February 13, 2020

Circus Days

Wafers-

Gd news: my new collection of short stories was just accepted for publication. I'm now working with my technical staff, and hopefully the thing will be listed on Amazon in June or July. In the meantime, I wanted to provide you guys with a few samples, as I have been doing. Here's one of my favorites:

There was an annual fair that came to our town, which included circus acts, magic demonstrations, and all kinds of other shows. One year, when I was seven, my parents took me to it, and bought me a large cone of cotton candy. It was pink, and tasted of sugar. I ate the whole thing, then threw up in a nearby garbage can. When I finished, I looked around, but my parents were nowhere to be seen. You'd think that I would be afraid, start crying or whatever, but instead I had a heady sense of freedom. Ours was not a happy home; my parents were always fighting. I often dreamed of running away, and now, suddenly, the opportunity had presented itself, like a prison break.

I began making my way among all the tents and displays. In one, there was a fat lady with a moustache; in another, a man riding around on a bicycle with only one wheel. Finally, I stopped at the magician's booth. The magician was tall and handsome, wearing a tuxedo and a top hat, and sporting an elegant moustache. His assistant was a very pretty lady in a bathing suit. He did things like pull a rabbit out of a hat, or "saw" his assistant in two—which she miraculously survived. I had by now pushed myself up to the front row of the crowd. Mr. Miraculo, as he was called, was holding a balloon in one hand and a long, thick needle in the other. He announced that he was going to pierce the balloon, but that the balloon wouldn't pop. He leaned over to me and asked me to touch the point of the needle with my finger.

"Is it sharp, sonny?" he asked me. I nodded. "Tell everyone here," he said. I turned to the crowd behind me. "It's sharp!" I declared. Then his assistant, who was called Miss Yvette, held the balloon in her hands, while Mr. Miraculo pushed the needle into it. The balloon didn't explode; instead, the needle went through it like butter and came out the other side. Mr. Miraculo took a bow, and the audience applauded.

I was dumbfounded. How in the world could a sharp needle not pop a balloon? Mr. Miraculo and Miss Yvette did a few more tricks with cards and coins and handkerchiefs, but I wasn't interested. All I cared about was learning the secret of the balloon trick.

It was late afternoon by now; all the stands were packing up, including Mr. Miraculo's. I approached the stage, looked up at him. "How did you do that?" I asked him. "Do what, sonny?" "Put a needle through a balloon," I answered. "Oh, that's a trade secret," he said; "a magician never gives away his secrets. But maybe someday you'll become a magician, and then you'll know all the secrets." He smiled broadly. "Why not right now?" I asked him. "You could teach me." "Shouldn't you be getting on home?" he suggested. "It's getting late." "I have no home," I told him. "My parents disappeared the other day, and I've been sleeping on the street." I faked crying. I guess that was my magic trick. "There, there, sonny." He bent down, put his arms around me. "We should probably go to the police." "No police!" I shouted; "no police! Let me live with you!" He and Yvette lived in a large covered wagon. "Let me stay in your wagon. Look how big it is."

Mr. Miraculo looked over at Yvette; she just shrugged. "Why not?" she said; "we might even be able to use him in one of our acts. Come on up here, sonny; we can fix a bed for you right below ours." And so began my apprenticeship with Mr. Miraculo—and Yvette.

The three of us toured the countryside, performing tricks in various towns. Mr. M. showed me the secret of the balloon: you coated it with oil. Then, when the needle pricked it, the oil moved in to seal the spot before any air could escape. Oil was also poured into the inside, so that the same thing happened when the needle emerged from the balloon. I was really excited by this, and Mr. M. let me practice with it until I got it right.

He and Yvette were really kind to me; I never figured out why. Mr. M. used me to "test" the needle for the audience, and gave me pocket money for this. They shared their food with me, took care of me. I was finally free from my parents, and I was in heaven. This was my idea of a real family.

As we tended to get up very early, we all usually went to sleep around 9 p.m. Every night, for some reason, he and Yvette would wrestle on their bed, and she would moan and groan. Should I say anything? I worried that he was hurting her. But the next day, she always emerged with a big smile on her face. She apparently enjoyed these wrestling matches, so I decided it was OK.

I began to pester Mr. M. to teach me some magic tricks. And slowly, he did. I learned the rabbit-in-the-hat trick, and the saw-Yvette-in-half trick. Meanwhile, Yvette introduced me to the Tarot. "These cards," she said, "tell the person for whom you are reading what is happening in his life, or her life. Sometimes, they can foretell the future. But you have to know how to read them correctly. I'll teach you, and then we'll set you up with a table next to the stage. You'll read for people, and charge them fifty cents. You get twenty-five, and Mr. M. and I get twenty-five. OK?" I nodded happily.

"People want to know that their lives are on track, that things are going well. Or if not, they want some idea as to how to fix things. Women always want to hear that they are going to meet a tall dark stranger. Men want to hear that they will soon be rich. You understand what I am saying?" Again, I nodded.

"Now take this card, for example. Death. It's part of what we call the Major Arcana. It could, of course, represent death, but it could also stand for a major change in a person's life—which could be a good thing. So when you're doing a reading, instead of telling your customer that he or she is about to die, tell them that some big change is going to occur in their life, and that they should be ready for it. Get the idea?" I said yes.

"Why do you and Mr. M. wrestle every night, when we go to bed?" I asked her. Her face turned as pink as that cone of cotton candy I had eaten long ago.

"To keep fit!" she said. "It's really good exercise."

"I was afraid he was hurting you," I said.

"Oh, no, not at all; it feels really good."

"Could I try it?" I asked her. Her eyes widened. "What, with me?" she exclaimed. I nodded.

"No, sonny. In order to wrestle properly, you need a girl your own age. You'll do it when you get older, you'll see." I was deeply disapointed, but I didn't say anything. Meanwhile, I started running "Oscar's Tarot Table" next to the stage, charging fifty cents per customer. It got easier as I got more practice with the cards. Yvette was absolutely correct: the women wanted to meet a man and fall in love, and the men wanted to make lots of money. So I tried, when I could, to steer the readings in these directions. But what my customers wanted, above all, was that things come out "all right" for them, whatever that meant. I discovered that all of them were worried about their lives; often, very worried. What they most wanted from the readings was reassurance, and I did my best to provide it. This often led to generous tips.

One evening, instead of the usual wrestling match, Mr. M. and Yvette had a big fight. I was sitting outside the wagon at the time. I wasn't sure what the fight was about, but I heard her cry, "Look at all the years I've put in! Look at all the loving I gave you! Don't you think it's about time?" She jumped out of the wagon, ran into me, put her arms around me, and cried like a baby.

"Yvette," I said; "what's wrong? Tell me."

"He won't marry me," she said, angrily. "After all these years of being together, all these years of being his faithful assistant, he says he doesn't want to get married. Jesus, what else does a girl want, anyway? I have half a mind to leave him."

"Why doesn't he want to marry you?" I asked her.

"Oh, the usual male nonsense about wanting to be free, needing space, and so on. I think he might be interested in another girl."

"No one could replace you, Yvette; no one," I told her.

"Thank you, honey; you're such a doll. Can I sleep in your bed tonight? I don't want to sleep with Guido right now."

It was kind of a strange arrangement, that night. I curled up in Yvette's arms, and smelled the fragrance of her body. She was still wearing her bathing suit, and I pressed against her. "You're such a great kid," she kept saying. "I wish I could have a kid just like you."

The fight with Guido blew over for a while. Yvette was still angry, but she wasn't ready to go off on her own. After all, what could she do? Read Tarot, probably, but that was all. She was an assistant, not a magician.

Then a dark cloud suddenly appeared. The next town we got to, there were posters with my face on them, stuck on walls and telephone poles. MISSING they said; REWARD OFFERED. "OK, Oscar, no Tarot this time around," said Guido. "You need to stay in the wagon, out of sight." At one point a cop even came by, carrying a poster. "You haven't seen this kid by any chance?" he said to Guido and Yvette. "Apparently he ran away from home."

"Sorry, officer," said Guido; "haven't seen any sign of him." The policeman laughed. "Kid probably ran off to join the circus," he said jokingly.

That night Yvette, Guido, and I had a "family meeting." "Listen, kid, we're in a bit of a bind here," Yvette explained. "If you get caught, we could go to jail for kidnapping, even though we didn't kidnap you. Do you want to go back home?"

"This is my home," I told her. Yvette shot a look at Guido. "What do you think?" she asked him. He shrugged. "Let's take the chance and keep him," he said. "He just hasta stay outta sight in those towns where the posters are up. Meanwhile, he can keep earning money from Tarot readings, and I'm going to continue to train him in the magical arts. That way, when he gets older, he'll have a craft." Talk about kindness.

So I stayed. The sleeping arrangements continued to be kind of weird. Two or three nights a week Yvette would wrestle with Guido; the other nights she slept in my bed, hugging me tightly. Guido didn't seem to mind. As for me, I loved her body, loved the smell of it, the sensation of it. "You're going to make some girl very happy some day," she told me. I was now eight years old; I had been with her and Guido for over a year, and was not to learn the joys of "wrestling" for another seven. (More on that in a moment.)

In any case, we finally got caught. Someone had identified me from a poster, and turned me in to get the reward. Guido and Yvette were arrested. At their trial, I testified that coercion had never been involved; that I was never kidnapped, and had in fact imposed myself on them. The judge accepted this, but jailed the two of them for a year for harboring a minor and failing to report it to the police. I went back to my parents, who were still fighting all the time, and pretty much suffered in silence. I was not allowed to visit Guido and Yvette in jail, but I wrote her two or three times a week (she saved all my letters). When she was released, I met her outside the jail, and we hugged and cried. I also got together with Guido, and thanked him for teaching me to do magic, which I practice to this day.

I go by the name of Mr. Fabuloso, and have a lovely assistant named Peggy. As for Yvette, she finally left Guido and married a prosperous wheat farmer. She and I kept in touch, and she also acted as my "wrestling" coach, told me what to do and how to do it. Let's just say that her instructions were very precise; clinical, really. For this, Peggy has always been her biggest fan, and we wrestle quite often.

Yvette also joined a dance troupe, and Peggy and I would go to see her when she was in town. "How is the farmer at wrestling?" I got bold enough to ask her, one time. She pinched my cheek. "Like a tractor, kid."

* * * * *

172 Comments:

Anonymous Easl O'Connor said...

MB:

These stories are too lovely! You are a fantastic writer. Look forward to the book!

Wafers:

"In reneging on promise to release full medical records, Sanders 'shows how pervasive the Trump precedent is.⁩' Even his foes 'are ready to follow trails he has blazed in taking flight from public accountability.'"

I see Bernie and Trumpi as different in degrees of the same spectrum and not different in kind. Insane populisms: one w his head up his own ass the other w it in the clouds.

