July 19, 2017

The Denial of Death

Wafers-

At the end of the last thread, jjarden posted the following article:

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/expat-retirees-enjoy-a-life-reminiscent-of-an-earlier-time-2017-07-17

It resonated with me quite strongly, because it describes the life I have been leading since I left the US. I had no real family or community there, just found it a loveless and alienating place. Here in Mexico, I have 2 families in 2 cities, with real emotional and spiritual connections. I truly love them, and vice versa. The other thing mentioned in the article that's a plus is that the gov't here is not bothering you all the time, meddling in your affairs. For whatever reason, the philosophy is one of live and let live, and the 3 times cops pulled me over for speeding, for example, they were exceedingly polite. You just don't feel harassed, let alone live in terror that you'll be pulled over and shot--an increasingly familiar phenomenon in the US.

I've been rereading a book I 1st read many years ago, "The Denial of Death," by Ernest Becker. His argument is that we take on symbolic 'immortality projects'--for example, the American Dream--in order to hide from our mortality; to deny death. This project gives people the feeling that there is meaning in their lives. But because the project is essentially arbitrary, and sits on a volcano (the fear of death), it is endowed with a kind of ferocity. He thus writes that we "wheel and deal in an idiot frenzy"--a perfect description of hustling America. All of this, he says, explains the phenomenon of depression. People start to feel that their immortality project is false, that they've been sold a bill of goods; or they feel that they cannot be successful, be a 'hero', in terms of that immortality project. (I would add, they can probably feel both emotions at the same time.) The result is that they are reminded of their mortality, and their feelings of worthlessness.

This goes a long way to explaining Trump--an illusory life-raft against the collapse of the American Dream, the promise to restore it--and also, the genocide we visit on other peoples, and the rage we see at home. Police are mowing down unarmed civilians at an alarming rate, and civilians are mowing down each other. The degree of all this was dramatically lower 20 years ago. At that time, it would be unthinkable that someone would be so offended at an oversight of not receiving bacon on their cheeseburger, that they would return to McDonald's with a machine gun and hose the place down. This would seem to be the stuff of (surreal) comedy, yet it happens all the time. Americans are depressed, bitter, and spiritually lost as a result of their immortality project having failed them--or of them, having failed it--and are going over the top on a daily basis as a result. (The stats: there is now more than one massacre a day in the US, now, defined as the killing and/or maiming of 4 or more individuals.) We are, to quote Dylan Thomas, raging against the dying of the light. There are of course better ways of reacting to our individual and national decline, but neither the country nor its inhabitants are likely to find them. All we have ever known, in America, is blind impulse, and all indications are that that is not going to change.

-mb

185 Comments:

Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB & all Wafers worldwide :

An interesting question is posed in the recent issue of "Fast Company" magazine - Are You Ready to Consider that Capitalism is the Real Problem? In fact, I see it as an existential problem in that our main organizational system of capitalism is now world wide and is quickly degrading the planet's life support systems thru it's endless quest for "more", more growth, money, status, power, etc.
It's here and it's worth your time:
https://www.fastcompany.com/40439316/are-you-ready-to-consider-that-capitalism-is-the-real-problem

11:13 AM  
Anonymous al-Qa'bong said...

Hello Wafers:

"Larry Bates, 46, blows away his neighbor because he believed his neighbour's dog crapped in his yard"

Like Dirty Harry said, "Then you end up executing your neighbour 'cause his dog pisses on your lawn."

Clint Eastwood said this was an absurd, almost unthinkably violent reaction, yet now it's happening.

Someone in the previous thread said that there's nowhere more difficult to live than in America. I dunno; Gaza, Syria, Sudan...

Yeah, but sometimes you don't get bacon on your cheesburger in the USA!

11:33 AM  
Anonymous COS said...

Fascinating. To some extent this behavior in USA could be due to decline in traditional religion. You lose one religion and as human psyche abhors a vacuum for meaning, materialism and faith in politics fills the vacuum. In the west but more grotesquely in the USA a sort of Gnosticism has taken over. Humans can be changed and through sheer intellect, traditions, traits and limits of humans can be altered to satisfy some ideal. The intrusive government is but one manifestation of constantly shaping human nature per some now incoherent enlightenment ideal.. In the "Imortalization Commission" as well as "Soul of the Marrionette, John Gray in addition to as ever chronicling human stupidity generally points out specifically instances where fear of death manifested by seeking immortality (low calorie diet, taking your brain contents and putting in a computer etc). Even the way americans actually die, is peculiar, typically in a hospital with tubes and machines and spending thousands upon thousands to extend a 85 year olds life... In Mexico, people don't seem to fear death as much and as a consequence (by my lights) lead on average more meaningful lives. Though truth be said, globalization and internet have wrought a gnostic assault and one many people over...we shall see. In addition to Gray, "Staring at the Sun" is a great read.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

When the Columbine High School massacre occurred in 1999 it was considered so bizarre and unusual that it received non-stop coverage in the media. Now these kinds of mass shootings have become so common that they don’t register nearly as much publicity or concern. America is such a sick country that massacres are now normal.

Less dramatically, behaviors that 20 years ago would have been considered very rude are now considered normal. For example, “ghosting” defined as “the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication” would have been considered extremely rude in the 1990s but I hear that it is pretty common now.

The 1990s weren’t even all that great but we have fallen so low that I actually feel a lot of nostalgia for that decade. Seinfeld was about self-centered characters but even Jerry and his friends tried to deal with social etiquette and rules. There was at least some moral baseline. I don’t even think that baseline exists anymore.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Jack Lattemann said...

Your news update from Cascadia:

Just another GSW in an exchange of fire at a beachfront park in my old neighborhood in Seattle last night:

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/man-shot-at-seattles-golden-gardens-park-police-say/?utm_source=The+Seattle+Times&utm_campaign=74ce61aa82-Morning_Brief_07_19_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5beb38b61e-74ce61aa82-121828801

The fallout from the MN cop shooting of Australian Justine Damond continues. Australian news source SBS compares U.S. fatal cop shootings to those in other countries:
http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/07/08/us-police-shootings-compared-australia-uk-and-germany

And meanwhile per usual, here come the excuses from the scumbag lawyers to "explain" the latest cop shooting:
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/19/police-australian-woman-minneapolis-justine-damond

4:21 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Not sure exactly where this might fit within the general chronology of our declne, but it seems to qualify for inclusion.

"But now, a group of 43 Senators – 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats – want to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine."

https://theintercept.com/2017/07/19/u-s-lawmakers-seek-to-criminally-outlaw-support-for-boycott-campaign-against-israel/

4:37 PM  
Blogger Michael Burgess said...

Hi Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Paul Craig Roberts, economist and Undersecretary of the Treasury during the Reagan administration who has mostly done a 180 since then on the present state of US decline. The US is on schedule to become a second rate economic power - strip malls, decaying cities and infrastructure - with nuclear weapons!

