April 18, 2017

Postmodernism and Its Discontents

Waferinos: two posts back, Julie sent in this link and asked me what I thought of the article:


My response follows below.

1. Deconstruction, including cultural relativism, has a long pedigree, and goes back to the Sophists--from which we get the word 'sophistry' (rhetoric as opposed to objective truth). Plato ridiculed this subjective approach to knowledge--that man was the measure of all things--in the Protagoras, a fabulous dialogue. Millennia later, Robert Pirsig defended the Sophists against Plato in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, arguing that it was myth and rhetoric that were true, and that Platonic logic was 'insane'. Both texts are definitely worth reading.

The crucial problem of postmodernism and deconstruction--that of self-referentiality--was also known to the Greeks. It was called Epimenides' Paradox: "A Cretan said, 'All Cretans are liars'. Was he telling the truth?" It has also been called Mannheim's Paradox. Karl Mannheim, a German sociologist, wrote Ideology and Utopia in 1929 (German edition), a cornerstone of what is known as the sociology of knowledge. All knowledge, he claimed, exists in a social context; pure objectivity is a myth. The paradox arises when the sociology of knowledge is applied to the sociology of knowledge: From what social context did it arise? Thus the deconstructors get deconstructed. This is the Achilles' heel of the whole postmodern game, and one that the pomos have been unable to convincingly answer. For in the end, what they are saying is, "All texts are relative--except ofr ours." (Shades of Orwell) They refuse to apply their methodology to their own methodology, because then the game would be up; the whole pm project would unravel. The truth is that in the process of attacking 'metanarratives', they have just created another metanarrative. In effect, what they did was take a small truth and turn it into a big lie. (Someone once said--it may have been me--that pm was basically nihilism masquerading as radical chic.)

2. Nevertheless, the small truth is there. My Reenchantment book draws on Foucault, and argues for epistemological relativism. It says that modern science is only one way of knowing the world, and that the sciences of premodern societies--alchemy, astrology, witchcraft, and so on--probably were valid in their own contexts; although I do assert the existence of transcultural truth (Galileo, not Aristotle, was right about projectile motion--it's a parabola, period). (Or, the Nazi claim that there was such a thing as "Jewish physics" was hogwash, unless Jewish atoms wear skullcaps). In addition, some pm notions are similar to Buddhism, which is a truly profound way of thinking about the world, in my opinion.

3. So the truth of this debate lies somewhere in between; the problem is that Americans in particular have to go whole hog; they have a difficult time with the word 'some'. It was embarrassing, in the 60s and 70s, when folks like Derrida would come to lecture at American universities, watching American academics swoon and fawn over him: "Give us the Word, Master!" This is clearly Eric Hoffer's True Believer syndrome. As noted, pm is just one more metanarrative, regardless of what the pomos claim. But American academics were/are not capable of saying, "postmodernism has some valuable aspects to it." Oh no; this was now the (latest, fashionable) Answer with a capital A. I have repeatedly stated on this blog that in the US, even the smart people are stupid. The American craze for pm is a perfect example of this. Thus, as the author of the article shows, for some pomos the difference in size between an ant and a giraffe is merely an "act of faith."

4. The author Charles Finch identifies how this, or any other, intellectual craze spreads through the culture at large. It starts (he says) with 15 readers of some obscure semiotics journal, spreads to 100 listeners at a dinner party, moves on to 10,000 readers in a popular magazine, and then to one million viewers on TV. Finally, the whole nation is engulfed in "political correctness." I saw this insanity in the early 90s, when I (foolishly) got involved in a distance-learning school that was caught in the grip of this nonsense. I didn't know who was dumber or more pathetic, the students or the faculty; but it was eerie for me to watch a brainwashing/groupthink camp in operation. You can read more about this in the Twilight book, where I call the place "Alt U." "Grotesque" was not too strong a word for this place, whose notion of education was embarrassing.

5. As the author of this article on pm observes, liberals are now authoritarian: only one (p.c.) version of events is allowed, and the liberals are happy to shout down visiting speakers rather than actually engage them. This is by now a nationwide phenomenon; Trump was the inevitable reaction to it.

6. A couple of illustrative vignettes (two among many I could furnish, in addition to that of Alt U.):

-(I need to preface this one by saying, I'm not kidding) A few years ago, a friend of mine retired from the English department of a major, and very respected, university in the Southwest. Shortly after that (this was relayed to him by a former colleague), the department was seeking to make a new hire to replace him (albeit at the junior level), and interviewed a number of candidates. All of them showed up in full-blown p.c. mode, but the most bizarre candidate was a grad student who declared that he hoped to found a "Department of Shit Studies." "Shit Studies," he told the faculty, "is the new intellectual frontier." I can't remember if this guy got the job; he may have (you wonder why such a distinguished faculty didn't tell him that his Ph.D. thesis was pure shit). Wafers, when I say that America is on its last legs, I know whereof I speak.

-Roughly 30 years ago I was invited to attend a two-day session of Ivan Illich's discussion group where he was then based, Penn State. They said they wanted my input on what they were doing, based on my forthcoming book, Coming to Our Senses, which Illich had read in manuscript form. There were about 40 or 50 people in attendance. The whole approach was pm: everything, from physics to the human body, was socially constructed. Illich himself had a rather large tumor growing out of the side of his head; I couldn't help wondering if he regarded it as socially constructed as well. (Perhaps it was a banana in some alternative universe.) In the face of incipient death, he was spouting bullshit. At one point I led the group in a meditation exercise, guiding their awareness through their bodies, step by step. The general reaction was confusion and anxiety; these folks were so out of touch with their bodies, that when reality hit them they didn't know how to react. They had very little interest in coming to their senses; safer to stay in one's head.

Later, Illich and I had a debate about transcultural truth, which for him didn't exist. I pointed out that a flying arrow really did describe the path of a parabola, as Galileo mapped out, and was not a case of discontinuous motion, as Aristotle had claimed. Illich replied, "Well in fact, it's not exactly a parabola, because of air resistance." "Ivan," I said, "you just said 'in fact'. So even you believe in a basic empirical reality, right?" He chose to ignore this.

On the last day of the conference, I talked obliquely about the problem of closed societies, and closed systems of thought, but I doubt they understood what I was saying. This crowd was as solipsistic as Alt U. Gilles Deleuze pegged it correctly when he referred to these sorts of groups as "microfascisms of the avant-garde."

Anyway, as all of you can see, I've been in the trenches with a lot of this stuff over the course of my career. I do think that pm offers us some valuable insights; the problem arises when scared human beings, desperate for existential security, turn a few valuable insights into a Totality, a System of Thought, which is swallowed whole. In Coming to Our Senses, I tried to explain why we tend to do this. People have told me (I don't know if it's true) that the most often-quoted line on the Internet is from that book: "An idea is something you have; an ideology is something that has you." Rather than wake up, we just keep changing paradigms.



Anonymous DioGenes said...

It's not even a wide or true appreciation of contemporary theory. Zizek, Bauman, and others are only now making a name for themselves.

We are talking about a particular small group of French literary theorists- who are more appreciated in America than France.

This kind of "pomoism" is really "Baby Boomerism". Something that seemed cool for a few years became The Culture. A few inflated mediocrities got to lord over academia for a few decades. In the mean time, the rest of the world looked on in horror and moved on. Even the rest of the English speaking world does not accept US academic fadism.

6:25 PM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Is this what you're saying Dr. B... Let's start off with this

premise 1. Everything is relative

premise 2. If everything is relative is true then relativity must be relative as well.

premise 3. If relativity is relative then some things must not be relative.

Premise 4. Some things are relative and some things are not which means some things are objectively true.

Conclusion. Things are objectively true relative to their constraints.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Michael A. Lewis said...

Interesting... I left academe in 2000 under the dark shadow of P.C and pm. That and cell phones in the classroom, among other anti-educational trends.

In my world, it was Native American p.c., in reverse. My department head took me to task for stating, in an email to a fellow researcher, that our Natural History Museum lacked N.A. input in the interpretation of its ethnological and archaeological collections. Seemed simple enough to me, but I wasn't supposed to let that particular cat out of the bag, since careers were made on the insistence of the opposite.

So here we are in a dying culture, a failed civilization, if that's what it is, without two paradigms to rub together.

Thanks for your writing, by the way, here and elsewhere. Helps me weed out the sane from the in.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Here's an interesting article that I stumbled across which relates to Post-Modernism :


A remark at the end of the article summarizes the author's perspective :

"I say consciousness and truth are on a par: neither can be explained away. Neither is eliminable. Neither is an illusion. Both are part of what we must presuppose to explain anything.

Nietzsche had a great insight: No God, no truth. For the POMOs there is neither. For me there is both. For the inconsistent [Daniel] Dennett there is the second but not the first. Again, there is simply no place for truth in a wholly material world."

I found this article (by "Maverick Philosopher") while I was searching for an article I read a year or so ago which posited that human perceptions evolved not to ascertain the truth about the world around us, but rather to maximize our survival and prosperity. In other words, our perception of the world does not exactly coincide with what actually exists in the world. Perhaps this is why Einstein considered it surprising that the human mind was even capable of comprehending the universe.

7:08 AM  
Anonymous Sean Kerrigan said...

There's currently a discussion on the internet (I heard about it on Twitter) of a family who operates a YouTube channel and (allegedly) emotionally abuses the kids. It's pretty clear they have a dysfunctional family. Very sad. Very American in so many ways.

This video provides a brief summary of the accusations and some clips pulled from their channel. You'll get the idea pretty quick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvoLmsXKkYM

2:46 PM  
Anonymous T.H. said...

pomism reminded me other 'isms of the age, a nice John Gray-esque piece:


transhumanism (like so much else in the secular West!) is "a secular outgrowth of Christian eschatology."

- Thomas

3:39 PM  
Anonymous JRS said...

Thank you Dr. Berman for your thoughtful response to the article I posted. I kept thinking of your book ReEnchantment of the World and issues with science being only one way of knowing the world while I was reading the article. And that there are so many ways of knowing, including through the body much like dancers, practitioners of yoga and I would also say work in ceramics.

As far as the PC environment in academia, so much in that culture is getting rigid, stiff with ideology, as in rigor mortis. It's difficult seeing so many young people so rigid in their ideology already, desperately seeking security through it. Ideologies which seem to act much like a fundamentalist religion which stunt personal growth and introspection.

It seems that since they believe that all texts are relative except for theirs and that they refuse to apply their methodology to their own methodology, that they performed the very act that they claim to be against and that is reductionism.

Anyway, I'm just glad to see more writing coming out like this.
As always, thanks again Dr. Berman. Your scholarship, writing, and wisdom are much appreciated.


6:00 PM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Mike Burgess said....

Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Just figured you would like to read what Paul Craig Roberts says about the Trump presidency - Trump apparently is using the presidency as a money-making scheme, not unexpected. What Roberts writes about Pence seeming to usurp the president's job to negotiate (actually threaten, I guess we usually don't really negotiate) with countries is interesting; Pence seemed to come out of nowhere to become Trump's vice-presidential candidate - pretty sure Pence was foisted on Trump as a condition for RNC support. The US really deserves to the laughing stock of the world and as Roberts says, the world should be very concerned, not with North Korea's nuclear weapons, but that we seem to be itching to use our nuclear weapons.
Maybe we will go out with a bang.


10:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Cdn't post it; we have a rule here of half-page maximum. Pls compress and re-send. Thanks.


11:10 AM  
Blogger Grandma said...

Dr. B, thank you for this. As a middle-aged but newly minted PhD I read the pomo's work and came out the other side completely confused. Now I understand both why it's so attractive to some and what parts to ignore, much appreciated.

