attentive enough, or even smart enough if they were to pay attention, to recognize that this is a deliberate plan. The elected puppets say it is intended to improve education, so that's what it must be for. And everything is rolling along very nicely, thank you. Get ready for corporate provided schools where everyone wears electronic tags to make sure they attend their daily advertising and their families get properly billed for every minute of it.

BTW, MB, of course the power elite are all related. Nearly everyone of English descent is related, and descended from the English aristocracy. Primogeniture of inheritance forced the elites of Europe to set up their second and later sons in businesses or professions to preserve the family estate intact. And of course, there were plenty of illegitimate descendents of said aristocracy as well. Keep this up for many generations and everyone is related to the aristocracy. It has been estimated that Edward I alone (the guy who fought with and eventually captured & killed "Braveheart" William Wallace) has 100 million living descendants today.

5:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Sorry, kid, I just don't have time. Yr gonna hafta work it out for yrself. But just know that Sir Isaiah wd have agreed w/Justice Brandeis: The 1st Amendment must not be construed to allow someone to yell 'fire' in a crowded theater.

mb

6:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sav-

Well, one thing to say it, another to demonstrate it. That (the latter) is what Nomi does.

Ty-

A great film, along with "The Party" (Hrundi V. Bakshi).

mb

6:06 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Hackenbush,

I don’t have a legally correct answer to your question about doing freelance work while in Mexico as a ‘tourist.’ But, why should they care if a tourist exchanges e-mails, letters, or documents with someone back home.

There’s a cautionary tale about the ‘nebech’ who sees a ‘no parking’ sign and asks a cop if it’s okay to park there. When the cop says, “No!’ the nebech asks, “Why are all those other cars parked there?” The cop replies, “They didn’t ask.”

There are websites for American and Canadian expats living in Mexico, and I would suggest that you check them out.

Wish me luck; twelve more frantic days and I’m out of Iowa and home to Guanajuato.

David Rosen

6:16 PM  
OpenID parkyourtuchus said...

Wafers,

Have I got a book for you - "The Power of Negative Thinking" by Bobby Knight.

Bobby may be a fan of drones and a member of the military, but he spares no ill will toward the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale.

We need more negative thinkers... asking why instead of how...

Tuchus

8:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers:

Don' miss it: "The East" (released last yr).

mb

12:32 AM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

WAFer's ...watched "Soylent Green" for the first time in over 20 yrs last night. Corny and dated.
But got to thinkin' ...What if it's not about FOOD for survival, but about the intellectual capabilities of a culture/state being so devalued and diminished that the existing 'masses' only continue in a zombie-like narcolepsy by a parasitic 'feeding' on the dead corpses of false philosophies of the past?

3:18 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

MB said: This bk is a knockout; it takes C. Wright Mills to a whole new level. Turns out, the "power elite" are all related to each other! Anyway, not to be missed.

I don’t see how Wafers can endorse Nomi Prins book or any other book that blames bankers or the elite. We know that Americans and their leaders of one and the same. That every minimum wage grocery clerk endorses everything that bankers and the elite do, whether they do it in secret or not. I don’t see why we need to waste our time looking at the American elite, when we know that every homeless person loves and approves of all that our bankers/elite do, why else would they fly the American flag? Nomi Prins sounds like one of those deluded progressives who doesn’t realize that it is the average degraded buffoon that runs the show in America and not any elite. Next thing you know Wafers will be blaming our elite for the Ukraine crisis, forgetting that the blame for this crisis rests squarely on the shoulders of the average American for not being able to find The Crimea on a blank map when a stranger walks up to them on the street. What’s going on here, has there been some kind of time warp on the blog? Let’s get back to reality - more buffoon cowbell please!

7:05 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Savantesimal,
Thanks for responding to my post from the previous essay. It was lonely over there. Yes, how bad is it? A recent survey found that between 1970-2010 Philadelphia lost 17% of its middle class vs. 10% nationally. As the article says,"Today a huge problem...is the state of public schools. Tens of thousands have fled the problem plagued district...Schools remain a major factor as people consider moving out of the city." So what does our Republican governor do to address this? He cuts 1 billion dollars from education! So now many Phila. public schools have no counselor, nurse, music, art, and you can forget about after-school activities. Instead of creating a first rate public education system the corporatists have a laser-like plan to under-fund it thus again resulting in middle-class families fleeing the city. Remarkable. The right wing would rather destroy a city than allow the flourishing of anything with the word "public" in it.

7:40 AM  
Blogger jml said...

here's another short video similar to the one from ucsb where the interviewer asks college students basic questions about government like "how many senators per state?" none of the students are able to answer. yet, when he asks them about a pop culture song, they all know it, some even enthusiastically sing it. these are kids who look like they come from middle to upper middle class families, the kind that will go on to be managers, teachers, business executives, etc.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKaYnHlpD9M

8:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Re: "Capital in the 21st C," by Thos Piketty: gd review in March 31 New Yorker.

9:41 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Interesting interview with Diane Ravitch on the privatizing of public education for profit on the latest Moyers & Company.

The video is here:

http://billmoyers.com/episode/public-schools-for-sale/

The transcript is here:

http://www.alternet.org/education/diane-ravitch-public-schools-sale?akid=11658.241474.8iSLxK&rd=1&src=newsletter976470&t=7

And a related blog post here:

http://billmoyers.com/2014/03/25/understanding-the-propaganda-campaign-against-public-education/

Living in NJ, I've seen Chris Christie doing his best to help these so-called "school reformers" turn education into one more commodity, just like healthcare. And our local TV stations are flooded with ads attacking NYC Mayor DeBlasio for trying to keep charter schools (for mucho profit) in check.

Disgusting.

Recommended film from the early 1930s: Finishing School. Teenage daughter of nouveau riche parents is sent to exclusive girl's school for the 1%, where "Don't get caught!" is the main (if unspoken) rule. This environment nearly destroys her, as hypocrisy & backstabbing abound, both froms tudents & from faculty & administration.

9:43 AM  
Anonymous U-Go said...

Unlikely WAFers #1 - Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery

Moshe Dayan said that he realized he knew very little about the war in Vietnam after he decided to go there. So he traveled to Paris, London and Washington to pick the brains of some experienced military men. In Paris he met with generals who fought in Vietnam during the French War (1945-54). In London, he had an audience with British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, whom Dayan had met in the early '50s. The hero of El Alamein told the hero of the Sinai that the Americans had implemented a misguided strategy that depended on large numbers of combat troops, aggressive bombing and the civilian social engineering plan that moved entire village populations threatened by the Viet Cong into safe havens. That policy, the 78-year-old Montgomery told Dayan, was "insane."

http://www.historynet.com/moshe-dayan-sounds-the-alarm-in-vietnam-3.htm

9:47 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Zosima, While I like Nomi Prims work and agree with her analysis I also agree with you. Its convenient to make people victims and absolve them of any responsibility as well they were victims too (the good Germans if you will). I don;t know if I would blame the homeless and infirm, but it is plain that the average american has a great capacity for looking the other way in the face of evil, corruption and cruelty.

Dan,

So a meenie Republican cutting the funds for Philla Schools? I can assure you that if they double the funds for the Phila public schools there would be no change in outcomes for the mostly feral youth there denizened. There would be a few procurement scandals and fat teacher salaries and contractor pay. There has to date been no empirical relationship between school funding and student performance. The D.c. public schools spend the most of any school district in the U.s. and the results are abysmal. As a practical matter, Republican or Democrat the fact is Philly is essentially bankrupt and the state of Penn is contracting economically. So even if they wanted to waste money on the Philly schools they just can do it as they don;t have the money. You will see more of this and I guess a lot of prog knashing of teeth and blaming either old whites or repulbican for the reality of austerity. But hey if you vote democrat like Obama or Hillary everything will be hunky dory and rivers of chocolate and rainbows will be seen everywhere.

11:48 AM  
Anonymous Sam Schmek said...

To the music and lyrics of "Dreamer" by Supertramp circa 1978
Makes a good morning post


Douche Bag, you know you are a Douche bag

Well can you pull your head from your ass, oh no!

I said douche bag, you're nothing but a douche bag

Well can you pull your head from your ass, oh no!

I said "Far out, - What a day, a year, a life it is!"

You know, - Well you know you had it comin' to you,

Now there's not a lot I can do

Douche Bag, you stupid little douche bag well can you pull your head from your ass, oh no!

2:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sam-

That's so beautiful; I actually wept. You wdn't be Sam Schmeck, D.D.S., by any chance, wd u?

mb

3:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DBIA (Douche Bags In Action):

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/sports/2014/03/30/newday-vo-arizona-basketball-loss-crowd.cnn&hpt=hp_t2&from_homepage=yes&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F#/video/sports/2014/03/30/newday-vo-arizona-basketball-loss-crowd.cnn

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have read most of your books and I am an avid reader of your blog...in fact I moved to Mexico about five years ago to get away.. HOWEVER, forgive my ignorance but do you realize that there is a really racist and fascist blog that refers to Obama as Ovomit...http://barackovomit.wordpress.com/

Perhaps you need to rethink using Ovomit in your blog.

Victor Gonzalez

9:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Victor-

1st, pls sign in as Victor, not as Anonymous. I don't post Anons.
2nd, I came up w/Ovomit independently of the fascists, but yr pt is well taken. Maybe I'll switch to Oh!Vomit! Congrats on yr move to Mex, chico.

mb

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

I've noticed that "douchebag" is frequently used in the comments here. So, out of curiosity, boredom, and nothing else better to do, I decided to do some online research about the meaning and use of "douchebag".

I checked various online dictionaries and I also did a word frequency search on Google Ngram.

As most everybody knows, the original definition of "douchebag" was for a sterile container used for a vaginal cleansing -- hygiene, birth control and all that. The first use of the word was about 1890. But, the medical folks determined that a douche was doing more harm than good, and it was not a reliable method of birth control.

According to Ngram, the use of the word "douchebag" dropped to almost zero about 1925. Then, it picked up some popularity with another meaning -- a jerk, a bully, an asshole, a mean or rude person, someone seen as being arrogant, snobby or obnoxious.

There is no known connection, of course, but use of the word "douchebag" has doubled since 9/11. No doubt somebody could make a conspiratorial connection as to why the attack on the World Trade Center would cause a spike in people using the word "douchebag", but it is certainly only coincidental.

Click here for the Google Ngram chart on usage frequency of the word "douchebag".

11:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ken-

I'm v. excited abt any and all research into douchebaggery. Plus, I certainly agree that douche bags are doing more harm than gd. As for the Ngram, it can give us usage frequency, but not actual douche bag frequency. We need to establish a Douche Bag Index (DBI), charting the increase in douche bags per hectare in the US since 9/11 or perhaps 1911.

I'm also wondering what division of Big Pharma manufactures douche bags, where their HQ is located, and why the Ay-rabs didn't attack that--wh/wd have been dramatically symbolic, much more so than the WTC.

mb

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

America is a joke, indeed!

"A Delaware man convicted of raping his three-year-old daughter only faced probation after a state Superior Court judge ruled he "will not fare well" in prison.

In her decision, Judge Jan Jurden suggested Robert H. Richards IV would benefit more from treatment. Richards, who was charged with fourth-degree rape in 2009, is an unemployed heir living off his trust fund. The light sentence has only became public as the result of a subsequent lawsuit filed by his ex-wife, which charges that he penetrated his daughter with his fingers while masturbating, and subsequently assaulted his son as well.

Richards is the great grandson of du Pont family patriarch Irenee du Pont, a chemical baron."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/30/robert-richards-rape_n_5060386.html

2:50 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Speaking of douchebags, I think this editorial in Sunday's Pittsburgh Post Gazette is rather insightful:

http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2014/03/28/Im-busier-than-you-are-BRIGID-SCHULTE/stories/201403280232

I hadn't even considered "busyness" to be the new measure of status, but I think the writer is on to something here. Yes, how awful to have been born in these times!

3:48 AM  
Anonymous turnover said...

A blogger here in Ann Arbor, MI writes about local journalism. Ann Arbor lost its print daily a few years ago. Now, people are considerably less informed about what's going on in town. This blogger writes:

"we’re in this weird place right now, where, sans subscribers, the owners of newspapers need to demonstrate to their remaining advertisers that they have online readers. And, thanks to sophisticated analytics, they know exactly what kinds of articles drive those numbers. So, as a result, we’re seeing more divisive content from our local news sources.

"We’re seeing more sensationalistic, social media-friendly headlines. We’re seeing the stoking of more Comment Section Shitstorms (CSS)… It’s not about disseminating news. It’s not about building communities. It’s about desperately chasing clicks, however you can get them."

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Megan,

Yes, the plague of busyness, of always having to be productive, to be forever doing ... something. I've heard many people I know bemoaning the fact that they've somehow wasted the day because they haven't "accomplished something" -- never mind what, as long as it's something. Yet they also complain that they don't have time to do the things they really want to do, the things that truly interest them, because they have to earn it by (of course) Doing Something Productive first. And then they have no time left for anything else.

On a related note, an interesting study on the difference between a happy life & a meaningful life:

http://www.alternet.org/personal-health/happy-life-or-meaningful-one-do-we-really-need-choose?akid=11659.241474.xsmoj2&rd=1&src=newsletter976744&t=21&paging=off&current_page=1#bookmark

This is the disease of our times. Nearly everyone is frantically pursuing happiness, which has been defined as getting & having & flaunting more & more things; meanwhile, the concept of a meaningful life, is derided, dismissed, ignored, squashed. After all, it doesn't move product & generate profit.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Mo Ronich said...

Shouldn't laugh, but...
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/25/woman-attacked-google-glass_n_4854442.html?utm_hp_ref=technology&utm_source=zergnet.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=zergnet_144475

10:32 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

In response to her own question asking "what happened" to produce the hamster herd busily beavering away in American workplaces, Ms. Schulte cites a New York University (NYU) sociologist's view that "...today's knowledge-economy professions in art, technology, engineering and academics are similar to the pursuits of the mind that the ancient Greek philosophers envisioned as leisure."

Ms. Schulte infers from this statement that "...we work a lot because we enjoy it."

While I found the rest of her piece unobjectionable, this inference caused me to administer myself a head-slap, as I had long been laboring under the apparent misapprehension that Americans were working long hours and often holding multiple jobs because their incomes under the American capitalist system were insufficient to afford them time for anything else.
So, we work a lot because we enjoy it.

To learn otherwise--and in the learning to be disabused of wrong thinking--is all one can hope for day-to-day.

