March 19, 2015


Well, Wafers, time for a new post. We've essentially run the deluded foolishness of 'progressives' into the ground, so I figure it might be time to change subjects entirely. Symbology seems to have been curiously ignored on this blog, so I thought: why not?

I should say that this topic was motivated by a marvelous article by Adam Gopnik on the Warburg Institute in London, in the March 16 issue of the New Yorker. I have a fondness for the place inasmuch as I applied to be a research fellow there in the early 70s, when I had begun thinking about the themes that would become part of The Reenchantment of the World. They cruelly turned down my application, which was a shame, since I could have used their medieval and Renaissance collection; but I somehow managed to survive without it, all in all. Anyway, to launch our investigation into symbology, let me quote two paragraphs from Gopnik's essay (he's talking about the founder, Aby Warburg):

"Warburg's ideas are often not just baffingly inbred but expressed in crunchy impenetrable German compounds. It is a brave man who would attempt to simplify them too sharply. Nonetheless, his theory of pictures might be summed up in three words: Poses have power. The repeated poses of art--young girls dancing, snakes entwining, the moment of the kill in the hunt, the confrontation of sea and single figure--are parts of an ongoing inheritance, a natural language of visual meaning that we all understand without having been consciously instructed in it. Warburg's favorite illustration was what he called the 'Nympha' figure: the young woman in flowing drapery who gives the illusion of rapid and graceful movement and can be found dancing through Western art for two thousand years, from Hellenistic sarcophagi to Botticelli's 'Primavera' and Isadora Duncan.

"Like all powerful things, such poses are double-edged. There is a white imge magic that feeds humanism and infuses art with healthy Dionysian passion, and there is a black image magic that causes us to surrender reason to the ravishments of our own fixations. Although Warburg died before Nazism came to a head, he knew very well the appeal of 'Dionysian' imagery to modern people dessicated by rationality. As the long 'memory traces' of mankind--Warburg referred to these as 'engrams'--reach us through recurring images, we can be overwhelmed by them or we can organize them. The constellations of astrology are a perfect illustration of this point. There are no rams and bears and heroes in the sky, controlling our behavior. The patterns aren't real, but they trap us into imagining that they are. Yet the act of organizing that the constellations represent proved to be essential to rational science, giving us mathematics through imagination."

Talk about food for thought, eh?

Of course, all of this could take us into the deluded world of Joseph Campbell, whose "scholarship" I regard as simplistic New Age dog poop, in which everything is uncritically related to everything else. (See my critique of Campbell in Wandering God, esp. the footnotes.) Still, even as great a scholar as Claude Levi-Strauss was occasionally drawn into this kind of uncritical, "universalist" thinking. So I was wary of introducing a topic like Symbology. But what the heck; Wafers must soldier on, clearly, wading through the dog poop as best they can. As America collapses we need to have a little fun, after all. Onward, then; into the breach!



Anonymous JWO said...

As an art historian, photographer and museum employee this is a subject near and dear to my heart. So it will be fun to hear what WAF-ers have to say! Let me recommend Camera Lucida to anyone interested:

But, perhaps Dr. B is speaking of Symbolic anthropology which is a bit different?

10:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sometimes they overlap, but for the most part Warburg was interested in symbology in art history.


10:33 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Well, this should be an interesting topic of discussion. Here’s a quote attributed to Confucius:

“Signs and Symbols rule the world, not rules and law.”


10:53 AM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. Berman and fellow WAFers:

Off topic, sorry to say, but is Chris Hedges getting more strident? His latest was formulated against proposed Canadian legislation C- 51, a Canadian version of our Patriot Act, which ripped the Constitution into shreds.

Quoting the first paragraph, " There are no internal constraints left to halt totalitarian capitalism. Electoral politics is a sham. The media is subservient to corporate power. The working class is being disempowered and impoverished. The legal system is a subsidiary of the corporate state. Any form of dissent, no matter how tepid, will soon to be blocked by an internal security apparatus empowered by anti-terrorist laws that will outstrip anything dreamed of by the East German Stasi state. And no one in Ottawa or Washington intends to help us. Opposition parties, such as the Democratic Party, may cry foul when out of power, but once in power they bow to the demands of the omnipotent military and security organs that serve our corporate masters."
And the last paragraph, "I do not know if we can build a better society. I do not even know if we will survive as a species. But I know these corporate forces have us ... and they have my children by the throat..... And this is a fight that in the face of the overwhelming forces against us requires us to find in all acts of sustained rebellion the embers of life, an intrinsic meaning that lies outside of certain success. It requires us to at once grasp reality and then refuse to allow this reality to paralyze us. It is, and I say this to people of all creeds or no creeds, to make an absurd leap of faith, to believe, despite all empirical evidence around us, that good always draws to it the good, that the fight for life always goes somewhere. We do not know where. The Buddhists call it karma. And in these sustained acts of resistance we make it possible to reclaim a future for the generations that come after us, a future that the corporate state, if not overthrown, will obliterate.

It's here :

11:37 AM  
Anonymous Bruce Bennett said...

Hello Dr. Berman -
I was curious about your comment regarding the delusions of progressives. Could you direct me to the discussions on that topic? Thank you.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


See comments section of previous post, toward the end.


In my experience yes; he doesn't really seem to be open to dialogue. Sam Harris nailed him on this some time ago in an essay on Truthdig, and when I did the 'conversation' with him over the fone in Vancouver 2 yrs ago, it wasn't really much of a conversation; he had his 'stump speech' on neofeudalism, and that was it. It comes across as rather monolithic, and I don't think getting ordained as a preacher has helped him very much, because preacher and journalist have different functions and approaches to the world (or shd have). That last para you cite is basically all-or-nothing, B&W, and Hedges seems to me to be pretty Manichaean in his outlook; there's a crusading, self-righteous quality that I personally can't identify with. It seems like his heart has overrun his head, and in this world, we need both. (Historically speaking, when people like that get into power, if they do, it usually spells Trouble w/a capital T. They tend to reproduce the structures that they overthrew.)

That being said, and rhetoric aside, that 1st para seems chillingly accurate.


12:47 PM  
Anonymous dreamer said...

Great article about screens and why they are bad for us.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Hi Dr B.

I gave up a long time ago - hence I stopped participating in discussions - here and there. BUT I could not let this one slide:

"WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Wednesday that if he could go back and do his presidency over again, he would have immediately shut down the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"I think I would have closed Guantanamo on the first day," Obama said to applause at an event in Cleveland, Ohio."

In my opinion, Obama's entire 8 years is a waste. He will soon realize that he failed to do NOTHING in his 8 years in office - that he in fact made things worse than they were before ho got elected - everything he touched went from bad to worse.

This is a man who got the best education that America has to offer. This then calls into question what is being taught to people in American schools - from day one to PhD. What is the point telling kids to go to school if nothing changes after zillion years of education?

1:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


There's a great Freudian slip: "before ho got elected." Yes, he is a whore, and in retrospect it now looks as tho there was no pt to his presidency at all.


1:48 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Did you at least receive an admissions denial letter from the Warburg Institute, MB? Was it written by Ernst Gombrich?

it is strange that we have not discussed the topic of symbology. Perhaps it's because of the fish in water analogy/argument, or that symbology gravitates toward postmodernist critique, identity politics, subjective notions of reality and truth, and the like. That said, however, there is no doubt that one can *control* an individual's perception, thoughts, and behavior thru sophisticated use of images and symbols. Think Leni Riefenstahl, Obama's victory speech in Grant Park, or the screen-drugged, image-bombarded wannabe Kimmie American shopper...


It is unbelievable! Well, I guess that explains why we both would up on the greatest blog in history.


Jerry Jeff Walker? Remember:

Pissin' in the wind, bettin' on a losing friend
Makin' the same mistakes, we swore we'd never make again...



3:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Hard to remember, as it was more than 40 yrs ago, but I think it was some kind of form letter, standard British brush-off, telling me it was a great proposal but there were so many deserving applicants etc., and why don't I come to London and jump off the Westminster Bridge instead.


3:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Of course, it might be argued that a rt-wing coup has been going on in slo-mo for some time now. Sooner or later, it'll hit critical mass:


6:26 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

You say that a revolution will come from the right, but I think there's a good chance that the libertarian/techie people will have a competing dictator in the coming decades. I could see it basically being tea party vs a silicon valley as collapse happens.

Here's a quote from Curtis Guy Yarvin, one of these Dark Enlightenment guys --

“If Americans want to change their government, they’re going to have to get over their dictator phobia,” Yarvin said in his talk. He conceded that, given the current political divisions, it might be better to have two dictators, one for Red Staters and one for Blue Staters. The trick would be to “make sure they work together.” (Sure. Easy!)

6:27 PM  
Blogger dale said...

I hope it's not inappropriate at this point to continue the Hedges/Progressives discussion. I have been following Hedges for several years--he was very much worth following. In the last couple of months he has gone off the deep end. The first hint was the affected prophetic tone of a couple of his recent speeches. Then the subjects of his weekly Truthdig blogs went into some very specious corners of the progressive ghetto, Veganism and Radical Feminism. He seems to be grasping. I always took "The Death of the Liberal Class" to mean that change was not coming down that avenue. Then this week he championed a socialist. This is biggest single guffaw of Progressives, that Americans are going to come to their senses and embrace Socialism. The bigger laugh on top of that is that one of the few things Americans have right. Of course, few and far between is the American who grasps that the reality of free markets is just as much a folly.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, it don' look good. The article comparing Israel to ISIS showed a huge ignorance of late British Mandate politics; after all, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, and in 1946-47 the Haganah, Palmach, Irgun, and the Stern Gang were trying to break the imperialist yoke that England held over Palestine. Then there was Hedges' attack on legalized prostitution, when in fact this wd serve to take the whole industry out of the hands of organized crime. And if u wanna prove that revolution is just around the corner, it's easy to cherry-pick yr interviews w/Tariq Ali and the gal on the Seattle city council, and ignore what's actually happening in the US--docility, stupidity, and deep allegiance to the American Dream. As for "prophetic tone"--do we need this? Like a *loch in kopp*, as my mother usta say: a hole in the head. I'd feel more comfortable if Hedges managed to crack a joke once in a while, but I have a feeling that's very far in the future. Historically, folks who are prophetic, who think in terms of B&W, who are not really into dialogue, who embody The Truth, and who can't manage to ever lighten up, reproduce the structures they oppose, if they manage to get into power. Brr.

I suspect Hedges has gone off the deep end, and is grasping for subjects, as u say, because he has no more power than you or I do and is unable to change the status quo (no surprise there). So his rage is finding some strange targets. This is a new direction, and it doesn't have a healthy feel to it. It lacks perspective, and too often, historical understanding.

Let's face it: what are the options for anyone who finds the current system frightening and/or disgusting?

1. Emigration: hit the road. This is what intelligent Americans do. They don't play Rachel Corrie, standing in the path of a juggernaut. Rather, they step aside and let the damn thing go over a cliff, while they make their exit.

2. Inner emigration: the NMI option described in the Twilight book.

3. Revolution. A good option for those who like to make heroic gestures, come what may; chew on steel; and live a short but 'righteous' life. This option might be viable for countries in the periphery, but in the core (e.g., America) it amounts to little more than dementia.

That's all folks, as Bugs Bunny usta say.


6:59 PM  
Anonymous Sami said...

Democrats want to be like Republicans in chasing after big money from corporations and Wall Street. So then I do not know where the socialism Hedges seeks will come. Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are under attack under Obama due to Obama’s inability to defend these programs. What makes anyone think that socialism is coming to America soon? America is not even practicing capitalism.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


There is a huge blind spot w/folks on the 'left' (whatever that is) that comes from living in denial, and insisting--in the teeth of all evidence to the contrary--that we are evolving toward a brighter future. These folks can't accept the fact that civilizations do, in fact, fall apart, with nothing positive immediately on the horizon. So we have Noam Chomsky talking in terms of a socialist future, or Michael Moore in terms of a populist one. Moore is always 'sweeping': Obama was going to sweep America with a new politics; OWS was going to sweep away social inequality. One wants to say: For god sakes, Michael; stop sweeping! The country is being swept into the dustbin of history; that's just abt all the sweeping we're gonna get. But if 'progressives' were to admit this, they'd have a collective nervous breakdown, because then there's 0 for them to do (or so they think).

What shd we do, then? I wd propose an end to all this optimistic socialist crap and instead holding a series of conferences on *why* things are going to get worse, at least during the next 20 yrs or so. No socialists or populists wd be allowed to attend; optimists arguing for short-term change wd be rigorously barred at the gate. It wd be essentially a Wafer conference, i.e. filled w/the truly intelligent, and wd focus on the obstacles to improvement: social, economic, spiritual, and psychological. Once that was carefully analyzed and established, we cd go on to discuss possible change scenarios for 30 or 40 yrs down the line. But w/o knowing what we are up against, serious social change is simply not possible. What u get is 'progressive' morons running around talking abt socialism and populism, which constitute pure fictions in the contemporary American context. (We wd also discuss why the environmental movement has failed to arrest global warming, and why we shall not be able to avoid ecological disaster.) Once we clear the crap outta the way, and get a handle on the forces of reaction--which are embedded in the typical American psyche, not just in Wall St. and the corporations--we might have a chance at creating a graceful death for ourselves, and a possible reawakening in 30 to 50 yrs; but not until then.

Just a hunch, of course. (Here insert the wink emoticon)


7:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And here's a shocker:

8:07 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

"Is Chris Hedges getting more strident?"

Well, I imagine so, and he's been on this sort of trajectory for awhile.

I have wondered if

(1) Hedges' wife talked him into having 4 children
(2) Hedges is gradually coming to realize that he has
brought these children into a world that is aleady overcrowded
with people and becoming hostile to human life.

Hedges wrote an article a few years back on about
human overpopulation, and then proceded to have another child. huh?? I asked.
I still like Hedges but his spiel on prostitution seems mildly puritanical. Maybe it simply can't be fixed by moralistic pronouncements, laws or punishment.

On the subject of symbology, I used to do astrological birth charts.
I loved the symbols and putting them on the little round zodiac. I
never really believed that what I was doing was either profound or
even valid. It was just fun.

wow, I had no idea that Joseph Campbell was a fuzzy kind of thinker.
I remember seeing him interviewed by Bill Moyers. Campbell did seem
to be rather captivated by mythology, but that hardly seemed surprising.

On the subject of the future of the USA I can see a few things happening:

(1) perpetual war without any planned conclusion
(2) economic collapse
(3) secession movements
(4) partial dissolution into a few smaller nations

2:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


One wd do a lot better to read Roland Barthes on mythology, for example. Campbell was a New Age hack, imo, not a scholar. He misunderstood a lot of the myths he analyzed, and squeezed some of them that were not abt heroism into his procrustean, heroic framework. I talk abt this in Wandering God. People who knew him also told me he was antisemitic, and a kind of romantic fascist, tho that may be going too far, I dunno. The Moyers interview was a joke: Moyers sitting there like a bright, adoring student, lapping up the 'wisdom' of the professor/sage. At the time, lots of us felt Moyers was hoodwinked by his own naivete.

As for Chris, we probably don' hafta beat a dead Hedges anymore...I imagine he'll stay on this 'religious' trajectory, getting more intense as time goes on. To each his own path, I suppose.