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2017/07/10/ever-official-lies-us-government/

Also the following book was supposed to be published May 15, 2017 and available for $13/copy has inexplicably been pulled and its author died suddenly and unexpectedly in January. Could be wrong but I think the CIA pulled this book - still available in German.
Title: Journalists for Hire : How the CIA Buys the News
ISBN: 9781944505479
Author: Ulfkotte, Udo

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Much attention to the death of the Australian by american "police"; however, also disturbing was the massive military-SWAT team response in affluent Hingham, Mass which resulted in a disturbed young man committing suicide. The father and mother of this man all repeatedly requested to please leave him alone, not enter his room, he's afraid of all this commotion, he's with his dog and loves her, that he acts like this happens occasionally and settles down, maybe have a unit outside for safety, etc....

Instead, the scene was described as like an action movie; coppers in military get-ups repelling to the 2nd story, breaking multiple windows, and militarised american SWAT /police tank -type vehicles onto the front lawn and in the backyard.

usa! usa! Please disappear already. america was simply a big joke.

8:44 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

@COS
Where do you get this definition of "gnosticism"? It looks like you have confused modern rationalization (which is indeed driven by the so-called Enlightenment) with knowledge, and specifically self-knowledge. Gnosticism as a name for these ancient movements (there were many different groups) is a modern coinage, but most of the sects who used the term gnosis were using it much as eastern mystics would use the term Dhyana/Ch'an/Zen - consciousness! (Sanskrit, Mandarin, Japanese, respectively, for the same concept). It's much like the modern psychological distinction between conscious and unconscious. An ancient 'gnostic' wanted to become self-aware, and that meant recovering him/her self, not forcing some preconceived state of being. Modernism, and especially modern American society, is just the opposite. Unconsciousness, self-subjugation to the rational system in every sense, is glorified. The 'gnostic' movements were a reaction against the overwhelming rationalization and accompanying malaise of the late Roman Empire.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Sorrowful said...

MB and Wafers:

New book showing up on the news feeds now. Goes a long way toward explaining where we are now.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/19/despot-disguise-democracy-james-mcgill-buchanan-totalitarian-capitalism

http://www.alternet.org/right-wing/radical-rights-stealth-plan-america

11:13 PM  
Blogger Janus said...

"I was beginning to understand that the end of the world wasn't something that came about all at once. There was no one climactic event that definitively destroyed life as we knew it. Rather, it happened incrementally, so slowly it was difficult to notice, the frog in the boiling water. A few of us saw it coming but were dismissed as insane, or we blew our cred by drawing lines in the sand and declaring that the world would end on a particular date. You know the cartoons with the sandal-wearing bearded freak on a street corner holding a sign reading "The end is near." The end was a slow but accumulating tabulation of lost things. We lost species of animals, polar ice, a building here and there, whole cities. There was a time when we lived on streets where we knew our neighbors' names but now we were all strangers isolated in our condos late at night, speaking across distances to our lonely, electronic communities. Children used to play in forests. We used to gather around a piano and join our voices together. I tried to determine whether these sad thoughts were just the result of growing old. Probably, but that didn't make them any less real. Maybe I had lost so much myself⸺my family, my friends⸺that I couldn't help but project my grief onto the world at large. It was no longer enough for me to grieve for a lost mother, father, sister, or friend. Now my grief intended to encompass the planet."

Ryan Boudinot, Blueprints of the Afterlife

1:15 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

James, what a worthless piece of flotsam this country has become or to put it another way, the US is the biggest joke that ever hit the bigtime. Yes, that bill could land you in jail for up to 20 years for supporting BDS. Does this country stand for anything other than shopping? Apparently not.
Mike, I enjoy a youtube site called pocketsofthefuture by Paul Romano. He claims that martial law is already here in the form of police killings; that is, they are no longer required to serve and protect but rather terrorize civilian populations. The fact that this shooting occurred in a rather wealthy suburban area was, in fact, intentional signaling that no one, black, white, rich or poor is safe from the police. Blacks already know NOT to call 9-11 and soon toney whites will learn not to as well.
Apparently Israel is testing whether they can actually get away with genocide as Gazans are now reduced to 2 hours of electricity a day. Perhaps someone can find out how many hours of electricity Jews in the Warsaw ghetto had. I have no doubt that if not for a world press Israel would commit a complete genocide of the Palestinians. By the world press I do not include the New York Times by the way who would probably report that Israel gave each Palestinian a full paid vacation in Europe.

1:19 AM  
Anonymous KJ said...

Dr B, you're quite lucky. I moved to Barcelona last year, but to my horror found it is almost as bad as the London I left behind. People here tell me it has gone completely downhill over the past 3 years. The problem is the city was turned into a tourist magnet but now they're paying the price and its identity is being gutted. There is more and more hostility to outsiders and foreigners, but they wanted them here in the first place. Never spread your legs for foreign investment is the lesson, I guess.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous cos said...

Savantesimal,

As for Gnosticism definition, see Erik Voegelin or as cited in note, John Gray. Obviously, you have internet access so a simple search in wikipedia will show that it is a very western movement. Gnosticism, per Voegelin, Gray, Salinas-Price and even Kuntsler is the faith wbich animates most americans, esp progressives. Voegelin, did several studies demomstrating the gnostic underpinning in american politics. The gnostics were at odds w christianity and not the romans ( maybe the holly roman empire and avigion papacy, but not rome of the caesars as that was a gnostic regime per voegelin. That americans in the masse are unconcious horned cattle is true, but the elite in politics and technology are full on gnostics. A good instructive read available online is Hugo Salinas Price, the Gnostic Plague a great exposition the current grip of gnosticism on current thought.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

KJ-

I saw that in 2004-5, actually. I had been thinking abt moving there, and in 2004 it was great. During the next year the cell phone hit the town big time, and by the time I returned in 2005 it had become a commercial American town, quite awful. Madrid I still like--at least it's not a tourist town.

mb

9:43 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

A war of all against all, and a return to a life that is nasty, brutish, and short.


http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/07/19/ms-13-initiation-killings-lured-to-park-by-girls-and-hacked-to-death-with-machetes.html


http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/07/19/nyc-men-square-off-in-bloody-brawl-involving-machete-garbage-cans.html

10:22 AM  
Anonymous Hope-no-more said...

Greetings Doctor and fellow Wafers!

I have been following Sheldon Solomon and his pals develop and prove Ernest Becker's theses at their Ernest Becker Foundation. So one thing they've proved is that when people are reminded about their mortality, even very subtly, they become more xenophobic and hostile to outsider - a remarkable finding considering the content of TV and news shows we've been bombarded with over the last several decades.

I recommend any of Solomon's video lectures, but here is a snippet to begin with:

Sheldon Solomon on the Psychological Costs of Being American
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXZB9t_ypO4

Also, a new project at the EBF:

Death Anxiety and Political Messaging
http://ernestbecker.org/projects/voter-manipulation/

Enjoy Waferinos!

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Aaron said...

Just a short note re Gnosticism -

Gnostics believed the material world was evil and irredeemable, and our only hope was to escape it. That an inferior - possibly evil - creator God botched this world badly, and our salvation was to escape this worthless and irredeemable world towards the true higher God of love and compassion, by denying this world and everything in it. It was more ascetic and anti-ego and materialism than Christianity.

