September 13, 2015

A Wrinkle in Time

[Note to the reader: A Wrinkle in Time is the name of a novel published by Madeleine L’Engle in 1963. The following essay was just published in Spanish translation in a literary review based in Mexico City. I supply the original English version for those who might be interested in reading it.]

It happened unexpectedly, just a few days ago: I was digging through some old notebooks of mine, and came across an art journal I had started shortly after I moved to Mexico in 2006. It was a combination of painting and writing, and one of the things I had noted down was a line from the German poet Rilke: “The future must enter you long before it happens.” And I thought of my very first trip to Mexico in 1979—which was to Mexico City and Puerta Vallarta—and how I was struck by the colors of the country. Somehow, the United States for me was dull, mostly green and gray, whereas the houses in Mexico were pink, and the clay pots with plants that were lined up on the terrace of my hotel were brilliant, brightly colored. I think that's when my future—which is what Mexico became—entered me, entered my bloodstream. Ten years later, I came back, and spent about ten days in the City, going from museum to museum. At that time, Coyoacán was a village beyond the city limits—you had to take two buses to get there—and I wandered the streets, soaking it all in. I went to the Frida Kahlo Museum, never imagining that 25 years later I would be living five blocks away. But Coyo entered my bloodstream as well. Without realizing it, I was becoming a chilango.

I also thought of a conversation I had in the early nineties with a science fiction writer in Seattle, who told me that he was writing about imaginary worlds because, unconsciously, he was describing a state of mind to which he aspired, wanted to have. And I wondered: Am I doing that as well? It seemed to me that I was.

Where does inspiration come from? Certainly not from the conscious mind. If your work is motivated by a feeling of necessity—that this is something you must do—then somehow, it comes from the future (whatever that means). And the future can include not only a consciousness you aspire to, but also people you aspire to be like, or emulate. For me, Gandhi was such a person. I remember seeing a photo of what he left behind—his sandals and his glasses—over which was superimposed something he said toward the end of his life: “I have no message. My life is my message.” I am hardly someone most people would want to emulate, but when I saw that photo, I realized that if that quotation were to be true of me even to a very small extent, I would feel that my life had been worthwhile.

But what was my life? What was anybody's life, beyond the sum total of what they had done? Sartre believed that we make our lives through our choices, and of course that is true. But it is also too simple, because in the case of the major “choices” I made in my life, I have the impression that “I” wasn't doing the choosing. Somehow, my future was making the decision, and thus there really was such a thing as fate. It seems hard to imagine, but I couldn't come to any other conclusion.

And yet, I didn't really believe that our destiny was carved in stone, “written down” somewhere, waiting to be discovered. The whole science (well, art) of divination was based on this: Tarot cards, ouija boards, the I Ching, astrology, and so on. These things have been used to get a jump on the future, so to speak; to tell us what's going to happen, so we might know what we need to do.

Three quotations come to mind at this point:

-“Know thyself” (Solon, later Socrates) -“Character is destiny” (Heraclitus) -“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves” (Shakespeare)

All of these suggest that the future is within us, rather than outside of us, if only we were smart enough to figure out who we are. That is why everybody's future is unique. If you know who you are, know your essential character, you can make a reasonable guess as to where you need to go—what's “pulling” you, so to speak. So we are the captains of our souls, but not in the way that phrase is usually meant.

But we don't make our fate entirely on our own, of course; we are not living in a social vacuum. A good example of this is that brilliant film of some years back, Sex, Lies and Videotape, in which the college buddy of a successful lawyer suddenly shows up on the latter's doorstep, and through the force of circumstance inadvertently manages to turn his former friend's life, and that of his wife, upside down. The three of them make choices, but there is also a sense of inevitability about it all. By the end of the story, the marriage, which had largely been a sham, falls apart, and the wife is now paired off with the stranger who came to stay. All three of them do come to know themselves, in a dramatic way, and character does prove to be destiny. But character doesn't exist in a bubble; our character collides with other characters, and in this way the future becomes the present.

This kind of strange logic operates at the world-historical level as well, but that is a topic best left for another essay. My concern here is with individuals, and how they know (or don't know) what they are doing. The quote from Rilke is indeed interesting. He didn't say, “The future enters you long before it happens.” No, he said it must enter you, essentially telling us that this is something we are called upon to do. But how? It's doubtful that he was referring to divination. Another famous quote of his is, “You must change your life”—again, must. And how are we supposed to do that? Rilke believed that the answers will come if we are willing to “live in the question,” as he put it; just sit with the uncertainty, in other words. The idea being, I suppose, that by doing so, one allows the future to enter us, and thus change our lives.

Learning this lesson was very long in coming, for me, because it requires trust, and that was something I found very hard to do. The world, after all, is a pretty scary place; rationally speaking, trust may not make a lot of sense. Who, or what, am I placing my trust in? But Rilke, of course, was not talking about reason; he was talking about deliberately stepping into the unknown, as an act of will. Not even Gandhi was comfortable with that.

My point here is not that “Life is a mystery”; that would be an easy out. It seems more a question of letting life come and get us, as it were; of letting the universe seize us, shake us up, do what it wants to do with us. Then life is not so much a mystery as it is a miracle, a kind of Blakean adventure. This is of course an ideal: there is something very reassuring about routine, and I doubt any of us can walk around in a state of star-struck wonder 24/7. But it must also be said that a life completely devoid of unpredictability probably wouldn't be much of a life.

I recall seeing, a few years ago, a film called Kirschblüten (Cherry Blossoms) by the German filmmaker Doris Dörrie. It's about an older married couple, Rudi and Trudi, who live in a small Bavarian village. He has a boring job in a garbage-processing plant, and follows the same routine every day. He has no real interests or aspirations; his view of life is narrow, restricted. She, on the other hand, has always wanted to go to Japan and study Butoh, an iconoclastic type of dance technique designed to awaken the true nature of the self. When she unexpectedly dies, Rudi is bereft, but decides to visit Japan as an homage to his deceased wife. There, he “accidentally” meets a teenage Butoh dancer, a poor, homeless girl who lives in a tent, and they become friends. By the end, before he dies (he is terminally ill without knowing it), he begins to understand why his wife had been interested in Butoh, and to see life as a cherry blossom—fleeting and impermanent. He acquires new eyes, and grasps the notion of the eternal present that Yu, the homeless girl, was trying to show him through the dance. She is his future, at least for a short time, and he lets her teaching enter him, such that he manages to experience wonder before he dies.