5:05 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

MB, Wafers,

Hedges' case is a sad one, but at this point I agree it's probably best to leave the guy alone and hope he'll have a Wafer moment, ditch Truthdig and the revolution and move to the south of France.

Even though I've never met him, I think that Marc has a point and that Hedges' vision of things is *hugely* influenced by him having 4 children. I think that as he sees them growing up, he realises how fucked their future is going to be and gets more desperate and more proselytic in his writing.

I am even wondering whether having children in our day and age makes it impossible to be a Wafer? Corinne Maier makes a very solid point about this in her book "No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children".


6:34 AM  
Anonymous Rusty Snag said...

Dr. Berman and Wafers,

I feel bad about taking us farther off the topic of Symbology, but I would like to add one comment about Chris Hedges. We must remember that Chris and his ilk are Americans, and as such they are trained to hustle to put food on the table just like everybody else. Chris's hustle is to stir up Americans who are smart enough to know things aren't quite right but who are too stupid to understand why. Each person who begins to understand why America is spiralling downwards (a.k.a. Wafers) is one less reader for Chris and his progressive buddies.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Capt. Spaulding said...

In my view, Campbell's work by the 1980s was really devoted to selling as many books as possible. Still, to give him a little credit, I find his early work, "A Skeleton Key to Finnegan's Wake," a pretty decent introductory guide to that impenetrable book (it was also the first effort to grapple with it, published in 1944). Maybe he went off the deep end trying to fathom all of Joyce's allusions?

- The Capt.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It's hard to keep up w/all the people going off the deep end, really: Campbell, Hedges...probably a long list. I guess living in America finally drives people nuts.


You've got something there, I think. 'Progressivism' in the US is no less a hustle than anything else. It becomes a career: books, lectures, weekly column, talk shows, T-shirts, line of pasta sauces, etc. Of course I wdn't put Chomsky in this category (too much integrity, plus he has a univ. job), but for the rest who succeed w/it, it's definitely a moneymaker. And of course yr also rt that if someone understands Why America Failed, and that it's hardly just abt the recent rise of a plutocracy (which we can supposedly reverse!), then he or she ain't gonna be too entranced by the 'progressive' pitch. To make it worse, beyond the realm of Waferdom, they won't have any friends or even anyone to talk to (which 'progressives' do; they talk to each other).


At one pt, yrs ago, I thought Hedges might indeed have a Wafer moment, but I was clearly kidding myself. 'Progressives' have too much invested, both financially and psychologically, in *not* having a Wafer moment; they find denial and delusion much more comforting. I tell ya, what're ya gonna do.

But it's kinda fun, I guess, rdg 'progressive' articles, in which we learn how we're gonna turn everything around, and save America. I think it's time for these folks to bring out a journal called "When Pigs Fly."


10:59 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Bringing symbols into a wider sociological context, and relating that to the fall of the American Empire could be interesting.

(Some) people can now recognize the manipulation via symbols that happened say, during WWII when propaganda posters such as this one ( de-humanized the "other side".

But it makes me wonder what symbols will appear as the US goes down. The flag, the constitution, etc. don't mean much anymore. Will it be military, or religion, or a melted Greenland, or what? Would it even be recognized as manipulation?

It makes me want to jump into JSTOR and find out what the Roman Empire did during its downfall. I've found references to SQPR and the last of the Roman Senate, but that's it so far.

This looks like a good article on Warburg's "Collective Memory" and social identity that could apply to our discussion,


but I just don't have the brain-power to read it right before lunch on a Friday!

11:59 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

I wouldn't say skipping on children is necessary, or even helpful. I mean, somebody has to do it if you want humanity around in the future! The population increase isn't from America (unless you want net immigration to be 0 which would be a good thing), it's more Africa/Asia, so not having kids in the US isn't going to do anything. If you don't want kids fine, but I wouldn't knock anybody for it, esp. since it's a central part of being human. Often not having kids comes from wanting to have more time for yourself, has nothing to do w/environmental concerns.

Hedges is part of that bizarre group of Christians/radical feminists (like Robert Jensen) who rail against capitalism and against hookers/porn. It's a strange thing, and I ignore anyone like this. I'm embarrassed for Hedges/Jensen for some of the things they've put out. I mean, you're going to say porn is due to our patriarchal society? Or that hookers are the end result of capitalism? That's a great way to discredit yourself right there and look like an idiot.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Manu said...

I do not think Chris Hedges does not mean well for America or for humanity. I do not understand why some people here think Hedges has no right to his views – especially when no attempts are made to cite direct claims by Hedges. If you want to criticize an author, please quote and cite the sentences and claims made by the author to support your criticism. To simply state that the author is going into deep end is not enough – especially if you are making the assumption that you are smarter than others.

Having children is not a crime or a sin or a bad thing for society/humanity. We need to keep in mind that we all came from the wombs of our mothers. The problem is that moderation is never in the consciousness of the American psyche. Americans often go into deep end in one direction or another. It is like this: having kids is either bad or good depending on the selfish (and often delusional and momentary) feel-good feelings of some individual Americans. Then they want to universalize their nonsense to the entire human race. Ayn Rand hated having children due to her belief in philosophy of selfishness, but she sure loved to sleep around with younger boys mothered and nurtured by other women.

12:25 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hola MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

Although I tend to think that America's "magic moment" will occur when it's reported on CNN that hundreds of Americans have simultaneously ended it all as a result of some ritualized form of suburban mass suicide, I do wonder if we haven't hit some sort of critical mass already.

All this, w/in a few hours:

How on earth are we gonna turn all this around, Wafers? Oh, right...when pigs fly! Time for 23-skiddo and thank U, MB.

Light's out, over and out, O&D, and Roger Dodger,


1:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Stuff like this is now occurring on a daily basis.


Lots of confusion in yr post, amigo. 1st, no one is saying Hedges doesn't mean well; all of us are sure he does. The problem is that he is now off-base in his analysis and claims, not that he is mal-intentioned. These are not the same thing.

2nd, as far as citing direct claims: we all cited the articles he's written that seem to be off-base, and what he is claiming in them. You need direct quotes and ftnotes? Just go read the articles for yrself, see if our critiques are valid.

3rd, no one is saying that having kids is a crime. Frankly, yr 2nd para is rather vague and blurry, all over the place. Whatever u.r. arguing here, it's not very clear.

Anyway, I do understand yr need to defend Hedges; after all, if he's off-base, then what do 'progressives' have? Depression, I suppose. And I will say this: in the past, he has done some impt writing, and done some courageous stuff--no doubt abt it. But as he has gotten increasingly desperate and depressed himself, he has managed to go off the rails, and that's what the folks here are pointing out. I also want to add--and this applies to the 'progressive' community in general--what I've said b4 about the stupidity of Americans not merely being a function of IQ. Probably, the majority of 'progressives' are very smart in that narrow, technical sense. But that's where it ends. Not to understand history or sociology, or even possess common sense, when what is going down in the US is so obvious a (non-American) child cd point it out, doesn't reflect intelligence in the larger sense.

In any case, as I said b4, I think we can stop picking on Chris by now, and move on to other topics.


Well, they don't call it "the world's oldest profession" for nothing! I think we shd probably do some research on Stone Age Hookers (great title for a bk, n'est-ce pas?).


I believe the tendency, at empire's end, is to pour energy into reaffirming the traditional symbols, such as SPQR or the Statue of Liberty. These symbols are now hollow, emptied out; which is why there is such a fierce defense of them. You know, I was present in Berlin when the wall fell (Die Mauer), and I remember, a while after, going over to the Brandenburg Gate. There were tables set up in front of it, selling pieces of the Wall--I bought one, in fact, and it still sits on my coffee table--and Russian soldiers' and commissars' hats. On these hats was a metal pin, the hammer and sickle, painted red. And the amazing, overwhelming feeling was that these hats and pins were dead; that the spirit had gone out of them. Where once they inspired fear or pride, now they possessed abt as much energy as dead fish. You cd feel the difference in the vibes coming off of the pieces of the wall, for example, and those coming off the Communist artifacts (= 0). I didn't think of it then, at that moment, but now it's obvious: at some pt during the next 10 or 20 yrs, we might go to a garage sale of Americana, and feel no energy coming from those artifacts either. An American flag pin, after all, possess that energy only if people really believe in what it stands for. Once they don't, the pin is effectively a kind of corpse.


2:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


For those of u who are interested, Amazon finally, finally posted the 2nd review for Neurotic Beauty online, by a colleague of mine at the U of Tokyo, Prof. Takada. This was sent in together w/the blurb by Prof. Parkes weeks ago; after much harassing of Amazon by my publisher, they finally managed to put the Takada blurb online. Will miracles never cease etc.


2:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Anon-

Thanks for yr interesting post. The problem is that I wasn't able to run it, because one rule of this blog is that Anons don't get posted! You need a real handle; e.g., Corned Beef Sandwich. So please pick something, re-send yr message, and I'll be sure to post it. Thank u4 yr understanding.


5:25 PM  
Blogger fyreflye said...

Dr Berman: There's also a nice customer review from a Jeff T ("Verified Amazon Purchase") that goes into detail about the contents. I've noticed that potential buyers often give far more credence to customer reviews than the ones supplied by the publisher. Writing a decent customer review isn't as hard as you might think and others here who've read the book might try their hand. The great Law of Advertising is that the more customer reviews (even including bad reviews) the likelier the book will sell. I'm still reading and hope to be inspired enough to write one myself.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Jeff T is in fact a Wafer, known here as Miles Deli. Yr probably rt abt customer revs, altho I shd tell u that the authors of the 2 Editorial Revs, Parkes and Takada, are two of the sharpest minds I've ever met. Anyway, I look forward to yr own rev, and thank u for considering it. I probably need all the help I can get, because if WAF was any guide, the massive trollfoon attack is not long in coming. I expect them to say that I wanted the Axis powers to win WW2, and that I ignore the dark side of Japanese culture. Neither of these things is true, but that never gets in the way of trollfoons.


8:37 PM  
Blogger illini said...

MB and others,

I think you are being too critical of Hedges. He gets it and speaks out every week. . One of the few who sees global warming as a threat. Along with Chomsky.

He is spot on on most other issues.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes and no. As shd be obvious from our discussion, there's a lot he doesn't get, and I don't think those things are minor. Plus, millions of people around the world see global warming as a threat. He and Noam are hardly unique.

That being said, I think we might do best to leave poor ol' Chris behind, and move on to more fruitful topics. What ever happened to Symbolism?


10:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: You shd also be aware that just stating something doesn't make it so; it's just an opinion. If you say "he is spot on," it doesn't prove anything. All it says is that you think he's spot on. So? The difference between opinion and argument is something that used to be taught in undergraduate courses in critical thinking. Of course, given what has happened to higher education in the last 30 yrs, not too many Americans are capable of critical thinking anymore.


11:26 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I was at work one Sunday and the patients wanted to watch a religious talk show. Two TV preachers were on and one of them said a very surprising thing - he no longer uses the old biblical stories to illustrate a point b/c younger people don't know them anymore. Instead he uses stories about celebrities. So the story of Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, the wisdom of Solomon, all of it lost. So much of art prior to the modern age was based on religious stories and symbols familiar to everyone that it's now likely a person under 30 could go to an art museum and have no idea what he was looking at. The irony of it - peasants couldn't read but understood the symbols in the stained glass and now, we can read but don't understand.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...


My point about kids & Hedges wasn't so much about any Malthusian population/environmental concerns. On that point though, I could argue that having kids in a Western country is way more resource-consuming than having kids in say Africa. I also know that having children is not a crime and is necessary to reproduce ourselves. This is not my point though.

My point is about how having kids can influence your outlook on life and how I believe it shapes Hedges' writing. I think that once you become responsible for another person's life and you *know* that the future doesn't hold anything good, it becomes even harder to have a Wafer moment and face the truth, so you become increasingly at risk of fooling yourself with unrealistic/romantic solutions. I can't even imagine how that must feel if you're responsible for the lives of *4* children.

Sorry to keep playing a broken record about Hedges but this is the last I'll say on the topic promise! I really wonder though what Chris' writing would have been like had he *not* had children.

9:24 AM  
Blogger jml said...

At risk of sounding too romantic, I think that Symbology, if taught right, could be one of the most important subjects that a young American could study. We live in a culture that has been completely brainwashed by the symbology of advertising. And,yet,at the same time, people think they are free.
Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but to me Symbology is the study of signs and images as a language that usually have a much more powerful effect on people than words. Is it too much to say that thousands and thousands of European pagans may not have become Christian were it not for the power of symbols? (And, of course intense persecution, I know that, but powerful symbols played a big part, too, no?)

10:29 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jml, SW-

Roland Barthes covers that ground v. well in "Mythologies," wh/u guys might enjoy. I guess American youth can only connect w/the symbology of Kim's buttocks.


I think that's a v. gd pt. You know, in that 'converstion' I did w/Hedges from Vancouver 2 yrs ago, he did have an emotional moment at one pt, when he was talking abt one of his children rdg a bk abt animals. He said, "he'll probably never see any of those creatures, because they'll all go extinct due to environmental destruction." I was touched by this, and certainly, he must feel this dilemma more strongly than those who don't have kids. But as you say, it cd possibly lead to the priority of heart over head, and the "insistence" that corporations be stopped, the environment be saved, and so on--in the face of the fact that the future jus' don' look v. gd. Thanks for pointing this out.

But again, let's let Chris go his own unmerry way. This blog is not a forum on Hedges, or frankly on any other single individual--not even on Kim and her rump, as symbolic as these are.


11:20 AM  
Anonymous Manu said...

@SW, you wrote: “…Two TV preachers were on and one of them said a very surprising thing - he no longer uses the old biblical stories to illustrate a point b/c younger people don't know them anymore. Instead he uses stories about celebrities. So the story of Jonah and the whale, David and Goliath, the wisdom of Solomon, all of it lost. So much of art prior to the modern age was based on religious stories and symbols familiar to everyone... The irony of it - peasants couldn't read but understood the symbols...”

Without Thomas Paine, the American Revolution would have failed. BUT did you know that Thomas Paine learned how to write well and how to challenge authority by reading the Bible alone. The only education he got was from reading the Bible. He was basically protesting against the teachings of the Bible. But he had to read the stories in the Bible before he could disagree with the teachings of the stories. Because he was against slavery, he was targeted for destruction by some American founders, and he was destroyed right here in America. Selectivity, partiality, self-interest, imperialism, injustice, confusion, wickedness, and stupidity are inbuilt in the gene of America, period. End of the story. Before you attack me, watch the following:

Chris Hedges, Cornel West, and Richard Wolff on Thomas Paine and symbolism:

3:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The Revolution wdn't have failed w/o Thos Paine. History is a very complex affair; it never depends on just one individual.