In that respect, I owe a debt of gratitude to Ms. Schulte and to the NYU sociologist whose insight led her to her conclusion.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

As I keep telling u guys, stupidity is not merely a reflection of low IQ.

mb

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Tim,

Yes, it's like people have absolutely no self-awareness. Unfortunately, these are also the same people who surround most of us most of the time! Good grief, the whole "busyness" thing is just so depressing. How could one possibly have a meaningful interaction with someone who views the world like this?

Of course, there's nothing wrong with giving oneself over to a high and noble endeavor. But that is something entirely different using busyness as a narcotic. Indeed, heroin itself probably has less soul-stupefying properties!

I don't know. But I'm starting to think that busyness is rapidly becoming the new "opium of the people".

9:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Gee, Really? Dept.:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-misled-on-interrogation-program-senate-report-says/2014/03/31/eb75a82a-b8dd-11e3-96ae-f2c36d2b1245_story.html?hpid=z1

10:49 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi Wafers,

Just had this reminder that Octavio Paz was born 100 yrs ago yesterday (31 March 1914):

http://www.pierrejoris.com/blog/?p=11827

IMO, Paz's book "The Bow and the Lyre" deserves a place in any NMI's library. And you can, literally, open the book to any page and find something eminently worthy of your time & attention. In fact here are a few citations just by opening the book at 'random' (apologies to John Cage) and so it took me less than 10 minutes to assemble a few of these quotes and I say they are, all of them, searing to the mind & magical to the spirit:

"A description of the surface of contemporary society would have to include other no less disturbing traits: the aggressive rebirth of racial, religious, and linguistic particularisms along with the docile adoption of forms of thought and conduct elevated to a universal canon by commercial and political propaganda; the raising of the standard of living and the degrading of the standard of life; the sovereignty of the object and the dehumanization of those who produce and use it; the predominance of collectivism and the evaporation of the notion of one’s fellow man. The means have become ends: economic policy instead of political economy; sex education and not an understanding of eroticism; the perfection of the communications system and the nullification of those who communicate with one another; the triumph of the sign over the image in the arts and, now, of the thing over the sign..."

"...the almost complete replacement of the classic antagonism between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, capital and labor, by a dual and ferocious contradiction: the opposition between rich and poor countries and the quarrels between states and groups of states that join together or separate, form alliances or fight one another, stirred by the needs of the moment, by geography and the national interest,…"

"“The time of technology is, on the one hand, a break in the cosmic rhythms of the old civilizations; on the other, the acceleration and, in the end, the cancellation of modern clock time. From both standpoints it is a discontinuous and vertiginous time that eludes representation, if not measurement. In short, technology is grounded upon a negation of the world as image. And one would have to add: because of that negation, technology exists. It is not technology that denies the image of the world; it is the disappearance of the image that makes technology possible.”

4:10 AM  
Anonymous dawgzy said...

Ken Smith- excellent research. If I recall correctly a douchebag failure was pivotal in Faulkner's The Wild Palms. It froze after some sweet love in a mountain cabin, so Charlotte (?) got pregnant, her MD boyfriend botched the abortion, and that was that. It raises the larger issue of what to do when your douchebag acts like a 'douchebag.' Or what pertainsif the owner/operator is herself a douche? How many bags could a douchbag douche…? What's the point of reading literature if it doesn't yield this kind of gold?

1:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dawg-

I have this recurrent fantasy in wh/I write Harvard, proposing that they launch a Dept. of Douche Bag Studies, and that they write back and say, "Yes, we already have an American Studies Program."

mb

1:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This looks interesting:

http://www.amazon.com/How-America-Was-Lost-Warfare/dp/0986036293/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396401569&sr=1-1&keywords=how+america+was+lost

9:20 PM  
Anonymous Rorschach said...

I am a huge fan of Paul Craig Roberts and I highly recommend that you read his book Morris.

I still live in the US, but I'm planning on leaving; I find it unfortunate that you were barely able to come across some of this country's intelligent citizens. Although I agree with you when you say "99.9% of the country has its head up it's ass" in the sense that there is no way to alter America's trajectory, I know plenty of people who are pissed as hell at where the country is currently (although they do not know how bad it is going to get).

Anyways, Paul Craig Roberts' book will enlighten you, it's very much worth the read.

10:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Rorschach-

Thanks, I probably will. I suspect Paul, like myself, understands that there simply is no changing the US: it's on the rd to destruction, end of story. Max Blumenthal makes the same pt abt Israel in "Goliath," and concludes w/some stats as to how many Israeli citizens have hit the rd, given that most of the population supports the conversion of the country into a fascist state (ironically, a large % of them have relocated to Berlin). Meanwhile, here's another bk I wanted to recommend, written by an old friend of mine from DC days:

http://www.amazon.com/Manufactured-Crisis-Untold-Story-Nuclear/dp/1935982338/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396405718&sr=1-1&keywords=gareth+porter+manufactured+crisis

Talk abt douche bags: Netanyahu might even out-do Obama, if that's at all possible. Dangerous times, dangerous leaders, and stupid populations. Not a great formula for a healthy future, eh?

mb

10:39 PM  
Blogger GregJS said...

35A little douchebag snippet: I was in the Met museum in NYC yesterday looking at the van Goghs when the guard/monitor lady for that room yells out “DON’T TOUCH THAT!” I turn to see the 20-something just next to me pulling her hand back from the painting she’s standing in front of. The idiot had actually gone ahead and copped a feel of a van Gogh! (It was his “Wheat Field With Cypress” or something like that. Amazing, gorgeous painting.) I was absolutely stunned. Just couldn’t believe someone would be that enormous of an idiot. (Am I being too harsh? Do young people today honestly not know you don’t do that?)

When the guard lady finishes giving her hell, the 20-something clicks a photo of the painting with her phone. I’m willing to bet anything if you go to her Fecesbook page, it’s got that photo on it with a caption, “I TOUCHED THIS $50MILLION PAINTING!!!!!!!!!!” And it probably already has a lot of “likes” or whatever it is they do on Fecesbook. If even museum-goers are this stupid, they should just close all museums right now. So many people were just walking up to a painting, clicking a photo, and moving on to the next one. I guess it’s a good thing van Gogh is dead otherwise the inanity of people would probably drive him nuts.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile, let's just gun down the homeless:

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2014/03/31/hln-vo-albuquerque-police-violence.hln&hpt=hp_c3&from_homepage=yes&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F#/video/us/2014/03/31/hln-vo-albuquerque-police-violence.hln

11:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ken-

Thanks for your kind comments; problem is, no one bothers to read the stuff written to previous posts. Better to send messages to the current one instead.

Cuidate, muchacho-

mb

4:22 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Near: Thanks for bringing up Paz. I ran across this nice article about him and his politics:

http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/poetry-and-action-octavio-paz-at-100

9:19 AM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

mb/wafers:

A couple links.

Immanuel Wallerstein on Rand Paul/Libertarian 3rd party. "The previous two-party swing of compromise between two parties that are not all that different may not be able to survive the intrusion of libertarianism into the heart of US politics."

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/4/libertarianism-unitedstatesrandpaulelection.html

Paul Craig Roberts' notion that Obama (along with Neocons) is intent on war. "Today the drive to war is blatantly obvious."

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/31/obamas-sleepwalk-toward-war/

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB,

Bon voyage on your trip to Japan. May your interviews be fruitful.

Just be careful with that sushi... which is perfectly safe, according to this hilarious UN report:

“Fukushima radiation ‘unlikely’ to increase cancer rates – UN report”:

http://rt.com/news/fukushima-report-cancer-radiation-829/

Julian

2:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

Yeah, that report is probably based on TEPCO--eminently trustworthy! Meanwhile, the real danger in Japan is not sushi but fugu, or blowfish. Apparently it's a macho thing: Japanese roulette. It has to be cooked perfectly, and that's kinda tricky. Thus, 50% of the men who eat it die, supposedly. I'm thinking I'll stick to salmon.

mb

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

Eventually these people in top management of all these American firms will learn that whenever they harm the earth, they harm God; and whenever they harm another human being, they harm themselves:

DETROIT/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Motors Co in 2005 decided not to change an ignition switch eventually linked to the deaths of at least 13 people because it would have added about a dollar to the cost of each car, according to an internal GM document provided to U.S. congressional investigators.

The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce released the documents on Tuesday as lawmakers asked CEO Mary Barra why GM failed to recall 2.6 million cars until more than a decade after it first noticed a switch problem that could cut off engines and disable airbags, power steering and power brakes.

Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette cited a 2005 GM document that she said showed a cost of 57 cents per fix.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/02/gm-ignition-switch-dollar-per-car_n_5075680.html

4:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Frank-

These folks really are the scum of the earth, aren't they? Be sure to see "The East."

mb

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

They never learn do they? This GM ignition crime reminds me of the issue with the ford pinto back in the 1980's when in the interest of saving a couple of bucks Ford put out a car which led to the incineration of many people. Don;t get me started on Pharma. I recall at the behest of Pharma the FDA went to crack down on vitamins and supplements--they are dangerous you see. Truns out in the last decade two people died from vitamin overdoses meanwhile over 100,000 people die per year from prescription drug complications--not overdoses. Yes the corporates are a bunch of murderous greedy pieces of drech. Not much hope either on the government side as well they seem intent on directly bombing and droning brown people around the globe.

So this is progress and the wonders of democracy? Go ahead my progressive friends do vote for the dems and for my free marketer friends yes by all means let the market sort things out like ignition switches and pharma.

As an aside, Paul Craig Roberts is a fine person and solid thinker, who indeed like MB sees no hope--there is no hope and only change for the worse....While stupidity like Gore Vidal excites me, the utter banality of those undertaking evil such as PR firms, family law judges, pharma, lobbists and your plain every day is in a way utterly horrifying to this grandfather. I will if the christians are correct soon assume my myriad roles and responsibilities in hell which may be relief from the worry, significant expense and exertions of having gotten all of my children out of the U.S, and to safety. My oldest is a rabbi in Israel and despite my best efforts he is staying and a source of constant worry. I should have stayed a swinging bachelor but could not resist my late wifes charms.

6:22 PM  
Blogger William Kalvin said...

Found: Great Morris Berman interview in Omni magazine, August 1991. Takes awhile to download. From archive.org.
Here

7:07 PM  
Blogger Himanshu Tiwari said...

Dear MB and Wafers,

Linked below are two very interesting columns by Charles Eisenstein. One is about "The War on Drugs" and the other about overpopulation.

In the first column, Eisenstien lays out how modern humans have been caged and explores how substance abuse has less to do with the substance than it has to do with the lives we live and what the War on Drugs has done to us, and what will follow it?

In the second column he questions whether concerns about overpopulation is a red herring while consumption is the real problem.

http://www.opendemocracy.net/charles-eisenstein/gateway-drug-to-what

http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/blog/concern-overpopulation-red-herring-consumption-problem-sustainability

Thanks,
Himanshu

7:16 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

GM=Corporate Murder. What's it gonna take to defeat these legions of SATAN?!

In addition, the Supreme Court has all but guaranteed a plutocracy in this nation. Today's ruling is a degenerate example of the power of money and giving it constitutional protection. Wafers need to convene on the steps of the Supreme Court and publicly burn copies of the U.S. Constitution and call it what it is: A covenant of death, and an agreement with hell!

Jeff

7:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

It's quite amazing that corporate execs are willing to murder large #s of people so that they don't have to spend an extra $1 producing a car, or whatever. The fact is that the folks who rise to the top of business, govt, and so on--given what it takes to get to the top--are sociopaths. Well, I actually think all Americans are, but there are levels of the disease, to be sure. Anyway, once again, pls check out a film called "The East."

Capo-

Have yr son read Blumenthal, Pappe, and Porter (he won't do it, but what the heck). Netanyahu is quite grotesque, eh wot?

mb

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Swordfish said...

Hi all, haven't commented in a while, but I'm still here. So much depressing sh**t going on in the USA at this point my post-its aren't helping (McCutcheon decision, extreme (militarized) police brutality where I live, nuclear leaks...on and on). I think I need more than post-its. Maybe a new cell phone app, YEAH! that's it. The WAFER App. Oh I'm a freakin genius. I'll talk to you all later, right now I gotta go pitch my idea to someone...

swordfish

9:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sword-

I think u may be ready for the Ultimate Post-It, the one that is the answer to all of it:

I'M GETTING OUT

1st post it, then do it.

This is not a joke.

mb

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Here is the soul (or more properly, the non-soul) of American exceptionalism:

http://www.salon.com/2014/04/02/errol_morris_on_rumsfeld_the_truth_and_the_unknown_known/

The comments are well worth reading, but it's Rumsfeld's words which are the most damning. Though he wouldn't recognize, understand, or care about a concept like "damning" in the first place. This is a shell in the form of a human being, the exemplar of the American Success Story, be it business, politics, or whatever.

I could go on & on, but what's the point? We can see what he is. We can see what those like him are. And with such soulless simulacra of people in charge of this country, who can possibly doubt its inevitable collapse?

10:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

It's quite clear by now that the country is coming apart at the seams. We have tipped over the edge into insanity, and people just can't take it any more. The gov't spies on everybody, the police shoot the homeless and the mentally ill, nearly 20% are out of work (in real figures), and something like 40% are just plain poor (in real figs). We are an international joke, have no foreign policy beyond huffing and puffing, and butcher innocent civilians on a daily basis. The so-called war on terror drags on in an Orwellian fashion; corporations destroy the planet for a handful of superrich families at the top. Meanwhile, the American public is basically a collection of morons with no coherent purpose to their lives, and the president is a shell, a cardboard figure almost as empty as his predecessor. It seems like something like this happens every week or so:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/02/us/fort-hood-shooting/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

To be followed by the usual hand-wringing and corny platitudes that we hear after every mass shooting, uttered by 'experts' (read: douche bags with doctorates) on network TV shows

Meanwhile, the suicide rate in the military is staggering: one individual every 18 hrs, during 2013. (I guess servicing a genocidal war machine can get a little depressing, on occasion.)

What is left for us? Historically speaking, what did the US finally amount to? Why not just close up shop, and announce that we will no longer be functioning as a country anymore? Why not just replace the stars and stripes with Alfred E. Neumann, and be done w/it?

mb

11:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: and pls don't think this is unrelated:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/02/opinion/toobin-court-rejects-campaign-limits/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

11:23 PM  
Anonymous Troutbum said...

