September 04, 2015

Exit Ghost

Well, Wafers,

I've been reading a marvellous novel by Philip Roth (aren't they all) called Exit Ghost. The book contains much material of interest to Wafers. Phil is clearly a Wafer without knowing it. Let me give you a sampling of texts and themes.

1. Americans are basically dumb and get the leaders they deserve.

"I could not believe what I saw when a creature so rooted in his ruthless pathology, so transparently fraudulent and malicious as Nixon, defeated Humphrey in '68, and when, in the eighties, a self-assured knucklehead whose unsurpassable hollowness and hackneyed sentiments and absolute blindness to every historical complexity became the object of national worship [which he still is, BTW] and, esteemed as a 'great communicator' no less, won each of his two terms in a landslide."

"This is a very backward country, and the people are easily bamboozled."

2. Because of this endemic stupidity, the Age of Literature is over.

"There was a time when intelligent people used literature to think. That time is coming to an end...In the Soviet was the serious writers who were expelled from literature; now, in America, it is literature that has been expelled as a serious influence on how life is perceived."

"Reading/writing people, we are finished, we are ghosts witnessing the end of the literary era."

3. Existential Strain: The resentment of the trollfoons.

"Destroying reputations is how these little nobodies make their little mark. People's values and obligations and virtues and rules are [in their view] nothing but a cover."

4. The New Monastic Option as a solution.

My goal is "to remain in America without America's ever again being absorbed in me."

A great book, amigos! Hope you enjoy it.



Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Some reviews:

From the New York Times review:

"Tom Lehrer once said that when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize it was time to give up on satire."

This last one seems scintillating.

The literary world of verbally acrobatic and graceful descriptions is rather foreign to me and my background in mathematics, science and chess. It is a bit refreshing though.

7:04 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Under the heading "With no brown people near to hand..."

"For generations, freshmen cadets at the United States Military Academy have marked the end of a grueling summer of training with a huge nighttime pillow fight that is billed as a harmless way to blow off steam and build class spirit.

But this year the fight on the West Point, N.Y., campus turned bloody as some cadets swung pillowcases packed with hard objects, thought to be helmets, that split lips, broke at least one bone, dislocated shoulders and knocked cadets unconscious. The brawl at the publicly funded academy, where many of the Army’s top leaders are trained, left 30 cadets injured, including 24 with concussions, according to West Point."

Arguably yet another mile marker on the road down.

8:01 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Gringos rejoice! The USA is turning it around. There's a new day a-comin'.

Black Guy Survives Encounter with Police

'I am offended and appalled that an individual within our community would treat a police officer in such a manner,' the department's Chief Dan Giustino in the ensuing press release.

And bravo to your police officer for not gunning down this miscreant where he stood.

2:24 PM  
Anonymous Albondigas Caliente said...

The great thing about America is that we get it right the first time. Oh, and we speak English.

7:24 PM  
Anonymous Sean Kerrigan said...

Hi Morris,

I doubt I'll be up for the bookstore meeting on Monday. Truthfully, I hate navigating cities (especially NYC) and find it super unpleasant. I hope someone can record your speech and put it up on YouTube or something similar.

Here's a laugh, three former Treasury Secretaries (Geithner, Paulson and Rubin) joking about having expanded income inequality. They certainly find it funny. My impression is that Paulson is probably the least douchiest of the three, but his laugh is just maniacal here.

Also for your amusement:
An old one, woman find's Trump's face in tub of butter:

Also, I wrote this:

"A Haiku for the 2016 Election"

“Hope is a mortgage,
suspension of our future,
for some shithead’s now.”

8:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi MB,

I tried to post this link on the previous blog post a few days ago, but it didn't go through?

Anyway, thought Wafers might enjoy this!


9:02 AM  
Anonymous ennobled little day said...

I know this might sound as if it is apropos of nothing, but I just finished watching episode 26 of season one of In Treatment. It's freaking awesome!!!!!! The only reason I am watching it is because you spoke highly of it a long time ago, but only recently did I begin to watch it.