4:05 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

You'll have to forgive me. I so want to read and critique your latest book given that I lived in Japan for nearly 10 years. I'm just too busy at work to get to it now. Anyway, I will retire from teaching this June. Besides near total exhaustion a few other things pointed me clearly out the door. One is that every teacher will soon be given a state of the art laptop. Needless to say, the entire faculty is beside themselves with excitement. Little do they know, however, that the point of the laptop is to collect massive amounts of student data sans counting how many times each student farts (although I'm sure that will be calculated in years to come). I mean maybe it's me but shouldn't teachers be spending the bulk of their time teaching or preparing effective lessons? Apparently not.
But what really convinced me to retire was something that happened quite recently. I was teaching inner-city first grade students about synonyms. We reviews various synonyms and then I distributed a sheet of plain white paper to each student. We divided the paper in half with a 2 inch margin at the top where they were to write the two words such as friend and buddy. Then they were to draw with crayons illustrations of the two words. At that point the principal entered to conduct an informal observation. Later I received her evaluation which said, "First grade students should not be coloring. That is a low order thinking activity." The vice-principal later chimed in that cutting and pasting pictures to words is also a low order thinking activity. In other words, I am surrounded by morons who make upwards of $125,000 by the way. As I think I said at our NYC luncheon a few years ago, public education is designed to destroy all those things unique to being a child.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


What a sad story. I'd like to fly to NY and hurt the principal and VP; or at least, pee on their shoes. This is an icon of why the US is going down the toilet, and clearly, retirement will be a blessing 4u. Among other things, you'll be able to read my Japan book, 200 pp. of which are devoted to Zen archery. No, just kidding.

Speaking of morons and excitement over tech: yr story reminds me of when I was tchg in Canada in 1984, and the p.c. was coming into its own. My collegues were pooping in their pants w/joy. I think they thought the computer wd write their bks for them--tenure assured! No need for creative ideas, the craft of writing, all that old-fashioned stuff; no, now we have computers. One colleague said to me, "You probably would like us all to be using quill pens!" She thought she was hysterically funny. Meanwhile, she never had an original idea in her life, and students usta fall asleep in her class. All this comes from Canada thinking the US is the trendy model to follow, I suppose. There really is no upper limit on the # of douche bags in North America; it just goes up and up.

We're fucked, amigo; but at least u.r. getting out.


5:17 PM  
Anonymous Sami said...

Just in today

6 years old and 8 years old killed by their mother with a kitchen knife - only is America, the land catching up with Karma on daily basis.

6:43 PM  
Blogger Eric Green said...

"The girl allegedly told [her mother] she wanted to kill her because she took away her iPhone".

Priorities, you know. Having your iPhone is more important than having parents.

6:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

I kinda like this one as well:

6:57 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Very interesting. I was always struck by Joe Bageant who noted that if there are flags and eagles involved good ol americans will fall for it. Its always struck me that large American flags fly outside of Auto dealerships and banks--certainly some symbolism and or associations of some sort? I have lived in several countries and am struck how diploma mills historically and presently (from back matchbook correspondence schools to U of Phoenix today) as well as college degree fetishism are mostly am American obsession--certainly the symbol of something or a totem perhaps? Sublime symbolism and grasp of metaphor are lacking in the American mind. Say what you will about the Catholics (and I am a Jew) they put on a lovely show and what is more sublime than a Latin mass in a lovely ornate church, but not in America you get prosperity gospel in a converted shopping center with big screens and gospel rock....

8:07 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Hello Wafers and Professor GAKS:

Dr. Berman, I'm thrilled your book, Neurotic Beauty, has been published! I'll order my copies soon; I know a couple of young 'threshold Wafers' who will read it and, of course, I'll need a copy for myself. Thank you for continuing to share your brilliance. :)

I wish I could come up with something interesting to add to the Symbolism topic, but it's a bit over my head so I'll just have to be content to read what others here have to say about it and check out the links Wafers provide; thanks all for the reading material.

Dan's story gives me heartburn. Sorry Dan.

Here's a story I just couldn't believe I was reading. This link is a follow-up to the original situation which can be read further down the page.

9:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fruit Woman!

Too long, my dear, you have been absent from our little blogadillo. Many have wept, gnashed their teeth. Welcome back.

Re: my J-bk: you'll probably need 1 for the kitchen, 1 for the bathrm. I do like the concept of 'threshold Wafers', BTW.

Symbology is certainly not above yr head. I mean, Kim's rump is far below it, and is the primary symbol of America in the 21stC. And given its vast expanse, there is much to say abt it.[smile emotikon here]


10:05 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

One of the liberal/progressive causes of recent years that I have found most amusing is the Citizens United decision and how the resulting influx of money into politics is supposedly destroying our democracy. It's expected, for example, that the 2016 presidential election will cost over $5 billion, up from $2 billion in 2012 and around $1 billion in 2008.

What the writers who rail against CU rarely mention is what most of that campaign cash is being used for--namely television ads. Candidates would not be saturating the airwaves with those ads if they didn't work and the content of the ads are aimed at people who have the emotional intelligence of 8-year olds, meaning that's about the level of intellect being applied to choose our presidents, congresscritters, governors and so forth. Yet to read the average progressive essay about CU is to be led to believe that all we have to do is repeal it (requiring a Constitutional amendment--a certain impossibility) and everything would be just hunky dory.

Regarding overpopulation, it must be considered that raising a child as a middle class American consumes roughly 10 times more resources and creates roughly 10 times the amount of environmental degradation as raising them in the average third world nation. Thus, American liberals open themselves up to legitimate criticism when discussing overpopulation unless they choose to either remain childless or are prepared to dramatically lower their own standard of living. Not unlike the reason why countries like China, India and Brazil tend to laugh whenever Americans insist that those countries need to "do their part" to stop climate.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous moonwetpotatoes said...

Dear Mr. Berman

How do you feel about the Robert Durst arrest? Does it bother you that two of his alleged victims are named Morris Black and Susan Berman??

10:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank u4 yr concern. Look, I never told anybody up to this pt, but I *am* Robt Durst!


1:37 AM  
Anonymous TrullFull said...

Ahaaah, Dr Berman, the article says you are related to Robert Durst via grand mother vis-a-vis Austria-Hungary:

1:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A few errors in this wiki article.

1. I'm not related to Robt Durst; I *am* Robt Durst.

2. They got my birthday wrong; also, my middle name is Kim, not Alan.

3. The sandwich I tried to shoplift was tuna, not chicken salad.

4. Thank you for not dragging Chris Hedges into this.

5. This is what Americans are concerned abt:

Wafers are invited to discuss the Symbology of short shorts.


2:11 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

I defer to my fellow WAFERfarians for their critical analysis of the symbology of short-shorts. We each contribute as our wits allow, so herewith something that might serve to put the critical faculties in frame:

From 1958, the Royal Teens' "Short Shorts":

*A band that included two great rock-n-rollers: Bob Gaudio who would join the Four Seasons later thanks to Joe Pesci; and Al Kooper, who would go on to found Blood Sweat and Tears.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I always did like that song. We shd probably discuss the Symbology of "Rock Around the Clock" as well.


9:43 AM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

COS- I know what you mean; as a kid in the 60s, the only place I remember seeing the flag flying was at the post office and elementary school.

We Protestants (especially Lutherans) sometimes out-Catholic the Catholics. Many of our dying mainline churches have unbelievably beautiful artwork in stained glass. The glass contains much symbolism, and is an inspiration, at least to me. My own church features the work of the Latvian refugee, Leonids Linauts; we don't have our windows online, but this linked church has a fine page lauding the work of Mr. Linauts-

I'm old-school; stained glass art, the music of Bach, and traditional liturgy can be uplifting, but how many people today take the time to explore the music of Bach beyond what is sometimes heard at weddings? (His 200+ Lutheran cantatas are virtually unknown.) My sisters-in-law go to those mall churches you describe, where they listen to Pastor Bud and "contemporary" religious music blaring from electronic speakers...

9:59 AM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

Birney -

Flag day was around before the 1960s, and nationalism/flag waving has been around in the US for a long time. I'd say it hasn't noticeably increased lately. I'm pretty sure it didn't suddenly pop up in the 80s/90s.

Why the competition on stained glass? I think it's widely accepted that European stained glass (pre-industrial revolution) takes the cake, though I don't care much for religion. Feel free to battle it out for top spot in decoration though. I think the importance of religion quickly disappearing. I think people like Bellah are wrong to talk about religion and solidarity in the future, he was way of the mark here.

Durst's last meal was detailed by the nypost:

Hard to believe you would skip the pastrami sandwich and bud light for garlic crusted drum and an Abita.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Kneel Jung said...

MB, James,

For a racier version of the "Short-Shorts" topic, check out James Brown's "Hot Pants" from the early 70's, the Godfather of Soul perpetrates the groove!

As for Bill Haley and the Comets, listen to "Thirteen Women", a post nuclear ditty about the only man left
alive, and well, you'll get the picture...


12:18 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman & Wafers,

I recall enjoying Joseph Campbell’s conversations with Michel Toms on New Dimensions Radio years ago. They weren’t very deep, but since I was living in Texas at the time they were refreshing nonetheless.

I’ve heard about Campbell’s anti-Semitism, and I’m inclined to believe it since every time the “Old Testament” (or Hebrew Bible or Tanakh) came up the revered professor started foaming at the mouth. There is a lot of killing and violence in ancient historical, religious, and literary writing, but it only seemed to be a problem for him in the Hebrew Bible – the only book he took literally. Moreover, he called it a dismal book which was completely devoid of humor. Well, there is plenty of humor in the Bible even if much of it is based on wordplay which is lost in translation. Joseph Campbell, of all people, should have known that.

I believe Freud hypothesized that one of the causes of European Christian anti-Semitism was what he called “resentment of Christianity.”* That is, Christianity was imposed on many Europeans by force, and in some parts of Eastern Europe fairly recently and imperfectly. Hence, unconscious resentment over Christan suppression of their collective ‘id’

Joseph Campbell was brought up in and austere Catholic tradition which he took very seriously and then walked away from. Something similar may have been going on in his psyche – who knows?

*(Another was that ‘fear of circumcision’ aroused castration anxiety in European males and sent them out on pogroms. Again, who knows? After all, bizarre behavior often has bizarre causes; look at the US.)

David Rosen

3:12 PM  
Anonymous said...

When I think of contemporary symbols of America, specifically where we're going and why, I am reminded of the Super Bowl from two years ago. I don't watch such things, but I read much about it after the fact and wrote on it extensively at the time. It was really spectacular as a student of sociology/anthropology. If you remember, that was the year that they lost power and brought the whole damn thing to a halt about 3/4 of the way through. They ran a bunch of ads and it in a sense, became part of the show. But after about 30 minutes, people were sick of it. It doesn't take much to see the sudden and complete failure of such a huge operation as prophetic.

They had all the usual stuff too, aging singers at the Half Time Show no one cares about. The ads (without which there would be no game) as usual included grotesque corporate forms of sexuality. In the one Oreo commercial, they destroy a library.

Worst of all though, was the Sandy Hook Elementary School students singing America the Beautiful (first verse only because that's all anyone actually knows). Yes, lets watch the survivors of a recent tragedy sing an ode to a nation that doesn't exist, meanwhile our government bombs the shit out of thousands of kids just like them in other nations. What a treasure.

What are the other verses to America the Beautiful? Well, here's one. Can you see today's America in these words? I think not.

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Ken Smith said...

COS --

Your mention of Joe Bageant prompts me to plug the current issue of The Baffler. There is a profile of Joe titled "Toxically Pure" by John Lingan. The profile, actually a short biography, covers his dirt-poor childhood, doing drugs with Hunter S. Thompson and Timothy Leary, living off the grid for six years, his time as an affluent PR executive for agri-chemicals, editing a military history magazine -- all of which tormented him and drove him to become a radical leftish writer.

I talked at length with Lingan as he was conducting research for this article. We discussed Morris Berman's tribute, "Bageant’s Frustration: Extreme Isolation", which was not directly mentioned in the article, but is an evident theme.

I knew Joe fairly well during the last eight years of his life -- his radical writer years. Four years ago, I was with Joe when the doctor told him he had inoperable, terminal cancer, and he would die within a month or two. I can still vividly recall my surprise at Joe's reaction. He seemed almost relieved, as if he had just heard some good news.

The Baffler, a print and digital magazine, is behind a pay wall. But, I'm guessing that some readers here might have access. Click on this link:

4:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

John Wafer-

Sorry, amigo; much too long.


6:41 PM  
Anonymous COS said...


Flags everywhere and put in front of car dealerships and banks is a more recent tendency (see Leach). Whether or not your care for religion it is well always there.

Current politics in U.S. are just another page in religion--spreading the word of democracy, killing evil doers and so on. Faith in democracy and progressive "values" another form of religion. Stained glass and other things from the past ought not to be dismissed or trivialized. For example the month of July and August are named after Roman emperors and are the only two contiguous months which have 31 days becuase the Roman senate did not want to insult the memory of Caesar and Augustus so take a few days from February....Budgets and maturity are based on the basis of the earths orbit around the Sun and your bills based on a month or lunar cycle--thats some druid stuff no? Technology and the faith in progress-major religion as is rationality--much overrated and a myth too.

Birney and I both noting the increasing baseness of America and stained glass and liturgy were part of a richer past. I think you miss both his and my point. Its not about religion per se--its about appreciating and understanding nuance and having a sense of metaphor and the sublime. The old religions much better on this score than the new.

Ken Smith --thank you for the note on the Baffler. Big fan of Joe and first hear of him while in Australia and there in Melbourne bought deerhunting with Jesus--never would have heard of him had I not left the U.S.!!!

7:42 PM  
Blogger k_pgh said...

Earthwalker’s “The Funky Western Civilization” link from the last post made me think of Rammstein’s Amerika video. While I don’t think this is a good anthem for the blog (though Wafers may well get some kicks out of it), the symbolism, energy, and ambiguity perhaps relate to the current discussion. For example, I think this video makes good use of Brecht’s distancing effect with the vocals and gestures carrying a lot of symbolic flavor beyond the obvious American material symbols. This video by a group of East Germans about the emptiness of America and her symbols even in “victory” weaves a weird counterpoint with your hammer and sickle vignette.

More generally, the band seems to deploy a lot of symbolic energy. This has probably helped to make them popular (at least outside of Germany). Neo-Nazis, communists, and at least one pop. philosopher (Zizek) all claim them as their own. Even Wafers could, but I suspect are less likely to, try to get in on this game.

At any rate, to me something feels off about the Rammstein phenomena (beyond the fact that that’s the intent), and, unlike Zizek, I’m not convinced that it’s pure safe fun. Just browse the youtube comments and in particular the comments in English for their various videos. I haven’t seen anyone discussing Barthes or the Verfremdungseffekt. However, you will find people talking about how they want to blast the music from their speakers while killing n***ers

Just think, maybe if you’d courted fame, not only could you be attacked by trollfoons over an alt-universe chapter 4, but additional morons could try to make you an honorary Grand Wizard. Darn the luck, eh? Since the conversation has moved to the life and death matter of short shorts, I feel I should link a second Rammstein video. It’s almost possible to read this one as a near Waferian critique of the United States. It even has sensitivity to paradox (lifeguard-blackguard, wandervogel-lebensraum). However, the energy may be better for rousing Hedge’s army of martyrs than for clear reflection. More broadly, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it all. What do you think?

9:25 PM  
OpenID atearinrain said...

