December 03, 2018

Thoughts on Proust

For a long time now, my life has run on two parallel tracks. One has been to make sense of that life; the other, to make sense of the world. I attempted to do these things, in part, through writing. Of the fifteen books I have written, thirteen fall into the latter category, and two into the former (one of these being a volume of poetry). This is to be expected. In the case of relatively unknown authors such as myself, the public can hardly be expected to be interested in the details of their lives, and publishing an autobiography would be grandiosity, a species of delusion. And yet, we have something like this in the case of Marcel Proust, when he was still relatively unknown. His somewhat autobiographical novel, In Search of Lost Time, managed to make sense of both his life and the world at the same time. The profundity of his study of soul and society rendered it the greatest novel of the twentieth century.

I came to Proust early, and then late. In my thirties, I read the first two volumes of the work, then got distracted, moved on to other things. In my seventies, I turned to the Search in depth, wanting to learn more about my own life; really, to see if it made sense thus far. What follows, however, is not a study of myself, but of Proust, and what he ultimately concluded about the individual and the world. In a word, I see the Search as a guide for the soul, a roadmap of spiritual liberation, and thus of potential value to us all.

During the sixties and seventies, in the U.S. and elsewhere, many young people discovered LSD, and it changed their lives forever. The vision, as LSD-guru Timothy Leary explained it, was that of a spiritual life, as opposed to the one offered by mainstream America: the worship of money and power. This led many to believe that if everyone took the drug, it would change the entire country, and usher in the Age of Aquarius. Rumors were rife that there was a hippie plot afoot to put acid in the water supply, for example. In any case, the Summer of Love came and went, and America became even more materialistic and power-driven, taking most of the hippies along with it. Turns out, they were not all that averse to money and power.

Proust experienced something similar, but without drugs, and called it "involuntary memory." The paradigm example is by now quite famous: dipping a madeleine (fluted cookie) in a cup of tea, drinking the tea, and suddenly having a detailed vision of "Combray" (Illiers, in Normandy), where he spent part of his childhood years. For the benefit of those who have not read Proust, I quote this section at some length:

"...weary after a dull day with the prospect of a depressing morrow, I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid, and the crumbs with it, touched my palate, a shudder ran through my whole body, and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary changes that were taking place. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, but individual, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory--this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me, it was myself. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, accidental, mortal. Whence could it have come to me, this all-powerful joy?...

"And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little crumb of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because on those mornings I did not go out before church-time), when I went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea...

" And once I had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-flowers which my aunt used to give me (although I did not yet know and must long postpone the discovery of why this memory made me so happy) immediately the old grey house upon the street, where her room was, rose up like the scenery of a theatre to attach itself to the little pavilion, opening on to the garden, which had been built out behind it for my parents (the isolated panel which until that moment had been all that I could see); and with the house the town, from morning to night and in all weathers, the Square where I was sent before luncheon, the streets along which I used to run errands, the country roads we took when it was fine. And just as the Japanese amuse themselves by filling a porcelain bowl with water and steeping in it little crumbs of paper which until then are without character or form, but, the moment they become wet, stretch themselves and bend, take on colour and distinctive shape, become flowers or houses or people, permanent and recognisable, so in that moment all the flowers in our garden and in M. Swann's park, and the water-lilies on the Vivonne and the good folk of the village and their little dwellings and the parish church and the whole of Combray and of its surroundings, taking their proper shapes and growing solid, sprang into being, town and gardens alike, all from my cup of tea."

If mysticism involves contact with some nonordinary reality, if it is an altered state of consciousness, then Proust became a mystic at that moment. But then, there is mysticism and there is mysticism. The experience with the madeleine was not a transcendent one, Freud's "oceanic experience," or what I have called elsewhere the "ascent experience." No, this was "horizontal," a kind of Zen satori, that sees reality for what it really is, without any filters. With this, says Malcolm Bowie (in Proust Among the Stars), Proust found "the lost key to the nature of things." And this, as Proust himself said, became the point of his book, namely to illustrate involuntary memory, to demonstrate the sheer power of it. He also wanted to (metaphorically) put this "acid" into the drinking water, so that everyone might stop wallowing in b.s., pursuing status, "love," and art as a fetish--all of which he regarded as illusory--and instead see art and creativity as the "true life." Our true nature, said Proust, is outside of time, and involuntary memory is the gateway to redemption. Roland Barthes said that Search was a gospel rather than a novel; the writer Maurice Rostand asserted that it was "a soul in the guise of a book." Proust was, in effect, offering his readers the divine without God or religion.

Of course, LSD didn't change the U.S., the Search didn't change France, and St. Francis didn't change Italy. As one pope, a contemporary of the latter, wisely remarked, not everyone can be St. Francis. Proust juxtaposed what he regarded as the "true life" with the false one; and although he believed that the former was available to all, most are inevitably going to choose the latter. What, then, was the point of the exercise?

Good question. One answer is that truth is not a matter of majority vote. What LSD, the Search, and St. Francis revealed was the possibility of living a different type of life, whether it appealed to the masses or not. An ideal, if you will; a window onto another world, for those few who might wish to pursue it. "True life" means true happiness; false life means chasing after substitute satisfactions, all the while having the haunting feeling that something is terribly wrong.

One thing that is wrong is what Proust biographer Roger Shattuck called "soul error." Plainly put, most of us are not happy with who we are. We have this gnawing doubt, believe that we are inherently defective in some way. "I would never join a club that would accept me as a member," Groucho Marx famously quipped. It's a kind of reverse Midas touch, that everything you put your hands on turns to shit. Friendships go sour, sexual relations get screwed up, my writing is inadequate, I am inadequate, etc. Proust (as narrator) states this belief about himself many times throughout the book until the very end, at which point, as many critics have observed, "loser takes all." Withthe aid of involuntary memory, he turns his life around.

Soul error is the belief that there is no inner worth in here; that only what is outside of me, that which I can't obtain, has value. This is what renders social life a farce, a gigantic waste of time. Feeling deeply inadequate, we are driven, forever on edge, always out to impress others that we are special, better than everyone else. This renders social interaction sterile, a vapid charade. The same dynamic applies to friendship and "love." Involuntary memory, as far as Proust is concerned, is the only way out. It amounts to epiphany, revelation. It comes unbidden: suddenly, you are purely a body, purely kinesthetic awareness, existing outside of time. This is what feeds the soul; this is the soul's true need. At the end of the day, this is all we have. Tolstoy said much the same thing.

Can everyone choose this path, as Proust believed? The historical record would suggest not, and the word utopia literally means "nowhere." Plato's assertion, that most people mistake illusion for reality, and are thus in effect sleepwalking through their lives, would seem to be the case. Sokei-An, the first Buddhist teacher to come to America (in 1945), finally observed that trying to turn Americans into Buddhists was like "holding a lotus to a rock." After ten years, say, you lift the lotus up off the rock and discover that its roots didn't penetrate the rock--not even slightly. And so the charade of status and power and so on will go on, and history will remain the nightmare that James Joyce said it was. We may wish to awaken from it, but somehow never manage to do so. Enlightenment is, at best, an individual quest, a private "solution."

(c)Morris Berman, 2018

130 Comments:

Anonymous Cel-Ray Tonic said...

I was trying to remember all the medical conditions Proust had, looked online and found this which may be of interest to WAFers:

http://baillement.com/lettres/sollier_involontary.pdf

or maybe not. I enjoy medical/scientific history stuff, but perhaps Proust's medical issues forced more inner/self focused thinking than would normally happen with someone out and about.

5:32 PM  
Blogger meangenekaz said...

Mauricio Belman y todos los Waferes,

That was a great mini essay,Morris. I wanted to read Proust during my high school years. But I never did, not sure why. It seems I just couldn't find the books. A lame excuse...but your essay has re-kindled my interest and I can act on that now.

No mind. Zen thread.

But this testament to decline did stand out today in the regional newspaper hereabouts. From the Associated Pres, dateline LAS CRUCES, N.M.:

"A District of Columbia clerk and a supervisor refused to accept a New Mexico man's state driver's license as he sought a marriage license because she and her supervisor believed New Mexico was a foreign country."

That is an anecdote, twenty years on, that could have been cited in "The Twilight of American Culture" in 2000 A.D. As you have noted, "don't kid yourself, these are your neighbors."

O&D!

5:44 PM  
Anonymous getoronto said...

Beautiful, one of your very best posts. Both Proust and you are inspiring here and we need more of that in this crazy time we are living in.
My fist exposure to you Morris was from “Coming To Our Senses” and what you have written here reminds me of that beautiful book you penned some years ago.

Most glad the surgery went well and that you’re back online to continue sharing your unique thinking and cogent observations.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

‘Tis the season”

To be preternaturally sensitive to the possibility of stepping on a cultural antipersonnel mine. BBC reports that a Cleveland radio station has decided to cease playing “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a bona fide seasonal selection, because it describes a man seeking to keep his female companion from leaving for home. It would be reasonable to assume that even now the other songs in the Christmas catalog are being assessed for acceptability and non-offensiveness.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46413209

For those interested, here’s the clip from Neptune’s Daughter (1949), in which Ricardo Montalban entreats Esther Williams to stay.
https://youtu.be/7MFJ7ie_yGU

6:53 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Perhaps somewhat relatedly, here's an excerpt from blog post on the current state of American literature: "We are living through the nadir of American literature. Especially poetry. Good god, especially poetry. Instagram has made stars out of young men and women who have literally read fewer than 5 books their entire lives. And instead of pushing against this, the literary establishment has embraced it, declaring it elitist–possibly also racist, sexist, transphobic, fat-phobic, and/or cis-centric–to insist that a person has to actually read books to be considered literate. Access for all! they shout. Especially for the undeserving!"

