July 17, 2015

Sensual Knowing

Some time ago I was rereading my essay “Ways of Knowing,” which appears in the volume A Question of Values. I was discussing a book by John Finley entitled Four Stages of Greek Thought, and how that small work made a huge impact on me when I first read it years ago. Talking about the Homeric Greeks, Finley writes: “Happiness, one sometimes thinks, is clarity of vision, moments when things stand clear in sharpest outline...as if revealed for the first time…. However intoxicating the attractions of intellect, and however essential to the structures by which we live, something in us wants also the clear signals of the senses by which alone the world is made fresh and definite.”

It was something of a coincidence, that at exactly the same time I was rereading The Alexandria Quartet, by Lawrence Durrell, a book I hadn’t read in decades. A sobering book, for a writer: I could crank out fiction for the next twenty years and never come close to Durrell’s ability with language. But here are some quotes from the first volume of the Quartet, Justine, which illustrate Finley’s point:

The narrator meets with Justine at a café:

“I can only remember the pattern and weight of these conversations, not their substance. And leaning there on a forgotten elbow, drinking the cheap arak and smiling at her, I inhaled the warm summer perfume of her dress and skin—a perfume which was called, I don’t know why, Jamais de la vie.” [Not in this life]

Then he talks about hearing the voice of a blind muezzin at dawn, as he is waking up, and writes:

“The great prayer wound its way into my sleepy consciousness like a serpent, coil after shining coil of words…until the whole morning seemed dense with its marvelous healing powers, the intimations of a grace undeserved and unexpected, impregnating that shabby room where Melissa lay, breathing as lightly as a gull, rocked upon the oceanic splendours of a language she would never know.”

A few pages later:

“It was cold in the street and I crossed to the lighted blaze of shops in Rue Fuad. In a grocer’s window I saw a small tin of olives with the name Orvieto on it, and overcome by a sudden longing to be on the right side of the Mediterranean, entered the shop: bought it: had it opened there and then: and sitting down at a marble table in that gruesome light I began to eat Italy, its dark scorched flesh, hand-modelled spring soil, dedicated vines.”

What I feel pulsing through Durrell’s work is a mode of knowing that is rooted in the body, that is not tangible, that derives from a felt sense of the world; a kinesthetic sense (Proust). Non-Anglo cultures, ones not dominated by science, understand this; and it is this failure to understand this deeper level of reality, on the part of Anglo-scientific cultures, that leads the Third World to regard the latter as daft. There is virtually no awareness of this in contemporary American life, and I am convinced that a lot of the suffering we endure can be traced to a loss of this primal connection with the human and natural environment. Recovering this would be what I referred to, many years ago, as The Reenchantment of the World.

-mb

127 Comments:

Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

One indication of graceful aging is in the retention of the capacity to become enchanted with the world, to still enjoy learning new things, doing new things, and to be capable of reevaluating yourself.

(I imagine) Like yourself, I tend to dwell a great deal on the life of the mind - analysis, reflection and study. I suppose that it's better than drinking yourself into a stupor, or watching your belly slowly distend as you melt ungracefully into a soft chair in front of a television, but it needs to be balanced by other experiences.

For me it's working outside, planting bushes and shrubs, watching various California native succulents slowly grow and respond appreciatively to a bit of watering, etc. It's part of becoming reacquainted with the earth. It's probably healthy to come in contact with soil microbes as well, something that people have been doing for a few thousand years.

2:21 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

The value in leading a more reflective life requires no defending among this company. Events of the past 24 hours in Chattanooga should tend to reinforce any tendency you may already possess toward a general withdrawal into your own sanctuary.

As the country engages in a collective paroxysm of hand-wringing--you would think all our hands are well-wrung-out by this time, eh?--we must endure the commonplace scenario, with friends describing the alleged perp as a good guy who no one would have thought capable of the sort of rampage that took place. A quiet but popular fellow by their accounts.

But a person who seemingly saw no connection--or only a most superficial and transient sort of connection--to other members of his species. And we might say the same about his friends and neighbors. They saw but failed to note the import of the sentiment under his Red Bank High School photo: "My name causes national security alerts. What does yours do?" They failed to see that here was someone who felt disconnected from his environment and his fellows in a fundamental way. Whether recognizing this might have led to some ameliorating act or engagement we'll never know.

Now, having harshed whatever meditative mellow you might have been experiencing before I intruded, I offer the following, something that may do two things at once: (1) add one more page to the general indictment in preparation against the wider populace; and (2). demonstrate that under certain conditions of temperature and pressure, technology CAN be our friend.

It seems that a Venice, California burglar, who entered a home while the occupants were sleeping, picked up an iPhone as he was setting about his task. In doing so, he inadvertently triggered a function or app that made a video "selfie" that reveals his face. Though the hapless hoodlum walked off with the phone, the owner was able to access the video remotely. The police now have something a bit better than an artist's sketch--which in this case would not have been possible anyway--to steer them in their efforts to bring this chap to justice.

Steve Jobs reaches out from the grave to atone for his larger sin.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

Someone needs to start a blog called Massacre of the Day, so we can all be up to speed on Americans murdering Americans.

mb

10:21 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

Indeed a lot to be said for sensual knowing. Silk underwear also help....Architecture and public space is also indicative of a sense of sensuality or valuing the senses versus a commitment to abstraction. Most U.S. cities are largely hideous and the architecture is contrived an just plain brutal. Very little charm (note Charm of layout was common in the south) in the U.S.. There are very few plazas if you will to merely hang out (300 million people and the only places that come to mind are Washington Square in NYC, maybe Dupont in D.C. and a couple of others) parks in U.S. mostly intended as a means to boost real estate prices. As no doubt others have noted, the U.S is also a very low physical contact place. There are few abrazos, kisses on cheek or touching of shoulder etc. Such behavior in the U.S. is frowned upon and viewed as sexual or aggressive. Exercise is viewed pragmatically as a means to health and better performance at work....no problem spending billion on a navy ship but suggesting construction of a town square with a fountain and place to sit and pass the time is viewed as insane unless its part of a projct to anchor a new shopping center..........

2:31 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

A poem by Mary Oliver:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Remember the psychologists who cooperated in the torture programs? The APA is still trying to deal with the situation.

Radio Times: Psychologists and the post 9/11 torture program

More disturbing details about the role of psychologists in the in the CIA and Pentagon post-9/11 torture program are outlined in a new independent review commissioned by the American Psychological Association. The review found that some of the Association’s top officials secretly collaborated with the Bush Administration and had close ties with the Department of Defense. The work of psychologists in implementing the torture program has long been recognized and has been a source of great conflict within the APA. Joining us to explain the new findings and explain the role of psychologists in interrogations are STEPHEN SOLDZ, a psychologist who has been active in the movement to remove psychologists from the torture program, and STEVEN MILES, a bioethicist who studies the role of doctors in torture. We’ll conclude the hour with a response from psychologist SUSAN McDANIEL, a member of the American Psychological Association’s Independent Review Special Committee.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

SW-

One of my all-time favorites, in fact.

Sav-

Like the Nazi doctors, really. How were these American psychologists any better?

mb

7:10 PM  
Blogger Jarid Wagner said...

Hahaha a great post, very timely - I was just outside today enjoying the sun and really felt nature in my body. A fantastic feeling that is missing from modern life.

Hey COS, I agree completely with your statements about GDP and it's flaws. The gross national happiness index or some metric that tries to measure quality of life will prove to be much more useful. MB's home of Mexico has happier citizens even though they have about 20% of per capita of GDP of the US. It's kind of impressive - having 5 times as much money and still ending up sadder lol. Your best example was how healthcare spending contributes to GDP when universal health coverage does not. If the health and well-being of people doesn't count as wealth then what possibly could? It appears it really is a question of values.

The only thing I slightly disagree with you on is that GDP is the best metric we have for measuring massive scale production/consumption. So even if what you are making is useless or even destructive it does still have to be produced. My original comment was about how MB might want to be careful saying China is #1 economic power when US has much higher GDP. Perhaps China even is #1? I am not sure but it seems unlikely with 7 trillion dollar GDP differential. I was never arguing that GDP was a good metric for quality of life or anything of value other than just gross productive capacity.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous JM said...

It's a shame to post such ugliness under such a thoughtful essay but I felt it belonged here, a powerful indictment of American society.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWCEutUfKFo&app=desktop

JM

8:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

JM-

Pretty gd X-ray of USA today.

mb

9:09 PM  
Anonymous DeadThoreau said...

Wow what a timely post. I've been thinking a lot about technology lately and how it narrows our perception of the phenomenal world, it's like it takes everything and flattens it out to fit on a screen somewhere. I had an experience similar to what your describing here MB. I woke up in the middle of the night and opened the window caught a glimpse of dead rose in the moonlight and it took my breath away. But what I found really fascinating is how for a split second there felt like a connection between what I was looking at and myself, I guess the only way I could describe it was in that instance I felt absolute pure joy, no thoughts, no labeling, I just felt it.

I've seen people take photos of breath taking sunsets just so they can post them online, it's like it's a form of possession to them, like that photo is somehow more real then what's right in front of their face, it's like their blind to it. They have to have, they just can't be. It's too bad cause for me at least BEING with a sunset, feeling a sunset, is a source of joy and connection. All this gadgetry that everyone seems so enamored with leads to their own spiritual impoverishment.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dead-

Imagine a world in which these 'split seconds' were the norm. I think this is what Proust was after, and which is also the purpose of Zen meditation (satori). It may be that what we need rt now is not 'progress', but recovery.

US 'culture' may be the far end of insanity, by which I mean, a way of life in which 'reality' consists of symbolic laminae, 10 layers removed from Reality. The smartfone is just the latest step in that sickness, altho I'm sure there will be more to come. And as w/capitalism, I think the way out is thru; that we shall hafta go thru the full run of this self-destruction until the entire system breaks down. Let's just hope we don't hit bottom the other side of death.

mb

10:05 PM  
Anonymous AS said...