Thank you for having mentioned it.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hot Balls-

What a douche baguette. I tell ya, there just ain't enuf urine...

Meanwhile, I wanted to give u all a report on the 2nd NY Wafer Summit Meeting, which occurred today at the Whitney Museum. Originally, 800 people signed up, but at the last minute, 792 of them had to cancel (pie in oven, hafta feed goldfish, etc.). The Untitled Cafe gave us a cozy table for 8, and we proceeded to eat and drink ourselves into a coma, while solving all the problems of the world. Terrific food, really. Then we cruised the exhibit, "America Is Hard to See," which was a great review of American art since 1910. We wept a bit for those unfortunate not to have been there, but eventually, with enuf Kleenex, managed to recover.

There was some feeling that it's time to finally mount a 1st International Wafer Summit Mtg, this time in Mexico City. I'm thinking Labor Day weekend of 2016 might be a gd time 4 this. But we need to have a commitment from abt 12 people, so that there is a small cadre of Revolutionary Wafers guaranteed to be there. Arriba! Start making plans now, muchachos.


8:19 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@James Allen - here's hoping that next year those West Point assholes use live rounds and don't stop until there's only one psychopathic killer left standing.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Pushed far enough things become their opposites . This is one of your greatest insights in my opinion . It's counterintuitive yet seems to be true . Pushing freedom far enough becomes a type of tyranny because everyone becomes a discordant atom . Strength and power become weakness because one always feels the need to assert their dominance which leads to isolation and exhaustion . Old age turns to infancy as ones faculties decline . This principle seems to be universally true and I struggle to find counter examples . Does anyone have examples of where it is Not the case that something pushed for enough becomes it's opposite ? Most importantly - does anyone , particularly MB , have any insight as to why that is true ? Does it offer hope that in the long run that Americanization will be pushed far enough to become its opposite ?

1:19 AM  
Anonymous bruguel said...

Palin about "speaking american". Linguistic enlightenment for all those who "speak mexican".

9:23 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to Truth Hurts-

Sounds like yr the one who is hurting, amigo. I'll give you a hot tip: If you want to be part of this discussion, respect this blog and the people on it, and avoid those types of sweeping insults. It's the behavior of a shmuck. If you have any specific disagreements with me or anyone else, fine; state them openly and courteously, without an Attitude, and we'll be glad to respond in kind. But as many trollfoons have learned, you can't have a voice here *and* be an asshole, so the choice is up 2u. (In 9 yrs, BTW, not a single trollfoon has ever chosen the former option; not one. They always prefer to be an asshole. Maybe you'll take this oppty to grow up, who knows. And of course, if u indeed have a low opinion of this blog, why not go elsewhere, or start yr own?)


9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Berman, NY Wafer Crowds:

Thanks for reporting back on the amazing turnout and energy of the 2nd NY Wafer Summit Meeting. Of course "a few" will always drop off the guest list last minute, but it truly sounds like the place to be! Enjoy the speaking gig tonight; wish I could be there to bask in Wafer glory. -- Fruit Woman

11:27 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Wish I could've been at the summit. :( Sorry 792 of them had to cancel.

Yesterday, my wife and I had a BBQ, played Frisbee and Flickin Chicken. We even had turkey salad sandwiches.

This is what I envision more of in a Waferian, small is beautiful (which it is) type society.

12:23 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Y'know how Belman exhorts us to urinate on shoes?

How about this guy's aim? He was a candidate for Stephen Harper's government party...until he was caught on camera.

Jerry Bance, Conservative caught peeing in mug, no longer candidate, party says

6:06 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

An interesting article on the "Burning Man" gatherings:

"In a just, democratic society, everyone has equal voice. At Burning Man everyone is invited to participate, but the people who have the most money decide what kind of society Burning Man will be — they commission artists of their choice and build to their own whims. They also determine how generous they are feeling, and whether to withhold money."

As one might expect, the power of money has taken hold, even though it's not supposed to work that way.