There's a film called Blue is the Warmest Color which came out a couple of years ago. It's wonderful on a number of levels, but what I liked about it most is it's rich symbolism. It's been awhile since I'd seen it but I'll give the two examples I can remember, so if you haven't seen it yet (and you really should), you may not want to finish reading this. The protagonist's sexual appetite is reflected in the numerous scenes showcasing her large appetite for food—and if I remember right, the connection between these two carnal passions was not lost on medieval culture. Weren't knights expected to consume large amounts of food, as well as have many sexual exploits? And her ravenous appetite at the dinner table was symbolic of her uncontrollable sexual behavior later in the film—again, I remember hearing somewhere that in the Middle Ages a guest's trustworthiness was determined by whether s/he acted politely or greedily at dinner. Unfortunately, the girl I went to see it with didn't catch on to any of the many symbols in the film (and instead wanted to talk about Katy Perry or something), which got me wondering if people in the US even have the ability anymore to understand symbolism on a conscious level. It's not that our media doesn't possess symbolic imagery—it's positively dripping with it—but that Americans are too stupid to notice it. Which makes the symbols have that much more powerful of an effect. SW, even if Americans were familiar with the formerly popular biblical parables, I doubt they'd understand the relevance to their own lives.

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Rusty Snag said...

Dr. Berman and Wafers:

I am enjoying this discussion thread even though it is bouncing all over the place. Perhaps Chris Hedges is a symbol himself although I have no idea of what. I really enjoyed SeanKerrigan's description of the Super Bowl. Now there's some symbology for you! We can no longer guarantee the success of our most important symbolic occasions.

Speaking of symbols, it occurs to me that industrialization and its cousin globalization are in direct conflict with a rich symbolic life. Our ancestors left their diverse marks on pottery, fabric and cave walls. We can look back on those works and revel in the joy of knowing that our ancestors had something besides corporate logos on their minds. I'm afraid to write too much more about this topic because I know so little, but I thought maybe I could encourage others to fill in the blanks for me.

PS: I will be purchasing Neurotic Beauty very soon and will look forward to the further wisdom of Dr. Berman.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

I think it's pretty funny, people keep talking about another New Deal to repair our infrastructure.

The obvious problem (for anyone with half a brain) is that the infrastructure we have should largely never have been built, and it makes no sense to attempt to maintain it all for another 100-200 years due to resource shortages and climate change. But, I'm fairly sure we're going to dig a hole as deep as possible until it collapses on us.

What I believe should happen (but has 0 chance of happening), is to demolish most of our large infrastructure now, and instead build walkable cities, while at the same time putting a hard cap on the size and space between metro areas (when hell freezes over, right?)

Where is that dictator when you need him?

10:38 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Thank u all 4 switching to Symbology. No need to beat a dead Hedges any more, I don't think. When I lived in San Francisco many yrs ago, I was rdg Jung's bk "Man and His Symbols," and there was a hot dog cafe at corner of Jackson and Polk called "Zim's." I told my then girlfriend that I might write a bk called "Man and His Zimdogs," but she didn't find it all that funny. I do think it might be interesting to open a chain of symbolic food restaurants, myself.


1:31 PM  
Blogger Val said...

I love the topic of this post. Poses of power are a key element of the classical & Renaissance artistic tradition to which I've devoted my work, vital to the essence of it. They're also core compositional principles, like motifs in a piece of music.

Looking up Aby Warburg, I find that he composed an Atlas of Mnemosyne in which astrology, astronomy, mythology and a host of (apparently) Hermetic subjects seem to flow into one another, forming a grand integrated more-or-less Ptolemaic picture of the universe. Maybe I'm getting too Joseph Campbellish here, but I really do like the way Warburg appears to relate these topics to one another. Perhaps this is the sort of benefic image magic that I ought to be practicing in my artistic production, as an NMI activity and an antidote, however inadequate, against the toxic effects of American anti-culture.

But in America, that will almost certainly never make enough money to enable me to escape from the Usurious States of Amnesia, so I will probably have to engage in some sort of necromantic advertising image magic. I enjoy doing pictures of eagles, and could manage a flag or two; but if U wanna make a million bucks, I guess the crack of Kim's posterior is the theme to harp upon. She's a veritable Prosperina of that which emanates therefrom.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Was this the place in San Francisco?:

MB, Wafers-

Kim and the American flag:

One more about Kim:

Kim's brother stated that she's like the sociopathic chick from the film, "Gone Girl."


3:40 PM  
Anonymous Rosegarden said...

My sympathies to Dan, the first grade teacher who is trying to give his students an education. After nearly 40 years teaching primary students, I retired a decade ago. This week I returned to my old school in the role of a presenter on poison prevention with the Master Gardener Program. I talked about being safe with dangerous chemicals around the home (cleaners and pesticides) and passed out Mr. Yuk stickers in all six first grades.

Every classroom had a Smart board in front of the chalkboard. The wheels stuck out three feet into the room, and you had to maneuver around them. The regular chalkboard had been demoted to a bulletin board for posters. In Classroom A the top left hand quadrant of the Smart board was dead, and the stylus would not work there. So much for learning that reading is a left to right, top to bottom process in English. In Classroom B the remote control was either missing, broken, or needed batteries. The regular teacher used a yardstick to reach the ceiling to turn on the projector. Classroom C recently had new software installed and needed some technical fix. So, it could not be used at all. We all waited while the teacher took down posters and scrounged around for a little piece of chalk for me to use on the old chalkboard. In the 5 cases where the Smart board “worked” the stylus produced a very pixelated image and skipped a lot of strokes. I had to keep going back to fill in the gaps in the letters. Everything felt jerky, and that was with printing! Teaching cursive handwriting on this thing would be impossible! Maybe this is one of the reasons for the decline of cursive education.

My impression was that if this is the symbol of learning that children will take with them into adulthood, it is very ugly.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Noted symbologist Robert Langdon said...

Hi. Surprised that I haven't appeared already.
Things are never what they seem. Otherwise I'd be working in a gas station instead of at Harvard.
The persistence of references to "CH" puts me in mind of most important insight from Dante (or was it the Talmud, or Henny Youngman? one is so very busy, I'll have a grad student send an update.)
"if there's a bustling in your HEDGErow, don't be alarmed now, it's just a sprinkling for the May Queen." I suggest we ponder this, as the survival of the world (at least of my crummy books) probably depends on our cracking the code. (Mmmm…Crack.)
I unearthed this in a tomb in Burma whilst shaving (my translation:)
This girl walks in to a doctors office and she asks “Whats a phailic symbol? Doctor says “you're kidding.. ” Girl says “no! I don't know! Whats a phailic symbol???” Doctor pulls his pants and underwear down and says “You see? This is a phailic symbol!” Girl says “Oh! Its just like a penis, only smaller”
Normally I charge by the millions for this sort of thing, but I'm feeling actinic today.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Prof. L:

We are honored, sir, to have your august contribution to our trivial little blog. We have, however, moved on from Hedgerows, and are now reflecting on the Symbology of Cornrows, as well as corned beef.


Was it really on the corner of Van Ness? I coulda sworn Polk. But yes, that's it. O 4 a Zimdog rt abt now!


Kim's rump, Pandora's box.


6:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Take a look at this article by Bob Kuttner. He gives 7 reasons why the 99% keeps losing, but omits Numero Uno: They are spineless and stupid. Why can't 'progressives' grasp this? All these analyses, and they can't come up with dick. As for me, I'm very excited abt the possibility of a Cruz presidency, and am hoping he will choose Lorenzo Riggins as his running mate.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

Just visited a friend who reminded me that in '77 he called me to be his "groundman" while he was on magic mushrooms. We spent part of the time at Zim's on California st. in laurel village. My burger (Mmm...burgers) cost the same as his but was't packed with meaning. Which makes me think that receptivity and openness affect the perception of symbols. It can be a torrent or something that's fine tuned, and restricted ala political "dog-whistling."
this "Langdon" bird...To my nose he's a frawd.

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

COS- yes, the baseness of today's USA is hard to take for anyone who grew up decades ago. I no longer attend any pro sporting events nor watch sports on TV, but I have fond memories of my grandparents taking me to minor-league hockey games in the 60s. Grandma would put on her Sunday best, and she and my mom made me wear a suit. The ONLY advertising symbol in the 7,000-seat arena was a Coca-Cola clock at one end. Fans booed lustily at bad calls, cheered to the organist's music, and you could hardly see through the cigarette smoke by the 3rd period.

Today, smoking is not allowed (one improvement) but the fans dress like slobs and chant the vulgar term for "anus" in a sing-song fashion whenever the ref blows a call. Rap music blares over the loudspeakers as a poor substitute for the old electronic organ. Needless to say, advertising symbols are plastered EVERYWHERE- from the dasher boards to the rafters.

It just seems like we were more polite when the mainline churches were fairly full and the storefront and mega-churches didn't exist. The pastors I remember from the 60s were more like Eagle Scouts in contrast to the slickster preachers at my relatives' current mega-churches. I agree with other commenters being somewhat down on religion; I only sporadically attend myself, and I know that if our pastor started to extol the virtues of Smedley D. Butler, she'd be shown the door...

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman & Wafers,

I’ve been told that the understanding and use symbols are a fundamental distinguisher between humans and other animals. My cats are very smart and can do a lot, but they see no deep meaning whatsoever in Kim’s tochus, even with an American flag pin on it.

In any case, to see how far Americans with their adoration of Kim’s butt have fallen, try the following Symbology 101 Quiz:

a) Who said, “I’d rather be a symbol for that than some of the other things they have symbols for.”? And b) what was this statement in response to?

David Rosen

9:42 PM  
Anonymous KJ said...

The fact that Angelina Jolie getting rid of her ovaries was the third item on today's BBC World News tells me all I need to know about the human race.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous kilo_mega_giga said...

It's becoming clear that the coming technological change/mass unemployment will be like nothing we've seen before. Before, we always had new jobs replace the old ones, even if the new ones were something like Walmart. In the future, it will simply be unemployment, and for much more than just the uneducated poor.

I'm curious why you're so dismissive. You're saying, "people have made claims before, and they didn't pan out", but this is different.

I really think that in a decade or two, tens of millions will be out of the work force with nothing to do, and there's no guarantee that they'll have any kind of guaranteed income.

I fear that the economy is going to rapidly change in the coming decades like nothing we've seen, where inequality becomes much stronger than what we see today.

This is likely how we'll deal with resource shortages. A smaller and smaller group will have access to better and better technology, and most people will be left out completely.

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Sami said...

"A former math teacher and volleyball coach at a Virginia high school has pleaded guilty to multiple charges in a student sex case that broke at the beginning of the school year.

Erica Lynn Mesa, 28, has been in jail since her arrest Sept. 29, according to WTVR. Mesa admitted to having sex with several students at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford County last year, police said.

In a confession obtained by Stafford Sheriff's deputies, Mesa said she had sex with the boys, one of whom was underage at the time, because it made her feel "attractive and wanted." She told how she had sex with one victim in a car in a commuter lot on his eighteenth birthday.

She also described how she had multiple students over at her house while her husband was away. She said she made one of the boys wait his turn in the basement while she had sex with another upstairs."

12:08 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Your friend Ms. Prins was on Max Keiser's show again recently.
Making sense, as usual...still using a bit of eye makeup, but todavia una zorra sin mascara en mi mente.

Somebody need an anthem ?
For all the nostalgiaphiles, from Tea Party nitwits who want to "take back our country" to backward-facing New's a sure-fire smash.

If NJ is too declasse and you want a little UK influence, here's one about hustling and the retail aspects of manufactured consent.


12:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Oops! In colloquial Spanish, zorra means slut. Not gd. Mascara, BTW, doesn't mean mascara; it means mask.



Wafers: here's the article by Bob Kuttner I was referring to:


1:42 PM  
Anonymous klu_loc said...

Philadelphia Police Shot 400 People In 7 Years: DOJ Report

That amounts to about 57 per year. How many people does ISIS kill per year? I tell you, if Americans can have 100 nuclear bombs, then ISIS should possess 2000 or more? The lust for blood is far more in the American mind.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


What gives? The editorial board at the NYT is trying to derail Ted, already. I'm w/you in that Ted could do many great things *to* the country:


Betty Grable/Gams?


What's up w/David Crosby?:

MB, Dawg, Wafers-

What do you get when you cross a Zimdog w/David Crosby?


ps: Zimmerdouche is back in the news:

3:57 PM  
Anonymous JWO said...

David, HA! That was Marilyn Monroe talking about being a sex symbol, though I'm not sure where.

Back at you, which person involved with Marilyn said this: "Don't be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value."?

I've been thinking recently about the relationship between image and text, especially between art and its label. If anyone has read John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" you'll remember this part (which blew my socks off when I read it as a lowly freshperson).

Look at this painting by Van Gogh:


Now, read the below:

This is the last picture that Van Gogh painted before he killed himself.

I know museum curators who absolutely hate to put labels on the walls. They want you to enjoy the work without all that text (and expect you to know what you're looking at). There are others who write labels bigger than the piece of art! I also know that most of the people visiting a museum spend 80% of their time reading labels and 20% actually looking at the art ... so what is your opinion WAF-ers? Label or no label?

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Deluded to the very end said...

Very curious abt the reason u quote "universalist" in this post ....

5:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I have no idea. Just seemed rt, since it's a specialized use of the term. Anyway, I think the meaning is clear enuf. But I certainly wdn't put quotes around "pastrami," I'll grant u that.


I'm very excited abt Cruz. I'm hoping he leaves Hillary with egg on face, moves into the W.H., and accelerates the national suicide. Obama did us a lot of damage, but it was desultory, really, because he had no idea what he was doing. Cruz will launch a cruzade of destruction, and I'm behind him 110%. Hopefully he'll choose Sarah as his Secy of State, and Lorenzo Riggins for Treasury. BTW, this is not a joke: I want him to be president.


Small potatoes. Think what they cd have accomplished with drones and nukes.


6:13 PM  
Anonymous Hugh Melioration said...

MB, Wafers,

On the symbolism front, just saw a report on CBS evening news about a push to get a woman on the 20 $ bill... The usual suspects were bandied about, H. Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, etc., etc. Why not K. Kardashian's posterior or A. Jolie-Pitt's recently extracted ovaries? And why stop at a 20$, invent a whole new currency, a "currency of
collapse", if you will, and it would be money that you purchase but cannot spend...


7:33 PM  
Anonymous Pauli said...

@KJ, you said "The fact that Angelina Jolie getting rid of her ovaries was the third item on today's BBC World News tells me all I need to know about the human race"

This is one thing I learned clearly from the following guy; he put it into historical contexts; he calls it "signs of a decaying empire - love of hedonism, love of spectacles, love of sexual escapes, love of passions and emotions, love of illusions, love of unreal stuffs" - each of these terms can substitute for symbol:

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman & Wafers,

Marilyn it was indeed! When asked how she felt about being a sex symbol, she replied, “I’d rather be a symbol for that than some of the other things they have symbols for.”

Speaking of symbolic people, remember Dan Quayle? He was the stupid symbol 20 or so years ago. How are the mighty fallen in high places; he’d probably be an above average congressman or senator today.

About the power of symbols: My dad was an army officer in the 1930’s and he commanded a number of depression era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps in New Jersey. Once he had to truck all the CCC boys down to Lakehurst NJ because the great airship Hindenburg was visiting (it wasn’t the time it burned) and they didn’t have enough manpower to grab the ropes and maneuver the Zeppelin into position. My mom went along and took pictures. When I tell people the story and go dig out the old pictures of the Hindenburg they seem interested in seeing it. When they actually see the pictures, however, they are shocked, almost horrified to see giant swastikas on the tailfins. They’ll never think about the Hindenburg the same way.

