September 27, 2011


(Partial disclaimer: in some cases my publicist didn’t say exactly what I have her saying, so I hope both she, and the reader, will allow me a bit of poetic license here. I do think I’ve preserved the spirit of our exchange, however. She’s just trying to drag me into the 22nd century, whereas I retain a certain fondness for the late 17th.)

OK, gather round, you DAA-ers; time to give you the low-down on publicity for WAF. It seems that Wiley, my publisher, finally came to the realization that in order to make money, you’ve got to spend it. Since Western Europe figured this out around A.D. 1500, I had hoped anxiously from the beginning that they would be onto the fundamentals of capitalism more quickly. No such luck (perhaps a bad case of cultural lag, hard to say). I kept sending them messages on the subject, reviewing the work of Ricardo, Smith, J.S. Mill, and Karl Marx for them, discussing the theory of surplus value, adding in Milton Friedman, Paul Samuelson, and the like, but they seemed to be clinging to the theory of clinging: if we hang on to our money, we’ll be OK. So they kept squeezing quarters till the eagles screamed. But finally—it may have been the winter storms in New Jersey, or the flooding that subsequently occurred there, or maybe a stray lightning bolt—they woke up one morning and said, “Let’s give the poor shmuck (i.e., me) a publicist.” When I heard that they had actually hired someone, and were even going to pay her—i.e., actual money; this was not a barter in New Jersey corn or whatever—I had to lie down for a couple of hours just to recover from the shock. Maybe there is a god, I thought; maybe he likes my books. (I was heavily sedated at the time.)

Anyway, that’s Step 1 in this strange adventure. Step 2: my new publicist says to me: what’s really crucial these days are the social media. Things such as magazines, reviews, bookstore presentations, radio and TV interviews—all of that has shrunk in influence, been marginalized. Americans don’t really read that much anymore (as you’ve documented in your previous books); instead, they Twitter and Facebook, so that’s where you’ve gotta be.

Me: But if they don’t read any more, aren’t they the wrong audience for us? I mean, let’s say you take stuff off my blog and put it on Twit and FB (since I’m not going to Twit or Face myself, because I have no interest in those social media, which I think should really be called anti-social media, and think they were designed for addicted, narcissistic morons whose main interest in life revolves around stuff like the fotos Kim Kardashian posted of her psoriasis, not to mention her rear end). Those folks aren’t going to run out and read WAF; no way! For one thing, it has polysyllabic words in it, not to mention—gasp—concepts. And then these media reduce one’s attention span to that of a gnat. It’s not merely that these people don’t read books anymore; they can’t.

Publicist: Not so fast, shmendrick. For better or worse, most Americans now get their information from the web, and this even includes a few intellectuals. The social media reach millions; there’s no such thing now as book promotion without them. We need the folks who are reading your book to be out there talking about it, and one place we can be sure to find them is online. In short, adapt or die, boychik.

Me: But what about the bookstores? Isn’t anyone going to show up to hear me at bookstores?

Publicist (shaking her ahead, in the sense of ‘What a yokel’): You’ll be lucky if you pull in 5 people in Seattle and 10 in LA. Don’t forget your famous appearance in downtown Philly in 2006: 3 people showed up for your talk, and one of them fell asleep during it. The bookstore also had you billed as “Dean of Optometry at UC Fullerton,” or something like that. It can’t get much worse than that, can it?

Me: Yeah, that was indeed a humbling moment, I have to admit. So your idea is that for the next two months I post various rants and raves on any subject I want, including Twit and FB and Kim’s behind, and then you feed these things into Twit and FB, in the hope that someone who reads it will also want to read WAF? Shit, I’d rather chew on razor blades. As far as I’m concerned, Twit and FB are further examples of the collapse of American culture, of our national decline. As someone recently said, screen people are “pancake people”—all breadth and no depth.

Publicist: Perhaps, but it still makes for good PR. Even anti-PR is good PR.