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/02/13/sanders-trump-media-114791

1:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Easl-

Many thanks. Of the 18 stories, 5--in which category I wd put "Circus Days" and "Sweet Honey in the Rock"--rise to the level of literature, imho. The other 13 are page-turners; good reads, in other words (and often very funny, as in "The Wire Cage Experiment"). Whether the bk will get any attention--well, it's not very likely; but at least Wafers and their friends can enjoy them.

Your new bathrm mirror post-it, between now and Nov.:

BERNIE, SCHMERNIE

mb

2:01 PM  
Blogger Janet D said...

Sorry, technical question....is there a way to register on this blog so that I can then be notified when a new post is up? Right now I just randomly check in but I think there's a way to turn on notifications. I've looked through Blogger & this page, but I don't see anything obvious.

Sorry, I'm a very non-technical person (obviously). TIA.

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Cyrk said...

"Bloomberg singlehandedly disproving several decades of bullshit lefty postmodern theory about race and identity guiding political choices and confirming that money and class has primacy. Bloomberg, despite an overtly bigoted stop & frisk & surveillance record, has lined up dozens of the most prominent minority mayors, lawmakers & business leaders, while buying silence from civil rights orgs. If race alone guides politics, not power, how do you explain this? Ofc identity pol partisans, rather than challenge this w/evidence, revert to racism, attacking my racial authenticity or calling me white. Ok but does that mean Bloomberg's endorsers like Juan Vargas, Greg Meeks, London Breed, Lucy McBath, Fiona Ma are all now white, too? Lol. Identity pol partisans advance a racist trope that minorities vote or endorse based narrowly on issues like criminal justice. Those stereotypes don't fit the real world. People have agency & other political incentives despite attempts by establishment liberals to tokenize them."

Journalist Lee Fang calling out the leftist fools and progressive hypocrisy!

4:25 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Regarding Renegade Univ video on the idea of race: Jefferson was not a major figure in the origin of the concept of race. He was well read and may have incorporated ideas of others, but it's unlikely that the organization of different physical characteristics into "races" originated with him.

"The first important articulation of the race concept came with the 1684 publication of “A New Division of the Earth” by Francois Bernier (1625–1688) (Bernasconi and Lott 2000, viii; Hannaford 1996, 191, 203). Based on his travels through Egypt, India, and Persia, this essay presented a division of humanity into “four or five species or races of men in particular whose difference is so remarkable that it may be properly made use of as the foundation for a new division of the earth” https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/race/#HisConRac

On the category "Caucasian" "The traditional anthropological term Caucasoid is a conflation of the demonym Caucasian and the Greek suffix eidos (meaning "form", "shape", "resemblance"), implying a resemblance to the native inhabitants of the Caucasus."

In his The Outline of History of Mankind (1785), the German philosopher Christoph Meiners first used the concept of a "Caucasian" (Kaukasischen) race in its wider racial sense,
Meiners "imagined that the Caucasian race encompassed all of the ancient and most of the modern native populations of Europe, the aboriginal inhabitants of West Asia (including the Phoenicians, Hebrews and Arabs), the autochthones of Northern Africa (Berbers, Egyptians, Abyssinians and neighboring groups), the Indians, and the ancient Guanches."https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasian_race

5:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Cyrk-

Who r.u. quoting? Wd be nice to have a link.

mb

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Ty Tagami said...

Cyrk's quote says it is from Lee Fang. I'd imagine he wrote a column expanding on that further.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ty-

I still dunno how to locate it, wh/is why I always ask posters for an exact source.

mb

7:36 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Unknown-

Sorry, I don't post Unknowns. If you want to participate in this blog, you need a real handle. In yr case, I wd suggest Hans Scheisskopf.

mb

8:40 PM  
Anonymous B. Louis said...

Nothing intellectual to add here.

Just a 'thank you' to Dr. Berman and all members of the WAFer community for being an oasis of reality for me. This blog has an almost meditative quality to it; I feel like it's a calm center in a culture gone utterly insane.

"Come As You Are" indeed....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2QeQ9ZufAk

1:19 AM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Another brilliant 'Face of America'

https://www.tampabay.com/news/hillsborough/2020/02/13/ice-rink-manager-took-photos-underneath-girls-clothes-at-chipotle-deputies/

1:55 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Coming from a Prog, a surprisingly accurate glimpse at the future!

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/14/welcome-to-the-quarantine-era-where-bored-lonely-and-trapped-indoors-may-be-the-new-normal

Kanye

3:39 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

B-

There are situations in which opposition and resistance make sense, because there is a fighting chance of changing them. America is not one of these. It's been on a very long trajectory of fucked up values; and once you realize that, you can let go of the place and leave it to its fate. You can watch progs running around thinking that If we cd just replace Trump, all will be well--and smile. Then, you either leave, or become an NMI. But the destiny of America is simply no longer yr concern. All of this is indeed calming, because you are one of the few who understand that if a tank wants to go over a cliff, your job is to just get out of the way.

mb

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Stephen Deere said...

Trump Jr: I Know What Poverty Is, I Stood In Communist Bread Lines

Wow!

https://mavenroundtable.io/theintellectualist/news/trump-jr-i-know-what-poverty-is-i-stood-in-communist-bread-lines-2bYBILf8VkuLKEJHbsCLLA/

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Bill Moyers interviews Andrew Bacevich on how America squandered its victory in the Cold War. Some Waferish topics are discussed such as American decline and dysfunction, military failure and how Americans need to have an enemy to give them purpose.

https://billmoyers.com/story/moyers-and-bacevich-on-the-age-of-illusions/

12:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tom-

I sent Bacevich the galleys of DAA in 2005 or 6, asking him for a blurb; he never responded. Thereafter, the themes of that bk began appearing in his essays and interviews, w/no attribution. But it was odd: I had the feeling that this was 'unconscious plagiarism'. I.e., he had soaked up the info, forgot where it came from, and then presented the material as his own--in a bizarre kind of 'innocent' way. As for Moyers: he'll interview me when pigs fly over the W.H. in geese formation.

mb

1:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Film rec: "Dark Waters." Gd close-up study of American evil.

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

George Carlin was a wafer in disguise

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kJ4SSvVbhLw

6:06 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

MB -love the metaphor about the tank going off the cliff. Nail on head.

R Niebuhr would probably have agreed with you about uselessness of trying to resist an immoral nation. In his criticism of pacifism (Moral Man and Immoral Society) Niebuhr wrote that reliance on nonviolent resistance when there is not ground for believing that it would be successful was not only a waste of time but irresponsible. It would only be successful if the groups being resisted had some degree of moral conscience. Ghandi and King disagreed but both lived in nations with moral consciences. Nations without souls are devoid of morality. Putting millions in the streets makes no difference. (see invasion of Iraq protests) Better, as you say, to get the hell out of the way.

6:10 PM  
Blogger Rosegarden said...

Wafers may want to read “Crisis of Conscience: Whistle Blowing in an Age of Fraud” by Tom Mueller (2019).

From drug companies, military suppliers, hospitals, academia, nuclear cleanup, and banking up to the governmental bodies that are supposed to protect whistle blowers, Tom tracks the perils of spilling the beans.

You may lose your spouse, house, livelihood, pension, health, and freedom.

“Too many wolves and sheep, not enough sheepdogs.”
“Too big to fail, too big to jail.”
“F--- up, cover up, move up.”

It was so tragic that I had to pause midway and switch to the murder mystery for the library book club. Finishing this book made me ill again, but not surprised.

7:27 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sarah-

Given the chronology, a pre-Wafer. Same for H.L. Mencken and Gore Vidal.

trying-

Yeah, irresponsible and possibly immoral; which is the problem with Hedges. He makes no attempt to take things case by case; for him, it's all blanket ideological, and this constant call for revolution makes him a kind of blind pied piper. And for him, this blanket ideology is literally the meaning of life; which makes him a fool. Consider White Rose in Nazi Germany: what they managed to accomplish was to get their heads cut off. Or Rachel Corrie: did she really think the Israeli tank was going to step aside? This is not courage; it's stupidity. There is a deep foolishness in not assessing the regime you are up against, and in not picking your battles in terms of a rational assessment.

The situation w/MLK is a bit different. The Power Elite understood that he actually posed no threat to them in 1963, and that his goal was that blacks be allowed to get an equal share of the pie. No threat to capitalism at all--at that pt. (Identity politics is innocuous.) In fact, RFK, then Atty Genl, had the Navy Signal Corps make sure the sound system wd work on the Smithsonian Mall for "I have a dream." It doesn't get more establishment than that. By 1968 King realized the larger issues, the problem of a capitalist society (why get an equal share of a rotten pie?), and the relationship between foreign and domestic policy. Hmm. Who killed him, then, after he went from hero to potential pariah? So it's not that the US had a soul in 1963 and didn't on eve of massacre of Iraq. It's 'soul' is abt $ and power (refs: H.L. Mencken, George Carlin, Gore Vidal, WAF). It was the same country in 1963 and 1968 and 2003. It was King who changed (= figured out what the country was really abt, and began to speak abt Vietnam, garbage workers' strike in NYC, etc.), not the US.

mb

7:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Rose-

Any serious (=real) bk published abt the US today shd make any intelligent person (=170 Wafers) ill. But let me add that I am holding out for the following Berman Dream Scenario (BDS):

In the wake of her electoral victory, Tulsi Gabbard marches into the White House, flanked by Laquisha Jones (bashed an elderly man w/a brick), Freddy Wadsworth (fucked a goat), Chrystal Walraven (abandoned her kids so she cd get laid), and Lorenzo Riggins (dialed 911 when McDonald's shorted him a burger). These are my people! Then the entire country dances the Wah-Tulsi (which involves trying to ram yr head up yr ass, and roll around like a donut).

mb

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Krakhed said...

MB- Enjoyed the story! Looking forward to reading more.

Stories like the one cyrilliajuniper linked in the last post by Michael Doliner are becoming more frequent and dire sounding. When we run out of oil, we're going to have to figure out new ways to survive in this increasingly unstable world. As tough as I expect it to be, I'm planning to NMI it until I can convince my wife we'll have better life in another country where people actually treat each other like human beings. I really need to pick up a copy of The Mandibles so that I can understand what I'm in for.

And if there's ever another Wafer Summit in NY, I'm in.

11:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Krak-

No immediate plans for NY; there seems to be some groundswell for Denver. Mandibles gd; also check out a story in my new collection called "Suomi". (I'm hoping for a June release.)

mb

11:24 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

This has been the main news in France for the past couple of days:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/14/paris-mayoral-candidate-benjamin-griveaux-sex-video-scandal

Photos of the candidate from Macron's party in the Paris mayoral race sending picks of his schlong to his lover online have been leaked. BTW, this same guy once called Gilets Jaunes "a bunch of losers who smoke cigarettes and drive diesel cars". Karma really exists I guess.

Journalists are all wondering "how did it come to this?", "how did we get so low?". DUH! All I can say is, if some Wafers felt lonely on Valentine's day, you couldn't have had a worse evening than this guy coming home to his wife and kids.