Back in Germany at that time, small swastika lapel pins were felt about and reacted to as American flag pins are in the US today. If it gave you a feeling of disgust, you kept it to yourself.

JWO – re Marilyn: Arthur Miller would know, wouldn’t he? I’ll tell you a story in 24 or so hours.

David Rosen

10:52 PM  
Anonymous John S said...

Maybe it's just me, but Ted Cruz looks and sounds an awful lot like Joe McCarthy. Anyway he's just the kind of man we need. He wears his Puritanical self-righteous religiosity on his sleeve, he is a son of an immigrant who hates immigrants, talks endlessly about the American dream, American exceptionalism (the propaganda and mythology have been thoroughly internalized to a spectacular degree), i.e. the beauties of manifold hustling as the one and only goal of being American, he hates government except that which supports new wars, and new tax breaks to the oligarchs. I do agree that he is being highly underestimated as a candidate. But he so manifests abundantly the typical American values of nihilism, mendacity, belief in the endless frontier of petty greed coupled with a self-loathing yet simultaneous proud religiosity.

10:53 PM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

Hello, everybody. JWO- certainly with Van Gogh no text.. There are paintings of his that I'd like to look at for a very long time- not all.
The massless brothers were cinema verite documentary film makers. There was a double feature on the tv of "Gimme Shelter" which ended with the Altamont concert : one part stoned out audience, one part hells Angels, one part rock bands whipping it into Dionysian mode, combine with lack of planning/logistics and, voila! A really ugly scene. Same year as Woodstock. The latter is a symbol that's way off the mark. It Was a. way for some hippies to make a lot of money.
The second part was "Meet Marlon Brando." He had agreed to do publicity for a film in 1965, and sat for a lot of media interviews, all filmed by the Maysles. What a piece of work that cat was. He expended a lot of energy to preserve his integrity, talked about "hustling" and "hucksterism" instead of doing the happy talk dog and pony show. Lapsed into fluent French and ( apparently) German as the situation called for. he enlisted the input of a passerby on the street, who happened to be a very foxy black woman. Dude was a WAFER! Anyway, highly recommended.

1:01 AM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

I thought this might be interesting:

The final day of the 2015 Haru basho. My commentary is below the video with username "pukulu" :

4:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


We need Kim's ass on the $1 bill. We'll call them tushbucks.


12:05 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

Dear MB et al,
On Joseph Campbell: I would rather be a pagan suckled in a creed outworn (Wordsworth) than in a creed recycled into a week-end “personal growth” experience, like “fire walking” for a gathering of middle class white folks who feel stuck in their jobs or relationships.
Campbell didn’t do that literally, but he was gifted in the art of making myth and Jungian psychology into something oh so consumable. Pick any archetype of your choice and get second one at half price. Or surf the archethypes on your tv with your digital remote. You never have to leave home again to become the person you want to be.
I read he did get into tiff of sorts with Martin Buber whom he deliberately provoked,. I don’t know if he was really an anti-Semite. He was certainly happy in his oversimplifications, sort of a Wayne Dyer of Jungian psychology. When he got into Hindu religions and such he wrote “Why go to India? There it is in my mind.” You don’t even have to move an inch from New York (where he was at the time) because (revelation of revelations--the myth is inside you …wink…wink. Self-satisfied Teflon coated gnosticism.

“Symbology?” I don’t ever recall using that word back when I was in college and grad school. We used “iconology” or “iconography.” I recall hearing “symbology” only once, describing the academic field of Tom Hanks in the film version of “The Da Vinci Code.” But what you and Gopnik and talking about is akin to what is found in Irwin Panofsky’s 1930’s work on Renaissance painting--“Studies in Iconology.” Not only would I rather be a pagan suckled in a creed outworn, but also someone lost in the dense and lush forest of Sixteenth Century Neo-Platonism.

12:45 PM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB and fellow WAFers:

With Ted Cruz, it's a two fer! His wife, is a managing director for...drum roll please....Goldman Sachs. Yesterday, she took leave to support her husband's run to the Presidency. Because she left GS, the Cruz family....
get ready for it.. enrolled into ObamaCare ! Gee, with all that money from GS, you'd think they just go buy a healthcare company.

Ted Cruz, golden populist or another political hack...
you decide!

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Hugh Melioration said...


Paper, inks, and press should be no problem, but we'll require an expert engraver to capture the excruciating essence of K K's glorius rumpus...and maybe even a scratch 'n sniff option, so a chemist familiar with scent engineering is needed. And then there's the ass shaped ATM machines that would dispense of these notes, ( from a slot btwn. the cheeks, natch ). Just imagine the boost to the economy! TushBucks ATM repair men have constant work fixing "constipated" machines...


8:23 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Hi there Dr. Berman and Wafers!

I'm always happy to head back here to the "little blogadillo". Cozy, good company, fancy drinks and great food! (And while Wafers may have wept and gnashed teeth while I was away, I'm sure they were just trying to get away from Kim's giant butt.) "Tushbucks", HA! I like that that. KimmyKash? So much Kimbolism...
As for symbolism, I want to bring up marching bands.

I've dragged myself to team sporting events for years, just to applaud marching band students. Symbolism galore, I know.
Marching bands are obviously used to stir up crowds, promote patriotism, America, war, etc... But I enjoy them.
I like the sound. I know the people who are in them are likely to understand how to cooperate, put forth their best
effort, work out the kinks through repetition, help each other and figure out how to make their common goals
a reality. They really can't leave the heavy lifting to others. A good show band performance is, to me, spectacular.

So Wafers, if you like, here's a link; go on try it:

8:29 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Any comments on this pilot who calmly murdered 150 people by flying a plane into the ground? Any larger story here about how sick German culture is?

9:51 AM  
Anonymous King_Kong said...

analyse this symbolism for me:

Prosecutor: Germanwings Co-Pilot Appears To Have Crashed Plane Deliberately

What does this mean?
What does it symbolize?
DR B - how do you know that when next time you fly back to USA that your co-pilot will not be a secret terrorist?
More questions than answers

11:20 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

What in heaven's name explains this?:

MB once remarked that if you split American's heads open with an axe, you'll find actual dog poop packed inside...

And speaking of dog poop:

Meanwhile, this looks like it might be worth a Wafer listen:


1:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Great story, abt the dog-do. Check out Amy Goldberg's face: This is the face of America today. It's also great that this is the sort of stuff Americans concern themselves with. I predict a great future for this country.


All Americans are terrorists, no? They are destroying the country on a daily basis.

Clearly, Ted needs to pick Kim as his running mate. That's symbology 4u.

I'm currently in Mexico City, hanging out with friends. An hr ago, I was sitting outside a cafe in a quiet part of town, drinking my cap with leche light, and next to me was some guy, abt 45, with 2 bks on the little table next to him. Mind u, this is not a chic or university part of town; just ordinary folk. One bk was Brothers Karamazov; other, Nietzsche's Human, All Too Human--both in Spanish trans, of course. And I thought: if I were sitting at an ordinary cafe in the US, what wd be the chances that John Q. Public wd be reading bks like these? Roughly negative infinity?


4:21 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

One of the most recognized transportation symbols in mid-20th century America was the red keystone herald of the Pennsylvania Railroad, a mighty corporation extending from downtown Manhattan to Chicago and St. Louis. Of course, Pennsylvania, the "Keystone State," was once one of the most powerful states in the Union, with its coal, iron, and oil- second only to New York State in wealth and political power; one would expect it to have had great public transportation. Alas, Pennsylvania also has the dubious distinction of having produced the consistently lowest-rated US president, James Buchanan, 1857-1861. Recent presidential candidates from Pennsylvania (Rick Santorum, for one) have not inspired the masses to bring Pennsylvania back to the forefront.

At any rate, Pennsylvania can be proud of its glory days; Pennsylvanians created and built the last steam locomotive type designed to exceed 100 mph, seen here in this 1940s photo, with its keystone symbols of power proudly emblazoned on the front and flanks-

This photo, to me, represents the USA at its zenith, never to be surpassed, but also never-to-be-repeated. The Pennsylvania Railroad turned to ashes, and high-speed trains in the USA are now just a memory or a fantasy.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I suspect Buchanan, Millard Fillmore, and Obama will go down in history as the Dreck Trio of the American presidency.

Meanwhile, abt 5 yrs ago some high-powered educational organization in NYC contacted me abt being on a commission to fix the American educational system. What a joke; Thos Friedman was on the commission. Yeah, they were gonna do a lot. I wrote back that the ed. system cdn't be fixed because it was broken, and it was broken because America was broken. Of course I never heard back from them again. And now there's this:

I wonder if that shmuck is thinking of me today, saying, "Gee, that guy turned out to be rt." Probably not. They are probably developing another commission to fix everything, with Friedman on the masthead. Wafers, why is it that 'progressives' never learn anything?

To get some relief from all this foolishness, I went to the gym and plugged my Walkman into the Beach Boys. Now u guys tell me this isn't the most symbolic song ever penned in the history of the world (roll over, Beethoven):

"Help me Rhonda
Help, help me Rhonda
Help me Rhonda
Help, help me Rhonda
Help me Rhonda
Help, help me Rhonda
Help me Rhonda
Help, help me Rhonda
Help me Rhonda
Help, help me Rhonda
Help me Rhonda
Help, help me Rhonda
Help me Rhonda yeah
Git 'er outta my heart!"


7:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: This I really like:

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Al B. Tross said...

Mr. Riggins has some stiff presidential competition:

7:33 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Callin' All Wafers:

A good friend of ours is caught in the jaws of the system...

I just listened to a harrowing interview with Ken Rose and a few of his friends. As many of you are probably aware, Ken suffered and survived a serious stroke in late January; a few weeks after interviewing Dr. Berman, in fact. Ken is now being held in a psychiatric ward in Gardner, Massachusetts. Apparently, somewhere in Ken's medical history was information about him having suicidal tendencies and depression. On that basis, he is being kept under observation and medicated with anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety drugs. At any rate, things do not look good for Ken as he was basically pleading for someone to come bust him out of the psych ward... Please visit his website,, and get a fuller picture of his dilemma.

Also, if the spirit moves you, please consider contributing to Ken's medical recovery fund. Thanks so much.


7:45 PM  
Anonymous John S said...

Basically Obama is yet another in the long line of Reaganites. They all have been since - hire bankers to run the treasury, deregulate, promote radical free trade agreements, protect companies from taxation, etc. etc. etc. I know the rhetoric seems the opposite, but the reality is the same. It won't matter if Hillary Clinton or Ted Cruz is the next president, they will all bow down to Reaganomics. The chance that someone like Elizabeth Warren could become president are less than negative infinity, even if she were to foolishly choose to bother to run. It wouldn't matter anyway, since she would be Jimmy Carter-ed out in a second or impeached if it ever were to occur in some deluded fantasy. Reagan not FDR is the most impactful president of the 20th century.

But it's not just America, look at all the right wingers that run parliamentary democracies around the world from Britain, to Australia, to Germany, to Canada, to Japan, even if their right wingers are mild compared to the American forms. Even so called leftists like Dilma and Lula in Brazil run the country like corporatists catering to the 1 percenters just like America. The left has been dead probably since 1968, except for a few miscellaneous irrelevant movements here and there. Just some positive thoughts.

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Manu said...

@Miles Deli

Thanks for your links.

Dr B and everyone one else should watch the following video and then listen to the second audio - you will thank Miles Deli if you do. They are both related in content - if you think deeply:



The guy who wrote the book "The Age Of Acquiescence" said this:

"They are working all the time; no job security; no pension; no time to think or protest or (take care of their children); hence exhaustion. (Hence children in America raise themselves)

Good stuff?

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

MB - really, you gotta look at the bright side. Drug cartels paying for DEA sex parties seems like a huge savings for the American taxpayer, to me. We should petition the DEA to start a committee to examine this new strategy.

A lot of this symbology stuff is running past me. How does it relate to Jung's archetypes? Does Jung's work fall into the same category as Campbell's, that it's great as art but poor scholarship?

Not to be too off-topic, but MB, in a lecture done in 2000 on the Twilight of American Culture - but now streaming on CSPAN's site - you cautioned against relying on comparisons to Rome's fall since things are now more globalized. Your point was basically that back then, if Rome fell it wouldn't really matter to nations on the other side of the world, but now things are far more interconnected.

Given the past 15 years, do you have any other thoughts on this?

12:40 AM  
Anonymous waferina said...

Ohio Mom April Corcoran Traded 11-years old Daughter For Heroin: Prosecutors

1:33 AM  
Blogger Presentable Liberty said...

Nothing says American family than two generations arguing about a job where supervisors are bullies, the pay is terrible, and just maybe a job in an nursing home is just a psychological truma waiting to happen. So much a nuclear family a foundation if society to put into symbolic perspective.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous nick pearson said...

Considering what you had to say about the quality Joseph Campbell's scholarly method I'm curious what your take is on the late U. of Chicago polymath Mircea Eliade's scholarly method might be. I'm assuming you have read at least a few of his many books on comparative religion. My own opinion is that Eliade succeeded in a serious treatment of many of the issues the Campbell skimmed in a more or less journalistic manner. Eliade was able to work in huge number of languages, something like twenty-five or more. Just look at his bibliographies in Yoga Immortality and Freedom and his comparative works on Shamanism and Alchemy.

8:01 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...


I attended a corporate charity auction yesterday in London held by one of the biggest companies in the UK. The money was being raised for two charities aiming to "bring relief to young people through the power of technology". One of these charities aims to get every single pupil in the country a tablet. When presenting the charity on stage, one of the execs said "we cannot believe that many children still don't have access to all the great things technology brought us". As long as schools will be using books instead of tablets, it seems like these guys will never stop. The audience in the room listened as reverently as if they were in a church.

O&D folks, O&D.


9:07 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Cdn't run it; too long.


I remember being invited to a conference like that yrs ago hosted by the National Academy of Sciences. I think I was the only person in the rm whose eyes weren't glazed. As I keep saying on this blog, a high IQ is no guarantee against moronhood.


Check ftnotes to Wandering God. Eliade also got things very wrong, anthropologically speaking, by trying to force them into a preconceived thesis. His membership in some Fascist organization in Romania--Iron Cross, I think it was--also doesn't say much in his favor.


For critique of Jung check out Wandering God. As for global interconnections: well, we saw what happened in 2008, altho Scandanavia and China were more or less protected, by being somewhat apart from the world capitalist system.


Shaneka Torres has my vote to be Ted Cruz's running mate. Jesus, look at that face: u.r. looking into the face of America, without a doubt. Go Shaneka!


Thanks a million for this info. WAFERS: Please go to
and think abt making a donation. I shall be doing this shortly, myself.
Ken is a gd guy, and needs our help.


12:24 PM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Wafers and Dr. Berman:


Thank you for spreading the word on Ken Rose's behalf. Heartbreaking reality. Wafers will know what to do.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Hello all. Sadly, Mr. Rose's situation is not unique. Fortunately--he has friends and people who admired his work. Lets indeed do what we can.