Same post...on American culture generally: "These fucking people. These gormless, moist, dead-eyed fucking people, same as the mental defectives who sat the fiction workshops I attended in college–only now they’ve been given control over nearly every aspect of American culture. Every tone is now watered down, every sense of danger snuffed out, every interesting urge tranquilized so as to comport with the hideous neurosis of these coddled mutants. The result is not just limp and unintelligent literature but widespread cultural rot and political impotence–the celebration of meanness, a complete disregard for honesty, the demonization of human touch, and the outright condemnation of beauty. We live on a decaying planet, and yet as the world burns we are denied even the warmth and color of fire. Every day, everything becomes more grey and more celibate."

8:00 PM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers,

James Howard Kunstler in short order contrasts what's happening in France and France's present capacity for community to describing the ongoing collapse of the United States.

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/the-ghost-of-christmas-present/#more-9885'

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Zarathustra said...

Proust is a very interesting character, from my poor knowledge, but I am afraid I must mention the elephant in the room: God. Is it possible to be an atheist mystic? My answer will perhaps put me at odds with the blog, but I don't think it really is, in a profound way. In the same way that I don't think it's possible to be a mystic and belong to an organised religion. Because what is mysticism if not some limited but direct knowledge of God? Whoever has that neither needs to "believe" in God nor can deny its existence.

5:56 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

Thank you so much MB for this excellent piece. I have not read Proust, but can try to see the points you made here. A personal comment:
I'm lucky to be with a woman who is completely at peace with who she is (and is not). So never any pressure to perform in social life. Everything about her is completely authentic. I must be lucky. I cannot be so sure about myself.

In my search for meaning in life and the world, I turn/look up to a few ppl. And you are one of them. There is another person I read/listen to, but it is seldom that he writes these days. Born an American, he moved to India to join a religious order. In his present avatar he is known as Baba Rampuri. His webpage: rampuri.com

Here is a link to his recent interview on `speech' wafers might find interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSiiZPBagiI

Thanks again,
Prasen

7:57 AM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

MB - Love this post. I have not (yet!) read Proust, but now intend to buy and read it. The short excerpt you provide rings so true - in all my travels, the items/ideas that mean the most to me (and that I continue to lug around the world with me!) are the ones that evoke memories of my childhood, growing up within an extended Italian-Portuguese American family. We weren't poor, but we weren't rich either. At the time, no one in my orbit was chasing the "American Dream".

To your comment on the hippies and their sad fate - I've argued (as Mike R noted in the last string) that the increase in tuition and the attendant student loan debts (and other debts), were done with malice aforethought to ensure that the "debt slaves" cannot ever again take to the the streets to protest the system. Add to this the fact that everyone is willingly exposing the minute details of their daily life for all to see on social media, one can see that there is absolutely no possibility of resistance or revolution. The drones don't even care what the system is doing to them, so long as they get their daily social media hit. They won't even notice, after the new internet watchdogs decree what is fake news and what is not, the loss of access to websites with different perspectives.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Bijoy said...

This post was something!

Thank you for your intimate thoughts.

MR BERMAN, have you kept up with a John Gray's output? Or possibly correspond with him? I'm reading his latest, on the history of atheism, and can't help but wish you two could have a dialogue or conversation. A great meeting of the minds!

10:48 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bijoy-

I haven't contacted Gray, but have read, and liked, some of his work. He's just not bullshitting.

mb

11:02 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

COMA PUMMELING!!


https://www.foxnews.com/us/robber-beats-man-into-coma-on-new-york-city-street-during-robbery-police-say


KINDNESS MURDERING!!


https://abcn.ws/2rkd0Vl

12:22 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Morris, Wow!

About 20 years ago, without “help,” I suddenly realized that I didn’t exist as who and what I thought I was, and in that instant the burden of my life was lifted off my shoulders and I was free. I was dancing and singing for hours until, sadly, the burden returned.

I look at what we call life to be both real and unreal. Consensus reality, in which most people live (including me, although I know better), is a phantasmagoria. It’s my understanding that we are merely a point of attention for infinite consciousness to experience itself. Otherwise, that infinite awareness would just be a blob of bliss wondering, “Am I having fun yet?”

Perhaps the difference between human beings and the rest of creation is that there exists for us the possibility that we can re-member, re-cognize, who and what we are. IOW, identify with the ground of being rather than the body/mind through which it is mediated. Or perhaps the rest of creation realizes the truth and it’s only us poor schmucks who are totally lost.

I know many New Agers who seem to believe that there’s a mass awakening happening, but I just don’t see it. It looks like Kali Yuga, the darkest of ages, is going to end with a bang and not segue gently into a more enlightened age. I hope I’m wrong, but I doubt that I am.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Dave Trowbridge said...

Lovely. I just heard about you from a friend and looked you up; glad I did.

I've nothing to add, but I have a question whose answer might help me get into Proust for the first time: what translation is that? It seems quite accessible.

2:41 PM  
Blogger librarian@play said...

Absolutely lovely. Search has sat on my shelves for years unread. Thank you for making it a priority for me. I've had experiences akin to "suddenly, you are purely a body, purely kinesthetic awareness" practicing t'ai chi; not as intense, but similar.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Échiquer de Mort said...

Morris,

The concept of involuntary memory is interesting. I think I’ve experienced something like this, usually when my life has not been going well. I will suddenly remember a person, maybe someone with whom I’ve never interacted but shared a special presence with, or a particular place where I felt at peace, and I will be simultaneously transported away from the present and somewhat perplexed as to how this memory appeared to materialize seemingly from nowhere at just this particular moment.

I wonder, however, whether there can be any sort of ‘transcendence’ if the memory isn’t one where some form of authenticity played a prominent role. I mean, for many people, being raised in an inauthentic culture with inauthentic people, those sorts of memories simply don’t exist. Such a person could look back fondly on early childhood experiences, but wouldn’t this be more a form of sentimentality than transcendence?

I’m also trying to tie this in with what Nietzsche said about history, namely that it is our memories that paralyze us and keep us tied to a stultifying present. If one is to transcend, one must forget. Animals are most authentic because they are not encumbered by past experiences. They live moment to moment. Perhaps involuntary memory is a way of forgetting—using a particular instantiation of the past to wipe out the weighty narrative built up over the years. I don’t know. It sounds a bit melodramatic, too much like the flashback moment in a Hollywood movie where the dying protagonist finally jettisons the ego and sinks contentedly into oblivion.

I’m about the age now where you were when you first read Proust and could probably benefit from reading him. Thanks for writing this.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

Nice article MB, I tried reading Proust once but it's above my pay grade.

I hope the Mueller report comes out this month - Merry Christmas, 'Murica

4:34 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB-

Great news about your forthcoming book on Italy! It would be wonderful if you could lecture about it somewhere in NYC in April. I'll supply the after-gig alcohol, of course. Fingers crossed! In terms of Proust, I think that down through the ages, there's always been a spiritual path, it's always been passed on, it always will be, and if anybody ever wants it in any age it's always there. I think that's what's so significant about your writings and all the contributions from folks on this blog. Whether we're aware of it our not, we're all on some kind of a Wafer Spiritual Journey (WSJ) here. It's a fabulous journey, independently and collectively, and a rich source of Enlightenment that we all greatly benefit from.

Sar-

It could also be that Trumpo has so empowered the deep state --Gina Haspel, head of the CIA, or instance -- that they don't mind that he routinely abuses them in public. Indeed, despite Trumpo's daily harassment, these douche bags have never had it so good!

Miles

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Dusty said...

Camille Paglia: ‘Hillary wants Trump to win again’

Paglia on Trump, Clinton, Jordan Peterson. She's a smart cookie, really enjoyed her "Sexual Personae" in college.

https://spectator.us/camille-paglia-hillary-trump/

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Onward to Dystopia said...

I recently spent a week in a cabin in the mountains of North Georgia. I didn't see a human for five days, and didn't think about Trump's fat, bloated face for a full week. I had internet, but only used it to check the weather. I recall Dr. Berman in an interview you mentioned that you enjoy getting up, making tea and staring at the wall for a while. I did that quite a bit. I walked in the woods and looked at the beautiful foliage, watched the sun set in the tangle of trees, made a fire in the potbelly stove and read the dark poetry of Georg Trakl. Getting away can put many things back into proper perspective which America inevitably warps.

It's interesting that John Gray was mentioned, I just started a book of his yesterday, "The Silence of Animals." I'd need to read more to comment on it. I would highly recommend "The Book of Disquiet" by Fernando Pessoa. I've been working my way through it slowly. It is a celebration of the quiet, inner life with total apathy for the outside world. It is almost the exact inverse of modern American life.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Oh Moses smell the roses; “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is being banned? One of the reasons I quit hanging around with online progs was a discussion a few years ago about how this song was advocating rape.

Wait for Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby" to be nixed next because it promotes sex with children (I'm not kidding - this was another discussion there).

Well, I play “Baby It’s Cold Outside” on my radio show (that's nuttin' - I've played incorrect stuff such as "Chinese Mule Train," "Run Ni**er Run, and "Slap Her Down Agin, Pa") and it's going to the top of the rotation next week.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

This is one of those stories that could only happen in the good ol' USofA: 300lb Pennsylvania woman crushed her boyfriend by SITTING on him, pleads guilty to murder.

Not so amusing: Famed Yellowstone Wolf “Spitfire” Killed By Trophy Hunter Just Outside Of Yellowstone. American bloodlust knows know bounds.

@Italiana--what's happened to the debt levels of American college students is in part of their own making. Nowadays, they demand brand new dorms with high speed internet access, as well as restaurant quality cafeteria services and first rate workout facilities. The schools outdo each other to provide expensive amenities, which student loans ultimately pay for. Another difference is that growing up, their parents allow their snowflakes all the luxuries of life instead of teaching them thrift. I graduated in 1989 having not taken out a student loan and not yet having owned a credit card. Thanks to a military scholarship, the GI Bill and part time jobs, I took my diploma debt free with a 10-year-old car and $600 bucks in savings. But then again, when it comes to wantonly spending money students are really no different than any idiot American these days.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Wafer Italiana--most americans were debt slaves, from housing, uni "education," health insurance, car, house, Xmas gifts on credit, etc..etc...then tethered to a job for their health benies. You are spot on w/your argument--this is INDEED intentional by the corporate state. Better not get sick, or have a chronic disease!