Me: Were you aware that a Canadian company just released a computer tablet for toddlers, designed for babies as young as one week old? It’s not enough that we are killing our infants with Prozac and Zoloft; now we are also going to do them in with screens and touch pads.

Publicist: That’s good! Write about that! Tell your blogfolks (all 65 of them; what a huge following you’ve managed to accumulate!) that the US and Canada, through meds and hi-tech, are deliberately trying to kill our children. I mean, even if it isn’t an actual conspiracy, it seems like they’re doing a good job of it, no? You remember that essay by Jonathan Swift, right? About how Ireland should start cooking and eating its children? Well, do a new post and call it “Jonathan Swift Revisited.” That’ll get the pancakes all a-Twittering.

Me: (Heavy sigh)

Publicist: Frankly, I’m a believer in Bermanism: any culture that is designing computer screens for one-week old babies, and feeding anti-depressants to toddlers, has no future at all. What could be more obvious? When they grow up, they won’t even know what a book is, fer chrissakes.

Me: Jesus…Well, this seems like a fool’s errand, but you’re the publicist, what can I say.

Publicist: You got that right. Now get busy, shmuck. And don’t forget to give your readers the crucial contact info:

Facebook: Whyamericafailed

Twitter: @Yamericafailed


Anonymous Chad said...

Well, I'm adding you as a friend on Facebook, but you must post that bit about Facebook being for narcissistic morons. I couldn't have said it better myself. I have an FB account mostly because of my job, and I hate it. Really, it's only good use is putting me in touch with people from my past I've lost touch with. Other than that. I refuse to post, follow feeds, etc. It's a gigantic time/brain waste.

When the revolution comes the Kardashians will be the first against the wall ;-)


5:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Right on, amigo: the (anti)social media are largely for demented buffoons. What's left of the culture, they are managing to polish off. However, I'm not actually myself on them. My publicist, bless her heart, created these accounts, and she's going to FB and Tweet for me; i.e., cut and paste stuff like this, or from my blog posts, and feed them into FB and Tweet and then let everyone there get all het up abt it. I love it! This is similar to WAF being on Kindle, wh/already happened as of abt Sept. 12. How do Kindle readers read the part of the book denouncing Kindle reading? I guess they'll have to Tweet me (i.e., my publicist) and let me know.

What a world, eh?

BTW, even carries lots of "news" articles abt Kim's behind.


5:26 PM  
Anonymous shadowplay said...

I'm afraid I don't have a fakebook account; if I did I would add you!

5:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Remember that ol' radio show? It began: "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow does!"

Gd that u avoided FB thus far; the cutting edge of brain rot. However, let me put this out there: Why don't the DAA65 start our own social media, and call it Assbook? We might be able to get Kim as our charter member, since she seems to have the most on-screen tuchus in the history of the world. Then the rest of us can post our rumps, and tell each other we're really hip, on the cutting edge.



5:55 PM  
Blogger Bahayla said...

Did you know that there already is a Morris Berman Appreciation Society on Facebook? We're 95 people strong (out of 750 million).

6:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Jesus, *what* can I say?!! The world gets weirder every day, but I do want to appreciate the appreciaters; even 95 catches me by surprise, if the truth be told. Meanwhile, that ratio sounds like my future sales chances (i.e. I'll sell 95 bks per 750 million people in the world = total of 9.33 bks).

The Berm

6:17 PM  
Blogger ryan kloostra said...

I, too, cannot add or twit b/c I have chosen not to partake. It's kinda like watching the "D.A.R.E" officer take a hit as he walks out the back of the school. "Hey, wait, he just sai..."

I gotta go, though. The latest twit (yeah, i know it's tweet) about Sarah Palin and Glen Rice has got me curious. Watch out Dr. Berman, looks like you have some competition for the ol' girl...

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Bisley said...

Well, I don't FB or Twitter but, alas, my children do. I will ask them to mediate this for you on my behalf.