Reminds me of an article also posted here:

"It is naively assumed that the fact that the majority of people share certain ideas or feelings proves the validity of these ideas and feelings. Nothing is further from the truth. Consensual validation as such has no bearing whatsoever on reason or mental health… The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane." - Eric Fromm

At a "finer scale" this also speaks to the horrible YouTube channel posted that demonstrates the scapegoating of a child within a very dysfunctional family. "It's just a prank", sure it is.

Welcome to the dark ages. I've fully arrived. Glad to be amongst friends.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Welcome to the blog. It's the only one worth participating in, I can assure you. As for the opaque quality of pm, here's an old joke: What do you get when you cross a pomo with a mafioso? Answer: Someone who makes you an offer you can't understand.

pm has also been called "the revenge of intelligence against genius," which rings true.


12:07 PM  
Anonymous Rich said...

"...I do think that pm offers us some valuable insights; the problem arises when scared human beings, desperate for existential security, turn a few valuable insights into a Totality, a System of Thought, which is swallowed whole. In Coming to Our Senses, I tried to explain why we tend to do this. People have told me (I don't know if it's true) that the most often-quoted line on the Internet is from that book: "An idea is something you have; an ideology is something that has you." Rather than wake up, we just keep changing paradigms."

When I was in college in the 90s, one of my history professors who was a British national observed the humorlessness of many American feminists. She said that while feminism is strong in the UK, British scholars rarely are as fanatical as they are in the US. I haven't read Coming to Our Sense yet, but I always suspected our penchant for fanaticism had to do with ontological insecurity that is endemic to life in the US. Our culture (if we can even call it that) is so thin, our economic life is so brutal, and our physical urban landscape is so ugly that one would be off-kilter if he/she DID NOT feel a sense of anomie. Encountering any mode of thought that provides some sense of meaning is like giving a starving dog a rib-eye steak. They eat it up in a frenzy.

Thank you for this blog. I look forward to reading your books in detail.

3:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


See ch. 1, in particular. Progs in general are a pretty humorless bunch, but I suppose a case cd be made for American feminists as the grimmest. In my experience, they are very angry; under that is a huge layer of pain; and under that, tremendous sadness. Most (not all) just stay at the topmost layer, never going any deeper. Hard to laugh when yr carrying all of that shit around.

I actually met women in San Francisco in the 70s who, when asked what they did, said--with a straight face--"I'm a woman." Hard to know how to respond to that. Maybe, "Gosh, that's fantastic!"


6:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


She's back! I'm so excited.



6:45 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you so much for your insightful and thoughtful take on this subject Morris. This is why I love your work and come on this site. I was very interested to hear you mention Ivan Illich. I have only just recently heard of his work and was looking to start reading one of his books. I was disappointed to hear you not have the best things to say about him because you know...wafers, but I am curious to hear more about where you and him part on ideas.

Also, in reading the article the main concern of the author was that postmodern thought is a threat to modernity. I know you believe that the modern age is already waning and if this is so than it certainly would be because of much larger forces than postmodern thought. So pomo is a symptom? Does this give it more credibility in your view? As if it has some kind of insight to a larger truth that is coming more into focus?

Thanks again, love ya buddy.

10:21 PM  
Blogger comrade simba said...

I saw Ted Nugent in concert as a high schooler. He was my God! Now he's just an insane, no class idiot.
Wearing a hat in the Oval Office... jfc. I hope Sarah gives both him and kid rock the clap.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Trevor said...


8:36 AM  
Blogger Grille said...

MB, Wafers,

Trying to figure out what to do after leaving the U.S. in June. Is there something like a Dual Process Ideas and Practices Exchange somewhere? A Wafer International?

I am wondering, if the collapse is near or already beginning, could (or should) the more practically inclined among us concern ourselves with developing the emerging culture?

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

This really speaks to me, and though it has been talked about here and elsewhere before, it is always worth a reminder:


Michael Harris' previous book "The End of Absence" is also good WAFer material.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Mark Notzon said...

One of the advantages of going "pomo" may be that it could allow one to go from ADHD to Alzheimer's with an adult stretch of Aporia in between--a"triple A-rated" state of the art style of life.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Cel-Ray Tonic said...

Frank: Where were you going again? I guess it would depend on what you like doing; do you want to learn how to sail and live on a boat? Learn how to farm? Build you own off-the-grid house?

11:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Jesus, will ya look at that face!


Many thanks for yr support. My disagreements with Illich were many...e.g., he really thought we shd shut down hospitals and schools, instead of trying to fix them. The worst of it was his arrogance: he was never "in dialogue." If you politely asked him a question that might throw an assertion of his into doubt, he just waved his hand and shook his head: I can't be bothered to engage with you, was the idea. Check out Jenny Diski's bk, "The Sixties," for her take on Illich as well.

As for pm: yes, a symptom of decline; which is why it has been most popular in the US, the vanguard of Western collapse. The French moved on from pm a long time ago; they have their culture to believe in (secular replacement for Catholicism). We have nothing to believe in, and pm essentially says, There *is* nothing to believe in (except our texts).


Here's another story from the trenches, relayed to me by a prominent journalist who was asked to address a class in journalism at a major West Coast university. Well, he and another prominent journalist. He asked me beforehand what I thought he shd talk abt; I said: "It really doesn't matter; the students will just be updating their Facebk profiles." Which is what happened. There were abt 100 students; they didn't pay attention to either speaker, just stared into their laptops and smartphones. During the other journalist's lecture, my friend looked down the row he was sitting in: a string of girls who were cruising a website selling expensive dresses. Later, talking to the prof, he (the prof) told the two of them that there was only 1 student in the class, out of the 100, who was seriously interested in learning anything.

These kids are our future! What future??!


12:03 PM  
Anonymous politically incorrect said...

Collapse of Complex Societies by Dr. Joseph Tainter

1:49 PM  
Blogger Edward Miessner said...

Hi mb,

I like these longer posts! I'm still reading Spengler, he seems to have predicted or presaged post-modernism--he wrote that all knowledge of any culture was based in that culture. That sounds like the sociological basis of knowledge that is advanced by postmodernists.

Anyway I have a couple of items for you and the rest to chew on.

man charged with groping a twenty-year old woman at a Market Basket supermarket in Somersworth NH; turns out he has had previous run-ins with the law:


Something Strange is Going on in Atlanta: narrator thinks something bizaare is happening in her hometown--the goings-on there DO seem to be QUITE postmodern...


2:02 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

How else was he supposed to light his cigarette?


7:10 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Excellent article on the class divide in the United States.

America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People


This article is spot on. You can easily see it if you travel enough in the United States. Outside of some affluent suburbs and certain gentrified big city neighborhoods the country looks like a wasteland. Vacant lots, dilapidated homes, shuttered businesses, malls that look like ghost towns. This is the reality for 80% of Americans. It amazes me that so many Americans still think they will hit it rich someday when social and economic mobility is actually lower now than in the past.

2:56 AM  
Anonymous Derek said...

MB and Wafers,

I agree wholeheartedly with MB's take on postmodernism. I studied English at university and the prevalence of postmodernism is one of the main things that convinced me not to pursue a master's degree or PhD in the subject. It's sad, really, but we barely even read anything in my English classes. Instead, we mostly talked about racism, feminism, and political correctness. If anyone out there wants to learn about literature, or just reading and writing in general, I would recommend studying a foreign language instead. I certainly learned more in my French classes than my English ones.

I also wanted to leave a quick film rec that may surprise some of you: The Devil Wears Prada. I think this is the first film I've seen that's both a Wafer film and a chick flick! (BTW, saying "chick flick" would have got me killed in one of my English classes). Anyways, the films follows Anne Hathaway as an ambitious young journalist who decides to take a job as the assistant to Meryl Streep, a famous editor at a fashion magazine similar to Vogue. She ends up so consumed by work and "hustling" that she loses touch with her friends and changes her whole personality. In the end, she has to decide what's more important: her luxurious new lifestyle or her family and friends. I say it's a Wafer film because she opts for the latter.


9:46 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

The pummeling in the air continues, this time on the appropriately named American Airlines which says “sorry”:


Meanwhile, Shaneka Monique Torres has at least another year to serve before she can again try for the bacon at McDonald’s:


And here in Cascadia, an attempted shoplift of beer and snacks at a 7-Eleven in downtown Seattle resulted in a shoot-out, one dead, several police wounded, and downtown shut down in the massive police response:


10:47 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Pls observe half-page-max rule in future. Thank you.

Note to a-

You can't check in with 'a'. That's not a real handle.

Meanwhile, the real Bernie emerges:



Not clear why AA didn't just club the woman to death. As for Shaneka: she's now sporting a nice smile, so perhaps prison has been an upbeat experience for her. The Seattle caper wd have been better served by a drone dropping a nuclear device. US law enforcement is so wimpy, really.


Gd, but Michael Harrington said much the same thing ca. 1960.


11:14 AM  
Blogger bp said...


I always enjoy your insight and clarity of expression - I would agree with much of your point of view - have always been bothered by the literalness of our "intelligentsia" - no grounding in the senses - have at times thought it might have been worthwhile spiking the drinking water with LSD, but....better to change oneself than to try to change the world

2:40 AM  
Anonymous B.Meethal said...


The Inspiration of Ample India

i lived in hyderabad growing up, such a beautiful place, even though swiftly modernizing.


9:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't post Anons. You need a real handle. Thank you.


11:09 AM  
Anonymous President Turkey said...



11:43 AM  
Anonymous Steven said...

I like this theory, it reminds me of your Seinfeld Theory~


11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wafers, MB,

Much recommended TV show that just came out on Netflix: 13 Reasons Why. A girl commits suicide in a US high school and leaves 13 tapes about 13 of her different classmates, that one way or another, led her to that decision. Great depiction of high school cruelty and American society.


1:14 PM  
Anonymous Denis said...

This has been predicted and discussed here for a long time......https://theintellectualist.co/study-mit-economist-u-s-regressed-third-world-nation-citizens/

3:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


A bit too long. Pls compress by abt 20% and re-send. Thanks.


It's gd that Americans are being punished; they deserve it. Problem is, punishment is a waste of time if the punishee has no idea what he did wrong. Meanwhile, as we sink into shitdom, here's what's considered sensible, cutting edge:


Turkeys on the move!


Meanwhile, Americans never really leave high schl. The patterns that get established there are then repeated for the rest of our lives.


6:12 PM  
Anonymous AS said...

MB -

"The Seattle caper wd have been better served by a drone dropping a nuclear device. US law enforcement is so wimpy, really."

Recently the Pentagon dropped "The Mother of All Bombs" on Afghanistan - supposedly the biggest non-nuclear bomb in USA's arsenal. Hopefully this was a test for its domestic application.

Many worthy candidates for the MOAB:

Tennessee man shot to death during road rage incident: http://wkrn.com/2017/04/21/man-killed-during-possible-road-rage-incident-near-nissan-stadium/

Florida man shoots stepson: "the suspect's wife and victim's mother... believes the two were arguing over a place to sit on the front porch." http://www.wftv.com/news/local/sanford-stepfather-shoots-son-following-argument-police-say/515210269

6:37 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Making room for God to take care of housing:


Maria Myers, 39, pours hot soup on her boyfriend:



ps: Do pomo scholars believe in the objective reality of scalding soup?

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of favorite anti-"culture of irony" links:

'David Foster Wallace was right: Irony is ruining our culture':

Ray Carney: 'The Culture of Irony: Mike Leigh's Challenge to Criticism':

8:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


1st, take a look at Maria Myers' face. Tell me this isn't the face of America, now and into the future.

