September 08, 2012

Oku no hosomichi

Well, since we are fast approaching the 200-comment mark, after which subsequent comments disappear into some sort of limbo state, I figured it was time for a new post.

For a year now, I've been doing research on Japan, and studying Japanese. And now the time has come to go there, which I shall do on October 1st, and stay for six weeks. Whether I'll actually be able to write a book on Japanese culture--not being able to read a word of the language--remains to be seen. The only thing I'm sure of is that it won't be easy.

I'm spending two of those six weeks retracing the journey that the great poet, Matsuo Basho, made in 1689, into the north of Japan. The result was a poetic diary called Oku no hosomichi, The Narrow Road to Oku. Basho's haiku (known in the 17th century as haikai) are quite famous; the basic form is syllabic in a pattern of 5-7-5 (in Japanese, of course, not English). When he came across a ruined castle in the far north, he wrote:

A thicket of summer grass
Is all that remains
Of the dreams and ambitions
Of ancient warriors.

An early "Ozymandias," I guess.

Basho died five years later. This was the last poem he wrote:

Falling sick on a journey
My dream goes wandering
Over a field of dried grass.

My "Japan Project," as I call it, does seem a bit overwhelming, as I hope to talk to philosophers at the U of Tokyo, shokunin (craftsmen) in the Kansai region, and friends/contacts I've made over the last few years. Plus sit in pachinko parlors, watch some Kabuki, and try not to die from fugu (blowfish). For inspiration, I sometimes bring to mind a haiku by Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827):

Snail slowly slowly
Mt. Fuji.



Anonymous Ieyasu said...

Well Morris,

Japan will welcome you with open udes (arms), I'm sure.

I was overjoyed to hear about your next project. I live in Japan (Osaka), and I've been a fan of your work for years now. If I can be of any help, please let me know.

Loved the Fuji poem. A snail is exactly what I felt like when I made my ascent 10 years ago. A snail in desperate need of an oxygen canister.


10:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Thanks for writing; dom' arigato gozaimas. Why don't you also write me at That way, I'll be able to contact you; altho I dunno if I'm actually going to make it to Osaka. However, I'll be in Kyoto Oct. 22-29, so it cd happen.

BTW, I did have one bk of mine translated into nihongo: The Reenchantment of the World, published by Kokubun Sha. I have no idea if it's still in print.

Ja mata-


10:43 PM  
Blogger Nebris said...


11:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wouldn't it be more efficient just to shoot them?:

2:29 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Sounds great. As I wrote previously, I lived and taught English in northern (Tohoku region)Japan for nearly 10 years and have nothing but great affection for the people and country as a whole. One thing, though, you should know is that the Japanese will do anything to avoid direct communication. The language is deliberately designed to be vague and open to interpretation. For instance, when they say "wakarimasu" (I understand), don't expect them then to do what you are requesting them to do. They are simply saying they understand what you are saying. American negotiators to this day never understand this aspect of Japanese culture. Anyway, have a great time. You will unfortunately be spending a fortune there since the dollar is so weak. In 1983 it was 250 yen to a dollar. Now it's about 75 yen. Oh, visit a kyudo (archery) dojo. You'll be amazed to see 90 year old men and women who are nearly blind hit bulls eyes nearly every time.

9:03 AM  
Anonymous White Indian said...

@Morris, RE: A Terrifying Way to Discipline Children

"School" has always been a cruel minimum security detention center run by sadistic thugs to domesticate "sapiens" to work as a cog the Owner class' means of production, to be just another brick in the wall; we sang this 40 years ago.

Glory, glory, hallelujah,
Teacher hit me with a ruler,
Hid behind the door,
With a loaded .44,
And there ain't no teacher anymore!

Let me tell you about my [grapes of wrath.] ~Leon (Blade Runner, 1982)

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Smith said...

Dan, didn't you write (twice) that you thought being Japanese was psychological torture?

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Hmmm, I've been following this blog for some time. I have to say that there's a paucity of real, authentic intellectual discussion here - just a mindless parroting of Morris Berman's ideas. Not that his ideas are bad, for the most part, but this is pretty disturbing for someone allegedly dedicated to the intellect.

For instance: someone comes on here and politely suggests that the American South may not have been quite the gemeinschaft society Berman claims it was. The result? Ad hominem attacks against him.

The same thing happened with that guy who kept trying to bring up the idea that life is sacred, and how that idea matters in terms of human society.

All I can say is that this kind of behavior is not the behavior of good and tolerant people who really care about others.

5:40 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Hi Morris Berman,

Thanks for your book Why America Failed. A crushing blow to me when I read it a few months ago, (ie., your 'hustling' thesis is unassailable---or nearly so to my mind). Crushing at first. But I just had to admit the corpse was already in rigor mortis. Let's just say I was finally able to let the mortician intercede with his trusty hammer and nails.

In other words your book helped me to face the inevitable. The death knell was already sounding when I read Chris Hedge's Death of the Liberal Class last November. I hadn't heard of Hedges before reading about his involvement in the Occupy movement. He's is one of my heroes now, too. Yep, DotLC was the real death-blow, I guess.

Let's say your book, wrenching as it was, helped me to recover from the shock (post-trauma) and accept the inevitable. And it's now a kind of relief (don't know how to explain this to family and friends though--I mean my Mom is 70 years old, talks about voting for Eisenhower still, and teaches full time, her condo's mortgage is underwater, she hates the teacher's union and is voting for Rom Mittney).??

So: It's all over but the shouting. Ie., I can focus my energy on what really matters...

Hope your trip to Japan goes well. I wish you well.

Wish me luck, too. I should be out of the Army within the next 2 weeks (after 14 years, enlisted all the way--tho my ETS date is Nov. 18. Just keeping my fingers crossed that Israel doesn't bomb Iraq and I get stop-lossed--or we don't bomb Toronto or something as you have expressed recently; and you're not exactly kidding either).