Frankly, Morris, I discovered you on the web and then went and got the books (mostly from a LIBRARY! But I have since purchased them, honest). I think it was a Nomi Prins book review orignally that got me interested.

Anyway, your publicist is right about trying other avenues besides bookstores. Sad, but true.

And you might try writing something for the Huffington Post. I mean, if Scarlett Johanson can post something up there, you certainly can. And the place gets serious traffic, even if the model of working for free leaves something to be desired. No wage slaves there!


8:49 PM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

As long as your devoted cognoscenti find that you post on this blog first, before thought goes through the public relations digestive system, and is regurgitated for the masses on Facebook, I guess we can live with this.

Watch out for the slippery slope....I don'wanna see a line on this website in the near future going: "Want to read more? Introductory subscriptions rates begin at....etc. Visa/MasterCard/Paypal accepted."

But wait, how about a WAF t-shirt....? Tote bag? Coffee mug?

8:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yeah, gd pt; tho my publicist and I have been giving some thought to hiring a designer to create a line of WAF underpants. Also to contact "Cosmo" to do a WAF issue. Today this blog, tomorrow the world.


Actually, there are a whole # of websites that I have no problem with, because their journalists are topnotch and (unlike the hardcopy media, like the NYT, sad to say) they give u the straight poop: Huff Post, Common Dreams, Truthout, Truthdig, Alternet, Rolling Stone, etc. etc.--my survival pipelines.


Thanks for the heads up. I've actually moved on from Sarah, ever since she faded from the political scene. My big throb now is Michele B., esp. after her corn dog foto and her warning that we need to worry abt the Soviet Union.


9:54 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Prof. Berman,

I've had a FB account for a while, I closed it once, and re-opened it again... for the same reasons you mentioned (narcissistic morons). But hey, I have been in contact with lots of former colleagues from Cuba (high school and university) who are scattered around the globe and had never heard from them. In fact, I am visiting at least two of them next year (prospecting to perhaps become an "expat" once more, Panama or Canary Islands). Also, I used to post so much for others to read (important articles) like from your blog, Chris Hedges, Commondreams, Democracy Now!, etc., etc., etc. all to the point of driving me almost crazy and angry at the fact that almost no one seemed to give a rat's ass about anything. I have been accused many times of being "negative", "troubled", etc. Oh well, I decided to clean my profile and find a job as an actuary and see how things go. I currently only post things for myself to see later and the few friends that are allowed to see everything. I'd like to think I am not one of those morons...

10:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In case of a message from u guys I find interesting, my publicist wants me to send it to her to post on Twit or Face. I feel a bit queasy abt doing this w/o yer permission. Here are some possible options:

1. A message comes in, and I post it here. Then, if I want to send it to my publicist, I post a message here asking yer permission.
If no reply in 48 hrs, I send it to her. This is a tad unwieldy, however.

2. I don't ask yr perm, and all hell breaks loose (or not).

3. I never send anything to her (not happy w/that).

4. ?

Please send in yer prefs...mb

10:32 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

By the way, good luck with the publicity thing... I would hate to see your work and message hijacked by the corporate ideology and turned into a sterile shell of its current substance... similar to what's happened to Martin Luther King, and almost any kind of movement out there that showed signs of steadily increasing popularity.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sure, almost any tool *can* be used intelligently; the question is why that happens so rarely. See WAF, ch. 3.


10:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ij (again)-

Once a thing becomes mass, it tends to also become mess.


10:39 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

You can publish my comments, but without my full name. I feel like I have to be as careful as I was in Cuba (perhaps more so), making sure people at work don't know my views... you know very well why: America's civil religion and the inverted totalitarianism that characterizes American society, which is infinitely more insidious and disturbing, scary and disarming, paralyzing and frustrating, demoralizing and insanity-inducing, than the openly brutish repression I suffered in Cuba under Castro's regime.

10:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ij (again, again)-

It sounds like a gd suggestion; the problem is that if someone really wants to track u down, they can find the comment on this blog, and they'd have yer initials (at least). For a lot of people, maybe most, I suppose there's nada to worry abt, since they post as "Bob" or whatever, wh/reveals zero (unlike, say, Seymour J. Schwartz, DDS).


10:49 PM  
Blogger WuzZappnin said...

Great post! I'm putting a link to it on my Google+ account.

10:51 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman,

You hereby have my permission to do whatever you want with anything I send you. How can I be touchy about something I post on a blog for all the world to see?

David Rosen

10:53 PM  
Blogger ijcd said...

Prof. Berman,

You are 100% right, how stupid of me. I guess deep down, I don't really care who reads my posts and who knows what I think. I've always been like that, earning the respect of a priceless few, and the dislike of many (I have just been trying to lay low since I just got a new job, at a very nice place). With me, what you see is what you get.
You can go ahead and post anything I write, although mine are not the most eloquent and informative comments among the DAA65.

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Joe doesn't know said...

Dr. Berman,

I do not have FB or a twitter (i don't even know what all the @s and #s and %s in the "tweets" mean)..I just want to make sure you will continue to have the blog for us, or else I may have to (gasp) compromise my principles and sign up for FB. You're worth it.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Russ said...

I'll follow your twitter account, and I'll see you when you're in Los Angeles. I'll be the one in the front row twiddling with a smart phone...

I hate facebook, but twitter's not so bad. For me, it's mostly a place for news (easier to access than rss feeds for news sources) and comedians.

12:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have my permission to use this comment

Time to release the sex tape, Morris. There's no point trying to suppress it any longer. The few of us who've seen it won't keep quiet for ever. MB raises laptop computing a whole other level in this tape. We'll keep her name out of it if you come clean. We strongly urge you to do the honorable thing--then a few weeks of rehab.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I guess yer referring to the tape of me and Sarah. And here I thought I was safe, as Joe McGuinniss doesn't mention our liaison in his Palin expose. The tape does show 3-way sex: me, Sarah, and a corned beef sandwich (remember that episode in Seinfeld?).


If u do that, I'm going to take away the fone, and then hit u with it. B&N will call security, and the lecture will be over in 5 mins. All 14 people in the audience will be deeply disappointed. Surely u don' wanna be the cause of that...?


1:41 AM  
Blogger Russ said...

I've have the video camera running, and upload it right away. You'll become a Youtube sensation, right up there with a narcoleptic puppy. Seriously, I'm looking forward to the LA event.

2:19 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


U mean I'm not *already* a YouTube sensation? I'm crushed. Meanwhile, u shd know that the lecture has been moved to Canter's Deli; I'm going to be porking out on corned beef as I speak.


5:02 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Of course God has all of your books, who do you think that was sleeping in Philadelphia? As for Efacebook (I just added "you"), I would not feel too bad about it. Martin Heidegger is there too (he really is). His reply to his publicist, rarely read today (like eveything else), was as follows:

"We give heed to the proper signification of the word "to tweet", and accordingly ask our question, "what calls for tweeting?" in this way: what is it that directs us into tweeting, that calls on us to tweet? The most tweet provoking thing in this tweet provoking age is that we are still not tweeting."

You certainly have my permission to use anything I post, if I should ever post anything that you find useful.

Thanks for a wonderful (and terrifying) blog

7:02 AM  
Anonymous Tim Lukeman said...

I'm not on FB or Twitter either, avoiding both like the plague they are. I do have family & friends who urge me to sign up, "so we can stay in touch" -- but don't we have phones & email & even -- GASP! -- handwritten letters for that? Oh, wait, they're talking about cutting the postal system now ...

Since I've been retired for a couple of weeks, I've been experimenting with morning TV, watching & changing channels at random. I always knew it was banal & empty, but had no idea it was this bad! Don't know that I'd want to see you on any of those shows, Maury. God knows how they'd interrupt & blanderize your appearance down to "safe" viewing (i.e., non-thinking) levels.