2nd, I'm a little puzzled as to why she didn't dump the soup on Ben Carson, wh/wd have made a lot more sense, and certainly served America better than dumping it on her BF.

3rd, the relationship of pm to soup is a very impt question. Pomos regard soup as a text, so it's possible that no one, except for Ben Carson, can be seriously hurt by scalding soup. Ben does not regard soup, or God, as a text. However, if Wafers were to compose a letter to him, asserting that he was a douche bag, he wd probably regard the letter as a text.


9:01 PM  
Anonymous Diss-belief said...

Post-modern trans-national corp capitalist soft totalitarianism hasnt been soft on me either - men and women are disposable.

How can even people with kids tolerate so much tastelessness and injustice - the magnitude of creepy compartmentalized values and tasteless selective consciousness has always traumatically amazed? No redemption for such waste.

The people imposing these cultures are inhuman.

9:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Check it out:


On the other hand, here's a woman who really did something:



11:18 PM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

I have a question for anybody over 50 here - around what year did you realize America is a failed state? I think most younger people are not terribly shocked by what is going on. Trump's behavior is not all that different from many of the adult 'role models' of our childhood in the 90s. But I can't imagine growing up with Kennedy and still being alive now. I would have to just totally sedate myself to ward off depression.

Personally, I see a lot of young middle class people starting to manage their Boomer parents' affairs while still living at home. We are all becoming miniature Ivankas in a suicidal gerontocracy...

4:00 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

pummeling and pummeling and pummeling!:



5:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

And check this out (don't miss Hillary's face):


And here's a real turkey 4u:


I tell ya, it's all over but the shouting.


5:41 AM  
Anonymous Golf Pro said...

This is really, really good:


5:58 AM  
Anonymous John said...

More of the same from the boys in blue, this time they strike terror in the hearts of children....and as a cop says in the video, "We are just doing our job".....at least he's honest because one of their "jobs" is terrorizing people of color, whether they are innocent or guilty, young or old, rich or poor.


8:16 AM  
Anonymous Denis said...

A list of pointers towards a coming fascism....
Nothing that hasn't been discussed here for ages...It's on a display in a US Holocaust museum. The US won't escape catastrophe just as Nazi Germany did not. I only hope the killings stay inside US borders as they do not right now...A rogue state, a gangster state...

Powerful and continuing nationalism
Disdain for human rights
Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
Supremacy of the military
Rampant sexism
Controlled mass media
Obsession with national security
Religion and government intertwined
Corporate power protected
Labor [sic] power suppressed
Disdain for intellectuals & the arts
Obsession with crime & punishment
Rampant cronyism & corruption
Fraudulent elections

8:34 AM  
Blogger Mister Roboto said...

DioGenes: I'll turn fifty next week, and my realization that the USA was and is an irredeemable failure of a nation and a society crept in gradually between roughly my forty-seventh and forty-ninth birthdays. The events since the election have been a thick, buttery frosting on that particular cake. It has become so bad that there is now a part of me that wants the collapse to happen so that we can get it over with and get to whatever comes after that (for good or ill), which I guess officially makes me a declinist.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Baron Von Strangeknight said...

My wife recently returned from a business trip to Guadalajara. She commented that people were generally more civil and friendly that Americans. Why is that? Do you think it's the influence of Catholicism?

2:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Possibly, but in social terms, Americans are brain damaged. Or do a very good imitation of people who are. The whole culture is abt competition, nada mas.


2:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Terrific essay, thank you. Striking, how this anti-globalization pattern is spreading across the globe (Brexit, Trump, and now France), while the progs in all places want to blame it strictly on the nativism and xenophobia of the lower class. Oh, it cd never be that the elites who got rich from globalization might have done something wrong. The recent French election is a rejection of those elites, and their neoliberal program, as it was in the case of Trumpi. Paris and NY are for the rich, the hip, the politically correct. They get the $, and the rest get multiculturalism and p.c. shoved down their throats. "We may have done nothing for the poor, but we did appoint the first disabled lesbian parking commissioner." Bully for you.

Note how for that turkey David Brooks, "Bobo" was a term of endearment (nothing like flattering the upper class to get yrself a column on the NYT), whereas for the French, it's a slur (and rightly so).


4:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dispatches from a dying country:


4:57 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

American Dystopia Rising...


4:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


pummeling and pummeling and pummeling...


5:10 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Revonda Henderson, arrested for drunk driving in Spartanburg, SC. After refusing a breath sample, Revonda then pulled down her pants and pissed on the jail floor:



5:36 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

Here is at least one blade of grass forcing its way through the concrete .......

I've mentioned Rod Dreher before on this blog. As many of you may know, he has just published a book (#7 NYT best-seller) entitled "The Benedict Option." This is a conservative Christian version of MB's "New Monastic Option."

An article in the New Yorker reviews the book and also profiles the author (Dreher).

Dreher himself recently gave a lecture at the U. of Colorado on the subject, which many might find of interest.

Dreher has mentioned MB from time to time, and I suspect he may have used some of MB's writings as reference material for his new book. I plan to check it out from the local library as soon as it arrives, so I'll know for sure after I have read the book itself.

I have long thought it would be fascinating to get MB and Dreher in the same room (or at least on a teleconference podcast) to compare notes and bounce ideas off each other. Perhaps that could someday happen ....?

5:50 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Meanwhile, we are just now witnessing the political rise of America's next chief executive. Think of her as George W. Bush without the cocaine and draft dodging, but just as vacuous and dumb:

"Chelsea Clinton, most recently lionized on the cover of Variety, is a 37-year-old multi-millionaire who has never uttered an interesting word about any subject at any time during the course of her life. Judging from the evidence of her public statements, she has never had an original thought — it isn’t clear that she has had a thought at all. In tribute to her parents, she was given a series of lucrative sinecures, producing a smattering of sophomoric videos for NBC at a salary of $600,000 a year. She later went more formally into the family business, leaving her fake job at NBC for a fake job in her parents’ fake charity. She gave interviews about how she just couldn’t get interested in money and bought a $10 million Manhattan apartment that stretches for the better part of a city block."

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446973/chelsea-clinton-bill-clinton-hillary-clinton-democrats-vapid-creep

Dio--I'm 52, and it took a decade or so of repeated blows to my worldview until I finally conceded to reality back in 2009 when Obama got elected with a mandate for real change and gave us the same old shit, even as idiot progs cheered him on as the second coming.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Revonda? Where in hell do these names come from? "Feel the Von!" But then, a swollen bladder is a terrible thing to waste. Anyway, she's almost up there w/Brittany Carulli.


I'm curious as to where, exactly, Dreher mentioned me or my work. This is indeed a surprise. Let me know what u find. Personally, I'm amazed.


6:24 PM  
Anonymous Michael in Oceania said...

In re: "I'm curious as to where, exactly, Dreher mentioned me or my work."

In violation of the 24-hour rule (apologies!), here are some references from his blog:

Sorokin and the Twilight of the Sensate
Terrorism and This Religious Century
A Secularist Sees the Benedict Option

Dreher is definitely familiar with your work. When I get a copy of The Benedict Option, I will find out if you are in his bibliography. In any case (as I said) I would love to have you two on a podcast together sometime.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Nice that he cites my work, altho he never mentions the Twilight bk, wh/is kinda odd. And warning his readers off of WAF, based on the dishonest review in the NYT, didn't exactly make my day. But I wdn't rule out a dialogue, tho I suspect it wd be unlikely.


7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DioGenes ... I have to say that I had my suspicions that America was on its way out during the Reagan presidency, but I didn't really pay much attention to politics at the time. What really clinched it for me was the re-election of GW Bush. By 2004 there was already MORE than enough evidence that the Gulf War had been a con job. After his re-election, I decided that most of the population was either violent or stupid, or both, and where can you go from there?

10:12 PM  
Blogger comrade simba said...

The US is a depressing place for sure, at least it looks good close to home. I went to my son's Speech and Debate Honors Banquet tonight and got to see him looking real good with the cream of his class. His top award was first place in public forum debate. What else could one expect from a Wafer's child? Not only did he love TMWQ, he's passed it around his circle of friends. I'll probably (or maybe hopefully) never get it back.

The students were all in formal attire. My wife and I were dressed up too, and it was sad to see the bulk of the other parents looking like they were getting ready to mow the grass or something. Flip flops and ball caps. Sheesh.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Fish-trap said...

I swam against the sewage river for fifty years hoping to find a bypass to the suffocating filth only to arrive at a massive waterfall - birds described beyond that a toxic dam where elite drank bottled water lounging on yachts far from the fish washed out to die in the toxic sea. I hear the mountains laughing . . .

10:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Yes, a true Wafer's son. You shd be proud. Plus I'm hoping his friends run off Xerox copies of TMWQ, discuss it at great length, etc. As for the parents, they are American turkeys, as you know. Even 10 yrs of enforced therapy (24/7) in Northern Cal wdn't be able to straighten them out. They may even be beyond crowbar-and-KY therapy.


10:44 PM  
Anonymous Carl said...


10:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I can't tell you how sad I am, to receive this news. Pirsig was an icon for an entire generation. When the dust settled, it wasn't clear who had won the argument abt the Sophists: Plato, or Pirsig. But the bk was unnerving on a whole # of levels, esp. since he chose to take on all of Western philosophy. I used it as a text in a class I taught in Montreal in 1980, and it generated a tremendous amount of discussion.

Kind of eerie, I hafta add, that I would post an essay that began w/a ref to Pirsig and his book, and then have him leave the planet a few days later. Dunno what to say abt that. In his own countercultural way, he was a great man, and a profound thinker. A serious person, not hip-ironic-cool; definitely un-American. Published in 1974, "Zen" remains a classic to this day.


11:33 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Post pomo, one of the great prophetic films? https://youtu.be/uHi8vv0-6cE

11:52 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Vale Robert Pirsig
But with all your troubles, you lived to the ripe old age of 88.

I agree with you, MB.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a seminal work that relates to real life and is far removed form the closeted, career building world of academic philosophers. This of course is why it was ignored/dismissed by them.

Perhaps the title made the book sound trendy, but "Zen and the Art of Archery" is also a serious book. But if it reached a wider a wider audience, so much the better.
Better that standard philosophical titles like "The Problem of Knowledge" by A. J. Ayer, which as Mark Twain said about the "Book of Mormon", is like "chloroform in print"

I have read both "Zen" and his second book "Lila" several times and I will do it again, in honour of his memory.


12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What sad news for Pirsig. Zen is the only book I have in my library that I bought in hardback after already owning a paperback copy and the book really transformed me when I first read it.

On a lighter note, Emmanuel Macron's - for Wafers following French news he recently won the 1st round of French presidential elections and is set to be our next President in two weeks - party in France is called "En Marche!". Translated to English it means "Onwards!". They forgot to add "vers le gouffre!". Gosh, those progs have their heads so far up their asses it's depressing.

And thanks for the Jessa Crispin Guardian link MB. I ordered her book on Amazon. Maybe you should start a Wafer dating website? We could have Crispin, Fey & Shriver to begin with and they could hook us up with their Waferette friends?


5:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The fact is that neoliberalism has nowhere to go anymore; national leaders don't really know what to do, except to keep doing the same thing, and this won't work. This is true of May, Merkel, Rajoy, and Macron (assuming he defeats Le Pen), among others. No political figure can acquire or maintain power by declaring that 'growth' is a dead end, and that we now have to think about a different type of economy. Even if they were aware of Dual Process, they cannot endorse it w/o committing political suicide. In addition, political stability in the current system depends on growth, even tho the fruits of growth mostly go to the ruling class. As growth becomes increasingly difficult to maintain, political instability will increase.