No way in HELL am I gonna carry on this charade anymore and don't have enough space to justify my actions up until now.

Finally woke my ass up over the past few years. I did a tour in Iraq in 2009 and spent some time in Germany. That doesn't matter, What matters was I got away from the U.S.. That is a crucial element. So you're right there, Morris. This is an important part of facing the inevitable: that the deed is done.

Yep, being out of the country allow the scales to fall from your eyes just long enough, and affords a different perspective. Just have to get away from the loud noise and obnoxious, insulting media blasts.


Anyhow, writing to you now to say thanks for your work & because of the link below. When I read this review, I immediately though of you Morris Berman. It's right up your alley:

"Why are we so goddamn mean". A review of Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War.

With thanks and gratitude,

Christian Roess

5:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Christian-

Glad my work was of value. Since yr in the army, you might enjoy Dark Ages America as well. Also, I did an obit of Joe B., which is posted in the Archives here, and is also floating around the Net.


What can I say? You nailed us all, quite clearly:

1. There is no real intellectual discussion here.
2. We revel in ad hominem attacks.
3. None of us here, myself included, are good and tolerant people; we don't care about others; and what's worse, we're proud of this.

I may hafta rename this blog "Shallow and Nasty". Chances are it'll continue in the same vein. (Just being honest.)


7:03 PM  
Blogger NearFar said...

Morris Berman,

I will look for these. And want to get hold of your other books as time allows. Thanks again.

My best,

Christian Roess


Dan it's a terrible blow to come to terms with this. It's taken me YEARS. But if you REALLY understand that this American experiment WAS a colossal failure, really see it for yourself...then you can start to practice (the spade work Berman talks about) real human interaction. 'Tolerance' is phony baloney. As Chris Hedges has written:

"In the name of tolerance—a word the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., never used—the liberal church and the synagogue refuse to denounce Christian heretics who acculturate the Christian religion with the worst aspects of consumerism, nationalism, greed, imperial hubris, violence, and bigotry. These institutions accept globalization and unfettered capitalism as natural law".

To cite one of my favorite poets, George Oppen:

unable to begin
At the beginning, the fortunate
Find everything already here. They are shoppers,
Choosers, judges; . . . And here the brutal
is without issue, a dead end.
They develop
Argument in order to speak, they become
unreal, unreal, life loses
solidity, loses extent, baseball's their game
because baseball is not a game
but an argument and difference of opinion
makes the horse races. They are ghosts that endanger

One's soul. There is change
In an air
That smells stale, they will come to the end
Of an era
First of all peoples
And one may honorably keep
His distance
If he can.

from "Of Being Numerous" by George Oppen

My best,

ref: *

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Japan Dan said...

I think I better change my name to Japan Dan so to distinguish myself from this new Dan.
Mea culpa, Smith. Yes, I did say to be Japanese is to live a life of psychic oppression. I still believe that, but there is still a profound aesthetic side to Japanese culture which I would like Dr. Berman to experience. Yes, there are certainly aspects of Japanese life I could never fully understand or agree with but still there is a graciousness to the people and they do hold the gold standard on manners ( though I realize there is a certain amount of unctuousness involved).
Dr. Berman, whatever you do, do not do a traditional tea ceremony. You will have to cross your legs for almost an hour and it will take almost as long to regain circulation after it's over.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Japan Dan-

Nuts, I was indeed hoping to do some tea. But yr rt: after 1-2 yrs of studying Japan it's hard to avoid the conclusion that it's a land of enormous contrasts and self-contradictions. I've often said that the legacy of the American Revolution is that of (Hegel's) negative identity, such that Americans really don't know who they are, and spend all their time trying to stuff a gaping Void. For v. diff reasons, this seems to be the curse of Japan as well. You know, you have all of this hi-tech Mitsubishi/Sony etc. stuff, and then when "The Last Samurai" was screened in 2003, there was this huge emotional outpouring on blogs and elsewhere to the effect of "This is the real Japan! This is us!" Go figure. It's like Ursula Le Guin's "The Telling" all over again. It's a "Straightjacket Society" (Miyamoto Masao), and yet one with a brilliant aesthetic tradition, including the raucous and sexual prints of the ukiyo-e genre. In a way, my tentative thesis for this project is that we are all Japanese; only the Japanese are a lot more so. In extremis veritas, or something like that. For decades now, there has been something about that culture that has always attracted me, partly as a student of culture, and partly as...I dunno, something deeper. Without using the word, I wound up writing about "amae" (dependency) in "Coming to Our Senses"--actually, I did use it in "Wandering God"--and the Japanese psychiatrist Doi Takeo (d. 2009) insisted that this was the key to Japanese society. I feel like I've taken on an octopus.


8:53 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...


I am greatly looking forward to your dispatches from Japan. I too hold a fascination with the Far East (not only Japan), and would like to spend some time there to explore it further. At least, it would get me away from this depressing America and Europe, where I have been stuck my entire life. My wife too is beginning to warm up to the idea of spending some time in Asia, so that’s a good start. Oh, and my daughter, which just started first grade, is taking Chinese in school, which makes me wanna jump for joy.

Dan (not from Japan),

But it’s true. Most of us in this blog plan to vote for Romney – at least I know I will. And still, to many of us here, Romney is a compromise. We are, yet again, forced to vote for the greater of two evils, where none of which goes by the name of Satan, unfortunately. But you should have seen the exuberance and excitement that was buzzing around this blog when Michelle Bachmann was still in the race. I for one fell in love with her cold-blooded neo-Nazi stare. Oh yeah, a girl like that can really fire up our fantasies around here (and that’s not limited only to what she may have looked like naked 25 years ago… although I’m sure that was a big part of it too...)

I’m not sure what you’re referring to as far as the South is concerned. There are days when I could use some “help” around the farm here, and an obedient negro or two working for room and board sounds like a nice arrangement to me. Is that so wrong?