All projects to perfect this physical world are deeply alien to Gnostic thought. Essentially Gnosticism is a more extreme form of world-denying Christianity, and closer to Buddhism.

Vogelin badly misrepresented Gnosticism as wanting to perfect this physical world (!) and create a heaven on earth by denying the "natural order" - the idea is to escape the natural order in its entirely, not perfect the Earth.

All this can be easily looked up on Wikipedia and elsewhere.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jj-

Anyone who doesn't recognize the fundamental goodness of Americans has rocks in his head.

Aaron-

For anyone interested, I have an extended treatment of Gnosticism in CTOS.

Hope-

I met Shel 2 yrs ago at a conference in Waterloo, Canada. A great guy, really. I'm hoping we can meet up again.

mb

1:25 PM  
Anonymous Pastrami and Coleslaw said...

No Shit Sherlock dept:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/19/hillary-clinton-donald-trump-unpopular-polling

Florida again?

https://jalopnik.com/florida-man-shoots-out-tires-of-at-t-truck-because-it-w-1797086979

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Marc V said...

Hope-no-more and MB !

I met Sheldon Solomon @ a symposium here in ATL in February. The meeting was called "I am Not An Animal," focusing on the epistemological animal condition. His talk tied as my fav., contending w/ one by the anthrozoologist Hal Herzog called "Some We Love Some We Hate Some We Eat"

Here is the Ernst Becker Foundation's feed of video taken of that fascinating lecture, "The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life"

4:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Pastrami-

Gd article, but it's certainly wrong to say that Hillary has kept a low profile since Nov. 9. She hasn't, and every time she speaks people hate her more. She may be the biggest turkey in American politics since...I dunno: Dan Quayle? I have only 1 wish b4 I die, and that's that I get to bang her and Obama's heads together for 10 solid minutes on nationwide TV.

mb

5:21 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

This just in from CNN:

Morris Berman, head of the Ministry of Total Collapse, declares he will personally bang the skulls of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama together for 10 minutes next Saturday night on CNN. Berman has named the event The Great Bang Hooey (TGBH), and is hopeful that both Hillary and Obama will be completely unrecognizable after the event. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

5:58 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

r.u. sure you don't mean SNL? Altho either one wd be gd, really. My boss, Trumpi, said to me: "Attaboy, Bermi; sock it to 'em!"

mb

6:10 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

In another great day for American compassion, a South Carolina man deliberately drove his car into a dozen crematory mourners:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/south-carolina-man-charged-attempted-murder-after-driving-dozen-cemetery-n784711

A naked gunmen on a boat in Seattle was shot and killed by police after randomly firing off 200 rounds. "He was just kinda shooting and then he’d yell some things. We couldn’t quite make out anything, but he seemed angry," said a witness. Gee, ya think?

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/lincoln-county-woman-attacks-girlfriend-deputy-and-tries-set-house/article_8de2e4ee-6058-582e-819a-6fc1ed935807.html?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

And another "face of America," belongs to Audrey Sampson, who attacked her roommate with a hunting knife and tried to burn her house down:

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/lincoln-county-woman-attacks-girlfriend-deputy-and-tries-set-house/article_8de2e4ee-6058-582e-819a-6fc1ed935807.html?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

6:11 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Bill-

I suppose it's gd that Americans are not repressing their anger, and are expressing themselves in an honest and forthright manner instead. Ya gotta give 'em credit.

mb

7:43 PM  
Anonymous Danny Ellsberg said...

"The appeal of cinema lies in the fear of death." - Jim Morrison

The Horatio Alger myth employs the same principle. In the US, we like to package our reality into easily digestible soundbites. Trump embodies the "screw you, I got mine" culture. He gets his message across quickly, because most of my lost fellow citizens need someone to tell them it will be fine, and they don't want or have the time to invest in reading about what is actually happening. "You'll get your cut," Donnie tells them, "but those others you don't like, they'll get nothing."

9:32 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Danny-

Problem w/yr analysis is that what the Hillary crowd wants is also someone to tell them it will be fine, and they also don't what to research what is actually happening. This is true of the Dems and progs no less than the Trumpites. The NYT, for example, exists to reassure the professional and upper-middle classes that all is ultimately well w/the US, and that they can sleep soundly in their beds.

mb

10:01 PM  
Blogger took_the_red_pill said...

Sorry, I posted to the previous thread. Reposting an abbreviated version here:

Florida kids filmed laughing at drowning man

There must be something in the water in Florida. I heard about the guy shooting out the tires of the AT&T truck the other day (posted above by Pastrami and Coleslaw). The horrifying (yet somehow still amusing) video is here:

Hialeah, FL man shooting tires of AT&T and FPL trucks

I'm no gun expert, but it sure looks like the guy is carrying one hell of a hand cannon. He must empty at least a dozen rounds into the tires and engine blocks of two trucks.

12:17 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Took the red pill,

That video of the kids watching the man drown is disturbing. Hard to believe this level of dehumanization is so common. 40 years ago, I doubt you would find anything comparable in even the poorest black neighborhoods. Clearly American culture and society are to blame, but I wonder if there isn't something particularly virulent and anti-human in ghettoized, black hip-hop culture that could account for this? I posted a video last week of a bunch of black kids watching a woman burn a man alive, with the same, giggling, empathy-free reaction. Which means this is surely very widespread.

I don't suppose I need to say how I'm not a racist, since PC is not observed here. I'm not, but sometimes I think this "go f%ck yourself", black hip hop culture is like the worst of American values on steroids! At any rate, it seems clear to me that Snoop Dog is the true face of America. He represents perfectly our soullessness, aggressive hustling and nastiness--but without the mask. These black kids are just a very slight exaggeration of what most American kids (both black and white) are now like in 2017. I saw it in the classroom for close to a decade. They are not outliers.


5:05 AM  
Blogger Mister Roboto said...

@took_the_red_pill: May blogs and news-aggregator websites have a special tag just for Florida because Florida is just so...special.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Transatlantic said...

Also the following book was supposed to be published May 15, 2017 and available for $13/copy has inexplicably been pulled and its author died suddenly and unexpectedly in January. Could be wrong but I think the CIA pulled this book - still available in German.
Title: Journalists for Hire : How the CIA Buys the News
ISBN: 9781944505479
Author: Ulfkotte, Udo
---------------------------------------------------------------
I've read the German version (not easy to get here in Germany, either). Interestingly enough, a lot of the "alt-lite" blogger set is breaking news of this nature every day. And much of it proves accurate within the course of a few days. MSM has it covered though -- you are just a conspiracy theorist if you believe any of it. ;)

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

@Megan,

Some of the worst people I ever met were white frat boy types. I remember when watching bumfight videos was all the rage with people on my lily-white college campus. Basically homeless men were paid to fight each other. The homeless men were usually paid in money or alcohol. Sick dehumanizing stuff.