It often takes a major event, such as the death of a loved one, to shake us up, and allow the future to enter us. Doris Dörrie's point is that miracles do not exist elsewhere, in some sort of supernatural heaven; it is, rather, a matter of allowing oneself to "go out of time"—i.e., out of linear, predictable time. An additional point is that if a stick-in-the-mud like Rudi can do it, then anyone can. Dum spiro, spero, wrote Cicero; so long as I breathe, I hope.

©Morris Berman, 2015


Blogger JimK said...

Beautiful and inspiring! Thanks!

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Vince said...

Thank you.


8:50 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Wow--A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite novels way back when I was in middle school. I read it because my PUBLIC school had a voluntary competition for students to see who could read the most Newbery medal winners (of which Wrinkle is one) during the school year. This was in the late 1970s, and I have a hard time imagining that this could happen today. Alas:

In October 2008, Anita Silvey, a children's literary expert, published an article in the School Library Journal criticizing the committee for choosing books that are too difficult for children. Lucy Calkins, the Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University's Teachers College, agreed with Silvey: "I can't help but believe that thousands, even millions, more children would grow up reading if the Newbery committee aimed to spotlight books that are deep and beautiful and irresistible to kids". But Pat Scales said, "The criterion has never been popularity. It is about literary quality. How many adults have read all the Pulitzer-prize-winning books and . . . liked every one?"

Erica Perl responded that "For starters, the real reasons kids don't read doesn't have anything to do with the Newbery medal—or any award. It has to do with the declining role of the book in our streaming-media culture and with socioeconomic realities."

I hereby nominate Erica Perl to be an "honorary WAFer," and Anita Silvey and Lucy Calkins as detestable shitheads. After all, J.K. Rowling's got a billion in the bank--does she really need a stinkin' Newbery medal on to of that?

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Mark Fuller Dillon said...

Thank you for this!

11:30 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

We've probably all heard the trite phrase "age is a state of mind". Well of course it is not entirely that way, but there is some validity to the notion that senescence is characterized by a precipitous loss of creativity and perhaps also a loss in the impulse to experience adventure. Adventure comes in many forms depending on the proclivities of the individual. For some people it is climbing mountains. For others it is writing a book about a subject that a person has not written about before (perhaps Dr. Berman can relate to this). For still others it is committing to a relationship that is different from ones in the past. For others it might be abandoning a stifling relationship and spending time in challenging reflection. For others it might be learning a new sport or a new skill.

For others it might be "turning on, tuning in, dropping out", joining an intentional community and learning permaculture.

Anyway, it's unique to each person, and adventure must be inspired from within for it to be fruitful.

2:43 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...


Must reading here; a delightful surprise. While Ken Wilbur isn't skewered directly in the piece (although--by the title--that's what I eagerly anticipated), the spirit of the piece is the same. Some nice Wittgenstein threads in here as well:

O & D--


9:23 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Wow, what a great piece. Thank you.

I could not help but think of John Lennon's quote when reading your article: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making plans".

Wafers forever.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Ste-vo said...

"Cherry Blossoms" is on my top-10 movie list of all time. Of course it is always changing. That movie was exceptional, from start to finish.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


A lovely essay. Some of my best days on the earth have been ones in which I had absolutely no idea where to go or what to do. I think great jazz musicians and artists are able to be completely comfortable inside this realm. There's a type of freedom, vulnerability, and openness in not knowing what's gonna take place; a kind of magic, if you will, in allowing one's self to be taken along into the unknown by the universe.

MB, Wafers-

History professor, Ethan Schmidt, shot to death in his office today:

Not to conflate MB's essay w/this tragedy, but wasn't Trotsky killed in Coyo by an ice pick wielding student? Strange, yes?


4:23 PM  
Anonymous SW said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

After a long day at an increasingly stressful job this was wonderful. I smiled when I read your description about the picture of Gandhi's last possessions. I remember seeing that same picture many years ago and believing - and still believing - this is a noble goal.

5:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


By Ramón Mercader, an agent of Stalin; not a student of Trotsky's, as far as I know. The Trotsky Museum is also located a few blocks from my apt., and we can visit it during the 1st International Wafer Summit Conference, Sept. of next year. One scenario for my death, I'm guessing, is that a trollfoon enters my place and beats me to death with an actual douche bag. (I've already tipped off the concierge.)

Jack L.-

Many thanks for the care package, esp. the Trump baseball cap. I shall wear it proudly.


7:22 PM  
Blogger Jacob James said...


Since you've brought it up, I doubt you'll be assassinated. More likely you'll be done in by one of your many vices. By this I mean your sandwiches. My best bet is pastrami, or a Reuben, maybe even bologna. Like many thoughtful writers you'll have bitten off more than you can chew. Stay safe and keep a drink on hand.

8:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


At least, I don't do bologna.


1:33 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

And now, a report from the culture wars.

Participants in the Salon Musulman, held this past weekend in Pontoise, France near Paris, were treated to an unplanned spectacle: two women, one of Algerian and one of Tunisian descent, interrupted the proceedings to deliver a message that women should not be submissive toward Muslim men.

The women, who had written their "Personne ne me soumet" across their naked torsos, were from the radical feminist group Femen. Shouting "No one can enslave me, no one can possess me, I am my own prophet," the women were rather quickly removed from the stage.

One of the two imams presiding had just told the audience that Muslims should follow the example of the Prophet, "who never slapped his wife." His appeal was apparently lost on conference security officials, however, one of whom could be seen delivering what appeared to be a kick to one of the protesters as they were being dragged off.

In the man's defence, however, we should acknowledge that the kickee was not his wife.

For your further information:

8:23 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Really intelligent essay, thanks.


8:37 AM  
Anonymous World Head said...

That Simon Critchley piece is wonderful . He has a fantastic book called "The Book of Dead Philosophers." Highly recommend. Shows how a whole lot of the greats treated death both in life and at their expiration. MB, he may even be waiting patiently to release the next edition, to include your Great Fall to a douche bag wielding trollfoon...

I also remember u recommending Matthew Crawford's The World Beyond Your Head. Highly enjoyed it. He happened to be on an hour long NPR segment yesterday discussing that topic, joined by the author of a similar, interesting new book,

Just wanted to throw that out there.

Thanks guys

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Disappointed Danny said...