Dr. MB and WAFers,

In an article which will not surprise any WAFers is study which lays out the misery of America. Titled "We're Not #1", found in the NY Times here : http://nyti.ms/1fwpVYW, we find that, quoting :"the United States excels in access to advanced education but ranks 70th in health, 69th in ecosystem sustainability, 39th in basic education, 34th in access to water and sanitation and 31st in personal safety. Even in access to cellphones and the Internet, the United States ranks a disappointing 23rd."

True enough, but we have the ability to put a missile into the window of your bathroom.

Also, some of the comments are clearly WAFer like.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

As Hemingway wrote in a nice little story, "nada, nada, y pues nada."

There's really nothing here (the USA).
I want people's honest opinion:
Am I a cynical negative jerk for not buying the line about how I work for an "amazing, hyper-growth company," that is going to "redefine the industry"?

Well, the trip is happening. Just have to negotiate the long absence with boss units. I'm getting a bit worried about our reception as Americans. Maybe we should just be Canadian for the trip? That ploy saved me once in a bar in Southern France, when a local was enraged about the Iraq War, and wanted to blame me. Even though I was against it, and told him Bush was a criminal...
It's funny - I live in a region, area where there is very little violence. The police have generally been nice, perhaps because I'm a white male who looks normal (I've gotten away with things in my youth...), and we just put in a new light rail line. But the addiction to technology is what I am being personally depressed by everyday. There are no people here - just cyborgs.

9:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Trout-

In one of her recent bks, Barbara Ehrenreich discusses something called the Happy Planet Index; the US ranked 150th, worldwide.

Pub-

Nation consists of 317 million robopaths living in The Matrix. What future do u think such a country has? Even beyond that, whom is there to talk to? Current # of registered Wafers = 135.

mb

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Mo Ronich said...

This happy planet index has a website. Happyplanetindex.org you can download reports/data. Apparently the rankings are based on happiness in a given country as compared to its resource use/eco. footprint. US is 105 of 150 but in the specific of "experienced well-being" we are 17 of 150. We just use a shitload of resources to get there. (But do surveyed people in US equate happiness=SUV?) Survey sample was 1000 persons in each country based on the gallup/cantril scale ladder of life questions.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

John R.-

In future, pls send messages to most recent post. No one reads the older stuff. Thanks.

mb

2:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

Sorry, I don't post Anons. Pls pick a handle, try again. Thank you.

mb

3:29 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB-

I viewed "The East" last night and I highly recommend it as well! This film was extremely engrossing and brought a whole lot of issues that Wafers are concerned with to light. Also, I hafta say, I think I'm in love with Brit Marling. You know, she was also in another great film you suggested for us, "The Company You Keep." I think she's an extraordinary talent. Many thanks for the recommendation and godspeed to you on your journey to Japan.

Jeff

3:53 PM  
Anonymous tamara said...

himanshu & trout: thanks for the article-links! good reads.

dear doc b.: it must've been at least ten years ago, i confided in my mother: "mom, whenever i hang out with americans, i start to see them as mummies. i mean, seconds after they begin talking, i can visualize them draping themselves over and over with schmata; it's very disconcerting!" ... she laughed, with understanding and a comfort/empathy that only a mother can impart. ;)

sadly, though, this "visual" continues to hold true for me, whenever granting my ear to an american. it is as though i am looking at a person who is carrying so much unnecessary baggage/weight. i look & look & search their eyes, and can't see them, because they are covered with reams of what my mind's eye sees as gobs of toilet-paper! sad, empty mummies; yes, indeedy...

before you depart, may i wish safe travels to you, dear morris. thank you for being you! namaste.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Hola WAFer's

Checked out this article by John Nichols in The Nation online ( his blog ), "With McCutcheon Ruling, An Activist Court Opts for Full-On Plutocracy".

Was expecting the usual liberal/progressive Pollyanna pulchritude and/or haircloth rending Cassandra's ( some, o c ), but was at least mildly surprised by more than a few clear-eyed comments of WAF persuasion.
Even posted myself, and got a plug in for Dr. B, WAF, and DAA.
You'll be able to tell what my handle is by that revelation.

A couple obvious trolls post, too ...that are mostly ignored.

@MB ...I'll have to check out the Toobin article and compare.
Will report back later.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

I think both of those films are essential Wafer material, myself. I admire the folks who want to make movies of this sort. The 317 million robots won't be interested, of course, but--we are, and discussing these things here is perhaps the best we can do. Movies like this, and this blog, are documents of The Fall. They also suggest that there is a whole other way to live (cf. Susan Sarandon's speech in "Company"--classic, to me--or the dinner scene in "East"), if we cd only fucking wake up.

Tam-

I have pondered for many yrs now what the plural of shmate wd be. One shmate; two shmates? Or is the plural, as in Japanese, the same as the singular? E.g., the US consists of 317 million shmate?I agree w/u: it's kind of depressing to talk to shmate(s). Octavio Paz (recent centenary of his birth) once wrote about the robotic character of Americans (i.e., estadounidenses), and Fritz Perls usta tell a great anecdote abt a wetback who returned to Mexico for Xmas, and was asked by his family what the US was like. "Actually," he said, "the gringos are very nice people. There's only one thing that gets them angry. They don't like to be reminded that they are corpses."

Namaste, Chica-

mb

4:45 PM  
Anonymous David Clausen said...

Here is another example of the kind of danger lurking just under the surface of everyday life in America:

https://www.madinamerica.com/2014/03/discussion-justina-pelletier-boston-childrens-hospital/

——————

The East, wow what an amazing bit of flapdoodle, happy-ending, saved-by-the-white-hats-in the nick of time, brightside propaganda. Maybe Tony Scott couldn't live with the contrived last minutes. Or maybe he wasn't allowed the dark ending which might have preferred.

David Clausen

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dr B says: “It seems like something like this happens every week or so:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/02/us/fort-hood-shooting/index.html?hpt=hp_t1”

Like the other Fort Hood shooter, this one was not originally born in USA:

“During a Thursday Senate Armed Services Committee meeting, Army Secretary John McHugh said Lopez, a native of Puerto Rico, joined the Army in June 2008. Previously, the solider served with the Puerto Rico National Guard.” (scroll down the page after his picture to read this quote)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/03/who-is-ivan-lopez_n_5084315.html#68_what-we-know-about-ivan-lopez

Dane Archer and Rosemary Gartner in the book “Violence & Crime in Cross-National Perspective” say that violence and murders increase after a major war in any nation. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are driving lots of people insane. Violence begets violence.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ed-

Archer and Gartner may be rt, but in the US case we'll never know, since we seem to be permanently at war.

David-

Yeah, I agree, that was the only false note in an otherwise very courageous, brilliant film. Jane certainly wdn't have persuaded her fellow 'narcs' to change sides in real life; why save people when all u really wanna do is further yr career, eh? Hafta get our priorities straight...

mb

7:03 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Namaste Dr. B

I got to see that movie, the East. By the way I did eat at Lenny's sub shack in my area and the sandwich was awesome. They put on lots of turkey meat. It was very peaceful and tranquil since I was the only customer there. Since there were no dolts jibber-jabbering on cell phones I was able to enjoy my sandwich, my root beer and chips.

This was a rare event for me because people always yack about nonsense on their phones and won't let others eat in peace.

I just want to so bad take their stupid cell phones smash them up with a baseball bat or take their phones and shove them up their ass.

By the way Dr. B, how are things in Mexico? How have you been doing?

7:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Very excited to hear abt yr Lenny's experience. It may be time to pass a law, exonerating in advance all those who beat cell phone users w/a tire iron.

Meanwhile, Wafers shd check out this 'shocking' report; "Americans don't do this etc."--pardon me while I projectile vomit:

http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/03/politics/senate-cia-report/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

mb

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

A Lenny's experience! I wonder if there is actually anybody named Lenny south of the Delaware water gap?

One of my professional gripes is the admiration that so many people in the U.S. have for India. Yes, 1 billion people with perhaps 1 out of 1000 with running water but for some reason the admiration in the U.S. for India I think stems from a sort of love of an aristocracy supported by ample and disposable humans willing to work for scraps. That in a way but worse is where the U.S. is going..

Alas, a more clever and reflective people would be agog and in shock at the goings on (and I only scan the front of newspapers and have a few conversations), 22 soliers committing suicide per day! Puerto Rico under U.S. admin for a century and conferred all the benefits of "democracy" and u.s. "know how" for a century is $76 billion in debt and the crime is so bad the national guard has to patrol neighborhood--murder rate 30% higher than narco war northern mexico (ha and they want to help in Ukraine and Iraq--try Detroit and Puerto Rico first kiddes, obama care such a flop its laughable, Kim K's butt seems smaller, and the list continues......How anybody for a moment believes there is a future to the U.S.A is beyond me--there are no solutions now only outcomes and consequences.

On a positive note MB: Eldest told me this morning he and family headed to Brazil in July as he has the opportunity to serve as an associate rabbi. Yay! I'm going to have schnapps and a cigar--the 1926 Padron which when smoked is akin to a religous experience.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

Lenny's original name was Joe-Bob, but he changed it to Lenny when he arrived in Atlanta and opened his fantastic sandwich shop, abt wh/cube has much to tell us. Glad to hear abt The Rabbi, wish I had a cigar myself. Perhaps he can read the bks I recommended in Portueguese translation. But WAIT A MINUTE, CHICO: Kim's rump is smaller? Yr trying to kill me, or what? Every time I see that tushie I think of the famous Kate Smith song, "When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain." Ah, the golden era of TV, when "Father Knows Best" was avant-garde. WTF happened?

mb

8:22 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"...try Detroit and Puerto Rico first..."

Kathleen Madigan travelled Afghanistan a couple of years ago with several other entertainers--including Lewis Black--to entertain American troops.

After her return, she included in her standup act a bit describing the trip and the briefing they received on Bagram base from the commanding general, who spent time describing the roads, schools, and police stations American troops had built, and the improvements to the Afghan infrastructure that had been made.

In her characteristic sarcastic delivery, Madigan said that the general's litany of accomplishments caused her to wonder whether after we were done in Afghanistan we shouldn't invade Detroit.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Agustin Bernal said...

I believe you're 100% right about there being only 135 Wafers among the 330 million dolts who compose the populace of the U.S., for I have NEVER, ever met an American IN PERSON who speaks with the intelligence of those on this blog. I know they exist because of sites like this blog, but I have yet to meet one in person. All of the ones I've personally met were incredibly stupid. Sometimes I even wondered how they'd manage to live as long as they had, so stupid they were.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Aug-

Let me give u an example. An anecdote, but it's happened to me a # of times, and if u have enuf anecdotes it's called data.

I've met a # of Europeans over the years in various contexts, and they all tell me the same story, more or less. I remember yrs ago, sitting in a cafe in Riverhead, Long Island, and eavesdropping on a couple speaking a foreign language, trying to dope it out. German? No, I speak German...finally, I said: "Where are you folks from?" There was an obvious hesitancy. The guy (about 60) said, "Europe." I smiled: "That's a big place." Finally he said, "Holland." "Do you live in Amsterdam?" I asked him. His eyes widened. "You've heard of Holland?" he said. I stared at him for a moment. "Of course I've heard of Holland." "Well," he said, "I've never met an American who has. My wife and I got tired of the discussion, so now we just say 'Europe'. Then the person will say: 'How long does it take to get there by train?'"

Now of course, there are many Americans who have heard of Holland. I mean, there *hafta* be, rt? But here's a Dutchman telling me he never met one, and he was obviously sincere. How many times have I called my credit card co. to report a future trip, and the gal (sounds like abt 20) has never heard, e.g., of Ireland, or is unaware that France is in Europe? It happens a lot. One friend of mine had a fight at the post office, trying to mail something to New Mexico, and the clerk told him there was a Mexico, but that there was nothing called New Mexico.

This is pretty elementary stuff, to boot. Wanna up the ante? Try making a literary allusion among a group of Americans, or mentioning something from Greek mythology--like Prometheus, say, or Narcissus. Check out the reactions. It's an impt learning experience. There's nothing in these folks' heads but kasha.

mb

ps: current doltage # is 317 million.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

James, your story reminds me of something Mort Saul said (yeah, who has ever heard of him?). He said that he once found himself in a room with a number of decorated military officers. He said it was very impressive... if you were 12 years old.
By the way, how stupid is this? The music teacher at my school never heard of Stephen Sondheim. Almost like studying theology and never having heard of God.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

Bowling alone, living alone, twitting alone, socializing alone, and dying alone - the insanity and isolation continue:

Identical Twins Found Dead Sitting In Recliners After 2 Years: Report

"Tennessee police are investigating the strange deaths of identical twin brothers whose decomposing bodies were found sitting in recliners in their Chattanooga home over the weekend.

Neighbors told WRCB that they hadn't seen Anthony and Andrew Johnson, 63, in about two years. They told the station that they assumed the twins stayed indoors because of their health, and never suspected anything was wrong since their home's yard was kept and mail was not overflowing from their mailbox.

"I haven't seen them in over a year and a half. I thought maybe they'd been put in a nursing home," Barbara Owens, who lives a few doors down, told the station.

In August 2011, a relative reportedly came to check on the brothers but couldn't get in without a key. Police wouldn't force their way inside. Over the weekend, a relative was able to gain entry, and made the grisly discovery.

Chattanooga police estimate the date of death to be sometime in early 2011, based on the condition of the bodies and receipts found in the house. Medical examiners are working to determine an exact date and cause of death"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/01/identical-twins-found-dead-recliners_n_5070405.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

12:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pauli-

A true American story!

Dan-

He probably never heard of Debussy either (ask!). Yes, another American story!

We live in a fucking joke culture; I mean 'culture'.

mb

12:41 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

RE The East;

The dinner scene hits like a sledgehammer first time, but my favorite scene is actually when Jane attempts to leave right after that. Benji gives a little jab regarding truth/self honesty , and she responds with the pathetically typical competitive stance of "you dont think I'm tough enough". Benji replies that instead he fears she is not soft enough... fuckin nailed it.

Also, IIRC, Marling co-wrote the script...so increase your worship, from a safe distance of course.

Linh Dinh's latest piece has some good thoughts on being alone.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/04/postcard-from-the-end-of-america-columbus/

2:55 AM  
Anonymous David Clausen said...

The East again; an ending in line with the clarity and honesty of the first hundred-and-ten minutes of the film would have had our heroine being waterboarded with her own medicated drool in Somalia by the agents she tried to turn.

The end is so out-of-tune with the intent of the beautiful but bleak bulk of the movie it is hard for me to believe they came from the same mind.