Pretty good account of the moral/spiritual bankruptcy of American "progressives":

https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/feminists-assaulted-in-transgender-attack-at-portland-conference-for-social-change-womens-books-destroyed-and-bodies-defaced-with-permanent-magic-markers/

I also liked how the feminists were there to - what else - sell shit. Ha, what a joke of a country.

12:52 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

It appears I will be able to make Wafer Summit II this September. Retirement paper work has consumed more time than I thought so I will go to SE Asia in January instead. I informed quite a few of my Thai, Cambodian, and Vietnamese friends about my not coming this summer and each one fully understood-not a word of disappointment which I believe has some connection to your essay especially as Asians have a wholly non-scientific understanding of time, a respect for rhythms of life and thus a concomitant understanding of the near futility of making plans.
By the way, there's not enough paper or ink or electricity to do a Massacre of the Day. A mass killing is defined as 4 dead. But as someone on Democracy Now explained, there are daily 3 dead and many wounded that does not constitute a mass killing. Most prevalent are those killing family members. Also, the perpetrators tend to be white males in their 20's or 30's. Any chance for serious gun legislation? As likely as a serious discussion about race.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

I was so happy to hear abt your attendance at the 2nd NY Summit Meeting, I fainted at my computer. Am still in process of trying to rent Madison Sqr Gdn for the event, Sept. 6, so will give u all the relevant info when I have it. Pls send an email to mauricio@morrisberman.com, so that I can put you on the (rather gigantic) list. In abt a month, I'll poll all NY Wafers and other attendees (flying in from all parts of the globe) abt the exact where and when. Society pages at the NYT have also been alerted. I'm telling u, all 5 boroughs are agog. Plus, this will be followed by a 2nd extravaganza, the talk I'm giving on my Japan bk Sept. 7 at Bluestockings Bkstore, 172 Allen St. (Lower East Side), 7 pm, if you'd care to hang out some more.

Also pls make a few notes in advance, if you wd: one thing I want to discuss at the Wafer Summit is how to get semi-automatic weapons into the hands of every American ages 2-92. This, and the production plan for T-shirts that say, LET'S KILL EVERYBODY! and LORENZO RIGGINS IN 2016! God, so much to do!

mb

8:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

You read it 1st here dept.:

Without actually using the phrase "Dual Process," certain writers are now starting to explore the whole postcapitalist idea we've talked abt on this blog, and wh/I lay out in ch. 7 of my Japan bk. Here's a gd example:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/17/postcapitalism-end-of-capitalism-begun

The bk will be out in the US in a few mos. I think the author, Paul Mason, is wrong in two signficant aspects: he sees information technology as the center of this process, whereas I regard it as just a sorry continuation of the neoliberal project; and he doesn't talk in terms of de-growth, or no-growth, or no-profit, thus keeping capitalism intact. Lack of imagination, to be sure, and it just may amount to more greenwashing or phony postcapitalism (see Nicole Aschoff, "The New Prophets of Capital"). But at least he's got the framework of Dual Process correct: after 500 yrs, capitalism has had its day, and a new socioeconomic formation is starting to emerge from the ruins. Way beyond anything American 'progressives' have been able to come up with, in any case (esp. since they are living in some sort of political Disneyland).

mb

ps: Once again, I am baffled that anyone wd bother rdg any blog other than this one. We've got it all: sex, drugs, rock n roll; cutting-edge political analysis; movie and bk revs; hot stock tips for getting rich; and above all, we're a barrel o' laughs. Wafers are encouraged to submit short essays explaining why people persist in wasting their time rdg other blogs. Myself, I just can't figure it.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...


Hello wafers

I love sensuous and colorful writing, Dr. Berman. The kin esthetic made into words is the closest a writer can get to a painting. Latin American writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Vargas Llosa, Isabel Allende all have that ability to paint the picture of the settings and to vividly describe the actions. I will have to read Durrel's. Thanks for sharing.

Just as couple days ago I had a conversation about food with a few Latino American friends- born and raised here in the USA- and none of them use more than a few spices- salt, pepper and oregano, on what they cook; and that's when they cook from scratch- which is only done in special occasions because most of the time they eat prepared foods from Costco or any other cheap and fast food store. They were amazed at the mentioning of turmeric, coriander, cumin, rosemary, and the many herbs I use at home. I was surprised at how my Latino friends have been so submerged into the American culture that they have lost the flavor of their ethnic cuisine. So assimilated they had become. The blend food Americans eat is part of their renunciation of the sensuous and the embrace of speed and efficiency; also there is a sense amongst American women that the kitchen is a place of gender exploitation. Stepping into the kitchen is an act of self immolation.

Touchy feely countries always rank higher on happiness index. In the US even children are forbidden to touch or kiss each other at school. How pitiful. Joy kill. Americans are totally repressed - erotically, and emotionally- and they are repressive and controlling. Obsessed with order and cleanliness. Maybe that is why The American lover always ranks amongst the lowest in the world- he has no concept of the erotic. Isn't Puritanism a renunciation of the sensuous?

Anyway, during that conversation I gathered that many Americans feel uncreative. Some of them - the most sincere ones- publicly admit to not having one creative bone in their bodies. And they long for it but have no idea what the causes are much less how to get it. They are lost people. Lost to efficiency, speed, hustling and multi- tasking.



JC

9:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jul-

The specter of the US being the abs. worst country in the world for body and soul, while Americans run around yelling "We're No. 1!", is surely one of the most pathetic sights on the planet today. There's nothing in their lives enjoyable or meaningful, let alone sensual, but hey: they've got their cell phones! We really need to establish a World Buffoon Index (WBI), which wd be monitored by some UN agency. Or SWAT (Sensitive Wafers Against Technobuffoonery).

mb

ps: Always capitalize Wafers. We're in a class of our own.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

MB, Wafers,

Have you noticed that fewer and fewer people genuinely ask "how are you?" anymore? In recent years, I've noticed an increasing disinterest in other people's lives among the people I know. This never used to shock me so much, but I find it so rare that someone asks me how I am nowadays, that I get surprised when I get asked the question!

I think that as things become more and more depressing around us, this inability to empathise with someone else is a symptom of people shutting themselves off from the world. Asking a person how he is, would be the first step in *caring* about someone and god forbid caring! All that matters is hustling and having fun after all!

10:09 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

MB and Wafers -

There's a simple explanation for why hordes of Mericans waste their time on other blogs. Years of documentation have established that Mericans are the lowest life form on the planet and their trollfoonish behavior mimics that of a dung fly attracted to fecal piles. However, puddles of urine do give them pause for a few moments before they react in swarms with vicious attacks. Sign me up for a SWAT Brigade.

JL

11:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

To what extent this phenomenon is a function of hustling is not clear, but wd make for a gd doctoral dissertation subject in sociology. One thing I sense w/Americans in this regard is not even selfishness or hustling, but a kind of narcissistic cluelessness, as tho they were moving in a fog, or carrying a small cloudbank around their heads. It's quite remarkable: they'll talk a blue streak abt their lives; never once ask you anything abt what's going on w/u (apparently it never occurs to them); and then go happily on their way, probably thinking that this was a fabulous conversation. Check it out, as this actually happens quite a lot, and anthropologically speaking is rather fascinating. Macro/micro: the breakdown of the culture is also the breakdown of the individual psyche.

Mono-logue: one word
Dia-logue: words across

What can ya do, if someone doesn't know the diff?

mb

11:36 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

Juliet Cash,

What is a Latino? Its an american political and marketing term.most "Latinos" do not embrace the term. I prefer Mexican, my wife Argentine. Those who do like being called Latinos are fully assimilated or Puerto Ricans---the latter cannot give their starchy food away.. Their culinary tastes should not be used to generalize to the many people from the Spanish speaking world denizened in the U.S......

12:22 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Paul Mason used to be the economics correspondent of the BBC. He's basically a Trotskyist, and therefore believes that progress is inevitable, and results in the elevation of the working class. He isn't a bad bloke really, and clearly loathes capitalism, but necessarily (and paradoxically) thinks it is actually a restraining force against the creation of superabundance.

i.e. we all get more stuff when capitalism dies.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Golf-

Thanks for the inside track. I'm glad someone is writing abt Dual Process, but found his particular take on the future dubious--it actually seemed like another form of capitalism. One thing 'progressives' refuse to give up on is modernity; a project that is collapsing.

mb

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

A few days ago, the news had to interrupt a story on the Charleston Massacre to run a story on the Chattanooga Massacre that was itself interrupted for a story about the Aurora Massacre. I'd start a Massacre blog, but I can't imagine having the stomach to read it, let alone run it.

Sorry to rage but that "Feminists Attacked By Transgenders" link is so much bullshit. I spoke to a ton of people involved, the "feminists" were members of Deep Green Resistance, a radical environmentalist group with hardcore transphobia due to its Second Wave Feminist leadership. This causes trouble everywhere DGR goes, which is why the conference leader apologized for letting them participate! And characterizing a minor argument as a "horrifying" attack is just a joke. The most that happened was that someone used a sharpie to vandalize a (transmisogynistic) book, and one of the booth girls got ink on her arm. Later, someone else threw a burrito. Thats it!

You want a real horrifying attack, check out American Reflexxx, a short film where a trans artist simply walks around Myrtle Beach. She's wearing a mask and a dress, and soon a howling mob of nasty dumbass Americans start following her. She gets harassed, mocked, screamed at, and finally attacked. The group jeers at her bloodied body, crumpled and motionless on the sidewalk. The video is disturbing - as one commenter puts it, "I see humans, but no humanity". When I look at it, I see America.

I don't mean to derail - I think this can be tied to a WAFer analysis. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes about this a lot, how American slavery was the plunder of the black body, how the goal of white supremacy is destruction of the black body. So, too, are the bodies of migrant workers labeled illegal. These are important components of late capitalism, and theres a link somewhere to LGBTQI oppression. Commenters above me have discussed how American Society disconnects us from both our own and others bodies - I think it also outlaws certain bodies. I mean, American Society is basically just capitalism, and capitalism prioritizes labor relations between bodies over the primacy of the body itself, right?