Max Blumenthal ‏@MaxBlumenthal tweeted Sep 12
.@HarvardIOP is hosting two of the most belligerent Islamophobes @MaajidNawaz & @SamHarrisOrg for a panel on "Islam & the future of tolerance"

I don't particularly enjoy Sam Harris's tone, certitude, Reason rally cries, too much either ... But when very intelligent journalists, writers, academics, intellectuals respond in this way, and Blumenthal has been guilty of this a lot lately, it makes me realize there are certain layers in the intellectual strata that desperately need exposure to his style, and the fresh air of reality.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

World Head....Interesting...I read Crawford a while back. O.k. I guess. That he was on npr and his ifeas deemed appropriate is suspect. NPR is with the nice polished cadence of the announcers a nicely diguised version of all u.s. corporate media and mainstream thought...I notice too a trend toward corporations embracing meditation and a general interest mindfulness--zen a la crawford generally also. I think that the distiction between a sort ofodern day "mind cure" and being a wafer is important and easily lost if one sups at the table of npr and nyt. There is ample ctitique of the ol mindcure and some more recent critiques of the adoption of shop as soulcraft and minfulness invogue by business. In short ways to keep on participating in the hustle of american life without feeling bad about implications of how people live. On a tangential note, as a psychiatrist I am struck to this day by the extent to which even severely mentslly ill incorporate the memes and ideals of american politics and institutions. Rants of cia, nixon, gmo's, spies, terrorism. Its a testament to how pervasive propaganda and indoctrination are in the u.s. when at core the concerns of the severly mentally ill differ only in degree from those of the sane.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Orlov's posts are sounding less and less like a PhD thesis and more and more like this blog:

"And so I propose Kim Kardashian as Trump's running mate. Not Kim Kardashian herself—she doesn't amount to much—but, more specifically, her amazing ass. She has a stunning derrière that I am sure will make America feel proud again."

1:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, sounds like Dmitri is coming over to our camp, altho he needs to add that the future of the US can be found deep inside Kim's rump, as well as in the eyes of Shaneka Torres (google her name to see what I mean).


Yeah, I liked the 'Soulcraft' bk, but I was bothered by its rt-wing slant. Zen, and bks of this sort, are easily coopted by corporations and mainstream institutions, and can finally become aids to better hustling, so to speak. ps: always, always, capitalize Wafer. Thanks.


2:19 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Many thanks for the clarification about Mr. Mercader. Here's a Stalin joke:

Farm worker: Comrade Stalin, we have so many potatoes, we could stack them all the way to God in heaven!
Stalin: That's good, but God does not exist.
Farm worker: And neither do the potatoes.


I hope you sent MB the camouflage-style Trump cap. Perhaps he can wear it to one of the many Trump piñata clobbering contests that are happening in Mexico.

Word has it that these things are flying off the shelves...


2:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

World Head-

We have an informal rule here: post only once every 24 hrs. So please wait until a day has elapsed since yr last post, and re-send it. Thank you.

Good essay by Louis Menand in 8/24 New Yorker on Joan Didion. The real punch of this short bio is the revelation that she regarded the US pretty much as a show, a fraud. There's a rich vein of Waferdom here.


5:39 PM  
Anonymous shenjingbing said...

MB, Wafers, et al.,

I first experienced Butoh, the "dance of utter darkness," many years ago at the Japan Society in New York. One piece I saw that evening I will never forget. It was a solo, danced by a ghost in white – a beautiful, young Japanese wearing a white wig, white body makeup, and a white hoop dress completely hiding her legs and feet. She first appeared standing tall and expressionless on a stage that was covered in a two-foot layer of theatrical fog. Very, very slowly she began lowering herself straight down. Of course, beneath her dress she was bending her knees as in a grand plié, but because her lower body was invisible, it created an illusion of sinking through the fog. Then from this lowered position – about half her original height – her facial expression changed to one of sheer ecstasy and she began effortlessly floating and gliding around the smoky stage as if moved by unseen forces – the wind, perhaps – creating a dreamlike illusion of joyfully floating on a cloud.

It still amazes me what incredible physical strength and control was needed to create the theatrical effect – after all, beneath her dress the dancer was moving from within a deep squat position. But she did it so smoothly she could have been on wheels! Her upper body and facial expression were fluid and relaxed, and never betrayed any effort. Whenever I recall that evening’s performance I am transported again.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Edward Curtin said...


A wonderful essay - the word God won't bite.

You are a great writer and researcher and I have read all your books and use your work in my teaching. I am a sociologist on the inside/outside.

This piece is profound in its implications - obviously for you but it should be for everyone.

Thanks for your work.

What the hell is a Wafer. I know you are a comedian but please enlighten me.

Just so you know you are not the only person of your generation struggling against the same things, I include one of my recent articles for your amusement.

A modest proposal: An ‘anti-Labor Day’
By Edward Curtin
Posted on September 7, 2015 by Edward Curtin

6:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank you for that great description of Butoh. I'm sure everyone here will be interested in it.


Many thanks for yr appreciation, very kind of you. A Wafer is a member of this blog. The name does not come from the Eucharist, but from the initials of the last bk in my America trilogy, Why America Failed (WAF). Waferdom is the highest state of consciousness currently available on the planet. Wafers are indeed comedians; my own sense of humor is clearly demented. In any case, pls join us, and contribute. BTW, Wafer is also a verb: e.g., they Wafered thru life, borne aloft on a cloud of Butoh.


6:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Didju ever wonder why the mainstream media never talk abt the sort of stuff that's in this article, and instead keep the airwaves filled w/pure dogshit?:


10:25 PM  
Blogger jml said...

The Counterpunch essay ( is very moving. Reading it, it occurred to me how much I missed reading this kind of writing. It seems that during the Obama years so many of the Progressive blogs have devoted themselves to issues of Identity Politics, which, as you say, aren't really politics. I don't even bother to read them anymore, because, quite frankly I've gotten to the point that I don't care who has the right to wear a dress w/o being bullied or use a particular restroom, etc. So nice to finally hear, again, a mature voice. Where have these writers been during the Obama years? Is it just me, or has there been a paucity of these kind of critiques lately?

I must also add that your Wrinkle in Time piece was beautiful. I love your writing style. I always feel as if I'm just sitting with you having a conversation as you casually reveal your astute observations of the world we live in. Thank you.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous Pops said...

I really enjoyed reading Gandhi's autobiography last year. It was also surprising to find thru subsequent reading how little i knew about the "shadow" side to his life. Kids/wife hated him when he died, he was pretty racist in some ways, etc. Everyone has their own foibles though, no? I think one of the Lewis Mumford bio books raised some issues with his relationship w/ women, but some of Gandhi's flaws seem a little larger than those. Was he just larger than life? Or would you guys say he's just remembered in a way a little like Mother Teresa is? I know Hitchens and some others wrote some nasty things about her story. Maybe she wasn't evil, but less saintly, more bitterness.