A friend of mine has been to the "Burning Man" gatherings and spoke highly of them. He is a sculptor and a plumber, a rare and interesting combination. He failed to notice the elitist and techno-triumphalist strain that has developed there.

A few days ago I was at the Academic Chess center in Mission Viejo and struck up a brief conversation with the man cleaning the carpet. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this unobtrusive carpet cleaner is also a music teacher who does carpet cleaning on the side to make ends meet. He was thoughtful and chose his words carefully.

This sort of thing is probably becoming more common in our society. Artists, musicians, teachers, poets and writers can't make a living practicing their preferred trade and must also take on menial tasks in order to pay their bills. Henry Giroux has written about the progressive devaluation of the arts and the humanities in this culture.

Speaking of techno-triumphalism, Jim Kunstler is very sharp this week:

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello MB, Wafers

There's one thing I don't really understand, why do we give trolfoons and douchebags such attention by talking about them so extensively on this blog? We all understand their lives are depressing, why not just block their comments, ignore them and move on? Why even reply to them sarcastically recommending "options" on how to conduct their lives in a better way? It's not going to change anything! The majority of douchebags will remain douchebags forever and the few who will turn into Wafers, will do so through their own process. They will reach that "Wafer Tipping Point" on their own and no amount of Wafer advice given to them while they're still in their "Shadow Phase" will change that. I don't mean to attack anyone here, but I just think our time would be much better-spent talking about Miley's nipple incident at the VMAs than about trolfoons.

That's it for my rant. Otherwise, here are two great articles on the future of China and Europe in light of recent events. Bright times ahead!


7:04 PM  
Anonymous For What it's Worth said...

The average attention span is now less than a goldfish.

11:47 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Actually, I do filter out most trollfoon communication, but once in a while they are so stupid and/or vicious, that I like to show the Wafer community what we are up against. Plus, I enjoy making fun of them, or hammering them into the ground. Whee!

Meanwhile, last night's gig at Bluestockings Bkstore was a gas. At least 1000 people showed up; some brought electric cattle prods to be able to get thru the crowds. Bluestockings is a radical feminist bkstore, and they have their own SWAT team, so these folks went into radical crowd control mode, and got everything in order. Karate really works! Meanwhile, we set up microfones onto Allen St., so that those who cdn't be squeezed into the store cd still hear my mellifluous voice. Inside the store, folks got so excited by my lecture that many began beating their heads against the walls just to calm down. Some chewed on the legs of their chairs, and others began biting the people next to them. It was a scene, I tell u. Then we walked over to Rosario's and glutted ourselves on beer and pizza, singing the Wafers Forever Song. I had also hired a Serbian thug to thwart potential trollfoons (instructed the guy to bang their heads together), but they never showed, sad to say. A perfect night, nevertheless.

1st International Wafer Summit Mtg will be held Labor Day weekend 2016 in Mexico City. Be there or be cuadrados!


9:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Best to send messages to most recent post, as no one reads the older stuff. Regarding yr question, write me at Thanks.


5:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, Waferinos, it's my last day in NY today, perhaps for several yrs. I guess I'll go up to the MOMA, also see if I can snag some pastrami and chopped liver.

It's a very different place now than it was 45 yrs ago, of course, when I began my 1st academic job, teaching at Rutgers in 1970; but it's still NY, and there's no place like it. Last nite, around midnite, I discovered I was hungry, and so walked over to 6th Ave, to the salad bar run by a Korean family...and ran into Patricia Clarkson, of all people. We chatted for a while; I asked her what her latest film was. "Learning to Drive," she said, "with Ben Kingsley." Very friendly gal, I'm glad to report. I suppose I'll catch the movie on dvd.

So I'd like to thank all the Wafers who came to our lunch at the Whitney on Sunday, and then the lecture at Bluestockings on Monday. Memorable events. I'll certainly never forget the moment when the Radical Feminist SWAT Team swung in on ropes, like Tarzan, to control the crowds. This wdn't have happened in 1970, to be sure, when ads for cigarettes said "You've come a long way, baby." Ugh.