I could see you appearing on Bill Moyers' new show, coming in January. He had people like Andrew Bacevich on his previous show, after all.

If you think anything I've posted is worth publicity, feel free to use it.

8:02 AM  
Anonymous David M said...

Dr. Berman
An idea! since nobody reads anymore anyway(according to your brand new publicist and she's right) why not wrap WAF in a fancy jacket; maybe even a picture of you and Sarah on the inside flap and promote it as a coffee table book not to be read. It might wind up on the NY times best sellers list.
By the way, please don't abandon this blog. I wont do twitter or facebook. People had to force televisions on me 40+ years ago. I declined that technology also.

8:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't have Facebook or Twitter or Myspace and avoid them like the plague.

On the other hand, please feel free to use any comments I make, any time you want.

Your first, welcome post on Facebook might include something about why Facebook sucks and comments from DAA's.

I'm far from clean on this issue though. As I'm overseas where access to some reading material is harder to get or much more expensive, I do have WAF on Kindle.

I'm only into the second chapter but it's a phenomenal book. It's so good I'm sure you'll catch nothing but crap for it despite how obviously on target it is.

DAA's you don't want to miss this one.


El Juero

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

".........our mortification and our painful disillusionment on account of the uncivilized behaviour of our fellow-citizens of the world during this war were unjustified. They were based on an illusion to which we had given way. In reality our fellow-citizens have not sunk so low as we feared, because they had never risen so high as we believed."

Sigmund Freud, "Thoughts for the Times on War and Death".

At this point, maybe our disillusionment is justified as the Id dominates our societies even without the extraordinary circumstances of war or the devastation that emboldens and provides Mr. Hyde ample opportunity. Even now our prison system overflows with Mr. Hydes and raw Ids. The warfare should be unprecedented as the energy spigot begins to sputter.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous Ray said...

Dear Morris,

I think(and this might apply to other posters here I would guess) the long tail of previous posts often included riffing creatively in a tacit contract - a mental space of being a few castaways confiding in each other. With or without specific permission to use a particular quote, putting one of these riffs in the alien context of Twit, FB, etc. in the end doesn't speak to the nature or essence of the long-running conversation we have been having amongst ourselves. Rightly bemoaning that "no one listens to us," once this comment is put out there in Twit/FB land, somehow feels like a wild animal taken out of context and put in front of zoo visitors who couldn't care less if the animal lived or died.

I'm conflicted, because I understand the power of many of our insights to reach other potential NMI's. Perhaps instead of quoting, Morris and the original poster could agree on a completely anonymous paraphrased version to be posted wherever necessary, labelled as "summary of blog exchange" or something like that.

Its a subtle thing, but I care about the nuances of the group mind we have slowly built up here. Its essence will be altered by the possibility of outside quotation. Already I can anticipate writing in a different (and not better) way knowing of this possibility. Call it self-censorship or whatever. Once that other, post-literate world gets a foothold here, it will send out little ripples of disruption, with unpredictable effects.

We could go the Heisenberg route - only allow posts made from this point on to be quoted, i. e. the ones that were written already with the awareness of the possibility of quotation. Or we could keep writing our honest DAA posts and keep those to ourselves, and set up a category of WAF "disinformation" posts written with the express purpose of feeding the Twit/FB ferals.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

El J-

Glad to hear you are enjoying WAF. I honestly think it's one of my best. There is no doubt in my mind that it will be vilified and ignored. I don't doubt that for a single second.


Not to worry, this blog will prevail. Or at least, hang around. I had asked publisher to provide cardboard pop-ups of myself and Sarah kissing, that leaped forward when you opened the bk; but they declined to do it, for some odd reason. Just as well: I'm on to Michele B. these days. That shot of her eating a corn dog wd have been gd cover, tho.


Congrats on retirement. It has proven to be the busiest, and most rewarding, time of my life.


"Why is there tweeting, and not nothing?" (Warum gibt es Tweetung, und nicht Nichts?)