Finally, about that “life is sacred” idea. You are confusing me. Like I said, we are all Romney voters here. We’re vulture capitalists. Corporate raiders. We’re all fully invested in Monsanto stock. So sure, life is sacred to us too, but it better not get in the way of our profits... or else!

12:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Actually, I dunno how much access I'll have to the Net when I'm in Japan. I'm spending 2 wks in the wilds of Tohoku, not particularly famous for Internet cafes. Plus, I plan to be rather busy. Six wks is hardly enuf time to 'get' another culture, so I'm going to need to cram as much stuff into that time as I can. But, will do my best. At this pt I'm scared shitless: it'll be like going off a high diving board.

Other than that, thanks for making it clear to non-Japan-Dan how accurate his observations are about this blog, its participants, and me in particular. (I suspect Japan Dan can probably go back to just plain ol' Dan, since Correct-Our-Behavior-Dan may give up on us in disgust, and rightly so). I think we can safely say the following:

1. The 'intellectual content' and discussion on this blog is little more than a joke, I'm little more than an empty guru, and all of u.r. my clones;

2. We, esp. me, are vicious human beings. We are pro-slavery, anti-sacred, and really wish Hitler could be running on the GOP ticket instead of Mittney;

3. We should be paying attention to his wise counsel, and instead we are continuing on our intolerant, anti-intellectual, and merry way. If we wanted to, we *could* be the loving and intellectually sophisticated folks that Dan wants us to be. Instead, just look at us! It's appalling, I tell u; there's just no other word for it. The horror, I say; the horror.


5:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: And speaking of horror, and Mittney, the guy has now fallen 5 percentage pts behind Obama. Man, we are in deep do-do. While the phrase "It's all over but the shouting" applies to the US in general, it seems to me that it also applies to Mittney, and Nov. 6. We are looking at 4 more yrs of Millard Fillmore, no doubt abt it.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Ieyasu said...

Speaking of social capital...

Here in Japan, on elevators, it's not uncommon for people to press the "close door" button as they are leaving, so as not to inconvenience fellow passengers.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the post office. I mailed off a package to my niece. A few minutes after I left, they called me to let me know that I'd accidentally left a bag of potato chips there.

I joke with students about that - telling them that, in Canada, the staff probably would have thrown the chips in the garbage.

In the States they'd have eaten them.

11:03 AM  
Blogger LJansen said...

Have a good trip to the House of the Rising Sun. That's where you're going, right?

2:41 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Land of the Rising Sun. But not for another 3 wks.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous shep said...

Alrighty, then.

Try and stomach this.


3:15 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

So you won't be able to get an autograph from the Animals, then, MB? Darn.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Heavy Metal Hamster said...


I've been reading this blog off and I since I finished reading the decline trilogy a few months ago. First time posting to this blog.

My first exposure to Dr. Berman's work was back in the late '80's/early '90's when I read "The Reenchantment of the World" and "Coming to Our Senses". As a young-ish Ph.D. chemist (back then), they were influential works, particularly "Reenchantment", in my own thinking about the philosophical underpinnings of Western science. I'm posting in part to say, thanks for those books, Dr. Berman, they were good reads. Even after all these years, they still have a place on my bookshelf.

The other reason I'm posting is to share this URL which points to an article by Chris Hedges which maybe of interest the readers of this blog:

Dr. Berman,thanks again, and enjoy your trip to Japan.


Paul Boyle

8:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Paul,

Welcome! It's always a pleasure when someone moves across the existential divide from observer to participant, which the chemist Michael Polanyi talked abt yrs ago in "Personal Knowledge" (I think I discuss this in one of my earlier bks, but I can't remember for sure).

I also wanna tell u that I appreciate your appreciation. You know, I recently wrote some Japan expert whose work I admire to ask a few technical questions about Japanese philosophy/culture, and I got back a shocking (or at least quite unexpected) response, as to how he read "Reenchantment" yrs ago and it changed his life. This does happen once in a (long) while, and what a difference it makes for an author, any author, really. Altho the bk was a best-seller, I think I made about 50 cents on it in royalties, but the real question is the definition of 'wealth'. If u really care abt what yr doing--another pt made by Michael Polanyi--who can take that away from you? The whole of American history comes down to hustling, rather than any kind of inner definition of wealth, and the result is that we are probably the saddest people on the face of the earth.

Thanks for the reminder, of what counts.


9:40 PM  
Anonymous Paco said...

Are you giving any lectures in the Kanto area while over here? If so, I live outside Yokohama and would be interested in hearing you speak. Enjoy your blog

8:14 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Dr Berman:

"If u really care abt what yr doing...who can take that away from you?"

I understand the sentiment (for the fortunate) but I cannot help but think and answer: "Sadly, political groups." And, what about those that never, ever, even get a whiff of joy from anything in a pathetic, suffering life caused by the creation of so-called "progress".

8:55 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Fear not about the Big O winning in November. As Glen Ford says, he may actually be the more effective evil.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous dreamer said...

My first comment here, but I just had to post this poll. One of the most amazing results, showing the real idiocy of the American public.

According to a Public Policy Polls survey of Ohio voters, 38% of Ohio Republicans say Barack Obama is most responsible for the bin Laden’s death, 15% say Romney, and 47% were unsure. The results were similar in North Carolina, where 29% of Republicans said Obama deserves more credit, versus 15% Romney and 56% unsure.

11:04 AM  
Blogger LJansen said...

"If u really care abt what yr doing--another pt made by Michael Polanyi--who can take that away from you?"

In the words of the great Abbey Lincoln:

Throw it away Throw it away Give your love, live your life Each and every day

And keep your hand wide open
Let the sun shine through 'Cause you can never lose a thing If it belongs to you

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Little-Eichmann9 said...