I just don't wanna give up on ya, Mahatma!

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Great Counterpunch article by Prof. Leupp - good to see the unadorned facts in print for a change. Nice that the writer is a history professor at Tufts - there are evidently still some dissidents in the academy.

The public, on the other hand, is scary: an article in the local paper the other day quoted a CNN/ORC poll finding that 43% of Republicans believe that Obama is a Muslim...

Glad to see that you made it home safely from NYC. (Did you receive the pictures from the lunch - it was a large file?)

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Insightful said...

Mexico Tortured The Alleged Killers Of 43 Missing Students: Report

The article goes on to state the alleged were just construction workers. Morris, I haven't heard you speak about this. Maybe you have; I don't know. But since you live in Mexico, can you tell us what the hell is going on down there with regard to this terrible event?

12:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank u all for writing in.


I was asked abt this b4, and my answer is that I don't live in or near Iguala, and frankly don't know any more than what I read in the papers. It's pretty much a disgrace, but I don't know that justice will be served.


Yes, I got the pics, and many thanks for sending them on. I've forwarded them to a few Wafers who asked 2c them.


There aren't any perfect people, unfortunately. The real issue in the case of folks like Gandhi is not the various negative aspects one can ferret out (the activity of very small people), but the overall picture of greatness, the overall contribution to history and society.


Thank you. The Leupp article is a gd demo of how we live in a total state of unreality, and how those who talk abt what's real get shoved to the margins. Articles like Leupp's are for the .0001% of the nation that prefers not to live in Disneyland.


12:36 PM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

"The real issue in the case of folks like Gandhi is not the various negative aspects one can ferret out (the activity of very small people), but the overall picture of greatness, the overall contribution to history and society."

This reminds me of the time when I was waiting at a station on the London Underground, and a very short black guy, only about 4ft. tall, came up to me and asked me whether I concurred with Derrida's concept of "jouissance".

It turned out that he was an intellectual pygmy.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, sure: the concept belongs to Lacan.


2:58 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,


Many thanks for both the Menand and the Leupp articles. I was struck by this particular quote from the Didion piece:

"She is never less than amazed by the willingness of everyone in the press to pretend, in the name of keeping the show going, that American life is really not about money and power."

Is this not applicable to the 2016 election? I'm so repulsed by the pundits on TV (it's obvious that Wolf Blitzer can hardly control his hard-on for Trump) babbling incessantly about tonight's GOP debate at Ronnie's sanctuary that I want to stalk over to the set and piss all over it, as a way to blot it out. Jesus, these fools really think that America is still going on! Don' make me laugh...

The Leupp piece was a beautiful description of exactly how and why this country has gone straight to hell! Rightly so, in my humble opinion. We deserve nothing less for the crimes committed against the Iraqi people. In addition, it was nice to see someone finally go after, "but I didn't know" Colin; not only is he a war criminal, but an utter and complete douche bag to boot.


4:50 PM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Just had to share this with the WAFerdom:

4:59 PM  
Anonymous AS said...

This was posted 6 years ago so I have to assume someone's already shared this on the blog before, but in any event it's wonderful:

My favorite part is when they ask them which country the US should invade next: "We'll make a big glass crater out of the fucking Middle East for all I care."

6:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Good X-ray of the US. The dumbest, of course, are the progs, who think either that Americans are raw material for revolution, or that they are worth 'liberating'. The key factor in any realistic analysis of our political situation is the identity of the American people--who are largely dumb and violent. And all the progs, every last one of them, pretend that this issue doesn't exist.

O&D, amigo-


7:48 PM  
Blogger Edward Curtin said...

In commenting a few days back about the wonderful essay "A Wrinkle in Time" I mentioned a Labor Day satire of mine that I think folks might find appropriate. A piece about a national do-nothing day and the problems that would ensue. It might give you a serious laugh.

Here the address:

A modest proposal: an 'anti-Labor Day'

Ed Curtin

6:26 AM  
Blogger CB said...

I love this post.

9:27 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Hi MB,

Thought this would interest you in light of your Japan book:

Humanities faculties are scheduled to shut down en masse in the country to pave the way for "areas that better meet society’s needs" - a.k.a. hustling.

Here's a protest response to the legislation from the president of Shiga University:



10:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That's too depressing. Shinzo Abe is an absolute disaster.


10:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, 46% of people polled by Newsmax said Trump won last night's debate. This is absolutely terrific; it looks like we really are slouching towards Bethlehem. Article in Aug. 31 New Yorker on Trump says: "When Trump leaped to the head of the Republican field, he delivered the appearance of legitimacy to a moral vision once confined to the fevered fringe, elevating fantasies from the message boards and campgrounds to the center stage of American life."

So it's finally happening...we are drifting toward full-blown dementia. And when I wrote, in 2000, that the country was finished--people laughed!


7:35 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...


Well, Trump did deliver the line of the night when he told Jeb that his brother was essentially a disaster. Hard to disagree w/that one. Nevertheless yr right, this is wonderful news. Incidentally, I listened to several progressive radio programs today. The general consensus is that they are appalled and horrified by the possibility of a Trump presidency. They don't seem to understand that, as u say, Bad is Good! I wanted to call in and plead the Wafer case and vision, but ultimately thought it a useless endeavor. I figured it would be almost impossible to explain that Trump is *exactly* what the nation needs at this late date: an usher who will commence the extreme end of the American project.

Hallelujah, and as always, O&D!


8:06 PM  
Anonymous COS said...

