June 19, 2014

Our Exciting Future: 2016

Dear Wafers:

It's kind of fun, watching the American media getting all worked up about the 2016 presidential election, 2+ years in advance. As if it mattered, who was in the White House. As if the important national decisions emerged from a mouthpiece of the corporations, the banks, and the military, as opposed to originating with the corporations, the banks, and the military, themselves. And if the media are clueless, so are the American people, of course, who get very exercised over the differences between Tweedledee and Tweedledum. (One party is insane, and the other is full of shit.) Well, as I keep telling you guys, the American people aren't exactly a collection of Einsteins.

Nevertheless, I confess that I got all hot and bothered myself over the following article that just appeared on cnn: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/06/19/poll-romney-the-frontrunner-in-2016/?hpt=hp_bn3

The fact is, I was brokenhearted, two years ago, when Mittney lost. He is my kinda guy, really: a walking haircut with nothing underneath it. America deserves no less, imo. And what's the alternative, really? Hillary, a major yawn. What is she? A lackey of the imperial state, who knows who her friends are (the corporations, the banks, and the military). All we can expect--and she's likely to win, sad to say--is an extension of the Obama presidency; which is to say, ad hoc crisis management, to no purpose at all. She's a tedious person; every time I see that depressed, pasty face in the news, I think of 3-day-old cottage cheese.

The tragedy of Mittney is that no one really understood that he stood for absolutely nothing at all, and at this juncture in American history, when decline is the inevitable order of the day, that's a good thing. Who better to lead us into the American "future," namely nowhere, than a Nowhere Man? He keeps saying he's not a candidate anymore, but if polls have him as the GOP "frontrunner," maybe he'll reconsider. Yes, he's a moron; but Hillary is a douche bag. I know whom I'd rather have leading us into the abyss. And so it is with some fervor, I hope not entirely futile, that I feel compelled to cry out:

COME BACK, LITTLE MITTNEY! WE LOVE YOU! DON'T FAIL US IN OUR HOUR OF NEED!

-mb

194 Comments:

Anonymous Blair said...

It`s so obvious to any thinking human left alive that it makes no difference whose face bobs above the presidential seal during a "news conference" that I can barely scan the NYT any more.
On the other hand, Dr B you reminded me of the aborted tv series that forced me to stop watching that Cyclops.
Nowhere Man was ahead of its time in portraying a DARPA-like world. It was critically acclaimed and had a cult following but was abruptly canceled some twenty years ago. We fans never even received so much as a shitty tv movie to wrap it up.
Anyone else recall and feel pissed off by this?

6:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Blair-

Well, we do have The Matrix, as well as "House of Cards"--a better portrait of the US I can't imagine. What pisses *me* off is that on the verge of the 2012 election, the Rudolph Murdoch Press was abt to issue my 5-vol. study, "Philosophy of Mittnism." Each vol. was 500 pages, and some of the pages even had text on them. The vols. were also bound in hand-tooled leather, and they were set to go at a mere $2000 for all 5 vols. Then Rom lost, and the whole thing was cancelled, including a very laudatory review by Thos Friedman in the NYT. Life can be so cruel sometimes.

mb

6:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pathetic Crock of Shit Dept.:

http://us.cnn.com/2014/06/19/politics/us-iraq/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

8:02 PM  
Blogger buzzburza said...

The You Ass of North AmreekAh has peaked and his totally bankrupt, financially, morally and, if I dare say, spiritually. But the markets haven't caught on yet…hang on tight laddies, there's a rough one abnlowin' sing goddamn goddamn

8:57 PM  
Blogger Gregory Chamberlin said...

A little something I wrote way back when:


Wednesday, January 11, 2012
The Great White Hope



I predict that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for president. I believe the fix is in. Somewhere a gaggle of old white guys—good old boys—have been tasked with choosing The Great White Hope; they’ve chosen Romney.

Romney will get the party nod not because he is the most knowledgeable about economics or foreign policy. So far his performances have demonstrated he has about as much depth as a wading pool. And it sure isn’t his ability to connect with audiences. To quote Robin Williams, “He has the warmth of a snow-pea.” Those who have dubbed him “the Rom-Bot” are closer to the man’s political raison d’etre.

What those wizened old bastards, waxing cynical in their dotage, are counting on is Romney’s ability to be the Everyman. Now, in this context what this means is Every White Man. I realize this excludes many progressive white people who, if they read this, would object however; according to the political arithmetic of electoral showmanship you are no longer really white. You are beyond the pale.

Romney’s appeal is to the pale, to the anemic, to the walking dead. It is an appeal of a blank slate upon which these unimaginative denizens can attach their hopes, their dreams, and their less than subtle racist visions of restoring the United States to greatness. For greatness read whiteness. And Romney, lacking much of a vital identity of his own, will not bleed through the layers of gauzy hopes projected onto him.

Romney stands ready with the image of the privilege he carries as a White Man to reoccupy what is surely thought of His Proper Place in the White House. And that warms the cold hearts of those geezers who have made Romney their man.

9:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Buzz-

Ya took the words right outta my mouth! Lord, Lord, I'm free at last!

mb

9:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ancient ruins of a dying empire:

http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2014/jun/19/-sp-death-of-the-american-shopping-mall

My question is: Malls were filled w/turkeys. As the malls die out, where do all the turkeys go (long time passing)?

mb

11:05 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Fellow WAfers and Prof. Berman:
I am back in the USA.

This has been a very difficult transition. I need help (honestly).
I haven't been able to actually work at work, since the whole thing seems meaningless: I don't really care about whether or not my company's product successfully backs up consumers' meaningless data.

I went to my nephew's house tonight. He just moved into a house a block away with his wife and young child. A number of his old high school friends came over for beer and food. While his poor wife and child tried to sleep upstairs, I heard the most depressing, meaningless twaddle I've heard in years.

There is no hope for America.
One of my nephew's friends works for a security firm in the United Arab Emirates, training gov't employees in firearms, security, etc. He joked about how unqualified he is.
He regaled us with stories about how the citizens there enjoy the unbridled excess that their nation affords them: the gov't provides a grant for house for each of your wives there!
Someone he knows sends his Rolls Royce to Britain to be serviced, rather than hire a local, or even fly in a mechanic.
Everyone laughed.
On and on: about the $100,000 tip to a waitress in Rochester (home of the Mayo Clinic) by another UAE rich man.
I asked him if nobody in the UAE felt existential angst about the meaningless squandering of wealth.
Everyone laughed.
I announced that these stories of decadence proved that humanity has no hope whatsoever.
For about 10 seconds, the laughter stopped. Then someone changed the subject.

For a while, I had worried that my nephew now living close by would dissuade me from wanting to emigrate. No more. Even my Gen X generation was never so nihilistic, in my memory. These kids were absolutely pathetic. No interest in art, literature, meaning, even love is a joke. Nada nada y pues nada.

11:56 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Check out my touch up for the Ancient Ruins:

http://whyifailedinamerica1.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/ozymall3.jpg

12:45 AM  
Anonymous Bruce Bennett said...

For more insight into the coming "Idiocracy" of the U.S. I would advise my fellow WAFers to go to Google and type in "The Shocking Numbers: Americans Are Dangerously Ignorant On Politics". There are a few links such as to Salon and Alternet where you can read it. I'll give you a hint - it's even worse than you thought. This is a country where a member of Tea Party rally held up a sign that said - "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!"
I imagine that the results of the Nov. "elections" will mean that even more wingnuts will be sworn in come January. The Senate will most likely be in the control of the Regressives and the House will be even more like that clown car we used to see at the circus.
I end with a quote from the late, great George Carlin
"This country is finished."

1:26 AM  
Anonymous Kenkyona said...

Read this and thought it cd be of interest to you - http://www.burogu.com/2012/12/the-chinese-are-japanese-too.html

2:02 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I'm not so sure Mitt stands for nothing. I am of the opinion that he stands for something bad. During the previous Brothers Tweedle selection process I encountered online an item about Mittney's past. It appears that as a young man, Mittney once pinned to the ground some youthful long-haired male so as to lead a band of followers in forcibly shearing off that individual's hair. Personally I consider such an act of assault to be extremely contemptible and quite a significant character revelation. This is not to say I'll vote for Hillary - or anyone for that matter - but I'd go out of my way to thwart Romney, as well as to publicly express my disdain and indeed loathing for him.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anon-

I don't post Anons, so you'll need to pick a handle for future postings. Thank you.

Cube-

Nice touch!

Ken-

Gd article, thanks.

Kev-

But his election wd bring the country down faster. You need to think abt the larger picture.

Pub-

When Americans aren't talking abt that sort of thing, they're talking abt their latest smartphone, or software application. Their lives are empty, pointless, and sad. Why stick around for even another day? Do you think 'progressives' are gonna reverse any of this? Do you think you might find an unexpected pocket of intelligence or sensitivity in some basement in Queens, or in some cafe in Austen? Pissing away yr life here makes sense 2u?

mb

6:32 AM  
Anonymous shopping is cool said...

Don't worry, malls aren't dying out anytime soon. Go to suburban Texas, Virginia, or Maryland and you'll see malls expanding.

Good comment on Austin. People go there for the cool food, cool (or "weird" as they say) people, and cool music, but these people have the same shit for brains as the rest of the US population. The only difference with Austin is that the people have better taste in consumer goods & food than the average person, and the people tend to be cooler than most other people. Everything else is the same (economic growth is good, videos games/cell phones are great, cars are awesome, shopping is an end in itself, etc).

It seems the criticism from cool people isn't anything fundamental, it's more like, they want Urban Outfitters instead of Walmart, Whole Foods instead of Kroger, a hatchback car instead of a minivan, and Chipotle instead of Olive Garden. Throw in some exercise clothes and cool furniture, and you're almost there.

7:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

Pls post only once every 24 hrs. This is impt. Thank u.

mb

11:44 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

I'm thinking Mittney needs a 2016 campaign song. A little tune sung by Frank Sinatra helped JFK in 1960. I decided to spin the lyrics a bit, since Sinatra is no longer with us... RIP Ol' Blue Eyes.

"High Hopes" with Mitt Romney in (2016):

Everyone is voting for Mitt
'Cause he's the biggest nitwit.
Everyone's in a fit- for Mitt
Mitt is on the right track
'Cause he's got high hopes
He's got high hopes
Twenty-16 is the year for his high hopes

Come on and vote for Mittney
Vote for Mittney
And this time he won't flop!
Oops, there goes the opposition-ker-
Oops, there goes the opposition-ker-
Oops, there goes the opposition- KERPLOP!

M-I-DOUBLE T-N-E-Y
Mitt's the nation's favorite guy
Even on his third try
'Cause he's got high hopes
He's got high hopes
Twenty-16 is the year for his high hopes

Come on and vote for Mittney
Vote for Mittney
Keep America wrong
Mittney, he just keeps-rollin'-a
Mittney, he just keeps-rollin'-a
Mittney, he just keeps rollin' along!
Vote for Mittney!

Jeff

12:27 PM  
Anonymous kyle said...

http://www.krdo.com/news/boards-with-nails-found-on-mountain-bike-trails/26572002

This is one of the ways Americans act environmentally friendly. Laying boobytraps in the name of the environment.

12:31 PM  
Blogger bowtiejack said...

"One party is insane, and the other is full of shit."

What oft was thought, but ne'er so succinctly expressed.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Blair said...

I just discovered this:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nowhere_Man_(TV_series)
Apparently, the un-aired episodes are in this set. I`ll have to check the library for it.
C`mon! No one else hear saw this?
On the other subject:
Why the enthusiasm for Mittney to take this shit-hole of a police state down.?
You don`t think it will be funny to watch all of the droolers after the first black president transfer the stimulus of their salivary glands to the first female president?

7:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to Jack Lattemann-

Thank you for those great Cascadia stamps, of "American Values"--Hustling and More. Very kind of u to send them. Now we need to get them on billboards across the US. WaferArt indeed.

While we're renting billboards, wdn't it be great if Wafers cd subsidize a few 1000 of them, from Maine to LA, all of wh/said:
"Americans Have Shit For Brains!"
Man, the day that happens I'll have died and gone to heaven.

Thanks again, amigo-

mb

8:31 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Blair,

I well remember Nowhere Man & still marvel at its prescience. The boxed DVD set is excellent, filled with commentary tracks, extended scenes, background features, etc. Inspired by & the closest American equivalent to The Prisoner, without being just a pale imitation of that classic series. Both series highly recommended to Wafers!

As is a Ken Burns DVD, Seeing, Searching, Being: William Segal, about an artist & philosopher who has much to say (in very few words) about silence, stillness, and becoming more of a whole human. For those interested in the spiritual aspect of life, without necessarily submitting to any one creed or belief system, this is quite interesting & moving. For me, it brought to mind Andre Gregory's lines about cutting out all the noise, and freeing yourself from the robotic life that society has imposed on us (and to which so many have whole-heartedly agreed on some semi-unconscious level).

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Lone Wolf said...

I am two-thirds finished with your trilogy on the American Empire. I am impressed. I am not sure if there are any contemporary writers that have done as well of a job as you in identifying what exactly it was that sowed the seeds for America's inevitable dissolution. You should pat yourself on the back for writing the "Twilight" book in 2000, it is terrifyingly prescient.

The problems with this country arise from the venal nature of its popular culture, and reflect the shortcomings of human nature itself.

Personally I spent today with a group of very wealthy Texans, and I can tell you that their minds are so fucked up that there is no way, no way in this world, that this country can ever solve it's problems when our wealth and politics are in the hands of mentally-twisted people such as those I witnessed today.

For whatever reason in this country when someone becomes very wealthy, their minds are taken over by some kind of virus or something that robs them of any of the sense or intelligence they previously had.

There's something very evil about this country and its people, and it lies at the heart of things here.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello there, Wafers:

I just endured watching Bill Maher on TV saying America is like a woman who thinks she can turn "bad boys" around to be good people.

The "bad boys" in question are Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Vietnam and a couple of other places that the USA has violated in recent history.

I have news for Bill Maher: your country is the serial rapist in town. You aren't funny.

What an utter douchebag. He should run for president.

And why did Glenn Greenwald agree to go on that show? I'll admit that his was a welcome presence, but he gives the rest of those turd blossoms credibility by being there.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

@blair

Forget the library...all 25 episodes of Nowhere Man appear to be alive & well on Youtube.

This link should take you to a list of links to all 25 episodes. I only tested the first link, but the first episode came up and appeared to be running fine.

Interesting list of directors among the 25 episodes.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmPIF8d1DXaPgJWwZmgPO9SBn3qP0VpLx

11:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Lone-

Am glad yr enjoying my work. WAF is a postmortem, really: you make $ the purpose of a society, and finally you have no society. Plus, it takes a sociopathic personality to want huge amts of $, and to claw his way to the top (of the dunghill). Then $ corrupts them even further. As Gandhi put it, "There is enough for everyone's need, but not for everyone's greed." This is the opposite of the American national motto, wh/is: "What's In It For Me?" That's the evil, and yr rt: it's at the center of it all.

mb

11:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This American Life:

http://us.cnn.com/2014/06/20/us/albuquerque-police-investigation/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Jamza said...

Fact: Romney received 76% of white votes in his last presidential election.

Fact: Romney made his money destroying jobs and sending out jobs to overseas.

You have to give it to Americans like Romney: they know how to make money.

"Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit company that operates career training schools, is in deep trouble. Last week, the U.S. Department of Education, which has been providing Corinthian with about $1.4 billion dollars annually in student grants and loans, sent Corinthian a letter saying the company had failed to provide the Department with requested information about its operations and placing a 21-day waiting period on new federal aid after submitting student enrollment data. Yesterday, Corinthian filed a document with the Securities and Exchange Commission disclosing the education department letter and stating that if the Department does not change course, and if Corinthian cannot obtain other financing, "the Company's cash flows will not be sufficient to meet its obligations as they become due, which would cause the Company to be unable to continue as a going concern.""