Add in the only country in the world w/ "employment at will" doctrine--how can ANYONE w/ working frontal lobes thk that a "revolution" or "Resistance" that is sustainable and measurable can occur w/so many of them as debt slaves? Usa-ers were hog-tied, and on some level, they know it. You are US tax person that is a fiscal prisoner-thanks to FATCA and CBT double taxation (in company with Eritrea).

Perhaps, that's why all the anger, rage, depression-- most know they will NEVER get to zero (from a debt stand-pt). Any wonder why obesity, depression, mental derangements, drug additions, screen obsessions, daily massacres/violence,
"extreme" us porn, is so prevalent?

T-2 yrs until we're the fuck out.

9:48 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Think I posted my comment in the last post by mistake sorry MB! Thought Wafers would enjoy this quote from the latest issue of Adbusters:

"Miles Davis once said: 'The biggest challenge in jazz improvisation is not to play all the notes you could play, but to wait, hesitate - then play what's not there'... and there's some strange kind of wisdom there. Learning how to be wilder, crazier, more fuck-it-all-shoot-from-the-hip-spontaneous in everything we do, may well be the secret - our way back into the planetary flow."

Kanye

9:49 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ech-
Involuntary memory is not transcendent; like satori, it's horizontal. Check out CTOS for elaboration.

Dave-

I used an online translation, but here's the one I own, and recommend:

https://www.amazon.com/Search-Lost-Time-Library-Classics/dp/0812969642/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1544021709&sr=1-1&keywords=in+search+of+lost+time

mb

9:58 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Close on the heels of my previous post on the Cleveland radio station pulling “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from its seasonal playlist, this item on Princeton University’s a cappella group The Tigertones pulling “Kiss the Girl” (from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”) from its set list. Princeton University sophomore Noa Wollstein offers her view of this “offensive and violating ritual” in the Daily Princetonian, writing that the lyrics “unambiguously encourage men to make physical advances on women without obtaining their clear consent.”
http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/article/2018/11/dear-tigertones-please-stop-singing-kiss-da-girl

For those curious to hear the Tigertones rendition, a link below. As NPR has taught us to say, some listeners may find this music disturbing:
https://youtu.be/AmRt3joH0F8

Finally, I acknowledge that I am a man. This is a source of considerable embarrassment, as you might imagine. I can, however, state that I have not kissed a woman, except in a friendly “It’s wonderful to see you again” fashion, for quite some time. Judging from the world I see around me, this is likely a very good thing.

10:20 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

@Bill Hicks

Sorry, but that sounds a lot like the kind of austerity moralism that has more or less led an entire generation to give up on life.

The students are not in debt because they like fancy things. They are in debt because the University system is a *ponzi scheme* that *requires* debt for growth.

Tell me how many students sat on the boards that approved wasteful recreational spending on campus. Or were the poor Boomers tyrannized by their demanding children -really? Everybody I know would love the option of going to a barebones college for 70 percent less.

In fact, the *entire society* is a ponzi scheme. The assumption of growth at compounding rates means you always need more suckers buying in to iffy economic systems. Pensions, university credentials, stock markets - all flim flams that fall hardest on the young, who are sheparded into the system by older people interested in maintaining its viability.

David Graber: money is debt, if the gov balances its books you can't balance yours

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Mike Kelly said...

Another excellent essay Dr. B! I've always known in the back of my head that I should read Proust, but this seals the deal, to borrow a phrase from the Hustler in Chief.

Here was my favorite quote: "Feeling deeply inadequate, we are driven, forever on edge, always out to impress others that we are special, better than everyone else." This left me with the impression that the creators of Facebook, Instagram and all that other "social media" crap are keenly aware of the feelings you describe. They are the anti-Proust.

I am very much looking forward to April and the NY Wafer Summit!

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

Greetings MB - That's the version I just ordered from Amazon - glad I bought a good one!!

@Bill - You are correct at some level w/ the University education costs these days - that tuition is certainly not going to pay for professors or other teaching staff. Tenured positions are a rarity now, many PhDs are settling for adjunct positions - nothing more than old style piece work. However, I would submit that the corporate state has engineered it this way deliberately - how many 17-18 year-olds can comprehend the scam that is being played on them? And unfortunately their parents certainly don't have any critical thinking skills.

@Mike R - Spot on re FATCA and the long arm of the IRS. One of the annoyances of moving to another country is that one is still tethered to the US, and you must then navigate Tax Treaties and accountants. Ugh. Glad you have a measurable window (T-2 yrs) to leaving!

2:23 PM  
Blogger meangenekaz said...

Hola todos los Waferes,

Ain't it great to have Dr.Haskel back on the beat with us! The Man Without Qualities!

@ Kanye - Thank you for that post, which is quite correct. It has been my method all of these years. Just shoot from the hip and let those improvised shell casings fall where they may...

"baby it's cold outside" where I live! One of my fave tunes. Progressives just don't get it, that political correctness just don't get it.

Kali Yuga has been on my mind for the last forty years:
"The human race was dyin' out. No one left to scream and shout.
Evil walkin' on the moon. Smog, gon' get you pretty soon!" - the Doors.

Global climate change prescience? Poets = Visionaries.

Jam on Wee Tam!

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Herbie said...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/world/2018/12/04/frances-protests-mark-broader-crisis-western-democracy/
"In the small towns & cities of 'the other France'...[there's an] absence of a tomorrow...a form of postindustrial despair that’s now gnawing at the middle & working classes who suffered the brunt of the brutal crisis [of] 2008 & the ensuing budget cuts"

........ or --

"Paris protesters smashed this statue of the Marianne, a symbol of the French Republic, inside the Arc de Triomphe. Protesters also damaged other statues in the monument and destroyed the gift shop. "
https://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2018/dec/02/the-aftermath-of-the-gilets-jaunes-riots-in-paris-in-pictures


I have been trying to think of why this self-hatred, guilt, inner-conflict and low self-esteem is now plaguing the West in general, like France(!), and not just the ruinous US. It's infecting everything.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Wafer Italiana--you could renounce to avoid FATCA and double taxation CBT that is unique to US persons. Of course, the us empire raised the "cost" to the highest in all the countries--to a whopping $2350 (most countries it's free or nominal cost).

On another note, in France, the 'Gilet Jeunes' are gaining traction--wish them the best, and support the French Revolution against the govt and that empty suit, Rothchild banker- Macron. Paris is burning--good on ya. Usa-ers would go to City Hall, fill out 20pgs of documents for a protest license/permit, then, walk around with a clitoris hat and chant with celebs as trigger happy us militarised police watch their every move for that amazing "resistance."

Also, an article re: the 'Gilet Jeunes' that appears to support Dr. Berman's us revolution will come from the right not left comments: Where was the Left? Crickets.....

https://www.spiked-online.com/2018/12/05/why-the-left-cant-lead-the-yellow-vests/

6:08 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@Dio--indeed, that's why I said it was "in part" of their own making. In fact, I really don't blame the students since it was their parents who instilled such shallow values in them.

@Italiana--I'm not a big believer in conspiracy theories. For one thing, they let the "victims" off the hook, when the fact is there probably has been no one in world history more easily led like a sheep to slaughter than average Americans. Just tell 'em it will make them (or their kids) rich and they will drop their shorts and bend right over.

Blogger Michael Krieger just posted a great sendup of the latest Great White Liberal Hope--Beta O'Rourke, who Dumbs are actually calling "the white Barack Obama," as if THAT is going to have big time political appeal by the time we reach 2020. He could probably also be compared to Bush, since he's from Texas and likely once got away with leaving the scene of an accident while drunk because of his rich, powerful daddy's influence. Krieger also draws a comparison between O'Rourke and Macron, which I think pretty well sums it up.

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Good analysis of falling life expectancy in America and “deaths of despair” over at Naked Capitalism. The piece discusses the social determinants of health like how inequality worsens health outcomes.

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/11/american-life-expectancy-continues-fall-rise-suicides-overdose-deaths-big-culprit.html

1:54 AM  
Anonymous Megan C. said...

When I was 26 my boyfriend got me the original Moncrieff translation of "The Search For Lost Time". He inscribed something about his eternal love, but since it didn't work out, I took it back to the used bookstore. Later, I got the Kilmartin revision, and I was glad I did, because I found that a lot more readable. Of course, it's fitting that the books (with their loving dedication) are now in the possession of someone else, as that is in itself very Proustian commentary on the fleetingness and transitory nature of love.

Alain de Botton's book, "How Proust Can Change Your Life", is, somewhat surprisingly, rather good. His other stuff is pretty pedestrian, all the business about how Montaigne can help you with low self-esteem, or Nietzsche can reconcile you to poverty, etc. But this one is worth reading.

Overall, "The Search For Lost Time" is one of those novels like The Magic Mountain, that has really stuck with me through the years. You start off thinking it's just something to "get through", and it ends up being the kind of book that gives you a whole new outlook on the world.

2:08 AM  
Anonymous AaronA said...

"Involuntary memory is not transcendent; like satori, it's horizontal. Check out CTOS for elaboration."

My sense is that satori isn't "really" about transcendence - but I do agree that this interpretation has a way of constantly creeping in, and not just today but historically from the beginning.

Bankei is the Zen master who most clearly and unambiguously presents Zen as being completely "horizontal", and Alan Watts does a good job at bringing out the horizontal aspects of Zen as well.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Aaron-

Watts has worn very well, as the decades have passed.