Reflecting on progressives can't help but think that in a way they exemplify the notion of John Gray's pursuit of the enlightenment project--in his view the animating faith of the U.S. The belief in that history, culture, nations and traditional bonds do not matter. Rather some wholly abstract set of rules and notions which should be applied universaly to everyone and everywhere. The progressives and their conservative fellow travelers are thus of a piece in their faith based mission. Building something wholly from some abstract notions of progress, democracy, capitalism and equalitarianism is idiotic and the the folly of this is obvious. In a way this tendency tends to marginalize the individual and true life--all a dull gray ideal of people voting, using apps and only superficially diverse in a united colors of benetton kind of way. Even the smarter progressives (and the conservatives who share a faith but differ on emphasis) are incredibly boring, tedious and actually dangerous. Despite protestations to the contrary, the progressives are a religous lot. Throw in the enlightenment project and add one part "society of the spectacle" and you have the U.S. and UK.

6:35 PM  
Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of Stephen Jenkinson and it's good to see he's talking with Ken. I haven't heard it yet, but will listen to it tomorrow. I'm reading his book "Die Wise" right now and it's not bad, though not as earth shattering to me as when I first heard about Jenkinson on the Extraenvironmentalist Podcast episode 51 ( and later in episode 80. It changed my view on a lot of things and is definitely recommended.

The Extraenviornmentalist guys do good work, and of course, Dr. Berman spoke with them last year or the year before I think. (Episodes 60 and 64 if my Internet search is correct).

2:17 AM  
Anonymous KJ said...

Dr B, I arrived in Japan a few days ago. First trip. You immediately realise that the west has definitely lost the meaning of courtesy and respect. Of course the cynic would say it is all "just" formal, but formality is the essence of it. When it comes to manners doing it is meaning it. Fascinating country. I look forward to picking up your book on it.

9:28 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

I haven't checked to see whether this book has previously been discussed/recommended here, so forgive me if it has.

I'm a couple of chapters into The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (2007). It's Weisman's thought experiment on what the planet would become/revert to once man has disappeared. This book was followed up by Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth (2014). Next on my list, I suspect.

WAFers may find the two worth some of their reading time.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

JWO & Wafers,

Re: Marilyn and Arthur Miller

I promised you a Marilyn and Arthur story “in 24 or so hours” – well, here it is after an extended ‘so’.

While teaching an advanced medical English course at the Health Sciences College at Kuwait University in 1989, one of my best Kuwaiti students asked me for a more literary book to read in English. Our vice dean for academic affairs once defined a Kuwaiti as “someone who would rather die than read 10 pages,” so I looked for something short and came up with Arthur Miller’s “A View from the Bridge.”

The next day I took a minute and asked her to read a page with some colloquial language and tell me what it meant – which she could do, so I knew she’d be okay. Then I noticed that the rest of the class was crowded around excitedly discussing the book in Arabic. I asked what they found interesting, and they exclaimed, “Arthur Miller was married to Marilyn Monroe!”

These, mostly female students tended to be quite conservative, and while they were simultaneously fascinated and repelled by American culture, they detested our exploitation of sexuality which they consider to be disgustingly pornographic. But they knew all about MM!

Marilyn was clearly an exception in their eyes, and over the years I realized that she was known and admired by Kuwaiti women in general. And, in case you didn’t know it, Arab men tend to like zaftig women anyway.

Indeed, Marilyn was a special symbol.

David Rosen

3:06 PM  
Blogger Francis johnstone said...

The science of symbols, indeed a complex subject well worthwhile discussing as its potential depth is commonly overlooked. The work of Warburg seems concerned with the symbolism inherent in human gestures and poses, as it is manifest in several artworks of the Renaissance. In any case, this particular form of symbolism probably has roots in the iconic signs that are in use in the animal kingdom at large and in ancient art as well. Incidentally, the imagery pertaining to the archeological site of Göbekli Tepe depicts many types of animals carved in limestone. These representations suggest various poses evoking ferocity and strength. The assemblage of massive pillars (5 tons) and stonewalls is thought to have been built about 11,000 years ago by hunter-gatherers, long before Stonehenge or the pyramid of Giza. The construction of this first known humanly built temple would have started before agriculture. This suggests that, at least in this case, organized religion and/or ritual gave birth to farming. Given his comprehensive knowledge of nomadic spirituality, I wondered if Professor Berman would like to share some thoughts on both the historical and the symbolic aspect of the artwork of Göbekli Tepe.

2:44 AM  
Anonymous John S said...

A quick take on past discussion on Pinker. If we grant that on the whole he has his facts correct, that factually the broad trend is violence has declined, the question remains why? I don't think it is science and reason. Like many academics Pinker has a very distorted view of the power of science and reason. I mean look at all the science and reason behind evolution and global warming, yet creationism is rampant and we have yet to do virtually anything to address global warming even with the overwhelming evidence for its looming catastrophic effects. The real reason violence has decreased is it is not good for business. The trend is for propagandizing people to be docile and be mindless consumers is much more effective that killing. Making the majority of people in the world into wage slaves is much easier to manage that actual slavery. You can kill a few people here and there with drone strikes to deliver an effective message or just marginalize and ignore anyone who even slightly thinks outside the faux capitalist reality. Opposing anti-gay discrimination, is more about good business, than actually caring about gays. The less discrimination, the more sales you get. So violence may indeed have decreased, but it may be because it is a less effective way to control people that it was in the past.

12:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, but it's also the case that he doesn't have his facts correct, except in a narrow sense. Check out the review by John Gray.


Thanks for your contribution. I really don't know much abt it, to be honest. Major problem is that I was writing "Wandering God" 20 yrs ago, and once it was done I never looked back. So I don't think I can be of much help on this particular issue.


12:34 PM  
Anonymous Hugh Melioration said...

MB, Wafers,

A recomendation for a film chock full of symbolism,
Alejandro Jodorowsky's "The Holy Mountain", 1973.
Strange, uglifull, surreal. There's a full length version
up on youtube.


2:49 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Good day MB and Wafers,

Here's an interesting essay and review about a new book that argues that 1995 was a pivotal year in the US for a number of reasons. I haven't read the book yet, but it does look intriguing:


4:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Then there's this:

7:00 PM  
Anonymous waferinIL said...

Dr. B,
I finished reading Neurotic Beauty and enjoyed it. I need to think about it for awhile, lots of interesting material there. In the meantime, I invite wafers to ponder the symbolism of "rolling coal":

Yes "progressives", THOSE are among the people you wish to save....

12:39 AM  
Anonymous John S said...

Thanks, my main point on Pinker is that he reflects a common academic delusion that somehow science and reason = progress. Just watched the new documentary on scientology Going Clear. Just substitute the world scientology with "American Dream" and L Ron Hubbard with "John Galt", and you have a perfect parallel with American values as presented by any garden variety self-help book or business bestseller. Is L Ron Hubbard any more of a huckster and destroyer of real human beings, than say Steve Jobs, when you really get down to the facts.

2:55 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


No argument there. Problem is that modernity and progress carry their own propaganda with them (not all of it untrue, of course), so it's hard for the average person to see thru the snow job. It's also hard for most intellectuals, like Pinker, 2c thru it.


Glad u enjoyed NB. Pls give us yr feedback at some later pt. BTW, current US population is 320 million, and they are clueless. Current # of registered Wafers is 159, and they are the only ones who are clued in. Therefore, it's very impt to capitalize Wafers, as a tribute to our (unrecognized) greatness; and of course to this blog, which is the only one worth reading.


12:49 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

John S-

Good observation. I watched this documentary as well and couldn't help thinking that the delusion of Scientology parallels the mass delusion of the American Dream. We need a Wafer documentary on the American Dream. We could call it, "Going Nowhere Fast: Forget You, I Got Mine!"

Meanwhile, I just heard a stunning statistic: on average, American kids spend less than 10 minutes per day outside and up to 10 hours each day interacting w/various screens. Mental health experts and physicians have linked numerous psychological and physical issues, from ADHD to childhood depression, to this phenomenon. Welcome to a terrifying future, Wafers. The author (Dr. Scott Sampson "How to Raise a Wild Child") goes on to say that in order to *possibly* save the environment, the first step is to get the little vitamin D deficient kids outside and into nature...



4:37 PM  
Anonymous Seeking Sanity said...

Here's a nice essay about workaholic Americans that most Wafers should enjoy:

8:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, cdn't run it. We have a rule here abt maximum of one post every 24 hrs. Hence, wait a bit, and re-send. Thank you.


2:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


We just made it to 160 registered Wafers! I'm fainting with joy. Divide that # by 320 million, and you have the % of intelligent people currently alive in the US. Whee!


4:19 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and fellow Wafers,


160 Wafers! The world applauds our progress and the Americans are beginning to prattle, quaver, and twerk. Congrats, MB! I wish I could send U a chocolate egg cream.

MB, Wafers-

American in Action Dept.:

Be sure to watch the clip. Why didn't the cop just drag the Uber driver from his car and execute him on the street? The NYPD is going soft on us, Wafers.


6:02 PM  
Anonymous John WAFer said...

Dr. B,

What do u make of the rhetoric coming from some of us WAFer's fav 'left' thinkers, such as Max Blumenthal, who is comparing what is going on in Israel right now to the Third Reich, and is smearing Ayaan Hirsi Ali 4 her new bk on Islam, which to be honest, seems 2 b brave writing, and much more tolerant ("Reformation", is in the title) than her previous efforts.

I would also love to see SOMEONE here reply to Pinker's response to John Gray. Everyone is calling Pinker names, says he doesn't get it, etc. And, frankly, I'm a little disappointed to not see some more evidence-based argument. I'm usually all 4 John Gray, Max Blumenthal etc, but seems like some of our fav thinkers are losing small battles.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous Tim Sensei said...

After listening to Morris Berman in "Japan as a Post-Capitalist Model" on The Extraenvironmentalist podcast, and seeing reference to a "Japan book" for a while on this blog, I was waiting with baited breath for the release of Neurotic Beauty. I don't seem to be able to finish books that long, but finish this one I did, so sad to get to the last page that I've been following up the links referenced in the notes. I was tempted to jump straight to Chapter 7, also called "Japan as a Post-Capitalist Model," but all the other chapters were so fascinating and helpful in giving me a structure by which to see things I pretty much already knew that I went straight in order. Having given up hope on America since about six months into Obama's presidency when I realized that the best that liberals could do was commit a massive fraud on the American people (yes, it took me that long); seeing the dead-end of resource depletion and crony capitalism (i.e., capitalism); dabbling in organic gardening; having lived in Japan in the past, and, as of two weeks ago, living here again mostly for family reasons; having a Japanese mother, a Japanese wife, an abiding interest in rural Japanese design, and a soft spot for the Edo Period, I was, you could say, primed for this book. At first, the title was a tiny bit off-putting, even if the neurosis is inescapable, but I quickly realized from the book that what is neurotic about the Japanese is the extent that they've been influenced by the West, particularly the U.S. It's so obvious in the rush to pave the countryside, replace communities with strip malls, and name things in English, among a thousand other things. Not to belittle the positive things from the West--let's see, modern dentistry and four-part harmony come to mind--but the general arc of it appears to dead-end. I'm hoping to make my own contribution to post-capitalist Japan as a "half farmer, half X" along the lines proposed by Naoki Shiomi, the half farmer, half educator/publisher from Kyoto Prefecture. I am a language teacher by profession and I see Japanese and foreigners coming to my organic farm to work and learn each other's languages from me and each other. That's the ostensible "X" for me, but underneath that is a desire to show others and myself that there is a life worth having living sustainably in a sustainable community, and that that life isn't yet one more thing they have to copy from the West. This book helps me move in that direction, so thank you, Morris Berman.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Looks like *yr* the sensei, not me, so many thanks for yr input; it was really great to hear.


Those are valid pts, but I haven't kept up on the debates, 2b honest with u, so perhaps other Wafers can help u out. The Gray thing: I'm sure he can speak for himself, in this latest round, altho I think he did a gd job of debunking Pinker previously, myself. The crucial issue is the *context* of P's facts. As for Blumenthal: if yr rt, that's a sad development. His bk was terrific, I thought, so I hope he doesn't start discrediting himself.


1:00 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Re: Steven Pinker's book

John WAFer-

If you think about it, the entire enterprise of comparing rates of violence across millennia is an incredibly difficult thing to do. Humans have been around for at least 200 thousand years and for most of that time left *no* written records whatsoever. And once they started to to do so, the records that they left were pretty thin to say the least. So, I don't know, from an historical perspective, how Pinker can prove that the ancient past was any more violent than our current modern age.

Of course, a cursory examination and study of humanity's past does show incredible rates of violence and destruction, but Pinker's core argument is that historical trends associated w/modernity have *diminished* human violence. This is also an incredible stretch and difficult thing to prove thru straight data on numbers of people killed. This is where Gray really takes Pinker to task; as Gray basically states that modernity=violence. Indeed, if anything, it seems to me, thoroughly modern states have been pretty busy figuring out ways to blow the world to smithereens in pretty efficient ways. Just look at the trail of destruction in both World Wars. Furthermore, modern states are instigators and manufacturers of violence on a massive scale; think of the recent Congo War (5 million KIA), proxy wars among larger powers, and the war on terror. At one point in the book, Pinker seemed to brush off the Nazi campaign against the Jews as nothing more than Hitler and a few fanatics. This is a falsification of history. Daniel Goldhagen's book about ordinary German's participation and culpability in the Holocaust deserves serious consideration before making such a claim.

I don't necessarily think that Gray loses the argument based on Pinker's rebuttal. Anyway, just my two cents on it. In terms of Blumenthal, who knows? Sad to say, many on the left do say things like this... What's the dictum that says that all conversations eventually lead to Hitler and the Nazis? A good way to close off dialogue, it seems to me.


4:37 PM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all WAFers Worldwide,

I believe John W above has passed along some slander from the neocon magazine "Weekly Standard" regarding Max Blumenthal and his issues with Hirsi Ali, a well know neocon, herself employed at the American Enterprise Institute. Why did the weekly Standard go after Blumenthal? Because he authored an article which exposed Hirsi Ali, see here: .

When put into context, Blumenthal accounts for himself quite well. And that part and comparing Israel to the Nazis' because of several chapter headings, i.e., Chapter titles such as “The Concentration Camp” and “The Night of Broken Glass” which of course is pointing out certainly some ironic parallels of history. Go read Goliath for yourself.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I thought you might be interested in a conversation I had with a friend at work yesterday. I mentioned I might move to England at some point in the future she asked me where it was! After previously being asked by a different co-worker if I would have to learn a new language, I should not have been amazed to hear she thought England was in France - yes, France. Then asked me what continent it was on, taking a wild guess with Asia. I am not making up one word of this. In what had to be the understatement of the year she said "I never was very good at geography." But at that point I was impressed she even knew what geography was.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

My own view of Pinker is that he might be right, but for the wrong reasons. Which is to say that I think humanity is probably capable of improving its behaviour, but it won't be on an upward progressive trajectory of lifestyle improvements.

It will be the same way that individuals improve, by maturing and learning the hard way, the school of hard knocks etc.

Just as individuals mature, I think it might be that a species as a body can mature. This will be a much longer-term process than Pinker imagines, and it will probably be so slow as to be imperceptible.