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/davidhalperin/for-profit-corinthian-col_b_5516063.html

10:36 AM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

Don't despair. With any luck, Tagg Romney will step up to follow in pop's political footsteps someday. A political landscape without a Romney would be as barren and unknowable as one without a Bush or a Clinton.

I can see his campaign motto now: "Tagg -- you're it!"

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

DR B: I listened to the video you provided: http://us.cnn.com/2014/06/20/us/albuquerque-police-investigation/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

I could not watch it because I do not want to go crazy.

Lone Wolf said a couple of things that got me thinking.

He said, “The problems with this country … reflect the shortcomings of human nature itself”

There is nothing wrong with human nature. The American people are only about 3 percent of the entire world population, so they cannot be the standard for measuring human nature.

He said, “For whatever reason in this country when someone becomes very wealthy, their minds are taken over by some kind of virus or something that robs them of any of the sense or intelligence they previously had.”

It is because of they way they made the money. Somebody who makes money honest way will understand what it means to be human. The wealthy people in America killed or pillaged to grab the money under their names, so they are naturally wicked and evil.

He said, “There's something very evil about this country and its people, and it lies at the heart of things here”

Yes, there is something evil about the people running the country. Just watch the video provided by Dr B. How could an unarmed man be killed like that and nobody is held responsible? I think there is Karma coming back to hunt the people living in America. They have done a lot of evil to innocent people and they are now living with the effects of their evil deeds – it is like a virus infection or Karma

11:55 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

"Our Exciting Future"...

Therein lay the problem no? Americans more than any western (though U.S. is more syncretistic and far less european than is assumed via conditioning) live in the future. The deeply embedded idea of progress is a faith of being saved in the future by technology of some large legged old woman with big teeth or a guy with a great haircut and that more democracy will save the day from whatever present ills. I suggest that via constant distraction and hoping for a future where the right candidate and attitude will save the day is how americans live their lives. They are never present and are not living. Truly here the brilliance of waiting for godot or the budhists or jewish mystics is instructive (Koestler, Frankel et al also), the point being--live now you sad collection of degraded douchebags and take action to save or improve you life--now. Of course, they can take refuge in the sophistry of well we are really trying now and its all about perspective and in any case when Hillary waddles to victory all will be right...

1:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ed-

Well, the US is currently getting its karma; that's for sure. Not from "God", but from History. We treated so many people so badly for so long, and now we are reaping what we sowed. This is simply not a fate we can escape. Lyndon Johnson died in his bed, instead of by napalm; the Abq. policemen got off scott free; so yes, no karma there, I grant you. But the overall pattern is karmic: we are now eating ourselves alive, and very few on the planet respect us--they get it, that we're done. Most are happy abt it, in fact. I guess my own frustration is the enormous gap between who we said we were, and who we actually were. In WAF I argued that we failed because we ignored the alternative tradition: Emerson, Thoreau, Mumford, even Jimmy Carter. So now we are gunning down the mentally ill and the defenseless. What we *could* have been still resonates in my mind, and leaves me sad.

Of course, civilizations rise and fall; that's the historical record. But one wonders how ours managed to be so blind, and so brutal. Clemenceau was rt: we are the only civ in history that went directly from barbarism to decadence.

mb

2:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile, I've been rdg a novel by Kurt Andersen called "True Believers." One character in it says that Americans are afraid of clowns, and the reason is that Americans are dopes who believe they are very clever, whereas clowns are very clever people pretending to be dopes.

11:12 PM  
Blogger pinkpearl said...

MB, have you come across any societies that made you think "these people are on the right track"? I know you chose to live in Mexico, but it's a stretch to make that particular comment about it.

My answer would be the Netherlands and Iceland, based on what I've seen of their societies. They have their problems too but they get a lot of stuff right. The rest of the world should be so lucky as to have their problems.

Feel free to weigh in, WAFers.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

pink-

It depends on what you want. Someone wrote me that she was living in a traditional culture--like a small town in Mexico--and then had the oppty to move to Denmark. So she did, wh/obviously has a lot of advantages over a place like the US; except that it's a very commercial society. So her 12-yr-old son, who previously enjoyed life in a traditional culture, suddenly had to have all kinds of clothes, toys, and other nonsense advertised on TV, and wh/all Danish children had. After a year of this, she cdn't take it any more. She felt the kid was being psychologically ruined, and so she moved back to where she had been living. Eventually, the kid forgot abt all that consumer crap and reverted to being a healthy child. (You see kids in the town I live playing soccer using a bottle cap as the ball, and enjoying themselves immensely.)

Now for many people, Scandanavia wd be "on the rt track," and in many ways (social safety net) that's true. For me, living in a society in wh/everyone has a cell fone up their ass, and has to have the latest gadgets, wdn't work. But then, I'm basically a premodern person; I have no interest in living in a trendy consumerist-computerized world, wh/I regard as pathological. So for me, traditional societies are "on the right track," and hip modern ones have gone off the rails. But I'm not exactly your typical individual in this regard.

Wafers-

Remember "Hair," wh/debuted in 1967? Fabulous songs. One is called "Let the Sunshine in," and contains the following lines:

"Facing a dying nation of moving paper fantasy
Listening for the new told lies"

1967! And here I thought I was breaking ground in 2000.

mb

2:23 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

MB

I'm sure you have your own ideas about what sort of books and articles you might wish to publish/see published in the future, but your exchange with "pinkpearl" caused me to wonder whether you might not consider writing something--a collection of essays perhaps--that captures your vision of an ideal human society and what it would look like, illustrated by and drawing examples from current day societies and cultures where these good elements and behaviors are to be found.

I'm guessing that there are enough such examples to underpin such a thing, and that the entire world is not as verkakte as the US.

Pardon my presumption in this. Just thinking out loud.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

The Japan bk will be out later this yr, and I'm currently helping to guide it thru the press. After that, I think I'm gonna hang it up. It's my 12th bk, and I really don't care if I do a 13th. Of course, something might grab my attn and then who knows what I'll do, but as my agent says, "We're in a losing profession." Americans are simply not rdg bks anymore; they "read" (i.e., scan) screens.

As for a collection of essays: my Mexican publisher is interested in my doing a sequel to QOV (or CDV, in Spanish), but (a) I don't have enuf unpublished essays on hand to make a bk, and (b) I'm not particularly keen on it, for some reason. So yr suggestion is not a bad one, but you know, after 12 bks, I have the impression that very few people (and I mean *very* few) are listening. At this pt writing seems like little more than a quaint, personal hobby (I'm guessing the Japan bk will sell all of 200 copies). More and more, I'm drawn to the idea of moving to Lahore and becoming a dervish. But thanks anyway, I appreciate the suggestion.

mb

8:19 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Lost Cause-

Give up already; yr wasting yr time. I didn't even read yr post. Have you no self-respect at all? A person who does, doesn't keep knocking on a door that is closed to him. Maybe it's time to become an adult?

mb

11:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

You see how sad and stupid the trollfoons are; they simply won't quit. I expect they'll be fighting the Civil War on the blog longer than the actual Civil War lasted. It's quite amazing how empty these folks are, and how much time they have on their hands--and as I said, how little self-respect they have. Absolutely nothing can derail them. America is an ocean of trollfoons. They made the country what it is today.

mb

11:43 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

mb,

The Japan book must be pretty good if you feel at such loose ends after writing it. Wasn't it in CTOS that one of the characteristics of creativity (Western version) is that creatives feel a tristesse after producing an unusually demanding work?

The big issue has always confronted all creatives at all times (esp. Western ones, I wd guess) - namely, who is listening? Who is the audience? Who cares? Why am I even doing this? Except for a few Phil Roths, every writer who's any good prob spends a large # of nights with these worries.

An atomized culture like the US must worsen the problem immeasurably. Bubbles of community, where someone might find understanding and appreciation, are subject to the corrosive acid of commercial pressures (& the resultant douchbaggery) and so tend to dissolve fast.

Anyway, mb, I think I get your pref for trad societies. They prob are more likely to offer what Brahms lamented the paucity of even in his day: a common vocabulary & understanding (which he called "a school" - see Jan Swafford's bio).

Anyhow, I'm already salivating for yr Arabia book. Have u considered the title Hummis, Shmummis? It might sell like hotcakes.

12:17 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

No polish joke: I read this story in todays Guardian newspaper. The emperor wears no clothes in Warsaw:

Polish foreign minister says country's alliance with US worthless. According to a transcript of recordings obtained by Wprost, Radislaw Sikorski said 'we gave the US a blow job'

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/22/poland-foreign-minister-alliance-us-worthless

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Ariel Ballesteros said...

Reading the previous thinking abt where to live made me think of a small verse by a long gone mexican poet. It is almost like a haiku. It goes like this:
"La vida es dura, tomemos un café"
That is why I've always lived here (Mexico) and continue to until...

2:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sanc-

Well, it won't be Arabia, exactly; more likely Pakistan, where I intend to complete several yrs of intense dervish training. Possible titles:
1. Dervish Blues
2. I Dipped My Dick in Hummous
3. Who Moved My Felafel?
etc...
As for Japan, one of my best bks, I think, tho I'm glad the writing and research are behind me. Jesus, was that hard. Hopefully it'll be out in a few mos. Of course, I'll need to brace myself against the trollfoons, who have actually already written reviews of it on this blog, w/o having read a page of it (impressive!). Anyway, they'll claim:
1. That I am pro-Axis, and wanted Japan to win the war;
2. That I glorify Japan, ignore its dark side;
3. Additional nonsense I can't even imagine.
None of these are true, but as the troll reviews of WAF have made quite clear, why worry about what the author actually said, when you can caricature the bk and then attack *that*? Hopefully the sickness that is America won't put off *all* potential readers, and I'll be able to sell 200 or so copies. Whee! We'll hafta party all night. Then: off to dervish school, w/the trollfoons following me, telling me I'm not whirling correctly.

mb

3:22 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

I believe I understand what you're saying. As an example using candy that is red, orange, green and blue what most Americans do is only allow one to have certain specific candies at a time like one can only have red and orange together or green and blue.

What you're saying is why can't we have red and blue or orange and green. Better yet, what you're saying is why can't one combine red and blue and make a different color altogether or make a specific candy half blue and half red.

Going to the example of South what you're saying is to use the positive aspects of the South and ditch out the negatives. Combine the positive aspects of the south with positive aspects of other ideas.

It's sort of like looking at the orders at Canter's Deli and mixing parts of different orders to obtain the taste and flavors one desires.

What you're saying is that most Americans fail to perceive that this is possible to do. Am I at least on the right track or am I way off course?

3:57 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

MB, how could I forget "Hair," with all its mystic crystal revelation / and the mind's true liberation? I saw it in SF in '69 at age ten - taken there on a school field trip, if you can believe it. The point in the show where the whole cast was naked on stage was a *big* deal; nowadays our teachers would be arrested for child abuse or some stupid shit like that.

Like you I can't help grieving for what this country *could* have been had it taken that idealistic path - & that of Emerson, Thoreau & Jimmy Carter et al - instead of furiously stamping out the best of the counterculture and turning into a bobo yuppie war-mongering consumerist paradise from some neoliberal yawning depth of hell.

Your experience of writing sounds similar to my experience of painting, which is as follows. If you want to do anything visionary or romantic, you're screwed. All the powerful institutions - academe, modern art museums, major galleries, etc. - are controlled by gatekeepers who restrict access to those whose work in some way serves - or at least does not seriously challenge - the dominant paradigm, which seems to be some kind of scientistic materialist necrophile nihilism. Hence the success of schlockmeisters like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, whose work is truly horrible and an insult to the great western artistic tradition that I venerate.

I think I may have a solution to the trolfoon problem. Supposing you were to charge trolfoons a gate fee to post their intemperate ravings? They're so eager to fulminate and heap abuse on their intellectual superiors, I'm sure many would be glad to pay for the privilege. You could use your earnings to fund a trip to Lahore - two birds with one stone, as it were. I suggest a round-trip ticket, in case the dervish thing doesn't work out.

4:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

You lost me; I don't understand all these colors. The argument of WAF ch. 4 was not one of "let's just focus on the positives of the South." I hardly shy away from the dark side of the antebellum South, as a number of morons have claimed, and 4 million slaves is truly dark. The paradoxical thing is that light was erected on that very darkness; the South created a nonhustling, leisurely, and very civilized way of life based on a very uncivilized institution. So did ancient Greece, in fact--1 million slaves in the silver mines, out of which arrangement came Plato and Aristotle. It's the damnedest thing!

What Americans can't do is let these types of complexities and contradictions into their minds, because quite frankly, they don't have much in the way of minds. For Americans, things are either this OR that; they are never both/and. The rest of the world, however, tends to see reality in shades of gray. It's hardly just trollfoons who are stupid, in the US.

The same might be said of Japan. John Dower wrote that the challenge is to recognize the atrocities Japan committed in China and Korea, and not let them off the hook for this; while at the same time recognizing that in terms of who started the war w/the US, we boxed them in economically until they didn't see themselves having much of a choice. It was either go to war or become an economic colony of the US (wh/is what happened anyway). The US is always doing something like this, in fact, while maintaining a position of innocence. The North did that to the South; indirectly, the US did that to Iraq in 1990 (Kuwaiti oil prices threatening the Iraqi economy, etc.). As soon as the other side fights back--wh/u can be sure *we* wd do in the same situation--we turn them into Agents of Satan and never reflect on what might be their (legitimate) pt of view.

As Immanuel Wallerstein has written, "free trade" is hardly free; it's always loaded in favor of the more powerful nation; and it is the way colonies (physical or economic) are created.

mb

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Red on the Head said...

Dr. MB,

You once asked, “What if the wool is the eyes?”

In the following Ralph Nader essay, I’m wondering if he asked himself this same question. Of course Hilary’s reading list is absurd. But the reason she is “unable to resist straining our credulity” is because really stupid people/Americans will find her reading habits impressive. At least 2016 will be entertaining.

https://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/06/19-0

6:07 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

John Dower wrote that the challenge is to recognize the atrocities Japan committed in China and Korea, and not let them off the hook for this; while at the same time recognizing that in terms of who started the war w/the US, we boxed them in economically until they didn't see themselves having much of a choice.

Slightly longer (but under 2 minutes) & funnier version:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbO0f9uaWZE

6:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ty-

Yeah, some variant of that. Funny, but depressing.

Red-

2-3 yrs ago I did an essay on this blog w/the title (I think) of "A Farce Called Hillary." It's somewhere in the Archives, if u wanna dig it out. This article by Nader reinforces the perception that she's so full of shit she doesn't know whether she's coming or going. And yet, Americans--not a very bright collection of people--line up outside of B&N at 3 am to buy her bk. As 2016 approaches, women will get excited, all over again, abt the "traveling pants suit," and how a woman will finally be president. Oh! Oh! (Substitute 'black', and you've got the election of 2008.) Never mind that in 2008, her political adviser was Mark Penn, who was CEO of Burson-Marsteller, the PR firm hired by the Argentinian junta to whitewash its torture and human rts violations during the 1970s (la guerra sucia). Let's not worry abt that; let's just get exercised abt the "traveling pants suit." Once again, the American people are gonna get exactly what they deserve. It's hard not to vomit on a daily basis.

mb

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

The same theme and metaphor continues: war, killing, the use of conflicts to settle debates. When people whip themselves into frenzy, this is what to expect. When people believe in killing other people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, this is what you must expect at home in their talk and thinking. Obama has killed more innocent children and women abroad than Clinton and Bush combined. When you love conflict and killing, you get the same:

"Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Saturday night accused President Barack Obama and other Democrats of waging wars against religious liberty and education and said that a rebellion is brewing in the U.S. with people ready for "a hostile takeover" of the nation's capital.