Megan-

Moncrieff's title was "Remembrance of Things Past," which is a line from a Shakespeare sonnet; No. 31, I think. Not the best translation of "A la recherche du temps perdu."

mb

11:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

No Shit, Sherlock dept.:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/05/technology/facebook-emails-privacy-data.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage

11:31 AM  
Anonymous BrotherMaynard said...

There is a huge gap between protests in France versus USA. I saw video of French police taking off their helmets and openly sympathizing with the protestors. This would never ever happen in the USA.
Quite the opposite in fact:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/09/california-police-white-supremacists-counter-protest

So, Professor, Japan and now Italy- any other countries next on your 'to-do' list? I'd vote for Denmark- very high trust society, high general welfare, and supposedly the happiest people on earth. I'd also be interested in Mexico, a more gracious and civilized way of living than the USA. This is a book I am sure you could write from memory.

BrotherMaynard

12:12 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

I really don’t know what to make of Camille Paglia? Any thoughts?

https://spectator.us/camille-paglia-hillary-trump/


FOOTBALL PUMMELING!!!

https://www.foxnews.com/sports/steelers-fan-captured-choking-pregnant-woman-at-game-report-says

5:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bro-

Chad, possibly. I also have some fondness for Outer Mongolia.

mb

5:13 PM  
Blogger meangenekaz said...

Hola los Waferes,

CTD Department - @ Herbie "I've been trying to think why this self-hatred, guilt, inner-conflict and low self-esteem is now plaguing the West, in general like France(!) and not just the ruinous US. It's infecting everything."

Key word: EVERYTHING. "We are all in the the same boat", the Kali Yuga.
Kali (n. Hinduism) the wife of Shiva and the malevolent form of the Mother Goddess
Shiva (n. Hinduism) "the Destroyer"
Yuga (n. Hinduism) the worst and last age in the repeating cycle of time; the "end"

Speculation has associated the cycle of the four yugas with the precession of the equinoxes (a 25,800 year cycle).

"This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius", the Water Bearer. All bets are off. Hence the confusion. The rising ocean level and the acceleration of ice melt at the poles may provide a clue here. . .

O&D!

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Puss Killian said...

@DioGenes, right on! In the four short years since I graduated (thankfully not the oldest in my class), they keep sending me emails about hiring a new Director of Research on [insert pet peeve here] and raising admin salaries. In the five years I was there, the profs, on the other hand, didn't even get COLA until my final year. My classmates took jobs as adjuncts, and I don't call them because I don't want to know how bad it is.

Some wonderful posts in this thread, every single one enjoyable, especially the first one on France, BICO with Montalban, Camille, the real Carlin and Hicks, too many to mention. Oh, and Saboteur in Chief from the previous post. Some good articles in the previous post as well.

I wish I could comment on Proust, but alas I cannot. Dr. B, when you talk about "soul error" and how so many of us feel inadequate, this struck me. I do wonder, however, how much of the feeling of inadequacy is engineered in this shitty culture.

6:39 PM  
Blogger Patrick D. Fitzgerald said...

At this point with all the "Baby it's cold outside" and "Kiss the girl" hilarity, I am not sure my jaw will ever fully close. The fact that in this DISNEY movie (whose only goal ever was to make $$) the girl in question DESPERATELY wants to be kissed after the VILLAIN makes her give up her voice, is lost on the dingbat who penned (keyed) the hysterical Princeton op-ed, is really a foregone conclusion at this point in American Cultural History. I own a pretty sweet calculator and even I cannot work the math out on how much the single female population will have grown in fifteen years time, but here's a hustlery stock tip: Whiskas & Purina.

As for Proust editions, I have been reading the Moncrieff translation for a few months now (it is long) but bad title translation notwithstanding, I think it's a pretty satisfying read style wise, and it was available on Kindle for free. Nothing like owning a nice hardcover version of a 4200 page novel though...

O&D Waferazos!

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Krista said...

https://www.newstatesman.com/2018/12/Hermann-hesse-Wanderer-Shadow-Gunnar-Decker-review

How Hermann Hesse became a hero of the Sixties counterculture

“Before your LSD session, read Siddartha and Steppenwolf," advised Timothy Leary.

Goldmund and Narcissus did it for me!

10:03 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Headlines:

Utah man accused of hammering ICE PICK through housemate's penis after a dispute. I love how the article helpfully explains what an ice pick is for any idiots who might not know.

Vermont man protests town government with massive, $4,000 middle finger sculpture. Key quote: "The Westford Select Board says they cannot remove the sculpture as it is considered public art."

Cincinnati woman accused of pouring hot grease on victim in argument. Get a load of THIS freaky mugshot!

Tennessee man says he peed on Kellogg's cereal conveyor belt. "Stanton worked for the plant in 2014 and posted a video online in 2016 of him urinating on the conveyor belt."

Lastly, our favorite university is at it again: Evergreen College Faculty Seek To Ban The Use Of “Covenant” As A Term Of “Cultural Genocide.”

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Megan C. said...

Dr. Berman,

Ah, that's right. Even though it's a very loose translation, "Remembrance of Things Past" does have a certain elegance to it. It's been 20 years since I've read it straight through, but I do go back from time to time and read 20 pages or so. I especially like the parts about grieving and forgetting. It reminds you that even the worst times will eventually be but a distant memory!

I've never read anything by Julien Gracq, but someone I know with good taste keeps telling me how good he is. Apparently he is responding to Proust in various ways, but with a different take on things (I believe Gracq is a member of the Surrealist School.) Sounds interesting at any rate.

JJardin, I find Camille Paglia delightful. She has some silly ideas, such as her fondness for Madonna and her pro-porn beliefs, etc. But overall, she is well-worth listening to. And "Sexual Personae" is an outstanding book.

5:35 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bill-

Cereal will never be the same for me again. As for Evergreen: The one thing abt douche bags is that they never learn.

mb

9:02 AM  
Anonymous Italiana said...

MB - I've actually been to Mongolia twice. Once you get away from Ulan Bator, the Mongolian people are some of the most welcoming and friendly folks anywhere - you have to be when you live on the steppes and your life may depend on the help and kindness of whoever might pass by. We would go back again. A new book about Mongolia (mostly photos) by photographer Frederic Lagrange will be out in Dec. https://1fuzz.com/frederic-lagrange-17-years-book/ It is a spiritual place.

@Bill - I don't believe there is a small cabal of folks sitting in a room working on this, but I do believe that the very rich and powerful in this country are always looking for ways to suck more money out of the turkeys - and have transformed the economy into one which preys on the poor and desperate, and then tries to convince us this is the best way ever. It all follows from our history of hustling, which was somewhat tempered here and there (think New Deal), but which always slips back into blood sucking mode.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Bagel broadside dept.:

https://abc7ny.com/video-man-goes-berserk-when-bagel-sandwich-not-ready/4845020/

Miles

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

The usa "educational" system.

Teacher arrested after forcibly cutting students hair while singing the national anthem.

https://360aproko.com/2018/12/07/teacher-charged-for-forcibly-cutting-students-hair-has-been/

usa, usa!

12:02 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

I don't know about you Wafers, but watching the Facebook ship collapse with new revelations of corruption, fines etc... coming out every week gives me a lot of joy. Here's the latest:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/dec/07/italian-regulator-fines-facebook-89m-for-misleading-users

As a side effect, it looks like the party is over for uber-douchebagette Sheryl Sandberg. Even the pussy hats themselves are turning on her!

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/07/technology/lean-in-sheryl-sandberg-problem.html

Kanye

12:14 PM  
Anonymous David G. said...

A ways back in this thread, BrotherMaynard suggested that you, Dr. B, write a book on Mexico. I wholeheartedly second that! I am currently making my way through "The Labyrinth of Solitude" by Octavio Paz, a commentary on Mexican history and culture (published in the early 1960s). This edition also includes a couple of later (late 60s) essays that update his thoughts, especially in light of the worldwide unrest of 1968. Lots of commentary about the oppressiveness of the US and the alienation created by technology. His comments in this regard resonate with me, but they are very general, making it difficult for me to discern exactly what he is referring to. I think Dr. B is the perfect person to write a new version of a book like "The Labyrinth of Solitude", giving us an updated social criticism of Mexico, what they have preserved that we have lost (or never had) in the US, how Mexico sees itself nowadays, etc. etc. What do you think, Dr. B?

12:41 PM  
Blogger Dan Daniel said...

Re: utopia. Long ago I read an introduction to a version of More's 'Utopia' that briefly looked at the title word itself. Maybe this was a Penguin Classic edition? Don't remember. It said that More never explained his meaning of the word that he coined. And that there are two Greek prefixes that could be used- OU or EU. OU meaning not or no, hence NO Place, the common translation. EU meaning better or refined, so it could be that More meant Better Place. I assume the ambivalence was intentional on his part.

Anyone here know their Greek well enough to comment if this is correct? Or know their More well enough to correct the idea that More never explained which prefix he intended to use?

I find it interesting that the use of 'utopia' as a derogatory or dismissive term for attempts to develop alternative models was the usage of Marx and Engels. People like Fourier and Owen were Utopian Socialist, building castles in the air that would never last, while Marx and Engels were Scientific Socialists, basing their model for a better society on true research and history. Almost Thatcherite- there is no alternative.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Eu definitely means good or well; as in euphoria, or eucharist. Also 1st syllable in the Greek word for thank you.

Ou means not.

David-

"El laberinto de la soledad" was 1st published in 1950. Still a great bk. But I don't think I'm the rt guy for the update.

Kanye-

It's almost axiomatic that if someone is in the news, a big deal, then they and their adulators are completely full of dog excrement. Explanation for this may be found in my riff on Proust. Jesus, what a turkey Zuckershmuck is. As for "Lean In"...what a frenzy this turkette precipitated. And why? Again, see Proust.

Mike-

That pic of teacher singing and cutting hair is a perfect profile of contemporary America.