David Clausen

1:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

David-

I didn't find it bleak: they struck back against the forces of evil, and were actually successful (in their own terms). "Ecotage," I think it's called: Edward Abbey advocated this in "The Monkey Wrench Gang." Quite illegal, of course, but it goes back to the old line abt terrorism being the war of the poor, and war being the terrorism of the rich. If I had written the script, I wd have had Jane 1st try the route she did--talk to her colleagues, try to get them to understand the import of what they were doing; and then, if that didn't work (and it wdn't), moving to a more aggressive track.
But of course this is all hypothetical; obviously, I'm advocating only working within the law.

mb

3:04 PM  
Anonymous The Almighty Trolfool Prophet said...

YO Mr.Berman!

Just login to tell ya i went to see da new Captain America flick! It was just Amazing! Da Cap finds himself in a world of conspiracy plots and grey values very different from his old puritanical roots ... yes the plot is BS and the characters are moronic but still the kind of flick i like to watch! For as Artaud intuited we must recover the value of the gesture of anciemnt cultures, seing the Cap throwing his shield is worth the prize of the ticket --yep i went on discount day.

Paranoia for the world! Paradox! So it be the paradox of american pop culture! The old culture of the desert finds an exhuberant land, and everything goes mad!: it is a old fart trying to seduce young women; it's the earth pagan body reflex encapsulated in the old fart dying cultural body, always subverting it, leading it to the upcoming american neo-matriarchy! That's why Friends is so popular in Gaza!

Well this entry is getting too long so i won't develop my theory about watching "Hardcore Pawn" TV program as a deep subversion of western scientific culture. Maybe in my next rant!

cheers

Almighty T. Prophet

4:42 PM  
Blogger jml said...

In the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction world, "W"is exhibiting his awful paintings in Dallas. They are portraits of other world leaders. Bush says they are inspired by his "personal diplomacy." The quotes and the paintings speak for themselves.

"Bush, who has said he takes “great delight in busting stereotypes,” knows that his hobby is a source of fascination. He wants to leverage that interest to make a larger point about the importance of foreign affairs.

“There’s a little bit of tendency in our country at this point to say, ‘Well, it doesn’t really matter,’” he said. “Hopefully, this exhibit will say, ‘It does matter.’” "

"I place a high priority on personal diplomacy. Getting to know a fellow world leader's personality, character, and concerns made it easier to find common ground and deal with contentious issues. That was a lesson I had picked up from Dad, who was one of the great practitioners of personal diplomacy."

http://www.bushcenter.org/special-exhibits/art-of-leadership

Are to believe that W is the first leader to ever befriend other leaders? Are we to believe these were genuine friendships? Is it possible for people like Bush to ever understand that there are other people in the world that do not think like them? Can you imagine how some poor Iraqi mother who lost husband/son/family would feel reading about this?

5:26 PM  
Anonymous tamara said...

mb, i submit the plural of shmate to be shmatae (rhymes with partay). ha!

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

May your trip to Japan be all you wish it to be, and more. (I word it this way because, in view some recent posts, I hesitate to wish you a ‘productive’ trip.)

There is a review of two books in the “New Statesman” called “To be Japanese today is to negotiate the conflicting dreams of east and west: It’s not surprising that alienation is a persistent theme in much of the country’s fiction.”

http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/03/be-japanese-today-negotiate-conflicting-dreams-east-and-west

We’re in the homestretch of our escape to Mexico in less than a week, so I haven’t even had the time to read it, but I mention it simply to call it to your attention. In the near future I hope to send you a few stories about my experiences in Japan – between 1949 and 1951 as a 7, 8, and 9 year-old boy. I’m sure I wouldn’t recognize much if I went back now.

I probably won’t post again until I get my computer set up in Guanajuato.

Enjoy Japan,
David Rosen

6:54 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Trollfoon field report: Last night my spouse and I went to our favorite Mexican restaurant for an early dinner, about 5:30 p.m. or so. Shortly after we sat down and ordered, a single middle-aged woman sat down two tables from us. Within five minutes, she took a call on her cell phone, apparently from one of her kids. For the next hour, she spoke just loud enough that we had to listen to five more phone calls (another incoming, four that she made), the last three with her chewing and talking through her food. As the fourth call was under way, my spouse looked at me and said, "Isn't that excessive?"

7:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jack-

And to this utter douche baguette, there was nothing wrong w/this; this is perfectly OK behavior. How is this piece of trash not a piece of trash?

tam-

Problem is, that's the Latin feminine plural, and as u well know, there are a shitload of male shmates out there. Male plural wd be shmati; neuter plural wd be shmata. I'm stumped. Shd we switch to Greek?

jml-

And more trash, clearly. A piece of trash displays his pieces of trash. Wish I cd be there w/a 6-pack of Bud Lite (1st the paintings, then his shoes).

Prophet-

Clearly, u.r. a great seer, but trolfoon is spelled w/an n.

mb

7:51 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/maryland-girls-tortured-autistic-boy-sheriff-office-article-1.1718983

Now this takes the cake. We live in a sick nation.

When I look around me and see all of these sick morons and troglodytes and they state that those such as myself are supposed to learn social skills I ask WTF.

What social skills? How do any of my peers have good social skills?

Nah, I would rather be a Wafer. :)

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

MB,

Looking at the current geopolitical situation, it's striking the extent to which America has lost the ability to define global events through its leadership.

In Syria the US remains powerless to do anything about the years-long civil war and more than 100,000 Syrians living abroad as refugees. Though Obama declared some arbitrary "red lines" about chemical weapons, he is powerless even to enforce those, let alone solve the Syrian situation.

In Ukraine the US remained powerless as Russia annexed Crimea by occupying the region and using sham elections. Despite some ineffective sanctions imposed against Putin's associates, the US has not been able to stop Russia.

With respect to the Israeli-Palestinian situation the ineffectiveness of the US is most pronounced. The US could not even get a country that it spends billions of dollars on in military aid to refrain from building settlements as it negotiated with the Palestinians. Let alone achieve any kind of comprehensive "two state solution," the absurdity of which has long been obvious, as the US continues to subsidize Israel's apartheid practices.

This all reminds me of what you said before about how the 'Suez moment' facing the US will not occur overnight, but will be an ongoing process of collapse. One wonders if this ineffectiveness is due to the failure of the Obama administration, or reflects American impotence more generally.

10:14 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

@cubeangel, thanks for this link:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/maryland-girls-tortured-autistic-boy-sheriff-office-article-1.1718983

From the link:

"Authorities are trying to determine why the girls decided to film these acts and if they showed it to anyone or shared it on social media, Cameron said.

It’s hard to fathom,” he said. “This is heinous and shocking. Why would someone show such hatred and evil to a person?”"

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/maryland-girls-tortured-autistic-boy-sheriff-office-article-1.1718983


You know, when American soldiers were doing the same "heinous and shocking" acts to innocent people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Qantanamo, nobody said word; rather some Americans urged on and on and on. The chicken, they say, has come home to roost. Karma is real!

10:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ed-

I believe in karma too, but as the revenge of History, not of God. Once u make the decision to treat people outside the country like garbage, it's only a matter of time b4 that behavior becomes normative inside the country as well. The Goya-esque phenomenon of "Saturno devorando su hijo" has been the subject of much scholarly analysis, esp. by Norman Cohn and Mary Douglas. In a social and psychological sense (and partly economic too, altho this will get a whole lot worse), the US is in freefall. Some type of Abu Ghraib, or of Ft. Hood, happens now on a daily basis. Hobbes' war of all against all is now our way of life; the gloves are off. I can't tell u how happy I am to not be living there. (BTW, you can also download 'snuff' videos of women in high heels torturning and murdering small animals; what fun!)

Mike-

Continuing on w/the karma theme, I find I can look on these events w/some sense of satisfaction, in that we have been cruel to so many (nonwhite) people, and as u pt out, we are now weak and naive and getting our just desserts. All Ovomit can do is huff and puff, but it's larger than that: the whole country is a paper tiger, and there aren't too many national leaders (not just Putin) who don't recognize that. He was never more than words and speeches, really, wh/makes him the perfect representative of an impotent, has-been empire. You reap what u sow; it's payback time, for sure. We got our ass kicked in Vietnam, and the nation has been unraveling ever since.

But as an historian, I can also look at all of these events neutrally, as an analyst of the World Systems Analysis type of schl, or perhaps something Toynbee-esque. Bottom line: no civilization lasts forever, and there are NO exceptions to this fact of human history (Ozymandias). America had a gd run, abt 400 yrs, and now its time is up. No need to get all heated up abt it, pro or con; that's just the way of the world. And when a civ falls apart, it basically self-destructs, with children torturing children, all the major institutions corrupt up to the gills (Supreme Court included), and so on. Once u.c. it that way, three questions (again, neutral) present themselves:

(continued below)

12:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

1. Why did this happen? It was to answer this question that I wrote WAF, wh/is really a postmortem, and basically says that the phrase 'business civilization' is a kind of oxymoron. To create a way of life defined by hustling is simply uncivil, anti-human. So dialectically, the seeds of our destruction were sown very early, and that dynamic is now playing itself out, i.e. has reached its final stage. I know no way of wriggling out of this conclusion, wh/is why I regard 'progressives' as kinda sad and stupid. The fix is in, kiddies; there's no way of altering this trajectory, wh/is in a sense eternal.

2. Who gets to play Big Shot now? Right now things are in a multipolar situation, w/power divided among US, EU, and China. But this is unstable; it won't last very long, and as the US declines in influence and prestige, Europe will be known for one thing, and China for another (basically, the US in Mandarin, as I've said b4). By the time I die, wh/I've planned for 2045, the new alignments and arrangements will probably be pretty clear. (Epitaph on my tombstone: "I told you so, you stupid fuckers, but did you listen? No!")

3. Does a true alternative to hegemonic dominance (regardless of the economic basis) and 'progress' exist, in any viable form? These are the alternatives I looked at in WAF, wh/hardly had a chance in the context of US capitalism. But now, what I've called "Dual Process," and the emergence of no-growth, or degrowth, or homestasis, may be on the horizon. Certain models have already presented themselves, and are working on a small-scale, local basis (mostly in Europe rather than here); secession may be part of this as well. It's too soon to tell, but we may have come to

4. Fork in the rd. In the context of capitalist collapse, the alternatives gather momentum and eventually replace the older structures, as happened at the end of the Middle Ages; or, we enter The Matrix, a neofeudal world of indefinite techno-military surveillance and corporate control, in wh/the life is literally crushed out of everything. So while it's true that the central drama of the 21C is the disintegration of the capitalist system, there is a fight going on at a deeper level, involving issues like human spirituality and the purpose of life itself. This is why I liked the movie, "The East," because it put the fight in the clearest terms possible. At the end, the central character, who has defected to the forces of light and life, is confronting her ex-colleagues, the other (corporate) operatives, and saying: Choose.

mb

12:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: OK, 4 questions.

12:18 AM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Dr. B ...There are questions and answers beyond 4 Q's.

Yes...the structure of acceptable constructs is in collapse...shored-up degraded freefall, but inevitable.
People, and systems, will fight to maintain the 'old ways'; but it will be a battle of contrition.

Some will fight and die. Others ( a few ) will say "WTF !" ? I'm outta here !
...and be the brave cowards smart enough to survive.

[Steinbeck nailed this scenario]

4:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

JS-

Well, perhaps you cd tell us what those other questions are. BTW, those who leave, such as myself, are not cowards, by any stretch of the imagination--any more than were Jews who left Germany in the 30s.

mb

6:48 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Douche Bags on Parade Dept.:

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2014/04/04/pkg-people-magazine-rejects-woman-gun-photo.ktvi&hpt=hp_c3&from_homepage=yes&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cnn.com%2F#/video/us/2014/04/04/pkg-people-magazine-rejects-woman-gun-photo.ktvi

7:11 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Salaam aleykum Wafers:

@Mike You assume the USA cares about Palestinians. Maybe you ought to reconsider that notion.

I borrowed "The East" from the library and watched it last night. I suppose it had a happy, hopey changey ending, although as suggested, a more plausible finale would have been Jane being tossed from an unmarked aeroplane into the Atlantic Ocean.

What was especially interesting about my viewing of the film was that once it was over, I switched over to TV and intermittently watched a movie called "Killing them Softly," in which Brad Pitt is a hitman for the mob. The picture wasn't any great shakes, but the final scene could have been written by Louis B. Belman.

Pitt and his mob connection are in a bar, discussing payment for murder, with Obama yammering away on TV about freedom, democracy and community in the background.

The last line of the picture has Pitt saying, "Don't make me laugh. Community? America isn't a community; it's a business."

O&D

11:39 AM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

I certainly don't find myself staying in the US due to any act of heroism. Yes, I'm fighting this monstrous place, but I'm fighting against a pile of horse manure. What kind of sense does that make? I simply don't have the means to leave.

Hearing that people (bon voyage, David! you too, MB!) are moving out and living good lives elsewhere is the greatest solace I have at the moment. There's a lot to be said for living vicariously by hearing from those outside the walls when you're in what feels like an armed prison camp (because it is one). And the prisoners are smiling dolts with glazed eyes fixed on computer screens shopping for the hippest new pair of Nike sneakers. Happy as larks on their 6th cup of espresso before they jump in their SUV and try to run somebody off the road into a guardrail.

Now I have to prove that I'm not a robot by typing Moesig lamps... What is the meaning of this, Almighty T. Prophet?

11:44 AM  
Anonymous David Clausen said...

The East is fine and bold movie for sure. The only flaw of consequence for me was the jarring ending bits, some of which were stuffed into the already-rolling credits, as if hoping not to be seen by the departing audience.

Presumably, the undercover colleagues our heroine sought out had been imbedded in circumstances akin to hers, so they would have already been exposed to similar truths about the corporate world by people for whom they had at least feigned affection. To show them defecting en masse, at the touch of a button and becoming effective agents of change is to sow false hope. This is so different from the unflinching realization throughout the story that for people to retreat from intrenched beliefs is so rare as to be almost a miracle. The story shows convincingly how one such miracle might happen, but in the final moments makes as if such magic might be contagious, and this is fairydust.

Another great flic is 'Wag the Dog'. In it, movie producers are shown to have the final say in what hits the screen. I don't know if this is true, but it could be, after all somebody has to decide. Tony Scott produced The East. He killed himself just shortly before its release; clearly a person in distress. I can't help but wonder if he was comfortable with the film's ending.

Standing up to bleak odds is beautiful, and I thank WAFers for their community spirit.

David Clausen

12:41 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

For the WAFER community:

Those interested may wish to tune their preferred electronic device to C-SPAN tomorrow evening (Sunday, 6 April) at 8 PM EDT, when the guest on Q and A will be Matt Taibbi, late of Rolling Stone magazine.