Not that I'm saying that the improvement of humanity's behaviour will necessarily happen, or will happen at all, but I think it's a possibility that shouldn't be dismissed by a commitment to an over-determined cyclical vision of history.

Much as I enjoy John Gray throwing buckets of cold water over the denizens of TED, he is somewhat Mr. Over-Determination in my view.

6:57 AM  
Anonymous John S said...

Pinker is essentially saying, look at the numbers, look at all the charts in my massive book. It would take a study in itself to go through all of that and validate it or not. I have read that some reviewers have critiqued some of his sources which understate deaths of some conflicts like the Iraq war. I know in the past Pinker has quoted with approval writers like Thomas Sowell, yeah the right wing guy who has bloviated in the past defenses for Limbaugh etc., though has written supposedly "balanced" tomes on culture which isn't surprising given Pinker's libertarian leanings. Leaving these points aside, I'm willing to grant that there is probably some substance to the claim that violence has declined over time, but I'm much less convinced that this is due to science and reason. I think the larger narrative is the growth of global capitalism, which uses science and reason to make better gadgets when it is convenient, but the end purpose isn't to better humanity but profitability the real driver of civilization. Science and reason helped pave the way for the industrial revolution, which did in time relieve for some people very labor intensive work and probably contributed to the end of slavery, but these benefits were not the goal, they were side effects of the growth of capitalism. Thomas Piketty's new book Capital, is full of just as many charts and data as Pinker, and I would dare say he would have a very different view of what forces shape world history based on a large collection of facts. So it's not the facts I have as much problem with, but the dangerous naive worldview of Pinker, which greatly overstates the role of science and reason in shaping history. Just look at the latest Indiana religious freedom law SNAFU, notice that changes are being proposed primarily because some big corporations don't approve. Though I applaud this, one can clearly see what is driving things. If a governor decided to lower corporate taxes in a state, could you dream of a group of companies protesting because it was immoral to lower their community responsibilities, like they did with this issue.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

America in a nutshell-

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Paula said...

DR B, help us to understand this madness. Why would a teacher or principal change test results? Is it about making more in salary or about helping the students learn or about something else? What is the purpose of education anyway?

"Yes, that's right, in the most recent scandal of its kind, a group of educators, including one principal and a number of school administrators, were caught altering the results of one of those daffy standardized tests that now subsume the lion's share of all pedagogical opportunities in America's public schools. Only this time, some are saying that this is a huge story and the biggest development in American education law since forever"

1:31 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

"I fought the war from the cockpit of a Zero, and can still remember the faces of those I killed."
~ Kaname Harada

Please see more of Mr. Harada:


Jesus, what a story! A wonderful example of the emptiness and stupidity of the American people. As a Wafer, the first order of business is to pull peoples' heads out of their asses, but in yer case there are simply no heads to extract!


11:32 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


To find the answer, cherchez l'argent. That's always the key to it, in America; nothing else matters.


11:54 AM  
Anonymous John WAFer said...

Thanks for the replies about Pinker, guys.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous anagramist said...


As an aside,did you know that Wafers rule is an anagram of Surreal few.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...


"What is the purpose of education anyway?"

There are veritable legions of baristas, grocery store baggers, and fry cooks--many of them sleeping in their old rooms in their parents' homes--who are asking the same question.

And they're PLENTY pissed, I can tell you.

5:46 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Golf Pro,

There could have been somebody like Pinker who could have made the same argument in Summer of 1913--war had been declining for the prior 40 years and death in battle was lower than in the prior history etc. That notion soon came to naught.

John Gray is not a determinist--to call him such betrays a lack of understanding or Gray's Oevue. If anything, Pinker is more of a determinst as he clearly believes in progress in accordance with most enightenment thinkers and progressives. Gray, along with Montaigne, Norman Cohn, Earasus and Spinoza are NOT enlightenment thinkers nor deterministic in any way. A Gray fan will point out that Napoleons invasion of Russia was recognized as a huge mistake and was chronicled best by Clauswitcz the german war strategist and historian, in a history of a german regiment defeated by the russians an intererogator asks the surviving germans--hey did any of your read any Clauswitcz? Did the fellows devising the Afghanistan war every read of Vietnam? Best read on debunking Pinker--Talebs Long Peace Illusion. Those of you noting the tables be aware that there are statisticians now using Pinkers work as an example of what not to do!!! Gray's genius in critiquing Pinker is the apt use of via negativa. Pinker provides a history with tables over time and its a story and thus has a theme and when you have a theme well you exclude all others (see Popper we "we really don;t know anything") Also, everyone knows (except Pinker) that use of statistics over time is frought with Peril. ie. no nukes or an interlocked global economy where millions can be starved by sanctions in 1927 but today its well different etc.... Read Talebs and others critique and if you can be so kind as I have read most of Grays work point me to where he turns Deterministic (as an accolyte of Berlin, and a gentle skeptic and ebracer of true human nature I don;t see that as possible but am open to evidence)

10:34 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings all,

Oops, my last post should read people's heads...not peoples' heads. Jesus, I'd better extract my own head.

Livin' on Tulsa time:



10:48 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Wafer, not WAFer. Thanks.


I like it!

Meanwhile, I'd like to revisit the Shaneka Torres incident:

I'm now of the opinion that she shd be running for pres, and that Cruz shd be on the ticket as her VP. Shaneka Torres IS America, and that's gd enuf for me (be sure to enlarge the pic of her face). Whew!


6:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I just spoke with Ken Rose, who is now being held at the Wood Mill Center in Lawrence, MA. He's scared shitless, is drugged up to the eyeballs, and thinks he's going to die. He asked me to help him, but I cd find only one contact on the web site, namely Stephen Jenkinson. So I wrote him, am waiting for a reply, but in the meantime: do you have any info on this? Is there a group trying to get Ken relocated to a smaller facility? He sounded pretty desperate, and I'd like to help; but I'm a million miles away, and don't know who else to contact. Thanks.


7:01 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

I like how that article about Shaneka Torres describes her as "bacon-crazed."

The term reminds me of an old David Steinberg line: "Pork makes you stupid."

I tried out that gag myself on a "progressive" forum not long ago and was met with defensive confusion. Nobody got the joke.

Have you heard about this?

Pastrami panic the latest surge in global food prices

Is this some sort of anti-Wafer backlash, now that the Powers-That-Be recognise the threat to their domain represented by the World Wafish Conspiracy?

I don't know anything about Ken Rose, but geez, he seems to be getting the Soviet "insane asylum/gulag" treatment.


8:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


What's next, chopped liver? Yes, the Power Elite is running scared. C. Wright Mills wd be proud of what we're doing on this blog, I'm pretty sure. As for Ken, I'm doing my best to work behind the scenes, see if he can't get some much needed help. Jeff has been v. helpful w/this as well.


9:13 PM  
Blogger plbodden said...

are there really only 160 of us?!

10:40 PM  
Anonymous John S said...

To the topic, to me good symbolism is a form of fiction which is aimed at truth. This sounds bizarre, so let me attempt to explain. When we read a novel or watch a movie, inevitably we are obviously engaging in a fictionalized account of reality. A life cannot be covered in 500 pages or two hours obviously, but more simply characters in a movie or a book don’t actually sound like real people talk. They are heavily edited conceits to move plots forward, entertain or reveal characters. If we read books based on real conversations, with all the stammering, pauses and misstatements, it would be unendurable to read. But human activities like history are also forms of fiction too. First history is a reconstruction of the past, which even if based on a fairly solid set of facts, inevitably must restrict itself to a subset of facts and be an interpretation of facts. Think of Bill Clinton biographies, depending on the source with the same set of facts he can come across as a pretty impressive president or kind of a schmuck. Even human memory involves fictionalizing given that personal memories are reconstructions of the past which inevitably involve biases and misapprehensions which have been very well documented by psychologists. So inevitably any interpretation of reality including our own pasts involves fictionalizing if we are honest. But still given all of this a goal of human life should be the search for truth or reality behind these fictions. With this there are good and bad kinds of fiction. Bad fiction like history taught in most US high schools is aimed not at truth but propaganda and myth making. This occurs when the fictionalizing becomes self reinforcing and aimed at creating mythologies like the endless frontier, the self made man, Abraham Lincoln and the north freed the slaves, American exceptionalism, etc etc. Joseph Campbell for the most part represents bad symbolism as you point out because much but not all of his works involve cherry picking world mythology to create cardboard heroic figures which we could all emulate like any Tony Robbins bestseller. This explains how George Lucas was inspired by Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, to create the admittedly entertaining but infantile Star Wars series with standard Manichean cardboard good and evil characters, which of course was tremendously successful because of it. Contrast this with, say Melville’s Moby Dick, which at the time of the writing was poorly received, and only sold a couple thousand copies in Melville’s lifetime, a good sign that the book was not in lock stock with the dominant culture of the time. Even with the rediscovery and revival of Moby Dick in the 20th century, the book still remains one of those books everyone claims to know about but few have actually read. But Moby Dick is a great book because it is an example of the use of symbolism – for example the whale, to represent something beyond itself, nature, god or reality, as well as many other things perhaps the real future of the USA. Like most great fiction, characters like Ishmael or Ahab don’t talk like any real people you have ever met but in a strange way seem more real than any person you have ever met. It’s good symbolism because it uses fiction to point beyond itself to reality, which like the whale cannot be ultimately grasped, and also because like reality there is no one correct reading, it can be a simple tale of a whale expedition, about revenge, about the human quest for truth or any number of other things. I doubt that Melville even knew what the book was about, it reads like it came from his unconscious.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


All very true, and thanks for yr input; but pls in future limit yr posts to abt half a page--in other words, compress this post by abt a third (or more). We thank u4 yr understanding.


A scary thought, I know. There are 160 registered Wafers, but the blog gets abt 35,000 hits/month. However, a lot of those are probably bots, i.e. programmed cybernetic hits; so I have no idea as to how visible we really are. Not very, I wd imagine. Most 'thinking' in the US is mechanical, formulaic, and this certainly includes 'progressives'--definitely a Manichaean bunch. 'Both/and' doesn't screen very well in the American mind, any more than paradox or nuance. Or to put it another way, if you are seriously involved in Waferthought, very few Americans will be able to understand you, regardless of their IQ. The drawbacks are severe: you won't have many (or any) friends, and it's not likely you'll get laid. Upside: you won't be pissing yr life away on illusions.


12:18 AM  
Anonymous Rusty Snag said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

al-Qa'bong's last post about how humor falls on deaf ears in America really hit home for me. I have observed what I think is the gradual decline and eventual fall of humor in America. In a time of great dysfunction when humor would be a valuable survival mechanism, it is diminishing. I love hearing a good joke and I love to tell them, but in the past year or so I notice how few Americans "get it". I've pretty much given up trying to keep things on the light side. Try using satire in a blog post and you'll be met with unbelieving derision in most cases. It's truly sad; I miss belly-laughing on a daily basis. However, if you want to talk for half an hour about the latest thing Bill O'Reilly or Rachel Maddow said, you can always find some willing idiot. Count me out on that.

8:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Esp. among young people. If yr in a checkout line at the supermkt and try to joke w/the cashier, s/he gets very nervous. Tina Fey did a parody of this in "Mean Girls," when she makes a joke w/adolescents working in a video store, and they just stare at her. 'Progressives', of course, are notoriously grim (of any age).
All of this is new in America; happened over last 20 yrs or so.


9:28 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...


I have copies of John Gray's "Black Mass" and "Straw Dogs". While much that he has to say is very worthwhile, at base he is an atheist materialist who thinks that pretty much any outlook other than atheist materialism, while possibly psychologically helpful, is a cowardly evasion of the apparently cold, hard fact that when we die that is the end of our consciousness.

I think this makes him deterministic, because as far as I see it, we don't know what will happen when we die, and indeed can't know what will happen. Also, only someone from the privileged, pampered West would believe that e.g. re-incarnation is preferable to total non-existence.

Again, I wasn't defending Pinker's methodology. It's just that sometimes, statistically, idiots can be right when wiser men are wrong.

11:02 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB, Wafers-

I tell ya, we don't need *another* reason to emigrate, but the situation that Ken Rose finds himself in should be regarded as a big one... Jesus, what a terrible fate for a guy who actually gave a damn about the planet and what is happening to this country, yes? I recall an early conversation MB had w/Ken about his emigration to Mexico and the fact that he found a new life there. Ken seemed to take all this in very quietly and contemplatively. I could be wrong, but it seemed that Ken would've liked to make an exit as well. So tragic.

Anyway, here's some good advice:

1. Continue to consult your Post-it notes.

2. Eat your fruit & veggies.

3. Hit the road and don' look back!


1:57 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Golf Pro,

What you call determinism is not what I and others (and dictionaries) term determinism. Namely that humans have no free will and some outside force guides our lives etc. It seems you object to Gray as not believing in an afterlife? Your characterization of him as a "Atheist Materialist" seems also off base and though am not clear what it means, persons like Gray are not aggressive believers and if anything he is a indifference unbeliever much like his mentor Berlin who though secular showed what is common among many of us raised in Jewish culture--an indifference to the notion of an afterlife. His immortalization Commission is a neat book on the west and sciences obsession with cheating death--its quite fascinating. Like Gray many of us are not wet to the idea of an afterlife, reports and hard data are well scant. That an afterlife provides some solace to the downtrodden may be the case but not likely to be helpful in the present--or ever. Frankls Logotherapy and much of other traditions probably more useful that seeing a tunnel and having sex with 76 virgins or is it Virgnians?

As I noted in saying that Pinker could have made his argument in 1913 or that the Germans did not learn from Napoleons fiasco and repeated it, Gray notes that we humans are incorrigible never learn and indeed beliefs in notions of aftelife lead to wanting to crash planes in buildings or of enduring abuse and suffering---or as my old man said--a silly idea leading to a lot of trouble.

4:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Move over Shaneka Torres, here comes Melissa Jacobson:

Now *this* is presidential material!


5:48 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Golf Pro

I had to laugh when I read your comment: “only someone from the privileged, pampered West would believe that e.g. re-incarnation is preferable to total non-existence.”

For years I’ve jokingly told anyone who would listen that when we’re in the after-life, if they see me circling ‘round looking down at planet Earth saying, “gee, why didn’t I like it, it doesn’t look so bad.…” Boom – that’s when you hit me with a baseball bat and yell “WAKE UP.”

All animals are afraid of (that is, try to avoid) dying, but I think that humans are the only species afraid of death. It’s like we project a future in which we don’t exist, and then draw back in horror as if we could experience our non-existence.

On another note, I hear what ya’ll saying about Joseph Campbell and have to agree. But, his series of interviews with Bill Moyers in a way saved me – confirmed that things were not what they seemed and I wasn’t nuts – maybe out-of-sync with most people, but not nuts. I moved on from there and never looked back. We all gotta start somewhere, and Campbell was it for me.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Val said...

Before the blog cycle turns and symbology slips into the rear view mirror, I wanna mention that my favorite symbological system is that originating in Ancient Greek mythology and some of its geographic and chronological neighbors in the ancient eastern Med. Artistically I'm a Eurocentric reactionary, and proud of it. Uh, not that I don't appreciate the fantastic deceptively-rough-yet-sensitive brushwork of Chinese and Japanese painters. Refined spontaneity is a real tough stunt to pull off. It's just that I have a personal allegiance to the tradition I happen to work in. My fave exemplars are, fittingly enough, the Symbolist painters Gustave Moreau and Odilon Redon.