6:21 AM  
Anonymous Dean said...

Yeah, the spin from the French elections is a joke. Sure, the two establishment parties got trounced; but Macron is a blatant Manchurian hack for the establishment agenda, stripped free of the burdens of their discredited political packaging. Yet, this naked manifestation of crony, corporatist, casino capitalism, military interventionism, and the globalist gentrification agenda will win going away.

You're right though, Dr.B. What difference would it make to elect a Sanders, a Corbyn, a Melanchon when nearly all humans can only mark progress and conceive of happiness within the context of material progress, or at least the prospect of it – no matter how faint that prospect realistically is or becomes for most.

Decentralization and degrowth is humanity's only chance to thrive and truly progress. A near extinction event looks to be the only chance humans would have to ever stumble in to that opportunity.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...


I’m over 70 and what sealed the deal for me was the oil shortage in the 1970’s. The country should have scaled way back on what we were doing, but instead of going more minimalist like, at the very least, downsizing our cars and houses, we started building them bigger. I thought, how dumb is this?

But I semi-lapsed until the final nail, Obama. I ignorantly thought he would be a change agent; however, I started having really serious doubts before the election, and then knew it was all over as soon as I saw his cabinet picks.

The U.S. population is just too stupid to realize that we have one political party with a difference in style not substance. My Repub friends had no problem with Bush The Lesser (some still believe that Saddam had WMDs but moved them out of country before our invasion), just as they’re not having a problem with Trump even though he'll obviously screw them. My Dem friends had no problem with Obama, even though if Bush had done the same stuff they’d have been screaming bloody murder. Americans have a bad case of terminal stupidity and deserve everything that’s coming to them. Unfortunately the good will perish with the ugly.

On another note, here’s an interesting story that was mostly ignored by the MSM:


10:23 AM  
Anonymous SrVidaBuena said...

Seen on the internet. Obama: ...because of money and politics, special interests dominate the debates in Washington in ways that don't match up with what the broad majority of Americans feel...

said the same day his $400K wall street speech was revealed.

I wouldn't be surprised to find that most of my post-modern philosophy colleagues from 25 years ago are 'progressives' today. Maybe it was Searle who quipped that ‘objective reality is that which exists independently of yours or my opinion about it’ - he also wrote a book I think called The Construction of Social Reality (not The Social Construction of Reality). Grad school social science was worse… once introduced to the pomo paradigm, they took the concept and ran. One person told me, without qualification, that reality was whatever they wanted it to be. I said, ‘so if I poke you in the hand with this fork it won’t hurt just because you decide it doesn’t?’ - no one wanted to put it to the test.

From elsewhere in the world of philosophy, I pause to note the passing of Hubert Dreyfus, whose work in philosophy of mind and Heidegger blew my undergraduate mind. Even now the techno-artificial intelligence crowd fails to grasp his critique.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous al Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

@ SrVidaBuena I once volunteered to test a guy's theory of subjective reality by punching him in the face, but he didn't take me up on it.

Some of the discussion here takes me back to something that occurred to me while I was in grad school in the early 1990s. During the first year, most of my colleagues chose which sect to join, meaning they decided to adhere to a certain school of criticism. That part made sense, given where we were, but the way with which they did so had a strong element of religiosity to it. To me, they seemed to have joined the cults of "Feminism" or "Deconstructionists", or they became little Bakhtininas or Barthites.

At the time I thought they were merely substituting Theory where the corpse of postmodern belief in God would have been in their lives, but maybe there's more to it than that.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Malcolm said...


Fascinating Mcluhan-like media study of the reading word...

2:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note to Bishop-

You need to be aware of blog etiquette. Ad hominem attacks on Wafers, name-calling etc., are off limits, and if you engage in them you can't be part of this discussion. Feel free to disagree with me or any other Wafer, but do it with elementary courtesy, and bring evidence (and/or superior logic) to the table as well. This will lead to productive discussions (ideally).

Of course, courtesy is not required when dealing w/trollfoons. In that case, I encourage you to unleash your full arsenal of shit: call them human garbage, pond scum, douche bags, turkeys, roaches, etc. This is what they are, after all, and we need to identify them as such. Feel free to direct your disgust at any trollfoon who shows up here; as far as I'm concerned, there are no limits to dissing these pieces of dreck.

We thank u4 yr understanding.


6:45 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

60 teenage girls brawling at a mall and just pummeling each other.

Our Grandmothers used to do this at that age...didn't they?


7:36 PM  
Anonymous Ram Gana said...

Nothing much to say, today. Haven't had access to the web for a few months. Been looking around the blog a bit to see what the general WAFer take is on the "Russia hacked the election" line (which I regard as nonsense - even Doyle Lonnigan understood it is bad form to call your opponent for cheating better than you). Haven't been able to find anything, though.

8:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Actually, the article uses the word 'pummeled', which I really appreciate, as you don't see it that often in news reports. These kids pummeled each other; the event served to pummel the US. Pummeling of the country is a daily event now, in one form or another. Every decision Trump makes is a pummel. I love it. But I keep wondering if pummeling has a so-called tipping point, the straw that broke the camel's back. In this scenario, a random event--e.g., attack of folks riding the BART in Oakland the other day, also by 60 kids--pushes the country into irrevocable chaos. Pummeling is then not a daily event; it occurs every hour. There aren't enuf police in the entire country to contain it, so the Army is called in. But then they get pummeled, so Trump orders drone strikes on hundreds of cities. Etc. You get the picture. I'm assuming this will happen; the question is, When?

Meanwhile, we need some new Wafer T-shirts. Any ideas? E.g.:



8:26 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Hola MB and Wafers,

Wafer T-Shirt ideas:




8:37 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

I thought this was interesting. Apparently Bill Gates didn't allow his children to have cell phones until they were 14 years old and also limited their screen time.


I find it interesting that these tech magnates push their gadgets on the masses while in private they raise and educate their children in a more traditional manner.
For example, some of the most prestigious schools in Silicon Valley are low-tech and teach creative learning.


I suspect that the elites know that heavy tech use is bad for you and especially bad for children, but in public they support more screens, more gadgets in the classroom and out of school, etc.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Manol said...

As I was watching this movie Concussion (2015) starring Will Smith and Alec Baldwin, I couldn't stop thinking about this blog.
The real story is even worse anyway.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm sorry, I just don't get the connection.


That really is remarkable (and revealing).


9:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Check these out:



9:30 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

It's heartwarming to know that modern America has become a place where a woman can now rise to positions of power in corporate America and be just as shitty to their employees as any white male:

"Then, of course, there's Thinx, the period-underwear company that had branded itself as hip, progressive, and outspokenly feminist. Like Amoruso, Miki Agrawal, Thinx's self-styled "She-E-O," has made a name for herself as an alternative feminist icon, an innovator lauded for her refreshing ability to break sexist taboos. But Thinx, too, was allegedly rife with bad labor practices—according to reports, it was plagued by a similar pattern of low pay, shoddy benefits, a woeful maternity leave policy, and a toxic work environment. Numerous current and former employees at the company told Racked that their vacation days had been abruptly cut and that their healthcare was prohibitively expensive; a week later, New York magazine reported that a former Thinx employee had filed a sexual harassment suit against Agrawal."


9:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Meanwhile, just think of Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Condi Rice (a war criminal), Hillary (the darling of Goldman Sachs), the ex-prime minister of South Korea (a crook), and on and on. Plus all of those women who broke the glass ceiling at corporations that exploit the working class and destroy the environment. Gosh, what progress identity politics has brought us! Real change, that.


10:08 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

I went to a neighbor's BBQ the other day and several people were talking about the wonder and magic that is "big data" and how the employment in that field is very promising and only going to go up and up. I brought up that only minor disruptions to the energy grid in the future would make fickle tech users less likely to record all of their purchases and preferences- and all that big data would be pretty useless without a realiable power grid. Of course the response was the usual, "yeah but....... technology" . Everyone is caught up with a new way to hustle.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

And don't forget Marissa Mayer, who, despite massive security breaches on her watch, is leaving Yahoo with a $186 million payout-


Perhaps she will donate some of the windfall to charity.

6:18 AM  
Blogger k_pgh said...

Happyish (2015) is a show that Wafers might really enjoy. I just discovered it a few days ago.

In order to avoid spoilers, I don’t want to say to much, but just wanted to add that when watching the first episode you shouldn’t discount the show based on the vulgarity or Thom’s seeming ignorance of the meaning(s) of happiness in the Declaration of Independence. The writers (and probably Thom) get it.

At any rate, this show might be particularly therapeutic for Wafers struggling to escape the United States.

Not surprisingly, American critics hated it, and the show was canceled after ten episodes, which is a real shame.

It’s available on Netflix and Amazon.

(Oh, you might also get kicks out of the instances of extreme 2015 satire turning into 2017 reality.)

8:50 AM  
Anonymous J.J. said...

Eating Hillary's Brain...: Or, how a courageous, astute, kind and driven statesman acquired a taste for conscience-challenged hyper-capitalist basal ganglia & amygdala


9:06 AM  
Blogger Gigalax said...

"I suspect that the elites know that heavy tech use is bad for you and especially bad for children, but in public they support more screens, more gadgets in the classroom and out of school, etc. "

Not surprising to me. The American elite often have relatively more sense than the general American population. They are, however, as two-faced as any other American.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous J.J. said...


apologies for breaking 24hr rules.
didn't share the web address

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

More good talk here:


"But in actual fact, Americans are the least exceptional people in human history. Americans have no rights at all. We hapless insignificant beings have to accept whatever capitalists and their puppet government impose on us. And we are so stupid we call it “Freedom and Democracy America.”"

and if WAFers haven't seen "Command and Control" yet, jeeeezus!


12:34 PM  
Anonymous P Slown said...


America is already great: "I have to beg, plead, and borrow just to survive each month. . . The family lives in constant fear."

12:38 PM  
Anonymous Peez said...

"Republicans have quietly added an exemption into the new ObamaCare replacement bill that protects members of Congress from losing essential health benefits like prescription drug coverage if states decide to repeal them."

for the people, eh?

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Mike Kelly said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Re: T-shirts:



1:34 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Some anecdotal observations, in Paris currently--- (preaching to the WAFER choir).

french children actually play, read real books, eat real food slowly and enjoy their mates,go to real bookstores, no/very little phone diddling, play real (non video/palm starring) games, ride scooters, remote control cars, etc....We were in a very small kabab restaurant---One french boy politely excused himself from his friends, went to the back where we were eating, and in a quiet respectful tone on a phone told his mamon that he would be home late and that he loved her. He then put it away--and went back to a robust discussion over the upcoming exams and what to bring home for supper.

The american and to a lesser extent British kids--very loud screams, demonic sounds, and lots of starring at irradiating devices, rude, and slovenly dressed. Very little if any physical activity or discussion about anything other than where's the toilet, can we get a burgah, and whadda we doin' next...

1:58 PM  
Anonymous No-pedestal-movement said...

Schopenhauer has a good essay on women. Goodness is tricky truth is fragile beauty is easiest. Men want beauty and sex women usually want status, protection, resources for babies (their sex). Women love chatting about relationship dynamics and tend to be shallow, self-involved, anti-intellectual, manipulative, materialistic, poor taste in art, very in the present and morally unreliable - their ruthlessness in divorce courts speaks volumes about love and racquets. And woman tend not to be funny or fun over-time although the really charming ones can be a pleasure they never cared about my loneliness. Men are no prize either.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Grille said...