9:44 AM  
Blogger Robo said...

You know, Dr. Berman, the rain's beating down this early AM in upstate NY, your old hometown. I'm thinking nuts, no more tractor work for a while. It'll all be mud for the next few days, and the wheat will have to wait.

I heard about the newest Facebook thing, the Time Line, that will track your entire iLife history on FB for ever and ever for all to see. It makes me shiver. Am I the only one? Meanwhile I have to sneak looks at Facebook on my in-law's iPhone to see what my two kids are up to. Then, when I call them the cellphone audio is so crappy that I can't understand more than half of what they say. And now the US Post Office is going bankrupt along with Kodak, Borders and Greece. What is this world coming to?

It's a sad way to live, and so eagerly embraced by (almost) all. I know it's because the goings-on in the actual world are so scary. Don't look up! Don't look around! Who can blame them? Even the Wall Street protesters seem to spend at least half their time taking cellphone videos of each other and tending to video feeds and Tweets. Good thing, I guess, since one of those phones got the pepper spray money shot.

So your new keyword is 'hustler'. The word has more than one meaning. Just like you gotta hustle to hustle your new book. Won't be new for long! No time to waste. Gotta go for it now. Later will be too late. It's a hashtag world. Tweet tweet.

By chance I recently heard a story on the old-fashioned analog radio about Lucretius, a Roman poet whose only surviving work, "On The Nature Of Things", is still going and going and going after two thousand years. It came to us down through the centuries because a discerning 15th century scholar was browsing a monastery bookshelf and took the time to hire some scribes to make more copies of Lucretius' epic. Otherwise the poem might have been lost in the Time Line of history for reasons unknown. Just like my bank account when the computer suddenly said "file not recognized".

Seems like not too long ago I was reading some other author who kept talking about monasteries.

Have your Facebook fun. When all the batteries run down your actual book will still work and maybe in a thousand years some appreciative monk will copy down your epitaph for the USA. Then he and the scribes can sit around the fire and try to figure out what the hell you were talking about.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Check out cover of June 8/15 New Yorker, illustration by Dan Clowes entitled "Future Generations." We can only hope.


10:04 AM  
Blogger Robo said...

Ah, Dan Clowes, the "Ghost World' guy. Thanks for that..

11:20 AM  
Anonymous Art said...

Dr. Berman,

All hell has already broken loose, so (re)post away!

David R,

Thanks, again, for your free advice; I think it's worth a lot more than the advice my Dad's received from his doctors thus far. When he inquires about some of the alternatives to chemo (medicinal mushrooms, low-dose naltrexone, curcumin), the response is always the same: "it probably won't hurt you, but it's unlikely to do any good either." The word "doctor" means "teacher"; wouldn't that be nice?

Re: learning from loss--
This past weekend, my "Lucky" bamboo plant of many years suddenly keeled over. I shall try to be more mindful in caring for the next one.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Kelvin said...

Dear Maury,

Very funny post! You've become automatically typecast as a comedian because you have a brain but unfortunately the audience doesn't get the joke! We've all been Zucker-punched.

I steadfastly refuse to face the twitter.

11:53 AM  
Blogger Chad In Chicago said...

Oh my Michelle, you never run out of the good stuff:

I may have to challenge you to a duel for Mrs. Bachmann's affection.


P.S. Really looking forward to WAF.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...

Dr. Berman--

PZ Myers, writing on freethoughtblog(dot)com, comments on a new book as follows:

"Steven Pinker has a new book coming out next week, and I'm very much looking forward to it. It is titled 'The Better Angels Of Our Nature: How Violence Has Declined', and its premise is that humans have been becoming increasingly less violent over time. I'm very sympathetic to this view: I think cooperation, not conflict, has been the hallmark of human evolution."