Jeff-

If the bagel had pastrami on it, I cd understand this guy's reaction.

mb

4:29 PM  
Blogger meangenekaz said...

@ GSWH - as I became Wafer-ized early on, then a fully self-realized Wafer in 2000, after reading TOAC, I can only "shake my head and slowly walk away" when I consider your zuckerschmuck comment. Was it just that still, small inner voice, or the immediate realization, when fecesbook made the scene, that I says to me self, not for me?

As the decline had cascaded down upon us it is obvious what no man or woman should have ignored about zuck and his legions. Orwell was correct. . .

I've been reading Timothy Snyder's "Bloodlands: Europe Between Stalin and Hitler" - a history book not for the faint of heart. I thought Ed Abbey's work informed my misanthropic leanings - this book had caused me a far further fear and loathing.

Any comments on that, Dr. B? Thank you.

6:18 PM  
Anonymous Tim C said...

Must read. Why millions of Americans may receive surprise emergency room bills come January.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-07/millions-of-americans-could-face-surprise-emergency-room-bills-in-january

Nothing makes it harder to defend capitalism than the American health care system.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@Kanye--unfortunately, the only couple of people I know who have actually recently cancelled their Wastebook accounts seldom used the program in the first place. Among my circle of friends, I am virtually alone in never signing on to Zuckerschmuck's boondoggle, having not trusted it from the very beginning. I gently try to point out to people how their privacy has been compromised, how Zuckerfuck knew he was stealing their valuable personal data or (for the liberals) how Wastebook did way more to help Trump become president than anything the Russians did, but to no avail. I mean, if they dump it, how can they POSSIBLY share with the whole wide world those 500 boring-ass vacation photos they took on their last trip to Italy?

In the "news," a scam, for profit collage chain abruptly announced that it is shutting down dozens of campuses by the end of the month after losing its accreditation and suffering financial difficulties. Up to 20,000 students face the prospect of not being able to transfer their earned credits, yet are still on the hook for the full amount of their student loans. Said loans, of course, are not dischargeble even in bankruptcy thanks to the valiant efforts of the student loan and credit card companies' best friend in Washington and current Dumbocratic front-runner, former Obarfa Veep Joe Biden. But hey, he talks all "folksy," so no doubt he can beat Trump in 2020.

1:34 AM  
Blogger Yossi said...

It is involuntary memory but you can give it a chance to emerge by more voluntary means perhaps - being quiet, meditation, listening to non-vocal music, looking at art, gardening.

6:15 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

The discussion about France on here has coincided nicely with some reading I've been doing on the Bourbon kings of pre-revolutionary France.

I think the Baby Boomers have quite a spiritual affinity with them. For instance, there was Louis XIV, who historians note had a policy of 'make war first and ask questions later'. Bush doctrine, anyone?

Louis' famous line of "I am the state" was even echoed by the Eminent L Paul Bremer during the Iraq invasion.

His successor, Louis XV, is said to have coined the phrase "after us, the flood". Sound a bit like the future of the US educational debt situation? The Bourbons also had an uncanny penchant for driving straight toward the proverbial 'fiscal cliff'.

And then there's Boomer 'life advice' to young people worthy of Marie Antoinette. Let them eat cake indeed.

I guess Robespierre is in high school? Not that he would be any better...

10:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

mean-

Paul Fussell once wrote that "everything in the US is coated with a fine layer of fraud." This was yrs ago; by now, the layer is quite thick. But Americans are not, as a nation, very bright, and continually fall for the latest gimmick, desperately trying to fill the hole in their soul. Facebk is a gd example of this, and for Americans, Zuckerturkey is some kind of hero. When it gets eclipsed, there will be some other gimmick that they'll grab onto--some app, some pet rock, some new paradigm, you name it. Gore Vidal once said: "Americans never learn. It's part of our charm."

mb

11:48 AM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

Witnessed the ad for the new Aquaman super hero movie. How is this crap not designated child porn? It doesn't have to be sexual in nature for it to be, you know, porn.

I read a long time ago Erich Fromm considered psychiatry/ology to b revolutionary science. I tend to agree - one big problem in USA! is if all the people who need it actually received quality care they might ditch their debt peonage. 'Fuck that, I'm not working 80 hrs a week to pay 50% income on house and 20 on cars.' I think it's a huge obstacle to overcome and it won't b done well for all the substance abusers who need help. I guess that's why most crap one sees on mental health tx overemphasizes positivity 'if ya just get some help (barbaric intervention) you will win the lottery.'

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Framp said...

“The most shocking thing in Europe right now is not that the French are rioting...it’s that the British are not.”
Brendan O’Neill

3:47 PM  
Blogger Zarathustra said...

Bill, count me amongst the number of people that never had a Faecesbook account. At least I can boast about something... I've been watching YouTube videos of Bill Hicks, by the way, and I only can say "wow". Only point of disagreement is about LSD or drugs. I am in favour of drug legalization but I still don't think they're such a great idea. As far as I know, for example, Hermann Hesse never advocated drug use (unlike Aldous Huxley) and I find it ironic that in the US some people took to reading Siddharta and Steppenwolf as a complement to LSD ingestion. These books are really profound and can teach you something but where did that generation end up? Voting for Obama. Fucking hell!

3:54 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

@Bill, it took me a long time, but I finally closed my account last month. It's only now that I am realising how much time I've wasted scrolling over useless "updates", but then those fuckers are smart at getting you addicted. Beyond the loss of trust from users, I think Facebook will vanish because the "world" they represent - capitalism unleashed, technodouchebagery, open borders, political correctness etc... - is coming to an end. Tha majority of people will continue living in the matrix and keep posting selfies with their babies and their cats, but the resistance is rising.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Report from France--all walks of life represented in the Gilets Jaunes; from carpenters to surgeons. From "extreme left" to "extreme right." >75% approval from the French populace. Police showing solidarity too as appearing to understand the plight of a real democracy/community.

Macron, as predicted, was an empty suit. Monsieur Corporate. A PC, white -washed, overly articulate former banker who thought he could arrogantly bullshit his way through a presidency while representing the interests of the super-wealthy and giving lip service to helping those from more modest means.

Sounds awfully familiar-- Maybe he could move to the us empire as he would fit right in!

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Rufus T. Schmeck said...

Zarathurstra... sorry, the mystical does not have to include god.... life is a mysterious verb(if you will), a process that is beyond reductionistic thinking. God as creator, makes the world, the universe, an artifact. When, in fact, it is not an artifact, but a verb, a process. Full of the complexity that goes with that. The raw, unconditioned experience, that is, satori, is full of the richness of the moment. That verb/process complexity that fills ones experience. You do not need a god for that experience. Jung said something like, "Religion is a defense against a religious experience." I think the best "religious experience" is the one that honors mystery & the deep sense of belonging to that mystery. No god necessary.

Rufus T. Schmeck

9:34 PM  
Blogger NeilW said...

FIRST RULE OF TORAH #PESSIMISMOFTHEINTELLECT #OPTIMISMOFTHEWILL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mc-g_yGd3U

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Speaking of Facebook, here is an article on some of the dystopian technologies that Facebook and other tech companies are working on.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/08/the-dystopian-future-of-facebook/?

In other tech dystopia news here is an article on the latest workplace trend: microchipping your employees!

https://theconversation.com/microchip-implants-are-threatening-workers-rights-107221

2:43 AM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Too bad more people won't read this essay by Umair Haque. Oh well! They probably couldn't bring themselves to take anything in the essay to heart.

https://eand.co/why-most-people-who-believe-theyre-capitalists-are-the-opposite-of-capitalists-a631f7450bdf

7:27 AM  
Anonymous Kat said...

A powerful evocation of the widespread rural inequality and poverty in France that is driving the "yellow vest" protests:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/02/world/europe/france-yellow-vest-protests.html

^^A good take on the France protests. I've seen some of us citing articles on the subject

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

A few times in various podcasts you have talked about the five factors of imperial collapse.. I wonder if there isn't a sixth when all the institutions of a society get totally inverted.

The most recent winner in terms of fraud of the moment is the US military.

https://www.thenation.com/article/pentagon-audit-budget-fraud/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrAdBYbXHZ8

And yet they remain the most trusted institution in the USA.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2018/06/29/the-institutions-americans-trust-most-and-least-in-2018-infographic/#70c1198a2fc8

What a country!



12:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Anjin-

Twilight bk lists 4.

mb

1:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: but this may be a 5th:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/crime-law/2018/12/08/former-miss-kentucky-charged-with-sending-nude-photos-year-old-ex-student/?utm_term=.6596e517623d

Poor gal. How is it that she thought she wdn't be caught?

mb

1:03 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@Zara--glad you are enjoying Bill's videos! I often wondered what he would think were he still alive and hadn't died of pancreatic cancer in 1994 at the insanely youthful age of 32. Bill was so young when he passed that his idealism hadn't yet completely curdled into rank cynicism. Personally, I've never taken LSD or any other mind altering drug, but he indeed always credited them with opening his mind. Hey, whatever it takes!

@Kayne--I really hope you are right, but I fear Wastebook and the system it represents isn't going down without a huge fight, especially in the U.S. That Counterpunch article Tom Servo just posted give an indicator just how far Wastebook is prepared to go to hold onto and consolidate its power. If anyone here is still signed on with that awful company, they really need to read it.

Our old friend Mark Ames posted a twit today (his are among the few actually worth reading) calling out brain dead neocon "intellectual" and opportunistic never-Trumper Max Boot, who somehow is still paid to puke up his worthless geopolitical analysis, for actually having the gall to insinuate that Putin is somehow behind the French protests. Funny how neoliberals and neoconservatives are always squawking about the importance of "democracy," yet are always horrified whenever a majority of peons somewhere don't support the so-called "leaders" they think they should be supporting.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Les Hommes Jaunes said...