Kanye

2:25 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Here we go again...Ugh


https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8007521/Mike-Bloomberg-wants-Hillary-Clinton-running-mate-say-sources.html

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Chesley said...

Tom/MB:

Oh, boy! Now Moyers is evoking the mytho-poetics of Joe Campbell! Best that the guy never interviews you, MB. Not much goin on in his cranium

Bill Moyers: Joseph Campbell would want us to seek ‘an America that transcends this putrid moment’ of Trumpism

https://www.alternet.org/2020/02/bill-moyers-joseph-campbell-would-want-us-to-seek-an-america-that-transcends-this-putrid-moment-of-trumpism/

1:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ches-

Moyers' childish adulation of Campbell and his romantic fascism is a pathetic embarrassment. And if he thinks the problem w/America is Trump, he's truly a dummy. No, I'm not seeking an interview, to be sure. (Check out his interview w/Campbell from years back, wh/really is a pathetic embarrassment. Also see my critique of Campbell in the ftnotes of WG.) BTW: only 1 post every 24 hrs. Thanks.

mb

2:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wonderful Country Dept.:

Bob Iger, the CEO of Disney, received almost $66m in total compensation in 2018. Oprah told Iger she wd canvass for him in Iowa. Since 1978, executive compensation has increased, on avg, by 948%; during the same period, worker pay rose 12%.

Source: New Yorker Jan. 6, article on Abigail Disney.

mb

2:52 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

No citation to give, but just an addition to your CEO-worker comparison, MB.

Whenever boss-employee earnings comparisons are made, capitalists and their media cheerleaders note the difference and lament it. Within the same report, however, they will typically point out the wage increases workers have gotten and are getting.

Richard Wolff is a professor emeritus of economics at U-MASS Amherst who has been mentioned occasionally in the blog. Every other month he gives a talk at a church in New York City on economics. He invariably points out that real wages—the pay you get adjusted for inflation—have remained stagnant since the 70s.

If you got a $.50 raise but while you were out cashing your check at the local 7/11 the price of Froot Loops for little Laquesha went up $1, the raise was all but useless. This, I’m sure economics-trained WAFers will recognize, is a rather clumsy analogy, but the point is valid. If your raise gets eaten up by the cost of living, how are you better off?

American workers may understand this—they have to live it daily—but the fiction of an improving standard of living is another myth that has deep roots here.

3:45 PM  
Anonymous David G. said...

@B. Louis and response by Dr. B:
I too find this blog of comfort in these trying times. Even though I don't post often, I read it almost every day. So thanks everyone.
I have some discomfort with the analogy of getting out of the way and letting the tank roll off the cliff. Unfortunately, most of us are still tied to that tank, as if there were a rope around our ankle attached to the tank. If it goes over, we do too, because we all depend on the stock market or business sales or Social Security or pensions that are rooted in the US economy or government. So I find I can't be so sanguine about the country's demise, inevitable as that may be. I fear that a more accurate analogy is that we are all passengers on the Titanic -- a few of us may survive, but most of us will go down with the ship.
So, despite the futility of nonviolent resistance, I still persevere in exemplifying my values in living what could be called an NMI (i.e., simple) lifestyle and in my interactions with other people. I still can feel depressed, however, when I see literally everyone I know (with only one or two exceptions), generally intelligent and decent people, being entrained into all but the most egregious nonsense this country has to offer (consumerism, smartphones, etc.). Such people are appalled at Donald Trump, but they don't seem to grasp the deep rot of US culture.
Anyway, thanks for listening, and thanks for the commiseration and the book and article recommendations on the blog.

6:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

David-

Gd pt, of course. I guess the question then is, How to survive? For example, if you can get out of the US, it wd make sense to buy a house or whatever in your new country, to be sold later on if abs. necessary. Of course, this means transferring $ out of the US and into your new country, concomitant w/yr move. It's not completely impossible to protect oneself, in other words. (Some declinists recommend buying gold, for example.)

mb

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Shithouse, Bored Certfied said...

Wafer David G. If possible pull everything out but a few things if possible. Realize folks have limitations-personal, professional, etc...

Would rather be on a liferaft heading to a place that is spiritually and ontologically 'with it' than relying on empty US style promises of someday, dreams, and sermons of bullshit.

Imagine going down on the Titanic with these US turkeys? Rather die happy than die miserable in the Republic of Excrement.

7:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Impt essay on the degrowth movement in Feb. 10 New Yorker, "Steady State." Article ends w/a quote from English economist Kate Raworth--

https://www.amazon.com/Doughnut-Economics-Seven-21st-Century-Economist/dp/1603587969/ref=sr_1_1?crid=W2O5D5O3ACK&keywords=kate+raworth&qid=1581814519&s=books&sprefix=kate+raworth%2Cstripbooks-intl-ship%2C214&sr=1-1

--"Reversing consumerism's financial and cultural dominance in public and private life is set to be one of the 21st century's most gripping psychological dramas."

My problem w/this argument: reversing this, at least in the US, requires a reversal of centuries of self-buffoonization that the American public has eagerly engaged in. How in the world is that going to happen? Talk abt psychological dramas! We shd probably talk abt (heavy) cutting into neurological tissue rather than trying to alter American psychology.

To take an 'aerial' perspective: the 20C saw the rise of huge movements/secular religons that provided Meaning for millions: communism and Fascism, in particular. But consumerism--wh/is really the microlevel of imperialism--is rarely recognized as an ism, or a secular religion. While much better than communism or Fascism, it is nevertheless pernicious and soul-destroying, and just as 'religious' (addictive--check out the eyes of cell phone users). The shopping mall is, in fact, a temple; and getting Americans to stop worshiping at it, esp. when the majority of them are just plain stupid, is not going to be an overnight project.

mb

8:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Film rec: "The Irishman," dir. Martin Scorsese. Possibly Scorsese's greatest film. An incredible portrayal of how the Mafia operates (homicide), and for what reason (money). It has been said that the Mafia is actually American capitalism in microcosm: the American Dream on steroids, so to speak. Both are brutal, differing only in degree, not in kind. At the end, Frank, i.e. The Irishman, played by Robt De Niro, is in an assisted lvg facility, and his life adds up to nothing. It has been a total waste. His family doesn't visit him; all of his 'friends' are dead. His goals were meaningless; he's completely empty. Again, a mirror of the US. A sad, brilliant, and very moving film.

mb

12:40 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Re: titanic discussion.

I think there are two "solutions" so to speak to the problem, whether you're choosing the NMI or expatriation path:
a. Play violin on the titanic while it sinks and enjoy yourself while you still can, while all your friends and those stuck in the matrix hate you for it
b. Jump off the ship, build a raft and live sustainably off the grid - this is Dmitri Orlov's school of thought

Personally, I am too used to the comforts of civilization and too lazy to learn new skills to build my own house and live off potatoes and carrots. Plus, considering I don't want to have kids, the incentives to choose solution b. are much lower. And I enjoy too much the "fuck you" part of solution a. The best revenge after all, is living a good life.

Kanye

4:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

The choice isn't that stark. One can just move to another country, and find a decent niche there. Happily, not every country is America. Besides, where wd this Orlovian raft be located?

mb

5:31 AM  
Blogger meangenekaz said...

Hola a los Waferes y MB

Strange days have found us, strange days have tracked us down.

esquire.com/entertainment/music/a24636/the-doors-strange-days-cover

One of the best albums ever. And one of the best epic songs ever - prescient -

youtube.com/watch?v=LnNo1Ox2oXk

Lyrics captioned en Espanol.

"Circus Days" and this thread's posts set me to thinking of the cover art and the other great songs on this classic from 1967, the summer of love.

6:55 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Doctor,
I love your stories and eagerly wait to read the full collection. This one especially is so tender. I recently found another coping mechanism to handle life in Jokeland-chess. I take a weekly lesson from an elderly Russian emigre who insists I do homework which includes how to notate each move. It's, needless to say, a fascinating game (Can you play, doctor?) and I can see how many chess champions become mad. Still, I hope to become a proficient chess player in a year (so he says). Also, after doing 3 years of comedy open mics, I'm getting a paying gig next month ($175 for a 30 minute set). Of course, it's not the money but it shows I'm making progress in this. Those interested should pick up "Stand Up Comedy" by Judy Carter. She makes the point that what's most important is not to be funny but to connect with the audience, something we have to admit, Trump does well. Anyway, fellow Wafers,don't waste even a calorie on what's going on politically or otherwise and try to find something even small that can make you happy (though what's going on in Israel deeply disturbs me),

9:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dan-

Glad yr enjoying these stories. I'm working now with my publishing team on the cover (which is based on "Circus Days," in fact) and the text, hoping for a June release of the bk. But congratulations on yr stand-up career; that's really terrific. As for chess: long history. My paternal grandfather was chess champion of his city in Russia, and I started playing at age 7. But it's been an on-and-off affair, really; not clear why. Well, I took a year off to study Go. But I've enjoyed working thru games of the masters, like Alekhine and Fischer (esp. the 1972 Reykjavik match with Spassky), and did at one pt study in a master class on the Upper West Side (tho I'm not a Master, and can't remember the teacher's name). I also memorized some openings, like the French Defense and the Dragon Variation of the Sicilian. Anyway, check out the movie "Pawn Sacrifice," and you might also want to buy the DVD series "How to Play Chess," from the Teaching Company, wh/I thought was very gd. I may get back to it at some pt, but rt now I'm what yr teacher wd call a duffer; tho I dunno how to say that in Russian. Just castle early, fianchetto yr bishop, and you'll be OK.

mb

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Taylor Deere said...

'Loving the world offers us a way of being in the world that plants our feet firmly in reality, so that we can see what lies before us.'

“Loving the world involves reconciling ourselves with...the past [& going] on to create, find joy, perspective, build new friendships, & remind ourselves of where the possible remains... It’s a way of not resigning from the world when the world seems too unbearable to live in”

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/transformation/what-does-it-mean-to-love-world-hannah-arendt-and-amor-mundi/

What does it mean to love the world? Hannah Arendt and Amor Mundi

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Emergency room visits for suicidal thoughts or self-harm increased 25.5% from 2017 to 2018, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The most substantial increases in emergency room visits for suicidal thoughts or self-harm were among younger age groups (girls aged 10 to 19 years increased nearly 34%, boys 10 to 19 increased 62%).”

https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-01-30/number-of-americans-headed-to-er-for-suicidal-thoughts-self-harm-keeps-rising

2:27 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Rose - there's always a price to pay for courageous acts against soulless systems. All those who threatened the power of empires, leaders, economic systems, and religions paid prices either with their lives or their freedom. Old Testament prophets, Jesus of Nazareth, "heretics" of the Church, ML King, Bonhoeffer, whistle blowers like Jeffery Wigard, Ellsberg, Serpico, Silkwood, Radack, Manning, Snowden, Vindman. Those in power will do almost anything to protect it. The message today remains as clear as it was in the ancient world: fuck with us and we'll destroy you.