I suppose the word "hallmark" was a good choice. If you like the mush they write in Hallmark cards, I guess you'll just love a book like this one. It's the last two sentences of this guy's comments that should warn you not to send him a review copy of WAF. They are, "It would be so nice to read a book that's optimistic about humanity's future. I'm definitely getting a copy."

Now that the USSR has fallen apart, the US is the third most populous country in the world (It is, isn’t it?). So you can still sell a lot of books to the one percent who could and would read WAF if you let them know about it – by hook or by crook. I know people who play around with anti-social techno-dreck and still read books – they actually exist. So I say, if you can reach them that way, go for it.

David Rosen

2:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanx for news on Michele's latest. I absolutely adore her, and wd work like a devil on her presidential campaign, if the GOP are smart enuf to give her a chance. She's my gal, I tell u.


ps: And people laugh when I tell 'em the US is going down the tubes; they laugh!

2:33 PM  
Blogger Kelvin said...

Dear Maury,

I dedicate this charmingly didactic poem of Cavafy's to you and hope that it may console you in the face of you new publicist.

The Wise Sense Imminent Events

Gods perceive future events, mortals present ones, whereas the wise sense those that are imminent.
--Philostratos, Life of Apollonius of Tyana VIII

Mortals know present events.
The gods know those in the future,
sole and full prescribers over all the light.
Of what is to come the wise notice
what is imminent. Their hearing,

now and then, in times of somber study,
is violently disrupted. The secret roar
of things approaching comes to them.
And they give it reverent attention. Whereas outdoors
in the road, the common sort hear nothing whatsoever.

Σοφοί δε Προσιόντων

Θεοί μεν γαρ μελλόντων, άνθρωποι δε γιγνομένων, σοφοί δε προσιόντων αισθάνονται.
Φιλόστρατος, Τα ες τον Τυανέα Aπολλώνιον, VΙΙΙ, 7

Οι άνθρωποι γνωρίζουν τα γινόμενα.
Τα μέλλοντα γνωρίζουν οι θεοί,
πλήρεις και μόνοι κάτοχοι πάντων των φώτων.
Εκ των μελλόντων οι σοφοί τα προσερχόμενα αντιλαμβάνονται. Η ακοή

αυτών κάποτε εν ώραις σοβαρών σπουδών ταράττεται. Η μυστική βοή
τούς έρχεται των πλησιαζόντων γεγονότων.
Και την προσέχουν ευλαβείς. Ενώ εις την οδόν
έξω, ουδέν ακούουν οι λαοί.

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Dovidel said...


I just finished posting a comment in which I mentioned Hallmark cards, and the following "news" item pops up on my screen:

"Greeting cards cheer up jobless Americans"
"At a loss for words when someone you know is suddenly out of work? Try sending a greeting card.
With unemployment in the United States hovering around the nine percent mark, Hallmark -- the nation's biggest greeting card manufacturer -- has rolled out eight cards to cheer up the jobless." (Excuse me – barf, barf.)

Talk about a nation of hustlers! I’m sure someone like Thomas Friedman could see this as an example of "American Resourcefulness" which, in the end, will be our salvation.

David Rosen

3:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Well, I doubt I can forward this one to my publicist for Twit and Face, for some odd reason. What a great language. Sophoi de prosionton...I always wondered how one wd say 'chopped liver' in Greek ('feta cheese' being kinda easy).


3:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Those are doctored statistics. Actual unemployment is at 18%. Friedman = cutting edge of pudding.


3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This latest post is a riot in that awful, ugly way modern comedy seems to be made. You're getting to be quite the humorist but risk diluting your authority except perhaps for a tiny minority who can still manage to hold two (or more) opposing thoughts in their heads simultaneously.

And talk about embracing the tools of your own destruction, I also have to say, "not so fast there, Schmendrick." The FB/Twit feeds, if successful (and why wouldn't they be?), could overwhelm the blog, which Ray notes above is an NMI oasis few yet know about. The decision is already made, but can you really be satisfied exchanging the DAA65 for a horde of you-go-girlz and me-tooers, the very narcissistic, self-as-brand climbers of empty social network status you abhor and condemn?