Re: Gilets Jaunes.

This is not a left-wing revolution. Mostly disaffected right-wingers trying to push their agenda through violence. It’s just another instance of fascist movements gaining a foothold in Europe, much like the one in Andalusia recently. Why are these people not called what they are: terrorists? Is it because they don’t have dark skin? Their situation seems awfully familiar to those from countries the West impoverished and genocided, yet when those people turned to violence it was branded ‘terrorism.’ Let’s face it: These are mostly middle-aged schlubs from the provinces and their children whose lives went nowhere and now they need someone to blame. When their leaders were out pillaging poor countries, where were they expressing outrage? It’s only when the brutality is turned on the homeland that they have any grievances. Let’s hope Macron clamps down on this incipient fascist movement before it gains any more traction.

As for western guilt, the West has plenty to be guilty about. They treated the entire planet and all non-Westerners as a dumping ground while they lived it up for decades. Now that the party’s over and they realize those who they harmed are taking over the reins, they’re terrified.

9:14 PM  
Blogger SKBeve said...

I have read your blog for a number of years and have read most of your books with great admiration but have never written in your comment section. However, now I felt that I had to respond to Rufus T. Schmeck's beautiful comment. His experience almost exactly matches my own which gives me comfort and makes me feel less alone in my spiritual journey. Except that I associate the mystery with God.

Thanks for this blog and keep up your good work.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

SK-

Welcome to the blog. Don't lurk; live!

mb

9:50 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

GAMBLING NUNS!!!!

Nuns misappropriated $500K in school funds, spending some on gambling.

https://abcn.ws/2G63WOc

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Emma said...

https://arcdigital.media/would-david-hume-give-blackkklansman-a-golden-globe-e8e8abee196f

I saw the flick and then read this piece after getting the high rec from Mr Berman. Now that's a production!


Though I wouldnt recommend hiring Hume to host your awards. Some controversial Twitter statements in his past

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Harold said...

https://quillette.com/2018/12/04/understanding-the-miracle-of-hanukkah-through-the-ancient-worlds-prism-of-horrors/

Understanding the Miracle of Hanukkah Through the Ancient World's Prism of Horrors

A happy Hanukkah Professor!

12:01 PM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

@Les Hommes Jaunes On the dot. Coming from the country that was the prized diamond on the British empirical crown, India that is, I know what it means to be economically exploited for centuries. Thankfully, we were spared near-complete obliteration our ancient ways like the Americas, (and there were reasons for that). It is time the middle-class in the West realize that much of their prosperity has depended on exploitation of other peoples. The is not to be judgmental. But it is time the middle-class in the West realized they have much more in common with the people in the so-called third world than they have agreed to accept so far. We are all exploited by the 1% trans-national elite.

@Framp, One of my colleagues, on an academic trip to France, spent a couple of months there with his family in 2014. At this, one of his hosts in France told him, it would be extremely difficult for a French Prof. to go abroad w/ family for 2 mnths. Don't know if this is/was true, but if it was, it foretold today's turmoil.

Prasen

12:07 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

This bird has flown dept.:

Ammon Bundy bids adieu to the Militia Movement, says nationalism is the opposite of patriotism and Trumpo's America resembles 1930s Germany:

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/12/ammon-bundy-quits-militia-movement-defends-migrant-caravan.html?fbclid=IwAR0Gk89k2HSv0rnKVWFSuzcG1XT1zNVbTyqrjwneI_wWCCjbRMMfv25MswE

Ticket to ride dept.:

Jesus, I luv redheads!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/alleged-russian-agent-maria-butina-poised-to-plead-guilty-in-case-involving-kremlin-attempts-to-influence-nra/2018/12/10/3d91609e-f0f7-11e8-80d0-f7e1948d55f4_story.html?utm_term=.bbd510af66e5

The fool on the hill dept.:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDaBgN-Ucpg

Have a wonderful day, Wafers :-)

Miles

1:48 PM  
Blogger Bullshevik said...

Meangenekaz et al,
I have lived in NM for 31 years and used to work in tourism. Not only have I heard stories for years (and read many anecodes in the "One of Our 50 Is Missing" feature in the New Mexico magazine), I have my own story. I tried to order a replacement part for my car once through a company in another state that sells used car parts online, and when I clicked on the chat window and asked how much shipping to New Mexico cost, I was told they didn't ship to foreign countries.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Dulouz Jr said...

One of the first things I did after retiring was sit down in the morning w/coffee and read through Proust's Rememberance; took me all winter but well worth it. May even do it again this winter.
As for psychedelics, me and my girlfriend were cleaning out some fresh peyote buttons, New Years Eve 1970- and we both agreed we'd taken psychedelics as far as we needed. Didn't completely stop right then but we took what we'd learned and moved on with our life. Don't regret those trips, even the few bad ones- the foundation for making me the WAFER I am today.

2:22 PM  
Blogger meangenekaz said...

Hola los Waferes,

@Morris, Thank you; as I've learned from your excellent body of work. Gore Vidal has inspired me for many years.

@Bill Hicks/Zarathustra, I am with you - we can call it a Wafer "merit badge", some bragging rights, eh? I've never logged into waste book. A fine layer of fraud. Maybe a crushing layer.

La Pura Vida? https://news.co.cr the and: the costa rica star news.co.cr An erstwhile friend bought property in Costa Rica a year ago and decided to become an ex-pat. Makes me wonder how that is working out for the lonely amerikan...

@Framp re: Brendan O'Neill comment. Indeed. @ Rufus - right on! No guru, no method, no teacher. @Kanye - I'm not sure the resistance is rising; but, one can hope.

Question: How did German kultur "advance" from J.S.Bach to Adolph Hitler?

O&D!

3:10 PM  
Anonymous BrotherMaynard said...

@Rufus T. Schmeck and @Zarathurstra...

For what it's worth, I've reverted to the Roman Catholicism of my youth. This after having gone through a period of successive religions and a period (many years) where I was a hard core atheist. I would say it has helped me though I strenuously avoid pompous right wing Catholic assholes (Jacob Rees-Mogg anyone?) and focus on the works and words of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton. The later being a kind of mystical Buddhist-Catholic blend.- my kind of cool.

Anyway, I've always admired the Church's jaundiced eye toward ruthless Anglo-Saxon style capitalism. Culturally, the roots of the Church is Mediterranean. It pleases me to no end when a right wing Catholic laments the current pope and wishes for the days of Benedict xvi. I then quote from Benedict's encyclicals on capitalism (he clearly isn't a fan). Unfortunately, the response isn't one of enlightenment (gee, maybe I've gotten my Catholicism all wrong); it's just rage.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2013/01/01/pope-benedict-slams-capitalism-economic-inequality

BrotherMaynard

3:26 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

@Les Hommes Jaunes,

Not sure nurses, retirees and garbage men all earning minimum wage are right-wing "terrorists". It seems like you've fallen right into the trap MSM has set up: making people believe the few extremists who smash storefronts on the Champs Elysées represent the bulk of the movement, thus driving attention away from the real issues raised and the people who're really struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis.

Yes the West is screwed and it's guilty of many things, but it's not a reason to despise the common folk.

Kanye

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Les Hommes Jaunes--we were at the manifestation.

I do not want to repeat Wafer Kanye Cyrus' comments; however, respectfully, you appear misinformed and apparently regurgitating MSM propaganda which is an american-style psych op to distract from the real issues.

The vast majority of Gilet Jaunes are peaceful folks justifiably angry at an oligarchy that has not represented their interests. And there are NOT all middle aged country bumpkins/"schlubs" from the hinderhands. As stated, there were carpenters to surgeons, all walks of life and political persuasions in fraternite, and articulate comments being made to real news reporters--not Diane Sawyer-esqe--"Do you guys do it (fuck)?" Michael Jackson us "news."

Perhaps, if the Gilet Jaunes were walking with vagina hats while totting a huge charred coffee with celebs that would be more us MSM friendly.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bro-

Merton: one of my heroes. Check out the 3rd story in "Destiny."

mean-

1st, it's Adolf. For an answer to yr question, check out Freud, "Civilization and Its Discontents."

Ordinary-

Be judgmental; be very judgmental.

With regard to events in France...Of course I was relieved that Macron defeated Marine Le Pen, who needs to be beaten to within an inch of her life and then thrown on a dunghill. But I was also aware that he was old wine in a new bottle, and had nothing serious to offer France or anyone. What we are witnessing is capitalism, globalization, and neoliberalism, falling apart, worldwide. (See Immanuel Wallerstein and the World Systems Analysis School). We are living thru the shifting of major techtonic plates, similar to the end of the Middle Ages. That is the basic story of this century. Folks like Macron, Merkel, and Botox Face represent the old order. They have no vision, except to try to keep doing what we've been doing for the last 500 yrs. They don't understand that a whole way of life is ending. It's like Bush Sr. (what a jackass) ranting abt the "New World Order" in 1990: it was just buzzwords; he had no idea as to what that really meant, and he hardly stood for anything new. Doonesbury represented him as a feather, and he was spot-on. Obama's historical function was to tread water, just keep the lid on things. But the lid is blowing off. He was just another empty person, like the whole lot of them, who can't see History staring them in the face.

Is the current phenomenon of right-wing populist leaders, like Trumpi or Giuseppe Conte, a transitional phase to a true new world order, based on decentralization, green politics, de-growth, sustainability and the like? Or is authoritarianism the wave of the future? Thus far, voters are caught between neo-fascists like Le Pen, or neoliberal turkeys like Macron. What we need now is a third alternative as a political force, which understands that we need to go thru decline and come out the other end.

mb

5:44 PM  
Blogger Zarathustra said...

Rufus, any relation to Rufus T Firefly?

God as creator, makes the world, the universe, an artifact.

Don't you find it funny that many atheists believe in the Big Bang then?