Great essay. Though not directly related it still reminded me of Borges work on Tlon and also the one on Time. Somehow, Borges like many other thinkers under appreciated in the U.S. and viewed as a charming Latin Author and dismissed by many "thinkers" in the U.S.--typically only those "ideas" hatched in the U.S. are even deemed considering. Perspectives on government, medicine, food, transport and even mental health from outside the U.S. are dismissed out of by hand. The provincialism is astounding. Imagine a president who can speak two or three languages! O.k. maybe one language? On this point I follow Miles--Trump is the logical choice and his being elected will ideally make is abundantly clear that the U.S. is a total buffoon nation. Was election of Fred Gandy (of Love Boat), Sonny Bono and the recent star of a survivor to congress enough to establish MB's point? Apparently not to the chattering experts at NPR and the New Yorker. The election of Reagan a foreshadowing but compared to Trump the Gipper looks like Marcus Aurelius. As outlandish as Trump is, Hillary and the rest are no better. Hell at least he is entertaining.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thing is, civilizational collapse is not an abstract concept; it's made up of real events and real historical actors. Progs can't believe Trump is being so successful, politically speaking, because he's vile, and a bigot, and a boor, and has an absurd haircut (equivalent of Hitler's moustache, I suppose). Again, the typical prog case of not understanding your audience (wh/Trump does). History is hardly clean and sensible: this *is* what self-destruction looks like. Obama, of course, is another (milder) version of self-destruction, but we are way past the days of lofty speeches and chic suits (which is why Ben Carson hasn't a prayer). As we enter the Final Phase, blunt violence will appeal to more and more Americans. I'm old enuf to recall a time when I was a deluded prog, and I and all of my prog friends said: "Can you imagine it? President Nixon??!!" It was as outlandish a concept as "President Trump" is to present-day progs. And then, we woke up on a Wednesday morning in 1968, and he *was* President Nixon.


8:59 PM  
Anonymous Cabeza de Piloncillo said...

The Progressive mind at work..... Truly, truly ponder this piece.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


What, really, can one say? As for Stalin, underneath it all he was a great humanitarian, just terribly misunderstood. It's just a question of connecting the dots correctly.


10:28 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Wonderful essay, Dr. Berman. I have read it several times. Your essays are inspiring monologues of wisdom. Thanks for sharing that gift.
I often ponder about the knowledge of Self, how it happens, where does it lead. How routine makes us safe but dull and how unpredictability makes us feel afraid yet alive. We are conundrums. We can hold so many contradictions within our conflicting needs - philosophy has in that mystery plenty of material to ponder about.
I think it was Foucault who once noted that a man is what he does with what was done to him. The knowledge of Self is limited to our environment. Some of what was done to us comes from circumstances outside of our control. And so being self directed is probably not an absolute in itself. Just a matter of degree. To what degree are our values truly ours or just a product of coincidental exposure? And then I compare Americans and other cultures. We are probably determined by our environment a lot more than what we are willing to admit. I consider stepping out of our own bubble the most rewarding adventure one can give ourselves and those around us. And it contributes to making the lives of those we live with a lot more pleasant. But Americans are so insular. So isolated. Just like you I am afraid that the significant emotional event that will push Americans to see their own hubris might be very violent indeed.

Ps: Your thought on Nixon was chilling. Trump will make Nixon look like a saint.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


It was Sartre, actually: "Freedom is what you do with what's been done to you."


4:55 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...


Jesus, did McCoy recently undergo a lobotomy? This is a good example of, as MB says, "even the smart ones are dumb." McCoy has written some hard-hitting stuff in the past, but this is pure propaganda w/a Manichean Cold War simplicity. His shameless mollycoddling of Obama in this piece is scandalous; all that stuff about Brzezinski, a rank obscenity. It has the flavor of the old Moveitone News clips that played b4 the feature presentation during the 1950s. You know, like after the 1954 coup in Guatemala: "Gracias, Presidente Eisenhower...the commies are on the run...for Guatemala."

MB, Wafers-

A face that only Bill could love:


6:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

1st, let me say that those Hillary fotos are truly grotesque; as is she.

2nd: I have a feeling that this crap from McCoy is something we are going to see more of during the last days of Obama and after. The reality: the guy had no agenda at all. He is, and has always been, an empty person, a vessel to be filled with whatever had influence over him: Pentagon, Wall St., corporations, and so on. What liberals believed abt him in 2008 was pure projection--the Great Black Hope, so to speak. 8 yrs later he is little more than a war criminal, and a shill for the Power Elite. His foreign policy was purely ad hoc--a joke, really; and his concern for domestic issues, such as poverty and unemployment, nonexistent. Ross Douthat once stated that the guy was nothing more than a performance, and this seems clear enuf: lofty speeches w/nothing behind them, chic suits, clever jokes at conventions--he's not really a person as such, but only a presentation.

Why, then, will we have more McCoy-type b.s.? Here's the clincher: the Left--whatever that is, anymore--can't really admit that it's a joke, that it has no clout, and that its offerings via the Democratic party amount to nothing substantially different from the GOP. (Empire and Empire Lite, as Michael Ignatieff once characterized the 2-party system in the US) Remember all the excitement in 2008: the problem is not the American people, or the way power is structured, or the interconnection between foreign and domestic policy--oh, no: it's George Bush. Get rid of Bush and replace him with this supposedly left-wing Democrat, and all will be well ("Hope" and "Change"). The hoopla was quite ridiculous. Robt Kuttner and Slavoj Zizek called the election "transformative"; Michael Moore said Obama was going to "sweep" the nation (he said the same thing abt the Occupy movement). Classic examples of very smart people being very dumb; who forgot that astute 1960s graffito, "If elections cd change anything, they wd be declared illegal." Because if these liberal folks really admitted that the jig was up, the US was finished, and that there's abs. no one you cd stick in the White House who cd institute positive social change, their lives wd become meaningless. Which they are already, really. (continued below)

8:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile, since the election game is to pick the lesser of two evils ("If we're always choosing the lesser of two evils, why are things always getting worse?"--Dick Gregory, many yrs ago), the 'left' then looks at the 'right' (from which it isn't fundamentally very different; Gore Vidal: "America has one political party with 2 rt wings"), at a character like Donald Trump, and says: "This wd be an absolute disaster; we *must* elect Hillary (or Bernie, or X) to save the nation"--the same thing they said abt McCain and Obama in 2008. But then Obama turns into a pile of shit, and the 'left' does *not* say: "Wait a minute; it doesn't really matter *who* is in the W.H.; the entire way of life is rotten, dysfunctional, and sooner or later is going to collapse"--oh no. Which leaves the 'left' with 2 possibilities: either say, "Well, OK, Obama turned into a pile of shit, but the *next* 'liberal' candidate will be different" (what a joke); or, the 'left' can attempt to rehabilitate Obama, spin him as an astute, liberatory figure--in which case, the liberal project made sense all along: we *did* elect the right guy, just as we will in 2016 (what a joke). Here's what won't happen: insight, an honest appraisal of a situation in which the folks really running the country are hardly in the W.H., in which case it hardly matters *who* is in the W.H. Nor will the 'left' grasp that the great majority of Americans support the American Dream, the imperial-expansionist ideology that makes it inevitable that Reagans, and Nixons, and Clintons, and Bushes, and Obamas, will occupy the Oval Office (this is the true 'occupy' movement we need to pay attn to, imo). There is no significant grass-roots dissatisfaction w/the current relations of power; the wo/man in the st. just wants to be in the top 1%, and believes that s/he can.