Morris Berman: "If u really care abt what yr doing--another pt made by Michael Polanyi--who can take that away from you?"

Uncle Sam can take it away from you!

Ask Professor Ward Churchill whose classes were packed by students who loved him and his classes:

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you would say, O&D.

12:30 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Dr. Berman--

First time poster here. I'm writing simply to echo what others have shared here as well: your texts--both those in the history and evolution of consciousness, as well as your recent trilogy on the decline of the empire--have transformed my world, and I go back to my reading notes for inspiration again and again. As I shared with a colleague the other day, "Here's a man who thinks with his head AND his heart."

I'm from Connecticut, and I'll be making the trek to hear you speak in Montpelier, VT--the "People's Republic" (!)--this week.



3:33 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Sorry, I don't post Anons. If u wanna appear here, pls choose a specific handle. I suggest Rufus T. Firefly.


I'm honored that you wd attend. I speak 9:15 am on Sept. 14. Pls note that there's a party that evening, if u feel like getting drunk and screaming "To the barricades!" I'll be there for sure.


Great data. Americans are not merely dummies; they are also assholes.


True, but he's not funny. Mittney is, in a demented, campy sorta way.


I'm actually trying to avoid that! The Philosophy Dept at the U of Tokyo asked me to do a conference or whatever, and I had to explain that I'm coming to Japan as a student, not as a teacher. However, I will suggest to them that I wdn't be averse to doing something like that at a later date. Arigato for your interest, in any case.


6:39 PM  
Blogger Heavy Metal Hamster said...

Morris Berman wrote:
"The whole of American history comes down to hustling, rather than any kind of inner definition of wealth, and the result is that we are probably the saddest people on the face of the earth."

This reminds me of what a Zen priest acquaintance of mine said once. He makes peace pilgrimages all over the world, including through active war zones. He once made a pilgrimage from Auschwitz to Vietnam. He takes nothing with him except his the clothes on his back. He said the only place on the planet where he wasn't able to find someone to provide him with a simple meal and a place to sleep has been in the United States. Americans are, indeed, the saddest most small hearted people on the planet.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In future pls pick a handle, as Unknown is too close to Anon, and I don't post Anons. I suggest Rufus T. Firefly. Thanks.


10:42 PM  
Anonymous A-Sampson said...

One innocent American lost his life; more may die - just to feed the hate of this man. They seek for wars, but they want Americans to die and to spend billions for their wars:

"This is a political movie," said Bacile. "The U.S. lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we're fighting with ideas."

Bacile, a California real estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew, said he believes the movie will help his native land by exposing Islam's flaws to the world.

"Islam is a cancer, period," he said repeatedly.

The two-hour movie, "Innocence of Muslims," cost $5 million (€3.91 million)to make and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jewish donors, said Bacile, who wrote and directed it.

6:33 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

It's probably moments like these that make you regret not having a TV. From Truthdig this morning:

"NBC News is drawing fire for its controversial decision to go ahead with a planned interview of Kim Kardashian’s mother instead of going live to the “moment of silence” for the victims that were killed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

ABC News, CBS News and all of the major cable channels carried it. But not NBC News. Oh no. Instead, the network aired an interview with Kris Jenner to discuss issues of real importance, such as the upcoming season of her reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and Jenner’s breast implants."

With any luck you'll be able to locate the complete interview on YouTube but you might want to hurry. Breaking news like this doesn't happen every day.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

To all you guys who are sending messages to old posts: waste of time! Nobody reads them, so I don't respond to them. Pls send yr messages to latest post only.


5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's just great to read you USers laughing and joking about Tweedledum and Tweedledee for president. It's so funny because as Israel's client state, you scare the shit out of me. You got away with attacking Iraq for no reason and it looks as if you'll do it again in Iran. But maybe we'll all go undersinging"The bells of hell go tingalingaling, for you but not for me"...
Can't you DO something about all this?

Excuse me for the anon thing - I don't know how to post otherwise: I tried Open ID but no luck..
Wall Eyed Mr Whippy.

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Lukas11 said...

Dr Berman, you are right that Romeny may not make it:

Obama on Romney's reaction:

Editorial on Romney's reaction:

Excellent video summary of events by Chuck Todd

Last night after 10:00 pm ET, Romney released a statement on the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya. After saying he was “outraged” by these attacks and the death of an American consulate worker, Romney said, “It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” Yet after learning every piece of new information about those attacks, the Romney statement looks worse and worse -- and simply off-key. First, Romney was referring to a statement that the U.S. embassy in Egypt issued condemning the “efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” But that embassy statement, which the White House has distanced itself from, was in reference to an anti-Islam movie and anti-Islam pastor Terry Jones, and it came out BEFORE the embassy attacks began. Then this morning, we learned that the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and others died in one of the attacks.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat.

George Carlin

11:57 PM  
Anonymous rh said...


Another Japan-based reader here. Many thanks for sharing views, this forum. I've been a decade-plus in and around Kyoto, wish I'd followed your work a tenth as long. Never too late, though.

Looks like you may have a public discussion or two while here - will you be posting a schedule?

As regards Kyoto, sure you've encountered A. Kerr, P. Iyer in your reading. They'd be excellent sources should you be able to catch them in country.

In fact, Japan seems even more lost today than when Kerr penned his eponymous book two decades back. As with most developed societies, the big picture is not hopeful. Problems here particularly intractable as non-confrontation/avoidance reflex paired with its close cultural cousin, an inclination to view everything through rose-coloured glasses, ensures that fantasy persists...until it doesn't. That said, Japan will be the safest, most civilized nation in a global decline...even if it's in the dark.


PS> will shoot you an email...once I read DAA

12:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


We shd chat. You can contact me at


Mittney is toast. We're stuck with Millard Fillmore for 4 more yrs.