"I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States," Jindal said, "where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren."

"I am tired of the left. They say they're for tolerance, they say they respect diversity. The reality is this: They respect everybody unless you happen to disagree with them," he said. "The left is trying to silence us and I'm tired of it, I won't take it anymore."

The governor said there was a "silent war" on religious liberty being fought in the U.S. — a country that he said was built on that liberty."

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/22/bobby-jindal_n_5519158.html

11:42 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Salaam Wafniks:

I was thinking of that Bill Hicks bit too, infantyrone.

I thought of a Louis CK piece while reading Dr. Belman on Greek slavery: "Of course. Of course, slavery is bad. Of course; but maybe..."

In case anyone has been missing the odious Dick Chaney, he must have acquired some more replacement parts, because he has returned:

http://strongeramerica.com/

In parting, I'd like to thank your Doc Belman for introducing me to the word "verkakte," which I heard on your "Alternative Radio" broadcast. I try to insert it into my speech whenever possible.

O&D

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Lone Wolf said...

"Once again, the American people are gonna get exactly what they deserve."

Yes.

Amongst American progressives, there is a belief that the "elite" are the ones screwing the general population and enriching themselves at our expense.

What the "progressives" don't realize is that the elites in any country are merely reflections of the classes that belie them.

It is all classes in the United States which contain corruption, criminality, decadence and so forth.

It's seen more easily in the elites because they've been granted the power over life and death, so they've been more thoroughly corrupted, but given the same opportunities the average American would behave the same exact way.

4:09 AM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Dear Wafers,

If you want to read or read again MB's A Farce Called Hillary, you can do so at Archive 2011-02-06.

5:46 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Is candidacy for WAFerdom/WAFerhood/WAFerness nstionality-independent?

If so, might I put forward the following individua for considerationl?

http://www.newser.com/story/188852/polands-top-diplomat-calls-us-alliance-worthless.html

8:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Lone-

George Carlin: "Where do you think our leaders come from? Mars?"

al-

In common Yiddish parlance, it's usually used in connection with the word "dreck." E.g., yr at work, and can't get the photocopier to make a proper copy. Finally you declare to all and sundry: "I've *had* it with this verkakte Xerox machine! This thing is a real piece of dreck!"

Pauli-

I've said this b4: A revolution *is* possible in the US, but if it comes, it will come from the right. We all saw the best the left can do: OWS, which had no political platform or ideology beyond 1%/99%, and no coherent political organization. More pathetic than that, it's hard to find.

mb

8:33 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Prof. Berman: I really enjoyed your contributions to the 1988 anthology Questioning Technology, from your book The Reenchantment of The World. The entire anthology is a must read. I now have ammunition for my rebuttal to the people I work with who claim that computer programming "teaches thinking." What is frightening, professor, is that over the last few decades, people around me have become more like computers, as though they are losing the ability to be human thinkers, as opposed to simulacrums.

My transition to being back has been rougher than I thought: anxiety, minor depression, anger. But that has perversely made me more determined. Now actively pursuing job leads, and residency permits. Though Scandinavia is overly modern & consumer driven, there are rural areas that were wonderful and still had farms and simpler lives. Will try to get to such a remote, isolated, village area.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dr B, here is sexism in Japan. The video and article also deal with the meaning of 'success'. Everybody wants to be successful, but the society is declining in population as a result.

"Tokyo, Japan (CNN) -- A male member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly apologized Monday for shouting sexist remarks at a female colleague as she was giving a speech last week.

Akihiro Suzuki, an assemblyman from the ruling LDP party, admitted to heckling fellow assembly member Ayaka Shiomura, who is from the minority Your Party, during her speech urging increased public support for pregnant Japanese women.

Suzuki, who initially denied any involvement and condemned the harassment in an interview, publicly apologized to Shiomura. While admitting to making the first comment "You should get married," Suzuki has denied making a second comment, "Can't you even bear a child?""

http://www.cnn.com/2014/06/23/world/asia/japan-sexism-heckling/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

12:23 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I think this song should be a requisite addition to the end of any American broadcast regarding Iraq;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AviADrhX-v8

1:22 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

I understand what you're saying when it comes to the south. All I was doing was making sure we were on the same page and it looks like we are. What you say makes plenty of sense to me.

I have issues myself in dealing with these contradictions and grey areas and abstract language. I was trying to confirm what you said in concrete terms.

What didn't you understand about the candy example?

You said "The argument of WAF ch. 4 was not one of "let's just focus on the positives of the South."

I did not mean to imply you said this. I should've communicated more clearly to you.

I was making a different argument for future civilizations based upon your concept. What I was saying is why couldn't future civilizations analyze the positive aspects and negative aspects of different civilizations including the south and use the positive aspects to create a better one and ditch out the negative components like slavery and keep the positives like Pastrami on Rye.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

The formation of civs is not a deliberate or rational process, and civs are a package deal--you inevitably get the gd w/the bad. Individuals (outside of the US) can think their way thru these things, but societies are generally just what they are; they aren't "conscious".

Pub-

Now is time 4u to screen "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." u.r. surrounded by pods, mon cher; don't doubt it for a minute.

mb

2:14 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

WAFer's, MB ...Never fear, Hillary C is doing her darndest at self sabotage. That it comes at the outset of her new 'book tour' is unsurprising. If one is as empty as an air souffle, why not ?
Publicity in the negative has more currency than being actually substantive. Gives one the veneer of humaness in a flat-screen, digital existence.

Mittney ? BAH. He showed himself in the secretly taped video to some of his top donors as having some genuine thinking ability: "I'll never get the 47% ..." .

No, what this country needs is someone so TRULY vapid....a reflection of the vacuum of the American psyche that is the natural state. A representative of the void that can be the epitome of not being there.
Someone that the 317 mil douchebags could look down on with pride !

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Sanctuary! said...

J.S. Rank, try Cain/Palin. For sentimental reasons (haircut?), Prof. Belman is 4 Mittney to the end & prob looks w/ Mittanic indifference on my preference for C/P (he won't be helping to register dead voters for these 2 anytime soon, for instance). But I conjure you, fellow wafers, C/P is it - they are the living dead end. Of everything. O&D w/ C&P! (To see how Cain outclasses Mittney in the utter vacuousness we seek, search for Jay Raskin's blog & read his stuff on Cain, including the comments. It lifts the hair from the scalp, and/or elsewhere on the epidermis. Terribly exciting, esp if u have 1st-hand knowledge of the underbelly of the corp world.)

Suddenly I change my mind, fantasizing Mittney/Cain. Our choices are a riches of embarrassment, ain't they?

8:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I adore Herman Cain. In fact, I think we might consider a Cain/Mittney ticket. Or perhaps a Bachmann/Palin ticket. It's all gd.

mb

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Bad Idea said...

"A bobo yuppie war-mongering consumerist paradise from some neoliberal yawning depth of hell"

Amen, Kevin; e.g. today I opened a fundraising mailer from my alma mater, Diploma Mill State U, it seems that our researchers are now developing biofuel technology in partnership with the US military!

"Green" Imperialism, Hoorah!
Fair-Trade Cluster Bombs! Artisanal Testicle Electrodes!
Pet-Friendly Drone Strikes!
DMSU!
USA!
Jeb/Santorum 2016! (mark my words)
O&D!

9:52 PM  
Anonymous I read good said...

The buzz is that Hillary Rodham Clinton’s new book will net her an advance in the range of $14 million.

The New York Post said industry speculation is that her upcoming book that publisher Simon & Schuster describes as her “key decisions and experiences as Secretary of State” will far surpass the $8 million for her most recent book — and rival her husband’s advance for his “My Life.” For that memoir, Bill Clinton received $15 million, The Post reported.

and another...

Although the upbeat minister does take collections at services, netting an estimated $43 million a year, Osteen does not ask for money on his broadcasts, which reach an estimated 7 million viewers weekly in the U.S. and 100 other countries. Nonetheless, an additional $30 million comes through the mail. His most recent book deal earned him a $13 million advance.

and another...

In Killing Jesus, O'Reilly "details the events leading up to the murder of the most influential man in history: Jesus of Nazareth," according to publisher Henry Holt and Company, which paid the two authors $10 million as advance.

And you said America doesn't read!

10:02 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

MB,

For some reason, seeing Herman Cain's name again made me remember this old Groucho bit...probably because Cain makes about (almost) as much sense as Groucho did.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0K3QtU-iNM


But even more than an eight-cent nickel, what the USA needs now is a nemesis.
This guy from the movie Snatch seems like a worthy role model, so in case the dervish thing in Lahore doesn't work out, maybe a trip to London, where MB could intern with Brick Top's organization.
At least you can easily get good Pakistani/Indian food there...and the beer's OK too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGsQ2gPzAf4

10:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Readgood-

Have u seen the front cover of "Hard Choices"? It shd have been called "Hard Faces." Hillary looks like something of a zombie; just a tad embalmed. *This* is the foto she thinks will propel her into the W.H.? True, she looks better than Kim Jong-un, but then he's not in the running. Seeing the foto, I actually felt sorry for her. This is beyond douchebaggery; this is death warmed over.

Ty-

Several yrs ago I was in London, and on the rec of a native I went to Tayyabs, in Whitechapel, a Punjabi restaurant. It was something of a religious experience (snooty waiters notwithstanding). So yes, that's a gd alternative to Lahore, esp. if I can find a dervish school nearby.

mb

11:11 PM  
Anonymous ExPatriot said...

He's back!!! For your viewing and listening pleasure: http://youtu.be/yTCRwi71_ns

7:10 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

I've just been glancing over the political news lately, as it's all too predictably inane & depressing. The one things that everyone seems to have, in some form or another, is: Everything Has Gone Wrong, But I Can Fix It All, And America Will Still Be The Greatest Country In The History Of The World. A worldview that's surpassed mere hubris some time ago, I think.

I just watched Fritz Lang's masterpiece The Testament of Doctor Mabuse for the first time, and it was all too timely & savagely on point some 70 years after being made.

Just to look at different ways of viewing life & the world, compare the vision of Hayao Miyazaki & Disney:

http://www.salon.com/2014/06/23/dont_call_him_the_walt_disney_of_japan_how_animator_hayao_miyazaki_became_a_cultural_icon_by_doing_everything_pixar_doesnt/

My favorite response to the article so far, commenting on the American love of CGI animation over Miyazaki's meticulous, hand-drawn style:

Being a craftsman is apparently a bad thing in this absurd, degenerate and culturally backwards era.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ex-

It's beautiful. I love him. I cried.

Tim-

Thanks for link. Miyazaki is 1st-rate, imo.

mb

9:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Miyazaki once compared the act of using an iPad to public masturbation. I guess using a cell phone wd be public defecation.

My kinda guy.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

Hi Dr. Berman- I've just begun _Wandering God_ and find it raises many interesting questions right away. Forgive me if these are answered in later chapters, but for instance:

1. I wonder how sex differs in a SAC culture v. HG? You noted that romantic love is not part of HG life.

2. Is porn in an industrial/ SAC culture on the list of "dullardism" items, another escapist narcotic?

3. Is it possible that artists in SAC cultures represent holdouts (to some degree) of HG paradoxical consciousness? I.e., that they are "hunters" of a sort, paying attention to the world and themselves, as material for their art? Also that they maybe are less invested in official dogma as to meaning; comfortable with ambiguity; accepting of darkness as just what is. (Or then again, maybe they are just purveyors of alternative paradigms, rather than HG absence of paradigmatic thought?)

I understand if you've moved on from WG--- maybe you know of writers who might address these points..

Also, a comment -- I read some non-mainstream analysis (or "conspiracy theory" in the dismissive patois of the times) that discusses the occultism, Gnosticism, and various other esoteric practices by "elites." I'm mostly ignorant of such things, but there seems to be some credence to it going on -- you see hints of it in the culture. Why would Stanley Kubrick make it the subject of his last film "Eyes Wide Shut" if there was no there there? Or John Fowles in _The Magus_? Anyway, if one accepts that that goes on, the opening chapters of WG seem relevant. It would seem some sub-section of the elites are interested in transcendent "oceanic" experiences, while providing "dullardism" for the masses? Any thoughts on this?

(WAFers too are welcome to comment of course.)

1:45 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

The Minnesota poet and author Bill Holm wrote a book entitled The Music of Failure. One positive thing I did notice about Europe was the fact that "losers," in other words the non-rich or non-middle class, are not disappeared, as they are in the USA. They ride the same trams, bike on the same roadways, and have access to the same cultural amenities.

In the USA, the poor are relegated to obscurity, their own slums and hoods, or even whole suburbs.
This could by why Americans are such boring workaholics and scared chickens. They know that at any time, they could join the ranks of the disappeared, and their lives become meaningless to others, and to themselves. Yuck. I am out of here.

Last eve, I saw a great example of one of the few positive activities going on here: Sisters of Camelot, a group that feeds the poor out of a huge bus. And the food is natural, organic, healthy! They own community gardens, where they teach people to grow food. Amazing.. one of my 2 local fellow WAFers is a volunteer. Kudos to TearInRain! A kind of new monasticism that helps people.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

G'day Wafers:

This guy has everything it takes to be the next POTUS. He's photogenic, likes his weaponry, and seems to appeal to a wide spectrum of voters:

http://www.cbc.ca/newsblogs/yourcommunity/2014/06/hot-mugshot-guy-jeremy-meeks-inspires-feloncrushfriday-hashtag.html

2:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hack-

Gd questions, but I don' have time to answer them. And as you noted, WG was a long time ago for me. Re: elite occultism: check out CTOS.

mb

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Dawgsy said...

Hi, kids. Here's another marker:http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/Cruelty_In_Excelsis Pierce is one of the best day-in-day out political and social commentators.
More and more I take the position of being a spectator at the troubling, though so interesting, drama that's unfolding in the US. Proceeding with the assumption that one needs to be a participant is fraught with too much negative emotion. I do vote, send some bucks to candidates who have a chance, etc. But there's no illusion of efficacy in it; these things a gesture at mitigating the mess. that's in motion. Gee, I might finally be growing up.
Mention of 'conspiracy theories.' What other kind makes sense anymore? ( a bit exaggerated) There's a ballot measure coming up here to hand control of Portland's water district to an elected board. I think that this is a long game to get control over our plentiful surface water which is (too) soon to be a major item for export, more important than oil. As Noah Cross said "It's the future, mister Gittes!"

5:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

http://us.cnn.com/2014/06/24/opinion/robbins-mental-health/index.html?hpt=hp_t3

So it's not the NRA, it's mental illness. Yes, it's always a lone lunatic. Any chance the entire society is nuts? Oh no, never. Meanwhile, look into this woman's eyes. *That* isn't total dementia?
She scares the bejeezus outta me.

mb

7:56 PM  
Anonymous ExPat said...

The Good Country Index

@ Pub: Finland is #2. "USA, USA, USA!" is no... 21.

http://ideas.ted.com/2014/06/23/guess-which-country-does-the-most-good-for-the-planet/

http://www.goodcountry.org

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Hmm, your wish is coming true. Another story on the Esquire site, where that "United States of Cruelty" article comes from. Armed drones are already available to corporations. (Just not in the US -- yet!) Expect them to get cheaper and cheaper over the next few years. Soon, people will have their own "home defense" drones to shoot each other with.