American Duce
According to Robert O. Paxton the U.S. may well be one "terrorist act within the United States" away from "impos[ing] martial law and stop[ping] the functioning of the democratic institutions in this country." A renowned fascist researcher late-blooming into a declinist?


3:27 PM  
Anonymous A Shiny Guy said...

@ SrVidaBuena

re: death of Hubert Dreyfus


His work "All Things Shining" is a pedagogic look into the Good Life

4:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Not exactly what I wd call a balanced evaluation.


5:26 PM  
Anonymous SrVidaBuena said...

@al Qa'bong - reminds me of Ed Abbey: "​To refute the solipsist or the metaphysical idealist all that you have to do is take him out and throw a rock at his head: if he ducks he's a liar."

@shiny guy - I thoroughly enjoyed All Things Shining. There was a good movie called Being in the World around the same time which I'm sure intersects with the themes discussed here. Maybe it's been recommended before...

5:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Here's a shock:


6:21 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

Don't forget Elizabeth Holmes, CEO of the Theranos fraud. She had to be aware of the deception that is being uncovered, and the question now is whether she will be charged. Her father is apparently very well-connected, as shown by the members of her Board of Directors over the past few years, which included three former Cabinet members (Henry Kissinger, George Schulz, and William Perry), two former senators (Sam Nunn and Bill Frist), and the current Secretary of Defense, James Mattis. As of right now, all of these people have jumped ship. I wonder why? :D

Yahoo Finance: Theranos Secretly Bought Outside Lab Gear, Ran Fake Tests: Court Filings

Theranos Inc. misled company directors about its laboratory-testing practices, used a shell company to “secretly” buy commercial-lab equipment, and improperly created rosy financial projections for investors, according to allegations in newly unsealed court filings in a suit by one of its investors.

The Silicon Valley company—which once promised to revolutionize the blood-testing industry using tiny samples from finger pricks—also ran “fake ‘demonstrations tests’ for prospective investors and business partners” using commercial devices while pretending to showcase its own technology, according to the filings.

The accusations are based in large part on testimony from 22 former Theranos employees or directors who were deposed by lawyers for Partner Fund Management LP, a hedge fund suing Theranos. The filings contain some of the first substantive details to emerge from several court proceedings against the company, though they include only short excerpts from the depositions.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Birney/Savant--yep, Ms. Mayer and Ms. Holmes are two shining examples of the real benefits of diversity. Susan B. Anthony is no doubt looking down on them with a beaming smile for how well they have validated her life's work. Note also how Holmes's backers were a bipartisan bunch. As I've always said, it's when the two parties agree on something that you should tightly grab hold of your wallet.

MB -- Hillary's incompetence is just the gift that keeps on giving for douchebag Obama. Not only did her losing to the biggest buffoon ever to run for president completely torpedo his "legacy," but the clumsy and obvious way she pocketed Wall Street cash with both fists is going to make it much tougher for him to collect his tens of millions in legal bribery payments for a job well done. It's so funny watching idiot progs just now finally having the same moment with him that conservatives finally did with George W. Bush. I just want to ask: why are you so surprised, assholes? This is who he has ALWAYS been.

10:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


That the progs can't see Hill and Bam for what they are continues to amaze me. These 2 jokers are 'the left'? While collecting huge checks from Goldman Sachs and promoting the neoliberal agenda? Many yrs ago, Gore Vidal said that US politics consisted of 1 political party w/2 rt wings.


10:58 PM  
Blogger bp said...


you may find this article of interest


, though, you may take issue with much of it - it seems to have a minor relation to your Re-enchantment thoughts - I have yet to read your trilogy but, do intend to get them when I get back to the US - I will be curious to see if you address "intuition" as a link to re-enchantment

10:59 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I don't deal w/monasticism in the Reenchantment bk, but in the Twilight bk. Oddly enuf, when the latter bk came out (2000), the New Yorker didn't do an essay about it. Gee...


12:48 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

@Mike R

Post-Brexit, we are going to increasingly see a differentiation. "English" vs. "European", with "American" as some kind of insane stepchild of "English".

The English language is so linear... it's almost impossible for the modern English speaker to go beyond the limitations it imposes and see any situation as a whole. Maybe the interlinked structure of the web will get us thinking in wholes again, force us out of this narrow English perspective.

If you want to get a real sense of how unnecessarily miserable Anglo culture has become, compare Trump to Silvio...


The two are obviously cut from the exact same cloth. And yet, Silvio manages to still retain some joie de vivre that Trump could never hope to reclaim.

Trump manages to be *miserable* even having everything he ever wanted. We have a ruling class that doesn't even enjoy any of the benefits of their rule.

Oh, to be governed by a leisure loving baroque decadent instead of a mad Anglo obsessed with showing everybody how hard they are working.

3:35 AM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...


@al Qa'bong - reminds me of Ed Abbey: "To refute the solipsist or the metaphysical idealist all that you have to do is take him out and throw a rock at his head: if he ducks he's a liar."

This statement by Abbey reflects profound ignorance of the nature of reality.


You didn’t to mention my all time favorite “female” war criminal: Madeleine Albright.

Paul was stationed at Loring AFB in Maine during the Viet Nam war. Loring was decommissioned in 1994 and was deserted. Now it’s home to loads of military equipment. A repair station for tanks and Humvees? Yeah, right. Also, we used to frequently drive by an Army Reserve camp that was always deserted. We drove by the other day for the first time in years and, again, it is home to loads of military equipment. Gee, ya think our government is preparing for something?

6:43 AM  
Blogger Marc L Bernstein said...

Honorary WAFer Paul Craig Roberts demonstrates that real learning can occur well past the age of seventy. Roberts has learned from economists Herman Daly and Michael Hudson among others. The former self-described libertarian is now an eclectic radical with quite a bit of insight. He seems to be well aware now that capitalism itself is inimical to life.

Th following article shows the scope of Roberts' current understanding :


Zoologist David Suzuki has referred to classical economics as causing "a form of brain damage". Well, Roberts has managed to avoid the brain damage associated with being a classically trained economist.

He writes:

"Environmental deregulation means that capitalists can treat the environment as a garbage dump. The planet can become so toxic that it cannot recover."

He concludes :

"But in actual fact, Americans are the least exceptional people in human history. Americans have no rights at all. We hapless insignificant beings have to accept whatever capitalists and their puppet government impose on us."

7:15 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Nature or nurture: is douchebaggery genetic?

To the bill of particulars indicting capitalism, this new report on an older story. The French drugs company Sanofi has now sued the American drugs company Mylan, contending that Mylan offered rebates to insurance companies and Medicaid agencies if they would refuse claims for reimbursement for the French product Auvi-Q, an epinephrine injector that would compete with Mylan's EpiPen.

When the drug injector was acquired in 2007 by Mylan, the EpiPen cost about $56--the drug in the injector cost $1 to produce--but the price has risen some 400 percent since that time under the guidance of Heather Bresch, daughter of West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin. Mylan's EpiPen holds 99 percent of the market. Evidence that douchbaggery could be genetic is offered by the fact that Heather's mother Gayle worked to ensure that the EpiPen was available in schools across the country when she was in charge of the National Association of State Boards of Education.

But for the fact that epinephrine is a vitally important substance in treating anaphylactic shock, we might wish a pox on both their houses.


11:20 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

Marc Bernstein,

Glad you posted. It is rare for people to truly change their minds. Its as Keynes famously asked---when the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do? The inability to admit one was mistaken or more crucially that one was wedded to a particular world view/philosophy no longer supported by reality is a source of myriad problems personal, social and political. Many of us go to great lengths to defend our adherence to a particular perspective and in fact this forms the basis of identity personal and professional. No doubt this adds credence to the old saw that science progresses one funeral at a time. Interestingly, I had a wake up call and realization the other day both useful in my working with troubled people and illustrative that new insights from what are deemed unconventional sources are immensely valuable It did not come from the usual sources of other shrinks or scientists but from a precocious derivatives trader. Worth a read: http://nautil.us/issue/47/consciousness/why-poverty-is-like-a-disease

1:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Very impt essay, thank you. A gd debunking of the American Dream, an illusion based on the myths of meritocracy and 'land of opportunity', Horatio Alger bullshit and so on. But also, his discn of epigenesis is very significant, and one I have dealt with a few times on this blog in the past. In a word, Lamarck was not entirely wrong: some acquired characteristics do get inherited, and this pokes a major hole in the scientific dogma of the Weismann barrier and the supposed strict separation between soma and germ plasm. Which means change is possible; you've just gotta know where to look.


1:56 PM  
Anonymous futility_grabs_back said...

I had an interesting conversation with another art instructor at the community college today and we were both baffled by how few original or creative ideas our students were generating. We can't figure out how they have so little to talk about or create artwork about... I know this will come as no surprise to most of you but do you have any recommended reading on this creative vacuum? Is this a generational thing? The number of trite cliches we have to navigate through with students is getting overwhelming at the moment (finals). This is the same group that asked me if instagram counted as reading earlier this semester.

My friend and I were chatting the other day about all these dumb marches (aka selfie stages or group therapy). He said it "empowers" people. How so? Don't you need to have some power to change things to feel empowered? We drove by a bunch of pretentious sign wavers who were convinced that waving a clever pun in the wind would magically make a difference. How delusional are people?

Also - whomever recommended "Happyish" on Netflix - that's some damn fine dark comedy.

Declinists unite!

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Chaz Hōmz said...

One thing we can do as Wafers is to redefine the term “PC” to mean polite conversation—nothing wrong with that. A little diplomacy goes a long way towards smoothing the social-harshness left over from the election season. One example:

Rather than calling someone “shithead” or “stupid”, you could say (in your snarkiest English accent), “I have completed a swift estimation of your intellectual capacities and have found them to be wholly insufficient to warrant further examination”.

That would sure blow me away — to making me feel less like a fuckup, and more like someone who can proudly say “I’m not really stupid, you know, I’ve graduated to the status of ‘intellectually insufficient’”.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


There can be no creativity w/o the capacity for silence, meditation, being alone. This generation never knew a world w/o cell phones and techno-crap; they have no capacity for silence and aloneness. In terms of rdg, check out some searches on Amazon. I can't recall exact titles, but I have run across a few in the last 2-3 yrs, on this theme. For example, an old favorite of mine is Karlfried Duerckheim, "The Japanese Cult of Tranquility." Another, much more recent, is Thich Nhat Hanh, "Silence." But there are a # of others around as well.


Cdn't run it. We have a half-page-max rule on this blog. Pls compress by 1/3, re-send. Thank you.


6:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


There is currently a lot in the news abt what a disaster Trumpo's 1st 100 days have been. None of the things he tried to legislate have occurred; his foreign policy seems to be contradictory and ad hoc; he has plunged the nation into chaos; the working class he promised to help is no better off; etc. Of course, from the viewpt of the need for the US to collapse in a shower of shit, most of this is gd. But I confess, I remain deeply dissatisfied, because I was pretty sure he was going to polish off what is left of our civil liberties. But no: Jews and Muslims freely walk the streets, w/o having to wear yellow stars. Nor have they been sent to detention camps in Idaho. Plus, non-Christian non-white people also roam free, endangering our nation. Here I thought we were headed for a massive fascist crackdown, and--nothing. So much for an authoritarian president. He is starting to look like a confused wimp. Boo.


6:55 PM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Mike Burgess said:

Dr. Berman and Wafers:

Paul Craig Roberts sounds like he has reached the end of his hope that Europeans, Americans or the Left anywhere are going to protest against the heightening venom against Russia and China, beyond the nonsense about Syria, Iran and North Korea being some version of the 'Axis of Evil' - our government and people really are convinced we are 'good'. I love how PCR ends his tirade, "And there are no protests. The idiot British, the idiot Germans, the idiot French, Italians, Canadians, Australians, Belgians, Greeks, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, rally behind the insanity that is Washington.