In an extra disgusting twist the creators of the bumfights videos are accused of trying to mail stolen human remains back to the United States from Thailand.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryen_McPherson#Thailand

The collapse of empathy is widespread and seems to cross racial and class divisions in the United States. It will only get worse with time which is why I laugh at people who think that the youth will save us.

11:51 AM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Interesting...this lady from North Korea escaped to the Capitalist South, and then returned to the North because she said her life in South Korea "was Hell."


http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/07/21/north-korean-boomerang-defector-said-life-in-south-korea-was-hell.html

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

It is certainly very american to laugh, giggle, smirk, and mock someone (especially a mentally challenged individual) thrashing in the water, yelling as they were drowning to death. These americans are socio and psychopaths, or present elements of these mental derangments.

In the us, it IS ok to stand around and do NOTHING..except laugh and giggle. That's legal. To do nothing and watch someone die in america is legal.

In France, it is completely illegal. Each citizen must help someone in need until police/fire/ambulance, etc...arrives. That's the law. Otherwise, jail time.

Believe Dr. Berman pointed out a Seinfeld episode with some Johnny Cochrane look-a-like shyster lawyer saying, that's the great thing about america, you don't have to help anyone or do anything.

5:08 PM  
Anonymous Turkey-Buster said...

Hi y'all!

The Automatic Earth yesterday ran an iconic photo that says it all about the USA. It's from the Roosevelt Era: WORLD'S HIGHEST STANDARD OF LIVING There's no way like the American Way!

5:34 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

After reading your post, Morris, I pulled out a book I read years ago: “Awakening to the Dream’ by Leo Hartong:

“Fear of dying is not the same as the fear of death….animals know the fear of dying but as far as we know are unfamiliar with the conceptual fear of death….

“The fear of dying is that which stops you from disembarking from an airborne plane without a parachute….The fear of death is more abstract as the mind projects a future in which it no longer exists. You could say that it mourns it’s own demise in advance….It terrifies itself with pictures of life being terminated, followed by an abyss of eternal nothingness and then recoils from this void as if nonexistence would be some kind of experience….Ironically, the clinging to life can get in the way of living fully so that, in a roundabout way, the fear of dying becomes a fear of living….”

Americans are fully into denying the reality of death.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB-

Once again, many thanks for another great book recommendation: "Class," by Lucinda Rosenfeld. Can u believe these nasty upper-middle class progressives? I'm about halfway thru, and haven't laughed so hard in months.

Meanwhile, more insanity in the US:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/video/news/florida-man-shoots-atandt-trucks-near-his-home/vp-AAowso6

MB, Wafers-

Pastor David Manning on the 'demon' Trump and the 'stringy-head slut,' Kellyanne Conway:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceb3-VpSkVw

Miles

ps: Time for some jazz:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVE3a5P76g4

6:02 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

red pill--that dude who shot up those trucks was 64 years old, and apparently just snapped (I'm not sure what else to call such a reaction to a utility truck doing vital maintenance work partially obstructing your driveway). Just think how many millions of other Americans there must be out there who are one perceived slight from going off in similar manner.

Meanwhile, on the 6th month anniversary of the Trumpenfuhrer, Peter Van Buren has a great new sarcastic takedown of the progs:

"OMG, it has only been six months. How’s the Kool-Aid nazi lover? As a white man of privilege who isn’t gay what do you know anyway about suffering, so f*ck you. The Resistance has held Trump back for now by posting on Facebook, but what about tomorrow?!? Luckily we marched with pussy hats or things would have been worse. You don’t know how bad it is because most of the changes are hidden. America’s prestige abroad is trashed and Andrea Merkel is leading the Free World! Putin’s playing 3-D chess and just waiting to make his move. Any day now Robert Mueller is going to announce ____ and the sh*t will come down. We are nasty, fierce, persistent, and have excellent vocabularies. And did you see what anonymous sources told the NYT today? At least Dr. Who is a woman, so that means Hillary really won, doesn’t it?"

https://wemeantwell.com/blog/2017/07/20/six-months-of-trump/

6:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

It was actually the final Seinfeld episode, the finale. The Johnnie Cochran figure is played by a very talented actor, Phil Morris, who was actually once told by Johnnie's lawyer to "cease and desist" imitating him, since he was so gd. The French law is called the Good Samaritan law. In several states in the US, it is illegal to feed homeless people. It's only a matter of time b4 awards will be given out for shooting them. A gold presidential medal for gunning down 100 or more homeless people. And really, why not?

Turk-

One of my favorite fotos, by Margaret Bourke-White. I'm so happy yr out there, busting turkeys. You've got yr work cut 4u, as there are nearly 327 million turkeys in the US. Just drink lots of coffee, I guess.

Bill-

Peter's actually a gd friend of mine. Fine takedown of progs, that. People who will never, ever learn.

Jeff-

And speaking of progs, that novel made me wanna fly to NY, walk around Park Slope, and just start slapping them. Maybe we can all do that after the 4th (or is it 5th) NY Wafer Summit Mtg on Oct. 29. 1st lunch, then prog slapping. A fulfilling day. Seriously, the thing Rosenfeld portrays so well is the inability of progs to have a single real, or happy, moment in their lives. Abs. nothing emerges from genuine feeling, in the p.c. world; it's all abt "am I doing the culturally approved thing?" Turkey lives, not human ones.

Sar-

Turkeys don't think abt Thanksgiving, rt?

mb

7:01 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Speaking of turkeys:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/07/20/o-j-s-last-defender-f-lee-bailey-is-broke-disbarred-and-working-above-a-hair-salon/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-lifestyle%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.118b42c602a5

7:12 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps2: The progs march on:

https://www.amazon.com/She-Persisted-American-Women-Changed/dp/1524741728/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1500678824&sr=1-1&keywords=chelsea+clinton+she+persisted

7:16 PM  
Anonymous Dan said...

Bill,
My 92 year old mom and I went to a diner to eat last night. After a few minutes a couple and a 2-3 year old daughter sat in a booth in back of ours. The girl had some type of tech-crap and through the entire meal we had to suffer through the ABC song. Of course, my initial reaction was to ask the couple to please turn it off or at least make it lower. Then again I could not be 100% sure he would not have turned violent as they appeared lower working class at least though their dress and adorable tattoos.

9:01 PM  
Anonymous Megan said...

Tom,

I agree with you entirely. The pornified, alpha male, social-climbing repulsiveness of fraternity culture is as about as awful as it gets. Like hip hop culture, this phenomenon is really just a minor exaggeration of the mainstream American outlook.

That said, I think these videos of "Let's giggle while a man drowns or is burned to death", really do point to something of profound significance, even more than the run-of-the-mill stuff that we post here every day. At any rate, I think I'm probably right in believing that these aren't just flukes, and that this attitude is fairly widespread. It certainly crosses racial barriers as well. Think about it. The guy shooting the AT&T truck tires is amusing, as is the guy who called 911 because they forgot his fries at the drive thru. However, laughing while someone is drowning in front of you, or being burned to death with gasoline, is really where you have to start using words like "evil" or "demonic". My god, even Himmler had to vomit when he observed the Jews being gassed. So, wow, to think that our culture is actually producing teenagers with demonstrably less empathy than Himmler--that is truly something!