Mr. Whippy-

Well, we can cheer, I suppose. I personally hope the US vigorously nukes Tehran, and then moves on to Toronto and Paris. One thing I will not stand for is criticism of the US.


8:07 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

This "anti-Islamic film" is looking like a much more unsavory operation than it first seemed. No one can find "Sam Bacile" and Israel says they have no citizen by that name. But there is an Egyptian Copyic Christian named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who has used similar aliases, and is associated with the production of this film though he claims not to be the actual director.

The Atlantic: 'Sam Bacile, Israeli Jew,' May Actually Be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, Coptic Christian

From the Associated Press, which previously reported that Sam Bacile was a real person, and an Israeli Jew:

The search for those behind the provocative, anti-Muslim film implicated in violent protests in Egypt and Libya led Wednesday to a California Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes who acknowledged his role in managing and providing logistics for the production.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles that he was manager for the company that produced "Innocence of Muslims," which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad and may have caused inflamed mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. He provided the first details about a shadowy production group behind the film.

Nakoula denied he directed the film and said he knew the self-described filmmaker, Sam Bacile. But the cellphone number that AP contacted Tuesday to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Sam Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where AP found Nakoula. Federal court papers said Nakoula's aliases included Nicola Bacily, Erwin Salameh and others...

Nakoula denied he had posed as Bacile. During a conversation outside his home, he offered his driver's license to show his identity but kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley. Records checks by the AP subsequently found it and other connections to the Bacile persona.

9:31 AM  
Blogger LJansen said...


"Why Romney's Desperate, Ctd

On Nate Silver's model, if the election were held today, Romney would have an 8.4 percent chance of winning, compared with Obama's 91.6 percent. Romney's chances were 32.3 percent a week ago. That's not a decline; it's a free-fall." [NOT SURE WHO NATE SILVER IS, THO--LINDA]

1:16 PM  
Blogger Adrian V.W. said...

Dear Morris:

First, congratulations for your new book "Las raices del fracaso americano" Second, you sould write a book about Mexico, i bet you that sonner or later you will change your opinion about Mexico, despite of the bad goverment, we mexicans are guilty of this mess, more or less we have the same illness than our north neighbours plus (not all of course); violents, do not have any respect for ecology, idolizes the noise, alcoholics, corrupts, fantics (la virgen will save us), sexists, falses, moodys, do not hesitate to cheat and hypocrites. And i tell you this with all the pain that involves.



3:34 PM  
Anonymous CMC Ultra said...

Dr Berman,

Another longtime reader here to thank you and wish you well on your trip. (Inspired by Mr. Boyle to finally chime in.)

I picked up your Twilight of American Culture one summer night in the old Borders, downtown NYC. Later I read Dark Ages.

BTW, in one of those good minds think alike coincidences, Neal Stephenson's Anathem features these sort of intellectual monks who, if they ever have to leave their monastery (styled "Maths"), sometimes opt to form 'pinprick maths,' i.e. one sole monk would just set up his life as monkishly as possible -no tv, no radio, restrained diet, etc. etc.

To the point: Re american hustling: I just read in a book on the French-Indian war era how even George Washington was a bit of a hustler; having surveyed lands out in the Ohio valley, he wasn't above buying up veterans' land allotments on the politically astute guess that, eventually the treaty with the Indians in that area would be abrogated in favor of growth and expansion. The part I liked the best: some of those purchases were from guys who had served under him! I recall some related issues of, arguably, ripping off veterans as a cause of Shay's Rebellion. Fascinating I thought. And somewhat depressing. I thought a military guy, and a man who had so many other things right, would be somehow purer.

Somewhat new monastically yours,

CMC Ultra

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Marcos M said...

“Every fool is a slave”
~from the ethics of Stoicism

Americans are fools. Therefore Americans are slaves. If, according to Mit Romney, freedom of speech is one of the important founding principles of American democracy, then let see some US-based TV stations and newspapers say and write things like this:

“It's very simple and it's no great secret: Netanyahu wants to see Obama defeated on November 6. He wants Romney elected. It's possible that Netanyahu genuinely believes that Romney is good for Israel, that the new administration will be quick to attack Iran or will at least encourage Israel to do so.”


Financial Crisis Cost U.S. $12.8 Trillion Or More: Study

Mitt and Bibi: Diplomacy as Demolition Derby

UPDATED: Netanyahu vs. Obama and Iran – by Alan Hart

5:47 PM  
Anonymous Zero said...

Hey, business is booming! Check this out:


5:54 PM  
Anonymous Eric in Hiroshima said...

It's great to hear that you're coming to Japan. I'll look forward to reading your take on the country.

Here's a bit of unsolicited advice, based on my 25 years here:

It's probably best not to confuse the Japanese culture that is presented to foreigners with the culture that people live every day. Zen, haiku, wabi-sabi tea houses, etc., have almost nothing to do with the way 99% of people live their lives here.

People here claim, for instance, that they live in accord with the four seasons. But apart from a (completely standardized) picnic under the cherry blossoms (often leaving behind a mound of garbage) and department store bargain sales, seasonal changes have little influence on modern life.

I have read shocking sentences from Americans who should know better, who say things like "All Japanese live in perfect harmony with nature." This is just foolish. Many Japanese people believe this about themselves, and are happy when foreigners get this impression, but it's just for show.

Zen, nature, etc., are tokens that Japanese people say are important about themselves, while they actually ignore those things. Far more important in daily life are the pop groups, TV shows, comic book culture, etc. Basho's book may be the best of Japan, but it isn't what people here actually like. You'd be better informed if you went to an AKB48 concert. (Although it'd be a miracle if you could get a ticket.)