Esquire: For Sale: Weaponized Drones For Corporate Use

We’re all a little wary of the concept of drones filling our skies, but with the promise of same-day delivery from Amazon and beer drop-offs at the convenient locale of your choice, it’s a prospect we’ll eventually come to terms with. Now an African company is taking unmanned airships to the sadly logical next level, selling a riot control drone to corporations armed with multiple guns that fire pepper spray bullets, paintballs, and blinding lasers. Some even come equipped with surveillance capabilities.

...

11:36 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

Aw gee, very kind words Publius. Yeah, Sisters' Camelot are good people. Unfortunately, the problems they have been experiencing for about a year now are representative of why we can't have nice things in this country. To make a long story short, a small group of individuals can't even collectively run a low-budget food-sharing program without being relentlessly accused by delusional, bored, and self-centered morons of being "union-busters" (which Sisters' Camelot is most certainly not). To be repeatedly called a "scab" for volunteering my time trying to do a little good with some of the last remaining good-natured Americans... it's hilarious. A nice little reminder that the Left possesses no more grey matter than the Right.

I have also just begun Wandering God, as I picked it up from the library last week. It sucked me in right from the start. I thought I'd read a few pages and then finish Moby Dick and a couple Paul Stamets books, but they'll just have to wait. The stuff you write about is just too damn interesting, mb.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tear-

Glad yr enjoying it. I still think WG is my best bk, in fact; it took me 10 yrs to write it.

mb

8:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Not that quality is directly proportional to length of time spent, of course. Jus' sayin'...

8:55 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Here's an item for the "This American Life" dept.:
http://www.today.com/parents/kansas-city-shuts-down-boys-little-free-library-1D79832389?lite&cid=outbrain_nbcnews&lite=obnetwork

To summarize: Officials of Leawood, Kansas, a suburb of Kansas City, threatened to fine a 9-year old boy's parents $25 per day unless they removed a Little Free Library they had helped the boy construct in their front yard. The parents and the boy had placed the free lending library on Mother's Day to "encourage literacy, reading, and community." However, the authorities consider this an illegal "detached structure."

10:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jack-

The American motto, whether in Vietnam (Nick Turse) or at home is "Kill Anything That Moves." You see how we are pounding the nails into our own coffin.

mb

11:54 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

I'm troubled, Prof. Berman and fellow WAFers. Deeply troubled by the addiction I have just noticed among my coworkers and associated for online courses.
I was at a coworkers apartment last night for dinner. Since I am sans femme et fils right now, they thought I might be lonely. The husband is a computer nerd. OK guy. Wife a naturalist. Quite urbane, Mexican. Anyway, all they talk about is online courses!
Why can't anyone learn anything on their own anymore?? By reading? Why do they need infantilizing feedback in form of homework and tests? And get this! When you take your tests, the online university takes video of you! They spy on you, to make sure it's you. The wife said, "How Orwellian," and laughed. Laughed.

They both recommend I take a "course" on Europe. Check out the intro video to this awful course, at upper right of link. When I saw the suave apologist/professor for the EU's unelected bureaucracy, I almost puked. I told them that I thought he was an example of the suave and smiling face of fascism. They seemed shocked. How can people buy this pure, well-filmed but shallow propaganda????

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Paul Biscuit said...

MB,

What is your opinion on the Hedges plagiarism issue? I've seen commenters post their opinions but have yet to see you express an opinion. Thoughts?

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Lucia Mutikani said...

"U.S. economy collapses in first quarter, but growing again"

"The Commerce Department said on Wednesday gross domestic product fell at a 2.9 percent annual rate, the sharpest decline in five years, instead of the 1.0 percent pace it had reported last month."

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/25/us-usa-economy-growth-idUSKBN0F01CD20140625

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Capo pops in said...

Wafers,

The story of that little boy and his library is sad and highlights a very dangerous tendency in the united states. This and closing down lemonade stands, rules against feeding the homeless, family court insanity, fining people for gardens, taking homes from elderly, shooting mentally ill people (the woman shot by capital police with a toddler in the car among many others) suspending kids for making a gun gesture are all too common and really the normal state of affairs. Horrors like child protective services not knowing where thousands of children are, veterans dying waiting for VA slots etc, etc... None of this seems to generate much outrage. My pet theory is that unlike other societies american law and governance is rule based and not principles based. As such there is no agency--the rule book says this and I just follow the rules. Its the system man. Meanwhile in other places principles rule the day. Its a strange case of nestoring--following rules and losing site of larger principles and goals. Add statism and endless propanganda to the nestoring and combine with stupified people and you have the current horror show which is the usa. Interestingly, these people want to fix the rest of the world. Lot of projection--if the usa where a person it would be a borderline personality with marked narcissistic and psychopathic tendencies.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

E.M. Forster was a Wafer. This is from his 1909 short story, "The Machine Stops":

For a moment Vashti felt lonely.

Then she generated the light, and the sight of her room, flooded with radiance and studded with electric buttons, revived her. There were buttons and switches everywhere - buttons to call for food for music, for clothing. There was the hot-bath button, by pressure of which a basin of (imitation) marble rose out of the floor, filled to the brim with a warm deodorized liquid. There was the cold-bath button. There was the button that produced literature. and there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends. The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.


http://archive.ncsa.illinois.edu/prajlich/forster.html

Canadian George Grant could also be clasified as a Wafer, in my opinion. This is from an essay, "In Defence of North america," found in his 1969 work, Technology and Empire

Now when from that primal has come forth what is present
before us; when the victory over the land leaves most of us in
metropoloi where widely spread consumption vies with confusion and squalor; when the emancipation of greed turns out from its victories on this continent to feed imperially on the resources of the world; when those resources cushion an immense majority who think they are free in pluralism, but in fact live in a monistic vulgarity in which nobility and wisdom have been exchanged for a pale belief in progress, alternating with boredom and weariness of spirit; when the disciplined among us drive to an unlimited technological future, in which technical reason has become so universal that it has closed down on openness and awe, questioning and listening; when Protestant subjectivity remains authentic only where it is least appropriate, in the moodiness of our art and sexuality, and where public religion has become an unimportant litany of objectified self-righteousness necessary for the more anal of our managers;
one must remember now the hope, the stringency, and the nobility of the primal encounter.


I hope this doesn't exceed the half-page limit. O&D

2:42 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

We’re all a little wary of the concept of drones filling our skies, but with the promise of same-day delivery from Amazon and beer drop-offs at the convenient locale of your choice, it’s a prospect we’ll eventually come to terms with.

This is an intermediate step toward the future prophesied by SciFi author David Bunch in his Moderan stories.

Throughout his career, Bunch worked on a group of satirical far-future SF stories set in Moderan, a version of Earth paved over entirely with gray plastic and controlled by perpetually warring cyborg fortresses. Although the society of Moderan seems to project an appearance of personal valor and military perfection, its citizens are ultimately powerless, dominated by their own petty insecurities and hubris. per Wikipedia

If you find a copy of the 1971 paperback on a used bookstore's shelf somewhere...buy it...read it...sell it...it's a collector's item...$49.99 on Ebay...nada on half.com...hey, it's a hustling way of doing it, but y'all're gonna need some extra dough to cough up when MB's Principles of Mittnaic Philosophy comes thundering off the presses. You *do&* want all five volumes, doncha ?

3:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al-

On Forster and Waferdom, check out Twilight, p. 9.

Capo-

See Robert Jensen, “Diagnosing the U.S. ‘national character’: Narcissistic Personality Disorder,” in the Alternative Press Review, 18 April 2006, at http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/narcissistic.htm, and also Joan Acocella, “Selfie,” New Yorker, 12 May 2014, pp. 77-81. I can't help wondering if the DSM-V has "douche bag" as a personality disorder as well.

Paul-

It's a fair question, but there are reasons why I can't comment on that whole flap at this time. What I *can* tell you is that Chris Ketcham (author of the piece), who is a friend of mine, is an honest, and responsible, journalist. He isn't into any kind of slander or character assassination, and there wasn't any hidden agenda driving that essay.

Pub-

You may have missed the discussion on MOOC's. It was an exchange I had with "Autonomous," basically a well-meaning guy with a bad case of CRE. He jus' thought MOOC's were swell. I gave him a challenge regarding a hypothetical online course in poetry. The challenge threatened him, and he basically went ballistic. This led to my post called "The Existential Strain." You might wanna look that up in the Archives, and perhaps the comments section of the post just b4 that. See also WAF ch. 3 on technology as America's hidden religion.

mb

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dr B stated this: "The American motto, whether in Vietnam (Nick Turse) or at home is "Kill Anything That Moves." You see how we are pounding the nails into our own coffin"

One Concrete Exemplification:

Innocents Lost: A Year of Unintentional Child Gun Deaths

BY: EVERYTOWN FOR GUN SAFETY
ON: JUNE 24, 2014
"Federal data from the Centers for Disease Control indicate that between 2007 and 2011, an average of 62 children age 14 and under were accidentally shot and killed each year.

But our analysis of publicly reported gun deaths, highlighted in “Innocents Lost: A Year of Unintentional Child Gun Deaths,” shows that the federal data substantially undercount these deaths: From December 2012 to December 2013, at least 100 children were killed in unintentional shootings — almost two each week, 61 percent higher than federal data reflect.

About two-thirds of these unintended deaths — 65 percent — took place in a home or vehicle that belonged to the victim’s family, most often with guns that were legally owned but not secured.

More than two-thirds of these tragedies could be avoided if gun owners stored their guns responsibly and prevented children from accessing them."

http://everytown.org/article/innocents-lost/

Full Report Here:
http://3gbwir1ummda16xrhf4do9d21bsx.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Innocents_Lost.pdf

4:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

B4 he died, Robt Dworkin did an article in the NYRB claiming that there wasn't a single American institution that wasn't corrupt (or corrupted). I've said this b4: we have tons of analyses of each of those institutions, with (of course) concluding sections on how the situation can be repaired. If you write something along those lines, you can get it published, no sweat. But if u try to connect the dots, then the doors are closed (Dworkin got published because he was Dworkin, of course). It's not actually hard to figure out: when a civilization dies, the collapse occurs across the board. Little kids try to open a library or lemonade stand, for example, and the cops shut them down. 5000 unarmed civilians (including people who are mentally ill) get murdered by the police during 2001-11. Corporations will soon have their own drones. The nation is enthralled by Kim's buttocks; for millions of Americans, her tushie is 'news'. These are not unrelated events; they are all of a piece, and the piece is the death of the US.

I said as much in the Twilight bk, and it's interesting that the NYT named it a Notable Bk of 2000. Then I extended that analysis in DAA, in 2006, and got dishonestly vilified by the NYT. Gee, what happened? They were so open to the idea in 2000...Of course, 9/11 occurred, and so the establishment institutions circled the wagons. So individual critique is OK, esp. when coupled w/recommendations for fixing the situation (rotsa ruck); but connecting the dots is basically not permitted, because then the truth comes out, and the corollary to that truth is that there is no fixing of anything, at this pt. In that sense, Truthdig or whatever ain't very different than the NYT; and it's no accident that if "declinists" such as myself get a hearing (once in a blue moon), it's only to be 'refuted' or perhaps ridiculed--but certainly marginalized. Well, we're going to have the last laugh; unfortunately, it ain't gonna be funny.

mb

4:35 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Mr. Lattemann's report on the criminal conduct of the Kansas 9-year-old who dared to establish a free library brought to mind an author whose works may be of interest to other readers here:

Philip K. Howard

A couple of his books you may want to look into:

(1). The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America; and

(2) Life Without Lawyers: Restoring Responsibility in America.

Full disclosure: Howard is himself a lawyer.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Strangelove said...

Dr. Berman,

I hate to be argumentative in my first post but I really believe you have it all wrong about Americans. I just read an article on the interwebs clearly demonstrating that many young men in U.S. America are actively involved in intellectual pursuits. I'm humbled by their scholarship.

http://www.vocativ.com/culture/society/dicks-pick-trucks-meme-rollin-coal/?ModPagespeed=noscript

5:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Strange-

I love them. These are the cutting-edge intellects I've been talking abt all along. We can't have enuf of these Great Thinkers.

mb

5:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: These are the folks the 'progressives' are fighting for. I keep asking myself: Do they *know* who's out there? Do they know of what America consists? In what way, exactly, are the 'progressives' smarter than these cutting-edge intellects?

6:00 PM  
Blogger Jason Tower said...

The US has a world cup match against Germany tomorrow, and I was reading some articles about it earlier today. I found this piece of wisdom in the comments section of an article called "We Aren't the World: Why America Resists Soccer Imperialism":


"The hell with diversity. Kill the frogs, nuke the Krauts, invade England, destroy the wops, colonize the New World... make them all suffer.

And while we're at it.... blow up Castille -after we win.

Until then, pass me another beer."


Soccer isn't a perfect sport, but the fact that the rest of the world has adopted it while Amercians react to it with mockery and aggresive ignorance is embarrasing and childish. I get similar reactions when I suggest to Americans that maybe they should use the metric system or learn a foreign language - instant rage and xenophobia.

The article is at : www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-Sports/2014/06/12/Why-America-Thwarts-the-Soccer-Imperialists

As a great man once said: "These are your neighbors."

6:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jason-

Really, someone simply has to write a bk called "Douche Bag Nation." I'd do it myself, but after my Japan bk is out I'm off to dervish school in Lahore.

mb

7:15 PM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

Go. Read.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/Cruelty_In_Excelsis

THIS is the United States, land of cruelty. The only thing Pierce gets wrong is that there is a way out. Sadly, as WAFers know, such is not the case.

DTE

9:22 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers,

MB-

Boy, MB, you said it! You hit the nail on the head about the attitude shift and openness regarding your work in a pre/post 9/11 world. I'm certainly biased, of course, but DAA was a beautiful and elegant critique. If heeded, we could've at least begun the process of digging out of the hole that we're in, or figuring out how to go down with a bit of grace and dignity. But, oh, no... truth telling dot connectors, like you, hafta be turned into persona non grata. Alas, we're gonna/are suffer some big-time consequences. There's just no other way around it.

In addition, I'm very much looking forward to your Japan book; fingers crossed that we will all get to read it very soon.
Hold off on Lahore, at least temporarily. You gotta be around to pick up your Pulitzer for your book on Japan. If not that one, "Douche Bag Nation" is sure to do the trick. You know, I'm still on the lookout for Tina Fey in LA. She's a tough one to track down, but if I do run into her, I'll give her a heads-up regarding DBN and, if it feels right, hit her up for an advance.

Jeff

9:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Di-

It's a terrific essay, but it finally just amounts to hand-wringing. As you say, there is no way out; in fact, things are going to get even crueller--count on it. All we can do now is conduct postmortems. E.g.: how did so many awful human beings manage to gather in one single geographical location?

mb

10:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Jesus, what I wdn't give for a date w/Tina. But word has it she's happily married, so I'll just hafta content myself w/feeling miserable. Anyway, I'm hoping I can get the Japan bk out b4 Xmas, and then either toss off "Douche Bag Nation" or run off to Lahore for some serious whirling. The latter seems more likely, quite honestly.