I am still wondering, though, if it was merely mainstream American culture that molded these "human beings" in such grotesque fashion? Or was it the degraded subculture of hip hop--which, as I've maintained, is just a more potent variety of American values--that is to blame? I don't know the answer, but it seems to me that this is something worth asking. (And, no, I'm not going to go on TV to genuflect before Al Sharpton for raising this perfectly legitimate, non-racist, point!)

5:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Megan-

In terms of 'blame', it might be a society based on hustling for 400+ years. When everything is abt 'monetizing' and commodification, other people eventually get completely objectified, are no more than objects in your field of vision. In addition, those who are unsuccessful in such a society are looked down upon, treated as untermenschen. They are basically waste products, in this mental framework. Add to that the amount of violence around us--not just on TV, but also in our daily lives, including the militarization of our society--and finally, people drowning or being burnt alive is not much more than entertainment. Hip hop and its often grotesque lyrics are probably more effect than cause--like Trump, the cutting edge of this type of society--but no doubt act as cause as well (like Trump). All in all, the result is a horror show.

mb

8:15 AM  
Blogger Himanshu said...

Dear Dr. Berman and Wafers,

Great article titled "My University Treated Me Like a Criminal Over a Joke" by a Johns Hopkins Professor who became a victim of the PC crowd:

https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2017/07/johns-hopkins-university-professor-treated-like-criminal/

He says:

"I believe that the real reason I was barred from class and suspended was that in response to being informed two weeks earlier that a complaint had been made, I had noted the Orwellian characteristic of the OIE, quoting from their website but adding the italicized phrase in brackets:

Johns Hopkins is dedicated to the world of ideas and that world expands exponentially as those with different experiences and points of view share their knowledge and interpretations with one another […unless of course those views diverge from the dominant groupthink protected under the banner of ‘political correctness’ or threaten the safe spaces and comfort of anyone else]. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion reflects both a recognition of the past and the promise of the future, something owed to everyone in the Hopkins community. "

9:16 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Himan-

The bright side: The more the culture commits suicide, the faster our decline. Go Hopkins! (and Evergreen)

mb

9:56 AM  
Anonymous NJGuy said...

I think I'll ask the caller about this the next time they ask me for a donation.

NJ Guy
A&S 1971

10:15 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

NJ Guy-

I was Ph.D. from Hopkins in 1971 as well. All my bios, including Wikipedia, have it as 1972, but in fact it was 15 Feb 1971. Go figure.

Meanwhile, as of 1970 I was teaching in NJ, at Rutgers. Small world.

mb

11:27 AM  
Anonymous Arya said...

But we don't have money for single payer.https://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2017/07/20/Pentagon-Sticker-Shock-US-Weapon-Systems-Will-Cost-Taxpayers-189-Trillion#.WXGTjlGOAZg.reddit

11:57 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Arya-

Analogous to the last days of Rome, and has been called 'imperial overstretch' by historians. An alternative name might be Ram yr head up yr ass and go down the drain.

mb

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Vincent in Auvers said...

Megan- It's absurd to think that moral depravity is the sole purview of black America. If anything, hip-hop culture is an exaggerated response to the abysmal treatment of blacks by whites for 400 years. Much of it is little more than posturing, a feeble attempt to recapture some semblance of the power and agency that were stripped from them. There's also something of a besieged mentality--put up a front in hopes of dissuading further attack. There is a lot worse going on among the white majority that is simply covered up, not reported, or explained away as "mental illness." Here is just one recent example: Last month, a student working on his PhD in physics at the University of Illinois abducted and murdered a young Chinese woman, another graduate student, for the thrill of it. And let's not forget Adam Lanza, the young white male who walked into an elementary school and shot 20 schoolchildren to death. No wringing of the hands about how depraved white culture is in these cases. These black youths mocked and let a man drown to death--terrible behavior, yes, but nothing compared to the atrocities that whites commit on a daily basis, both within the US and by remote control overseas. The whole country is a moral cesspit, but as always, the ones who have no power are scapegoated as the cause for the decline.

Another Teshigahara film Wafers may enjoy: The Face of Another. It's about our inability to see past surface appearances and relate to one another as human beings. Not a uniquely American trait, but particularly apt given the obsession with celebrity and physicality here.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Savantesimal said...

And this has been seen and called out for decades... to no effect.
Economically speaking, empire is a suckers' game.
-- James K. Galbraith (Salon.com 4-20-2004)

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Carolyn said...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/cicero-used-to-be-boring-with-trump-around-hes-breathtaking/2017/01/04/02043c1e-d2a3-11e6-9cb0-54ab630851e8_story.html?utm_term=.baea078223c3

Cicero is relevant again

3:41 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Boy, am I glad I read this Psychiatrists article which says America's Decline is all in my head...I think HE needs his head examined.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reading-between-the-headlines/201702/declinism-why-you-think-america-is-in-crisis%3Famp

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Sorrowful said...

Greetings MB and Wafers

New interview on Intercepted with historian Alfred McCoy that is worth a listen. His book will be out in September: "In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power.” He has a particularly interesting take on how to find now secret information that was previously unclassified.

https://theintercept.com/2017/07/22/donald-trump-and-the-coming-fall-of-american-empire/

MB, I just finished reading Dark Ages America for the second time and am grateful for your clearly prophetic exposition of America's current state of affairs. It puts a framework on this chaotic time, which is helpful for dealing with overwhelm. This time through the book, I noticed that many of the comments about Dubya (you were writing during his administration) are almost exactly what is being said of Trump -- unintelligent puppet of others, unqualified to be president, etc. Hm-m-m-m.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Carolyn-

Cicero was never boring.

"How long, O Cataline, will you abuse our patience? To what lengths will your unbridled boldness go?" That Cataline, I tell ya; what a douche bag.

Cic also wrote that "the sinews of war require infinite money." A pity most of our politicians since 1945 didn't seem to grasp that.

Vince-

You make a v. gd pt abt hip hop. I go to a couple of gyms, and they play the stuff, on and off. Problem is, the staff doesn't understand the English lyrics, like 'moffo', and I do. Much of it is gross, and doesn't seem to require any musical talent at all--just sort of talking, being supposedly hip, calling women 'bitches', and so on. Dreck, in short. It's a real annoyance, and occasionally I ask the staff to change the disk (I tell them I'm going to spare them a translation). The truth is that black people cannot extricate themselves from history, and from an impossible situation today. There is simply no substantive way for them to do it. When you read a bk like "The Code of the Streets," you see how the deck is stacked against any black kid who wd like to escape the conditions of his life. They can create ridiculous situations at Evergreen College, wh/make them look worse, but that's abt it. The words you use--'posturing', 'beseiged', 'feeble', exaggerated'--are rt on target, and describe a situation that is sad. What did BLM amount to? No sustained political organizing, that's for sure. What is hip hop, but a symbolic way of giving the finger to the white community? Doesn't amount to shit, really, any more than taking down Confed flags does. So everyone will be forced to say 'African American' instead of 'black'--hey, there's a real triumph for you. All of this is semblance of power, as you indicate; it has nothing to do w/real power, and in fact--regardless of color--no Americans except the very rich and well-connected possess real power in this country. What is the psychology of watching someone drown and laughing abt it? Why wd this be happening now? Impt questions, not unrelated to powerlessness.

mb

5:26 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

MB -- I've never met Peter Van Buren, but I did have a brief interaction with him when we were both still working for the State Department and they were trying to railroad him by saying he used classified material in his book about the early days of the American occupation of Iraq (he didn't). He was covering his bases by notifying my office that he was being retaliated against even though we were not in a position to help (though I really wished we could have). Since then, I've enjoyed seeing him become such a painful thorn in their side. His personal story should serve as a real wake up call to those who don't realize that America's diplomatic core has become dominated by neocons and liberal interventionists.