Given the nature of your work on American culture, I think you'd find some less glamorous aspects of the culture here fascinating. For example, the manner in which government and business collude. Unlike the current US system, in which such collusion is always to the benefit of CEOs, the Japanese system still keeps in mind that consumers who are healthy and educated (in a certain very specific way) are required if business is to succeed. That's why public schools and government health insurance are not under attack here. It's not an ideal of Justice or the Good Life, so much as it a practical solution for order. Still, this solution is far better for run-of-the-mill citizens than the current US system.

That's why, despite rhetoric about Japan's recession, there has not been anything near that hardship that American home owners have seen. Health care is still available, homelessness is not widespread. (Of course Japan has these problems, but I'm talking about percentages compared to the US.) After the real estate bubble crashed, the World Bank and other financial types wanted Japan to push the types of changes that other countries underwent - austerity, etc. For some reason, the Japanese government instead decided to take the changes more slowly, and not jettison social safety nets. I'm not sure why they took this path. If I were a researcher/journalist, I would be very interested to discover their reasoning.

(Not all public/private collusion is so positive. It's coming out now that the nuclear power industry relied from the beginning on Yakuza cooperation.)

Anyway, I hope you have a great trip! You'll see some great stuff!


7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yesterday I had the thrill and honor of hearing Dr. Berman speak at the Vermont Independence Party gathering in the People's Republic (read: Vermont) capital of Montpelier; I drove up from Connecticut to listen and learn. (Dr. Berman-- *Many* thanks for taking the time to sign my copy of WAF and chat a bit!).

With respect to my profession/trade (I'm an educational gerontologist and adult learning specialist), I'm interested in helping adults develop the capacity to enact individual and collective adaptive change in their lives; hence, lots of terrific talks yesterday--What is success? What is money? What options exist to create alternative, shadow structures to "business-as-usual?" I look forward to following up with some of the speakers.

The most powerful part of yesterday? I leaned over to my colleague and quietly whispered at one point, "Are you fully taking in this moment? We're sitting *in* the state's House chamber discussing secession and ideas central to secession . . . developing alternative structures and such."

As sad as I was to cross over route 1-91 and leave the People's Republic, I know I'll be back.


11:00 AM  
Anonymous Asenges Asmore said...

@Eric in Hiroshima: “Unlike the current US system, in which such collusion is always to the benefit of CEOs, the Japanese system still keeps in mind that consumers who are healthy and educated (in a certain very specific way) are required if business is to succeed. That's why public schools and government health insurance are not under attack here. It's not an ideal of Justice or the Good Life, so much as it a practical solution for order. Still, this solution is far better for run-of-the-mill citizens than the current US system”

Healthy people live healthy lives, and produce healthy families and communities and cities and societies and nations!

“After the real estate bubble crashed, the World Bank and other financial types wanted Japan to push the types of changes that other countries underwent - austerity, etc. For some reason, the Japanese government instead decided to take the changes more slowly, and not jettison social safety nets. I'm not sure why they took this path. If I were a researcher/journalist, I would be very interested to discover their reasoning.”

The American mindset about the economy defines the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, and such international financial organizations. Japanese, like peoples of other KNOWN cultures/nations, are not easily fooled by the obvious Americanization of international financial organizations; they let their common sense and their native cultural norms guide the way they live their daily lives and build their families and communities and cities and societies. And it shows in the type of progress these other peoples make! Those who copy the American trash become worse than America, and they die quicker than America.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Kevin said...

Interesting George Kenney interview with Chuck Thompson on his book "Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession."

3:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bueno, como Soy Sudaka, y hablo dessde Japonia, tengo que decirles, sobre todo al Sr Santiago Aristogato!
1) Dejenos en Paz, nosotros vivimos nuestra vida como se nos canta y aqui no hay implantes mamarios, ni gastos en idioteces,!
2) Serge yo (Veronica, no nos metemos en la vida de este engendro llamado Santiago, sin papeles, ni en la vida del SSr humberto doberman! tampoco desde Alemania interferimos con blogs para arruinar una pareja que esta rota y no lo reconoce!
3) Analizar mi vida, no creo que sea cientifico, ni interesante para hacer semejantes disertaciones metafisicas de gente que "cree" conocer todo de mi privacidad!
Fecha en Noviembre para separnos, y minitas para presentarle a mi marido?? pero gentuza, vayan a lavarse la cara porque son animales salvajes! SErge es libre y si esta conmigo es porque quiere estar!

6:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dear Brian,

Many thanks for coming to the VT conference and introducing yrself. Sorry things were so hectic, and that I didn't have much time to chat. But I'm glad u enjoyed the day. Personally, I thought it was very successful.


Thanks for the input on Japan; very helpful. I'm hoping I can get out to Hiroshima, not sure just as yet. But if u send me a message--to'll have it and might be able to contact u b4 I show up.


Turns out, George Washington died a very wealthy man; and I mean very.


I'm not a starry-eyed romantic as far as Mexico goes, and I am certainly aware of its down side. It's just that I've lived in both places now, and I have abs. no doubt as to which is better.

In other news: Mittney is toast. There is simply no way he can win in Nov. He may even be too stupid for the American public, wh/is saying a lot. In 2 mos., no one will remember his name. But I will: Mittney.

Where have all the trolls gone
Long time passing
Where have all the trolls gone
Long time ago
(With apologies to the Kingston Trio)

Seriously, folks: remember the attack of the trolls? I kinda miss them! They were so idiotic. It was like having one's own private SNL show. Trolls, come back! We love u!


6:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


r.u. sure u got the right blog? This sounds like a conversation with someone else. However, I'm glad to know that where u.r. there aren't any breast implants; this is very important.


6:57 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

Yes, it’s understandably easy to be deceived by all the noise deliberately produced to make you think this will be a close election. I doubt the nations’ owners are ready to give up on the two party system by letting the Republicans steal this election, after all, the Democrats have been so loyal that it would be bad sportsmanship to betray them. And why would they want to end the farce of giving the people something to do on election day? So, sadly, Mittney will lose big. But don’t be too disappointed, there will be a consolation prize for us. Republican pundits will undoubtedly blame the loss on the idea that Mittney wasn’t far-right crazy enough, and this means we are certain to be treated to a doubled down version of crazy in 2016. Feel better?

1:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I really don't. I want Mittney, and I want him now. That haircut is too much. And he always looks like he's smiling thru a difficult bowel movement. He really *is* America.


4:23 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

I saw a funny New Rules by Bill Maher that I thought I'd pass onto everyone
who's interested.

What Americans really worship--money--is obscured by the constant flap about how God wasn't mentioned at the Democratic convention and other such nonsense.

10:22 AM  
Anonymous CiscosSystems said...

Dr B, I know why you want Mittney to win – because he is a terrorist that will blow up some shi’t around here and around the world.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he suspects last week's attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya were planned in advance and weren't prompted by protests over an obscure anti-Muslim film produced in the U.S.
"Most people don't bring rocket-propelled grenades and heavy weapons to demonstrations. That was an act of terror," McCain said during an appearance on "Face the Nation."

Fool me once! I wonder who the real terrorists here are: Romney and Netanyahu or phantom Iranians????

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Tim F said...

Morris - I just finished reading The One Straw Revolution by Masanobu Fukuoka. It is about a minimal impact and natural approach to agriculture: no cultivation, no fertilisation, no chemicals, minimal interference, low-technology etc. Relates nicely to what you have just posted in terms of the various sides of Japanese society and psyche(aesthetic and artistic tradition / modern hi tech and escapist) , and also how these issues are wider/global as well, i.e., his desire for more traditional/simpler ways of living - anti-capitalist in effect and in accordance with nature.

The book was written in 1975, and it seems his message was starting to spread amongst farmers and others seeking alternative lifestyles. May be interesting to find out how broad an effect he has had on farming / agriculture in Japan.

6:56 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

I like this poem about Slick Willie Clinton.

11:20 AM  
Anonymous JSRANK said...

MB , I would agree that Mittney would be the definitive representative as the figurehead ...the masthead for catatstrophic decline.
That is...IF he was representative of a classist paradigm: a modern Louis XVI.
But that is not all that he is, according to his own words on tape just released.
He is our Schickelgruber...a compleat hater.

We can survive a dunce like Reagan. Even the Bushes can eventually be overcome.
We simply cannot allow nuclear weapons anywhere near apocalyptic suicidal religious freaks. Both Willard and boy-pal Ryan are this dangerous, and there is no place on this planet to run to if they get power.

3:42 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

It's Rom Mittney vs. himself now. I wonder if the election isn't over with this story.

Washington Post: Mitt Romney vs. the 47% — and himself

Mitt Romney is in deep trouble after a video surfaces of him describing 47 percent of Americans as ‘dependent’ and ‘entitled.’ “During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don’t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them.” David Corn in Mother Jones.


8:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sav, JS, Wafers-

It's all over. Mittney is toast. There's no way he can come back from that 47% remark. The election ended yesterday.

And me, I'm heartbroken. I love Mittney, and he went down in flames. A complete douche bag, he shot himself in the foot. We are now facing 4 more yrs of Millard Fillmore: a boring war criminal, shredder of the Bill of Rts, Pentagon and corporation shill. And oh, so bo-ring. A nothing, a zero, a nowhere man.

Rufus T. Firefly, the senior editor at the Rupert Murdoch Press, called to say they would not be publishing my 'Principles of Mittnism'. After all the work I put into it, no less than 5 vols., and some of the pages actually have text on them. I might as well just recycle the whole lot.

Mittney, America needs your haircut! Do something, Mittney! Don't just become toast! O Mittney, Mittney.

I love you, Mittney.


1:14 AM  
Anonymous ellen said...

Don't you guys have a bit of previous with large scale election fraud?

Take heart,everything is not yet lost if Mittney takes a pointer from history and fiddles the voting results--it worked for Karzai and countless other puppet regimes, the option must have cropped up in some of the home-grown strategy sessions, especially considering the amount of cash thrown at the campaign by thos wanting a ROI.

4:18 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That probably works if the vote is very close. In this case, Mittney committed political suicide, so I think fiddling won't do it. He really should recuse himself, allow Herman Cain to run.


5:57 AM  
Anonymous Sam Deann said...

Dr, I agree that Rmoney is toast.
A lot of Republicans smell Rmoney's blood and end:


Bill Kristol

8:08 AM  
Blogger Nebris said...

Mittens has to run it out to the end. His backers spent too much money running the Right Wing loons the GOP base really wanted off the road.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous sanctuary! said...

Why does Rom hate the troops? They are low income, they get govt checks, and many pay no income tax (exempt). How does he expect these 47-percenters to feel motivated to mop up Iran? The thrill of looting, burning, bombing, and killing is relatively weak after years in the field. Maybe he can tweet them an inspirational .jpg of his dancing horse.

Of course Rom will win the election. I'm afraid Dr. Berman's failing is that he consistently overestimates the average American. Tut tut, sir. Buck up and bid yer blues begone.

12:48 PM  
Blogger LJansen said...

No Bsin Cain
Will Rise Again

He's Almost Sane
Vote for Cain

Mitt's a Feign
Write in Cain

Got no Mane
But vote for Cain

12:59 PM  
Anonymous JSRANK said...

Doctor B ...Since we do agree with the stunning and rapid Darwinism displayed by Willard, we can now prognosticate waxingly.
I see the current occupant not as Fillmore, but as a hapless Hoover or hogtied Jimmy Carter.
The "Gods in the Machines" : the international money traders, the puppet masters ...showed their capabilities in the so-called "flash crash'. The proposed re-regulatory banking bill was scheduled to come out of senate committee with more than enough votes to proceed, when it was suddenly pulled ...never to be heard from since.
Presidents and other politicians have no control over these hidden sociopathic rulers. Only very extreme measures might have an effect, but it appears there is an endless supply of nepotistic overlords erupting from a seedbed of wealth and privilege.