5:09 PM  
Blogger jml said...

Could someone please explain to me what transmisogynism is?

9:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Juliet-

Wasn't able to run yr last post, as we have an informal rule here of no more than one post every 24 hrs. Pls wait until then and re-send. Thank you.

mb

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Xiale said...

MB,

Wondering what you think of the situationist movement? Many of their ideas regarding commodity fetishism and social alienation pervading the entire culture appear more accurate by the day.

12:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Xiale-

Wow; huge subject, and wish I knew more. Inspired May '68, had much in common w/Surrealism (of wh/I'm a big fan), and in general had hearts of Wafers, as far as I can make out. But I never did get around to rdg Guy Debord, so mostly hafta plead ignorance here.

mb

2:23 AM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Are you familiar with the work of Paul Kingsnorth?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/20/magazine/its-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-and-he-feels-fine.html

"The first thing that Kingsnorth did was draft a manifesto. Also called “Uncivilization,” it was an intense, brooding document that vilified progress."

Kingsnorth wrote “Real England,” 'a travelogue about the homogenizing effects of global capitalism on English culture and character.'

"The initial print run of “Uncivilization” was only 500 copies. Yet the manifesto gained widespread attention. The philosopher John Gray reviewed it in The New Statesman. Professors included it on their reading lists."

An interesting exchange from 2009 between George Monbiot and Paul Kingsnorth :

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cif-green/2009/aug/17/environment-climate-change

Personally I regard Kingsnorth and John Gray as perceptive realists free from the wishful thinking that pervades and contaminates so much writing and conversation today.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Marc-

Yes, tho I didn't know that Gray and Monbiot had picked him up. Gd antidote to the progs, for sure.

mb

8:33 AM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Who's Latino?" Last I checked on the dictionary is a person of Latin American descent. But it depends on who you ask. If you had a Dominican mother a father from Spain you were born and spent the first 2 years of your life in Venezuela but were raised and lived most of your life in the USA- who are you? Whatever you want to be identified as. Why does it matter that much to you if I use Latino? If the word disappeared and we all- who reside on the USA regardless of where we were born- referred to each other as Americans will racism disappear? As a black man that question. Anyway, how would I know what one person wants to be identified as until I meet them? Will you be surprised to know that I have met Puerto Ricans from the island who detest being called American and consider their colonization a travesty of the Empire? And likewise I have met Puerto Ricans who were born and raised in the USA who don't want to be called Puerto Ricans? They want to be called Americans. Differentiating from a person of Latin American descent who was born and raised in the US vs those who came as immigrants from Latin American countries by using the word Latino is politically incorrect? Learn something new every day.

You consider PR fanfare too starchy? I am rather cosmopolitan in my taste and palate; I have had the pleasure to taste dishes from PR, Mexico , Venezuela, Jamaica, Trinidad, Santo Domingo, pretty much most of the Caribbean and Western Europe and don't find the food Puerto Rican food any less palatable and delightful than in any of those places. But it is my opinion based on my own travels. Feel free to disagree.

JC

(Ever heard of the opinions on nationalism, and patriotism from folks like George Carlin, Virginia Woolf, Emma Goldman and so many others? I share their views)

http://youtu.be/H_sv7AFOg90

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Xiale said...

Wafers

For anyone interested in Guy Debord or Situations literature here is a link to a PDF of his most famous work
https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/debord/society.htm

10:45 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

MB,

Thank you for your reply. I understand the fog of ignorance you're referring to with regards to Americans but I am talking more about Europeans, who I noticed have increasingly started manifesting this behaviour. In their case it's not so much cluelessness and an inability to empathise as with Americans, but rather a sense of disinterest in other people's affairs combined with narcissism and childish behaviour. A lot of people I know *do* hang out socially with friends, but topics of conversation beyond oneself are always about hustling, the latest gadgets and just general trivia. I've only been working in a corporate job full-time for 2 years since leaving university and I can't believe the amount of people who I used to be friends with who lost their soul that way. It was depressing to find out that a lot of them, despite claiming to be "progressive" and forward thinking in university were massive douchebags in disguise. But what can ya do?!

Meanwhile, this is a nice addition to N. Aschoff's New Prophets of Capital chapter on Wholefoods. Doesn't get much better than that!
http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/how_whole_foods_exploits_prison_labor_20150718

Kanye

12:34 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

Dr.B,

Almost forgot - if you're interested in another novel that expresses sensual knowing, check out "The Root and The Flower" by L.H. Myers.

1:13 PM  
Anonymous J S RANK said...


Any WAFers here familiar with muckraking journalist George Seldes and his newsletter "In Fact" ?

2:57 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Re: postcapitalism

MB, Wafers-

Many thanks for the Mason article. It stands to reason that global capitalism is highly unstable and one wonders how many more 2008-like crashes the system can take w/out total disintegration of worldwide socioeconomic structures. The figures in the article regarding losses during and after the crisis of 08 are quite sobering. And I think that Mason is right to point out that there really hasn't been a recovery, so to speak.

It's extraordinary to think that young Wafers will probably see the end of capitalism as we know it, and one day may live in a world where the transition to Dual Process is the norm and forms the basis of an entirely new and vibrant socioeconomic foundation. Tikkun olam, yes?

Miles the Hopeful

2:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

I think that the commodification of everything has reduced people's conversation to dog poop, in general. They too become commodities, and commodities don't have that much to say. BTW: 'disinterest' = neutrality, not lack of interest.

mb

2:59 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

MB and Wafers,
We hosted a summer party with about 30 in attendance yesterday, and at one point a friend, gazing at my t-shirt displaying the tree flag of Cascadia, asked me, "Are you a separatist?" and went on to say he believed the U.S. would eventually break into five regions, and that would be good for the rest of the world since military interventions abroad would be a lot less likely. My next door neighbor nodded in agreement. Gee, it's still possible to have meaningful conversations at social gatherings. MB, you might have added up two more Wafers to the roster yesterday. I mentioned this blog to both.
~ Jack in Olympia WA

5:14 PM  
Anonymous mozambiquemoe said...

I think America deserves 8 years of Donald Trump. They killed 2 million Iraqis without so much as yawning, and are lustily cheering on identity politics while their civil liberties and money is taken away from them. Let them have 8 years of Trump.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Moz-

I'm w/u, kid, tho my 1st choice remains Lorenzo Riggins, w/Shaneka as running mate.

Jack-

That's abs. astounding. I'm speechless.

mb

7:03 PM  
Anonymous Joe from Chicago said...

Xiale, Dr. Berman, Wafers re: Situationist International

"Hearts of Wafers" is a succinct summation. Over the past year or so I've read basically everything I could find by the S.I. and some good scholarly analysis about them, of which there isn't much. It's really best to let them speak for themselves, but Anselm Jappe's biography of Guy Debord (which I got because Ken Knabb who put together the Situationist anthology recommended it "unreservedly" - I do the same) is a good resource. Jappe's book situates Society of the Spectacle - which has a certain mystifying effect on first reading that leads me to believe most hip people who cite it have a very superficial understanding of it - in the thought of Marx and Luckacs that Debord was consciously updating, adapting. Also - Jappe's book makes the super-necessary point that Baudrillard, Derrida, and the post-structuralists are situationist-lite, and not even that. The difference between Debord's concept of the "spectacle" and Baudrillard's "simulacrum" is significant and instructive.

When you read their stuff, it is still avant garde because in 50 years virtually no one has taken leftist critique any further. The neoliberal counterrevolution has been merciless.

I am trapped in a cube at the moment. Surrounded by dolts. I want to share situationist ideas forever. Alas.

Rene Vienet's book about May '68, which he wrote that July, is thrilling and tragic and might even be a better entre into the S.I. then SoS or the other theory.

Adieu, paradoxical comrades in monasticism!



1:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Joe-

Thanks for the refs. As for yr colleagues: a gd Surreal/Situationist action wd be going from cubicle to cubicle and peeing on their shoes. "Nous sommes marxistes, tendance groucho."

mb

3:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dark Times Ahead Dept., aka the Nuremburg Creep:

Abt 2 or 3 yrs ago I suggested that it was only a matter of time b4 Congress set up a category called 'intellectual terrorism', and that folks like me wd be declared traitors and subject to internment. How far away are we from that now?

https://www.youtube.com/embed/eaPwqokBn9M

Also relevant is

http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/07/20/new-probe-exposes-horrific-child-abuse-israeli-forces

(The US is planning to provide Israel w/more military support, BTW)

mb

5:38 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB-

Dark Times Ahead, indeed, MB. Also, it's a lot more easier and cost-effective to target intellectuals and critical voices than to track *real* terrorist threats in the US. Consider the latest case of the Tennessee terrorist: in spite of the billions spent on counter-terrorism in the US, Mr. Abdulazeez spent seven months in Jordan last year then, after returning, acquired four guns and spent a whole lot of time improving his marksmanship on firing ranges in the US. Meanwhile, we can't get at the roots of radicalization, because this would require a critical evaluation of just about everything the US has been doing since WW II.

Miles

6:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Yrs ago I read that in the yr following 9/11, the FBI sent dozens of agents w/guns thru airport security all over the US, and 75% of these people made it thru the checkpt w/o being caught. Meanwhile, the TSA is busy making us take off our shoes. I keep asking myself if there's an upper limit to American douchebaggery, but so far, nothing in sight. Except maybe Pluto. For some reason, we're all supposed to be getting excited abt Pluto. Alpha Centauri next, I suppose. I feel like writing NASA and telling them to shove Pluto up their asses.

mb

7:30 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

MB, Wafers,

I propose we use all our powers toward convincing Jason Alexander to run a slapstick campaign for president as George Costanza, with LD as VP, and Seinfeld as campaign manager. The jokes will be even better than the usual farce.


I listened to this podcast episode with psychiatrist Judy Holland today, found it interesting

http://chrisryanphd.com/tangentially-speaking/2015/5/23/126-julie-holland-moody-bitches

7:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

OK all you hispanohablantes living in or near Mexico City, escuchanme, por favor:

I'm giving a talk in Puebla (2 hours by car or bus from the DF) on August 6 on the Spanish translation of "Spinning Straw" (Convertir la paja en oro). Relevant information:

Libreria Profetica
3 Sur 701 (centro)
Puebla, Puebla
7 p.m.