MB - good pts on King. Thanks for bringing all that to my attendtion.

On Hedges - I wonder if he has given up on his Protestant faith and replaced it with worship of America as the path to salvation. His foolish desire to protect it from itself has the feel of religious fanaticism. And he didn't have to relinquish his vision of existence as divided between good and evil forces, which fits both ideologies.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

trying-

'Fanaticism' is the operative word here. Hedges was ordained as a Protestant minister a few yrs ago. It wd appear that his Manichaean outlook on life exists both in religious and secular contexts. Life is a crusade, nothing more. No transparency here: he's completely unconscious, as far as I can make out. I guess we're all lucky he's not in power!

mb

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Jeph Bertucci said...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/immigration-therapy-reports-ice/

'The Trump Administration is requiring notes taken during confidential therapy sessions with migrant children be handed over to ICE, and the details provided by the children during therapy are being used to deport them'

What callous evil.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeph-

And as for the ICE officials doing this: it doesn't bother them at all. They sleep soundly, night after night, indifferent to violent cruelty. As are most Americans.

mb

9:15 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Isn't this the build out for eventual martial law? ICE -> Immigration Customs/Criminal Enforcement

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-02-14/ice-plans-to-deploy-more-resources-in-sanctuary-cities%3f_amp=true

11:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

G-

I cd be wrong, but I suspect that martial law is in our future.

mb

1:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/feb/16/labour-should-stop-demonising-the-rich-most-britons-like-them

The same thing is true in the US. In addition, the folks most getting screwed by the system are the most patriotic. Any notion that the 'oppressed masses' are going to rise up against their 'corporate masters' is completely out of touch with reality.

mb

2:18 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

@MB,

I was speaking metaphorically of course. The solutions I mentioned are more ontological than practical.

Kanye

3:59 AM  
Anonymous Tommy said...

Wafers' Least favorite president: SOUND OFF!

I think I'd either go w/ Mr Reagan Mr Clinton or Mr Obama

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Krakhed said...

How long before the world turns it back on the petulant bully of a country terrorizing the globe?

https://www.globalresearch.ca/more-lies-iran-white-house-cant-help-itself-new-facts-emerge/5703584

I think the USA is going to be left isolated before long. You can't expect your friends to back you up when you start acting like a psychopath.

2:32 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190218-are-we-on-the-road-to-civilisation-collapse

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Liv said...

The same thing is true in the US. In addition, the folks most getting screwed by the system are the most patriotic. Any notion that the 'oppressed masses' are going to rise up against their 'corporate masters' is completely out of touch with reality.


Replay:
But one thing, I don't understand. I grew up in a former communistic country and we were not as brainwashed as Americans. We knew even as kids that all of it is propaganda. How come Americans don't get it? It is beyond my logic. It is so obvious the US is a biggest shithole.
The education, healthcare, infrastructure, food, social life, and relationships suck.
Are they really so shortsighted?

3:44 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Krak-

I think the w/drawal of allegiance to the US on the part of our allies, let alone other nations, has been going on for some time now. Some (Merkel) have even stated it openly. Trumpi is regarded by many as a child and/or a lunatic, toxic to the nth degree. What I'm hoping for is that these countries begin to realize that the man is emblematic of the larger populace. Rt now they, and the progs, see him as some sort of aberration who 'captured' the White House. This superficial, and incorrect, analysis needs to change. The whole nation is bonkers, not just one man. Perhaps his reelection in Nov. might serve to expose this.

mb

3:47 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Tommy - Naming worst Pres of last 40 years is as difficult as identifying the most ridiculous of The Three Stooges. After Carter, they were all bought and paid for by the biggest corporations and the wealthiest individuals to make sure their interests were foremost when crafting government policies and enacting laws. From Reagan on (Clinton and Obama included) they did as they were told. In my opinion, its a matter of degree not ranking.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Politically Incorrect Russian Spy said...

Ever wonder precisely *why* you're so miserable that you feel like you need to be medicated to make it though even one more day in these dystopian United Police States? The late theorist Mark Fisher (aka the blogger K-punk) lays it out in just a brief few minutes in the video below, 'Mark Fisher on why Modern Life causes Depression':

https://youtu.be/AhOcwhwumP4

Also, if you're not familiar with Fisher's work, a great place to start is 'Capitalist Realism' itself. It will help you grasp why the globalized nightmare techno-society pushed by neoliberal fanatics like Hillary and the elite ghouls around her like Bloomberg so effectively immiserate your life and world, and why Bernie Schmernie will have to die if necessary to keep that misery going until you yourself are six feet under:

https://www.amazon.com/Capitalist-Realism-There-No-Alternative/dp/1846943175

4:16 PM  
Anonymous B. Louis said...

Dr. Berman is correct. America's underclass WILL defend this country's toxic culture to the bitter end.

This 8 minute video was shot a mere 10 years ago.

It's a beautiful snapshot of what passes for 'civic engagement' in America. As Mark Ames eloquently put it, here we have a group of people essentially revolting against themselves:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUPMjC9mq5Y

Americans are bitter, unhealthy and spiritually bankrupt, and Goddamn it, they're going to defend their right to remain so.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Dan Daniel said...

Re: Trump as aberration or distillation- Let's remember back to the two elections of Baby Bush. The first one was strange with the Supreme Court stepping in as it did. The world recognized the combination of the idiotic sock puppet and his vicious Vice President. His re-election showed the world that this country was seriously flawed. The basic comment I heard from people from other countries was along the lines of, "Well, that was strange in 2000, sorry for the US. But 2004, you now own this idiot." The downward slide in world opinion is not new, just more visible as the US travels further down.

I'd like to remind people here that for some of us, leaving the country isn't simply a matter of selling a house and living off investment income in another country. Some of us don't have assets or independent income to make us desirable immigrants. Heck, I don't have enough money right now to be let into most any country as a tourist, much less a permanent resident. So struggling with the balance of the social interactions necessary for survival and the isolation necessary for sanity has no escape hatch.

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

Neil Postman is mentioned in this OpEd about a possible Trump-Bloomberg contest:

https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/commentary/michael-bloomberg-trump-election-money-in-politics-20200216.html

5:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Liv-

Despite it's failure economically, politically, and socially, on the cultural level the US has been very successful. "Soft power," it has been called. So (e.g.) you have Mexicans banging on the door to get into a nation that is far worse than their own, based on the power of American propaganda. And that brainwashing has been particularly successful in the US.

Old story, told by journalist John Pilger:

At some pt after Stalin's death in 1953, there was a relative 'thaw', or détente, in the Cold War. Some turkeys in the State Dept decided that we shd invite a # of Soviet apparatchiki to the US, and give them a free run of all our institutions to show them what a truly democratic, pluralistic society was all abt. So abt 20 of these guys came over, and went everywhere: schools, newspaper offices, Supreme Court, Congress, barber shops, you name it. This for abt 2 wks, after which they were ushered into the office of the Secy of State, or some similar big shot.

"Well?" he said, beaming; "what do you think?" He expected them to extol America, be amazed at how free our society was in comparison w/Russia. Their spokesman gave him a big surprise:

"How do you do it? How have you managed to achieve this level of conformity? Every single American we came across, every institution, thinks in exactly the same way. To achieve this in the USSR, we have to beat our citizens, drug them, put them in mental institutions, send them to gulags, and so on. And here, w/o any of these coercive tactics, you have achieved perfect monolithic thought! This is absolutely amazing."

Word has it that the Secy was not amused, but the Russian guy was not being droll or ironic; he was just reporting on what he and the others had observed. Americans pride themselves on being adventurous, individualistic, nonconformist, and so on--but that's actually part of the snow job. This country is little more than a guitar w/one string. Bernie, for example, is just an FDR type: let's make capitalism a little less oppressive, is all that he's saying. Yet to Americans, this is some form of serious social change. (Meanwhile Canada has had a reasonable health care system for ages.) All that a Sanders presidency will manage to do is prolong our death agony by a few years. The notion that 'red' and 'blue' are locked into some Manichaean struggle is baloney: neither side wants to abolish capitalism or the consumerist way of life. It's only a difference of style: the GOP is a collection of stupid, vulgar boors, but Obama praised capitalism and was a war criminal, like them. Hillary receives huge checks from Goldman Sachs for brief lectures (in which she praises her audience). Etc.

mb

6:19 PM  
Anonymous Dr Shithouse, Bored Certified, said...

USA-ers presenting No independence of thought was also summarized by Alexis de Tocqueville’s « Democracy in America » book

7:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Shit-

See also previous post on "Fanny Trollope". Her bk dates from around the same time.

mb

8:14 PM  
Blogger comrade simba said...

@Dan and company,
I too, am of insufficient means to be accepted as a permanent resident in Canada or Mexico. The wife is retiring from her college teaching position next year and we have a shiny new travel trailer ready to hook up to a truck and hit the road. If we're trapped in this country might as well focus on the beautiful landscapes rather than the people.
The Hindus call it the Vanaprastha - the stage of life where you withdraw from society and devote time to spiritual practice. American society has been poisoning me from birth, now is the time for healing. If I get eaten by a bear in Wyoming, oh well. Beats working in a factory paying rent to some shithead landlord.

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Here's an example of the typical Amerikkkan mindset. This dude must've missed the memo about the skyrocketing suicides, opioid overdoses, & general unhappiness consuming the USA. Whatever happened to taking in the little things, hm?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oad9-jE5WcA

11:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

It is w/a heavy heart that I report 2u that Tulsi Gabbard did not qualify to participate in the Feb. 19 Democratic debate. Basically, she met none of the required categories; the debate committee just stopped short of calling her a douche bag; or, more to the pt, a fraudulent piece of dog-do. I am sad because this wd have been a great oppty for her to expound on the Philosophy of Tulsism. I guess we'll hafta remain in the dark, whereas this exposition cd have brought much light to the American people. :-(

Where is the justice, I ask you?

mb

5:38 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Greetings Wafers everywhere,

Here in Cascadia I was momentarily devastated by MB's news that the next Presidential debate has shut out Tulsism from further exposure to the American people. But then I opened my just delivered Thurston County voters guide and found Gabbard listed for the March 10th Washington Presidential Primary. Another three weeks to dance the Wah-Tulsi! (I don't want the dance to become a forgotten mystery ritual to future Chinese historians)

9:35 AM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Dennis Miller once said the only thing missing from tv show "Cops" is a laugh track. Since that show has been retired we need a new one called "Florida Man" just can't make this stuff up. (wait for it the last sentence is the best)

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/02/18/florida-shoplifter-escaped-nude-steaks-falling-out-pants/4793159002/

1:05 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

G-

Poor shmuck; got hit in the gonads. Still, I continue to be amazed at the softness of American police. Taser? Why not cut the guy to pieces w/an AK-47. Maybe next time.

mb

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Nikki K said...

Breaking Development

Our concept of “development” is destructive and irrational. It must be abandoned.

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2020/02/breaking-development

Important essay!

5:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Nikki-

Gee, do ya think? I've been saying this stuff since the seventies. Now (part of) the mainstream finally decides that 'growth' ain't such a gd idea! No shit! God, Americans are so stupid.

mb

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Tyrone Huebsch said...

New study by Yale epidemiologists:

Medicare For All could save $450 billion and prevent 68,000 unnecessary deaths - each and every year

In other words, it does not cost $3-$4 trillion more a year - it saves $450 billion a year & improves care https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(19)33019-3/fulltext#%20

The Lancet is one of the most respectable medical journals in the world. Yet this will get no media attention whatsoever.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Ty-

But this is socialism! Ay! Get thee behind me, Satan!

mb

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Dan Daniel said...

@ comrade simba

That's my goal, also, just roam the back roads to the end. I spent some time doing this a few years ago, and have done long road trips every decade or so across the US. Such a beautiful country, and many nice people (I know I shouldn't say that here, but look, Wafers, most of the zombie apocalypse characters you love are around cities, yes?).

The last one, in 2015, I will admit had moments of great agony. The decay and decline across the country is intense. So many towns emptied out. Miles of abandoned buildings. Maybe half the small towns look depressed, a few are ok, and every now and then you run into one that has become a magnet for upscale consumer zombies (look for pennants on the light poles, coordinated signage, coffee roasters, and all the SUVs that are worth more than I make in a year).

I like this article for some insights on the 'two Americas' theme. He rightfully eviscerates the 'liberal' sophisticates-

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/05/the-view-from-the-back-row

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B-

A mom takes her 16-year old son to a local hospital on account of a mental health crisis and CBS covers the action-

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/hospital-video-shows-officers-tackle-tase-punch-teenager-north-carolina-atrium-health/

I wonder what Freud would have to say.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Birn-

Once again, what is wrong w/these fine officers? The rt response wd have been to gun the kid down like a dog. Tasing is for pussies. Real men kill; well, at least American men.

mb

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Jean Twenge on the mental health crisis among young people and the possible role played by smartphones and digital media in the crisis.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/could-smartphone-be-cause-mental-health-crisis-among-teens-124411

4:09 AM  
Anonymous Cecilia said...

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-offered-assange-pardon-if-he-covered-up-russian-hack-court-hears

This story from the intercept partially corroborates this.

https://theintercept.com/2018/02/14/dana-rohrabacher-trump-russia-wikileaks-julian-assange/

Buuuut the lawyer is repeating what he was told, without knowing whether it's true or false, and without much incentive to check into it, I guess.

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Phillipe said...

An impressive exegesis on just how inclusive spirituality could be or should be

Perennial philosophy
Aldous Huxley argued that all religions in the world were underpinned by universal beliefs and experiences. Was he right?
https://aeon.co/amp/essays/what-can-we-learn-from-the-perennial-philosophy-of-aldous-huxley

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Gonesh said...

Viewing the debates: Bernie is just McGovern warmed over, no? And he'll be smashed just the same, by Trumpola.

9:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Gon-

One can only hope. What a disaster it wd be for declinists, if Schmernie gets elected and thus manages to prolong our death agony by a few more yrs. Trumpalumpi is ruining the country--a process we can only applaud. The only really disturbing thing about these turkey debates is the absence of Tulsi. She cd make it rt!

mb

11:17 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Gunman kills 9 people in Germany, then shoots his mother and himself at home:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/19/shooting-germany-hanau-dead-several-people-shisha-near-frankfurt

Shootings are still a rarely occurrence in Europe compared to the US, but the chickens are coming home to roost here too.

Kanye

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Nikolas said...

So I went for a dental appt today, when, after about 15 or 20 mins. of waiting, 1 of the ladies @ the front desk tells me my insurance expired; I could've stayed home, as I'm currently under the weather. Not to mention the dental place switched to a touchscreen check-in system that could misfunction anytime. This whole entire sick-care system is a massive fraud.

9:31 AM  
Anonymous Jackson said...

Bloomberg reportedly considering Hillary Clinton as his running mate

Only in fucking America
https://nypost.com/2020/02/15/bloomberg-reportedly-considering-hillary-clinton-as-his-running-mate/

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Dr Shithouse, bored certified said...

Regarding Germany (US lite), believe Sartre stated most Anglo Saxons have iron in the soul.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jack-

Well, not much chance of a Bloomberg nomination, but it wd be great to have 2 colossal douche bags in the W.H.

Nik-

Next time, tell her that when Tulsi gets into power, everything will chg. Also carry a small sign that says, ROTTEN SYSTEM, ROTTEN PEOPLE. (Cd serve as a post-it on yr mirror as well.)

mb

11:14 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Shit-

D.H. Lawrence said something similar, but specifically of Americans.

mb

11:54 AM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

I believe it was Alfred E Newman who said, "Americans couldn't find their brains with a magnifying glass."

Trump has threatened to run a 3rd time after he finishes his next term. Don't know why he would bother. 4 more years of tearing the facade that is the nation down should be quite sufficient, thank you.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

trying-

Pls provide link for this Trump statement. I haven't read it anywhere. If true, an exciting development. 12 yrs of Trumpi is much better than 8, imo.

mb

5:36 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Seloni Khetarpal, 36, called 911 to complain that her parents had shut off her cellphone service. She now faces a felony charge:

https://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2020/02/20/woman-36-charged-for-repeatedly-calling-911-after-parents-cut-off-her-cell-phone-service/

O&D,

Miles

5:48 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Check out her face. Brrr. Rumor has it that she's been dating Lorenzo Riggins.

mb

6:53 PM  
Anonymous The Bermuda Pentagon said...

Bernie Sanders is popular with young Latino voter. But can he win over Latinos who fled socialist regimes? https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/opinion/bernie-sanders-socialism-trump.html

Fair question

9:35 AM  
Anonymous Remus said...

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-51582020/what-was-that-all-about-donald-trump-mocks-oscars-winner-parasite

Trumpi mocks *Parasite* director

The World Historical Individual Populist didn't like the anti-capitalist award winner

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Infinity said...

"There is a vacancy for parties willing to defend internationalism and redistribution simultaneously" on Thomas Piketty's thesis in Capital and Ideology

"Piketty concludes with...some bold ideas such as an equal education budget for every citizen, ... participatory governance, progressive taxation, democratisation of the EU and income guarantees... Suffice to say that naming such policies is considerably easier than executing them"

https://amp.theguardian.com/books/2020/feb/19/capital-and-ideology-by-thomas-piketty-review-if-inequality-is-illegitimate-why-not-reduce-it

10:28 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Infinity-

Some chance in Europe; no chance in US.

Remus-

Big deal. Trumpi is destroying America, and with it, capitalism. What he thinks abt this or that is of no consequence. He's a wrecking ball; *that* has consequences.

Bermuda-

It's all beating off. The Mueller Report was beating off; the impeachment trial was beating off; and this absurd election is beating off. Who is in the W.H. doesn't matter, really. W/Trumpi, the decline will be fast; w/Schmernie, a bit slower. But all of this news reporting abt debates, polls, etc. is just beating off. Problem: Americans are too stupid to realize this.

mb

10:40 AM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Greetings Wafers everywhere,

Here in Cascadia we’ve spent a little time poking around the find the source(s) of this third term for Trump business.

A Wall Street Journal opinion piece last year advocated for a the basis for a constitutional amendment allowing a third term if Trump were acquitted at the end of the impeachment process:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/impeachment-needs-a-replay-booth-11571872105?mod=e2two

This piece resurfaced in USA Today last October:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/10/28/should-trump-get-third-term-impeached-acquitted-column/2480302001/

And then Trump himself joked at a Hershey, PA campaign rally in December 2019 that he could remain in office another 29 years until he’s 102 (that’d be a lot of mileage on cheeseburgers):

https://www.inquisitr.com/5787248/donald-trump-refuse-leave-office-age-102/

But wouldn’t Ivanka persuade dad before then to allow her a shot? Whatever – I say, keep dancin’, do the Wah-Tulsi!

10:42 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jack-

Many thanks. Declinists everywhere are praying for a permanent Trump presidency. As for Tulsi: after Trumpi's election in Nov., I suggest that we assemble the Wafer Urine Team (WUT), fly to Hawaii, and drench her shoes. Then force her to take a year-long course entitled "Tulsi Is a Joke." (Meets daily for 8 hrs/day, and includes numerous beatings to bring her into reality. In the evening, a dance, with Wafers gyrating to the Wah-Tulsi.)

mb

11:06 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Here's something I'd love to see:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/arts/design/vida-americana-mexican-muralists-whitney.html

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I wanna expand on my last post w/ a lil story. A band I used to listen to lost their singer to suicide a few summers ago. Dude hung himself in the new house he'd just gotten 2 mos prior. He was well-known to have been depressed, had a love affair w/ booze, & would discuss this in many an interview. In short, the guy was quite miserable and it showed in the band's lyrics; All that anguish from someone who supposedly "had everything". So much for this Amerikkkan "Dream"!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aZc7cuPM0IY

12:19 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sarah-

Americans adore celebrities. They wanna be just like them.

mb

12:29 PM  
Anonymous Dr Shithouse, bored certified said...

What happened to all the rage, anger, fortitude of the USA-ers re: "rich boy" Kavanaugh, Me too bullshit, all the "social" network postings etc...?

Faded away like dandelion spores (Berman). Nothing mattered and nothing matters in the Republic of Excremento. Simply, bunraku theatre; puppets and a puppet master.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

@Dr Shithouse,

Sartre would turn in his grave if he knew what France turned into. Macron's presidency for France, even though it's difficult to compare different historical periods, is arguably even more neoliberal and damaging for the country than Thatcher's presidency for the UK back then. Macron is neoliberalism incarnated. Not only that, he incarnates neoliberalism with a "vengeance" against the common people - aka Gilets Jaunes. His neoliberal agenda and austerity policy is, as Emmanuel Todd (my new guru) brilliantly argues, a sort of unconscious lashing out on the people, as deep down he knows it's all over. It's a large scale defense mechanism so to speak. France has a strong track record of revolutions though, so things might turn very sour for young Macron eventually.

Kanye

3:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dr. Shit-

But consider how Black Lives Matter, and the pussy hat marches, completely overturned the American power structure, in what can only be called brilliantly planned political maneuvers. Us Americans are no flash in the pan, sir!

mb

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Glans Butterworth, III said...

Wafer Dr. Shithouse and Dr. Berman, what becomes of all these US sound bytes, anger lock "news" commentary, and going to "war" in the written form if nothing happens or changes the power structure? Is it to feel alive, or in the know, or to occupy their empty lives?

You got Wastebook, twatter imbeciles going back and forth--beating off basically bc nothing changes.

'It was a tale of sound and fury signifying nothing'---maybe put that on the back of the US currency. Although most Americans have trouble with anything >2 syllables.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Glans-

Don' ferget "Told by an idiot." Crucial pt.

mb

7:37 PM  
Blogger meangenekaz said...