In any case, confronting all of this wd make the 'left', the progs, depressed to the pt of suicide. Better, in their view, to argue either that Obama was a mistake, and that his 'liberal' successor will get it rt; or that he really was, after all, a truly liberal president who did marvelous things for us. In either case, it doesn't get any dumber than that.

We wd have the same politics if we put a large bathtub on the desk in the Oval Office, filled it with water, stuck a tuna fish in it--whom I'll call Phred--and declared Phred to be president. We wd then elect a priesthood to decode the oracle in the case of major decisions. E.g., Should we attack Syria?, we ask Phred. Phred might move a gill or two. Yes, OK! Shd we have more cops killing unarmed civilians? Phred wiggles his tail. Aha, the path is clear! Etc.


8:24 PM  
Anonymous Edward said...

Do you remember this baby that was abandoned in a trash bag as if she was trash to be discarded? I tell ya, America is the greatest civilization ever!

Police Identify 'Baby Doe' Found Dead On Boston Harbor Beach

"After a nearly three-month investigation, authorities have identified a young girl who was found dead on a Boston Harbor beach as Bella Bond. She was previously known as "Baby Doe," and officials believe she was about 3 or 4 years old when she died.

Citing a law enforcement source, CNN reported that the girl's mother and her boyfriend were arrested in connection with the case. The charges against them were expected Friday, according to the network.

"It appears as though it was a situation of the boyfriend who was involved and apparently, I think, mother and boyfriend sort of blaming each other in terms of who harmed the child," Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D) said during a news conference.

DeLeo confirmed the identity of the child as Bella Bond. He could not immediately confirm the name of the child's mother. He said the boyfriend, Michael McCarthy, 35, was being treated at a Boston hospital for drug issues. He also said authorities are "in the process of taking a witness or two before the grand jury.""

8:39 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Don't you think we could use a man like Chauncey Gardiner? We could hardly do worse than what's now on offer, right? How about a Paulsen-Gardiner ticket? Campaign slogan: Stiffs in '16.

Now there's a pair we could get behind.

9:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I think on a world scale, very young children are the real underclass--defenseless, and often treated brutally. How horrible is this?:


10:32 PM  
Blogger Jacob James said...


A video by a manga critic describing his impression of Tokyo after living there for a few months recently came out. In it he compares the city to its American counterparts, noting the similarities in the consumer culture that permeates the urban environment. I figured that you might find it interesting.

10:33 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

A few minutes ago I abandoned the Abbot and Costello movie I was watching and flipped through channels until I landed on progressive goldenboy Bill Maher's show.

I watched long enough to hear Maher justify the arrest of that 14-year old clockmaking kid in Texas because young Muslims are known all over the world for "blowing shit up." I believe he was serious, and somehow doesn't think that the USA has blown up more everything over the last ten to seventy years than anyone else.

Similarly, he criticises Arab states for not being able to defeat Daesh, and says the US has no responsibility to fix that particular middle eastern problem. He seems to have convinced himself that the US destruction of Iraq has nothing to do with this, or that the USA is not the power behind Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf tyrant states.

I'm back to Abbot and Costello now, and find the the level of erudition in the picture seems like a flashback to the seminar room in grad school compared to Maher's show

12:18 AM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

Jacob -

Thanks for that, pretty funny video. Pretty scary to picture Manhattan x 50 TO THE MAX, no holds barred. I guess that is how I pictured Japan.

Man, we really screwed that place up......

1:31 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


He was no one to talk, but Henry Kissinger once remarked that Americans have a very difficult time understanding the viewpt of the Other. Maher is a gd example of this; of the Manichaean tendency to think that Good always exists in here, and Evil always exists out there. Once again, evidence that in the US, even the smart are dumb. Michael Scheuer, who was the CIA's point man on bin Laden for 17 yrs, wrote a bk in 2004 called "Imperial Hubris," in which he listed the grievances that Osama had against the US and concluded that they were largely valid. We tend to think that opposition to us is completely misguided; that attacks on us somehow emerge ex nihilo; and that to suggest that the situation is just a tad more complex than that is tantamount to treason. As many foreigners have observed, the US needs an Enemy in order to function, both psychologically and politically. This blindness to reality is a major factor in our decline.


5:38 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Next month I begin a job as a Mental Health Technician. My job entails going to various schools and helping some specific student how to cope in a classroom environment. Yesterday I met with my boss who told me that the job might place me in some physical danger as such students tend to get violent at times. So next week I will attend a training how to handle a dangerous situation. My boss told me, for example, that there are ways to get out of a choke hold without injuring the student. This, in fact, should be my first reaction-how to get out of a choke hold without hurting the choker. I mean getting out of a choke hold that somehow hurts the choker might affect his or her sense of worth. So now I'm thinking let the kid kill me. After all, it would give the kid a sense of accomplishment. And I wouldn't want to spoil that. Maybe it's me but somehow I think our permissive culture may be going a bit too far.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Only in America! Gd luck w/the job.


10:13 AM  
Anonymous Stephen Straughn said...

I was wondering your thoughts on Iran. 60 Minutes will have an interview w/ Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday re the nuclear deal.

There's this video, which is disturbing:

Looks like the nuclear deal is a go:

10:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Americans are abs. wonderful!:


10:25 AM  
Blogger Jeff Harpell said...

Prof. Berman, your comment on very young children being the real underclass made me remember this article which caused my jaw to drop. "Neighbors sue to declare autistic boy a public nuisance."
What kind of society do Americans want to live in?
I'm originally from San Jose, CA but worked in software in Silicon valley for over 20 years. I can say that the predominant values there are still career and money above everything else, and in this article you see how uncaring and ruthless a society becomes with these sole aspirations. I moved to Spain almost five years ago and have been slowly deprogrammed from American life and values. Technology and American entertainment do have an influence on Spaniards, but their underlying values of family and work-life balance are still very much intact.

11:46 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks for writing in, and congratulations on escaping the US. Most Americans don't have a clue as to how grim a regime they are living under. They buy all the crap abt Were No. 1!, and live out their lives in utter darkness. From the perspective of distance, the deep cruelty of American society becomes quite visible. Caring for other people is slowly becoming criminalized, for example. This is surely a big part of why America failed.