Meanwhile, I've been rdg an interesting bk by Jerry Lembcke called "Hanoi Jane". He writes abt the US ca. 1990: "thousands [of Americans] made vulnerable by the deteriorating condition of their work and community lives were receptive to the politics of vengeance and the appeal of a paramilitary hunt for the 'enemy within'." Wow. How much more true is that of the US 24 yrs later, eh?

mb

12:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

blog fallacy-

It's a gd name 4u, as u, indeed, are the fallacy. I have no objection to anyone disagreeing with things I or other Wafers have said on this blog, but you need to make one argument at a time and show specific evidence for your views. What I don't allow is broad swipes against the blog, or generalized attacks on it. This blog is perpetuating truths, not myths: be clear about that. If you want to be part of the discussion, you will need to show respect. It will be hard 4u, of course; most Americans, such as yourself, don't really know what dialogue is, and think nothing of tossing out insults as a matter of course. Not here, amigo; we don't entertain peacocks. Otherwise, plenty of other blogs 4u 2 act out on.

mb

mb

7:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to Susan Woldt:

Did you send me a cryptic message recently, w/a strange link? I didn't click on it because it looked like someone was trying to hack my account using your name. Please verify, thanks.

mb

7:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

America in sweeter days:

http://us.cnn.com/2014/06/24/travel/12-forgotten-hand-colored/index.html?hpt=hp_c4

7:42 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

The article from Esquire by Charles Pierce on the assault by the Atlanta police on an unsuspecting family resurrected from memory an earlier acquaintance with the author.

WAFers may want to read a book he wrote that was published in the early 2000s:

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free.

Still available on Amazon or from sites like abebooks.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Pub/Tear: Sorry I missed the event on Monday! Pub, I liked your use of the word "infantilizing" in your last post. MB and WAF-ers have used that thought before but it is always useful to bring it up. With my 3 year old Niece around it is quite the comparison, flying into a rage at the merest problem, assuming they are the center of the universe ... remind you of a country we know and love?

Strangelove: Ha! I've seen those types around rural MN but never knew there was a term for them.

Dio: Mr. Pierce wrote a pretty good book, "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free".

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Chaz Hōmz said...

. . . and so, my fellow Wafers, ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do without it.

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Hackenbush said...

You all would have been amused by today's episode of Diane Rehm (guest-hosted.) It was all about some horrible new medical devices that would administer drugs (including psych drugs) from afar based on yr stats. Plus how your employer will bribe you to wear gadgets that track how much you walk, smoke, etc.

The last caller of the show told them about how he visited the Greek island of Samos every year, and how they had none of that, but lived longer than USians. He said he thought everybody was just missing the idea of living sensibly, that the environment in the US was toxic.

The host chuckled that an actual human had contacted herself and the other alien life-forms on the panel, and asked an Expert to respond. He replied with some garbled word salad that made no sense whatsoever.

I think The Diane Show just includes the 60 seconds of sanity occasionally as a sadistic way of saying "We know there are better answers out there... that everything we talk about is bat#@(* insane... But we're still going to shove this lunacy down your throats, like it or not!"

1:44 PM  
Anonymous El Alamein said...

MB wrote:
"Meanwhile, I've been rdg an interesting bk by Jerry Lembcke called "Hanoi Jane". He writes abt the US ca. 1990: "thousands [of Americans] made vulnerable by the deteriorating condition of their work and community lives were receptive to the politics of vengeance and the appeal of a paramilitary hunt for the 'enemy within'." Wow. How much more true is that of the US 24 yrs later, eh?"

With the benefit of hindsight on this period, you almost have to admire the White Supremacist groups of the early 90's. Whatever twisted logic or contemptible racial theories involved, they at least seemed to implicitly understand that the American ruling class and the corporate machine was responsible the decline of American living standards. I realized this upon hearing Christopher Hitchens (back when he was a socialist!) interview the founders of White Aryan Resistance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7R-X1CXiI8

Today's paranoid right wing fringe seems oddly susceptible to the idea that the WASP establishment is secretly on their side. Even our militant crypto-fascists are in decline.

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

Re. Dept of U.S. as Savage Neoliberal Nation Shuffling Towards Third World Nation Status:

UN to Detroit: Denial of Water to Thousands 'Violates Human Rights'

Experts slam city's aggressive drive to disconnect water from residents who are unable to pay

published on Thursday, June 26, 2014 by Common Dreams

2:18 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB-

That's great news about your Japan book!

Jerry Lembcke and the origin of the "Hanoi Jane" myth, eh? Well, that's another I gotta get hold of. Thanks for the quote and the suggestion.

In terms of Jane: I love her and I always will. It took serious political courage to go to Vietnam and denounce our savage butchery. She didn't hafta do shit, but she did! She was right, of course, and has been paying for it ever since. In terms of Tina: I understand your misery. Perhaps a lyric from "Peaceful, Easy Feeling" by the Eagles will help:

And I found out a long time ago What a woman can do to your soul

Meanwhile, check out these American kids:

http://www.wired.com/2014/04/an-sofie-kesteleyn-kids-with-guns/

As Bingo likes to say, "Bingo"!

Hack-

It's good to read your words again...

Jeff

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

Wafers,

Here’s just another day at the park with the family:

“Toddler tries to defend mother from violent attack”:

http://rt.com/usa/168712-toddler-defend-mother-violent-attack/


Publius,

I understand what you’re feeling because I'd run the same range of emotions every time I returned to the US. After a few weeks I’d become numb and thus feel better. I have not been back to America in a year, and I'm in no rush to return. I hope you can escape too.

Re. online courses, they are a waste of time and a scam. The entire US education system has been destroyed. With the exception of a few elite schools, the sole purpose of universities is to enslave young people with odious debt and brainwash them into obedient slaves. The DoD and the banks are its main architects. Sadly, this same education model is now spreading rapidly across other Anglo-Saxon nations such as the UK and Australia. The free MOOC courses such as the one you menitoned are, as you say, pure unadulterated propaganda.

I’d love to chat with your psychoanalyst friend from Denmark, if it’s possible. My email is: psychoanalyst101@gmail.com

Julian

5:48 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Meanwhile in the toddler world:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27669210

Up next: poop-measuring, bluetooth-synchronized pampers.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

BREAKING US NEWS FROM CANADA

http://tinyurl.com/oaspayg

The significance of this cannot be overstated. Mittney, Palin, Hillary in mainstream politics - and this in mainstream culture. The US is truly #1.

#1 what, is a different question.

7:55 PM  
Anonymous Henri Davidson said...

Holzwege -

Water shutoff is common in poor parts of the country (or certain parts of any city). I lived in a place where people were stealing water from hoses around the neighborhood.

You just don't hear much news on the condition of poor people. Another common thing is that many families live in roach motels and share 1 BR with several children. These aren't cheap conditions mind you, but you can pay cash daily, and you don't need proof of income.

All of this is hidden. You'll have to go to poor small towns in rural areas to see this. These dump motels are usually on the outskirts of town, and you're likely to never pass these areas. These motels are so bad, you'd rather sleep on the dirt than in these places where people live.

It's amazing how little sympathy people have. I don't think the population understands what's going on. People with money often think poor people must all be lazy or stupid. Our country is gross.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Henri-

Thanks for yr input. This country clearly has a huge, and invisible, shadow side.

Sanc-

I'm so excited!

mb

9:21 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Prof. Berman: I will dig into the archives for the exchange with Autonomous.
@Bingo: thanks for the support.

My insight/observation about the whole online course thing could be expanded on a bit:
I find it alarming that more and more young people want to be institutionalized, and seem to think that learning via online or standard courses and classes is the only way to learn.
It seems that for some reason, humans are actually losing an ability they were born with: the ability to learn simply due to native curiosity, intelligence, and vitality.
I swear, the vitality is slowly leaving this species in the USA. They are becoming Zombies.
And when you critique it, as I did the other night to my coworker and his wife, they stare at you blankly. They have literally no comprehension. Or they smile and laugh and don't respond. There is no there there.
I have a good friend here who just finished his MS in bioinformatics from Johns Hopkins. I asked him what his dream is, his "big picture." All he could come up with is that he wants to learn Java-based something or other framework, so he can work projects for researchers who might help reduce suffering. Fine. I tried to get something more personal or visionary out of him. Love? Adventure? Family? Nothing. A depressed deadness. I can't spend time with him anymore. It's just too depressing.

11:41 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Comics and social critics. Where would we be without them to bring into sharp relief the insanity around us, mere foolishness masquerading as sensible behavior, rational thought, or reasonable speech?

Jon Stewart, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Kathleen Madigan, all the rest. And, thanks to the miracle of YouTube, records, and CDs, the dear departed George Carlin and Bill Hicks.

Today I offer the latest from the New Yorker magazine's Andy Borowitz, who has managed to get his hands on a U.S. Government application for military assistance intended for use by Syrian rebels seeking American moolah and munitions to support their revolutionary efforts against the government of Hafez Assad.

Enjoy.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/2014/06/moderate-syrian-rebel-application-form.html?utm_source=tny&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=borowitz&mbid=nl_Borowitz%20(90)

1:01 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...

MB...WAFers,
In the "We already know that" department:
http://onpolitics.usatoday.com/2014/06/26/congress-partisan-control-pew-research/

What the poll does not show is that the 40% that DO correctly identify the breakdown feel that it is logical, reasonable, and feasible to work with the 60%.

Among that 40%, how much of their correct responses were dumb luck / multiple choice ?

1:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pub-

In doing a comparison between ancient Rome and contemporary America in the Twilight bk, I listed 4 factors that were identical, in terms of signs of collapse. One of these, taking a page from Spengler, was spiritual death. You can't quantify it, of course, but you can feel it in the air. In my 2013 lecture on "In Praise of Shadows," I talked abt how hollow and empty Americans looked, and this is a clear indication of spiritual death. August will be 8 yrs I moved to Mexico, and spiritually speaking it has been a period of great expansion. I can't imagine the horror that wd have been my life, if I had stayed in the US. That pervasive feeling of death is overwhelming; I'm sure I wdn't have been able to resist it. Outside of making $, and just making it to the next day, Americans don't really *care* abt anything.

mb

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Capo pops in said...

They certainly do not care about anything. It was in a easier age all about accumulation. The ethos is now shifting to survival. As the economy continues to get worse and concentration of wealth coupled with higher taxes on the lower 90% coupled with higher prices survival will be the name of the game. People living just to survive are not at their best by a long shot. Hollowness and depression are well on in much of the populace and as rollo may said depression is the inability to construct a future. Passivity, stupidity
combined with dwindling resources and a social and cultural incoherence are leading to a festering mess. The shadow reality you note in much of american is well on in coming out of the shadows and is emerging as the normal no matter the exertions of government, media and idealogues (of both sides) to create sundry potemkin villages with technology and television. In my "day job", I see troubling economic trends accelerating. For many the apocalypse has struck and will hit more day by day....It will not be pretty and like all things its been happening gradually and then boom--all of a sudden. If the Hapsburgs and Ottomans crashed and burned what chance do the followers of Kardashian, Obama, Clinton and NPR have?

3:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Capo-

The comparison w/Rome also lies in a pattern of general decline punctuated by "nodes"--such as the sacking of Rome by the Visigoths in A.D. 410. For general decline in the US today, just read the newspapers. For nodes: well, the last one was the crash of 2008. But I confess my node radar must be off. I predicted the 2008 crash, but I also said that there wd be another one (worse) w/in 5 yrs of that. Which didn't happen; except I'm abs. sure it's unavoidable, for a whole host of reasons I won't bore you with. We really are hanging by a thread. Perhaps Costa Rica will invade California; stay tuned for further developments.

mb

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

The current conversation seems to be running towards Weber's concept of rationalization again. Or maybe there is some concept in systems theory that fits better?

The problem with Americans being unmotivated, or motivated only towards discrete achievements like degrees and other credentials sounds like the description of rationalization. quote: "In sociology, rationalization refers to the replacement of traditions, values, and emotions as motivators for behavior in society with rational, calculated ones."

Everything last thing in life has been systemized to the point that you need to emphasize formal process over the realities of even the physical world in order to get anything done. Because even access to the basic physical necessities of life is controlled by complex rational systems now. Just try to grow your own food outside the regulations on production now. You can only get away with it by not being noticed, because you will be breaking all sorts of health regulations.

Naturally, the physical world will win in the end, but for a while the rational systems we have built rule everyones' lives. Thus the obsession with degrees or other formal credentials, they provide leverage in the system, and thus the exhaustion and outright depression among people who have worked so hard for so little reward, The rational systems designed to help people actually use up most of the resources, including human attention, for their own processes and maintenance. It's like when an ecosystem goes out of balance and one species over-populates and ruins the environment for all the others. Eventually of course, it crashes and things have a chance to rebalance.

6:09 PM  
Anonymous David Henne said...

http://l2.yimg.com/bt/api/res/1.2/llWvULliPj.Wcuf34KH.TA--/YXBwaWQ9eW5ld3M7Zmk9ZmlsbDtoPTE4OTtweW9mZj0wO3E9NzU7dz02MDA-/http://media.zenfs.com/en_us/News/ucomics.com/pb140627.gif

6:23 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi Wafers,

Here's a follow-up to my most recent postings on (1) Chris Hedges (CH) & (2) Gabriel Kolko (GK).

1. "Response by Hedges to Allegations by Ketcham in TNR": ( http://therealnews.com/t2/component/content/article/282-chris-hedges/2108-response-by-hedges-to-allegations-by-ketcham-in-tnr )

2. "A leftist academic who saw things differently": ( http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/gabriel-kolko-a-leftist-academic-who-saw-things-differently/article19167221/?page=1 )
This is the best “mainstream media” obit I’ve come across so far re: CK. (It leaves the pathetic NYT & Wash Post acct's “in the dust (bin).”) As you’ll read, GK seems to have made a courageous choice, imo, re: his death. But troubling…troubling.

**
Wafers, in the "light" (and/or the shadow) of what's happened re: the CH allegations, I've gone back to have another listen to Noam Chomsky's (NC) response to CH's question (from 2011) here:

3. "Chomsky answers questions from 6 personalities." (CH’s question & NC’s response starts @ 5:18 (my transcription):( http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_hwdvideoshare&task=viewvideo&Itmeid=200013&video_id=70528 )

CH: “Julian Benda, in ‘The Treason of Intellectuals,’ argued that it is only when intellectuals are not in the pursuit of practical aims of material advantages, that they can serve as a conscience & as a corrective. Can you address the loss of philosophers, religious leaders, writers, journalists, artists, & scholars whose lives were once lived in direct opposition to the realism of the multitude & what this has meant for our intellectual & moral life?”

NC: “Well, the only a … I mean I understand his feelings & share them, but I don’t know what the “loss” was. When was it ever true? At no time that I can remember.”

Wafers, I encourage u to listen to the whole response by NC. And here’s how NC finishes his “answer” to CH (starts @11:03): “But aside from the word “loss,” I think CH’s comments are accurate. But I just can’t perceive any loss. I think it’s about the same as it’s always been. And in fact, the way dissident intellectuals are treated of course does vary. So in the USA, let’s say they’re vilified or something. In the old Soviet Union, say Czech’kia in the 60s & 70s, they can be in prison. Like Havel was in prison. If you’re in American domains during that time, say El Salvador, you get your brains blown out by an elite battalion trained at a US special warfare school. So yes, people are treated differently, depending on the country…”
*
Yes, Wafers there’s always been a shadow-side to this. And as far as the *loss* (in the US) of these intellectuals & other figures from the “liberal class," I echo NC's words: what loss? Other than the “discontents” who were always marginalized in this country (ie., that MB, imo, helps each of us, of our own accord, to map out for ourselves through his trilogy)… what “death” of the liberal class? When were they ever “living”? Or more honestly: when in this country did they ever stand a chance, considering the dominant (“hustling”) ethos that took hold of the US at the its birth and *never* let go? Of course, this takes nothing away from CH’s indispensable & (imo) courageous reports from the front lines these many decades: it’s called, for us, living w/ contradiction and uneasiness and paradox. Right Wafers?

6:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sav-

Here's something to think abt. I don't think systems theory is all that helpful, myself; better is "rhizome theory" of Deleuze and Guattari, in which what is really happening is "horizontal," marginal or out of the way. This applies to what I've called Dual Process, in which the truly progressive forces (not the douche bag left-wing 'progressives') don't confront the establishment head-on but quietly create an alternative 'establishment'. Then as capitalism increasingly hits the fan, there is a rise, pari passu, of homeostatic (degrowth) options. Altho I don't like the analogy, one might think of the horizontal model in terms of weeds (but gd weeds). Long time ago, Scott Boorman wrote "The Protracted Game," arguing that Mao Zhedong defeated the Kuomintang because the latter was using a vertical, chess strategy, whereas Mao was using a horizontal/guerrilla Go strategy. Hence, he was able to move quickly and flexibly, and outflank the enemy.

It's hard to get a handle on what's happening. You all know that my bks don't sell, I can't get articles published, and so on. I was bitching and moaning abt this to a writer friend of mine in LA some time ago, saying that I had no oppty to become part of "the national discussion." "*What* national discussion?," she said to me. "There *is* no coherent national discussion." Wow! I hadn't thought of that. I was thinking in chess terms, not in terms of rhizomes.

To put it another way: down to ca.1990 there was something like a single, coherent national discussion. Subjects were agreed upon; the major players were well known; and the organs of communication were the NYT, NYRB, New Yorker, and so on. Two things happened around 1990. One was collapse of USSR, wh/left us w/o an enemy and thus without a "negative identity" (as I've discussed it in my work) of anti-communism. The B&W oppositional framework disintegrated; it wasn't clear anymore who we were, or what the world was about (since it was no longer abt the Cold War).

The other factor was the rise of virtual reality and digital communication, which splintered everything into fragments. There was no longer a coherent audience, just millions of writers and millions of commentators. If there was ever a rhizome world, cybernetics was it. And w/these 2 factors, the "national discussion" dissolved. This blog gets abt 35,000 hits a month, but I have no idea what that means. Most of those folks are probably just surfing the Net. I can't imagine I'm getting anyone's attention, but then Who is? As my writer friend in LA said to me, it's all centrifugal now; the center doesn't hold.

Is this gd or bad? What might be the outcome? In the case of Dual Process, I've talked abt good outcomes (replacement of capitalism by a humane, sustainable, decentralized system) and bad ones (neofeudal oppression). Both are possible; I think that by the time I die, the outlines of the future will probably be clear enuf. But in the case of rhizomatic communication, it's hard to predict any outcome at all. "Words, words, words," says Hamlet to Polonius. A million national discussions, in short. I keep wondering how it will all end up.

mb

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

Sav,

This is true even in the arts -- in order to be a "real" painter or novelist today, you have to have the proper credentials, be accepted into the official system, follow the prescribed hierarchy, be approved by the right critics, etc. Never mind that so many of these artists & novelists wind up creating work that's often quite same-y. Just as so many acclaimed "groundbreaking" TV dramas are have the exact same look, style, pace.

Speaking of films, Criterion will be releasing Sundays and Cybele on both DVD & Blu-Ray this coming September, a heartbreakingly beautiful film that MB has spoken of more than once in the past. Highly recommended!

Pub,

I've had similar conversations with relatives & acquaintances, almost none of whom have any burning personal vision beyond getting a good job & making a fair amount of money (which is the definition of "a good job" of course). When I ask what they'd do with that money, or simply ask, "Then what?", I generally draw a blank. And if I ask about a personal philosophy of life, or what they want their lives to mean in the long run -- another blank. "Why do you live? To make money. Why do you make money? To live." And there's nothing outside that self-strangling circle, not even a random fancy or wistful dream.

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Blair said...

All I see in any American now are dead, blank eyes. I was going to characterize them as fish-eyes, but fish eyes are wide open.
I am genuinely frightened by a generation of youth with not only no spirit of resistance and challenge vis-à-vis their elders but, worst of all, no curiosity. None. About anything.
Of course, that`s the triumph of the American school system (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/10/common-core-nonfiction-reading-standards_n_2271229.html)
but who could have predicted its utter and utterly evil success?

7:51 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

"There was no longer a coherent audience, just millions of writers and millions of commentators"

- There's a rise in hobbies. People seem to want to check out of the world and just focus on whatever obscure thing they want, whether it's video games, clothing, cars, food, music. My Italian relatives criticize the hobby culture in America (along w/our celebrity obsession)

- Many people express apathy towards politics or anything related to politics. People would rather talk about their favorite foods or movies, than discuss problems w/capitalism

- If you press people about any problems we have, I get something like this: "I believe in humanity, and I don't think there will be any great collapse."

I think as people struggle, they won't have a clue why things aren't going well. People think we'll forever be able to have a wage job, buy things from amazon, and come home to watch TV.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Near-

Check out Ketcham's response to Hedges' response, and note also that TNR backs him (Ketcham) up:

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118212/chris-hedges-responds-accusations-plagiarism

mb

8:27 PM  
Anonymous in.fern.all said...

Since the word "shadow" has been mentioned multiple times over the last few days I thought folks might be interested in Akiko Busch's June 20 article in the NYT titled "The Solstice Blues". She talks about the psychology of light and how westerners equate waning light and darkness with melancholy and depression. She mentions Junichiro Tanizaki's "In Praise of Shadows" (mentioned on this blog on several occasions) and argues that we should welcome the waning light of summer and fall as an opportunity to appreciate the sight of things in various modes of light.
So, for what it's worth, there it is.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous wh said...

I lived in Abu Dhabi for three years and know exactly what you are talking about. I graduated high school from there. That country's lifestyle is not sustainable just like the US

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Todd Clancy said...

So what is your professional take on what is going on w/ Hedges then, MB?

3:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Todd-

See my reply to Paul, above.

mb

8:33 AM  
Anonymous disappointed reader said...

wow, I just read that article on Chris Hedges. I've told a lot of people about his books, I feel ripped off. I thought Hedges was doing reporting, but it seems he is copying & pasting for his work, and who knows how much of it is original. I understand inspiration, but how some of his passages are so close to other authors. That seems very dishonest. I have a habit of saving passages and quotes I like, but I always tell people where they come from, or if I forgot, I'll tell people it's not original if they ask. It just seems like the right thing to do!

MB -- it seems you were swindled too. You've said how good it is that Truthdig is doing original reporting, but that seems to be in question now.

Why would do this? Is it just easier to copy & paste than to go through the effort of reporting & writing? Is he too busy? Broke? What's the issue here? Why would someone so intelligent and experienced do something like this?

9:08 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

United States Government assistance to "appropriately vetted" elements of the "moderate Syrian armed opposition", Part Deux

On the website Truthdig, responding to the Juan Cole blog item entitled "Top 5 Reasons U.S. Aid to 'Moderate' Syrian Fighters is Quixotic," poster Strawman411 offers the following comment:

"The satirist Mark Russell, once commenting on the Reagan administration's claims of assisting only 'moderate' Arabs, defined a moderate Arab fighter as 'a guy who had suddenly run out of ammunition'."

[And so it goes.]

1:37 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

Get a load of this essay by a very wealthy entrepreneur and self-confessed plutocrat!
Some choice lines:
Revolutions, like bankruptcies, come gradually, and then suddenly. One day, somebody sets himself on fire, then thousands of people are in the streets, and before you know it, the country is burning.

OK, not exactly a great insight, but not dumb. Then this passage, emphasis added:
The most ironic thing about rising inequality is how completely unnecessary and self-defeating it is. If we do something about it, if we adjust our policies in the way that, say, Franklin D. Roosevelt did during the Great Depression—so that we help the 99 percent and preempt the revolutionaries and crazies, the ones with the pitchforks—that will be the best thing possible for us rich folks, too. It’s not just that we’ll escape with our lives; it’s that we’ll most certainly get even richer.



3:19 PM  
Anonymous Capo is vexed said...

Disapointed reader--do not dispair don;t be part of an american take down. Buy his books and promote them!!

When I see what is happening to Chris Hedges I am reminded of Eliot Spitzer and others before.

Its a case of the application of “nestoring” to suppress dissent and or to keep control. Spitzer unlike other regulators as NY attorney general terrified wall street. He was (is) independently wealthy and committed to addressing corroption and malfeasance on wall street. Wall street was terrified. They knew he was gunning for them and that they would be got. Alas, our hero had a chink in his armor and he was caught with a hooker.

Chris Hedges popularity and reach have been reaching incredible levels. Far beyond the fantasies of the insipid and insular world of progressive and lefties of the New Republic and Village variety (and mother Jones). He was getting major attention and a party to major lawsuit and the voice of the afflicted. His influence and power growing globally. Alas, our hero is sloppy and perhaps of his entire body of work .0001 percent he failed attribution or a footnote. How monstrous, yes Ketcham is such a hero for brining him down. Very typical for a rising star to be brought down from those who profess to be on his team for some violation of a purity standard-very common in soviet days and now

John Nestor was an FDA executive and stooge. Nestoring became a verb meaning keeping a strict adherence to laws, regulations and standards regardless of larger consequences. Yes Spitzer was with a hooker and Hedges was sloppy (proving intent here impossible) and now what? Well, Wall Street has been able to continue its excesses and now millions will now lose the voice of hedges and lose hope. Ketcham gets to be queen for the day among the 12 people who give a tinkers damn about what TNR says. Interestingly, the people at TNR where not upset about the escapades of Clinton sexually exploiting a young girl nor Obama;s drones killing babies....Odd what they find fault with. Maybe Ketcham is a nice guy and follows all the rules--so what? What he is going to take Hedges place? Ha, ha....

Interestingly, this would not be an issue in say France or Italy--the focus would be on the relevance of Hedges work and not if he was sloppy or even plagiarized a passage or ten. This odd puritanical take down approach is very uniquely american.

As Mencken and Freud will tell you--no pure man in the YMCA or of the rule following variety never accomplished anything interesting or worthwhile, whether a symphony, a novel, a political movement or a good recipie for crab soup. Freud had it that the true revolutionaries where the ones who used the rent money to buy tools for their art.....So apparently in the U.S. only the 100% pure can claim letigimacy to critique or take on the powers that be....this tendency explains much--as a wafer and a human I can;t participate in this type of madness. Support Chris.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Mark Rusell had many great quips.
The one I remember most easily came during the period when Hillary Clinton was being questioned by a grand jury (or if I'm fuzzy memoried, then at least by something in the judicial system).

I think she made the news for having a lot of "I don't recall" responses, and I forget the lead-up formation, but the tag line was something very much like, "Well, what did you expect, she's a congenital lawyer."

3:36 PM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Be careful, mb. The Hedges flap could end up in court. (I myself wd like to see the article drafts & hear much testimony under oath). It's sweet that you vouch for yr friend, but it isn't clear what this wd have to do w/ legal evidence.

Below is a paper on mobbing, which has been a prob in America since before it was America (Salem witch trials, 4 ex.). Some civilized European & Scandinavian countries are said to legislate against workplace mobbing. I prefer more general anti-mobbing laws, along w/ serious remedies against offenders.

U know, like hanging them by their slandering tongues. That wd be a cool start.

Paper (pdf):
https://tinyurl.com/ohxhcqz

A wiki orientation to the paper:
https://tinyurl.com/pa3k996

"Checklist of Mobbing Indicators" (esp note #s 9, 10, 11, 14, & 15):
http://tinyurl.com/2pwfo8

5:09 PM  
Blogger Sean Hunter said...

@ Anonymous disappointed reader:

Hedges accuser, Christopher Ketcham, won't name the editors and "top brass" who he says back up his claims that Hedges committed plagiarism, therefore until he does the charges should be considered bullshit.
If plagiarism is the crime they claim it and if the evidence against Hedges is so solid and damning, there should be no problem coming out and openly accusing him. What's there to hide?

5:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sanc-

I wasn't trying to provide legal evidence. I was just saying that I know Ketcham, and know that there is no hidden agenda here. Ketcham is after the truth, not into smearing people. His response to Hedges' response struck me as being both 'clean' and responsible, and his editors backed him up.

mb

6:03 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

MB-

I appreciate it. I didn't see this reference. But certainly, it is the "go to" resource for anyone who truly wants to stay responsibly engaged in this "affair," and to be part of a conversation that is lucid (ie., sane) and reasonable. At any rate I need some time to examine this carefully. Tho it's pretty clear-cut, not much ambiguity, and I am noting TNR's input here. I appreciate your indulgence & courtesy in this matter, when an extended reply could breach a standard of ethical & moral conduct you adhere to: something called friendship. (And yet folks keep asking you for your input when you've already given i).

Moving on to a better use of time (mine and I hope yours & other Wafers): your detailed reply to sav's fascinating (and very intelligent) comments above, reminded me of this passage from a book called "The Making of the Indebted Man" by Maurizio Lazzarato (translation published by semiotext(e), 2012):

"Japan was the first to achieve "zero growth," followed by recession, from the time the real estate bubble burst in the 1990s (with debt, used to bail out the banking system, exploding in its turn). The Japanese experience reveals better than in other countries the nature of the current crisis. The reasons for the impasse of the neoliberal model must be sought not only in economic contradictions, although quite real, but also and above all in what Felix Guattari called the "crisis of the production of subjectivity." The Japanese miracle, which succeeded in creating a collective workforce and a social force "thoroughly integrated with machinism" (Guattari), now appears to be running out of steam, for Japan, like all developed countries, finds itself trapped in debt and its modes of subjectivation. The "Fordist" subjective model (lifetime employment, a period dedicated solely to work, the role of the family and its patriarchal division of roles, etc.) no longer holds and no one knows with what it should be replaced."

MB, I have a copy of this in a "searchable".pdf format, and this passage is the only reference to "Japan," or "Japanese." I haven't taken the time to read Lazzarato's book, so I'm not sure how to characterize this passage (ie., it remains here, offered here out of context).

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

RE: Hedges, MB, and CO.

Listen up: Yes, I love the work of Chris Hedges as much as I love the work of MB and the work of Sophocles and Plato.

However, we all need to be truthful with ourselves. When you write something, do the necessary work required. Do not be lazy because then you place yourselves in danger of being ridiculed and you also harm the trust and feelings of people who read your work and depend on you and defend you.

If you notice how frequent the charge of plagiarism has become in America in the past 10 years, especially among so-called educated people and journalists, you begin to wonder what is going on in America.

For example, Farid Zakaria has a BA from Yale and a PhD from Harvard and he makes a lot money writing articles and presenting ideas on CNN. YET, he was repeatedly accused of plagiarizing his ideas. In the most recent accusation of plagiarism, the defense of Zakaria is that he did not want to cite everything because it would make the writing unreadable. There is something wrong with both the education these people received and their mindset that they can make a lot of money from writing without actually spending enough time doing proper thinking and writing.

Be honest for once, people: Writing requires lots of thinking and time and energy and hard work, and if all your so-called education did not teach you this, then you need to demand for a refund from the universities that gave you the degrees.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Near-

Thank you. I really can't say anything more abt the Hedges-Ketcham flap, for reasons you pt out, so I'm hoping folks won't keep asking me abt it. However, I have no wish to stifle debate, so if people want to keep writing abt it, I'll post whatever they have to say.

Re: Japan: see final chapter of my J-bk, wh/shd be out b4 end of year. It (ie, last ch.) is rather speculative, and certainly cd be wrong (altho a few other J-watchers have already made the same observation); but there are odd periods in history when things can flip, in unexpected directions; when what appears as failure, might actually be success. (Depends a lot on definitions, of course.)

BTW, I'm almost finished w/a very interesting (tho occasionally very wrong) bk on Japan entitled "Japan Through the Looking Glass," by Alan Macfarlane. A gd read, in any case.

mb

8:49 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Publius and others

You said ..."It seems that for some reason, humans are actually losing an ability they were born with: the ability to learn simply due to native curiosity, intelligence, and vitality..."