I can't help feeling having had the same argument too many times... I would venture that you still have, at least subconsciously, this image of God as the man with the white beard; what Spinoza called the erroneous concept of god as a king. He talked all the time of "Deus sive Natura" instead, and that's Einstein's God as well. Anyway, no point in arguing about the existence of God any more with anybody that hasn't read Spinoza. Sorry to be so blunt, but that is that.

As for the events in France, as somebody said, it's still too early to utter a judgement on the French Revolution, let alone les Gilet Jaunes.

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Autumn said...

Counterintuitive for sure


New Pew results show the US to be one of the most immigrant-friendly countries in the world. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/12/10/many-worldwide-oppose-more-migration-both-into-and-out-of-their-countries/

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Les Hommes Jaunes said...

Kanye and Mike- Why not despise the common folk? They certainly have no qualms about despising people who aren’t like them. The fact that they do drudge work doesn’t make them noble or entitled to respect. Why is it we can only call for nuance when it comes to white Westerners? Where was the nuance when all those Muslims were demonized? When the black kids were (are) being shot? They were branded universally as thugs, terrorists, invaders, and I didn’t see very many nurses or garbage men taking to the streets to set the record straight. Let’s not be naive here. These are basically the French equivalent of Trump supporters (who came from all walks of life also, it should be noted). It’s based on petty self-interest and nothing more. These people don’t care about climate change or setting up a fair society for everyone. They just want fellow whites like themselves to have more at the expense of third-world slaves. Not impressed.

Morris- I think you underestimate the damage these neo-fascists can do. History shows what happens when people like the current crop of farcical strongmen come to power. It’s not pretty. I’d take the old neoliberals over these hate mongers any day of the week. The damage that has been wrought by Trump alone in the US will reverberate for generations. Once trust and goodwill are eroded, they cannot be rebuilt by simply electing someone new. Even if such an alternative did miraculously emerge, you’d have a hell of a time finding consensus given the hate that’s been unleashed over these past couple of years. I think anyone with their wits about them will do the sensible thing and get out of the West while they still can. Don’t end up like Walter Benjamin.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Kostelanetz said...

"No one knows the secrets, the curses, the power & the glory of the Imperial families of Rome better than Barry Strauss ... captivating, essential reading for all who seek to understand the most formidable personalities of the Roman Empire"-- Adrienne Mayor, The Poison King , and The First Fossil Hunters

9:40 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@MB--I couldn't agree with you more about France and the need for a third political alternative worldwide. Unfortunately, I just don't see where such how such leaders are going going be be able to overcome the immense institutional opposition arrayed against them. In the U.S., the way Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's congressional victory over the hideously corrupt Joe Cowley has stirred the forces on both sides to try to crush her when all she really represents is a younger, more attractive Bernie Sanders. Imagine what they and their deep state and media allies would do if a REAL 21st century socialist--one who fully understands declinism and its implications--were to ever start gaining traction.

Of course, as we show here every day, the U.S. is a land of emotional 6-year-olds: done, finished, kaput and utterly without hope of redemption. Is it possible that other states like France can finally recognize the futility of trying to follow our lead, finally break out of our political orbit and forge their own way? Obviously not if they are going to persist in seeing their choices as being between the likes of Macron and LePen.

But hey, what do I know? I'm just a "middle aged schlub"/"country bumpkin" born and raised in the sticks, even if I've spent the last quarter century living among sophisticated, big city liberals, many of whom in their own arrogance and hubris are just as "deplorable" as those they despise.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers,

William Blum, opponent of US foreign policy, writer of a number of books on U.S. foreign policy such as "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II", died on December 9th. The link below also includes an extended presentation by Blum.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/50735.htm

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Stacee said...

Italian here (Italy is way more libertarian than socialist) and living in Italy has shown me just how badly Americans get screwed on healthcare. It’s actually shocking. Advair, for instance. Uninsured America: $449. Italy: 3 euros.

Predictably, big donors are lining up to stop progress toward a single-payer health system.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/10/establishment-democrats-progressive-medicare-1052215

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

I know Umair has been getting rather repetitive the past few months, but I appreciated this one about the trauma of living through collapse:

https://eand.co/im-burned-out-on-collapse-and-i-bet-you-are-too-70114c184c02

unfortunately, getting through my recent illness and hospital stay has narrowed the "get the hell out of here" options. I now need a lifetime of a certain autoimmune drug (luckily a cheap one) and my body probably won't handle moving to the wilds of Canada and building my own cabin (or buying a motorcycle and riding the world). This realization hit me pretty hard, and on top of the psychological trauma of being in the hospital for a month, plus the trauma of living in this dungpile of a country (plus I hate Christmas and Winter) is making things tough right now.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Sung Sing said...

Sad to read William Blum died. :( Rogue State and Killing Hope were very good books. He also founded the Washington Free Press.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Greetings Wafers everywhere from Cascadia! Here is your local news roundup as class warfare breaks out in Olympia WA :

A Superior Court judge in Thurston County granted a restraining order on the city of Olympia to establish an emergency homeless camp on a city-owned parking lot across from the downtown transit center. The camp would formalize what has become an informal campsite since summer with restroom facilities and an on-site manager.

https://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article222901590.html

The court action follows a lawsuit brought last week by four business and real estate owners against the city of Olympia to stop the implementation of a homelessness ordinance that would create a permanent tent encampment and a “tiny house” village for homeless individuals and families on city owned properties. The city council had declared a public health emergency back in July in reaction to an estimated 300 homeless encampments springing up this year in the Olympia area. The plaintiffs accuse the city of creating “a public nuisance by allowing, and even encouraging, the homeless camps that have proliferated all over downtown.” The four capitalists decided to be anonymous due to “domestic terrorists that are fomenting trouble among the homeless.”

https://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article222822190.html

2:39 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Rufus/Zara: To me, God is a loaded word because all it reminds me of is the psychopath of the Old Testament. I think Mark Twain nailed the God of religion in Chapter 11 of his short novel The Mysterious Stranger, which can be found here: http://www.classicreader.com/book/1370/11/

I do think there’s a creative power in the universe, but not the anthropomorphic, personal God that religions foist on us. There are many ways of describing this force: the absolute, the ground of being, infinite awareness, infinite consciousness. I believe Plato referred to it as the One Over Many. Religion is strictly about control, not liberation. What Jung actually said was, “Religion is a defense against the experience of God.” Zara - By far, Spinoza is my favorite philosopher.

Tom: Over 25 years ago David Icke predicted that the population would be micro chipped. Personally, I think that pales by comparison with what’s coming down the pike: connecting our minds with artificial intelligence.

BroMaynard: you might appreciate the writings of Richard Rohr from the Center for Action and Contemplation: https://cac.org/

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Pete Christen said...

MB: You wrote “we need to go through decline and come out the other end.” Indeed you are right. I picture us entering a bottleneck. What will emerge on the other side is hard to predict. The great squeeze will eliminate both right and wrong, good and bad, saint and sinner. Now, as we enter the bottleneck, time appears to be moving faster -- like the last bits of sand that slip through the neck of an hourglass. What will the bottleneck demolish, and what will it preserve, in this first great imperial collapse of the nuclear age?

3:35 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

This is pretty big....44 Former Senators from both sides signing a letter basically calling Trump a Fascist Dictator and a Danger to our Democracy.


https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.cnn.com/cnn/2018/12/10/politics/washington-post-44-senators-defend-democracy-op-ed/index.html



The SMOCKING Gun!!

https://www.theroot.com/its-official-the-president-is-an-idiot-and-this-tweet-1830982678

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Zarathustra said...

Les Hommes Jaunes, that's the history of the world, unfortunately. The Babylonians were quite an empire of punks. When the Muslims had the upper hand they terrorised the coasts of the Mediterranean and made quite a profit with the slave trade. Give the Chinese a chance and you will see. Your selective and blind hatred of "Westerners," whatever that might mean, does not impress me at all, I'm afraid to say.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

The next crash has a name now "the bubble of everything" *understatement of the year*

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/style/2019-financial-crisis.html

9:21 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

Looks like Macron is a bit tone-deaf:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/11/macron-president-of-the-rich-speech-elysee-palace-gilets-jaunes

So much for a "fireside chat."

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Your Reflection said...

Word of the day: “Eremocene” - “the Age of Loneliness”; the "miserable future" into which we are accelerating as a species, characterised by the existential & material isolation that comes from having calamitously extinguished other forms of life on Earth.

11:53 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@Michael & Sung--sorry to hear about William Blum. I just got turned on to his blog about a year ago and wondered why he hadn't been posting.

@Les--considering that the two biggest factors in the U.S. that changed between the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections were those who voted for Obama twice and then switched over to Trump, and blacks who stayed home rather than vote for Hillary, I submit that you have no idea what you are talking about when you say "They just want fellow whites like themselves to have more at the expense of third-world slaves." In America, Trump represents the sellout and resulting destitution of the workers by the liberal professional class, who collaborated with the elites so THEY could keep enjoying the creature comforts provided at the expense of the "third world slaves."

Maybe had they shown solidarity with the proles as we began to face the difficult choices of living on an ever more crowded, polluted and resource depleted planet starting in the 1970s, we could have averted this impending crisis. I will freely admit that I know little of the details of French politics, but I would be willing to bet that since 75-80% of the country reportedly supports the protests the "let them eat cake" attitude among Macron's core supporters is going to drive the country right into the arms of Le Pen. And if that happens, I won't have any more sympathy for France's liberal bourgeoisie than I currently have for America's.

12:34 AM  
Anonymous Adrienne said...

'“We have more sources from Mesopotamia than we have from Greece, Rome and ancient Egypt together,” says Jacob Dahl, a professor of Assyriology at the University of Oxford.'

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20181207-how-ai-could-help-us-with-ancient-languages-like-sumerian

8:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Birn-

In the French election, the choice was between a fascist and a neoliberal douche bag in a suit. The French did the rt thing, but now all they have is neoliberal douchebaggery.

mb

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Les Hommes Jaunes said...