12:24 PM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

I am finishing The Twilight of American Culture. It reminds me of where I was at in my life about 4 or 5 years ago. My scientific career was prematurely coming to an end and I had become somewhat disillusioned with science. I had also woken up to the fact that was grossly ignorant about philosophy, literature, the social sciences, etc.

I was trying to reconcile the two worlds.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Wafers and Dr. MB,
On the subject that MB mentioned about Americans being totally unable to understand the Other- isn't that in great part due to how history is taught in school? It is never from the point of view of the classes that have suffered under our hands. The word Genocide is largely avoided - although it is deliberately used when the Other is the perpetrator- and the destruction we have caused in the few wars that are even mentioned in class is deemed unavoidable and necessary for progress. Progress the American way is a goal worthy of all human sacrifice. History in the USA's schools is indoctrination. I think it is a religion.
This link is one example of what goes on in history classes.

Some Americans I have spoken to readily admit that the Middle East interventions are all about oil. ( although, when pressed to give any details most are completely ignorant of the history itself of each intervention and the actors that participated ) I always notice, though, that the admission is often said in a detached way. As if they considered themselves as mere observers of their government's actions. Many feel that these things are not under their control and that nothing they can do will change it. Do you buy into that attitude, Dr. MB? Can an American honestly wash his or her hands from responsibility by saying that they are totally helpless against the war machine? Can lack of civic duty be also partly attached to their education/indoctrination?

PS: thanks for correcting me on Sartre's quote. I prefer how it reads in Spanish: "Cada hombre es lo que hace con lo que hicieron de el."

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Eye spot said...

John Gray has a great New Statesman review of the new book "The Worm at the Core" co-authored by three social psychologists , describing it as a rich empirical update to the canon of similar studies, including cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death. Thought that would be of interest here.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Great, send us the link. Meanwhile:


10:40 AM  
Anonymous El Alamein said...

Senor Berman,

While Scheuer is a sharp guy, I think his motives are suspect - his role in the current ISIS debate is to essentially hype the threat of ISIS, claim we can't do anything about them because they are so powerful, and essentially allow them to act as US proxy army against Assad, knowing full well, that

a) America and its allies in the ME will not tolerate ISIS' continued presence after it has served its purpose of weakening or deposing Assad and
b) America will never allow Russia to be the ones to wipe out ISIS [which they could easily do], thus highlighting that America has been a de facto supporter of Islamic extremism when it suits the needs of Realpolitik

In my view, he tips his hand when he strays on to other subjects, claiming for instance that we lost the war in Vietnam because we "piddled around" and didn't inflict enough damage; He may have been right to oppose the war in Iraq and the calls for intervention in Syria, but once a CIA man always a CIA man as far as I'm concerned

PS - I saw nightcrawler as per your [and many others'] recommendation and didn't care for it; Certainly agreed with its biting satire of post-recession capitalism, but found it shrill and one-note

11:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Desert Fox-

Yes, I credit Scheuer only w/that 2004 book and the admission that bin Laden's grievances against the US were on the mark. Beyond that, he is indeed a CIA careerist. I confronted Scheuer from the audience, in the Q&A, at a lecture he gave on terrorism in DC some yrs ago, which he ended by saying "we're going to hafta kill a lot more of these people." I said, "Given what you say in your book, shdn't we be *apologizing* to them?" A rhetorical question, of course, but a lot of people in the audience felt Scheuer was nuts and had gone off his meds b4 giving the lecture.

He's not atypical, however. A lot of govt and military personnel say what they say if they think it will promote their careers. As Nick Turse shows, this played a big role in Vietnam. Think of Condi Rice, or Colin Powell: the agenda is the career, to advance by currying favor. That hundreds of thousands die because of your careerism--well, they aren't much bothered by that. Soul corruption is endemic to the American empire, quite obviously.


11:31 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Wafers, MB,

What do you think about Richard Dawkins' opinion on the teenage boy Muslim engineer from Texas who was thought of having made a bomb, handcuffed and suspended from school? Isn't an academic like Dawkins supposed to be more grown up than this or is he hiding his islamophobia behind this silly clock conspiracy?

Talking about Dawkins and British islamophobia- it is fair to discuss how much the British people despise Muslim people even though they have a large Muslim population in England. The article you posted on how Americans see Muslims as less than human- something this young nerdy student mentioned he felt when taken by the police- also shows that the British rate Muslims even lower than Americans do. Two anglosaxon empires, same vile people?

Trump's lead hasn't been destroyed by his own incompetence. Now he has Fiorina to worry about. This race to the bottom is getting more interesting every passing week. MB, did you ever imagine Trump getting this far?


9:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Hitler never had a majority of the vote, only a plurality; and was appointed Chancellor by von Hindenburg in January of 1933 in what was a kind of murky backroom deal. Even in times of complete social chaos and dramatic economic inflation, he was not able to get himself legitimately elected. The Nazi rise to power was a seizure of power; it was never really legit.

And this is why, sad to say, Trump won't win. We don't have comparable social and economic chaos (yet), and so my theory of douche bags vs. hyper-douchebags still holds, I believe. He may capture the GOP nomination, because the GOP is (a) nuts, and (b) much more interested in ideology than electoral victory; altho exactly what Trump's ideology is, is not clear. But they may indeed go with him, because he is somehow talking to the 'base'. Once up against a less wigged-out, seemingly stable Democratic candidate, however--whether it is Hillary or Bernie or Sam Schmeck--the douche bag vote will outnumber the hyper-douchebag vote, and Trump will be history, as we muddle thru the next 8 yrs in crisis management mode and continual deterioration (the best the Dems have to offer). But this economy ultimately has no viable future, and after another round or two of 2008-style crash, Trump II, whoever he may be, will have a better chance.


10:01 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

I had a classic WAFer moment at the bar on Saturday. Talking with an acquaintance about this and that, renewable energy, etc. The conversation strayed to politics and when the guy didn't flinch at my term "Killary" I thought hey, this guy might be OK. Then I had the audacity to say Trump might be the best thing to happen to the US ... gods balls that didn't go over well! I tried to say the sooner the US collapses the better, etc. I got called an nihilist and I don't care about the poor and common man (he's very invested in the non-profit scene) and how he believes in doing something. I said, great and I appreciate all you do, but big picture, Occupy didn't accomplish a thing. Working your ass off to get people out of poverty is awesome, but what about poverty of thinking?

Anyway, MB you hit the nail on the head when you said "this crap from McCoy is something we are going to see more of during the last days of Obama and after." I've been seeing it here and there with phrases like Obama's been right all along about Iran, and this one from an essay in today's Counterpunch: "Trump is a professional wrestler, while Obama plays chess."


10:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


There will be no wake-up moment for the progs; it's just not gonna happen. If it did, it wd plunge them into a deep depression, because then their agenda wd be meaningless. Better self-deception than that, is the thinking in this arena. Meanwhile, the self-deception is breathtaking, and can take any or all of the following forms:

1. Obama is actually a master chess player. The last 8 yrs were not stupid and meaningless and destructive; no, he was actually an astute strategist who kept the US on track.

2. Well OK, he is a punk and a douche bag, proved to be a war criminal and a shill for the Power Elite, but the *next* Democratic pres is gonna change all that. Trust me.

3. Obama, and the Dems (Bernie, Hilllary, et al.) are all sellouts, but never fear: this is a revolutionary moment, and socialist revoln is just around the corner. The people will rise up, and things will dramatically chg for the better. And even if they don't, we fought the gd fight, and that (rather than results) is all that counts.

Poor shmucks...


12:22 PM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

Hi, WAFers! Here's the link to the John Gray review. Good stuff.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB,

Just wanted to add that you are absolutely spot on regarding the Nazi's coming to power in Germany. I highly recommend the trilogy by Evan Thomas, esteemed British historian, starting with "The Coming of the Third Reich". Link: Then,"The Third Reich in Power" and finally, "The Third Reich at War". This trilogy totals at about 2500 pages and will simply astound you on this historical epic. The first volume carefully shows how the chaos of the Weimar Republic lead the the extremism which followed. Read it and you will be thinking about America, today. As a famous man once said, "the only thing new in the world is the history you don't know!".

2:49 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

I like this story, not only are we not doing enough for CO2 emissions, by companies are cheating the system so they don't have to meet emission requirements.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

American Horror Story:


Ahmed's Growing Smear Campaign: Dawkins, Maher, and *Sarah*:

How are Wafers gonna get MB on a flight to Wasilla? The ice floes are quickly melting, tho Ed Messe denies this. Any thoughts?


4:55 PM  
Anonymous Dawgzy said...

Sorry about that,

7:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


There's a gd chance that *all* Americans are possessed by demons, so I guess we can take it from there. As for Sarah: my lust for her seems to have faded a bit, in the wake of her virtual disappearance from the media. Talk abt yesterday's news. (If she had half a brain, she'd be trying to contact *me*.) Which doesn't leave a very rich field out there...Hillary? OMG.(Take me now, O Lord.)

Meanwhile, I've been invited by a univ. in Chile to give some lectures in Dec, and then will follow it up w/a wk in Peru, soaking my head in pisco sours. Any Wafers having tips on sights/restaurants in Lima, or how to arrange a trip to Machu Picchu, pls feel free to weigh in.


7:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: douche bags:

7:53 PM  
Blogger Jacob James said...


I was in economics class today and a couple people mentioned that Obama was a Muslim. The professor didn't even bother to correct them. (He probably thought it was a waste of time). He just said that religion shouldn't matter when running for public office. But it's definitely astonishing to realize that these people live among us.


9:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Exactly. These are yr neighbors!


10:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

One of my heroes: I wrote him up in DAA:

10:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


There really is no end to the dogshit Americans will feed themselves, in order to believe that their lives--wh/suck--are actually OK. Oprah tells them it's a question of mental attitude (this includes extreme poverty, terminal cancer, etc.), and they actually listen to her. A few yrs ago, some guy said the problems of life can be solved by making lists; so they all ran out and made lists. (He, of course, made a mint.) The latest bit of self-help kaka is Jane McGonigal's "Super-Better," published by Penguin (meanwhile I cdn't get published by Penguin if my life depended on it), which says that life is a game, and shd be treated accordingly. And another best-seller is born. A gd critique of this dementia may be found in the review by Nathan Heller in the Sept. 14 issue of the New Yorker.

Two things I've said b4, but which all Wafers must try to remember:

1. Americans are not really human beings. They are jokes dressed up as human beings. It's for this reason that Wafers are unable to talk to 99.99% of the population.

2. There is no upper limit to the depth to which the American head can go into the American ass. Just when u think the limit has been reached, America, and Americans, go another few millimeters.


10:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Finally: some of you know that my ultimate goal in life is to own a fuel-injected Stingray and cruise the Strip in LA. To that end, let me recommend the very moving tribute to Brian Wilson, released this year: "Love & Mercy." Wouldn't it be nice...


1:39 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

The mental attitude strategy reminded me of a joke:
Two men meet. One says, " So how's your brother?" The other one says, " Not good. He has cancer." The other man replies, "He doesn't have cancer. He only thinks he has cancer. You tell him it's all in his head. He only thinks he has cancer." A few weeks go by and they meet again."So, how's your brother?" The man replies, "He thinks he's dead." Happy New Year.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Rusty Snag said...

Dr. Berman,

Hello. I enjoyed the article you posted about the little boy with the Mohawk haircut. Did you notice that he attended Arrowhead Elementary School? This irony was probably lost on the Americans who read the article.

8:45 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Jacob James wrote:

"I was in economics class today and a couple people mentioned that Obama was a Muslim."

WAFERs may find amusement--and some truth--in the following:

In January 2013, Italain software devloper Alberto Brandolini first formulated a principle that is now known by his name. Formally called Brandolini's Law, but more informally dubbed the Bullshit Asymmetry Principle, it states:

"The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than [is required] to produce it."

Though statements regarding bullshit have been the subject of extensive commentary over decades --see On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt for an extended essay on this topic--Brandolini's formulation addresses an aspect not previously focussed on. Namely the difficulty of refutation. Previously, comments on bullshit have concerned themselves principally with speed of dissemination.

Brandolini's Law. A useful entry in the Dictionary of WAFER Wisdom perhaps?

8:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's a nice stat: since 1996, the # of American families living on $2/day or less more than doubled. So much for the American Dream, I guess.

Source: NYTBR, Sept. 6, p. 14.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Paul Emmons said...

Morris, this meditation reminds me of Here a bishop quotes what Stephen Colbert in an interview, where he says of the traumatizing death of his father and two brothers: "I love the thing that I wish most had not happened." Stephen was only 10. His mother gave him the strength to survive this crisis. The bishop examines where the mother in turn found her strength. Then he traces the influence, in several steps, all the way back to John Henry Newman. Newman, of course, had no idea that his own suffering, and what he learned fro it, would enable Colbert to flourish some 150 years later.

10:35 PM  

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