He will be discussing his new book The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap, which deals with problems surrounding Wall Street and similar unsavory elements of the American financial system.

You may also be interested in listening to the morning Open Phones segment (found at c-span.org) of 5 April 2014, when author Michael Lewis discussed his book Flash Boys, which covers the phenomenon of high-frequency trading (HFT) on Wall Street.

Or, you may choose to do something more profitable and ultimately more satisfying with your time, whether that something requires the involvement of a second party or not.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

David-

Maybe the movie wd have been better if the director had opted for two different endings, like some existential novels. In one version, Jane gets the majority of her colleagues to defect; in the other, they refuse, and she opts for Benji's path, of exposing them on the Net. As for Scott: he left suicide notes behind; the police have never made their contents public. (The story that he had brain cancer was apparently false.)

al-

And the crowds waved their red-covered copies of WAF (translated into Mandarin in 2013, you shd know), and cried: "Belman! Belman!" Meanwhile, we need a movie called "Urine," in which Wafers go door-to-door across the US and pee on everyone's shoes--that's 634 million shoes, kiddies. Think of all the Bud Lite we're gonna need.

mb

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

@ al:

"You assume the USA cares about Palestinians. Maybe you ought to reconsider that notion."

I actually didn't make that assumption. If you re-read my comment, you'll notice I mentioned that it's long been obvious that the US has been subsidizing Israel's apartheid through the military aid that it provides. Clearly the US could not possibly care about the Palestinians if it subsidizes apartheid practices against them for decade after decade.

My point was rather that the US - the Obama administration and John Kerry in particular - made a big point about how they were going to accomplish an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, and that the US has so little leverage over Israel that it could not even get it to stop building settlements during the talks, let alone reach an agreement.

This is really pretty striking if you think about it, as you'd think that since the US is giving Israel billions of dollars in aid, it could have a bit more leverage over Israel. But the fact that that isn't the case shows just how powerless the US is to shape events in the region.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

RE The East ending

This is the director/screenwriter's take on the ending, from Wikipedia, "The director compared the film's ambivalent ending to the one in the 2002 film 25th Hour: "I feel like it's almost as if the film’s events never happened at its end... It's sort of like what we're all capable of if we put our minds to it. There's a lot of work that needs to be done in order to make changes, even for her to make changes."[5]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_East_%28film%29

4:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Speaking of films, I just watched "Idiocracy" for the 6th time. It's supposed to be the US in 2505, but it looks like it's 20 to 30 yrs away. God, we're so dumb. We're so dumb. Take all 135 registered Wafers, add the folks who made "The East," and then divide by 317 million goofballs. It's a pretty small fraction.

mb

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

"SMYRNA, Ga. (AP) — Trying to appease angry parishioners, the archbishop of Atlanta said Saturday that he will sell a $2.2 million mansion just three months after he moved in.

Archbishop Wilton Gregory announced the decision following a closed-door meeting with members of several church councils at his headquarters north of Atlanta. He publicly apologized Monday for building the Tudor-style residence and offered to move elsewhere.

A group of Catholics in Gregory's diocese had asked since January that he sell off the more than 6,000-square-foot home in keeping with the tone of austerity set by Pope Francis."

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/05/archbishop-to-sell-mansion/7348807/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/05/atlanta-archbishop-mansion-_n_5097457.html

If Jesus were to show up today, he will abhor America; he will reject the greed and gluttony that have taken over the mind of these people.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

WAFers--

A nice piece here by honorary WAFer Barbara Ehrenreich, who always gets some nice props on this blog:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/06/opinion/sunday/a-rationalists-mystical-moment.html?hp&rref=opinion&_r=0

Brian

6:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Brian-

That's a nice essay, and typical of what I called a 'vertical' or 'ascent' experience in "Coming to Our Senses" or "Wandering God." But there is another one, less dramatic, wh/I call 'horizontal', and wh/is closer to the Zen realization of the Is-ness of what is in front of you. In WG I called it 'paradox', and I regard it as much more profound. St. Teresa says she took 10 yrs to go from vertical to horizontal mysticism; the same was true for Wittgenstein (to whom I devote a chapter in WG). Anyway, I'm happy for Barb, and hope she manages to move from the 1st to the 2nd while she's still w/us. But as they say in Zen, "yr life is none of yr business."

mb

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Rufusteena Firefly said...

Dear Morris, I know you probably won't post this but I can't give up. This is the only reason I am keeping faith in the eventual possibility that Occupy, learning as it goes, could someday gain some real traction in this country. My fear is that people like you will help the 'enemy" by nay-saying and refusing to see the good aspects of this organization (loosely constructed now perhaps but with help from those like you?) and where it could go. Peace.
http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/22880-occupy-sandy-and-the-future-of-socialism

7:25 PM  
OpenID parkyourtuchus said...

What will happen when all of the best deli spots erupt in hatred, tearing hearts and minds asunder?

WAFers, here comes a Pastrami Tsunami.

http://nypost.com/2014/03/12/katzs-deli-suing-pastrami-truck-for-stealing-name/

Is this self-hatred amongst the Jews?

8:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ruf-

Well, if people want to invest time, energy, and admiration into OWS, my own reaction is: Knock yrself out. But u shdn't worry too much abt my helping the enemy or having any influence in this area, or any other area, really: I'm a writer whose work doesn't sell, who can't get his articles published, who has a blog w/the tiniest following imaginable, and in general, who is off the radar screen and not part of the intellectual discussion in America, left/center/rt or otherwise. So if I say OWS was a pathetic failure, no one's listening and no one gives a damn. I'm hardly in a position to hurt them, never fear. And sure, we can continue discussing the 'movement' if Wafers want to; personally, I find it boring, but that's just me.

mb

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Rorschach said...

I agree with you Morris that talking about OWS is pointless. The idea that the United States is going to buck the historical record, pull a rabbit out of its ass and turn the country around is absurd. The U.S. is finished. There really is no way for me to say this gently: the overrwhelming majority of the American population is brainwashed. However, where you and I disagree Morris is that you feel that Americans are, by nature, idiots, but I feel that the stupidity that is running rampant throughout the US is an engineered idiocy. Think on this quote from Edward Bernays, author of the book "Propaganda".

"The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. In almost every act of our lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons [...] who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to guide the world in their image."

10:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ror-

No reason it can't be both. 400+ yrs on, it's pretty much become genetic (long discussion of neo-Larmarckian mimicry omitted here). In other words, it's in our DNA. As I've said repeatedly, there are definite limits to Chomsky's "Manufactured Consent," or the false consciousness/Bernays argument. Time 4u 2 view the film "Idiocracy," methinks. Nevertheless, I doubt it matters all that much anymore. The data are in: we're morons, and we're getting more moronic every day. This is the raw material OWS or any purported progressive movement hasta work with: a huge population of who cdn't think themselves out of a wet paper bag. I marched vs. the invasion of Iraq, in DC, in 2003, and was impressed by all the misspelled signs (elementary words, too).

mb

10:52 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

I also don’t think it’s cowardice to emigrate from a hellhole like the US. Quite the opposite. It takes courage and a huge amount of effort to leave and start over, especially when Americans have such a bad reputation in the world today. Ninety-nine percent of Americans don’t have that kind of courage. So if anything, cowardice is to stay. And since most Americans are cowards, they will stay.

MB,

I would love to appear in the movie Urine, but I really get sick to my stomach just by thinking of setting foot in hellhole USA again. I really do not wish to come there again. Is there any way I can perhaps mail my urine to a few US addresses from here? Perhaps I could send a quart or two to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. What do you think? Do you have any scenes in the script where that might be of use?

Julian

11:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

They are also duped, and a large % are mentally ill (not a joke). As for appropriate use of yr urine: gd question. I suggest renting a helicopter, flying over the White House. Talk abt The Yellow Peril!

mb

12:34 AM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

Julian,

It's cowardice to stay? So Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jeremy Scahill, Bradley Manning, Delillo, Vonnegut et al are cowards, lacking the courage to leave?

George Kennan writing about J. Robert Oppenheimer:

"In the dark days of the early 50s, when troubles crowded in upon him from many sides and when he found himself harassed by his position at the center of controversy, I drew his attention to the fact that he would be welcomed in a hundred academic centers abroad and asked him whether he had not thought of taking academic residence outside this country. His answer, given to me with tears in his eyes: 'Damn it, I happen to love this country.'"

I would imagine that a Chomsky, a Hedges, and any number of others might say the same thing. Doesn't make them cowards. So all WAFers staying in the States for whatever reason are, "if anything" cowardly? Perhaps you can clarify that for me. Be as insulting as you wish. I'm a tough guy. I can take it.

This hero/coward thing strikes me as American-style thinking, incidentally.

Moving on...regarding European secession:

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/4/secession-europecrimeascotlandquebec.html







1:40 AM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

I watched Koyaanisqatsi last night. I can't remember who here recommended it, but a very big thanks to you. It's a few decades old, which I liked because the old fads and styles helped me to perceive some aspects of American culture more objectively. And Philip Glass' score is absolutely fantastic. I'll never forget the first time I saw Kundun because Glass' score to that one really shook me up as well.

A couple of other Waferesque movies to have come out recently are Noah and Anchorman 2 (I think somebody else here might have recommended it). Noah and his family are total NMIs, very loving souls. Noah's wife was particularly striking—remarkably caring and sincere. And it was directed by Darren Aronofsky—need I say more?

Anchorman 2 is as funny as comedies get, although I only watched about half of it. I'm told that the movie was a disappointment to many. I'm guessing that's probably because it rubbed people the wrong way, as it totally pisses on Americans. It proposes a somewhat different answer than Manufactured Consent to the question of why our news sucks so bad—the answer simply being that Americans want to be fed shitty news. Not that both answers can't be valid, like with the "idiocy" debate.

1:44 AM  
Anonymous Steve Jobs said...

"Silicon Valley" premieres tonight on HBO; this should be good satire.

http://www.wired.com/2014/04/mike-judge-silicon-valley/

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

bartleby,

As it happens, I watched The Pentagon Papers with James Spader as Daniel Ellsberg last night, and one of the things I took away from it was the importance of living an authentic life with a clear conscience. So I agree that whatever choice any of us makes -- emigration, NMI, political involvement, social disengagement, etc. -- what matters is that we're being true to ourselves in doing so. I don't see the benefit in living a WAFer life if it's simply a script written & imposed by others, what you feel you're "supposed to do" to please others -- anything, no matter how good in the beginning, can become a trap if it becomes dogma. Which is a point MB makes in Spinning Straw into Gold, as I recall.

In a similar vein, I very much enjoyed the film Le Havre, which the writer-director says quite openly is a fairytale, a film in the humanist tradition confronting today's ugly realities. It's not so much about what the world is today (though it deals with that), it's more about the way ordinary people should react: with decency, compassion, perseverance. It's a reminder that it's really not so difficult to be a genuine human being; it doesn't have to be a series of grand gestures, but simply small, quiet acts.

As to the nature of the American Delusion: since everyone is born into this particular Matrix, so much potential to be simply human is quashed and/or corrupted from birth. Indeed, plenty of marketing specialists have spoken openly about finding ways to imprint brand names on the brains of the fetus while still in the womb. That anyone sees through this & escapes in one way or another is miraculous. Remember, one of the points about the Matrix films is that most people weren't ready to be freed from it, they'd resist it so much they'd die struggling to remain inside it. Yet you never know: sometimes those you least expect to be capable of change & awakening do just that.

Returning to my first paragraph, Ellsberg was a fervid hawk when he began, yet he found the courage & honesty to cut through that illusion. The dismissed dolt beside you may well be ready to blossom into authenticity. It may not happen all that often, but it does happen. And maybe a bit more than we suspect. Not enough to turn the tide; but these are the people who'll keep civilized life alive in the Dark Age, whether they emigrate or remain here.

We all just do what we can & live as we must.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Here's what our haircut Secretary of Defense said yesterday: ...you cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion, and intimidation..." Is there anyone outside brain- dead USA who does not read these words without paroxysms of laughter?

9:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Recognizing the hypocrisy of it all, I believe Ovomit gave a speech 1-2 wks ago in wh/he said we were rt to invade Iraq! How's that for turnaround? His big trump card in 2008 was that he was one of the rare ones opposed to that 'war'.

bart-

Obviously, if Chomsky et al. really believe in a linear, 'progressive' (and basically, Marxist) view of history, in wh/things will get better over time if you fight for them, sticking around is what they shd do. I wd call that delusionary, but it's obviously not cowardice. This also applies to the wo/man in the st.: most Americans buy into the American Dream, even think it's what life shd be abt. Given that perspective, there's no reason for them to leave. So I don't know whom Julian was referring to; but there is a tiny minority who understands that the US is finished and that their lives can only get worse if they stay; and of that group, there are some that stay and some that hit the rd. Of the ones who stay despite what they know, there may be extenuating circumstances (money, family, health issues) that make it close to impossible to pull the plug. The rest: they probably are lazy or cowardly or both, but only they know the truth. It does, however, take real grit to pull everything out by the roots and start over somewhere else, it seems to me; very few people want to do it, even if they know it's in their best interest. I remember a woman in her 60s, working for the fed gov't in DC, yrs ago, who kept telling me how awful it was, and how she was going to give them notice on ___ date. Well, the day came; no notice. She explained to me she had to postpone it another yr, because she needed to buy curtains for her apt.

Wafers-

Note that Peter Matthiessen just died; a great human being. I usta assign "The Snow Leopard" to my classes, when I taught in university.

mb

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Mo Ronich said...

Very interesting interview with Barbara Ehrenreich on her new book "Living With A Wild God" a metaphysical- sounding memoir.

"Everybody’s out in their own little careerist scheme to get into heaven."

Interviewer: From my own reading of Populist newspapers in the 1890s, I know there was a lot more going on in working-class culture back then than we give them credit for today, or rather than we would expect today. People read all kinds of stuff.

Yeah. It amazes me when you would see an occasional letter written by, say, my paternal grandfather, how extremely articulate and grammatically correct and everything. This was a man who didn’t go to school.


http://www.salon.com/2014/04/06/tom_frank_interviews_barbara_ehrenreich_youre_the_anti_ayn_rand/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

11:44 AM  
Anonymous David Clausen said...

My own plausible, 'warm and sweet', ending for The East had Jane publicly confessing to, and apologizing for her role in in contributing to chaos, asking for understanding from those whose lives she had hurt, then telling her former corporate-spy colleagues they had a certain amount of time to protect themselves before the beans were spilt. Leave it at that, plenty of real-enough hope and drama there.