Zara- The “oh, that’s just history” argument is nothing but a copout. The West likes to hold itself up as the ‘enlightened’ first world when it’s one of the largest purveyors of brutality and violence around the world, both directly and indirectly through its weapons sales. One cannot claim to hold the moral high ground while simultaneously engaging in genocide. Of course, it never represents itself as it truly is. It’s always the foreign ‘other’ who is barbaric and uncivilized. Ignore those guys in the yellow vests smashing windows, torching cars, and defacing property. They are doing it for a noble reason, whereas those brown guys are just evil incarnate. It’s laughable, really.

Bill- Trump represents nothing but himself. You appear to have a grudge against the ‘liberal professional elite,’ which is itself a tired right-wing trope. If the proles were intelligent, they’d have banded together with their fellow slaves and worked to create a just society. They were played by their leaders like a fiddle, falling for the old divide-and-conquer tactic. Rather than showing even a modicum of agency, they stewed with resentment, putting all of their hopes in a father figure who cared nothing about them. I’m sure hating blacks and women and the like is really going to improve their lot. Morons are morons, but if they’re also morally abominable, they deserve no sympathy. Maybe after they’ve wiped out all the ‘undesirables,’ they’ll come to recognize that they were the true undesirables all along, though I doubt it, as that would take some degree of self-awareness.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous J Bittel said...

“May We Live Long and Die Out” | A fascinating story⁩ about the people who think ours should be the last generation. Reminded me of The World Without Us

‎https://medium.com/s/futurehuman/may-we-live-long-and-die-out-6d8688a4b0a3

6:01 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@jjarden--regarding those 44 former Senators, it's getting pretty tiresome to read such proclamations from officials who were very much a part of the system that brought Trump to power. How many of them voted for the Iraq War, or the Patriot Act, or the Wall Street bailouts, or supported the Citizens United decision, any one of which represent at least as much a "danger to democracy" as anything Trump has done.

Here a good read on what's happening in France from a leftist perspective: "The historian of social movements Gérard Noiriel has pointed out that this type of anti-tax struggle always reaches its climax when people have the feeling that they have had to pay without getting anything in exchange. The feeling, widely shared, that the tax serves to enrich the small caste of the ultra-rich has fueled a deep sense of injustice in the lower classes.

"Most of the Gilets Jaunes revolt less against the tax than against its unjust distribution. The fuel taxes were the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The movement is particularly strong in areas where the withdrawal of public services is most obvious, where people are condemned to using their cars to find, beyond the moribund sub-prefectures where they live, access both to public services and jobs. They are defending what holds a society together: schools, hospitals, police stations, transport, free of charge education, and so forth."

12:45 AM  
Blogger dg said...

MB,

The right thing... As a working class bum, I've always wondered how making an X on a piece of paper every four years (or any time really) is considered DOING something. For one hour me and my achy knees would like to live in the world where gerunds and books get the water heated and up to the second floor for the daily hot shower.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

In my ad hoc tutoring work, I keep coming across materials produced by teachers with major spelling/conceptual errors. One paper prompt for a community college term paper was itself so incoherent I would have not given it much more than a C as a community college paper.

Sample of errors:

Amigo Vespucci
Late papers will not be EXPECTED (author intending "accepted")
How does these beliefs and ideologies play apart?

I know the other Anglo countries also have a similar overall culture, but at least you will never see that level of professional indifference on display in the UK or Canada. Every country has its idiots, but here they flourish.

I'm not sure there's much of an English language even left to speak of in the US. Of course the insane violence in this society is in part the result of people no longer having words and standards for communication. And the Trumpites think a few Spanish signs are the cause of cultural decline, lol!

10:29 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

You reap what you sow dpt:

https://www.spiked-online.com/2018/12/13/metoo-is-making-life-difficult-for-women-on-wall-street/

11:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

Good essay. Shows what happens when a gd idea--let's hold pigs like Harvey Weinstein accountable--is taken to extremes (e.g., flirting = sexual assault). We now have a world in which you (ie a man) are guilty until proven innocent. Just look at what was done to Woody Allen, based on only one side of the story in a classic he said/she said situation. You hurt innocent people, yr gonna get hurt back (karma).

mb

12:16 PM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Here is an article that everyone should read - of course, not enough will and those in the power elite probably like the present conditions just fine, the vast majority of people in this country are the enemy to the power elite.

https://medium.com/thewashingtonpost/the-united-states-isnt-a-democracy-and-was-never-intended-to-be-9ba297f6f9a8

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Wafer Kanye--at many us corporate shitholes that we work with, many men avoid us women like the plague because of the me too bullshit overdrive.

From personal observations, us corporate women mainly are all by themselves--like an island with other women. No man with any common sense would even engage these women in anything other than office task talk.

ANYTHING, could be a trigger. A subtle look, a glance, talking abt their cat, their coffee mug, their shirt, whatever. In lawsuit shit hole us empire--it ain't worth it! american HR is watching men like a hawk.

Hence, avoid usa-er worker women, or if you really have to interact with them--ALWAYS a witness, meetings held w/ door ajar, or glass clear partition for all to see, etc...

Or better yet, simply e-mail; that way there's a paper trial/documentation, and clarity.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would you consider being the next White House chief of staff?
(I couldn't figure how to create an account withOUT having
a cell phone number, a requirement to sign in.)
My email is artbaker99@mail.com.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

@ J, speaking only for myself I never wanted children. George Carlin thought the planet mortally wounded by humans and will end in a fireball, so we shouldn't even try to change (fuck you polar bears) but the reason for his cynicism makes sense to me. Humans are a product of nature and who knows what is expected from us. Maybe our entire species ought to b declinist for our survival (like Trump we exist to take the thing down so it can experience renewal like a healthy forest fire) I'm pretty much there - a single example, why do humans murder? We gotta be the most blood thirsty species to come down the pike. What other animal murders for pleasure or "murders to dissect" (Wordsworth?) We are in process of selection for extinction - we merit it - our existence has done nearly as much damage as any asteroid. Ricky Gervais does a nice bit about his decision to remain childless - he grew up poor and hated the rich but since he now has money any child of his would inevitably be a cunt (his word). Go to any Walmart and watch the morbidly obese wearing pajamas and slippers - barely sentient beings.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Cd you help Art Baker out here? I dunno what to tell him. (I personally don't own a cell phone.)

mb

Art-

Well, yr message *did* come thru, somehow. But don't post as Anon, pls.

5:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Zar-

Pls re-send yr last post, minus the last sentence. We try to avoid personal attacks on this blog (except in case of trollfoons). Concentrate on logic of yr argument, and empirical evidence. Thanks.

mb

6:10 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Morris has been saying this ALL ALONG!


Donald Trump's suffocating presence and unhinged executive power is the product of history, and an INEVITABILITY.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/12/13/donald-trump-executive-power-president-war-democracy-constitution-cult-column/2065368002/

6:13 PM  
Anonymous Yoogoogyoolator said...

@Les Hommes Jaunes
I don't think anyone here will defend "the west" as conclusively as you condemn it. Most topics cannot be distilled to "this" or "that". Objective uninvested parties would observe truth on both sides. Assigning a Devil's advocate default moral high ground to anything non-west is a misplaced counterpunch. If you were hunting down a solution people here would be matching your efforts. These problems are older than all of us. Your hootspa is commendable, give care with the friendly fire. I think we all want a recess from reality.

Humanity's hipocrisy based on geography would be one sloppy map.

Kudos to everyone here for the civil disscussions. Double kudos to Dr. Berman for the venue that let's us out of our own heads.

6:42 PM  
Blogger NeilW said...

Tired of Winning - not tic-toe players https://www.news.com.au/sport/sports-life/american-morons-ruin-fine-game-of-nba-halftime-tictactoe/news-story/2561f323babadfae6e3665be567b74d3

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

More tech dystopia news. Taylor Swift used facial recognition software to detect stalkers at LA concert.

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/dec/13/taylor-swift-facial-recognition-stalkers-rose-bowl-concert

Good luck fighting for major political change in the future when this kind of tech becomes ubiquitous.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

@MB--I thought you might find this story of interest: Moishe's Kosher Bake Shop in the east Village is the latest victim of NYC's rampant gentrification.

@J & Gunnar--indeed, I also elected to be a "non-breeder," though I had no idea there was an organized movement surrounding it. In any event, corporate America is doing a terrific job of driving down the birth rates in the U.S. now that 60% of American jobs no longer support a middle class lifestyle. Whenever I see a sad-looking 40-something working as a Starbucks barista, I figure that's not someone likely to elect to have a large family.

@Kanye & Mike R--I love how we're supposed to feel sorry for ANYONE who works on Wall Street. Boo-hoo, these poor women can't rise to the top so they can be the ones buy up factories and retail chains, strip the assets and drive them into bankruptcy. #MeToo indeed makes me VERY happy that I retired a few years ago from my middle management position. I had at least 2 or 3 female colleagues in my time who in today's environment would have thought nothing of making up charges against a male manager or coworker if it would have helped them get ahead. Ironically, one of them, who was a classic narcissistic personality, couldn't control her anger and had to leave our agency after losing her cool and placing her hands on a male colleague in front of two witnesses (I was one). Even with the evidence against her being overwhelming, we still had to fight a nasty legal battle to get rid of her. What a nightmare that was.

12:53 AM  
Blogger Atypical Texan said...

On the French protest movement:
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/12/12/blacking-out-the-yellow-vests-on-cable-news-corporate-media-doing-its-job/

Pastrami and Coleslaw
I don't know what your autoimmune condition is but you could check out works by Dr Joel Fuhrman on reversing disease through eating a whole food non processed diet.

6:21 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Yoo-

Thank you. BTW, it's chutzpah.

mb

11:36 AM  

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