I don't know...maybe evolution will adapt a mutation and produce a new species that will eliminate their enemies while not committing suicide in the process.
Perhaps super intelligent aliens will arrive and start culling.

Hey, we can dream !

4:11 PM  
Blogger Dan Henry said...

I agree with MB, Mitteney is toast.

6:45 PM  
Anonymous infanttyrone said...

Sorry for the 2x, but Herman Cain ?
Although I understand the appeal, No, No, No. Mil veces No.

What we need is for Mittney to drop The Voucher and replace him with our heartthrob, Michelle Bachmann...
and to announce that if he is elected, his first official act will be to resign.

Enough half measures and pussyfootin' around.
The times call for someone who is, in the words of Robin Williams describing Lord Buckley, full-goose bozo all the way.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, Cain. 1st, he's the ultimate douche bag. 2nd, he's funny! Just think of all the great SNL shows we coulda had.


Yr Ode to Mittney made me weep. Keats, move over.


I'm telling u, Rom is over, he's history. Mark my words. He's too much of a turkey, w/his foot forever in his mouth.

Mittney, I love u!


8:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Drop me a note at, if u want. I just might make it out to Hiroshima.


8:32 PM  
Blogger diogenes45 said...

For a look at some of the more esoteric aspects of Japanese traditional culture see "The Catalpa Bow: A Study of Shamanistic Practices in Japan" by Carmen Blacker. The book discusses mediums, mountain ascetics and other shamanic types. Then there is Lafcadio Hearn's book with wonderful prints of a wide range of supernatural beings. I don't own a copy of that book and have forgotten its title. I saw in an edition put out by Tuttle, the Vermont publisher that specialized in Japan related books.

9:12 PM  
Blogger Zosima said...

What a shock, that when rich people get together in private, one of their favorite things to talk about is how much they hate people who aren’t rich, and essentially wish for them to die the moment they are no longer able to work for starvation wages?

Even NPR is having trouble reassuring poor slobs like me that Mittney really didn’t mean what he said, that billionaires have always loved us and still do, and that there’s no such thing as class war except when people like me ask for a fair wage or talk about going on strike.

I think Obama will have to make a national address in the spirit of bipartisanship defending Mittney, and saying honestly, “Look I know you’re all going to vote for me now, but just don’t expect anything, because I work for the same rich people who want to see you dead, I’m just better at hiding it.”

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Armando said...

Dr Berman

"He's too much of a turkey, w/his foot forever in his mouth"

The collected behaviors and words of Romney call into question how he made his wealth. Looking back now, most people should start questioning how intelligent he really is to be able to make decisions that gave him millions of dollars. This suggests that he hustled for his money in such ways that broke many laws and killed many people. I mean he could not have made the money with the same thinking and behavior in display throughout his campaign.

12:59 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Well, Sanctuary may be rt: even I may have overestimated the intelligence of the American people (TAP). I still think Mittney will lose, but the polls following his 47% gaffe are interesting: not much of a change. If TAP had half a brain, you'd think Mittney would be 10 pts behind by now. But no: the diff still seems to be about 1-2%. The consensus among pundits seems to be that gaffes don't really make a difference. Does this mean that my "Principles of Mittnism" might yet see the light of day?

Mittney! I love u!


3:54 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Be of good cheer. Professor Wagstaff at Aldous Huxley University predicts that Mittney will win in a mudslide. He is also willing to publish the manuscript that Rufus T. Firefly so hastily rejected.

5:41 AM  
Anonymous Susan W. said...

Dear Dr. Berman,

The worst kind of blunder is the kind that confirms what people already think of us. Romney has richly deserved his image as an entitled, ruthless, stingy corporate raider who cares zip about most people (except maybe Snooki) but apparently cares a great deal about his car by providing a much needed elevator. And Babs the Dancing Horse. The more things change, the more they stay the same. An observation by Orwell during WWII on the rich and their horses:

He acidly calculates that there are “still 2,000 racehorses in England, each of which will be eating 10-15 lb. of grain a day. I.e., these brutes are devouring every day the equivalent of the bread ration of a division of troops.”

The dinner Romney was speaking at cost 50K/plate. How school lunches would that have provided? We'll never know.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Boris the Spider said...

Hey, you've got an article on Counterpunch today. I don't mean to step on your toes by alerting others here to the link, but I haven't seen you post it yet, so I thought I'd put the word out.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous shep said...

Well. Hooray. It's about time. CounterPunch led today with the best essay I have ever read breaking down the problems of our society and the world, in one paper.

Maestro. You are by far the best we have today.

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Simmon Jane said...

Very revealing and scary video. He is very pissed at FOX NEWS for creating Romney.

He claims that Beckman, Herman Cain, or Gingrich would have been far better than Romney as a candidate, that FOX NEWS should stop inviting liberals on their show, and that Glen Beck will overtake and replace FOX NEWS:

1:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Shep, Boris-

I think I'll create a new post for it. Shd tell u that I was going to call it "I Love Mittney," but changed it at the last minute.

hugs all around,

2:22 PM  
Anonymous JayB said...

Regarding the comment limit, have you tried this?

8:31 PM  
Blogger kaareem9 said...

American negotiators to this day never understand this aspect of Japanese culture....www.movie2k

3:48 AM  
Anonymous toronto esort said...

Thank you for sharing its a worth while to read.I must say, as significantly as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldn’t help but lose interest after a while. Its as if you had a wonderful grasp around the subject matter, but you forgot to include your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from far more than one angle. Or maybe you shouldn’t generalize so substantially. Its better if you think about what others may have to say instead of just going for a gut reaction to the subject. Think of about adjusting your own thought process and giving others who may read the benefit of the doubt.

8:39 AM  

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