Se ahi o se cuadrado
(Be there or be square)

abrazos,
mauricio

8:13 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

MB -

It wasn't just years ago that the TSA was screwing up, this is from last month:

"This week, the acting head of the Transportation Security Administration got bounced from his job because in 95 percent of test cases, real guns or fake bombs made it past the TSA."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/why-the-tsa-catches-your-water-bottle-but-guns-and-bombs-get-through/2015/06/03/7e0596fc-0a07-11e5-95fd-d580f1c5d44e_story.html

9:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

lack-

Jesus. Thanks for update. I'm beginning to wonder if the US can do *anything* rt.

mb

10:21 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

As word reaches us that yet another aspirant will join the 2016 presidential race tomorrow (Dennis Kucinich), may I propose a movement to draft a couple of citizens from happier times to join in the fun? I speak of course of Professor Irwin Corey and the inimitable Pat Paulsen.

I know. Both dead. I say no matter what their state of decay, they could hardly be worse than the stiffs now clamoring for our attention.

Several months back, I picked up a pin at a local flea market. A relic of the 60s, its message is timeless:

US Out Of North America. Nobody for President.

10:53 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Wafers

Imagine a match between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump? Who do you think Americans would elect?

Here is the latest poll after the McCain controversy.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/poll-donald-trump-takes-double-digit-lead-over-the-gop-presidential-field/ar-AAdg2Tn

Amid the war hero controversy Trump has pulled comfortably ahead of Scott Waker with a lead of 11 points. Jeb Bush is way behind.
Which means that Dr. Berman might get his wish much earlier than anticipated.

Dr. Berman
You mentioned Americans conversational style; a monologue about themselves. I can't tell you how many times that has happened to me either during a telephone call or face to face. I had always wondered if they confused me as their shrink or an immediate confidant. Thanks for letting us know that it is just a part of the American disconnection with the rest of the world around them. You are correct Americans are very much like children. ( but I like to hang with real children much better)


Wafer on!
Downward and onward!

10:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

I very much agree, that the US needs to get out of North America. In fact, off of the earth. Pluto might be a gd place for it, I dunno.

JC-

I'm pulling for Trump, but I fear Hillary will crush him like a bug. The douche bags still outnumber the hyper-douchebags, and that will be Trump's undoing. Hillary is a douche bag, and she will attract the douche bag vote.

As for American 'conversations', the fact is that we have no idea how to function socially or psychologically. You know, b4 I moved down to Mexico, I lived in DC for 8 yrs, and dated a lot of women in their 30s and 40s. The scenarios were completely scripted; every date was basically the same. We'd go to a restaurant for dinner, and they'd sit and talk a blue streak for 2 hrs abt their unhappy lives, how men had mistreated them, etc. How they managed to talk, breathe, and eat at the same time, I never figured out; but what was clear was that if I wd have replaced myself w/a cardboard cutout of me, and left the rm, they wdn't have even noticed. They wd have just gone on w/their tragic monologue, oblivious to my absence. I had a horrible feeling that if we had sex, they wd be yapping away abt the misery of their lives during the entire act. This is what I mean by life in a fog. Typically, I wdn't ask them out a 2nd time, but then the next 1st date wd be deja vu all over again.

I didn't spend a lot of time w/men, since they were so busy hustling; but in general, my experience w/American men in terms of conversation is not all that different. There is this bizarre inability to recognize that someone else is sitting across from you, and that dia-logue means words across: reciprocation. But given that the lives of most American men are stupid and boring, and that they are emotionally damaged beyond belief, it's not so surprising that they sit there and chatter away about kaka, and literally never ask u a single thing abt yrself. I typically feel like an anthropologist, observing behavior on Pluto. I try not to gape, and also not to fall asleep.

I suspect that the only thing that can wake American men and women up is a sudden river of urine, directed at their shoes. I was often tempted to say, "Do you realize how fucked up you are?", but I had a sneaking suspicion this wdn't go over too well. Beating them w/a tire iron has a certain appeal as well, but--well, you get the idea. There ain't much that can be done w/zombies.

mb

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Collapse PJ's said...

MB -- An old HS friend manages this big and somewhat popular artist commune , he is very very enthusiastic about that Guardian article by Paul Mason and its spirit; is converting all he can to those kind of views. In fact, he had sent the very same article my way right before you had shared it with us. He also sent this my way, more from up that same stream:

http://time.com/3949933/millennial-letter-revolution/

Millennial digital revolutions led by Bernie Sanders, is the dream...

Oh boy...

10:06 AM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

You're probably aware of a movement in Great Britian lead by George Monbiot called rewilding. From his most recent article:

"In 2009, the rewilding pioneers Trees for Life released some wild boar into an enclosure at Dundreggan, in the Scottish Highlands. Within 20 minutes, robins came down from the trees and started following them. Their ecological memory was intact. When I’ve accompanied children from deprived London boroughs to the woods and rock pools for the first time in their lives, I have seen something similar: an immediate, instinctive re-engagement, the restoration of a broken ecological relationship. Once we have richer wild places to explore, we won’t need much prompting to discover their enchantments."

Seems like a good example of dual process that's been discussed on the blog before and has real promise to re-enchant the world, at least for a small number of people at the beginning.

On a more humorous note, I think everyone will enjoy the story of the man who was bitten attempting to take a selfie with a rattlesnake. What could possibly go wrong?! And what's just as funny in its own way is the focus of the story - not the utter stupidity of the act itself but the cost of medical tx for snake bites is prohibitive.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/07/20/this-153000-rattlesnake-bite-is-everything-wrong-with-american-health-care/?tid=pm_pop_b

10:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

SW-

Thanks for info on rewilding; I think that's terrific. Ch. 2 of CTOS is abt that subject, in fact. Monbiot is trying to de-douchebag people; probably a hopeless project, in the US.

Collapse-

Some dream. Ain't gonna work; just more greenwashing. I'm amazed at how people who want to move in a new direction, like Mason, want to do it while hanging on to the core values of the old paradigm: economic and tech expansion, profit, cell fones, etc. Gd luck w/that, I say. You can't have those things *and* a no-growth, sustainable society; you don't get history for free, as it were.

mb

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Xiale said...

MB and Wafers,
Wondering if anyone has read much Zapatista literature? Lately I have been reading some Zapatista literature and the writings of sub Comandante Marcos, and I am struck by exactly how Wafer much of it is. This is clearly not a repackaging of capitalist values in the greenwashing ways of others. Any thoughts?

11:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Xiale-

Yes, gd stuff. Marcos had a friend in an UNAM professor (no longer living), Carlos Montemayor, who wrote a # of bks on the rts of the indigenas, and was a true dissenter from the academic pack. He also translated Nahuatl poetry into Spanish. I'm gd friends w/one of his daughters, a documentary filmmaker in Mexico City, who continues the tradition of expose of exploitation. Wafers all.

mb

12:22 PM  
Anonymous DeadThoreau said...

It's funny that you say that about Zen Buddhism MB cause I came to a similar conclusion about a year and half ago and decided to start sitting with a local Zen group. I got to thank you for your advice on spirituality as well, you did an interview with the Extra Environmentalist around the time of the release of Spinning Straw Into Gold where you stated that if you're truly looking for anything of substance from a spiritual teacher look for the people who are not making a big deal of it, they're just doing it. This group I'm sitting with I didn't even knew existed, they had been established in town for about a decade and the people there make their spiritual practice the centerpiece of their lives. It was refreshing to find people who weren't about the hustle.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dead-

Hustling is the cancer of our time, as is naive optimism. Consider this, just in from Slavoj Zizek:

"The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben said in an interview that 'thought is the courage of hopelessness' - an insight which is especially pertinent for our historical moment when even the most pessimist diagnostics as a rule finishes with an uplifting hint at some version of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The true courage is not to imagine an alternative, but to accept the consequences of the fact that there is no clearly discernible alternative: the dream of an alternative is a sign of theoretical cowardice, it functions as a fetish which prevents us thinking to the end the deadlock of our predicament. In short, the true courage is to admit that the light at the end of the tunnel is most likely the headlight of another train approaching us from the opposite direction."

This from a man who foolishly hailed Obama's 2008 election as 'transformative'. Looks like he's taken a more intelligent direction as of late. Will the hustlers grow up? The progs? The New Age, Oprah-istic buffoons? The preachers (whom we need like a hole in the head)? Nah...

mb

4:51 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Doctor Berman and Fellow Wafers -

Regarding TSA “incompetence”: Maybe the point isn’t to catch terrorists, but rather to further inure the general public to constant surveillance and submission to authority.

A good friend of mine died earlier this year. Rosa was a Mayan Indian from El Salvador who was trained from infancy by her uncle and grandmother (both curanderos) to heal the emotional body. Rosa was deeply connected with the earth and had amazing powers…she was the wisest person I’ve ever known and I loved her dearly.

I remember one time she was working with a girl of about 12 who was hearing voices. Her mother didn’t want the doctors medicating her, so she brought her daughter to Rosa. Rosa told me that the girl was very gifted and instead was teaching her to work with the voices. How’s that for a totally different paradigm?

When Rosa was diagnosed with bladder cancer last October she opted not to have any treatment. If anyone was ever prepared for that final journey, it was my friend. Her death has left a big hole in my heart and the world became a much poorer place with her passing.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sar-

I'm very much in favor of that different paradigm, if you know my work; but I hafta tell u, I think Rosa may have overdone it (I dunno). Close friend of mine was diagnosed w/bladder cancer 11 yrs ago, and he combined native healing (via a Native American community) with sophisticated surgery: the lesion in the bladder was replaced with a section of his large intestine. He's been in remission for 11 yrs now, and enjoying a full life.

mb

5:55 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

This guy is a 100% Wafer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Re5DgTJE0S4

6:20 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

And he's also pegged what the US is abt perfectly. How is it that out of 321 million Americans, only 166 registered Wafers can see that?

mb

6:49 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Dr. Berman

Thanks for replying. I have to admit I chuckled a bit at your cardboard cutout commentary. Sometimes I have imagined myself training a parrot to say : "yes," and "really?"whenever I am speaking with a person who
can not understand the concept of taking turns and or just shutting up. It drags.