BTW, republish anything I say at will.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

Thanks for your courtesy by requesting our permission to use blog posts. Of course, you have mine.


I can only admire Hallmark's see-an-opportunity-and-grab-it spirit. I must inquire about a job there as I see a fertile field ahead. Some possibilities:

"Sorry the Insurance Company Won't Pay for Your Lifesaving Operation"

"How Do You Like Existing Hand-to-Mouth Now That Your Unemployment Has Run Out?"

"Happy Thanksgiving and We're Thinking of You in That Cheap Motel Room Since You Got Thrown out of Your Home" (Kids getting on your nerves living in one room?)"


David gave you good advice and I hope your Dad will have the best of care available to him. It's so hard to see someone we love suffer and be helpless to change the course of their illness. He's lucky to have such a loving son by his side but I'll bet he already knows that. Please keep us posted on how both of you are.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I just checked my local library catalogue here in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney Australia and it has one of your books 'the twilight of american culture' so you are at least known outside of America.
My comment is about the fantasy of classlessness that exists in the USA and how it seems to blind the average american to their real circumstances. In Australia we are very aware of class and have historically resisted letting the disparities between the classes get too extreme, though the last 20 years have changed this somewhat, we have a saying 'if he's that rich he must be a crook' and the ruling class is always despairing of how we love to bring down 'tall poppies. This attitude seems to be almost non existent except for the most left leaning of americans.
As an analogy I see america as the eldest son in a primogeniture society, who in the past has received the greatest benefits, and is now unable to recognize the decline of the system which he benefited from at the expense of others. I have read a number of novels, particularly irish, where the eldest son, is left at home to look afer the mother, when all the others have escaped to a better life, always very bitter those books.
I don't have solutions, its just a personal observation.
As an addendum, i think it is interesting that americans do not get involved in the rest of the worlds team sports, seem to like to play their own ball games in their own backyards, something which most australians would be suspicious of :-)

9:57 PM  
Blogger David McFarland said...

MB: please tell me you're still doing your bookstore gig in Seattle on Nov 4th?! I'm still intending to head down from BC to hear you if you are!!!

12:54 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


7pm at Elliott Bay Bks, 10th and Pike on Capitol Hill.


4:22 AM  
Anonymous Sharon Dodds said...

Well,here I am finally to at least somewhat encounter Dr. Morris Berman and am doing so already labeled a "buffoon" and/or narcissistic moron"! But I shall press on in defense of the dreaded and much maligned FaceBook. In the spirit of Jung's observation that nothing or no one is all good or all bad,I want to say that FB, for me, has been an education and an awakening. I presently live in a part of the US that prides itself on conformity and conservatism, borne of being 50th in all things valued in an enlightened society where ideas are understandably in short supply. Proving that "when the student is ready, the master will appear",I stumbled onto FB and then onto a group of "friends" all over the world who fast-forwarded me into the issues being brought forward on Wall Street today. Given media control, the trip would have been far more difficult and I would probably have not been as prepared for TODAY as I am.

Having said that, I do understand (and experience) the FB perjoratives mentioned above but also connect with local friends to a certain extent and keep in touch with the connectedness of all things. I am in the process of trying to leave the country to live in Italy. Life has put up some formidable roadblocks, the least of which were hurricane Katrina, the BP oil "spill" and the collapse of world economies. But I will get there. Which is full circle with you, Dr Berman, as I first encountered you in an interview where you spoke of having just returned from Italy where the newspapers were full of IDEAS. When asked how you felt when flying back to the US, you said, "I wept".

I understood.

Of course, I found your Appreciation Society as well as other valued people and have lived to tell the tale, my mind not only in tact, but improved and broadened!

Kind regards-


10:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Congratulations on yer plans to emigrate. Suggest u do it asap, and--buona fortuna!


ps: You'll also wanna read my novel, "Destiny."

10:23 PM  

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