Hola a los Waferes

wearemitu.com/things-that-matter

A strange account out of Mexico about a 25 year old murdered by her 46 year old husband.

What do you make of this one? Has the madness drifted south across the border?

O & D

9:46 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Jesus fucking christ, the douchebaggery is never going to end:

https://edition.cnn.com/2020/02/21/politics/bernie-sanders-russia-election-interference/index.html

Progs really are the most brain-damaged and sad people out there. There's no saving them.

Kanye

2:27 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kanye-

Well, let's hope not. My prediction: Trumpi clobbers the shit outta them in Nov., and then--they just keep doing the same thing, thinking that criticizing him is going to change anything. They too are playing an important part in America's decline. We need all the stupidity we can get!

mb

2:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/21/opinion/brokered-convention-democrats-2020.html

Trumpi is "exploiting and accelerating a crisis of faith in traditions and institutions, not causing it."

Of course, like most Americans, the author is a fool, thinking that this election is anything more than beating off. Because as this crisis of faith deepens, the collapse of the US accelerates, and *that*, not Schmernie or fair elections, is the real issue here. But as he's a fool, he doesn't take his sentence to its logical conclusion: the game is over, and there is absolutely no hope for this country.

mb

3:11 AM  
Blogger Xair said...

Wafers,

Further evidence of the decline. What a total douche this guy is, and yet completely American. What is interesting is that he doesn't seem to realize how fucked up he is. American values at their best!!!

https://nyulocal.com/brandon-wade-ceo-of-seeking-arrangement-explains-why-nyu-has-so-many-sugar-babies-ce3

9:50 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Xair-

Link didn't work.

mb

10:12 AM  
Blogger Xair said...

Sorry for posting again, just reposting a link

https://nyulocal.com/brandon-wade-ceo-of-seeking-arrangement-explains-why-nyu-has-so-many-sugar-babies-ce369d273d0

10:19 AM  
Anonymous Democritus said...

Xair & MB,

Here's the correct link:

https://nyulocal.com/brandon-wade-ceo-of-seeking-arrangement-explains-why-nyu-has-so-many-sugar-babies-ce369d273d0


10:40 AM  
Anonymous al- Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Because I was curious about the meaning of "sugar babies," I googled the stuff in Xair's link and found this:

https://nyulocal.com/brandon-wade-ceo-of-seeking-arrangement-explains-why-nyu-has-so-many-sugar-babies-ce369d273d0 The story is from 2011.

Did anyone catch John Oliver's piece on health care last Sunday? People like me who grew up in the home of North American Medicare cannot comprehend how anyone in the USA would not want a similar system. My kid once asked me why there's such opposition too medicare in the US, and I said "fear of communism." Is there more to it than that?

I also liked Oliver's mention of Tommy Douglas, the "Greatest Canadian." My late grandpa, a CCF "activist" (the word probably didn't exist at the time) once gave him a ride after a meeting to another town to catch a train.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Flyingspaghettimonstr said...

Just snagged a copy of Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's Indigenous People's History of the US from the library, a book some1 mentioned here long ago. I'm now reading about the true history of the Amerikkkan experiment:) The chickens have definitely come home to roost when u look @ Amerikkka today; the nation is in the throes of various addictions & nearly every wk a new suicide. I personally don't care if this shithole crumbles. It's a failed st8 built on shaky myths & was bound to collapse anyway. Death 2 Amerikkka!

12:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Fly-

An abs. terrific bk. Required Wafer rdg, for sure.

al-

In Japan it's called "enjo-kosai," or compensated dating--a going concern. As for medicare: yes, fear of communism, but also, Americans aren't very bright. You can't imagine how much of our collapse is owing to that one unavoidable fact.

mb

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Northern Johnny said...

Hi Dr. B and Fellow WAFERS:

This doesn't have anything to do with America or its decline, but I though it was worth sharing. It has just been revealed that Jean Vanier, the Canadian founder of the international Catholic movement L'Arche,imposed sexually abusive relationships on a series of non-disabled women in his organization between the 1970s and the mid-2000s: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/22/larche-founder-jean-vanier-sexually-abused-women-says-report. For decades he was portrayed as being above scandal - portrayed as a charimatic leader of a counter-cultural Catholic movement - but it turns out he succumbed to some of the same misdeeds as other postwar male gurus. This news is going to devastating for many people - including, I would imagine, formerly good friends of mine who work for or volunteer with the organization.

-Northern Johnny


5:59 PM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

A recent article captures what many of us in the world are wondering today:

"I could just imagine what world leaders are thinking at this point, especially those who are in some form of conflict with Washington including Russia, China, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina, the Palestinians, Pakistan, past and re-emerging former Latin American presidents Lula de Silva of Brazil and Evo Morales of Bolivia, leaders from political, social and Indigenous movements including those within the US and occupied territories must be saying to themselves: What will America do to us? Would they drone strike me if I don’t obey them?"

http://silentcrownews.com/wordpress/?p=6350

In a different context a recent Australian video hilariously captures what we all have to do.

https://youtu.be/6BmbvTvFQ3g

After I laugh, I weep.

7:18 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

This is Dictatorship Talk....

President's new personnel head tells agencies to look out for disloyal staffers

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/21/politics/john-mcentee-disloyal-white-house-staffers/index.html

7:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jj-

In terms of decline, moving in the rt direction! Altho I wd suggest sending any disloyal staffers to a gulag. Firing ain't gd enuf for them!

mb

8:13 PM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

I don't get how anyone is supposed to look at Bernie Sanders and think "revolution". That's obviously not how electoral politics works.

Let's grant the highly questionable assumption that Sanders is who he says he is and is willing to go all the way to the wall to reform America. He's still living and working in an America where half the population hates him. And vice versa. Half the population hates whoever gets in.

You aren't doing much more than taking turns on the flogging board at this point. It's quite magical thinking. Did all the progs go away when Trump got in? Will the Trump people go away if Bernie gets in? Does anybody have a vision beyond making the other go away? No, no, and no.

Think about all the court appointments and bureaucratic hangovers always there after the last admin. Our ridiculous system is like a car constantly shifting between forward and reverse and wondering why the engine is broken.

2:36 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Portrait of modern-day douchebaguettes:

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/jgejj3/spirituality-luxury-upper-class-goop-lab-healing-treatmentss

Kanye

3:19 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

African-Americans make up a disproportionate share of the American homeless population.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/50-homeless-families-black-government-report-finds/story?id=68433643

Alcohol-related deaths in America continue to rise, with the largest increase found among American women.

https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-02-21/alcohol-linked-deaths-soaring-in-us-women-hit-hardest

4:28 AM  
Anonymous Anjin-san said...

It seems as though someone that writes for Raw Story has been reading your blog very regularly:

"Those among us who still pledge some allegiance to the alternative America can watch in horror as we inch closer to the realization that Donald Trump, the personification of kitsch, ignorance and barbarism, is not un-American at all. He is as American as fireworks on the Fourth of July."

https://www.rawstory.com/2020/02/donald-trumps-cruelty-and-vulgarity-have-done-enormous-damage-but-lets-stop-pretending-hes-un-american/

8:45 AM  
Blogger Himanshu said...

Dear Dr. Berman,


I know that David Brooks is not considered to be a deep thinking intellectual but the below story he wrote in The Atlantic might be an exception (He quotes Lasch. This doen't make him a Wafer because Brooks does not dwell much on the roots of the problem that afflict US society, but he does cite some good research) :


The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake - The family structure we’ve held up as the cultural ideal for the past half century has been a catastrophe for many. It’s time to figure out better ways to live together.

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/03/the-nuclear-family-was-a-mistake/605536/

Himanshu

9:30 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Himan-

For the most part he tends to recycle old hat as tho it were major breakthroughs. I can't tell u how old the notion is, that the nuclear family is destructive and neurotic.

Anjin-

The author is a friend, as it turns out.

mb

10:23 AM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

The "nuclear" family is a fairly new thing. The vast majority of people lived in extended families until the industrial revolution. It was the demand for mobility, having to move to where the jobs were, that broke the old model. In other words, it was not any willing choice by ordinary people, but a forced circumstance. In the first wave, it was very extreme. This is not talked about much anymore, but the very earliest factories used children and women rather than men. They were easier to control. And this resulted in the horrors that you learn about if you study this era. Insane working hours, abuse by supervisors, dangerous working conditions and gruesome injuries from machinery not designed with any idea of safety.

What we now think of as the "Victorian" attitudes towards family are really the product of the reaction against this. Look at what this involves: Women must stay home and care for their children. Children are innocent and must be protected. The 'man of the house' must go out into the world and provide for his family -- by getting one of those industrial jobs. We think of these ideas as a bit melodramatic and restrictive now, but they reflect the effort to stop the early abuses of industrialism. Much of the reaction is owed to a certain Charles Dickens, who ended up working in a shoe-blacking factory as a youngster because his father was tossed into debtor's prison. His writings about these sorts of things when he was an adult had a noticeable effect on public opinion and policies, though naturally these efforts were not completely effective.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

The Ramones' song "I Wanna Be Sedated" is a fitting anthem for the state of affairs in Amerikkka today:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bm51ihfi1p4
In my view, the vast extent of opioid addiction is testament to the reality that post-capitalist life has become unlivable for a lot of folks. I myself refuse to depend on any of that crap.

12:45 PM  
Blogger Xair said...

Wafers,

Last night I took some time to watch some of the election coverage, even though I am of the opinion that it doesn't matter who wins. However,wa tching these elite so-called progressive pundits on MSNBC lose their mind over Sanders possibly winning is hilarious. They literally are comparing his win to the Nazi's taking France! They are so clueless about the fact that there is no saving America that even the quite tepid reforms that Sanders is proposing are too much for them. Talk about shit for brains.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Not a Russian Troll said...

Hello again. I ran across this quote by Richard Condon (author of “Manchurian Candidate”) from his 1969 novel “Mile High” about Prohibition gangsterism, and had to share it:

"Prohibition fused the amateurism and catch-as-catch-can national tendencies of the early days of the republic with a more modern, highly organized lust for violence and the quick buck. It fused the need to massacre twelve hundred thousand American Indians and ten million American buffalo, the lynching bees, the draft riots, bread riots, gold riots and race riots, the constant wars, the largest rats in the biggest slums, boxing and football, the loudest music, the most strident and exploitative press with the entire wonderful promise of tomorrow and tomorrow, always dragging the great nation downward into greater violence and more unnecessary deaths, into newer and more positive celebration of nonlife, all so that the savage, simple-minded people might be educated into greater frenzies of understanding that power and money are the only desirable objects for this life."

Have you ever read a better one paragraph summary of America?

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Kathleen Raine said...