A detail I love: after Jane knows the danger of the antibiotic, and has gone to the illegal trouble of snooping on her boyfriend's medical history to see if he has been exposed to it, she still can't find a way out of the farce of returning to work at the expense of people she has come to trust and maybe love. How to earn honest bucks is a problem we all face, and hard it is.

I had long thought of myself as a productive member of society, working hard as a printer for twenty years, before it began to occur to me that only a vanishingly small amount of my output had enough worth to warrant the consumption of the resources needed for its production. Most of it was ephemera, exhorting the unwary to buy yet more un-needed, un-used and un-wanted stuff, yet my livelihood depended on this farce. The defence, 'just filling orders', seems as hollow as just following orders. These thoughts were hard times; a shrink told me I was thinking out of my pay-grade and prescribed a mood pill, a debilitating side-effect of which I got—minus the claimed benefit. That's when all hell broke loose and things went from bad to 'holy shit'. I'm sure all this colours my take on things.

David Clausen

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB,

How about we load our urine on drones and dump it on the WH? Personally, I’d like to dump a few gallons on Michelle’s organic garden.

Clearly all Americans (minus 135 registered WAFers) are mentally ill. I did work as a psychologist in the US, so I saw that first-hand. Severe mental illness: delusional disorder, severe attachment issues, massive rates of personality disorders. Very sick bunch of mother fu**ers. So my professional advice to all 317 million Americans (minus our 135 registered WAFers) is to go buy a gun and blow your brains out. Call that "self-lobotomy".

bartleby the Scribbler,

My friend, I already get tons of that patriotic bullshit from my loser food-stamper family from the US. You guys are all brainwashed. Stop drinking the fluoride and eating the GMOs and you might recover.

Re. “love this country”. Tell me one thing that ties you people together, except hustling. You call that a country? Or, are you referring to the land you stole from the Indians? It’s time to self-lobotomize yourselves as prescribed above, and give the land back.

In regards to authors, how about Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pond, Gertrude Stein, Henry James? They were all Americans who didn’t care to spend much time in the US. Or how about the great historian Berman (Belman, in Mandarin)?

Please stop worshiping Chomsky and see him for what he is: a stooge of the system. He just diverted and diffused the anger, and thus helped maintain the system in place. It’s an old tactic used by all evil governments. And he was rewarded with millions in his bank account. He might be a CIA asset for what I know. Re. Chris Hedges, I think he’s sincere, but confused. He needs to take his family to safer shores. What is he trying to prove with New Jersey? But then again, he did say “my family came on the Mayflower and I’m not going anywhere”, so he too suffers from that patriotic brainwashing malady.

Finally, I urge all WAFers who are contemplating leaving to not delay it anymore. Americans are becoming pariahs everywhere. I have highly qualified PhD-level American friends in very desirable fields who cannot get their resumes looked at by foreign employers anymore. After the NSA leaks and exposure of the State Dept subversive activities, countries are closing their doors to Americans. It’s getting worse by the day. Do whatever you need to in order get out ASAP, in the next few months, if possible. Get a job teaching English in China, if only to get your foot in the door, but do something. Go to Thailand, Vietnam, S. Korea, and talk to job brokers until they get you a job. Don’t delay it anymore.

Julian

12:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

I think yr quite wrong on Noam. He's a person of great conviction, commitment, and integrity, and is certainly no millionaire. But I do want to talk w/u abt arranging the urine drones, because I worry that by the time they discharge their load, the urine cd be cold. This wd be an insult to the office of the president, and also to his wife's organic garden. We need to be dealing strictly w/fresh, warm urine, but the logistics won't be easy. Pls consult some of yr aerodynamic colleagues, report back.

mb

12:50 PM  
Blogger Lex ov said...

After #funeral selfies, #selfies with the homeless, this is the latest trend:

http://time.com/45464/aftersex-selfie-instagram-trend/

What's next? Selfies with the handicapped?

1:31 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Tansi Wafers:

@Mike Sorry to nag, but like the song says, "It's gotta be this or that."

On the one hand you recognise that the US subsidises Israeli apartheid, yet on the other you say that the US has no leverage to do anything about Israeli apartheid.

It can't be both.

I've seen this sort of thing from US progressives elsewhere. They can acknowledge the crimes of their leaders, but nevertheless believe deep down that the USA is the manifestation of a noble ideal and that it has just gone off the rails a bit.

Listen to Belman. The USA now is as it has always been.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous David G. said...

I am almost finished reading what I am told is a classic, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" by Paulo Freire. Although published in 1970 and based on Brazil, its descriptions of the oppressors and the oppressed people describe the US to a tee. The oppressors have a pathological need to have all the wealth, they are willing to dehumanize others, and they promote national myths, such as we live in a "free society", anyone can work hard and become wealthy, anyone who is poor is lazy, etc. etc. This sounds straight out of the patriotic, corporatized, militarized, individualistic national mythology of the US. Makes me ill.
I recently visited Boise, Idaho for work, and my colleague told me that Idaho just passed a law allowing university students to carry guns on campus.
I recently chewed out a guy on the light rail for talking loudly on his mobile phone -- I told him he was rude, etc. He mostly ignored me.
Today I talked with a German friend on Skype, and he told me he has no desire to come to the US anymore. All of the cities look alike, and the only places to eat are crappy chain restaurants.
Tomorrow I go back to my job at a federal government agency, where things are rapidly falling apart due to budget cuts, inadequate staff, and poor leadership.
Meanwhile, the professors at the university where I teach as an adjunct are seriously threatening to strike due to budget problems and lack of recognition.
Those are my observations from the Western Front. I hear about troubles in countries all over the world, so maybe the US is just one more troubled land (in its own sick way). Nevertheless, here in relatively pleasant and peaceful Portland, Oregon, I somehow always find enough courage to trudge on.
David G.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

@ al:

Regarding your first point:

In my view the US has the leverage to stop Israel from exercising apartheid, by cutting its aid to Israel. But on another level, it does not have leverage because any American political leader who even hinted at cutting Israeli military aid would be completely exiled from American political life (see Jimmy Carter). The fact that no American politician can even criticize Israel, let alone stop the aid, is evidence of the weakness of American power over Israel.

I think when you insist on "it's gotta be this or that," you're ignoring the fact that reality is sufficiently nuanced that a claim can be both true and untrue, depending on the way we interpret that claim and the meaning we give it.

As for your other point, that I believe "the USA is the manifestation of a noble ideal," you are unfortunately confusing my views with those you label "progressives." I never once said anything that implies that the USA manifests a noble ideal. In fact, I have a big problem with the American ideal of hyper-individualism, and the way that it results in the condition of social isolation. The American ideal of the self-sufficient individual with negative liberty is deeply problematic, in so far as it results in the destruction of any sense of real community.

It would be best, if you're going to make claims about what my "deep down beliefs" are, to just ask me about them, rather than assume on the basis of dubious inferences that I fit into some cookie-cutter mold of people that you refer to as "progressives."

My point, again, was simply about American impotence to shape global events, and the limits of American power. I still believe that's a valid point, regardless of your irrelevant comments about what I allegedly secretly believe.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This is kinda cute:

http://gawker.com/man-shoots-new-neighbors-he-thought-were-stealing-from-1509601587

In the Comments section one person wrote, "Americans are a sad, hateful people." Not a lot more one can say, really.

mb

2:13 AM  
Blogger Agustin Bernal said...

How can moving out of a hellhole like the U.S. be cowardly when the vast majority of the people who remain there are beyond content with being boot-licking servile eunuchs who not only feel nothing as their children are used as cannon fodder, their food supply poisoned with GMOs, their best paying jobs sent abroad,their freedoms taken away, etc., etc., but defend those that commit these traitorous crimes and keep re-electing them, and then call people like Ralph Nader who wants to stop such wasteful destruction of lives and freedoms as a "radical"?

I wouldn't even give the Scum who make such statements the courtesy of an acknowledgement. I wouldn't waste good spittle or urine on their repugnant faces. They should be ignored, isolated and banished to the outer fringes of humanity where they belong until through their own suicidal lifestyles they make themselves extinct.

3:57 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Back from up North. The good: it was good to be away from the city and most American culture. My mom does not get the Internet or use a computer, so the only source of news was NPR or her little breakfast nook TV. I turned off the TV. NPR sounded strangely like Cold War era propaganda to me. Does anyone else notice this about NPR these daze? I mean, even the strange, moribund, sing-song tonality, never diverging from iambic pentameter? Are they trying to hypnotize us?

The bad: I met the dentist who had purchased my father's dental practice more than 20 years ago, in the local pub. He was not friendly, and could barely grunt answers to the friendly questions of my friend, who knows both of us. He made our ideas of a neanderthal (they are much maligned, of course) seem eloquent. My friend and one lone Canadian were friendly, the rest were overweight, surly, non-open people. And yes, even here, staring at screens, while with each other. The mood of things has changed for the worse. It doesn't help that the small town lost 50% of its jobs in the last year...

8:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Aug-

Your last para: keep in mind that in a sense, that's already happening. But also, most Americans don't know any better: only 12% actually travel abroad (holidays to Mexico and Canada excepted). The Matrix lives!

mb

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Interesting story:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/retired-british-art-teacher-ends-life-at-dignitas-because-she-couldnt-adapt-to-modern-world-9242053.html

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

@DR B
“This is kinda cute:
http://gawker.com/man-shoots-new-neighbors-he-thought-were-stealing-from-1509601587
In the Comments section one person wrote, "Americans are a sad, hateful people." Not a lot more one can say, really.”

There are a lot more to say: The man who did the shooting, Rodney Bruce Black, is a 62 years old white man. He stockpiled “many weapons and ammunition" in his house. He did not think it was appropriate to call the police rather than killing two innocent people. The two innocent men murdered are black people.

“His appearance in court was accompanied by a joint statement issued by the Cabell County Prosecutor's Office and Public Defenders Office explaining the reason for the waiver and stating that race was not a factor in the Hopkins brothers' deaths. The defendant is white, and the Hopkinses were black.”

http://www.herald-dispatch.com/news/x262020208/Black-waives-right-to-hearing

Rodney Bruce Black is probably unemployed because another white man outsourced his job to China, India, or Mexico. The outsourcing of his job was probably done through company owned by Mitt Romney. Rodney Bruce Black probably voted for Mitt Rodney in the last presidential election. Rodney Bruce Black probably considers black people the reason for his lack of job. He probably thought the black guys were coming to take his house from him as they took his job. He is 62, and he can shoot guns but he cannot think or he thinks what talk radio stations tell him to think.

11:27 AM  
Anonymous James Jellyworth III said...

This lady knew what was up.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/retired-british-art-teacher-ends-life-at-dignitas-because-she-couldnt-adapt-to-modern-world-9242053.html

12:18 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Esteemed Wafers (pan-fried ones too),

A friend recently loaned me "The Portable Curmudgeon"...a few follow...


On the mutual seduction meme...

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
H.L. Mencken


Will there be a single, simple Suez moment ?

The genius of you Americans is that you never make clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves which make us wonder at the possibility that there may be something to them which we are missing.
Gamal Abdel Nasser


On American/human hustling...

Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.
Mark Twain


Infomercials are evidence that the Zombie Invasion is not a future event.

Fish-fry music for 'budding' NMI's...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3YPPVzOPpg


1:48 PM  
Anonymous tamara said...

I'm not in a *huge* rush to bolt, but am well into the process of selecting a civilization to relocate to, where the cognitive dissonance is not nearly as disturbing to my soul as here in the CSA (Corporate States of America).

The CSA's media outlets have not been putting as much emphasis on "illegal immigration" as they had been a while back... Assuredly though, it's still a main course on the corporations' menu. And I know why: they want to build fences, ostensibly to keep border-busters to keep from getting *in*.

But I tell you that's not truly why they want to build fences. They want fences to keep us from getting *out*.

Why doesn't the CSA invest in transportation? Why doesn't the CSA encourage/require its citizens to learn other languages? Why does the CSA give its workers so few "vacation" days??

Because the CSA doesn't want us to get out from underneath its thumb.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous bartleby the Scribbler said...

Julian, the anger directed toward me is completely without justification. Your remark that I take out a gun and blow out my brains is doing you more harm that it is me. I'm not a hustler, a worshipper of Chomsky/Hedges, a pro-American patriot spouting "patriotic bulllshit" , brainwashed, eating GMO foods, etc. There wasn't a shred of truth in your accusations. If you want to continue with the insults have at it. At least I'm not being beaten, spit on, tear-gassed and arrested, as I've been over the course of my opposition to various US wars of aggression.

My original remark if you scroll up was as follows:

"I certainly don't find myself staying in the US due to any act of heroism. Yes, I'm fighting this monstrous place, but I'm fighting against a pile of horse manure. What kind of sense does that make? I simply don't have the means to leave."

Do you think these the words of a brainwashed person spouting patriotic bullshit? Do you even read what I'm writing before becoming apoplectic?

Think about this, from Pema Chodron: A Native American grandfather was speaking to his grandson about violence and cruelty in the world and how it comes about. He said it was as if two wolves were fighting in his heart. One wolf was vengeful and angry, and the other wolf was understanding and kind. The young man asked his grandfather which wolf would win the fight in his heart. The grandfather answered, "The one that wins will be the one I choose to feed."

Tim, thanks. I'm doing the best I can with the limited tools I have. I've long admired Ellsberg, etc. Will gladly check out Le Havre on your recommendation. I appreciate your wise and kind words to me and to everyone else here.

Bart

4:25 PM  
Anonymous SrVidaBuena said...

Wasn't there a book by Norman Spinrad called Russian Spring (maybe 20 years ago?) about the US sinking into fundamentalism and superstition, and being actively isolated by the rest of the world?

I knew we were beyond redemption back when they started charging for air at the gas station, and the bank stopped counting coins with that little spinning device... Now there's a company with coin-counting vending machines. They keep 10%, I think... another nickel and dime hustle.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

tam-

It may not be a conspiracy. The American govt, like the American people, is just not very bright.