So, as you tell me, you've encountered numerous women with tales of personal misery and men who- not in short part due to their incessant hustling - are boring and stupid. Maybe that parallels what George Carlin said about men and women. "Women are crazy. Men are stupid. And the reason why women are crazy is that men are stupid." Do you suppose he was referring only to Americans?

On another note, the Paul Mason article on post capitalism which I had a chance to read today in full is quite interesting, I thought. The idea of socializing knowledge as a path to human freedom from the slavery of wages: Is it new? A knowledgable population is after all a pre- requisite to a functioning democracy. Moreover, aren't labor, land and raw materials the true essential elements of production; and capital and entrepreneurship abstract ingredients that capitalism added to include a middle man/speculator who will take in most of the profits and the credit for the production of goods? If we free the knowledge - the blueprints- that has the potential to become something and share resources, labor and land can we, in theory, free ourselves?

Progress as you noted is a paradox. Never linear. Just continuously interrupted. Humans are a paradox.(half animal, half symbol)- and, of course technology is as paradoxical at its creators. Sharing ideas worldwide without the constraints posed by time and space- wouldn't that in theory create a more open minded humanity? Trading and sharing ideas. Isn't that a major contribution to opening up the minds of the most reasonable of us and in lessening tribalism?

The unraveling of capitalism is a bumpy ride but I imagine the unraveling of feudalism was just as traumatic. I don't see how technology won't play a part on its demise. Can the dual process you write about take place without it?

JC

(I have read that Hillary Clinton is a ferocious protector of intellectual property rights- knowledge for sale- and the Trans Pacific trade agreement places great emphasis on that in specific)

7:16 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hola MB and Wafers,

Annals of American douchebaggery:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLSO_-NZ3gc

Miles

8:14 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

In the insanity and history in the U.S.A----West Point will be taking the diplomas away from all the graduates who were officers in the confederacy! Is that orwellian or what? It really is astounding! TV land stopped broadcasting Dukes of Hazard and now this....all symbols and all absurd.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

It's interesting to watch this parade of cutting-edge intellects, but I do agree w/one thing: Trump is what America needs rt now, and if I had to donate an arm to get him in the W.H., I might consider it.

GO TRUMPSTER!

mb

9:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

COS-

I guess not too many Americans read WAF ch. 4. We have such a talent for doing the exact opposite of what is needed. Yes, denigrate the South some more, generate even more resentment. Way to go, douche bags!

mb

9:40 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

First, an apology. In reporting the impending entry of a new nudnik into the ranks of the Republican campaigners for the party presidential nomination, I mistakenly identified him as Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich was formerly a Democratic representative from Ohio, serving from 1997-2013. He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004 and 2008.

The new aspirant for the Republicans is John Kasich, Republican governor of Ohio since 2011. I apologize for the mistake.

Now, goings-on that are no less comical. The West Point story about the academy revoking the diplomas of all cadets who graduated from USMA (United States Military Academy) and fought for the South during the Civil War is a humor piece from The Duffel Blog, an Internet site that posts satirical articles regarding the U.S. military, Founded in March 2012 by Marine vet Paul Szoldra, it is the military analog of The Onion.

To close, excerpts from the "revocation" article:

"This sends a clear message to slaveowners and those who would fight for such a horrific cause that 150 years after most of them died we will not tolerate such atrocities on American soil," said Lt. Col. Thomas Jackson*, a spokesman for the school.

"But this is no small matter," he added. "A revoked graduate status means they will no longer be able to order transcripts, obtain early tickets for West Point football games, or receive their 10 percent discount at the Cadet Bookstore."

So, don't be concerned. These graduates' diplomas were not revoked. At least they haven't been yet.

*.Almost certainly a nod to Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, who was second only to Robert E. Lee among Confederate commanders. Jackson graduated 17th out of 59 students in the class of 1846. He had started at the bottom, and his peers said that if he had stayed another year he would've graduated first.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Just a short note about an interview I have not even watched or listened to yet, but which I look forward to with great anticipation:

Nicole Foss interviewed by Samuel Alexander of The Simplicity Institute:

http://www.theautomaticearth.com/2015/07/interview-nicole-foss-for-a-simpler-way-crisis-as-opportunity/

I have great admiration for both of these individuals. Nicole Foss is a conceptually gifted polymath (and a nice human being! --- among my facebook friends) while Samuel Alexander is a fine Australian scholar.

I believe that Lewis Mumford would approve (along with others that you have mentioned that are in the alternative cultural tradition like Henry David Thoreau, John Kenneth Galbraith, Jimmy Carter, etc.)

I will wait 24 hours or so and then make some comments after I have listened to the interview.

1:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

Well, I've often said that in the US, satire and reality have merged. Interesting, how believable that story was.

mb

3:29 AM  
Anonymous turnover said...

Kayne,

That clip you posted by Lee Camp, "Advertisements are Assholes", is from a series by Peter Joseph called "Culture in Decline". The series is well produced, funny, and Joseph articulates just how f***ed we are. He does propose utopian answers for what needs to change, but I think at bottom he knows how unlikely that is to happen any time soon.

The first episode of culture in decline: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTbLslkIR2k

4:09 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Hi Morris,

You said “I think Rosa may have overdone it (I dunno).”

Rosa was simply in tune with the rhythms of life, and felt her work here was done. Had she felt otherwise, she would have approached things differently.

Memento Mori

Sarasvati

9:23 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Peeing on shoes seems more a tendance Harpo than something Groucho would do. Incidentally, when I worked in a commercial millwork shop (making such things as countertops for banks and insurance company offices), above my workbench I wrote "Sous les laminates, la plage."

Here's a decent Situationniste site:

http://www.nothingness.org/SI/

I became interested in Situationism while reading Greil Marcus' Lipstick Traces in the early 1990s, after which I photocopied The Society of the Spectacle and Vaneigem's Revolution of Everyday Life at the university student newspaper office (I didn't tell them how big a job I had to copy). Debord's OK, from what I remember, but I found Vaneigem more interesting, especially his ideas on how to live an authentic life. (I quoted him on my old website, to which I've linked in my handle) I don't know if I'm getting there, but some things I see people do seem to me as being rather inauthentic. I'm not going to get into that here, as doing so would probably sound horribly self-satisfied, arrogant, or moralising...even if it isn't supposed to be.

For lunch today I had raw lettuce and raspberries that I ate while standing in the garden. That's purdy authentic, I'd say.

Gros bisous.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

You might be onto something with Trump...Dr B. I'm fascinated by all the bs around his dumping on McCain about what constitutes a 'war hero' and so on...when he himself sat out Vietnam... funny the 'right' never jumped on him for that with their love with all things military... It's as if the nightly news has replaced the comedy shows of years ago... though I think looney toons is much more sophisticated than some of these nitwits.. I just can't get over how stupid people are to go along with this loudmouthed idiot...but then what choices do they have as far as media... not that they question anything in their lives ... it just seems people in general are very lazy when it comes to what they ingest... I suppose one could chalk it up to the complexities of the culture we live in ... surrounded and inundated by distractions at every turn on a daily basis... some idiot like Trump comes along and next to what passes for entertainment? I suppose anything is possible...

3:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pol-

All true, and I think as president, Trump's job wd be that of Undertaker, whereas all Hillary can think of is crisis management. However, it's not over till it's over, and in order for it to be over we need one of the following in the W.H., who might possibly succeed Mr. Trump:

Latreasa Goodman
Shaneka Torres
Lorenzo Riggins
Tracy McCloud.

The McDonald's Four, we might call them: cutting-edge intellects of our time. Between now and the time I die (2045), if one of them doesn't get into the Oval Office, my time on this earth will have been wasted.

al-

You've probably arrived, don't worry. I favor Chico, myself.

mb

3:46 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Pol-

Nor did the Right say anything when Swift Boat Republican operatives lied about and demeaned John Kerry's Vietnam service.

MB, Wafers-

Like Trump's face, the US now resembles an advanced case of diseased genitalia. You know, tho, there's a twisted beauty to all this: Trump speaks...and the people go hog-wild; Trump says something racist...and his poll numbers skyrocket; Trump gives out Lindsey's cell fone # to the masses...and:

https://www.yahoo.com/politics/watch-lindsey-graham-destroy-his-cell-phone-after-124770719626.html

Trump is the repressed id of America; deserving of full Wafer support. Jesus, can you imagine what will happen when he brings Sarah out on stage w/him? Kim? Miley? The country's gonna explode! That's what!

Our biggest concern at this point should be "Bad is Good." MB has indicated he's gonna sacrifice an arm for Trump, already. THIS is the kind of dedication and sacrifice that we all need to have. Therefore, I've decided that I don't really need two testicles...

O&D,

Miles the One-Ball Wonder

ps: Kinda Blue dept.:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/el-doctorow-author-of-ragtime-dies-in-new-york-at-84/2015/07/21/b567bc1a-300e-11e5-a879-213078d03dd3_story.html

6:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

A wonderful contribution, thank u. I tell u, Trump is the best thing to come along in a long time, because he is making it clear what America really is: a collection of demented buffoons. I imagine all of Europe is looking at this development w/the kind of horror one feels when some grotesque tarantula crawls out from under a rock. "Can this be?" they say to themselves; "Is this really happening?" Etc. And can you imagine the prime ministers of those countries meeting Pres. Trump, and being able to keep a straight face? Who woulda thought, that the American people, in all their wisdom, could put a greater clown into office than Bush Jr.? Really, it's nothing, to give away an arm (or a ball) to see that guy in the W.H. Obama was a punk, and Hillary is a pasty-faced douche bag; but in Trump's case, I've run outta nouns. We hafta have him, end of story.

mb

8:11 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Dear Wafers,

Trump is what happens when we continue voting for the lesser of two evils. Eventually we are going to get plain evil. He is also a result of the left's total embrace or just plain indifference towards our permanent war policies. Regardless on who said the most hypocritical comments on the war hero bologna the fact remains that none of the democratic candidates is willing to touch that hot potato: that the US invests 48 cents on every tax dollar on the war machine. When the debate is about who gets to be the war hero and who doesn't we already assert that permanent war is a foregone conclusion. And that war is the undisputed way in which all of its blind participants become heroes. (Even TV news anchors like Brian Williams imagine they are soldiers) anyway, this whole hero charade is more evidence that the left has no moral consciousness. This election might as well be a contest as to who has the biggest prick. Which reminds me of the comic bit on war from the wise George Carlin. Men waving their pricks at each other. If only wars were fought that way!!