*"Well, Bernie Sanders is now the clear favorite for the Democratic nomination. Lots of things to say about that, but the most important is that he is NOT a left-leaning version of Trump. Even if you disagree with his ideas, he's not a wannabe authoritarian ruler"*

‐Paul Krugman

Sanders has called for unconstitutional confiscations of wealth, for criminal prosecutions for political speech, and for ex post facto deprivations of liberty prosecuting people for currently legal actions. He also said he would release his med records post heart attack then never did, then stated he doesn't need to. Sounds like Trump in ways to me. Sounds soft-authoritarian to me, and won’t have bureaucracy resisting.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Troll-

No.

Kathleen-

Bernie, Schmernie.

mb

2:41 PM  
Anonymous al- Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

Does anyone else find it odd that comments critical of Shmernie and Jeremy Corbyn
have intermittently popped up here and are written by those who have never posted on any other topic before?

2:50 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Bernie vs Trump is like George Wallace vs Huey Long (stick a fork in it man, it's done)

2:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

al-

Not much on Corbyn; most Americans regard British politics (rightly) as dead fish, or bad jokes (Theresa May, e.g.; tho I doubt 1% of the American population cd say who she is). (I also wonder what % can't find England on a world map, or are unable to say who Churchill was. Probably more than 80%.) As for Schmernie: well, probably not a conspiracy. For the avg American, the guy is newsworthy, esp. after his Nevada victory. For the avg American, Trumpite or prog, who wins this election is very impt. Very few understand that History won the election of 2016, will win the election of this Nov., and will install Trumpalino as president in perpetuum in 2024. England beats off over Brexit, the US over Mueller/Russia/Impeachment. This is not intercourse, and will produce no fruit. It's just beating off. We've got 170 Wafers who understand that the country is going down the toilet, and 329 million fools thinking that we are somehow going to 'pull thru' and reverse an ineluctable trajectory. How many Americans know anything abt declinist literature (there is in fact a lot of it), have heard of Arnold Toynbee (e.g.), understand that civilizations all go thru a structural, systemic process? How many think in terms of process at all? Worse than fools: shmucks and buffoons and ignoramuses.

Fact is, Americans are myopic and Amero-centric. Obvious example: check out my list of bks on Amazon. The ones on the US have huge #s of revs; the ones on Japan, or Italy, or poetry/fiction, or anything not abt the US in particular, have a tiny handful. Americans barely know that the rest of the world exists. I remember after 9/11, one sharp LA journalist wrote: "They hate us because we don't even know why they hate us." Touche. It's a land of clowns; ultimately, silly people.

mb

4:25 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Good day MB, Wafers, Waferettes

I know Jimmy Carter is held in fairly high regard here as
probably the last president trying to get Americans to look
inwardly for solutions to cultural problems. Reading the
link below it might be a tough sell that Jimmy Carter did
know about the CIA’s skullduggery.

https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-cias-complicity-in-recent-global-atrocities-revealed/

5:45 PM  
Anonymous Tommy Weaver said...

Basically, USGS scientists worked out which metals American industries are most likely to face 'supply shocks' for in the future, based on supply, demand, and where we're getting them.

Spoiler: Topping the list are a bunch of metals that are critical for a green tech future.

A green tech future will mean more mining. The Trump admin is actually big into critical metals. Some green groups think it's a front for fast-tracking mining projects on public lands, which, fair.

https://onezero.medium.com/the-u-s-could-run-out-of-metals-that-are-crucial-to-tech-9b4eb1772824

6:12 PM  
Anonymous Northern Johnny said...

Hi Dr. B:

I wonder if you should share some insights here about intellectual and/or historical relationships that exist between the Italian section of Coming to Our Senses and your new book Genio? I have only read the first of these two texts and it will unfortunately be a while before I'm able to read the second. Do you see Genio as a reappraisal of Italy as far as Coming to Our Senses is concerned, or is it an extension so that the second text picks up where the first left off? In a sense, does Genio suggests ways in which Italian culture found a different path to balance and integrity?

-Northern Johnny

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

Good link Tommy, the unintended consequences of the "green" future will end up being a problem.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-06-11/saving-the-planet-with-electric-cars-means-strangling-this-desert

oh, and hey look where that link is from, (yet) another rich new york asswipe running for president.

I feel for you WAFers. I was watching Ireland get beat by England in the 6 nations today and of course the conversation turns to the election and my comment saying "Who the dems chose is irrelevant, they are the flip side to Il Douche's coin, it's all the same shit. The world is burning and somehow we care about this crap." The Amerikkkans were flabbergasted and started yelling, the Irishers nodded and turned back to the game.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Johnny-

I never thought of CTOS when I was writing "Genio". Italy is a very complex culture, and has many sides to it. And the two bks are, in addition, very different in purpose and context. But you'll need to read "Genio" to understand what I mean.

Tommy-

Eisenhower was onto that issue in the 50s. He kept talking abt the need for tungsten, for example, and the American need to control those markets and countries that had it and other rare minerals in their soil. In terms of American dominance and exploitation, it was very prescient. Cobalt, e.g., is crucial for cell fones, and kids in the Congo are dying pretty young as a result of cobalt mining. Every time you use your smartfone, you are bringing them closer to death (seriously). More destruction of the 3rd world by the 1st.

Tim-

Father Romero was murdered on Jimmy's watch, sad to say. As I explain in DAA (I think), there were 2 Jimmys. During the 1st 2 yrs, he had great ideals...which simply cdn't be implemented given the military and the Power Elite. (He re-evoked those ideals in the Annapolis speech of July 1979, far too late.) But after those 2 yrs, he came increasingly under the sway of Zbigniew Brzezinski, which took him in terrible directions (including arming the Mujahideen, which eventually led to 9/11). These directions included the usual skullduggery of American foreign policy. Jimmy was truly an accidental president, and made a lot of mistakes (like the assassination of Romero), but was struggling to get to a new vision, both foreign and domestic--one which Americans rejected in favor of the old vision (Reagan). "Mourning in America" indeed!

mb

7:20 PM  
Anonymous W Wedenoja said...

"One of the most important psych papers in last 10 years was the WEIRD people paper. Now there's an update, with a tool to measure culture distance. Interview w/ lead author"

http://m.nautil.us/issue/81/maps/the-cultural-distances-between-us


I recall first reading the original paper after seeing the book recommended on this blog:


https://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Like-Us-Globalization-American/dp/1416587098/

https://www.amazon.com/WEIRDest-People-World-Psychologically-Particularly-ebook/dp/B07RZFCPMD/

7:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pastrami-

But yr a Wafer too, no? Anyway, the only thing that can save Americans is lobotomies. To see them up close is actually terrifying. (Not hyperbole)

mb

8:20 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

mb - it's actually coltan, or columbite-tantalum ore, that's mined for use in things called tantalum capacitors, which are used in pretty much everything electronic unless we want to go back to 1940s level electronics.

Cellphones, computers, tablets, you name it, all demand lots of tantalum and thus, child slavery to mine it because how could you possibly, ever in the world, do anything without child slavery I ask you?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coltan_mining_and_ethics

8:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

alex-

Check these out:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/dec/16/apple-and-google-named-in-us-lawsuit-over-congolese-child-cobalt-mining-deaths

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/commentisfree/2019/dec/16/i-saw-the-unbearable-grief-inflicted-on-families-by-cobalt-mining-i-pray-for-change

Also google "robin wright cell phones congo"--this is one great lady.

I think we can ban child slavery and still not return to 1940. Consider the issue of frequency: I've had this laptop for a full 10 yrs. How much cobalt-related damage have I really done? But I don't own a cell fone, and one reason is that people use them like toilet paper--wipe and toss. Huge landfills of fones now dot the earth, and no one knows how to get rid of them (sorta like nuclear waste). Practically everyone in the 1st world has >1 fone, and replaces them every few months. This is a *recent* development.

I also wonder if most of the technology developed after 1940, or even 1915, has not made human life worse. Just thinking out loud here. Think of the horror wreaked by the airplane in WWI and II, for example. Don't talk to me abt commercial flights: Americans usta get to Europe by boat, in a leisurely trip, and it was just fine. As Octavio Paz wrote in 1950, it all depends on how you define 'progress'. For Americans, he said, newer always = better. But what if that were not true? I personally doubt it is. The problem is that once something new is introduced, like cell fones, we get so addicted and dependent on it that we then can't imagine life w/o it. But if you turn the clock back 30 yrs, when practically no one owned one--well, somehow, we managed to survive! Overall, I have the impression that life, worldwide, has deteriorated since 1940, or 1950; that concomitant with shitloads of new toys, people have become unhappier. And in fact, the data now available on the down side of, say, cell fones, are quite large: depression, anxiety, loss of empathy, increased stupidity, inability to read print, lack of attention/concentration, inability to communicate, sharp rise in suicide among American youth, general social dissociation--you name it. When I walk into a restaurant in Mexico City and see a family of 4 sitting at a table, with all 4 of them staring into fones instead of actually being a family: this is progress? Jonathan Franzen once called cell fones "capitalism on steroids." We need this shit like a hole in the head.

One place to look as to where we are headed is science fiction, which has uncannily predicted a # of trends or inventions. TV (which has been so destructive of human life) appeared in a French novel of 1894. The implantation of micro-technology in the human brain--currently being explored by some American tech labs, so that eventually you won't even need an external fone device--showed up in Wm Gibson's novel of 1984, "Neuromancer." MIT labs has been working on developing a "full body net," so that you can walk down the street interacting w/no one but yrself, living in yr own hologram, as it were. This is not progress; it's madness.

(Also check out Gary Shteyngart, "Super Sad True Love Story.")

mb

1:02 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Is it too early for declinists to rejoice?:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/23/trump-approval-rating-gallup-poll

1:17 AM  
Blogger Hallvard N. Jørgensen said...

Dear prof. Berman - I really appreciate your blog, esp. your own insightful comments and the plethora of links, movie recommendations in the comments. Also very interesting when you share relevant stories and experiences from you own life. I suppose the most important thing about your writings, is the will and ability to speak truth, as you see it. (I. e. there is something of both the prophetic and mystical in this. I suppose there is quite a lot of your Jewish inheritance running through your work...?)

Now, a question: Suppose you were not able to leave the US, and you had to go for the "NMI" option. What, exactly would you do - knowing what you know now? Would you seek out a community of some sort, if so, which? What practical measures would you have taken? Gone "off the grid", somehow...?

It's sometimes a bit unnerving to think about the way that neoliberal industrial capitalist societies sort of shape not only what we buy, but what we value, think, feel, believe, long for etc. The mindset goes deep into metaphysics, epistemology (and also, then, into our bodies and brains:-s) Finding an alternative cannot have to do only with reading and thinking, it must also have to do with "living" and culture, I suppose.

2:36 AM  
Blogger Ordinary Indian said...

Hi everyone,

Have been silent for a long time. Too much is happening in my country to focus on anything else. In the meantime, Trump arrives in India to meet his 'friend' Modi. No surprises there. But he says India has been treating America badly. I dunno what he smokes, but I wish we had the power to do so.