I've come to see the follies of rationality and systemized thinking. Let's just say an incident occurred in my group that Tim Lukeman knows about. Have you ever seen The Invention of Lying? It was like something triggered in my brain that there was something much more. I want to experience more. I want to expand my horizons further. I want to heighten my emotional side as well. I want to capture the essence and experience the feeling you all feel. I want to be alive. I want to be human. I want to experience what you all experience. I want to experience a multitude of sensations to a heightened level. Dr. B, you were right. I reject Cantorism and embrace Canterism. I will be going to Canter's Deli in 2016.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ur8ftRFb2Ac

Dr. B, 1000 years from now when the archeologists dig up our monuments they will see a great civilization which the scribblings "USA" and it will be pronounced ooo-sah. They will find all of your books carefully preserved and they will have a first hand account of how ooo-sah died. They shall cheer "Belman, Belman."

9:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

I did see "The Invention of Lying," and enjoyed it, but wish someone wd do "The Invention of Chopped Liver." In any case, I'm excited about your planned expedition to Canter's, but only wish u wd move it up to next month. We cd all be dead by 2016, after all. And until you've devoured a pastrami sandwich at Canter's, you aren't fully alive. As for the year 3014, I doubt any trace of me will be around (or even in 2034, for that matter), but I appreciate the thought. When u get a chance, check out a story by Stephen Vincent Benet called "By the Waters of Babylon."

mb

9:30 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

War Front Progress Dept.:

http://online.wsj.com/articles/recruits-ineligibility-tests-the-military-1403909945

Turns out our young squirts are too fat, stupid, and damaged to be recruited.

O&D,

Jeff

12:45 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

America's youth: our future!

mb

4:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: more on today's youth:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/29/upshot/americans-think-we-have-the-worlds-best-colleges-we-dont.html?hpw&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpHedThumbWell&module=well-region&region=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well&_r=0

4:50 AM  
Anonymous David Clausen said...

The thing I find interesting about the Hedges flap, regardless the truth and outcome, is that it came to light via the same publication which made its founder's son unwelcome as an editor as a result of his correctly observing the weakness of the McCain/Palin ticket. That CB Jr erred badly by endorsing Obama may be a forgivable sin in this light.

David Clausen

10:01 AM  
Anonymous Andrew Turner VIII said...

Do WAFers tend to be childless? Just curious. I am creeping up to middle-age and I have no kids and am not in a serious relationship. I just find myself staying home most of the time. I don't fit well with others and they don't seem all that interested in me either. I wonder if WAFers (in general) tend to be a bit isolated in this big cesspool since we all tend to disagree with most of it. Thoughts?

10:33 AM  
Anonymous bart said...

Sorry, MB, all due respect. But I view the Hedges piece just as Capo does in his post above. It's an obvious hit piece, regardless of the validity of plagiarism accusations... and it would be interesting to know how a Hedges article that was never published and we have no documentation of is considered to be plagiarism. My assumption that is that one is only a plagiarist if they've published something.

It's plagiarism due to the testimony of a fact checker whose name we're not even allowed to know? Is nobody aware of the politics at TNR (New Dem/Clinton/Lieberman) or American Prospect (similar to TNR), the other publication Ketcham was shopping his piec to?

How is this different than Hitchens trashing the Nation after working there for years and shopping himself to the NeoLiberals, who gladly welcomed him onto the team?

Ketcham talks about burning his bridges being a sign of his integrity? Really? He's opened an entirely new bridge to a much wider world that will welcome him with open arms. Let's see what his next piece is, perhaps? See if his political views haven't somehow morphed into those of the Libs, much as Hitchens formerly left views morphed into those of Richard Perle.

Ketcham has salacious material (whatever the merit of his allegations, which need to be sorted out in a lawsuit) that will clearly ingratiate himself with the political enemies of Hedges and the Nation magazine.

Unless one is to just view the so-called far left as corrupt, which seems to be the implication here in the stated view that Ketcham is a person of clear integrity, and Hedges a shady character. My memory extends back to when Chris Hedges was a well-regarded friend, not to mention contributing a blurb to one of the Trilogy Books (I think DAA). Chris was a man of clear integrity, though deluded, was my impression of what you've said in the past.

Now, apparently, Chris is not a man of clear integrity but Ketcham is?

So, to say the least, I can't help but wonder what the hell is going on. I find this completely confusing and to be honest, completely dispiriting.

I'm not asking for or expecting a response. Just my own observations. But it would be nice to have them as I find the charges against Hedges troubling along with the obvious weakness in relying heavily on the words of an un-named fact checker. Sloppily rewording Hemingway or Klein isn't great. But not the crime of the century... Wholesale lifting of Katz is serious plagiarism if that's indeed what happened.

But what I sense from WAFer comments is that Hedges is being convicted on pretty thin material that has yet to be thoroughly examined and should be examined under oath by the people making the charges.... apologies for the length.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Suggested reading: Virtual War and Magical Death: Technologies and Imaginaries for Terror and Killing (The Cultures and Practice of Violence)

I just ordered it...

"Technologies of 'virtual warfare,' such as high-altitude bombing, remote drone attacks, night-vision goggles, and even music videoes and computer games that simulate battle, reproduce the imaginative worlds and subjective experiences of witchcraft, magic, and assault sorcery long studied by cultural anthropologists."

11:35 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Turner VIII:

Your description of yourself also describes me in most particulars. No children; never married, never really wanted to be; stay home most of the time since my curmudgeonly nature finds too much objectionable behavior and general rudeness in the wider public. Fully expect to be found dead at the end under a collapsed pile of my unread books by building management following a complaint by a neighbor--whom I won't know--of a disgusting odor emanating from my premises.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Holzwege said...

To Henri Davidson,

Thank you for your response!

I was not aware of the fact that the Detroit-type water situation was "common."

And I did not know about the housing conditions you describe. You're right: I certainly never observed them; nor were they ever described to me.

Pretty bleak news.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings Dr. Berman and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

The whole nation is turning into a god-awful freak show. Jesus, balls are important, but WTF!?!!

http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/us/2014/06/25/mi-dnt-man-with-100-pound-scrotum.wzzm.html

Jeff

1:37 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Gweetins, Dr. B, esteemed Wafers, and Dr. Strangelove:

I first heard of those kids "grinding coal" a few months ago...in a classroom full of young heavy equipment (diesel) mechanic students. They think it's a hoot to annoy tree-huggers by doing this.

Incidentally, the year before, with a different group taking the same course, I showed a list of terms with loaded meanings such as "communist," "elitist," and "lawyer" (I got the idea from Hayakawa, it case you're interested). When I asked if they had any reaction to "tree-hugger," one nice young lad said "they're the people who are against everything that's fun."

A few weeks ago, during a heavy rain, as I was riding my bike home, completely soaked, some other kid in his big ol' half-ton roared past me and splashed me up to my chest. I call those trucks "douche-canoes" for a reason.

I read "By the Waters of Babylon" years and years ago, maybe in junior high school. I still remember the "Oo-di-son" river, but that's about it, except for the feeling of what the future would be like that the story conveyed. That really stuck.

I wonder if I'm one of those lost souls described by Tim Lukeman and lack of coherence. I'm not looking ahead to any great future, I'm not much engaged with the community, and I'm withdrawn into my hobbies of gardening and hosting a radio show of music from the time of the end of the Great War to the end of the Second World War. I think I might be trying to escape the present.

1:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

bart-

Man, I really don't want to keep on discussing this, but I hafta point out that you are confusing apples and oranges here, and that is the source of your being "dispirited." Political courage is not the same thing as intellectual integrity; these can sometimes overlap, but are essentially two very different things. I remain, very much, an admirer of Hedges' books (hard not to, at the very least, since we have been saying very similar things for a long period of time now), and of his political activism (suing Obama, for example, over the NDAA) in confronting a corrupt establishment. (As you know, I don't think it will finally amount to much, but I can still admire him for his dedication.) In short, there is no way I wd throw out the baby w/the bathwater. But Ketcham did catch him (sorry), and I admire his (Ketcham's) journalistic integrity as well. In my view, the textual comparisons Ketcham made, and his response to Hedges' response, are quite solid. Others may not agree, but it seems to me that Ketcham did his homework, and is hardly "relying on the words of an unnamed fact-checker." His critique can hardly be dismissed out of hand, or by reference to supposed hidden motives; and I don't believe TNR either commissioned or encouraged some sort of "hit."
The plagiarism is unfortunate; it's disappointing; and it's also unethical; but to my mind it does not detract from what Hedges has been doing politically, which I regard as heroic. Again, these are two different issues.

Let me provide you with a comparison that might help. Hannah Arendt is one of the great thinkers of the 20C. Her thesis of the "banality of evil" generated 50 years of discussion of the nature of evil in the modern world. Turns out, she plagiarized no less than 80 passages from Raul Hilberg in the writing of "Eichmann in Jerusalem." Of course, many have contested her thesis (it turns out that Eichmann was a monster after all, and not just some faceless bureaucrat caught up in a vast governmental machinery); but its importance for the social sciences is beyond debate. However, although all of this is not widely known outside of scholarly circles, the plagiarism is real, and can be seen in textual comparisons--such as Ketcham provided in the charges he made against Hedges, as well. So Hannah was, in this regard, unethical, and there really is no getting around that. But she was brilliant, and she exerted an enormous, and very positive, influence on contemporary social thought. Similar things can be said about Hedges, it seems to me (tho he's admittedly not in Hannah's league, any more than I am). So it's not that hard to comprehend, amigo: all of us can admire Hedges on one level and be disappointed on another. Life is like that, sometimes. The two levels, as far as I'm concerned, are separate.

I hope this helps. I suspect that eventually the whole thing will blow over, tho I cd be wrong.

mb

1:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Andrew Turner, Jas Allen-

To be a Wafer in the US is to be isolated by definition. When I finally hit the road, I had something like a total of 3 or 4 American friends, and they were oddballs in an American context. It's not merely that everyone in the US thinks the same (tho they believe that they don't); it's that anthropologically speaking, American culture is rude, competitive, aggressive, and insulting. I discovered that pretty quickly when I came down to Mexico: the gringo expats easily fell into the category of "You can take the man (or woman) outta the country, but you can't take the country outta the man." It's quite amazing how rude and aggressive they are as a matter of course, w/o even noticing it. (It's the water in which they swim.) Calling someone names has, for them, no more charge to it than saying "pass the salt." And all the while, they are totally oblivious to this. You can see this on American sitcoms as well, even the very gd ones, in wh/most of the humor is derived from repartee, witty put-downs. This is American "conversation." I discuss this in my essay "The Real Gold," in QOV, comparing dinner parties w/Latinos vs. ones w/US-persons. In the former, the goal is to be supportive and inclusive; in the latter, it's for each person to show how much better they are than the others. It's so tedious, so wearing on the soul; yet US-persons don't really know how to do anything else, and when they come down here they tend to stay in expat enclaves, such that they never get acculturated to a different mode of relating.

So yes, to be a Wafer is to be isolated, unless you can integrate yourself into another culture. Good luck!

mb

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Ellen said...

Andrew Turner VIII and James Allen,

I made the decision to remain childfree at age 14 in 1970. As an American, I grew up seeing unhappy marriages and families with tired, preoccupied adults and benignly neglected children. My only experience of family was a distant mother and a weekend father, but I certainly had all the toys. I'm married but very much a loner since everyone is a copy of a copy, nothing original. Logan Pearsall Smith stated, "People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading." Yep.

2:18 PM  
Anonymous Andrew Turner VIII said...

I appreciate the replies. It came to my mind when I was out with a "friend" a month or so ago. Some stranger at the bar asked if I was married and I said, no, without any sort of hesitation. He noticed that I did not seem hesitant to just say no and so he said, "well you're young enough to think it's still cool to not be married." I'm creeping up to 40 btw, but I guess on a good day I appear a bit younger. Anyway, it just made me cringe. As if I SHOULD be ashamed or embarrassed that I am still single. Listen, if I met a wonderful woman of course, may e I would get married. But I'd also enjoy the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound or maybe have the proportionate power of a spider. I mean that is how marriage/meeting a woman I actually could love feels to me these days -- like a fairy tale.

I think a lot of people get married because they feel silly or uncool being single at a certain age, and I admit that I feel a bit uncomfortable now that it is being brought up more and more as I age. People always ask if I've met someone yet etc... Where? How? If I meet someone great, and if I don't, why should I feel ashamed about it? Frankly, I find it hard to believe the women I see daily have any men desiring them and vice versa. But, then again, I've discovered that I don't relate much to anything around here.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

RE: Wafers and Marriage

I am a "pre-Berman Wafer" and I never married or had a family, either. Thankfully, I moved overseas, and have found a "family" of my own, in my Orthodox Christian parish. All my friends and loved ones are here.

I do NOT have any close friends among Anglo types (although I am mainly Scotch-Irish myself). Nevertheless, my own ending is a bit happier than that of many. I am not isolated, anymore.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Publius said...

@Andrew Turner VIII & James Allen:
I am a definite WAFer, and I have one son.
We are considered odd by most people for choosing to have only one child.

I had this child later in life than average. I was 38. I had this child, even though I thought I'd never be ready or competent, because I think abortion is murder. I would not want to outlaw it for others, but could not personally slaughter my own unborn child. My wife felt the same.

Surprisingly (for me at the time), having a child has brought more joy to my life than any other single thing, and taught me more than any book or class. It is, of course, difficult, especially in the USA.
Which is why we are trying harder to get out by the day.

@Prof. Berman: it's funny, a number of people, strangers, have thought I was gay over the years. When I ask why, the answer is almost always, "because you're so nice," or "you're so polite," or "you're so kind."
So, being kind or nice is so odd in the USA, that people sometimes just can't figure it out, and think you're gay.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

I wish I could move the time table forward but unfortunately I cannot at this time but if we're all still alive and ticking I will chronicle my time at Canters when we go.

You mentioned you wanted a movie called "The Invention of Chopped Liver." What do you think about this as a plot device? It is the year 2054 and America has broken down really bad. People shoot each other in the streets. It is man against woman. White against Black. Individual against Individual. Disease Spreading, People plugged into VR avoiding reality. Now here comes an old time Chef and he makes the best chopped liver in the world. He has a few guns to protect himself and what little he has. People come in and some try to rob him. They eat some of his chopped liver and they enjoy it. They become more friendly. They start spreading this and people come far and wide and people come to enjoy his chopped liver. People rip off their VR helmets, throw away their cell phones and guns. He starts discussing how he makes the liver which lead to further questions. It leads to more and more thinking. His little place becomes a center of a new renaissance of learning and eating. All of this computer tech is seen for what it is and is thrown away and a new culture is born and tech is invented that cultures in-depth thinking, and obtaining an emotional and spiritual depthness. Now let us eat some chopped liver. :)

What does everyone think?

5:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Andrew-

Check out a bk by Anthony Storr called "Solitude." That marriage is some kind of obligatory social norm is a 20C take, wh/Storr blames on Freud. It was not the norm in premodern times. Being a premodern person myself, I wdn't mind having someone to hang out with occasionally; but I have abt as much interest in marriage as I do in munching on razor blades. Who is making the rules here, and how healthy are *they*, after all?