So I hope yr all havin' a great day, and I'll catch up w/u back in Mexico...


7:57 AM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

a review:

Wikipedia never misses anything:

This short article on "Trump University" takes the cake:

synonyms for scam:

swindle, cheat, deceive, trick, dupe, hoodwink, double-cross, gull; rip off, con, fleece, shaft, hose, sting, bilk, diddle, rook, gyp, finagle, bamboozle, flimflam, put one over on, pull a fast one on, sucker, stiff, shake down, hornswoggle

I'm tickled pink that "The Donald" is leading the field among Republican presidential candidates. He's damaging the Republican party, something I've been wanting to do for a very long time.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

Re: Trump University, I don’t know why people are bitching, they wanted to get schooled in how Trump does business, well, they did!

Re: Neurotic Beauty—Morris, if you get this published again with another publisher, can you make mention of that on this blog so I can pick up another copy (gave my last copy away).


6:47 PM  
Anonymous ThisBeTheHandle said...

Roth is absolutely correct. The book, as he has said, "can't compete with the screen." Like him, I no longer bother to read novels. What's the point? Why rub sticks together in a world of lighters?

"Get stewed / Books are a load of crap." - Philip Larkin

Still, I can't get "Sabbath's Theater" out of my head.

8:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


NB shd be out in less than 1 mo. w/a new publisher, thanks.


7:54 AM  
Anonymous shenjingbing said...

Handle -

Why read, indeed? One needs to be able to think, to have imagination, to enjoy a book. The screen, on the other hand, supplies everything for you.

"Altogether, I think we ought to read only books that bite and sting us. If the book we are reading doesn’t shake us awake like a blow on the skull, why bother reading it in the first place? So that it can make us happy, as you put it? Good God, we’d be just as happy if we had no books at all; books that make us happy we could, at a pinch, also write ourselves. What we need are books that hit us like a most painful misfortune, like the death of someone we loved more than we love ourselves, that make us feel as though we had been banished to the woods, far from any human presence, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is what I believe."

—Franz Kafka, from a letter to Oskar Pollak dated January 27, 1904.


9:22 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hello MB and Wafers!

MB, Wafers-

Well, it was certainly a pleasure to attend the 2nd NY Wafer Summit. A rip-roaring time was had by all. My wife and I were happy to meet everyone and partake in all Wafer related activities.

The uncontrollable crowds at the Bluestockings have yet to recover from MB's lecture and subsequent Q&A. Word also has it that all five boroughs were thunderstruck after MB delivered his lecture; one that was both irresistible and given w/great verve. Even The New Yorker is planning a cover depicting the event: MB at the front of a great horde, spilling out onto Houston St. toward Broadway and beyond.

Anyway, cheers to a successful Summit! And as Truman Capote once said, "New York is a diamond iceberg floating in river water." Yes; I already miss the place...


12:14 PM  
Blogger M. Harvill said...

One of my favorite records was recently reissued after being remastered, one with which I think many here might be familiar. The last song on the album leaves us with these harrowing words:

We watched the tragedy unfold
We did as we were told
We bought and sold
It was the greatest show on earth
But then it was over
We ohhed and aahed
We drove our racing cars
We ate our last few jars of caviar
And somewhere out there in the stars
A keen-eyed look-out
Spied a flickering light
Our last hurrah
And when they found our shadows
Grouped around the TV sets
They ran down every lead
They repeated every test
They checked out all the data on their lists
And then the alien anthropologists
Admitted they were still perplexed
But on eliminating every other reason
For our sad demise
They logged the explanation left
This species has amused itself to death
No tears to cry, no feelings left
This species has amused itself to death

- Roger Waters, Amused to Death

3:47 PM  
Anonymous lack of coherence said...

This is America:

"America has always been a land of opportunity. It’s the one place on earth where you can go from building brick walls in the Texas heat to the kind of success my brother and I have achieved," Farris Wilks told Reuters.

"Ted Cruz believes in the opportunity society, he believes in the dignity of hard work, and he’s not afraid to fight for what he believes in.”