Also, in our discussion about what American blacks have to suffer, just imagine what they must think of the latest development in Minneapolis, where the police chief has "resigned" because a pretty white woman as opposed to a young black male was summarily executed by one of her trigger happy minions. The victim wasn't even an American citizen, which really tells blacks how much less their lives are valued in this society. Much as I think BLM made a mistake by making police shootings a racial issue, I recognize the fact that it taking the killing of a middle class white person to effect such swift action represents a huge injustice to them in and of itself:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/minneapolis-police-chief-resigns-wake-fatal-shooting-bride-be-n785476

7:46 PM  
Blogger Sarasvati said...

Morris, let a turkey speak for herself:

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

8:43 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

mozanbique-

I appreciated your informative message, but hafta ask u2 resend it w/o the gratuitous insult at the end. What in the world did you think you were accomplishing w/that sort of personal attack (other than getting deleted)? Basic blog etiquette: you can't insult a Wafer (or the blog). We welcome disagreement, esp. when backed up by the kind of specific evidence you provide; but ad hominem attacks are a no-no. Those who engage in them cannot be part of our discussion. So pls clean up your post, and submit it once again; and in the future, bend over backwards to be courteous. Don't be a shmuck, for god's sake. Thank you.

Sorrow-

Great article, thanks for posting the link. It's nice to see other historians catching up to me; I in fact predicted Chinese hegemony of the Pacific by 2030, and McCoy is saying that its influence will be even greater by that time. He also talks abt China eventually being #1 economically; I thought that had already happened. In any case, we wd hafta be a nation of total turkeys, in total denial, not to realize that the US is on its last legs. Oops, wait a minute: that *does* describe us!

Am flattered that you read DAA twice; that's one more time than I did. As you may know, the NYT did a hatchet job on it; the bk scared them too much. Then I sent a letter to the editor (16 June 2006, archived on this blog), and they were too cowardly to print it. "All the news that's fit to print"--yeah, my ass. Just to fill you in (if this is unnec, forgive me), the prequel to it, namely the Twilight bk of 2000, was also predictive of what was abt to come down; and of course, the sequel, WAF, is a postmortem of how we managed to fuck up so badly. And then TMWQ provides a kind of upbeat satire of the whole situation--best read w/yr feet up and a glass of fine red wine.

For those of you who are not aware of my writings on the American decline, also check out QOV, my 1st collection of essays, as well as "Are We There Yet?" (AWTY), my 2nd collection, which will be appearing shortly on Amazon. And with that, my friends, I shall take a curtain call, make a bow, and gracefully exit the literary scene. I'm sure I'll do the occasional article, interview, or lecture (typically, not in the US--can't figure out why that is), but AWTY is my 14th bk, and that is probably enuf for one lifetime. The blog, of course, will continue on its merry way, inasmuch as we are such a merry bunch.

mb

8:49 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Sar-

Fabulous link, I loved it. With apologies to Gloria Gaynor, of course.

mb

9:08 PM  
Anonymous WuduFugel said...

Have to agree with the commentary on rap culture. I used to feel guilty about thinking so poorly of it but I've come to realize I was PC censoring myself. Every once in a while I'll listen to an interview with a rapper trying to justify singing about killing, drug dealing, and assault - and whatever argument they come up with is always so feeble I wonder why they even bother. Maybe they really believe it, I dunno.

When I was in college I read The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and it really bowled me over. Douglass's account of his life as a slave was full of stark cruelty and sadness, but so articulate and beautifully written its always stayed with me. Unfortunately, instead of getting a new Frederick Douglass, black America got Dr. Dre. Instead of Du Bois's Talented Tenth, it got 50 Cent.

Not that I blame them of course. Black people have never been fully accepted by mainstream American culture, and so have created a culture of their own. The problem is that any culture that at its core is only defined by its opposition to something else (i.e. white oppression), is forever going to be hollow on the inside. I'd say its similar to what has been pointed out on this blog as America's fragile identity problem - God's Chosen Country of Capitalism vs. The World.

But anyway, Morris I'm sorry to hear you won't be coming out with anymore books. I've read 8 of them, and they have led to many other books in turn and different ways of looking at the world. My thanks!

9:50 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wudu-

Yr welcome, and glad you enjoyed them. It's a lot of things...I won't bore you with a list, but I have a feeling, like my pal Philip Roth (haha), that I've said everything I needed to say. I'm not sure I can think of anything new, and if that's the case, it's probably time to hang it up. In addition, books tear yr guts out. Most people have no idea of the time and energy it takes to produce a serious bk. Rt now, as an old man, I've been trying to build my energy with pilates and yoga, and that seems rt.

Re: hip hop: I'm hoping that mozanbique will return, this time w/o feeling the need to insult me. Honestly, Americans are such idiots. Goes and shoots himself in the foot. But he had a different take on hip hop that I thought was enlightening, and if people have views different from mine or ours, and can express them politely, I welcome their input. He felt that there was a genuine, creative part of the genre that I was missing, and that cd certainly be true.

That being said, what I hear at the gym, or on my car radio, strikes me as pure no-talent garbage. I remember one time, some rapper was just talking (wh/is typical), and it went like this: "You faggot, you don' show me no respect, well you can suck my dick." He says shit like this, and expects other people to show him respect? Did this clown have a lobotomy, or what?

Many yrs ago, in the early days, I was watching an interview with some black hip hop artist on TV who was absolutely honest. He told the interviewer: "I know that what we sing about is garbage, but we are forced to live lives of garbage. So what we are singing abt is the circumstances of our lives. Give us better lives, and we'll have better things to sing abt." Rt on!, I thought to myself. He cdn't have said it better.

I agree w/u that black culture has degenerated since Douglass and DuBois, but then so has all of American culture. Check out the current White House: it's not merely degeneration; it's a bad joke. Bush Jr. may have been a moron, but Trumpi is a fucking clown. In the Twilight bk, in 2000, I said that everything in American culture had turned into kitsch. 17 yrs later, 'kitsch' doesn't quite describe the degree of our general degeneration--black, white, or anything else.

mb

10:39 PM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

My two cents on hip-hop culture. While I agree that most of it is trash, not *all* rappers sing about guns, hoes and dolla' billz. Some hip hop is great. Despite the fact that there's to a large extent no real substance beyond giving the finger to Whites and the Establishment, there's an energy in hip hop, an anger, that's not found in many other musical styles. Mos Def is no Miles Davis, but his flow certainly helps me take my gym workouts to the next level.