Frank-

Yes, a more complete picture. But I think it might be gd if Americans of any color just start shooting strangers of any color, and for no reason whatsoever. It's long overdue, imo. Bang, bang!

mb

7:25 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Sr Vida Buena,
What could be more nauseating than a paid toilet. Only now if you sneak under the door a swat team will pull you out. It's almost jarring to land in Bangkok or Cambodia and are able to take a free cart to put your luggage on. In NYC it's nearly $3.00 to take a cart. I often wonder how third world people feel when they first arrive in the US and have to pay for a cart or the toilet as soon as they arrive. I'm sure some of them quickly realize what a monstrous mistake they have made. However, there is one advantage to living in the USA-the bottomless cup of coffee. In Japan, you need to pay nearly $5.00 to get a second cup. Kind of think of it, that may be the only good thing about living in the US.
Anyone catch Bill Maher (sp) this week? He talked about the disappearing middle class. 50 years ago the number one employer was GM and workers made as much as $50 /hr. Now the biggest employer is Walmart where you are paid $7.50 /hr.
Finally, there is such a heroin epidemic in Vermont that the governor spent his entire state of the state address to this issue. In Vermont!

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

Yesterday at a lecture a Rabbi mentioned an idea advanced by a Spanish Jeusit that of Quietism. Seems that throughout the west whether through Kabalah and even the Jesuits the idea of stillness and quiet as a way to get to the transcendent or as you noted to be with God is a neglected idea. When flying out or National Airport in D.c. I have to put on earplugs as there are televsions blaring and its impossible to read or even think. This is common in most U.S. airports and yes on connections the first class lounges are an indulgence but alas quiet.

Frank, The killing of those two people is a tragedy. It is always sad and puzzling when matters of race and the prog narrative are injected into such a tragedy. Are you also equally incensed when a black person murders a white person (per FBI it happens 10X as often as the reverse)? A hispanic person murders another hispanic? No doubt this 62 year old being unemployed and loading up on ammo had a lot of problems but somehow he being a cats paw of rush limguagh or acting on some racist populist urge is well a bit too much projection.

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

Perhaps you are all being a little too hard on America. I think that most of us agree that the present industrial/capitalistic system is imploding and that some other form of consciousness is waiting to emerge (ala Sorokin et al). Maybe America serves the role of worldwide "dissolving agent." If you think of all the things that are ripping apart cultures and nation states, the good old US has had a hand in it from toxic derivatives, to cell phones, TV, movies, outsourcing, privatization, massive wealth inequality, resource wars, etc. Maybe the Muse of History is using America the way that George Carlin speculated that nature is using humans: to make plastic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7RzsRfYNFg

9:36 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

Bart, Bingo,

Re: the cowardice of staying

I too have given this some thought. I think, Bingo, it's important for you as a born European with still vital family ties to the old country to realize that most born Americans don't have that luxury: our roots were effectively severed before we were even born. Some, like myself, have handicapped family members and not much in the way of extended family to help pick up the slack. Furthermore, what are the chances of a European,(that's my heritage) country allowing such a person in, especially one of modest means? What would be our chance of getting citizenship, especially in these economically trying times? It seems the only people of modest means being let in are of non-European ancestry. How would we make a living? What of our chances of being accepted socially? Although I might have a slightly better chance of attaining citizenship than my sibling, do I just leave him behind to fend for himself?
Much as I would love to leave I don't think it's very practical for me and I know for a fact many others are in similar straits. I agree with you 100% that American culture sucks beyond all measure and, like Publius, I'm depressed as hell by the displacement of human beings by cyborgs. Up until now I have enjoyed your wry and rational commentary but unless you can offer firm, reliable pointers(i.e. finding a job, housing, etc.)to people of modest means with no (effective)connections in the prospective country your venom is best saved for more worthy targets.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Bart,

You might be taking things too literally. Re. “self-lobotomy” with a loaded gun, I highly recommend that all 317 million Americans proceed with it immediately, unless they are a WAFers. It’s for a better world.

Julian

12:28 AM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

@Bingo: "Finally, I urge all WAFers who are contemplating leaving to not delay it anymore. Americans are becoming pariahs everywhere. .... After the NSA leaks and exposure of the State Dept subversive activities, countries are closing their doors to Americans. It’s getting worse by the day. Do whatever you need to in order get out ASAP, in the next few months, if possible."

Dmitri Orlov has just published his latest, here:

http://cluborlov.blogspot.co.nz/2014/04/business-as-usual.html#more

He agrees, completely.

"What should our risk management strategy be in light of such probable, predictable, and rather un-apocalyptically boring developments?

"Do nothing? Well, you might not die, at least not right away, but then will your life be worth living? Even if you can't think of anything good to do, you might still consider doing something—like drinking a lot.

"Prevent them? You'd have to start with some sort of grass roots political campaign to change the entire system. Suppose you are amazingly successful at it, and manage to change the entire system. And it only takes you 30 years. Oops! Too late.

"So, what do you do?

"I have an idea, and it's really, really simple. What's more, it's quite cheap, and it totally works... for the time being.

"Here it is:

"Get the hell out of this country!"

1:18 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

G'day Wafers:

Well Mike, I'm not convinced, and it seems our exchange is fraught with mutual misunderstanding, so I'll walk away... since this probably isn't the best place to argue the details.

On the other hand, how is Israel connected to the decline of the USA? How does this tiny country get away with taking three billion dollars in lunch money every year from the world's only superpower?

1:26 AM  
Blogger Zosima said...

MB said --- But also, most Americans don't know any better: only 12% actually travel abroad (holidays to Mexico and Canada excepted).

Another supposedly compelling stat. But what does it mean - we need a comparison to something don’t we? So only 12% have traveled outside the continent of N. America. For a proper comparison we might want to find out the percentage of Canadians who have traveled outside of N America. We could even try to learn how many Japanese have traveled outside of Asia (does Hawaii count?) Another thing to consider is geographical realities like the fact that someone living Kansas City traveling 1000 miles in any direction will be able to reach only two countries, Canada and Mexico, but not even NYC. Yet, someone living in Munich doing the same thing can reach more than 30 countries plus two other continents, Africa and Asia.

4:15 AM  
Blogger Lex ov said...

Wafers,

Thanks for recommending the East. Difficult to watch but great movie. I am surprised something like this got produced, considered the amount of stupidity out there. For me it was first and foremost a movie about change. About the process of turning into a Wafer. Change doesn't happen through wishful thinking but through a great deal of suffering. It's as Tyler Durden says in Fight Club (another great movie): "It's only after we've lost everything, that we're free to do anything".

Vladimir Vladimirovich P.

4:22 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Bingo: Sorry to say but diluted 1:20, urine is an accepted organic fertilizer.

WAF-ers: Saw this one today about Americans trying to locate Ukraine on a map:

http://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2014/04/wheres-ukraine-and-does-it-matter/

the "does it matter" question seems crazy on the surface, but in the original article on WaPo they found this out:

"However, the further our respondents thought that Ukraine was from its actual location, the more they wanted the U.S. to intervene militarily."

I don't know whether to laugh or cry ... I think I'll laugh because I saw my first Killdeer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killdeer) of the Spring yesterday!

9:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Waferinos-

Thank u all for yr contributions. Just wanted to say that I'm abt to leave for Japan, and won't be on line for a few days, very probably.
If you cd hold back writing in for that length of time, that wd be a plus. Otherwise, by the time I'm back on line there will be 40 messages, at least. Many thanks, and sayonara for a little while.

mb

4:51 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB,

I am negotiating with Russian oil oligarchs to built a trans-Atlantic pipe connecting all public restrooms in Russia and Europe with Washington DC. German engineers are developing an ingenious system of maintaining warmth and freshness of all urine along the way. Our motto will be: “Fresh from your WC to their DC!”

Infernal,

First, it’s never easy to change countries. It’s also usually a highly personal experience. Personally, I spent most of my life in the US, and my extended family in the old country was of no help when it came to my decision to leave the US.

I too have much family in the US, including both my parents. It grieves me to see them struggle on $500 a month social security income plus food stamps, but at the same time, all my efforts to convince them to leave have been met with “America is paradise, only crazies or traitors leave, etc.” It’s not rational, so it matters not if I explain to them that in America my health insurance alone would cost almost as much as my gross income or that I despise the culture. So it’s pointless. My parents were very successful in resisting the old communist propaganda, but they really bought into the American version. So what am I supposed to do, raise my 8 year old in the US, and lose her to that evil system bent on destroying all life? Or move on and save myself and those closest to me. So, on the one hand your sibling needs you. But then if you have a family or plan on having one, you need to make some decisions. You can leave and then hope to later bring your sibling where you are. It will require some sacrifices and some “delayed gratification” that many Americans are not used to. It won't be easy, even if you marry somebody from the country you want to go to.

Like I said, it’s never easy to change countries, but it can be done. It takes effort, which many Americans may not be willing to invest. Until recently the US did offer economic opportunities so people did not have to jump through hoops or “be creative” as people in other nations have to on a daily basis.

Anyway, I like to think that where there’s a will there’s a way. For example, New Zealand is not a particularly difficult country for Americans to get into. The rich oil Gulf states often hire Americans. Then there are tons of jobs in China for native English speakers. That can serve as a springboard, and is an important step in detaching from the US. And if you are fixated on Europe, you can in time work on getting to this “hellhole lite”, if you so desire. So start working on it, amigo. Call embassies, call job brokers abroad. Do something.

Julian

11:09 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

OK Wafers-

I'm at DFW en route to Tokyo. Once again, hold off on messages for abt 3 days, so I can recover and get to a computer. Love u all-

mb

11:56 AM  
Anonymous Lilac Ivy said...

Not to attempt to take the place of the long departed Shep, however, the "14 times more likely" FBI citatiaion of Blacks killing whites than vice-versa is somewhat overstating the issue as 84% of murdered whites are killed by other whites, along with 93% of murdered blacks being killed by other blacks. Though to Capo's credit I think that shows that most, though not all homicides (grant you they doesn't include the "justified" killings of unarmed black and brown people by law enforcement) aren't racially motivated, but "American" motivated.

12:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

OK Waferinos-

I'm at my friends' place in Tokyo, and they have a computer, so I'm back in business.

Lilac-

Your mention of Shep broke my heart. Not a night goes by that I don't cry myself to sleep, thinking of how the shepster abandoned us.

Anyway, let me give u guys a bit of a Tokyo diary, so far. Took limo bus from airport into town yesterday. A recorded message in English and Japanese said: "Passengers should not use portable phones on the bus as they annoy your neighbor." However, some doofus across the aisle had a large iPad and was watching a war movie w/o earphones, tho he kept the volume very low.

I got to Naomi's place, having enuf Japanese to talk to the taxi driver, and to get the key from the condo concierge. Naomi and her husband, being Japanese, work 10-12 hrs/day, so no one was home. I switched on the TV; there was a program on glassblowing. It showed a small workshop, where the artisans did their work. This is not cable, mind u, it's mainstream TV. Craft is still big, even in contemporary Japan.

This morning, I walked over to my favorite bakery/cafe, 10 mins from Naomi's apt. It's lovely, very quiet. No one was on a cell fone, tho a couple of folks were texting (a national disease, here). No one was using a laptop. One woman was actually rdg a bk. The background music was the "Meditation" from Thais, then "La vie en rose" (Piaf). People were well-dressed, the staff very friendly. It's nice to sit in a cafe and not be surrounded by a collection of vulgar dopes.

I sat and read the Japan Times. The nation's top smartfone carrier recently did a study of the dangers of texting while walking. The video went viral; nearly 2 million Japanese saw it within a wk. It shows that public texting can be dangerous.

That's all for now. Hope u Wafers are doing well.

Ja mata-

mb

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

MB,

Glad you made it to Tokyo. If you can you should pop in to the community seder at Chabbad of Tokyo. I hear Rabbi Sudakevitch puts on a good spread in a delightful environment with many interesting people. I think you will enjoy!

Lilac,

Indeed. It is american on american murder and mayhem. As you know americans (espeically in the media) are race obsessed. They have to keep the whole race narrative going and even invented the term "white hispanic" to stir up the passions for what would normally be and yet another murder. If zimmerman is white hispanic I guess Ovomit is white black? Its all idiotic. Murder is a horrific thing and adding a race element just serves the purpose of sensationalism and affording progressives an outlet for "outrage". Ugghh.

MB, enjoy civilization. As much as you like film am surprised you have not discussed Kurisawa. I don;t do much film but I can watch Ikiru, Red Beard and Seven Samuria over and over. Much like Bergman's films, Kurosawa is just an amazing story teller. Must be the NO tradition.

Take care and good Passover amigo.



2:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

As Your Man in Tokyo, I think I shd give u all a report from the Japan Times.

1. Various articles on how the govt and gang of nuclear thugs continue to botch the Fukushima cleanup, lie to the public, and so on. In case of one reactor facility, they falsified inspection records 14,000 times.

2. Review of a film called "The Act of Killing," abt genocide in Indonesia 1965-66. Murder of abt a million suspected leftists. The killers were happy to talk/boast abt what they had done. Anwar Congo plays himself: he shows filmmakers how he strangled his victims to death with a wire apparatus, then breaks out into a jaunty little dance. He and his friends reenact scenes of massacre of a village, then went drinking, and showed footage to their grandchildren. Many of the million killed were murdered by their neighbors. Review says this is not the 'banality of evil' but the 'flamboyance of evil'.

3. Article by Wm Pfaff on Ukraine. He says Putin wants to return position and power to Russia, which is not an ignoble ambition. But the 'diplomacy' displayed so far by US and EU is bellicosity and empty threats. What US has done since collapse of USSR is shove missile installations up against Russian borders, a NATO tactic which has now exploded in our face. Mindless EU expansionism has also been dominated by neoconservative thinking. Massive CRE, he says, can only have a bad outcome.

Pretty cheery, eh wot? As for me, I plan a relaxing weekend w/Japanese friends. Sayonara for now, muchachos.

mb

8:01 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Well you're not missing much here. Just your typical week in the states. A boy at a Pittsburgh high school stabbed 20 students, another shooting at Fort Hood, and a FedEx truck went over a guard rail and hit a bus killing 10 high school students. My guess he was probably engaged in some techno-crap and lost control of the truck.Oh yes, let's not forget TSS workers at an airport demanding a stroke victim say her name when the stroke left her mute. Finally, kids are rioting at a Southwest Philadelphia high school. There was a meeting by top officials and parents last night. Solution? Enforce the dress code. Of course that will solve everything.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings all,

Konbanwa hombre MB in Japan-

Many thanks for keeping the blog rollin' while you are in the land of the rising sun, MB. Hope your Japan trip is off to a spectacular beginning. I might as well give you an American update. Turns out, another one of your predictions came to fruition in the US (i.e., Americans stabbing each other with knives). You're probably aware of the incident, but I thought it was worth recording on the Wafer Blog for eternity. A 16 year old High Schooler in Pittsburgh went on a knife stabbing rampage attacking 22 of his classmates a few days ago. Another horrendous example of the American spirit at work...