10:34 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't post Unknowns; you need a real handle. Chopped Liver might be gd. Then re-send, and I'll post it.

To All Wafers:

Kevin took some fotos of the 2nd NY Wafer Summit Mtg and sent them to me. Anyone who wants to see them, pls write request to, and I'll forward his email with the foto attachments. It shows Wafers in all our glory. Bluestockings didn't record the lecture, unfortunately; as Jeff notes (above), the audience went stark raving mad. I want to send a special thank you to Elizabeth, who told me to zip up my fly just before I began lecturing. (Talk abt embarrassing)

And so, another great Wafer victory, as we march on into the future. Mark the date: Labor Day Weekend 2016, Mexico City, 1st International Wafer Summit Conference. Arriba!


ps: I discovered another Wafer, BTW: see Wm Deresiewicz, "The Neoliberal Arts," Harper's Mag, current issue. Dynamite essay.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

MB, thanks for that Harper's article it is quite good:

"If college is seldom about thinking and learning anymore, that’s because very few people are interested in thinking and learning, students least of all. ... And as anyone associated with a college can tell you, ambitious undergraduates devote the bulk of their time and energy, and certainly of their passion, to extracurriculars. Pinker, in the response I mentioned, wonders why he finds himself addressing half-empty lecture halls. I can tell him why: because his students don’t much care about the things he’s trying to teach them."

5:02 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

The devolution of America into a banana republic continues, as a poll reveals some sentiment for a military coup:

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Sean Kerrigan said...

Hi Morris, Yes that was a particularly good essay in Harper's. I was expecting a rehash of the usual "College is dead" argument, but he really took it in new and interesting directions.

Here's a piece of satire from the 90s that fits in well these days: Hardly recognizable as satire.

9:18 PM  
Blogger M. Harvill said...

I'm currently amused by everyone gushing over politicians that aren't going to change a thing. My Republican friends think I'm a commie, and my Democrat friends hate me because I don't extol the alleged virtues of Obama, Sanders, and Clinton. We have a really rich guy acting like he's some sort of outsider and whose plan is essentially no plan at all, and we have an old Democrat claiming he will change things and shower money on the poor and middle class (good luck with that), even though he has no problem shoveling millions into the most expensive defense project ever, one that experts claim is a huge waste of money. Of course, if either of these clowns take office, there will be no change, because there is never anything substantial enough to do it. Of course, nothing will ever make a dent in the hustling souls of Americans. We're too busy watching idiotic videos of cats, hearing people caterwaul on the latest talent show programs, watching overpaid athletes, and playing video games. Besides, everything will magically work itself out. It's not as though we actually have to do anything to cause a change in our lives. I can barely hold a conversation with most people unless I lower my expectations of what they might know, and I'm rarely disappointed by my utter lack of faith in my fellow humans. People have almost no sense of history or culture, and thanks to the Internet information has become so devalued that even actual, proven facts mean nothing to people because in this dark time everything, even the stupid and ridiculous, is given equal time on the public stage. Perfect examples that illustrate this principle are people running for office that can't even name newspapers or a court ruling that isn't Roe vs Wade or thinking that appointing "really smart people" and telling China and Mexico "what's what" will really change anything, as though countless statesmen haven't attempted this before. But why do I bother waking up in the morning? Maybe because I've felt like a NMI my entire life, usually only finding solace in the peace of mind that being alone and reading a good book can bring, or literally spending days transcribing a Bach piece from Em to Am because it sounds better in a higher key and it's an interesting challenge, and that it touches my soul in a way that no web site, video game or tv show could ever achieve. I know that any happiness that is worth it only comes from something that takes work and even discipline, as opposed to this "gimme what's mine and where's my cut" joke of a society in which we live. Anyway, enough about me.

10:58 PM  
Anonymous door said...