And so apparently do the American people, a population stupid beyond all belief."


7:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Michael B.-

Well, this is part of the chaos and self-destruction that will seriously contribute to the collapse of the nation, if it doesn't trigger a nuclear war first. And regarding any type of war, it's no great difficulty to get the American public worked up into a lather, a frenzied war fever; it makes them feel gd. The avg American is abt as smart as a bag of hammers. Gullible douche bags, w/nothing in their heads but Velveeta processed cheese. To quote Gore Vidal, "Stupidity excites me."


7:27 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

This just in from CNN:

The Trump administration has just named Morris Berman to be Minister of Absolute Destruction (MAD). Berman said he is "practically giddy" and "very much looking forward to advancing American socioeconomic collapse." President Trump said he selected Berman to head AD out of "frustration" and because "quite frankly, I have no idea what the fuck I'm doing." The president also added that "we need a real revolutionary, and that's what Morris Berman brings to the table."

8:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I was indeed honored, altho clearly this is long overdue. When Trumpi asked me who Wafers were, exactly, I told him, "Happy Declinists." He seemed to like the idea. Anyway, gotta run...I've got to check on a factory in Alabama that's busy manufacturing yellow star badges.


8:26 PM  
Anonymous amateur-economist said...

Michael Hudson, Martin Armstrong, Steve Keen, talk about debt deflation (compound interest) or vast interest bearing debt that is allowing governments to be parasited and compromised by a debt management financing industry that starves real industry and production in order to service the interest bearing debt (e.g. G. Sachs, hedge funds, etc). The financializing that debt servicing demands - also demands that the tax burden and austerity be on industry and labor resulting in leveraged buy-outs of sovereign nations like Greece etc. Inadequately taxed rent seeking privatized assets are consuming too much revenue from production and public infrastructure. The on-going debt crisis seeks more and more revenue from borrowers and market manipulation which is why Greenspan allowed housing to be price inflated as a managed market.

Historically vast debt coupled with wealth inequality is the main reason for civil unrest and that current debt-wealth-inequality paradigm has been institutionalized globally. The debt based free lunch off of debt based interest has infected the world demanding more credit the lenders end up paying mostly to their debt management services which causes a collapse of empire's satellite states first. Hudson and Keen advocate a debt jubilee and restructuring.

Regardless of my likely in-accurate description - it's an increasingly unforgiving predatory capitalism system out there for making changes.
Hudson (Junk Economics): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6y35aO_fpU
Armstrong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARBduyoXsP4

9:20 PM  
Blogger Gigalax said...

"But I confess, I remain deeply dissatisfied, because I was pretty sure he was going to polish off what is left of our civil liberties."

I don't think overt top-down totalitarianism will come to America. Totalitarianism in America is and always has been a bottom-up phenomenon. I think that Americans will continue to surrender more and more of their real freedom to corporations, all while maintaining the illusion of a free society "on paper."

"if it doesn't trigger a nuclear war first."

If China and Russia truly have their eyes on "the long game," then I do not think that a nuclear conflict will occur.

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Mo said...

great article http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2017/04/yuval-harari-people-have-limited-knowledge-whats-the-remedy-nobody-knows.html

11:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


All it will take for imposition of martial law is one more major terrorist attack, and that is not terribly unlikely. As for nuclear war, that's anybody's guess (yours included).


2:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Heartbreaking news:


2:50 AM  
Anonymous TJ said...

Seventy years after it was first published, reading Camus’s novel can feel “like watching the ten o’clock news”


6:12 AM  
Anonymous cubeangel said...

Dr. B

I enjoyed the essay as well and I do appreciate the fact that he cites and lists his sources. A lot of authors do not do that.

Our society values competition as a virtue. The idea of competition entails winners and losers. For every person who wins, others have to lose. If the idea of competition entails winners and losers then not every person will "be the self-made, inspirational individual transcending his or her circumstances by sweat and hard work as it is stated in the article posted "Why Poverty Is Like a Disease" by Christian H. Cooper. American ideals and ideas are logically inconsistent. A person with a half a brain should be able to see this, right?

9:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Note specific use of word 'douchebag' here, in reference to politicians. It's a start, on the long march toward Waferdom. Now we just need to extend the label to the rest of the population:



11:22 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"One Does Not Hate When One Can Despise," by Derrick Jensen.

“Culture of cruelty,” by Henry Giroux. Conversation with Chauncey DeVega (starts @ 25:00).

"Government of the imbeciles, for the imbeciles and by the imbeciles," by Socrates.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Dean said...

If your head is spinning from all of Trump's complete reversals from the positions he campaigned on, time to get out the Dramamine again. Now, it looks like multi-lateral trade deals aren't so bad after all:


You don't have to be an America Firster or even an anti-globalist to realize what a catastrophe TTIP is. They might as well call it "The Imposition of the New Global Neo-Feudal Order." Of course, progs/post-modern libs will take this in stride. I guess their logic is that once individual and national sovereignty is completely usurped and power/authority is ultimately centralized, those wielding that ultimate power/authority will "break benevolent" and we'll have that utopian one world government that will see rivers flowing with chocolate and such.

Meanwhile, no signs that the right-populists who elected Trump are fazed at all by his total 1 80. No doubt still mesmerized by the clearly empty populist rhetoric he espouses at his hollow round table meetings and executive order signings. Still salivating at the prospect of "That Fucking Wall" too.

For the love of god, Putin. Nuke US now. I beg of you.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...

Dear MB, Wafers,
Thanks for posting Juliet's article on pm. Learned quite a bit from it- although I am not convinced that Foucault and other post modernists intended their theoretical positions to be fueling today's white nationalist revival. Maybe that's called the law of unintended consequences.
I think that industrialization and consumerism, have been hollowing out mankind for over 200 years and the present moments realities- globalization, technology and global banking- are accelerating the job by completely hallowing out the power of government, statesmen and protestors alike. Capitalism has been the engine that made greed look rational, Christian and classy- which is one reason why we have the members of the White House we have today. Trump is disappointing because he defers to the same global forces that crippled Obama's lofty aspirations. He can't even completely please the white nationalists that put him in power. And I am not talking about the courts opposing him on every turn- that's democracy's last and only hope - but his own global commercial interests. His name TRUMP is a brand he can't afford to tarnish with NAZISM. And his daughters' $1 /hr China factory workers wages obey to the higher power of profits. That's why Ivanka and her hubby are in and Bannon is out. But at least we have the satisfaction of seeing a disappointed alt right wing movement implode as they look for other violent methods to recruit more nihilists into their ranks. (Technology is fueling hate at unprecedented rates!) maybe that's called Murphy's Law. Don't give up hope!



2:02 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Just how much more idiotic can this country get?


3:25 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Guy leaves loaded gun on nightstand, his 2-year old finds it and shoots himself dead.


"So to say that I was just an idiot with a gun is not entirely correct. I'm just your average American, and this happened to me so this can happen to anybody."

5:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Why don't people listen to me? Over and over, I say that the nation is brain damaged. It's hardly the case that this argument lacks for evidence.


I don't think the author was claiming that Foucault et al. intended their ideas to fuel white nationalism decades down the road. That may have happened, but it was hardly intentional, and I don't believe the author was claiming that. Unintended consequences is obviously a very different thing.

Also, I don't think Obama had any lofty aspirations, beyond vague notions of 'Hope' and 'Change', wh/were meaningless. He just wanted to be president; he had no vision at all (beyond the tired notion of American exceptionalism). He was hardly 'crippled', in short; rather, he was given an imperial, neoliberal agenda and just went along with it. He was, and remains, an empty person.


5:29 PM  
Anonymous Deadthoreau said...

Something every Wafer knows, we don't need no poll!

"Are tens of millions of Americans really this stupid? If the findings from a new ABC News poll are any indication, then the answer is yes:

'There’s no honeymoon for Donald Trump in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll but also no regrets: He approaches his 100th day in office with the lowest approval rating at this point of any other president in polls since 1945 — yet 96 percent of those who supported him in November say they’d do so again today. . . .'

Among those who report having voted for [Trump] in November, 96 percent today say it was the right thing to do; a mere 2 percent regret it. And if a rerun of the election were held today, the poll indicates even the possibility of a Trump victory in the popular vote among 2016 voters.

This is despite all the lies Donald Trump has told and all the campaign promises he has betrayed: He has not “drained the swamp” of lobbyists and corporate fat cats, has not built his “huge” and “amazing” wall along the Mexican-American border, has not returned jobs to the United States and has not repealed the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, as of Day 100 of his presidency Trump has fulfilled few of his main campaign promises."


7:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Never fear: apparently, the progs are on the march!:


A golden era! I'm so excited.


8:58 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Juliet: look no further than the fact that Obama took as much money to give one speech--to a Wall Street conference on health care no less--as he made in one year as president as all the evidence you need of his total craven perfidy. I had to laugh cynically when I saw the "joke" made by douchebag Trevor Noah on the Daily Show where he said that Obama is now cashing in "like every other president." That's a feckless prog talking head trying to normalize Obama's behavior when there is only one president (and his wife) who went out and immediately started grabbing every Wall Street a big corporate dollar he could once he left office. Reagan & Bush Sr. earned honorarium, but only at a small fraction of Bill & Hill. Bush Jr. was too unpopular to cash in, and then there was Carter, who made peace missions and building Habitat for Humanity houses his primary post presidency careers.

The only thing that's ever been "lofty" about Obama's aspirations is seeing just how high he can jack up his bank account balance now that he is free from having to pretend to give a shit.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

This is gd:


As James Baldwin put it, Americans were “afflicted by the world’s highest standard of living and what is probably the world’s most bewilderingly empty way of life.”


10:20 PM  
Anonymous Sundriedtomato said...


Speaking from my own personal experience, the people who are most creative are usually shunned by society. Many great artists live their lives as recluses and social outcasts. As society collapses, not only does an impoverished underclass swell in size, but the number of social misfits increases also. I wonder how many guys like me there are in America living lives as virtual recluses only sharing some art on the web.

Creative people are often bullied and so for most, especially so in my case, the idea of any further schooling is unthinkable! So I figure the more creative people just live there own lonely lives and avoid college all together.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


You might wanna read the chapter in the Twilight bk on the Monastic Option. Might help. Anyway, you have like-minded souls on this blog.


12:23 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Turkey bulletin:


7:12 AM  
Anonymous Natalie Pelletier said...

Why Doesn’t Ancient Fiction Talk About Feelings?
Literature’s evolution has reflected and spurred the growing complexity of society.


Excellent piece on Kinsey and the genesis of the science of sexuality

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Martin Amayor said...

***Visiting in London, we saw the author give a talk last night w/ a lively Q&A


***The Art of Losing Control: A Philosopher's Search for Ecstatic Experience Paperback – April 25, 2017

9:08 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Maybe take a look at "Coming to Our Senses" for a discussion of ascent experience.


10:56 AM  
Anonymous Rorschach said...

Hey Morris, I've lurked your blog for years and commented a few times. I'm 23 years old, emigrated to Vietnam in January, and your writings largely influenced this decision. In the United States, the family unit is breaking apart, drug use is through the roof (a colleague of mine died of a heroin overdose last summer) and people are despairing and drowning in debt.