As for American social and psychological behavior, if you just realize that Americans are retarded in these areas--basically, jerks--a lot that seems bewildering falls into place.

mb

5:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

cube-

Very exciting. I'd also like to see a scene in which people go to a health spa, but instead of doing mud packs they do chopped liver packs.

mb

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Susan Woldt said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I haven't read the blog in a while and didn't see the message until today. I checked my email contacts to make sure you had been deleted in case I'm hacked again, you wouldn't be bothered. It wasn't me and I would not do such a thing as send a weird cryptic email to anyone.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Susan-

Thanks. I smelled a rat, wh/is why I didn't click on the link, and wrote u abt it instead. Sneaky people!

mb

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Did someone mention marriage? I like to paraphrase the line from Orwell's 1984: If you want a vision of marriage, imagine a boot stomping on your face forever.
Off on my annual 2 months SE Asia trip on Tuesday-Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. I intend to retire to one or all those countries eventually. Had an interesting example of road rage here in Phila. a few days ago. A couple was arguing in the middle of the street holding up traffic. Of course people hunked and told them to take the argument to the sidewalk.That was not enough for one driver who got out of his car and shot the man dead. Now who says the American can-do spirit is dead?

6:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Well, Orwell himself was married (if that matters at all), so maybe he didn't think it was equivalent to totalitarianism. I was always impressed by the lecture Kramer gave Seinfeld regarding marriage in that episode called "The Engagement," where George runs off and proposes to Susan.

(BTW, in her post-Seinfeld days, Susan, i.e. Heidi Swedberg, started a ukelele band, and is quoted as saying: "It's fun! You can sing along as you play!" Now there's an intellectual breakthru for you. Imagine that! You sing and play at the same time! What's next? Canned tuna fish?)

As for the road-rage incident, that man is a true American. No muss, no fuss; just kill the guy and end the discussion then and there. Ya gotta admire that Yankee spirit. I have the impression that is how Truman decided to bomb Hiroshima.

As for SE Asia: we need to talk. I may get invited back to U of Tokyo to do some more lecs next yr, and if so I wanna do a return trip to Vietnam (didn't manage to get to Saigon on last trip), and also pop over to the other countries you mentioned. Cd use some advice from a seasoned traveler in those parts.

mb

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

More stories from that "shadow side" of America:

Huffington Post: This Is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense

There's no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it's rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.

...

8:16 PM  
Blogger Jason Tower said...

Spiritual Death dept.:

http://www.wlwt.com/news/sixth-teen-to-be-sentenced-in-north-college-hill-bored-beating-case/25747936

-Six teens beat a man almost to death because they were "bored".

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Video-Shows-Woman-Violently-Beaten-in-Brooklyn-Windsor-Terrace-264991441.html

-A group of young people attack a woman on on a park bench while onlookers encourage the beating. One films the event.

http://koin.com/2014/06/27/man-yells-for-driver-to-slow-down-gets-severely-beaten/

-A man tells a driver speeding through his residential neighborhood to slow down. The driver stops and punches the man in the face, knocking him unconscious.

These types of attacks on strangers usually only get local media attention, but they're happening all over the country, all the time. Dipsutes between neighbors and "friends" also routinely lead to violence or threats.

The ironic thing is that the average American thinks life outside the USA is violent and dangerous.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Lone Wolf said...

Which book are you most proud of writing and why?

9:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Lone-

Wandering God. Took me 10 yrs. I knew abs. 0 abt anthropology when I began the work. I see it as my most comprehensive study of the human condition, including an analysis of the causes of human violence.

mb

9:20 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

About the Detroit water shut-off situation: I just heard on my local Pacifica station that about 3,000 people *a week* are having their water shut off there. I don't have separate confirmation of this, but that's the report.

"Detroit Water and Sewerage Department spokeswoman Curtrise Garner said it’s not the department’s goal to shut off people’s water, but bills need to be paid.

“'We want people’s water on, just like they do; but you do have to pay for your water. … That’s the bottom line,' she told CBS’s Detroit affiliate."

The bottom line - that's always what it's all about, isn't it? No commie pinko government intervention for this sewerage department, who are reportedly paying some private company over 2.5 mil a year to shut off poor people's water.

What can we suppose is likely to happen when thousands of people are forced to go without working toilets or other basic sanitation for protracted periods? I'm sure it'll save the city a lot of money when they start getting cases of typhoid, cholera and other pathogen-driven diseases. Of course that'll be good for business - the hostage sickness racket, the insurance racket, the collections racket will all benefit; and this will in turn help out the usury industry, which is about the only boom industry we've got left in this country. I figure we've got to help them out every way we can.

Remember a few years back when the city of Naples somehow couldn't be bothered to collect its trash? The WHO got on their case for creating a situation that could lead to the spread of disease. Degradation of public health isn't just a local or even national affair; communicable diseases are global. Yet how could that matter more than *the bottom line,* the true object of our adoring veneration and the only real value we possess?

10:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kevin-

I tried to find a pic of Curtrise Garner, but had no luck. So here's this, instead:

http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/MzPuD-_o6qk/hqdefault.jpg

I think the water situation in Detroit can easily be resolved by deploying SWAT teams across the city. They would go to all the homes where people are not paying their water bills, and they would beat them w/rubber hoses until they paid up.

Wafers are encouraged to contribute equally creative solutions to the water problem in Detroit.

mb

11:27 PM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Good evening MB,

I think this is a photo of Curtrise Garner. She is pictured on the left.

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/chocolatepages/blog/2009/07/30/the-new-rules-of-etiquette-by-curtrise-garner-

Apparently, she wrote a book about etiquette. Please excuse this second post violation.

Jeff

12:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Yeah, I saw that, but cdn't believe the woman who was saying Tough Shit! to people w/o water in Detroit wd have written a bk abt etiquette. However, this is America...

mb

3:48 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

As you're aware, these non-payers in Detroit likely have the money to pay, but simply spend it on cell phones, large TVs, and other luxuries. If they are poor, it is their own fault for not getting a good job. These people without money are a stain on society and a burden on all hard-working people of Detroit!

I believe 24/7 surveillance of all non-paying citizens in Detroit is in order. Drones, helicopters, tanks -- whatever it takes to collect!

Yes, this will cost millions more than simply turning water on for poor people, but THEY MUST PAY. These moochers of society are living off of the rest of us who work hard.

Furthermore, not providing water to children should be considered abuse, so I think we should round up all the children of these families & put them in detention centers so they will no longer be abused.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Lack-

Man, I like the way yr mind works. If we can drone women and children in Pakistan, why not in Detroit? I mean, it stands to reason. These folks are potential terrorists anyway. In fact, Nuke 'em! Might as well solve the water problem in one swell foop.
God, I love America! We're No. 1!

FULL SPECTRUM DOMINANCE!

mb

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Capo Regime said...

Lack of coherence you are on to something!!!

I think your handle is very clever and goes to the lack of coherence in the U.S.A. People are getting their water cut off in Detroit--add to the thousands in Baltimore and other places who live without power or water, the homeless veterans, seniors whose SS is stuck in some fantasy cost of living which bears no relation to reality and leaves them poorer and poorer every passing month...U.S.A epicenter as Hedges points out of exploitative porn and then we have usurious interest rates for middle class getting in debt to merely survive. Meanwhile--spending billions on "helping" other countries....Imagine if half of the money squandered in Iraq/Afag would have been used for infrastructure and child care and health and the homeless--and there would be plenty left over.... Its tragic, decent innocent suffer and evil men prosper in this shining city on the hill......

11:23 AM  
Blogger Publius said...

Just wanted to chime in on marriage briefly:
I agree with many people here: modern marriage, if you follow the norm, is pretty much hell.
I will be honest: if we did not have a child, my wife and I would probably not still be married. Heck, most of our friends are in the process of getting divorced, or are divorced, even with children!

So, my wife and I pretty much found by trial and error that we had to find a way to give each other maximum freedom to change, grow, differentiate, and be.
For example, my wife and kid are in Europe right now for a month without me. My mom thinks that is weird and wrong. Many people think that the freedom we give each other is odd or subversive, somehow.
I have concluded that basing most of your identity, happiness, and need for human community on marriage is fatally flawed. You are basing your life on something that was never meant to support such an existential load, and that maybe was not even meant to really exist in the first place.
In Louis Malle's amazing Film, Phantom India, he documents a tribe that is almost certainly destroyed by now (by the oppressive, puritanical Hindu-nationalist gov't). This tribe has no concept of marriage, sexual ownership, weapons, or violence.
I believe many people hang on to unhappy marriages out of a need to maintain the narrative - it's about the story you want others to believe about you, and maybe even the story you tell yourself. It's all what Rousseau called "amour propre," not the healthier "amour do soi."

11:40 AM  
Blogger Jeff T said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB-

A bit off topic, but it's time for a racket restring and an endorsement, MB! The US is in need of good tennis players. Jesus, the fact that the USTA has all the money in the world and can't produce quality players like it once did is further evidence of American decline, no? I'll look forward to you hitting the ATP World Tour. Would you play for the US or Mexico? I think you should play for Mexico, as Mauricio "Moe" Belman. It has a nice ring to it.

http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-wimbledon-dwyre-20140630-column.html

Lack-

In terms of 24/7 surveillance, droning, Abrams tanks rolling down Michigan Ave., crack SWAT operations, that's a sticky wicket... We hafta think about resource expenditure here. There's no sense in just sitting here, cooling our heels, like Longfellow Deeds; the people of Detroit have suffered enough. I'm with MB on this one: a Nuke is more cost effective. In fact, Curtrise should just order up an atomic attack. Jesus Christ and General Jackson, the buck stops with her, so to speak.

Jeff

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

al-Qa'bong,

Actually, you don't sound lost to me, but found -- you found yourself, I mean.

I married in my late 40s, kept open the possibility of children but never had any. Perhaps I'm just lucky, but marriage has opened & enriched my life immeasurably in the past 14 years. While I've seen plenty of marriages in name only, I wouldn't trade what I have for anything. Remember, the sort of meaningful & authentic lives we're all seeking don't have to concentrate solely on all we going wrong around us. Yes, we should be aware of it -- but to pursue lives that aspire to wholeness (or some measure of it, anyway) is a major part of the Wafer ethos, isn't it? I'm not talking about the sort of "happiness" that's mass produced & mass marketed, which we all know is empty & succeeds only in addicting people to inauthentic lives. But is it so impossible to experience genuine joy, the sort that comes of knowing that you're living as you should -- and if you're fortunate, that you can share with a kindred spirit? "Living well is the best revenge" -- and by "well" we mean something positive, nourishing, don't we? It doesn't exclude sorrow or grief, but accepts them as part of life -- but not the whole of it.

Anyway, just my own take on the subject.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

The DBI (Douche Bag Index) keeps escalating; not the least of whom is Anderson Cooper, who is reporting the event. Meanwhile, Obama is sending 600 soldiers to Iraq. Oooooh! ISIS is now scared shitless. There really is no upper limit to American douchebaggery. How did one geographical location manage to collect 317 million horses' asses? Will some grad student in history out there pls take this as yr doctoral dissertation? I'll be glad to serve on yr committee.

http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2014/06/24/ac-ridiculist-student-stuck-in-giant-sculpture.cnn&hpt=ob_articlevideosidebar&iref=obnetwork&video_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Ftraffic.outbrain.com%2Fnetwork%2Fredir%3Fkey%3D6f7b395a45d94bd80fc375ea6d2d6173%26rdid%3D802278982%26type%3DWMC_t%2FM4_ny%26in-site%3Dfalse%26idx%3D3%26req_id%3D3176a20deb4428537ff9cc53c22e363d%26agent%3Dblog_JS_rec%26recMode%3D11%26reqType%3D1%26wid%3D144%26imgType%3D2%26adsCats%3D1612%2C-1%2C-1%26refPub%3D185%26prs%3Dfalse%26scp%3Dfalse%26reqIdx%3D1%26origSrc%3D1202283%26did%3D799992553%26pv_id%3D07efacdbd8c3e330e670e20e9e7f6495#/video/us/2014/06/24/ac-ridiculist-student-stuck-in-giant-sculpture.cnn

6:43 PM  
Anonymous mahatmakanejeeves said...

Killing environmentalists is now legal in Peru, thanks to the prodding of the US government. How's that lesser of two evils working for ya?

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/andes-to-the-amazon/2014/jun/29/peru-licence-to-kill-environmental-protestors

"...following Wikileaks’ revelations of cables in which the US ambassador in Lima criticized the Peruvian government’s “reluctance to use force” and wrote there could be “implications for the recently implemented Peru-US FTA” if the protests continued – the role of the US government?"

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Strangelove said...

That Hedges kerfluffle led me back to TNR for the first time in more years than I can recall. How have I lived without such hard-hitting exposes like the following?

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116479/onion-americas-finest-marxist-news-source

7:45 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I have a WAFer tshirt idea re existential strain;

"I'm not telling you anything you don't already know; I'm just repeating things you choose to ignore"

Heres some Larry David humor concerning American road rage -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4e-4rlks4g

Finally, a movie recommendation - Calvary

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2234003/

Father Lavelle, "Its just, you have no integrity. That's the worst thing I could say about anybody."

9:39 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Lack, reality is anticipating you. One Detroit woman I read about who lost access to water is afraid the authorities will find out her kids are living in a waterless house, and that they'll be taken away on that account. So while private industry profits, Child Predation Services gets more materiel to engorge its publicly funded salary base: it's win-win!

The same woman is going to school for a degree in "Homeland Security." Maybe someone will explain to me why I have a sinking feeling this doesn't sound good, either for her future or that of the country.

MB, the SWAT teams must be heavily supplied with flash-bang grenades that they can instantly toss into any cribs, playpens, cradles, strollers, perambulators or bassinets they may happen to spot. You never know where terrorists are lurking. I'm tellin' ya, it's a jungle out there!

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

I could not possibly roll my eyes enough at that "stuck in the vagina statue" story. Not that it happened, but that it has been covered - incessantly. Anderson Cooper is supposed to be the most respected name in US news right now, and he can't even get through the story without giggling at the V-word. Meanwhile, SCOTUS makes decisions that cause direct harm to owners of said vaginas, and the media is filled with more falsehoods about the cases (if they cover them at all!) than I can count.

I find what Publius said about "maintaining the narrative" - "the story you want others to believe about you" very illuminating. I think this really explains why Americans do soul-killing things day in, day out. I just saw the amazing movie Nebraska. Sorry if its been discussed here already, but I think that was a major theme of the film, and I'm sure all WAFers would greatly enjoy it.

It's very interesting to think about marriage-is-the-bedrock-of-society as a new idea, with none of the weight of history behind it that we all assume. Conservatives say the divorce epidemic is because of the moral failings of society, and progressives blame the economy, but I'm fascinated by the idea that it's just not an institution meant for everyone, and thats why so many are disappointed with it. Does anyone know any other writings on this topic besides Storr's "Solitude"?

Michael's recommendation for Virtual War and Magic Death also sounds like a great read, I'll have to track down a site to buy it soon. I know I should buy local instead of Amazon, but I just moved somewhere new on the east coast, and both the library and local bookstore are super depressing. Half of each are dedicated to trashy thrillers or harlequin romance.

BTW, last time I checked, not only are we sending all those troops over to Baghdad, we're also supporting them with at least a thousand mercenaries, probably more.

12:48 AM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Wafers,

Came across this funny but discouraging clip this morning.
It seems the Space Brother & Sisters aren't going to save us from Walmart.
Dang it...that was one of our last life-lines on this game show.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIxzA04bT_Q

Not trying to sneak in a serious discussion of this one's theme under the cover of comedy, but hey, it could have been about fracking or the BP oil spill or the genius of Obama or whatever else, so just enjoy the light show. As you can see from the previous clip, the author doesn't believe that The Truth is going to set free any of the slaves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8WxmkAYh0c

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Esteban said...

It's enough to make me waddle out of my corporate veal pen/cubicle once and for all and finally take that long flight to Europe. There in a modest cottage by the sea in Ireland, reading Joyce and Yeats and looking moodily out over the craggy cliffs at America, now far across the Atlantic, perhaps glowing faintly over the horizon as the nuclear reactors melt down after the grid collapse.

Pour me another Guinness, luv.

12:34 AM  

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