Enjoy the great Carlin speaking from the grave.

http://youtu.be/BtSv3x6lh3o

JC

10:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jul-

I personally wd be in favor of phallic elections, except that this wd exclude 3 of my heroes from the 2016 contest:

Tracy McCloud
Latreasa Goodman
Shaneka Torres,

wh/wd be intolerable.

John Berger once wrote that the US was gd at 2 things: dropping bombs, and transferring money. War and hustling, in short. Seems he left out douchebaggery, but that's where Trump comes in. Can't tell u how badly I want to see him as potus.

mb

10:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Animals deserving of awards dept.:

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/22/travel/yellowstone-woman-bison-attack-selfie/index.html

(My kinda bison)

mb

5:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Latest massacre? It's getting hard to keep up:

http://pix11.com/2015/07/23/police-5-dead-in-oklahoma-2-teens-taken-into-custody/

(We need a Wafer Massacre Watch--WMW)

5:32 AM  
Anonymous JWO said...

Good essay here:

http://harpers.org/archive/2015/08/in-praise-of-boredom/

"We’ve cast off the grousing of our elders and are teaching our children differently. We waste resources galore (in spite of our belated efforts to change), and, glued to our devices, playing video games, or checking the Daily Mail, we waste enormous amounts of time — even while pretending otherwise. I can’t tell you how many women I see buying bathing suits on their phones on the subway. But we persuade ourselves that this is a more substantive activity than having coffee with a friend: shopping while traveling, we’re multitasking! We worship purposefulness. To embark on an endeavor that has no clear aim — to amble through a city, or to spend an entire afternoon conversing in a restaurant, or to lie in bed and read a book chosen at random from the shelf, or to major in English literature, for that matter — has come to be seen as wasteful."

7:34 AM  
Anonymous FWB said...

Americans deserve an eternity of Trump after all the murdering they've been condoning for the past 300 years or so with 3 million Middle Easterners murdered since 2001. Everyone in America is a fucking coward so fuck them.

10:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

fwb-

Eloquently put. Actually, Trump was 100% accurate when he stated, recently: "The whole world hates us." Gee, wonder why.

mb

10:30 AM  
Blogger jml said...

I think fellow WAFers will like this short talk by Dr. Gabor Mate entitled "Why Capitalism Makes Us Sick."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaAJQR_9Dg8

A quote, "It's very interesting to look at the U.S. from outside...Let's analyze America psychologically...If you met some guy who kept telling you how great he was and how everyone wants to be like him, how would you diagnose him? He has grandiose personality disorder - what he is actually doing is compensating for deep insecurity."

Another interesting takeaway - he says that 50% of Americans suffer from chronic illness and that this is related to our way of life. But rather than look at social causes, we blame it on genetics.

Regarding this deep insecurity at the core of America that he refers to, I can't help but think that this is related to the wellspring of identity politics these days. People are desperately claiming and clinging to any and all types of identities b/c they know on some level that deep down they really don't have one. Is it possible that this recent surge of identity politics really just masks a lack of identity?

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dear All:

If you've never read John O'Hara's "Appointment in Samarra," you may want to check it out. Even though it's set in small town America in the 1930s, it rings true to today with its descriptions of hustling and striving for more but never having enough. Here's an article about the novel from the New York Review of Books-

http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2013/apr/08/great-american-bender-john-ohara/

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

Dr B writes: "Trump is what America needs rt now, and if I had to donate an arm to get him in the W.H., I might consider it."

It has been repeated here many times that any form of revolution in America will come from the right, not from the left.

Watching how Trump is blunt, watching how other Republican candidates call him all kinds of names, and watching how the members of the media are deriding him show how the country is far gone into the deep end.

The whole thing shows that the Republican presidential candidates are as clueless as Hilary Clinton on what the nation needs - they are just running because they think they are entitled to rule the country - even if they know nothing about anything.

This thing shows that it may take somebody like Trump to start a revolution from the right. That some people can simply come in here illegally and no American politician is visionary enough to understand how this undermines the rule of law is truly breath-taking. Yes, America is a country of immigrants, but it does not mean that America is a country of lawless immigrants or a country without the rule of law.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

[jml]

"If you met some guy who kept telling you how great he was..."

In a couple of minutes' time, Lewis Black captures in more graphic language what Gabor Mate was saying, reducing things to an analogy everybody can relate to:

http://youtu.be/4mCDZMWVWuc


6:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Frank-

One wonders if the GOP is stupid enuf to nominate him, inasmuch as he is obviously grotesque. But as of now, he is clearly the front-runner. The problem, at least in my view, since I want 2c Trump in the W.H., is that Hillary will easily defeat him; wh/means 8 yrs of a pasty-faced douche bag whose idea of govt is basically Obamaism with an edge, or perhaps more hawkish crisis management. Viewed at a distance, the Obama yrs were actually pretty boring; the country, and the people, just became more stupid and devoid of meaning. W/Hillary, this pattern of adrift-ness will continue. W/Donald, we wd go straight into the ditch, in a fury of pseudo-meaning. So the choice is between a bang and a whimper, and I fear the latter will be the choice.

mb

6:48 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Trump is carrying water for Hillary and the Democrats. Here's what's gonna happen: After the first GOP debate, Trump's poll #s will begin to dive. He will argue that he was treated unfairly by the Republican establishment, and declare his intention to run as an Independent. Hillary will benefit mostly from such a move. Meanwhile, Jeb will begin to shit a large Buick because his old man was denied a 2nd term by a similar tactic: Perot in '92 pulled votes from the right which allowed Bill to coast into the WH. Conclusion, we're looking at a Hillary presidency...sad to say.

Miles

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

Sorry to bring up the American South (which may or may not ‘rise again’), but take a look at two articles by Paul Craig Roberts in which he argues that the “Civil War” was really an unsuccessful war of independence, and that Lincoln’s war was not about slavery but about saving the empire. See them at the following:

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/04/13/power-lies/

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2015/07/21/falsifying-history-behalf-agendas/

I suppose he’ll get the same reaction you did from many quarters for what you said in WAF.

In his prescient novel, “The Iron Heel”, Jack London describes how a lifetime of study and scholarship can dismissed with a single word. In London’s case the word was “utopian”, but today “racist” can be more effective.

It is quite clear that almost everything most Americans believe is a lie and that they aren’t able to think beyond a few slogans.

David Rosen

8:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

I don' wanna get into it in any great depth, because the Civil War trollfoons will get all worked up again and descend on the blog, but I seem to remember Roberts' relying on Thomas DiLorenzo as a source for info abt Lincoln, and this was not a gd idea. Most Civ War historians consider his scholarship very poor, grinding an (anti-Lincoln) axe rather than searching for the truth. Thus, how reliable Roberts himself is is perhaps open to question. I haven't really researched it in any detail, however. Personally, I wd hate for WAF to get lumped tog. w/DiLorenzo, and I don't believe my take on Lincoln is the same as his. Also, DiLorenzo sees the War as a states' rts issue, and my own argument is that it was a clash of cultures; again, not the same thing.

However, what I think *has* been established is that Americans are the largest collection of ignoramuses on the face of the earth; that they have their heads rammed in their rumps; and that they are rolling around like doughnuts. And certainly, that they don't think, but rather emote and sloganeer. Which I rather enjoy, truth be told.

mb

8:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Birney-

Cdn't post it. Informal rule here: one post every 24 hrs max. Pls let a day elapse and re-send. Thanks.

mb

10:48 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

JML,

Thanks for sharing the video of Dr. Mate. I love the definition of freedom he utilizes; free from economic worry, with plenty of social support - no isolation- and free to express themselves. America fails in all three counts.

Wafers,

Hillary Clinton is trailing behind Rubio, Bush and Walker in the swing states of Iowa, Colorado and Virginia. And Trump has unfavorable ratings in those states 2 to 1. What that means is that there's a good chance Hillary will lose a general election against any of those candidates.

The reason that she is trailing in those states is because she is not seen as "strong enough." That could mean that she is no hero material. Or lacks a prick. Dunno.

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/2016-presidential-swing-state-polls/release-detail?ReleaseID=2261
Trump can only hurt the GOP if he wins- unlikely- or runs as a third party candidate. Americans have a tendency to not allow one party to occupy the WH longer than 2 consecutive terms; and seeing that the economic benefits of the last 8 years went mostly to the top 10% most Americans vote to change out of sheer reflex. Anyway, the Democrats are not looking as good as you might think. Americans like strong national security candidates. Don't give up! There are plenty of nuts in the GOP clown car!

JC

10:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

When was the last one? 24 hrs ago? I tell u, I just can't keep up:

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/24/us/louisiana-theater-shooting/index.html

5:33 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

No mention of how they cause cancer to *society*, of course:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/us/cellphone-ordinance-puts-berkeley-at-forefront-of-radiation-debate.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=photo-spot-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

5:46 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Hasn't Skinner's Behaviorism been discredited? Aren't people more complex than lab rats, in other words? Well, apparently not. I just attended a 2 day training for a part-time job which entails following various students throughout their school day to see if they are adjusting properly. This, of course, begs the question whether it's the way public education is organized that leads so many students to errant behaviors (Yes,it's quite natural to make first graders stay in their seats for 5-6 hours and God forbid not always stay on task). Anyway, insurance companies pay a mental health agency for this service who, in turn, pay me. Therefore, I am required to detail a child's behavior in order to justify continued services. And it's all stimulus-response; that is, I have to count how many times a student,for example, calls out without raising his or her hand. I am to reward the student if he or she raises his or her hand and apply some punishment if he or she doesn't! This will help the insurance company decide whether to continue or discontinue services. No time during the 2 day training was there the idea that a way to curtail errant behavior was to create a trusting relationship with the student, make a human connection which so many students sorely lack especially with authority figures. The student is totally quantified in other words. Gee, I wonder if that may be the true cause of their inability to raise their hand in class.