In one of your speeches on YouTube (the UBC one), you mentioned how much better your life is now that you've emigrated, and my experience is currently mirroring yours. My life is very quiet, peaceful, and I'm in a great creative space. Just writing this as a thank you. Keep putting forth valuable content.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Vietnam is a wonderful place; so much superior to the US. I had a great time in Hanoi a few years ago, and look forward to seeing the south next time I go. The entire ambience is 180 degrees away from the American one. I walked around town w/a friend of mine, a VN vet, and everyone knew him--clustered in groups on street corners, they would chant 'singtao' as we walked by. I remember reading, yrs ago, how VN peasants typically wrote poetry, whereas American soldiers didn't even know what poetry was. All of our technology cdn't defeat the spiritual strength of these people, despite the fact that we murdered 3 million and tortured tens of thousands. So congratulations on your move, and I hope you have a long and happy life in the land that defeated the US on the battlefield, and in the minds and hearts of people everywhere.

My experience in Mexico continues to be a daily pleasure. I just yesterday got an email from a fellow-gringo down here who wrote: "It always fascinates me that what many people here consider completely ordinary (grade school kids playing in the plaza) is so special for me." He's rt: you see these kids playing football (soccer) using bottlecaps(!), and enjoying themselves w/great glee. Compare this to the misery and hatred of typical American kids, and you see the difference between lifejoy and living death.


12:20 PM  
Anonymous Suzanne said...


A fascinating book written in the 1970s by Julian Jaynes (The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind) puts forth the theory that prior to around 1000 BC, humans had no feelings because they had no EGO as yet. Jaynes' theory is that the stresses of the breakdown of Bronze Age society combined with the introduction of the phonetic alphabet caused a lateral shift in brain functioning that resulted in the formation of what he calls the "analog I" or self consciousness.

Another interesting book which details changes in human self-perception due to changes in communication media is Leonard Shlain's The Alphabet and the Goddess (written by a total amateur, but supported with many historical examples; he basically sees the introduction of the phonetic alphabet - especially in print form - favoring left-brain (male)dominance).

It could well be that the chaos we are seeing around us recently is in large part due to the shift away from print to electronic media (see McLuhan's Understanding Media).

2:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Cdn't run it; too long. I also need to ask you to break up your messages into paragraphs; I find it very difficult to read a solid, run-on block. I'm getting senile, and don't have the concentration for that format any more. Thank you.


3:02 PM  
Anonymous Marianne said...

Rorschach and Morris,

Both your recent posts brought me back...to our trip to Vietnam the year of the tsunami when we traveled to Thailand for my son's village wedding. After the ceremony we flew to Vietnam and what your pieces reminded me of were the gentle people and the strong sadness I felt remembering what we had done to them during the war. I think we dropped more bombs on Cambodia than we did during all of WW11. I especially remember the deep compassion, concern and care I felt from so many as we waited to hear from our son who went through the tsunami. It was a 24 hour wait before we heard from John. I'll never forget the people.

The other memory you both stirred up in me was watching all the kids play after dark on a trip to Portugal. No parents around just the kids of all ages. Watching them walk home together after playing felt so fresh and natural, so unlike how it is in the US where kids don't play in the streets or even their front yards anymore for fear they'll get kidnapped or worse.

Wishing you all the best, Rorschach!


7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time for a preemptive strike against the UN:


7:48 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Trump just said..."I thought it would be easier"

This means he is oblivious and even dumber than we all originally thought.


8:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


He's a turkey, and if we are talking abt bringing the American empire to its logical conclusion, he's surely the man for the job. The late Roman emperors didn't have a clue either. My only problem is that for a guy who swaggers around, waving his dick, he proved to be a wimp. I was expecting by now that he wd be rounding up undesirables in detention camps, and nuking places like Paris or Toronto. None of that has happened. I'm sorry, but I just don't get it. Instead of nuking Kim Jong-un and that absurd haircut, he just postures. This is poop.


8:59 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Suspects instead of students? A new report by the Washington chapter of the ACLU calls attention to the increased spending by school districts in the state on cops in schools. In Spokane, the school district spends $1 million annually. In Kent, a suburb south of Seattle, the district spends half a million. This brings to mind Foucault’s 1977 quote, “Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?”


9:51 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In terms of fascism, these are hopeful signs; one wishes Trumpo would get more directly involved. In any case, fascism usually proceeds by steps. The presence of cops is a 1st step. 2nd step wd be arresting the students for any perceived infraction--including things such as wrong attitudes, spitballs, nose picking, etc. Step 3: instead of arresting them for infractions, beating the shit outta them. Step 4: gunning them down like dogs. Step 5: drones drop nukes on various school districts. We have much to look forward to.


10:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Despite its terrible political problems, it can be said that Turkey has a real culture, whereas American culture is most correctly spelled 'culture', being little more than a joke (the real collection of turkeys is in the US, not Turkey). Here's an excerpt from an email I recently received from a Turkish writer friend, who just published a new bk (in Turkish). It's a novel, a serious one, the kind that wdn't get published in America and wd just fall thru the cracks, because it wdn't sell in the US:

"I have just returned from the book fair in Izmir. It was absolutely fantastic on all levels. The new publisher there feted me, and spared no efforts to get the word out on the book. I gave something like 9 interviews, did a radio show, was invited to a book club where everyone not only had read the book, but came prepared to talk about it. I was amazed by their careful and incisive reads. During book signings,
people came up to shake my hand in tears, thanking me. I couldn't believe ANY of it.I had some school tours where the entire high school was in the auditorium and many of them had read it--asked great questions."

Note that bk clubs in Turkey are real intellectual gatherings, not just social ones--"careful and incisive reads." High schl students had read the bk and asked great questions. Can you imagine such audiences in the US? American students, little more than techno-buffoons, wd be sitting there checking their Facebk profiles, and texting on their smartphones. Who are the real turkeys, I ask you?


7:22 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

As I continue to report, I am now a substitute teacher mostly in high schools and I can still count on one hand how many students took the opportunity of not having their teacher for a day to read a book, magazine, anything! All they do is play with their phones and their only interaction with me is to ask if I have a charger. Or to put it another way, American high school students aren't worth the paper they're printed on.
Anyway, I noticed that your nemesis,Michiko Kakutani, wrote a review of Zelda Fitzgerald's only book, Save Me the Waltz, stating: That the novel was written in two months is amazing.That for all its flaws it still manages to charm, amuse, and move the reader is even more remarkable." Yeah, like this sentence: "She had a strong sense of her own insignificance; or her life's slipping by while june bugs covered the moist fruit in the fig trees with the motionless activity of clustering flies upon an open sore." Hell, Scott himself called her nothing more than a "talented amateur" and "a third rate writer" yet Kakutani remains deeply impressed.
Feminists have recently latched onto Zelda saying that she was the real talent in the family but was so abused by Scott that she could never reach her true potential. Amazon is about to do a 10 installment TV series and there will soon be a movie about her starring Scarlet Johansson and directed by Ron Howard. Why do I think if you had been a woman that Kakutani would have deeply praised Dark Ages America? I love what Ring Lardner said who knew them: "Mr.Fitzgerald is a novelist and Mrs.Fitzgerald is a novelty."

8:02 AM  
Anonymous Antilucis said...

Back to the PoMo article and perspectivism/self-refutation. I am surprised that so many seem to find the self-refutation argument compelling. In his book *Nietzsche's Perspectives*, E. E. Sleinis utterly demolishes it. So do many others.

First, the accusation of self-refutation fails to consider that human language does not deal well with meta-statements. In other words, it is difficult to formulate meta-statements in ordinary language, but that is clearly the intent of those who invoke it. In raising their objections, the proponents of self-refutation ignore the obvious reverse side of their position: That even if perspectivism were self-refuting, as a strict logical formulation, that fact alone does not mean that knowledge is aperspectival. Is that what they are trying to imply? The self-refutation charge evades the underlying issue. In the meantime, a particular limitation of language--the difficulties involved in making meta-statements--do not in any way invalidate the idea itself.

Second, rather than to assert perspectivism positively, perhaps it is a better strategy to lay the burden of proof at the feet of those who feel that knowledge and truth are aperspectival. In other words, let them prove that truth or knowledge is completely independent of the perceiver, and invariable regardless of context, language, perceptual systems, and the like.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I literally cannot understand your 1st paragraph. It seems typical of pomo gibberish. Note also that there is a large consensus w/in philosophical circles that pomos have never adequately refuted the charge of self-referentiality. As for the 2nd para, that there are facts/knowledge that exist independently of the observer has been proven beyond a doubt, as far as I'm concerned. We don't live in the world of Bishop Berkeley, and I think the author of the article nailed it pretty well, how ridiculous pomos become when they want to turn everything into text, or perception. Sure, there is 'wiggle' w/in the system of science, but that doesn't mean that it is all about wiggle and nothing else. Even Ludwik Fleck ("Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact"), who argued for the community-based origins of science, made fun of the Nazi belief that Jewish and Aryan urine were chemically different. It takes the kind of pomo fools cited in the article to believe that there is no hard, empirical reality out there independent of us, it seems to me. Giraffes *are* taller than ants; this is not a 'matter of faith', as one pomo quoted in the article stated. FDR *was* elected to office 4 times; the Holocaust *did* occur; heavy stones do fall to earth; etc. None of these facts are about perception.


Regarding Michiko, there is no objective evaluation or real professionalism in her capacity as reviewer--something pointed out by both Norman Mailer and Salman Rushdie (I think Mailer also said that if she were not an Asian woman, she wd have been fired long ago). Jonathan Franzen called her "the fucking stupidest person in New York." When I was still an academic, it always intrigued me how my students judged a book by whether they liked it or not. I had to pt out that 'I like it' (or don't) is not an analysis of a text: you can like bad bks, and dislike gd ones. The real issue is whether the author's evidence supports his or her thesis. Michiko is no more sophisticated than an American college undergraduate, and operates w/in the same adolescent framework. If we can grant that 'bad review' means the reviewer was critical of a book, then there is such a thing as a 'good bad review', in which the reviewer pointed out legitimate weaknesses of the text, and a 'bad bad review', in which the reviewer simply disliked the book, was made angry by what it said--was, in short, biased and subjective--then Michiko's review of DAA falls into that category. And this is true with many of her reviews, not just of me or Zelda. I'm with Norman and Salman and Jonathan: that she reviews for the NYT is an embarrassment for the Times; and the fact that they were unwilling to print my rebuttal of her review says it all, it seems to me.


10:26 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: anti: I checked both the NY Public Library Catalog, as well as Amazon; there is no listing for a book called "Nietzsche's Perspectives". For more on the inability of pomos to respond to the self-referentiality charge, you might wanna check out Carl Rapp, "Fleeing the Universal."

11:06 AM  
Blogger Gigalax said...

Pomo is somewhat like infinite recursion to me when applied on a large-scale. If everything is relative, then relativity must be relative. If relativity is relative, then the relativity of relativity must be relative. And so on. There is no way to exit the "pomo function."

11:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


The unstated premise of pm is "read *our* texts; those are the ones that really count."


11:44 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

I noticed that Julie Sedivy did not cite Aristotle's "Poetics" in her list of references in that ancient literature article. Had she done so, that article would not have been written. The ancients weren't particularly interested in the inner life of characters. As Aristotle wrote, what drives the plot is the characters' actions. What we need to know about their feelings, we as an audience can discern by seeing that they hang themselves or gouge out their own eyes.

As for medieval literature, the notion of looking for character development among the cast of a morality play such as "Everyman" is just silly. We wouldn't expect a lot of insight into the minds of Death, Good Deeds or Beauty in literature of this sort.