Jeff

9:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

We need a new blog called "Steeped in Barbarism". This is now American daily fare, along with a nonexistent foreign policy and domestic financial implosion. Read yr post-its. Obama is a jackass.

mb

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

@ al:

You ask how it is that Israel gets away with taking three billion dollars in lunch money every year from the world's only superpower.

I would answer this with a cultural and a geopolitical answer. The cultural answer is that the US has major cultural similarities with Israel, as both nations are defined by expansionist ideals that involve subjugating the indigenous population and increasing the power of the state.

The geopolitical answer is that Israel has a powerful and effective military and is perceived by American politicians as having overlapping geopolitical interests with the US, such as containing an independent Iran and opposing Islamist political participation throughout the Middle East.

On a different note, it is remarkable how common violence is in the US now. On a nearly basis, mass shootings, stabbings, suicides by veterans, drone killings, mass incarceration - this enormous level of violence is now all but accepted as the norm by a compliant American populace too distracted by their phones to do anything about it. MB's message of the collapse of American civilization is everyday looking more credible, though Americans are sadly too distracted to even notice it.

11:46 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"My guess he was probably engaged in some techno-crap and lost control of the truck."

You could be right, though my first thought on learning of the accident and how it had happened--FedEx truck crosses median and hits van head-on--was that the FedEx driver had dozed off after having driven more hours than highway transport regulations permit. All in the service of the Big Hustle.

The truck driver is now dead and thus won't be able to contribute to the investigation, which, we are told, could take a long time, heaven knows why.

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

In a review of "The Act of Killing" a New York Times reporter wrote:"[Johnson]saw his aggressive posture on Vietnam as a good thing because it made the killings in Indonesia possible." Well, so much for LBJ's agonizing over Vietnam. Of course, Johnson had to agree to escalate in VN in order to get votes to pass many of his Great Society programs. How disturbed is this country that in order to get meaningful social legislation passed you have to agree to kill millions of innocent people?

7:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

Let's not forget importance of the Jewish vote in presidential elections.


The following is a typical Japanese fone conversation, had by my host, Toru, this morning.

[phone rings]

Moshi moshi! [hello]

Hai. Hai, hai, hai.

Hai. Wakarimashta. [understood]

Hai. Honto ni? [really?]

Hai. Hai, hai, hai. Wakarimashta.

Ja mata [bye].

8:59 AM  
Blogger NearFar said...

JWO -

Thank you for pointing me toward that Octavio Paz article (above, in Dissent mag). But you know, I was indulging in "nostalgia," when I brought him up. That article helped me to see that. My younger self admired Paz for what I perceived as his tireless efforts, through his writings, to change society's consciousness. How? Maybe through the alchemy of the poetic "Word." The Dissent article says that the "later" Paz "would develop what he called a politics and poetics of the now, the perpetual present." I used to think that such a 'politics and poetics of the now' (or a 'now here': nowhere) would transform "consciousness" and, therefore, a new society was possible, inextricably bound to poetry. As Paz says elsewhere: "There can be no society without poetry, but society can never be realized as poetry. It is never poetic. Sometimes the two terms seek to break apart. They cannot." ... Today, I evaluate things differently. I don't know if such a 'utopian' society is possible. It's what MB and other Wafers have suggested when they point out how we've indulged too much, as a society, in the transcendent. So that we're always looking for the next (or new) paradigm.

I recognize two things are different about me when I read that article and I think abt Paz today:

1. I can say that the "old me" seemed to have had a "bodily and even psychological craving [that used to be] overwhelmed by the spiritual pursuit of redemption through literature." I thought I believed in that kind of redemption. Not now. Not with what we are facing. Or I should say, rather:

2. That kind of "spiritual pursuit" through reading literature and poetry may no longer available to us today. Quite literally. And more to the point: in this "chaotic" time we are living through (Wallerstein might say that things are beginning to 'tilt', b/c our world-system--a capitalist world-economy--is in the midst of "bifurcation") is that how we are going to find redemption for ourselves, much less society? I believe it's irresponsible to indulge in that kind of "spiritual pursuit."

There're better ways to read Paz today. As an NMI, for example. Or we can take note of the # of times '1968' come up in the Dissent mag piece. A year when, according to Wallerstein, the world-system's dependence on a "centrist liberal" geoculture was shattered. So an analysis of how Paz negotiated this shifting territory of 1968 (and post-68) would offer a more cogent, beneficial, & necessary analysis, IMO.

Thanks Wafers & MB: for encouraging me to read some Wallerstein in the first place (finally got around to it).

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Dan,
In 50 years historians might write that Obama had to go along with the neocons’ wars and crimes in order to get support for his Obamacare. Fortunately, the historians in question are likely to all be Chinese, as the USA will be nothing but a bad memory by then.
Julian

5:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Near-

Ever since Marx, thinkers have tried to address the question of how the superstructure influences the base, if at all. Gramsci provided one answer, but it doesn't go far enuf. Almost all of the countercultural stuff of the 60s, including art, music, philosophy, lit, and so on, blew away like dandelion spores by the mid-70s. And yet historians have this intuitive feeling, and rightly so, that consciousness does impact the socioeconomic reality of any given nation. Question is, How?

I spent a couple of hrs yesterday talking with a brilliant and dedicated graphic artist from Brazil, who works for the mag Adbusters. The images in Adbusters have always been designed to change the reader's mind abt capitalism: basically, that it's uncool and frankly stupid. Problems:

a) How many people read this mag?
b) For those who do, how many see it as a chic, countercultural product, to be consumed along with Dannon yoghurt, let's say?
c) For those not in category b, how many seek to translate the insight into hardnosed political action, and what form does this take?

Wafers are encouraged to think abt the murky territory between mind and body.

mb

8:16 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

How was your flight to Japan and did the flight attendants treat you well?

*Japanese fone conversation"

I looked at the transcript for the phone conversation you put up. He did not speak much on the phone. Were your hosts paying more attention to you and making sure you were okay?

By the way, I read a book and your ideas and this book inspired me to write some fanfiction in the form of a sequel. I'm incorporating the concepts of Waferism into it.

It will never be published in an official manner of course because of copyright issues but when I put it online it will give full credit to the original author and to you. Megan would you be willing to read what I wrote so far?

My writing this has taken me into a more spiritual realm that is beyond logic and is beyond Cantor and Gödel. I accessed a part of my brain that has been dead for a long time maybe even the very depths of my soul.

What is weird is the words just spring forth. It is like the words and the ideas have taken a life of their own and must come out and be written.

Existence is much more than business, hustling, cell phones, iphones, tweets, facebook, etc. Everything is one in existence and we're all interconnected in a musical harmony. Love is the spice that makes things worthwhile. Love is the transformative force that can bring us all together. Love and God are one. Love has many layers. There is no logic to what I'm saying. I simply just feel it and know it.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

As for what you get without literature, poetry, the arts, here's an admittedly small but telling example from the IMDB message board about The Big Bang Theory, where someone wants to know what a joke about "30 pieces of silverware" refers to:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898266/board/thread/228217168

The poster then states:

I have never read the bible, studied Shakespeare or listened to Beethoven (I couldn't tell the difference from John Williams either)... so those things are far from "common knowledge" to me.

My father used to say "Knowing sh!t for the sake of knowing sh!t ain't worth spit." He would say that whenever I would tell him what I was being taught in school. What he was trying to say is that book learning means nothing in the real world and doesn't make you a better man. He valued practical knowledge and common sense over all else.

He never finished the 6th grade and went on to own his own company.

Knowledge of the bible, Shakespeare or Beethoven would have meant nothing to him (he was a machinest). I have a master degree in a field that bearly existed when my father was alive and have never needed any knowledge of the bible, Shakespeare, Beethoven or even John Williams in my day-to-day life. And I dont't feel that there is any big empty, emotional hole in my life that needs to be filled with useless knowledge.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

The following might be something u can incorporate into yr new project:

http://radaronline.com/photos/ass-tounding-kim-kardashian-bares-just-about-everything-in-racy-new-thailand-shots/photo/642124/

Personally, I found it very inspiring. Her tushie is the face of America today, imo.

All is going well in Tokyo. Via an interpreter, I interviewed 2 otaku (nerds) yesterday. They were adorable. I may hafta move here, become a nerd.

mb

6:08 PM  
Anonymous bobby brown said...

I've been hearing a lot about the "sharing economy" over the last year or so, and I think it's total bullshit. To me it's just people interested in getting a cut of the corporate money and has ZERO to do with sharing or community.

You'll still get arrested if you sleep anywhere w/o paying rent, and no one is sharing food. It's this obsession w/internet, airbnb, and wikipedia, and people think this is democracy and power. Bullshit! It's rich people working w/the public to convince everyone they can make money working from home.

For all the talk of collaboration and sharing, no one is talking about it being free. When you use free services like google/facebook, you're basically doing the marketing work for them, and not getting paid (they are selling your info w/o your permission).

All this stuff about a free open internet has at its core big money for google, facebook, twitter, and every other tech company. The more people use free things they make, they more people are connected to their servers so they can sell advertising.

6:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

bobby-

Well, ya gotta hand it to them: capitalism is very clever. It convinces people they have power because they can buy stuff they don't need, while emptying their wallets and driving them into the dirt. Then the poor shmucks, now former middle class, go to soup kitchens (where available) and yell USA! USA! Once in a while someone throws a shoe at Hillary, but that's really the extent of the protest.

mb

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Dr. B--

Just in case you get homesick, now that you're halfway across the globe (not that the US is "home" for you, but you catch my drift):

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2014/04/13/us/13reuters-usa-crime-utah-infants.html?hp

Thanks for the update with the otaku . . . any chance you'll be interviewing any hikikomori?

Brian

7:38 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Konnichiwafers:

Hi Mike. I had intended on walking away from this, but if you think "The geopolitical answer is that Israel has a powerful and effective military and is perceived by American politicians as having overlapping geopolitical interests with the US, such as containing an independent Iran and opposing Islamist political participation throughout the Middle East. " is supposed to be a nuanced view, I have a deli near a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

Both the US and Israel have had a role in encouraging Islamist groups in the Middle East. To counter the nationalist/leftist Fatah, Israel sponsored the rise of Hamas. To counter the Commies, the USA sponsored the mujahideen in Afghanistan. Not a bunch to learn from their mistakes, the US government has since sponsored al-Qaeda in Syria and Islamists in such places as Mali and Libya.

Furthermore, the Islamist extremist Wahhabis running Saudi Arabia are allies of both Israel and the USA.

I agree with you that the US recognised the military strength of the Israelis after June, 1967, and saw them as useful attack dogs in the region, but that has nothing to do with Islam.

A more interesting question is whether the US will eventually find a better ally in the region and dump Israel as it did Iraq.

12:26 AM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

Glad to know you Dr. Berman.

You and others here make me smarter just by knowing all of you.

Capitalism is a con game. A CONFIDENCE game. It convinces the 'mark' that they can win, when it is pre-determined that they cannot.

Capitalists are the KILLERS of civilization.
Decent people ... if they are intelligent enough, would take the Capitalist killers into the middle of town squares and publicly do away with them.

12:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

JS-

But 1st, they need to have their shoes peed on, preferably by Wafers.

al-

I like the notion of konnichiwafers. There's no dumping Israel, BTW (Jewish vote in the US; US Govt was hardly worried abt an American Iraqi voting bloc).

Brian-

Hikos are kinda shy, I fear. They don't even talk to their mothers.

mb

2:28 AM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

al-Qa'bong states: "Both the US and Israel have had a role in encouraging Islamist groups in the Middle East. To counter the nationalist/leftist Fatah, Israel sponsored the rise of Hamas. To counter the Commies, the USA sponsored the mujahideen in Afghanistan. Not a bunch to learn from their mistakes, the US government has since sponsored al-Qaeda in Syria and Islamists in such places as Mali and Libya. ... the Islamist extremist Wahhabis running Saudi Arabia are allies of both Israel and the USA. ... A more interesting question is whether the US will eventually find a better ally in the region and dump Israel as it did Iraq"

I tell you, Americans have made so many enemies and killed so many people and messed up so many nations, that when the American empire is dead, a lot of people would want a piece of America.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Kon'nichiwa WAFers.

Under the heading "USA, USA, USA!" might I submit:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/13/thomas-piketty-income-inequality_n_5136003.html


And, leading the pack in a very strong field, the following citizen contending for the title Douchebag of the Month:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/14/man-sentenced-to-wear-bully-sign-taunted_n_5143152.html

Sayonara.

10:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

It's kinda nice that someone drove by and yelled "Douche bag!" at the shmuck. Clearly, a candidate for urine-soaked shoes, along with Hillary and Ovomit.

mb

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Lilac Ivy said...

Another shooting by an American Psychopath-that might be an oxymoron. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/jewish-center-shootings/former-kkk-leader-suspected-jewish-center-attacks-sources-n79486

10:52 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

I am glad everything is good. I love your idea; I think I shall somehow incorporate your idea of Kim's tushie into my project. It won't be officially published but when I'm done I will put it online and I would love for you guys to read it.

Oh by the way, check out this advanced toilet in Japan. Japan looks like they're surpassing us in bathroom techniques.

http://theweek.com/article/index/259544/this-japanese-toilet-should-make-americans-very-worried

We're so busy as Americans thinking we're number one that Japan has surpassed us in toiletry techniques. So, how are we number one again? *snickers* lol We're number one at running our mouths but that's about it. :) Dr. B, you're awesome. Keep up the good work.

Tim

This poster is a fool. Does he not know that things are only temporary? Our universe is always in flux. Planets and Stars are always forming. Societies rise and they fall. We have what is called the cycle of life which is birth, death, more birth, more death. It is the impractical and the imagination that gives us meaning and what makes life worthwhile. It is what makes us strive as human beings to advance both in knowledge, love, wisdom, and science.

You lose the imagination and you lose all hope for living when the practical fails. What is the point of living one's life if life is just a machine in which one must be a cog in? The real world that people in America subscribes to, is their version of the real world. It is their culture and it is only but temporary and permeable. This real world they want me to get into is not progress. It is slow death. America has all of this technological greatness, which it is losing anyway to Japan, yet is primitive in it's soul development. This idea that the practical world is all there is what has all screwed up. Tim, when you asked me about why do all things have to be utilitarian to me it was a profound question that I never thought of until you asked. You're right.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Peter Archer said...

This might be of interest to some of you...

http://www.salon.com/2014/05/02/welcome_to_pikettys_america_dispatches_from_an_empire_in_decline_partner/

7:10 AM  

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