Kanye

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Interesting opinion piece on suicide in America and the lack of physical connections between people. Social media is not a substitute for real life relationships and interaction.

http://www.grandforksherald.com/opinion/featured-columnists/4301703-froma-harrop-suicide-epidemic-social-economic-or-both

Another article on suicide in America in the wake of the suicide death of rock band Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington.

http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/07/20/linkin-parks-chester-bennington-and-americas-suicide-epidemic/

10:09 AM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

MB-

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: DAA was the book of the decade. It should be near the top of the list of classic American books in my humble opinion. Indeed, the NYT couldn't *handle* the honest truth about our predicament, MB. I also think that Michiko was too dull-witted to realize that you were ahead of the curve, so to speak.

In any case, I look forward to yr 14th book w/great anticipation.

MB, Wafers-

I've never seen anyone so skilled at lying and film flam artistry than Trump, yet most Americans couldn't care less that he continuously defies the norms of democratic government. A case in point, as this is what seems to be on the minds of Americans:

http://www.newsdaytonabeach.com/wndb-news/man-arrested-after-fake-911-call-in-daytona-wanted-police-to-help-him-find-cell-phone/

And what about the new WH communications director, Wall Street pitchman Anthony Scaramucci? Does he get his haircut from Mittney's barber, or what? I tell ya, only MB can save this out-of-control administration!

Miles

1:13 PM  
Blogger Esca Dreg said...


Shri Belman, To be trashed by the hairy-ass at the NYT is actually a validation of your work. If she had done the opposite I would NEVER read your books. She would have saved my time.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/16/books/16book.html

https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2008/may/01/dontmesswithmichikokakutan
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/28/worst-book-reviews_n_1834631.html
"Norman Mailer, who described Kakutani as "a one-woman kamikaze" in 2005, and said he didn't know what had "put the hair up her immortal Japanese ass" and that the only reason the Times didn't fire her was because she was "a twofer", being "Asiatic" and "feminist".

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2006/04/michiko_kakutani.html
"publishing folk commonly complain that Kakutani is too hard to please." Maybe then "size" does matter.

Kakutani was upset with Garrow bashing her hero Barrack....
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/01/books/review-rising-star-making-of-barack-obama-david-garrow.html
"The reader interested in Barack Obama’s life would do well to turn to those books, and not Garrow’s overstuffed and ultimately unfair work here. Or, go back to Obama’s own eloquent memoir." -The twofer feminist at NYT

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/07/obama-biography-stirs-controversy-with-tales-of-politics-sex-and-a-rising-star
"In the New York Times, Kakutani dismissed the biography as “a dreary slog of a read: a bloated, tedious and – given its highly intemperate epilogue – ill-considered book that is in desperate need of editing, and way more exhausting than exhaustive.”"

1:22 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

I suppose one thing that Americans can pt to w/pride is that no one in the current admin has a haircut like Kim Jong-on. Thank god for small favors.

mb

1:22 PM  
Blogger Gigalax said...

Hip hop and rap started out with an authentic expression of black anger at their oppression and a desire to celebrate life. A few hip hop and rap songs made today still have that "atmosphere." However, hip hop and rap have become distorted because blacks have adopted the same Manichaean worldview that Anglo-American whites have.

Regarding the American Revolution, I think two main factors provided the context needed for it to happen.

1. The colonists did not want to pay taxes to Britain for defending them during the Seven Years War/French and Indian War.

2. The colonists wanted free reign to steal large amounts of Native American land.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Esca-

Actually, the quote from Franzen was that he called her "the fucking stupidest person in New York." True enuf.

The real problem is that she is childish; mentally undeveloped. Years ago, when I was teaching undergrads, it was very common for their reaction to an assigned text to be: "I liked it"; or, "I didn't like it." My comment on this was: So what? What I tried to get them to see by the end of the semester was that 'like' is no criterion of quality. You could like a bk that was poorly done and intellectually flabby; you cd dislike one that was brilliant. I'm not particularly drawn to Picasso, but I certainly understand that he transformed the face of modern art, and I have some idea of how he did it. The only issue here is whether the author (a) made his or her thesis clear, and (b) substantiated it with sufficient evidence. If so, it's a gd bk; if not, it's a bad one. (Michiko also lied abt my evidence, claiming it was anecdotal. In fact, the bk contains lots of stats and hard data. Even worse, as I wrote in my unpublished letter to the Times, she never actually took on the content of the bk. All that interested her was the rhetoric.)

Kakukaka never learned this lesson, and wd certainly have flunked my class. Her reviews are simply, If I like it it's a gd bk and if I don't it's a bad one. If a bk sharply criticizes the US, or Obama, or any of her pet likes, then ipso facto it's no gd. She's little more than a clown, and Mailer was rt to say that the NYT wasn't going to fire an Asian woman. If she isn't exactly the "fucking stupidest person in NY," she certainly is high up on the list.

Of course, the larger issue goes beyond any single author's bk. It's that the Times is committed to promoting an ultimately positive image of the US, reassuring to its professional and upper-class readership. Which means that the really critical scholarship, wh/peels the cover off the bullshit, gets trashed or marginalized. This is not neutral reporting; it's spin. And as I said in my letter to them, it's precisely this type of review is part of our decline. The more Americans live in a fog of unreality, the faster the country will collapse. The list of sophisticated scholars who have been predicting our decline, beginning with C. Vann Woodward in 1953, is quite long, and virtually no one has been paying attention. It's why my 3rd bk in the America trilogy, WAF, didn't bother sending out any more warning signals; might as well just provide a postmortem, was what I figured.

Anyway, thanks for the links. Be sure to be mindful of length, in future.

mb

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Vincent in Auvers said...

Very true about the NYT's agenda. I had a linguistics professor recently, very intelligent upper-middle-class woman, wrote several academic books, up to date on what's going on with all the various subcultures in the US, who seemed to take everything coming out of the NYT and NPR as gospel. I think there are some progressives (a small minority) who are aware of what's really going on in the country, but they either ignore it owing to guilt and the desire not to be ostracized in their social circles, or it's still too much of an abstraction for them. I think it was likely a combination of the two for my professor. A lot of them don't live in impoverished areas and don't have much face-to-face contact with people outside of their class, so they easily fall for the reformist claptrap the NYT peddles and fancy themselves aware.

On a somewhat related note, I just read that the actor John Heard died. I'm not familiar with most of his work, but the news reminded me of Mindwalk, one film he was in that I really enjoyed. It's been mentioned a few times already on the blog, but why not once more? Here's a bit toward the end where he recites a poem by Pablo Neruda: "You ask me what the lobster is weaving down there..." The whole film is great and highly recommended.