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Rusty Snag said...

Hi Dr. Berman and fellow Wafers:

Dr. Berman, you mentioned that it would be good to have a database of mass killings. Well, this morning on NPR they explained how one already exists. The most surprising thing I found about the website is that there are no scrolling ads or pop-up screens trying to sell rapid fire guns, bullet proof vests or armored vehicles, all of which are becoming necessities of life in these here United States of Scumerica. They're missing a real opportunity for e-commerce in my humble opinion.

http://www.gannett-cdn.com/GDContent/mass-killings/index.html#title

8:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Will electric shocks be part of this process, do ya know?

mb

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Zeke said...

Want to thank whoever wrote notes in my used paperback copy of Twilight of American Culture (theres a good chance they use this blog, after all). One passage in particular reminded me of a book I couldnt quite remember until I looked down to see "Joseph Tainter" helpfully scribbled in the margins.

That USA Today interactive is well done - I had no idea so many mass killings were family related. So now I need to concealed carry at Thanksgiving? It reminds me of something I heard in Marc Maron's interview with Nick Tosches that someone posted here. "There used to be love."

Vox made an interactive map with just mass shootings since Sandy Hook:

http://www.vox.com/2015/6/25/8836735/map-mass-shootings-sandy-hook

And people have recently been sharing a Mother Jones graph from last year that points to the increasing frequency of these killings:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/mass-shootings-rising-harvard

For me, what's troubling is how we don't even see gun violence as gun violence anymore. Like how everyone was talking about "that horrible flag that Dylan Roof used to commit those attacks." Uh, he didn't use a semi-automatic flagpole, he used a 45 ACP. Or how the Chattanooga Massacre is read as being caused by Islam and not that anyone can get an AK in Tennessee. Or this interview that Kate Steinle's brother had on Fox News following her tragic murder:

“There is no person that could tell me that that individual deserved to be walking around San Francisco with the ability to obtain a gun, and shoot, and murder the most beautiful person he could find walking around that day.”

I'll cut the guy some slack, his sister did just get horribly murdered, but his point was that we should be sending all the undocumented immigrants back (never mind they commit crimes at lower rates than any other group), and not that this constant gun violence is madness. The context of his remarks was that he didn't even really consider it odd that a mentally unbalanced man high on sleeping pills he found in the trash could get a .40 caliber fresh out of detention - but that an "illegal" immigrant hadn't been deported promptly on a twenty year old marijuana charge was the real source of the tragedy.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zeke-

Gd post. In future, however, try to keep messages to half a page max; it's an informal rule we have. Thanks.

mb

11:15 AM  
OpenID vwclown said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers,

I come here to connect in some way with what remains of humanity and large, active minds only to end up choking on my coffee over "Jeb will begin to shit a large Buick" (Miles) and "electric shocks" (MB) for kids. I was wondering myself if Dan was required to carry a 2x4, just in case. You guys are killing me!! Best blog. -- Fruit

1:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Woman of Fruit:

How abt these apples, then:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/07/24/there-have-been-204-mass-shootings-and-204-days-in-2015-so-far/

mb

3:54 PM  
Anonymous Mo Ronich said...

Don't forget the useful shooting tracker link included in the WP article.

http://shootingtracker.com/wiki/Mass_Shootings_in_2015

4:24 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Trump in Laredo:

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

JC on Laredo:

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

*the other JC, of course; not our dearest Juliet*

Which reminds me:

"But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun."

Lafayette shooting:

NETFLIX SAVES LIVES

O&D, kids...Ohhh&Deee!

Miles

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Tourista said...

Hello Mr. Berman, that is a very sweet post and I completely agree that in First World countries and especially in the urban upper and middle class of the US, sensuality has been repressed, distorted, and manipulated to the point of inducing a slow-burn madness.

BTW I just came back from a few nights and days in Mexico City and am now overnight in Las Vegas - such a contrast of cultures. What astonished me about Ciudad de Mexico was the almost complete lack of American tourists - even at Teotihuacan (well, I was there early in the morning but still, this time of year American tourists seem to over-run the world). I assume there are even fewer American tourists out in the sticks where you live, so I congratulate you on living in an American-free zone.
As much as I dislike Las Vegas, I'm happy with our staid and respectable driving style here in the US. Driving in Mexico City would add years onto my life, what with the liberal use of horns and general creativity about turn lanes.

5:38 PM  
Anonymous DeadThoreau said...

I don't know if anyone has posted this but I remember seeing this on CBC up here in Canada in the wake of the VT mass shootings. It's telling cause at the end of the interview he warns about the coming rise in mass shootings. It's funny cause I believe the video is intended as a kind of diss against this man, shows you the level of intellect from the party that posted it. You never see this kind of analysis on American TV.

Elliott Leyton on mass shootings:


https://youtu.be/LKZwls8l4f4

8:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's a great song:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyLOkbW9yCI

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

Thanks for your reply re the Paul Craig Robert articles. Roberts seems to have become prone to extremely strong opinions lately, and I wasn’t assuming that you and he were coming from the same place.

Over the years I’ve read a number of books about Lincoln, both from military and religious points of view – as well as collections of his wit and wisdom. He is a person that it is very hard to form a simple picture of, and it is not surprising that hundreds if not thousands of books have been written about him. Here is a quote from Alan Paton’s “Cry, the Beloved Country”:

“He rose from the chair to look at the books. Here were hundreds of books, all about Abraham Lincoln. He had not known that so many books had been written about any one man. One bookcase was full of them.”

Next time a Civil War trollfoon gets on your case, just tell him to read them all and send you a summary in 25 words or less.

By the way, I remember once watching an interview with the Kuwaiti minister of education on Kuwait TV’s English Channel back in the 90’s. The interviewer asked, “Why are so many of our students so… ‘ordinary’?” The minister replied, “Well, to quote Abraham Lincoln, ‘God must love ordinary people because he made so many of them.’”

David Rosen

9:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

DR-

Was it Hegel who called such people "world historical individuals"? These people are like lightning rods, embodying all the contradictions of their times; and it is the times that made them great, in addition to their unusual personalities. (Without war, both Lincoln and Napoleon would have passed unnoticed into history.) My own research, for Ch. 4 of WAF, turned up an astute politician; a businessman/capitalist, i.e. ideologue of the hustling way of life; and a man who was much more interested in keeping the Union intact than in freeing the slaves. After I published the book--I have the article somewhere in my pile of papers, so can't cite chapter and verse here--some historian discovered, at the Kew Library outside of London, documents showing that Lincoln was interested in setting up colonies of black people in distant locales, so as to avoid black-white conflicts in the US--as late as 1865!

And yet, with the Emancipation Proclamation and the 'enlarging' of the War so as to make freeing the slaves the stated purpose (and thus adding tremendous energy to the Union effort), Lincoln also grew larger, became the man who could speak (sincerely) in mystical overtones, and pen the Gettysburg Address. How much of this is accurate description, and how much mythologizing, will be debated till the end of time (it seems likely that it's both); but in ch. 4 I quote from the historian Walter Hixson, who writes that the sacred imagery of the time--Antietam, Mathew Brady's fotos, "Battle Hymn of the Republic," Grant and Lee at Appomattox, and the tragedy at Ford's Theater--"all redefined and ultimately 'hallowed' the meaning of America."

It's hard for Americans, myself included, not to be overwhelmed by all of this, and by the figure of "Honest Abe," who became larger than life. And it's because all of this really has a sacred dimension that everyone (trollfoons in particular) goes nuts over the Civil War, on which everything in modern American history turns. Race relations, identity politics, and the recent excitement over Confederate flag demonstrate, as I said earlier, that the Civ War never ended, and probably never will; and because the crucial issues never got addressed, there is a wound in the center of the American soul that is eroding it. As w/the genocide of Native Americans, there is a skeleton rattling in the closet, and the noise gets louder w/each passing year. As Rene Girard has written, what is religious and sacred is also tied into what is violent and sacrificial. In a word, we shall not escape our fate.

And Lincoln will remain for Americans a world historical figure, perhaps like Napoleon for the French: endlessly mythologized in both positive and negative directions. He was all of those things, I'm guessing, and there is finally no straightforward or definitive answer to the question, "Will the real Lincoln please stand up?"

mb

10:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to Quercus-

Your message seems to have disappeared. Sorry! Cd u re-send it? Thank you.

mb

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Quercus said...

Dear MB:
How refreshing to be reminded of the Alexandria Quartet, which I read many years ago. It had a strange clarity and sensuality which left its mark. I should get back and re-read it. I also read a number of Lawrence Durrell’s Mediterranean travel books, a mixed bag. His second attempt at a set of novels, the Avignon Quartet doesn’t have the impact of the Alexandria Quartet and I never finished it. He was one of a group of British writers who “escaped” to the Mediterranean after WWII from what was seen as the stodgy and repressed atmosphere in England. John Fowles springs to mind with “The Magus, Norman Douglas (Siren Land), Elizabeth David, who discovered Mediterranean cooking for the culinary challenged speakers of the English language, and Patrick Leigh Fermor, who died recently in his 90’s and wrote wonderful books on what was then remote parts of Greece and his walk across Europe just before WWII started. And not to forget the great eccentric Robert Graves, his poetry, scholarship and historical novels, who lived on Majorca, but he left England for good after WWI. These people all had their senses awakened.