Speaking of that tradition, in her book "Sexual Personae," Camille Paglia quotes what she calls Joseph Campbell's "negative critique of 5th-century Athens." To wit, he wrote:

"Everything that we read of it has a wonderful adolescent atmosphere of opalescent, timeless skies - untouched by the vulgar seriousness of a heterosexual commitment to mere life..." (Sexual Personae, pp 115-116)

My personal reaction? Fuck him and the homo-hating horse he rode in on.

On another note, I've been suffering lately from a bad case of plantar fasciitis. Being without resources (viz., money, the sole metric of all things in the Usurious States of Amnesia), I am obliged to rely on Medicaid. After seven weeks of being crippled by perpetual, sharp and sometimes agonizing pain, I have today been informed after many phone calls and much time spent twisting in the wind as I dangle from phone trees that I must now make another appointment to request *in person* from my "primary care" physician that he request that my local "provider" agency authorize a visit by me to the podiatrist. So reassuring to know that Obamacare operates at this level of efficiency. Don't you think that life in America is the nearest thing to living in Heaven?

BTW, as a teenager I met Joseph Campbell a couple of times, and even dined at the same table with him. Too bad I didn't take the opportunity to pee on his shoes.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, a gd soaking w/urine is just what that clown needed. God, did Moyers ever get conned.

As for Japanese painters, have I got a bk 4u...

Re: plantar fascitis, I had that many yrs ago; I think it just goes away over time, if u don't strain yr foot. I can't remember any doctor helping me w/it, in any case.


10:20 PM  
Anonymous Curious in CA said...

Dr. Berman,

I really enjoy your blog and you are one of my favorite authors. Have you ever read Voltaires Bastards by John Ralston Saul? He talks about imagery in it.

Off topic, but I was wondering what your opinion is on the Israel/Palestinian conflict? like your general thoughts. I am seeking educated opinions.

Thank you kindly.

A fan

11:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think I read part of that bk many yrs ago, don't remember much at this pt. As for Israel etc., check out Ilan Pappe, "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine." That's an educated opinion!


12:03 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

MB -

Great recent interview w/Snowden. He was questioned on releasing harmful info, but more importantly, he was shown how Americans don't have a clue about who he is. It's amazing just how ignorant Americans are about even the biggest stories. I really like how he told Snowden he's basically wasting his time because Americans are idiots.

12:05 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


This is the crucial pt. Americans not only don't know, they wdn't care if they did know. What they do know, and care abt, is Kim's rear end.

And these are the people 'progressives' are going to liberate, or rouse to political action. Jesus, wake up and smell the roses, you douche bags.


1:07 AM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dr B, thanks for the Melissa Jacobson story here:

After reading the entire article and reading more from different sources, I can state that this story is the best illustration of symbolism or symbology.

1) She did it
2) She left her name, address, phone number, etc
3) She went home
4) She did not care to change her clothes
5) She answered the door when police knocked
6) She denied doing it (“Jacobson denied pooping at the Kmart, even after she was told about the footage”). Who does not know today that the entire is watching us everywhere we go?
7) She was arrested (after putting up resistance) (“Officers said she resisted their attempts to take her into custody”)

Common now – think about the coldness, the boldness, the callousness, the wickedness, the lack of sympathy for other human beings, the lack of caring; etc. God, this is unbelievable!

Would a woman nurtured in Chinese culture, Japanese culture, behave like this? Which government of the world also behaves like she did (in terms of dealing with human lives - internally or externally)? What is the source of this kind of mentality – genes or environment?

2:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm dumping Ted Cruz. I want Shaneka Torres as pres, with Melissa Jacobson as her VP. The Poop and Bacon Party, they'll call it. In terms of Symbology, these 2 are better than Kim's ass.

I keep thinking of all those 'progressives' out there. Really, mes amis, who is not aware that the US is literally going down the toilet? The symbolism of all this is perfectly clear. We no longer have a country, we have a cesspool; and we have people who are ready and able to symbolically represent that. I am *not* being cute here; I really mean this.


3:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: 'progressives' keep talking abt a revolution, but it is apparently one w/o guns, so I'm not sure how threatening this revolution is going to be. However, what I'm now inspired to think abt is a poop revolution, as a symbolic statement made by the people of America to America abt their lives in America and the American Dream. What if we had 5, 10, 100, 1 million Melissas? What if shoppers across the nation began to leave their 'deposits' at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, and every other major store? What if wealthy matrons began to deposit their excrementa at Tiffany's, or Saks 5th Ave? Now *that* would be a (symbolic) revolution!

In addition, we could have customers shooting up McDonald's, Burger King, and so on for failing to deliver the bacon, or the McNuggets, or whatever. Plus, they cd march around the stores, holding posters of Latreasa, Lorenzo, and Shaneka.

There's no end to the revolutionary possibilities here--ones 'progressives' have seriously overlooked, and I encourage Wafers to submit proposals and scenarios for all kinds of symbolic revolutions.

At which pt we can finally say, Onward and Upward! Finally, America is moving forward into the future, poop in hand.


11:12 AM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

Did someone mention Israel/Palestine crisis? Max Blumenthal and Chris Hedges did a panel on the topic at Princeton. Here's the link!

I'm not an expert on the I/P struggle, but I can second Ilan Pappe, his book blew my mind. Realizing that Israel ethnically cleansed minorities from historic Palestine (and that this was in all likelihood a premeditated act) is something the dominant culture does NOT want you to do. Its completely supported by the historical record, and almost guaranteed to get you punched or labeled an antisemite if you bring it up in public.

Do WAFers have an opinion on Glenn Greenwald? Here's a short article he wrote on John Oliver's Edward Snowden article.

"Contrary to what Oliver says, it’s actually not surprising at all that a large number of Americans are unaware of who Snowden is, nor does it say much at all about the surveillance debate. That’s because a large number of Americans, by choice, are remarkably unaware of virtually all political matters."

11:23 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In addn to Pappe, check this out:

As far as Americans being politically ignorant, the answer is for them to make use of the dung that is inside their heads, a la Melissa Jacobson. They cd hit the dept stores, extract the poop from their crania, and then leave it in cardboard cartons. This will come to be known as "pulling a Melissa."


2:09 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings all,


That's the straight poop, MB. A poop revolution is the answer! You know, I walked precincts in 2008 for Obama in Henderson, NV of all places. We were bused out there to knock on the doors of foreclosed homes; talk up Obama to the folks who were in the process of losing everything. Talk about a waste of time, yes? Upon returning home, I swore on a stack of Bibles, that I would *never* again walk precincts for douche bags like Obama.

The Poop and Bacon Party has compelled me to rethink my position. I can rally around fresh candidates like Melissa and Shaneka; true Americans in every sense of the word. Fuck Ted Cruz, Lorenzo, and Sarah for that matter! Those bozos are yesterday's news.

You heard it here first:

I wanna be the #1 poo flinger for these gals. America depends on their success in 2016.


Re: plantar fasciitis

I feel for U. MB is absolutely correct. I had a bad case of it as well; too many hours on the tennis court. Here's what you need to do:

1. Ditch your sneakers and flip-flops until you recover.

2. Get a pair of Dansko clogs or boots w/heels. It sounds crazy, but the harder the sole, the better it will be for PF. The key is to get your heel off the ground and supported by a shoe or boot that is firm and supportive.

3. Before getting out of bed in the morning, stretch the affected foot by pulling your toes back toward your shins. Hold this position for 15 seconds. Repeat this process 3 times. Put your feet in supportive shoes b4 getting out of bed.

Good luck.

Sarasvati, Golf Pro-

Speaking of death anxiety, I believe Woody Allen once said:

"I'm not afraid to die, I just don't wanna be there when it happens."



2:32 PM  
Anonymous John S said...

Since we're ultimately nutin' but consumers these days, something like we won't shop at Walmart till the workers make a living wage or aren't overwhelmingly subsidized by tax payer provided food stamps would work if sustained, given that Walmart family collectively makes as much as the bottom 40% of the country (see link below). Of course the chances of that being organized and pulled off are less than winning Powerball,or getting struck by lightning.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


What we all need to do re: Wal-Mart is go there and pull a Melissa. If that won't work, nothing will. See also Miles' comment, above, for further elaboration.


All gd, but watch length, thanx. Slogan for 2016 (sung to the tune of Nancy Sinatra): "These turds were made for flinging..."


"These boots were made for walkin'..." (Nancy, again). Miles is rt abt boots being gd for p.f.


5:49 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"...til the workers make a living wage..."

That day will never come. There's no reason for employers to pay a living wage when they have a seemingly limitless pool of potential employees eager and willing to accept whatever they're offered in an economy that requires fewer of them than formerly, and that pits generation against generation, immigrants against natives.

Listening to yet another expert this morning talking on a radio show about the economic "recovery," I took some satisfaction from the apparent discomfort the woman felt when an out-of-work caller described her own labor struggles: four degrees, including biology and physics; a decade's experience as a project manager; now at age 53 jobless after having spent through her entire $300,000 nest egg just living day-to-day.

It won't matter which douchebag replaces the current one, or how many Congressional crooks fall to ethics probes or criminal investigation. There is a seemingly endless supply of such folk to fill the breach, and the exceptionalism myth and its associated delusions will keep the plebes pacified.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I've quoted this b4, from George Carlin: "They call it the American Dream because you've gotta be asleep to believe it."


8:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, it seems like we're getting a white cop/black victim story at least once a month now:

Very probably, the cop will be acquitted. That's the usual script. But what really bothers me is how poorly equipped police forces are, as in this case: the cop used a revolver. Huh? Where was his AK-47, his drone, his nuclear device? I tell ya, I can only shake my head.


8:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: This also is a neat development:

It's impt that the govt hurt people.


8:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I've been rdg David Fromkin's brilliant history of WW1, "A Peace to End All Peace." Britain played an elaborate chess game with the countries of the Middle East after the war, imposing rules, boundaries, puppet regimes, and so on. But it didn't work: revolts were constantly breaking out against these imperial arrangements. The majority view in the Foreign Office was that these were the result of outside hostile forces. The minority view, that Middle Eastern troubles were to be located w/in the M.E. countries themselves. Fromkin writes:

"In fact there was an outside force linked to every one of the outbreaks of violence in the Middle East, but it was the one force whose presence remained invisible to British officialdom. It was Britain herself. In a region of the globe whose inhabitants were known especially to dislike foreigners, and in a predominantly Moslem world which could abide being ruled by almost anybody except non-Moslems, a foreign Christian country ought to have expected to encounter hostility when it attempted to impose its own rule. The shadows that accompanied the British rulers wherever they went in the Middle East were in fact their own."

Does any of this sound familiar? Does it remind you of another country, another century?

"Americans never learn; it's part of our charm."--Gore Vidal


9:32 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Ah, Fromkin! That's a great book. If'n you think that yanquis have behaved badly in the Middle East, this book shows that they have nothing on British perfidy.

I was reading Fromkin when the British Parliament decided a few years ago to grant a posthumous pardon to the British soldiers executed for desertion, etc., during the 14-18 war.

My reaction was in a similar, yet inverted spirit: that the body of David Lloyd George ought to be dug up and shot.

11:17 AM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

In case you missed it:

Crayons, anyone?

Question: Would Ayn Rand's life been any different had she read (and understood) some E. O. Wilson?

Answer: Maybe - she might have learned a thing or 2 about the practical virtues of cooperation and sacrifice, something ants are good at, and something E. O. Wilson knows a lot about.

Paul Craig Roberts recommends this book -

Roberts says:

"Iran should ask the American Indians–the Iroquois, the Cherokee, the Sioux, Cheyenne, Comanche, the Nez Perce, and every other indigenous American people how many treaties Washington kept. In case you don’t know the answer, it is zero."

12:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Fromkin does make the pt, at the end of the bk, that the British played by the rules of empire because empire was the rule; they cdn't imagine other arrangements, a diff way of doing things. (Of course, Woodrow Wilson cd, and did: his major pt after the Great War was the self-determination of all nations; but of course he was easily overriden and pushed aside.) 100 yrs later, what excuse do Americans have? Given the sham of the British experience, and the sheer unworkability of it all, and given a century of revolutions of self-determination, what is it that we are unable to understand? That the imperial project is bankrupt; that we, like England in the past, are creating the shadows (now called blowback) in the M.E. that seemingly arise from nowhere; and that there can be no peace until exploitation ceases, and we learn to leave people to their own destiny, whether we agree w/it or not. But no: 100 yrs later, knowing now what the British did not understand then, we are still operating as tho it's 1919. Well, Britain went down the drain, and so will we. So while yr exhuming bodies, let's do Reagan and a few other assholes as well.


12:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Or they shd ask Iraq, tho they hardly need to. If I were Iran, of course I'd be trying to build a nuclear arsenal. If Iraq really did have WMD's back in 2003 (as N. Korea did, whom we shied away from), they wd still have a country today. Iran ain't stupid.In addition, how is it that they hafta have 0 nuclear warheads, and it's OK for Israel to have 200 of them in the Dimona facility in the Negev? Why does the US get to decide who can be nuclear, and who can't? Because we're the gd guys? Yeah, right.


12:43 PM  
Anonymous phil said...

Fans of the warburg should also check out the ritman library, which has lots of lectures available online through youtube as well.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Dr B, I have read your last post in our last thread over and over again. Here is a copy here for all to enjoy: "Or they shd ask Iraq, tho they hardly need to. If I were Iran, of course I'd be trying to build a nuclear arsenal. If Iraq really did have WMD's back in 2003 (as N. Korea did, whom we shied away from), they wd still have a country today. Iran ain't stupid.In addition, how is it that they hafta have 0 nuclear warheads, and it's OK for Israel to have 200 of them in the Dimona facility in the Negev? Why does the US get to decide who can be nuclear, and who can't? Because we're the gd guys? Yeah, right."

Reading it straightens my faith on the principles of waferism. Did you know that what you said above is why they took Rosie O'Donnell off TV? She said Americans built the first nuclear bombs and Americans used the first nuclear bombs on Japan, and therefore, that Americans have no right to speak about who should have the technology and who should not have it. After she said that, she was suddenly taken off her show, never to return again.

I believe Obama wants Muslims in Iran to have nuclear bombs so as to checkmate Israel. Deep down, I think Obama loves Islam more than he loves Christianity. I think Obama believes that Christians or Jews have no moral authority to control what Muslims should do or what they should not do. I think he looks at the history of the West and sees nothing there to warrant any Westerner talking about evil or violence in other cultures. I could be wrong in my assumptions. What say you??

8:19 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't think Obama believes in anything at all; he just does what's expedient. There is no evidence at all for any pro-Islamic agenda on his part; there's a lot of evidence to the contrary (he sponsored police training programs, e.g., in which the cops were taught that Islam was evil, and out to destroy the West).

However, in future pls send messages to latest post. Wafers tend not to read the older stuff. Also, always capitalize Wafers, Waferism, Waferdom, etc.


10:38 AM  
Blogger Shawn-Paul said...

I'm not sure how much hip hop music make it to this blog but I think the following song sums up the true state of America.

This was WAY over my head in 1999, but its lyrics are alarmingly relevant now.

7:48 PM  

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