This contemporary fascination with the individual and her feelings (it seems that every interview on the news these days includes the question, "How do you feel?") shouldn't be projected onto other times and cultures. Chaucer's pilgrims are individuals, without doubt, but they are primarily exemplars of individuals as part of a society. Oedipus and Antigone have feelings, but they are expressed in relation to their place among the citizens of Thebes.

I'm not saying anything new here, but modernity's cult of the individual is a consequence of our having destroyed our traditions and the societal bonds that they reinforced, leaving us alone with little else but our feelings. Guess what? The universe is still indifferent to our fate, but now we don't even have a Maypole to gather around.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Juliet Cash said...


Obama went in a dreamer and came out a pragmatist. No democrat- or republican- can ever win as a pragmatist. Obama ran on the lofty ideas of hope and change of his supporters: healthcare for all, ending all wars, invest in infrastructure, creating jobs, expand opportunity, extend the safety net, reform the justice department, energy independence, tackle climate change, curtail corporate interests,etc. But any candidate is crippled from the onset because leftist ideals run against the majority- politically and culturally. WAFERS know Americans are capitalists, imperialists, and can barely tolerate multiculturalism; which truly egalitarian socialist lofty ideals would get you elected? To Americans, capitalism are both freedom of choice and democracy. The pursuit of happiness is life's purpose and it is about success; success is to achieve wealth in a competitive system. (Which is why Obama and progressives don't see a problem with a 400,000 speaking fee Wall Street pay day). Success requires losers- the Right and the Left's only difference in values is that the Right has openly chosen who the losers are: brown, black, gay, women, minorities. Trump is a huge FU to multiculturalism.

"America was founded by Slave owners who wanted to be free."- Carlin. Free to dominate their inferiors. In that climate, Dodd-Frank and the ACA, the partial withdrawal from both wars, increasing taxes on the wealthy by only a few points, eliminating torture while leaving GITMO open to lesser number of detainees, deporting only folks with criminal records- all were compromises. I don't place all blame on Obama because he is as empty as the American Dream. However, gays who now can marry or be in the military without "asking or telling" are happyish; pre- existing condition ACA recipients that have been saved from cancer without bankrupting medical bills are happyish too. The best testimony of Obama's empty accomplishments is Trump spending his first 100 days undoing them. In all, no left presidential candidate will ever deliver true socialists reform to what's essentially a capitalistic and domination loving nation.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous futility_grabs_back said...

RE: Sundriedtomato...

I don't agree that creative people tend to be social outcasts or recluses. Some are I suppose but most the creative people I know are active in culture and society. They exhibit publicly, work with public art institutions, are involved with museums or galleries, etc. The stereotype of the "starving artist" loner is not as common as many people believe.

I think MB is right that contemplation and silence are so uncommon that creative thought is becoming less common as a result. While trying to look into the phenomenon I came across an article by the Workforce Solutions Group at St. Louis Community College found that five of the top 10 shortcomings of new graduates (as noted by employers) had nothing to do with their technical skills. They included:

Poor work ethic (73%)
Lack of critical thinking and problem solving (71%)
Lack of communication and interpersonal skills (71%)
Inability to think creatively (66%)
Lack of teamwork or collaboration (59%)

So all that "bowling alone" and "snowflake" coddling is becoming a problem - making students less likely to be able to work with each other, be creative, or solve problems. The article attributed some of these deficits to distractions and others to the helicopter parenting that shelters kids so much they feel unable to solve their own problems.

2:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Quite wrong. He was no dreamer; he was a self-aggrandizer from the get-go. He had no vision or 'lofty ideals' at all--this was projected onto him by progs, i.e. by a very stupid electorate. He had no leftist goals, and certainly not socialist ones; his goal was simply to be president. Your view of him is a fantasy; his fine speeches were meaningless, just words. As a supposed community organizer, he promoted private enterprise in terms of housing (from what I read some time ago; there may have been corruption involved). As a law professor, he published not a single page in 12 yrs. As a junior senator, he was absent for abt 50% of senate sessions, and tended to vote 'abstain' when he was there. There's a long list of this sorta thing. Nor did he become a pragmatist: he was (and is) basically an empty person who got filled with the corporate-military agenda of plutocracy and genocide, and took to it like a fish to water. He personally insisted on the law stating that the US govt cd rub out American citizens on American soil (wh/he denied, until Sen. Carl Levin blew his cover). He praised whistleblowing, then persecuted all who did it--more than any other pres in American history. He decried deportations; in the year following that speech, he deported more than 1 million folks back to Mexico--again, another high in American history. He personally, in the Tuesday Pentagon bombing (drone) sessions, picked out a third of the targets, and has been responsible for large #s of civilian deaths, making him a war criminal. Guantanamo stayed open, and you can bet that torture continued sub rosa. None of this was necessary, and it is certainly not pragmatism. It *is*, however, cowardice and deceit and the fawning desire to be in with the power elite; and once again, this list cd easily be extended.


3:26 PM  
Anonymous JRS said...

Dr. Berman,

I sometimes wonder if the right wing is correct about Obama in that he will go down as one of the worst presidents in history. Then again, that list keeps growing as history rolls along. I still have friends who practically cry because he's gone. An empty suit with a pretty face and family.

Anyway, found this interview with one of my favorite artists and thought I'd share if anyone was interested. Just wish Chris let him talk more.



4:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


They cry because they, too, are empty people. He reminds me of that Beatles song, "Nowhere Man":

"He's a real nowhere man
Sitting in his nowhere land
Making all his nowhere plans for nobody

Doesn't have a point of view
Knows not where he's going to
Isn't he a bit like you and me?"

Not even the Bushes, not even the Clintons, can compare to Obama in terms of vacuousness and vapidity.


5:31 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

JRS -- here is my personal list of America's worst presidents.

1. Chimpy Bush -- lost a war, cratered the economy. Doesn't get much worse than than that.

2. Barry Obama -- ran Bush's 3rd and 4th terms, but gets no bonus points for doing so more effectively than Bush would have.

3. Woody Wilson -- there's nothing worse than a racist idealist. The godfather of "liberal intervention" aka wanton slaughter to "save the world."

4. Bonzo Reagan -- set America on it's neoliberal/neoconservative downward trajectory.

5. Slick Willy Clinton -- sold neoliberalsim and Wall Street to the Democratic Party.

6. Andrew "KKK Enabler" Johnson -- sank reconstruction and condemned black Americans to a century of Jim Crow horror.

Even Nixon and LBJ were saints compared to our last four two-term presidents.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


I'm thinking we need to add Millard Fillmore and Jas Buchanan to the list.


8:11 PM  
Blogger ccg said...

No offense to Juliet, but I don't see how anyone can still maintain the notion that Obama intended to push progressive policies and that he was thwarted in this by the Republican congress. I knew before the election that the man was an empty suit, maybe with a gift for soaring rhetoric but with little conviction behind it. And as soon as I learned that his economic team consisted of Timmy Geithner and Larry Summers I knew the fix was in. I had no doubt as to what kind of president he would be. Why didn't everybody see that signal for what it was? They didn't want to, I guess. And it was downhill from there. In Listen Liberal, Thomas Franks does a great job explaining the failures of Obama, though in Obama's own terms, many of these things are successes. In contrast to those who think Obama was just unable to function because of Republican opposition, Franks brings to light all the things Obama could have done without Congressional approval, such as enforcing the nations laws on the Wall Street gangs, and concludes that these things didn't happen because Obama and his team "didn't want to do those things" (page 158, Franks). How could anyone paying attention conclude otherwise? But many so-called progressives continue their roles as apologist for this guy. They are so even in the face of Obama's $400K speaking gig at a Wall Street bank. Do they see this as Obama's reward for not enforcing the laws? I doubt it. Trevor Noah certainly didn't the other night. Needless to say, they continue to ignore all the issues MB has just mentioned, especially the stuff about his being a war criminal. And now people are wondering why he's been quiet about Trumps activities. Well, he didn't care much about anything while he was in office, so why should he care now? Besides, he's gotta keep getting those $400K speaking gigs.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


As I said above, the list of his bullshit and betrayal cd be extended indefinitely. Yr pt about his econ advisers is well taken: after all, he cd have appointed Joe Stiglitz or Paul Krugman--both of them Nobel laureates in economics--and instead appointed turkeys who stood for the very neoliberal doctrine that gave us the crash of 2008. There was absolutely 0 left-wing or socialist in his professional background, and yet the Dems and the progs didn't care, because he was black and a Democrat and (seemingly) a rejection of Bush and all he stood for. But that was just his rhetoric; in reality, his admin was a continuation of Bush's, and in many ways, much worse. No less than the Clintons, the Bushes, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld et al., Obama needs to be tried at The Hague, the World Court, and then hung. Meanwhile, the domestic damage he did was also quite sizable. He did nothing for black people, for example, who are worse off now, in a whole # of ways, than they were in 2009. In the end, he was just a pretty boy in a suit, nada mas. Now he can go on holidays at the invitation of his wealthy friends, entertain lavishly at his Kalorama home, and collect large checks from Wall St. banking houses. He went from being an empty human being to a disgusting one.


9:05 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Obanga is the prime reason why we got Trump.

David Bromwich : Blowing cover on the "black mascot of the Wall Street."

When Chomsky warned of the shyster in early 2008 the progs simply ignored him. It took them 6 years of getting repeatedly sodomized by the messiah to barely feel the obvious.

11:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


Pls send messages to most recent post. No one reads the older stuff. Thanks.


2:44 AM  
Anonymous A-Mature-Economist said...

Paul Krugman is an empty propagandist hence the NY Times - not a friend of the people.
He's as bad as T. Friedman or B. Brooks - pro-empire zionist mouth-pieces of pure douche.

Stiglitz since he left the World Bank has been a little more like a Michael Hudson,
for the people by the people but still a non-classical economist ideologue. At least he
supports tax reform of land etc.

You won't see Krugman or Stiglitz on the Keiser Report.

8:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In future, pls send messages to most recent post. No one reads the older stuff. Thank you.


8:43 PM  
Anonymous Chpped Liver said...

I agree with much that you said here, but have one criticism, or perhaps better stated, one issue I did not understand, If as you say objective truth is what it is, and newtonian physics is better than aristotle's, which is certainly a true claim, i fail to see in what way astrology, for instance, was "valid within its system". If all you mean is that astrologers often made logically valid (but not sound) inferences from astrological "laws" to particular cases, that is surely true but jot particularly significant. You seem to mean something stronger, something to the effect that astrological concepts created an alternative causal picture of the world that was approximately true within a particular field, given the meaning of such concepts; a Wittgenstenian "picture" so to speak. But if so this claim seems simply false. Am I missing something?

4:57 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...


In future, pls send messages to most recent post. No one reads older stuff. Thank you.

Regarding premodern systems of thought, such as magic etc., check out the Reenchantment book. If that doesn't clarify what I'm saying, please come back w/yr question--to the most recent post.


5:38 PM  
Anonymous Boar's Head said...

Dr. B: I hereby do solemnly swear to spell Wafer with a capital W from here on in.

Bill Hicks: Truman and McKinley belong on there too. McKinley for the Spanish American War and Truman for the DoD, CIA, and NSC-68 which codified the permanent war economy. Grant and Hayes get honorable mentions for crappiness too, along with Ford for promoting the careers of the reptilian trio of GHW Bush, Rumsfeld, and Cheney.

Nixon and LBJ are so far to the left of today's D/R parties that they'd have to run on the green party ticket.


As for Obama, he was a fantastic front man, and a very obedient errand boy for those in power, ergo the $400,000 speaking fees. I'm with Dr. B here, insofar as his socialist/progressive credentials prior to running for office. Eugene Debs he was not!

9:30 PM  

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