However, much of what they wrote about, the people and their ways of life, is gone now or rapidly disappearing. The power of Western corporate culture (the I-Phones, being hip and distracted ) and junk food (that combination of sweet/greasy/ salty) seduces everything in its wake. The intensity is going...

Quercus

11:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to Steve Stelzer-

Thanks for writing in, but in future pls send messages to most recent post. No one reads the old stuff anymore. Thank you.

mb

2:43 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Dovidel,
I used to say God must love English as a second language teachers (my profession) because He made so many horrifically poor English language learners.
Yes, I'm surprised they didn't require me to buy a taser for this job. Next I'll go to an agricultural workshop and they'll be teaching the benefits of Lysenkoism. To paraphrase Douglas Macarthur, old discredited theories never die, they're just resurrected to insure profits. Most in the class were recent female college graduates. Needless to say, the white women had their natural "do me a favor and drop dead" demeanor. Unfortunately, many of the black women who I've always found more pleasant and approachable, had adopted the same attitude. It's Roman law for men in this country-guilty till proven innocent. Such a difference in SE Asia. I hope you get to visit that part of the world someday.
204 mass killings in 204 days? Do not fret. It's a great teaching technique for helping children learn the number system.

5:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dead-

Dylann Roof got placed in context, because the issue was race; but the usual American 'analysis' of massacres is the 'lone psychotic' theory, i.e. an 'explanation' based on individual psychology. Leyton is a Canadian anthropologist, and the analysis he presents is sociological: sure to be ridiculed in the US, and hardly ever emulated. This is why I say that in the US, even the smart people are dumb: no one wants to hear an analysis that indicts the entire culture, so instead the cause is a 'deviate'. We never get it, that the 'deviate' is representative of the nation in impt ways. With 204 massacres in 204 days, in 2015, that's an awful lot of 'lone psychotics'. Anyway, check out Leyton's Wiki profile--quite impressive.

mb

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Berbie said...

Just listened to the interview from the last post you published ... I found it casual and fascinating !!!

Interesting point u made about Bernie Sanders and his interest in arms , drones , weapons manufacturers in Vermont ...

Have WAFers been following him critically at all ? I haven't really seen much discussion of him on here , and he does seem to be the 'progressives' new guy. Even smart people like Nomi Prins seem kinda enthusiastic... Who is this pseudo-WAFer Sanders , exactly ?

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Divas Butler said...

Wafers will appreciate this article at counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/24/the-usa-as-a-failed-state-ta-nehisi-coatess-between-the-world-and-me/
Here's a qoute:
“The truth is that the police reflect America in all of its will and fear, and whatever we might make of the country’s criminal justice policy, it cannot be said that it was imposed by a repressive minority. The abuses that have followed from these policies—the sprawling carceral state, the random detention of black people, the torture of suspects—are the product of democratic will. And so to challenge the police is to challenge the American people who send them into the ghettos armed with the same self-generated fears that compelled the people who think they are white to flee the cities and into the Dream. The problem with the police is not that they are fascist pigs but that our country is ruled by majoritarian pigs.”

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Frankistan said...

DR B, you made 2 statements that baffle me:

1) "Hillary will easily defeat (Trump)"

2) "W/Donald, we wd go straight into the ditch, in a fury of pseudo-meaning"

I do not believe that Hillary will defeat Trump. Hillary is not smarter than Trump - Trump has accomplished more things (moral and economic) than Hillary.
Hillary made her wealth and name living off the government - she has never held a real job in her life. She has never paid for health insurance or car insurance for her kid and family. She is always colluding with the Wall Street cronies to make millions of dollars in unearned reputation. I will NEVER vote for her; I would rather vote for Trump. In fact, she is part of the reason the country is imploding as we speak.

Second, to claim that Trump would take the country faster into a ditch is to imply that Hillary will not be 2000 times faster in dragging the nation into a ditch. The nation is already in a ditch because of the useless existence of Hillary and Bill.

Based on what we know of Trump - how he raised his kids, his business achievements, his ability to speak his mind without hiding anything, etc, etc, he is far better than Hillary in terms of helping the nation out of the current mess.

In fact, he will make a better president than Hillary. Hillary is a crook. She is also anti-government by the way she hosted her own private email server to store government properties. She has not accomplished anything in her life outside living off the government like a parasite. So then, to claim that she would take the country 2000 times faster into a ditch than Trump is based on verifiable evidence and past events. To claim otherwise is being biased against Trump.

4:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Frank-

Well, time will tell, n'est-ce pas?

Divas-

What I've been saying for yrs now. Glad CP is finally catching up.

Berbie-

Nomi doesn't believe in Sanders as any sort of serious political challenge, I can assure you. What both of us do believe is that when the moment of truth arrives, Bernie will fold into Hillary and embrace the Party. Of that, I'm abs. sure.

mb

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Armed civilians "guarding" local recruiting office-

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/on-guard-armed-civilians-take-up-posts-outside-local-recruiting/article_fbdfa7c4-3163-11e5-9c7a-bf6392b51db8.html

What could possibly go wrong?

The sidebar story is kind of interesting, noting that the Marine Corps and US Navy don't think it's such a good idea...

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Justus Manny said...

@Divas Butler - thanks for the article from counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/24/the-usa-as-a-failed-state-ta-nehisi-coatess-between-the-world-and-me/

I love the following quote: "Young people and minorities—Mitt Romney’s dreaded 47%—will soon be the majority. White men have been frightened to death for half a century that the day will arrive when they will no longer be in control of the country. The 47% will become the 53%. And although Ta-Nehisi Coates may not agree with me, my guess is that the new majority will treat the new minority more humanely than the current majority treats the current minority"

It depends on what greed/hustling does to the mind of the new majority. I recall reading how Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York hated poor people and homeless people and how he wanted to exterminate them from the streets of New York. If the members of the new majority continue with the hustling mentality of the old majority, then the end results will not be different from what obtained in the past under the old majority.

Human nature is about preserving the self at the expense of anything outside the self. Religious and cultural beliefs about God and afterlife may subdue the human self-preservation impulses and desires, but remember that the current majority cares nothing about religion and morality and justice, so the tendency may be inherited by the new majority.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Justus-

I'm not sure that's really 'human nature'; it may be more American nature than anything else. In any case, the chances that the new majority will behave like the old majority is roughly 100%. They are all Americans, after all.

mb

7:09 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Miles,
Johnny Cash and Romeo and Juliet? Who would have guessed I am fond of both? Didn't I mention just how glad I am of having found a blog where people can truly connect the dots?

Dear Wafers and Dr. MB

More mass shootings. Well, isn't that getting a bit old already? But what's truly getting old are the explanations: the left: a lone psycho who should have never been allowed to own a gun; the right: the lack of more good guys with guns - or good gals in this case. Is like a broken record.
Dr. Berman: Don't you feel a great deal of pain reading through the explanations for this malaise that nobody in the USA seems to be able to diagnose?

Forget about anthropological explanations! Wtf? Americans don't even know what an anthropologist is! That's pushing their cognitive abilities way too far- Great Expectations. Americans won't have any of that. More Prozac or more guns. That's the solution. Easy solutions for uncomplicated thinkers.

Many Americans are a collection of little time bombs; I truly believe that just like air pollution is shielding the planet from another degree of increase in global temperatures mind numbing entertainment, small conversation, cell phones, shopping, gambling, hustling and other addictions are keeping thousands if not millions of Americans from going all out in a killing spree. Or from turning the guns unto themselves. (Have you checked out the number of suicides? More than car accident related deaths per year - way over 30,000 and about half -15,000 - of those are from self inflicted gunshots. Nihilists come in different flavors) anyway, can you even imagine what would a bunch of people with the critical thinking faculties of 8 year olds do if they got too close to the banality of their lives? If they found out their country hasn't been spreading freedom abroad?That they are not the "good guys?"If they knew that most are never going to be able to retire? That they aren't exceptional in most things? That there's more to life than hustling? Or that they are truly a lonely people's and most will probably die that way? How dare anyone try and wake them up?! That kind of reality needs to stay well hidden from awareness. I fear we might need more mindless entertainment just for national security's sake.

Burn the books!!

Sincerely,

Juliet Cash

(Ps: Just a little Wafer humor)

http://youtu.be/HJZPzQESq_0















8:10 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

Thank you once again for a generous reply. I guess the massive inkblot of information written about Lincoln will always be a Rorschach test that Americans will respond to in their typical Manichean way – by either worshiping or vilifying poor old Abe. “Nuance? What’s that?”

The American civil religion arrived when the first Puritans landed in New England, and all presidential inaugural addresses seem to parrot the Puritan ‘chosen people’ syndrome. But, as the US crumbles it really seems to be growing more strident and dogmatic. I wonder whether or not Lincoln’s ‘mystical overtones’ mark some kind of qualitative or quantitative intensification, or are they just another milestone along the way?

America has always been exceptionally good at saying “Lord, Lord,” but its fruits leave much to be desired.

Dan,

As an old hand at ESL teaching, I’ve concluded that the Good Lord made language learners on normal curves. Two not unrelated factors which can really skew the curves for good or ill are the students’ desire to learn and the culture they come from. By the time an ESL teacher gets Korean or Japanese students to say one word, a group of Brazilians may have reorganized the world.

David Rosen

10:46 PM  
Blogger Christopher said...

Perhaps I should reread Durrell--I hadn't thought about him in decades--thanks for reminding me. We sometimes forget that a deep part of Western Civilization is its great literary tradition that is still there for all of us to experience. I'm married to a woman who views the world sensually in the way you described. She buys liquor based on the attractiveness of the bottle. She spends long time in the bath, she notices the nuances of nature, of smells, and compassion itself. I've met other people like this but often they get it beaten out of them from the relentless push for "success or else" that has poisoned the lives of millions. I think, though, you're wrong about depicting American culture as merely shallow and doomed--yet, for some reason this hyper shallowness makes me smile because it is now dominant to a degree that is becoming interesting and transcendent. It's change from what it was just a few years ago. I see people circling themselves in outrageous double-binds. It think only good will come from this--this is the time that the prosaic becomes surreal.

9:19 PM  

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