Apart from signing (or not signing) business deals for their cronies, Trump's visit must have a connection to the Presidential elections, I suspect. There is a sizable Indian diaspora in the US, and a large fraction of these are Trump supporters. Bigots of all hues have a natural affinity. Trump would like to have their continued support. The right wingers back home also get a global platform. They campaigned in the British elections through the temples asking ppl to vote for the Tories. And now the US.

Trump got his wall in India as one was constructed to hide the road-side slums from his view.

More updates as things progress.

2:43 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Hallvard-

Thanks for writing in. Yes, a lot of Jewish inheritance, in the sense that John Cuddihy means it ("Ordeal of Civility"): "an inherent regression to the real." Or maybe he said insistent, instead of inherent; I can't remember. I'm just not interested in b.s., or in saying what is fashionable. (David Brooks is a pseudo-Jew, imo. Pandering is not real Judaism.) I'm after an I-Thou relationship w/my readers. The voice I aim for is as tho I were sitting in yr living rm, talking 2u.

As for the Monastic Option: 1st, no TV or cell fones (I own neither). As low-tech as is possible. Trying to start a rdg group to read Wafer-oriented authors. Community is very difficult in the US, of course...I must admit, I tried to live an NMI life when I lived in the US, and I failed. It's a lot easier in Mexico. Or anywhere else, I imagine.

mb

2:58 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Kathleen, Pastrami-

Impt blog rule: post no more than once every 24 hrs. Thanks.

mb

10:03 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

From the Department of Bread and Circuses, courtesy the website “naked capitalism.”

An essay by Andrew Bacevich on the freak show going on all around us, valuable too for reminding us of a book now almost 60 years old: The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, by Daniel Boorstin (1962). A journalist writing in The Atlantic magazine in December 2016 characterized the book as a “classic on celebrity, fame and America’s tenuous relationship to facts.” Megan Garber says that Boorstin described a “thicket of unreality which stands between us [in 1962] and the facts of life.” The Image is still in print, and likely still available at or through your local bookstore (if you have one.)

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/02/andrew-bacevich-pseudo-events-as-a-new-normal.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NakedCapitalism+%28naked+capitalism%29

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Seeger said...

"Maybe they do belong to all of us. Why, then, should their keeper be the very country that insists on belonging only to itself?" Elgin Marbles: Why Britain should return them to Greece - The Washington Post - Give Iris her body back, Britain

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/02/21/give-iris-her-body-back-britain/

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Nikolas said...

I'm now making plans to escape amerikkka. After the dentist debacle, I've decided to hell with this place & am now jumping ship. Amerikkka is in a sorry st8 and life is 2 short.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Nik-

Personally, it was the best decision I ever made.

mb

1:42 PM  
Anonymous Dr Shithouse, bored certified said...

Nikolas--personal experience only; nothing is new to esteemed Wafers; however, it reinforces how US immigrants are attracted to a shithouse "culture."

Went to a new dentist due to logistics. She was from South America originally and went to a non-US dental school and post-grad training in Europe. Thought bc of this, she would be less of a hustler, huckster, more authentic/deep/ontologically w/it etc....Tried to ask her about her former place, she glossed over it, checked my insurance, then went into an artificial sweet talk, charm routine, excessive smiling, used car sales tactics, checking my insurance....I have 9 cavities (after never having a cavity in 15 years with regular dental cleanings. She stated she had rinses, lotions, potions for the upsell of course. I said thanks and will get 2nd opinion. No use engaging in conversation with Americans.
Her business "social" site has self pictures of buying luxury cars, duck lip pictures, gourmet coffee pictures, refers to herself in the 3rd person, 2 for 1 specials--act now! etc..guess her "customers" (patients) want to know where their funds are going.

Moral of the story: In my opinion, the US was the garbage collector of the world-it selected for immigrants that had the hustler/huckster "gene"; it's just waiting to be expressed. It does not matter where one was originally from bc like flies to shit, the US attracted the former country town crazies, flunkies, and those looking to be the next Willy Loman: those who worshipped money and thought that life is about the endless pursuit of buying things.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous trying to stay sane said...

Fly and MB - when I first read IPHUS, I was overwhelmed. At first, I felt guilty for the history I didn't know. I was aware that we had uprooted and slaughtered thousands of men, women and children and tried to enculturate the survivors, but I was ignorant of how horrible it had really been. Like many Americans raised on the myth of the Great Frontier, I had lived in willful ignorance. When I learned the truth, I tried to stuff it into my "Do not Open" box. But like all repressed knowledge, it rose up out of the unconscience and demanded to be heard.
I have no hope that America will do the same which means that the truth will eventually have its day in the destruction of its nemesis.

Xair - watched MSNBC's Morning Joe this morning to see what they would say about Bernie's NV win. As expected, they all spoke from the same script - Bernie is dangerous and can't beat Trump. But I suspect that their critique is more about toeing the corporate line than any real differences about policy. MSNBC is owned by Comcast and CNN by Warner Media. Bernie is considered a threat to their bottom lines and the personal wealth of their Boards of Directors. Biden is safe; Mayor Pete is safe. But Bernie almost sounds like an anti-capitalist, a socialists, for God's sake. We cannot have that. And we will not allow it.

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Yamanouchi said...

Reading for Wafers: "Revisioning Transpersonal Theory" by the Spanish psychologist Jorge Ferrer.
https://www.amazon.com/Revisioning-Transpersonal-Theory-Participatory-Spirituality/dp/0791451682/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?keywords=Revisioning+Transpersonal+Theory&qid=1582578201&sr=8-1

4:06 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Greetings from Cascadia, Wafers,

I received a letter from a friend in Wales today, and he enclosed a few gems that I thought I'd share. First, a quote from H.L. Mencken:

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and thus clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

And an item from something called The Hobbledehoy, a piece titled "British Writer Pens the Best Description of Trump I've Read" on Nate White's response to the question "Why do some British people not like Donald Trump?" Some excerpts:

"Trump lack certain qualities which the British traditionally esteem. For instance, he has no class, no charm, no coolness, no credibility, no compassion, no wit, no warmth, no wisdom, no subtlty, no sensitivity, no self-awareness, no humility, no honour, and no grace..."

"He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit."

In other words, a perfect instrument of history at the end of the American road.

5:24 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jack-

I guess he's like most Americans. Anyway, just what we need for the end days, as u pt out. I salute him; I embrace him; I adore him. Go, Trumpi!

mb

6:18 PM  
Blogger alex carter said...

mb - I had no idea it was cobalt too. I know coltan, columbium-tantalum ore, used in making things called tantalum capacitors that are in just everything, is done using child slave labor because really, is there any other way? I had no idea cobalt was also one of those things that, like diamonds and chocolate and God knows what else, that just isn't worth it if little black/brown children aren't suffering and dying for it.

Regarding Indians and Trumpo, I believe during WWII George Orwell's main job was to try to convince the Indians to not side with the Nazis. There really isn't anything about racism, caste-ism, mass murder, etc that Brahmins at least at that time didn't like the sound of. And ancient India was treasured in Nazi mythology.

2:37 AM  
Blogger flanagle said...

Greetings Professor Berman & fellow WAFers-I last passed on a report several weeks ago about heavily-armed (native-born white guys) being welcomed into the Kentucky statehouse. Well, here we go again:

independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/idaho-gun-control-concealed-carry-girl-ar15-rifle-a9356196.html

Gee, this might develop into a kind of hobby. Only 48 more state capitals to go!
Alabama...Wyoming...Oklahoma...strut your stuff!

4:36 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Some of you might know this famous poem, "Tulsi at the Bat":

"Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Tulsi has struck out."

Tonite is the next Democratic debate in South Carolina--8 participants--and Tulsi is not among them! To quote Walt Whitman: "O Tulsi! my Tulsi! our fearful trip is done."

What is this great nation coming to, when a top-flight intellect like Tulsi Gabbard is excluded from the debates? Once again the American people are to be deprived of hearing her nuggets of wisdom, and the much-needed Philosophy of Tulsism! O Horror! O Shame! She has so much to offer us, is clearly presidential material, and is now cruelly cut down in her prime. Is there no justice in this world?

mb

7:01 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Indian-

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

mb

9:56 AM  
Anonymous Lebowe said...

https://aeon.co/ideas/ancient-animistic-beliefs-live-on-in-our-intimacy-with-tech

Ancient animistic beliefs live on in our intimacy with tech


Interesting essay. Modern form of ritual worship in our techno addictions.

11:38 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Lebowe-

I find his notion that tech-animism is a healthy thing, fucked in the head. Check out ch. 3 of WAF.

mb

12:05 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

...Says the Douchebag who for three years has exhibited one shameless act after another...


https://www.foxnews.com/media/trump-scolds-cnn-jim-acosta-india

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Flyingspaghettimonstr said...

https://ktla.com/2020/02/23/23-year-old-encinitas-man-jumps-out-of-moving-ambulance-dies-on-highway/

This freak show continues to get more absurd every day.I'm lovin' it ��

1:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Liam-

Thanks for writing in, but I cdn't run it. We have a half-pg-max rule on this blog, so if you cd compress yr message by abt 1/3, and re-send, that wd be great. Or divide message in 2 parts, and send them 24 hrs apart (another rule). Thanks.

Flying-

Not sure why they had to tell us that the kid was killed by a BMW. Does this make for a better, upscale death?

mb

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Dr Shithouse, Bored Certified said...

A 6 yo being arrested and begging not to go into the squad car.

https://wowway.net/news/read/article/the_associated_press-body_cam_captures_6yearolds_tearful_pleas_during_a-ap/category/news

usa, usa!

3:42 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Shithouse-

And they fired the cop, when he shd have received a medal. Altho it's not clear to me why he didn't gun the girl down like a dog. My persistent theme: cops are getting soft. Hurting children is what the US is all abt (among other things).

mb

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Liam said...

PhD candidate in epidemiology here. I read this blog a lot and appreciate its reportage on The Decline. I thought I'd add to the reports, through my particular skill-set. I've been growing more concerned for wks that a large set of us (>10%) are going to get coronavirus sooner-or-later. Good chance (even if unreported) it's covertly spreading here in the UK and also in USA. It just occurred to me that coronavirus might affect the US election, even beyond scrutiny of administrative containment efforts, and any economic fallout: if it's bad, it might make it really hard to campaign or get out the vote. Not sure *how* it effects the results, though. IMHO, there's a serious chance of a global recession by summertime. Political fallout'll be unpredictable, but I can only imagine what could happen to the USA, especially how really weird it is that officials aren't planning around that baseline scenario:

https://virologydownunder.com/past-time-to-tell-the-public-it-will-probably-go-pandemic-and-we-should-all-prepare-now/

https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/global-draghi-moment

https://abcnews.go.com/International/white-house-requesting-125b-part-25b-plan-fight/story?id=69190968

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001AXLUX2/

4:31 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Liam-

Thanks mucho for yr input. The virus is clearly, now, the joker in the pack. Anything cd happen, really.

mb

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Sir Digby said...

Top 15 Countries by Military Spending, 1914-2018

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw2Wm8T6tio

5:22 PM  

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