I have read an excellent book by Matthew B. Crawford called Shop Class as Soulcraft that I think many people on this site would enjoy.Thanks Paul

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I hope this missive finds you safely at home. Needless to say, it was great seeing you and fellow Wafers again. I was also pleased to see such a splendid turn out for your talk. Needless to say, the only downside was that techno-moron in the front row who "forgot" to turn his phone off. In fact, it went off twice! Anyway, you handled it gracefully. Of course, I will make every effort to attend Wafer summit III next September.
Talking about techno-morons, I had planned to stay in NYC until Tuesday evening but left at noon instead. I simply could not stand all the techno-buffoonery around me. I think we're reaching levels of 70-80% of people engaged in some kind of techno-crap while walking on the street. What a sad, pathetic life. And, as you said at lunch, chip implants are just around the corner.
"The Neoliberal Arts" is a superb piece. It reminded me of why it's taken me so long to find a financial advisor I can trust. I must have met around 8 advisors these past few months and they all have one thing in common: other than they're particular expertise in financial matters, they are all basically stupid. I make it a point during these conversations to change the topic for a few minutes. When I speak about literature, music, art, history, philosophy, or politics not one had a clue what I was talking about. i love when they take out their pen and yellow pad and write down something I mentioned as if they are sure to look it up once I leave. But Deresiewicz still had to end with his pulling the rabbit out of the hat at 11 o'clock believing in the pendulum theory of history (things will eventually turn around). I suggest he take a walk around Times Square and see if he can truly draw the same conclusion.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thank u all for yr comments. We are indeed descending into mass douchebaggery--technobuffoons in a toilet culture, all excited as to who will be running for pres in 14 mos. NITWITS RULE, my latest T-shirt.

I'm in Mexico City today, will return home tomorrow. There's a great coffee place a block from my house, more an Italian-style standup cafe, and yesterday morning I got a cap there and sat down on a bench across of it. There were abt 20 people standing, drinking their coffee, and making chit chat, and not one of them was on a cell fone! It was so quiet, relaxed, genteel: nobody hustling, nobody running, nobody making deals. Americans (i.e., US-persons) are dead, but they don't know it.


11:26 AM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I'm reading John Grays Enlightenments Wake. Here's a random Wafer line; "As things stand, the likelihood in the United States is of a slow slide into ungovernability, as the remaining patrimony of a common cultural inheritance is frittered away by the fragmenting forces of multiculturalism."

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Chad in Chicago said...

M Harvill-

"Amused to Death" is an amazing album and really should be in every Wafers record collection. Waters and Postman were ahead of the curve.


The techno-buffoonery in Chicago is now at crisis levels as well. It is impossible to go from home to work without getting run down by someone walking and typing at the same time. The cellphone conversations on the L are so loud and bad now I listen to music all the time to defend myself from my environment.


It's been a tough week here what with the 9-11 navel-gazing and the continuing decline of American political discourse, but I believe Apple's slightly upgraded iPhone that was announced this week will get us through. Please, run down to your cell provider and demand that they take back the iPhone you bought last year. It's an outdated piece of crap and the new one will make your life infinitely better. Trust me.

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Bruce Bennett said...

The post-literary era is described very well in Neil Postman's prescient book "Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business" written 30 years ago. One thing that was very interesting was his assertion (with significant statistics) of just how literate Americans used to be in the 18th and 19th centuries. All that has faded and it is quite appropriate that the buffoon Reagan, mentioned by Roth, who was elected twice in landslides was both a third-rate movie actor and a TV pitchman. And, to our everlasting shame, many, many Americans consider this most horrendous of our presidents as the greatest one we ever had.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Always a gd idea to send messages to latest post. No one reads the old stuff. Thanks.


7:29 PM  
Blogger Christian Schulzke said...

Every year, at the hospital where I work, employees have to do online refresher training and complete a test. It's your usual corporate training, what to do in the event of a workplace injury, who to call if you see bodily fluid spilled on the floor, ethics, corporate compliance etc etc. Well, this year they tacked on a module on what to do if someone shows up with a gun and starts shooting up the place. The video is pretty graphic and actually includes some F-bombs, which just adds to the surreal absurdity of it all.

1:12 PM  

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