6:57 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

I'm reading the book, The Waning of the Middle Ages, by Johan Huizinga, and this description below sounds quite apt for what we are going through, and where we are in history at the moment...


"In the book, Huizinga presents the idea that the exaggerated formality and romanticism of late medieval court society was a defense mechanism against the constantly increasing violence and brutality of general society. He saw the period as one of pessimism, cultural exhaustion, and nostalgia, rather than of rebirth and optimism."

7:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jj-

I discuss Huizinga and his relevance for today in an essay called "Dual Process." If you dig thru the archives on this blog, you'll find it.

mb

8:45 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Check out "A Dark Truth," from 2012. Got panned in North America and total box office here was less than 6K. Very few Americans interested in these things, I suppose. Another eco-terrorist film I've mentioned b4 is "The East." Very provocative.

mb

9:46 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Megan-

Sorry, cdn't run it. We have a half-page-max rule on this blog. Pls compress and re-send. Thanks.

mb

11:36 PM  
Blogger took_the_red_pill said...

Megan,

No worries about being "un-PC" in your critique of moronic hip-hop culture. The Boondocks, a political cartoon that was also an animated show, frequently satirized this subculture, often savagely. The brother (Riley) of the main character (Huey) is frequently shown to be a total dupe of the thug culture so prevalent in rap music.

A few years ago, there was a really amazing pirate radio show, Slave Revolt Radio, that began circulating on the web via several community radio stations. The show was created by two African-American guys from Oakland (CA), Tracey James and Gerald Smith. Numerous episodes of SRR sharply critiqued the pop culture, particularly rap music. One of the most salient criticisms I recall was hearing James discuss how the "once vital" hip-hop genre had disintegrated into a "bling-bling minstrel show"; people who were "getting their asses kicked" in the inner city were consuming entertainment with "inverted values", internalizing their own oppression. In other words, all they really wanted was to be "on top". Sound familiar to anyone here?

By the way, here's the final SRR show from 2008: SRR: Blue Screen Matrix

It looks like the show may have started up again late last year. You can search for more episodes at the radio4all site.

11:40 PM  
Blogger polecat said...

I first read Becker's Denial 30 years ago. It changed the way I understood myself and human motivations, in general. And I think it explains why millions of Americans are unable to accept facts - like the fact that the Dream sold them by elites for the purpose of lining the pockets of the latter is a lie and unattainable by 95% of the former. (See The Twisted Dream by Douglas Dowd); the fact that the earth is heating up and may become uninhabitable in 50-100 years. The inability to face the fact of one's own death leads to the production of "immortality projects" (in Becker's terminology) like nationalism, patriotism, American exceptionalism, and religion, illusions that one uses to convince oneself that immortality is a possible afterall - thus the willingness to die in war or acts of terrorism as a way to achieve "eternal life". War and murder can also be explained as human sacrifice (see the amazing book "Blood Sacrifice") based on the belief that your death is necessary for my continued life - human sacrifice in ancient civilizations increased during times of drought and other threats to tribal survival.





5:57 AM  
Anonymous Damian said...

@MB--

Just a curious question, what is it about Picasso's work that isn't particularly drawing to you?

I feel the same way, btw. Picasso's path was wayyyyy too macho/technical for me

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Randy said...

it was Marshall Mcluhan's birthday a couple days ago, he would be 106 years old

"The Media is the Message" - The Irony Behind Google's Celebration of Marshall McLuhan
https://www.prprofessor.com/home/mcluhan

On Friday, Google ironically celebrated the little-known media theorist in front of 3.5 billion people. He used Playboy Magazine to promote a critique of the internet called Narcissistic Hypnosis.

There is also a new bio book out about him, called "You know Nothing of my Work" .... Can't wait to pick it up.

9:45 AM  
Anonymous troutbum said...

Dr. MB and all fellow Wafers:

Regarding the comments on Black culture, one book that I thought was enlightening was:

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide
by Carol Anderson Ph.D.
http://a.co/1SVwX5D

This book shows how any signs of black rage might be more than justified in the face of decades of white intolerance, indifference, and obstruction. 

10:12 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Damian-

Too cerebral. It never affected me emotionally. It really is art for professional artists, like a lot of jazz is music for professional musicians. I do understand the accomplishment involved in these things; but I'm not a professional artist or musician, and this is not the sort of stuff that turns me on. I'm not in it, so to speak, for the intellectual benefits.

Eisenhower once remarked that "I don't know much abt painting, but I know what I like." He was laughed at for being a philistine; and if that's where it ends--with 'what I like'--then that's pretty limited. But w/things like painting or music, that's not a bad place to start. Just my opinion.

mb

10:47 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Some interesting articles I read recently:

1. Baby portions will soon be the new normal
http://www.bbc.com/news/business-40703866

2. Money well spent
https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jul/23/inside-billion-dollar-palaces-of-tech-giants-facebook-apple-google-london-california-wealth-power

3. Venice seems fun these days
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/23/venice-tempers-boil-over-tourist-high-season

O&D!

10:59 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

At least they're keeping things consistent out there in Berkeley. Christian or atheist, we don't care. Offensive is offensive, we say.

First some students at UC-Berkeley decided they didn't want to hear from a conservative Christian (oxymoron? We describe, you decide): Anne Coulter was disinvited from speaking there in April, then Berkeley renewed the invitation that is yet to be accepted. Now, we learn that progressive radio station KPFA in Berkeley has canceled an August 9 appearance by scientist and atheist Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins was to discuss his newest book, Science in the Soul: Collected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist, a book the station had described as "excellent." They justified their reversal thus: "We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science when we didn't know he had offended and hurt--in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people. KPFA does not endorse hateful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech." [from Berkeley side.com article by Frances Dinkelspiel, 21 July 2017]

Richard Dawkins event cancelled over his 'abusive speech against Islam'
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jul/24/richard-dawkins-event-cancelled-over-his-abusive-speech-against-islam?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Mario Savio is dead, thank the prime mover.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

"Friends" ran from 1994-2004, 10 yrs. Some of you may remember the theme song. It contains the line, "I'll be there for you," which is why, I believe, Americans loved the show. The truth is just the opposite. No one will be there 4u, whether they are a friend, relative, or neighbor. They will be there for themselves. There is no love in American life, and Americans know this. So they watch a fantasy show that tells them there is. 327 million sad people, most of whom will die friendless and alone, like dogs. Well, OK, they'll be clutching their electronic gadgets as they wink out.

I honestly doubt that there has ever been, in the history of the world, a civilization as spiritually impoverished as ours--an observation made by Mother Theresa. Nelson Mandela called us the most hateful society in existence. Do ya think they may have been onto something?

mb

12:35 PM  
Anonymous ~tam said...

Haha, MB! Not only aren’t they “there for you,” but they are not there for themselves! I’m all about sharing loving kindness and spreading good vibes. I walk my dog at least 3x/day (reached 10,000 steps/day goal earlier this year, yay!), so I get a good dose of muricans on their own turf (as compared to muricans at work, understandably fake). On average, only 1 (often none!) is in a “good mood.” Morning, afternoon, or night; the middle-aged and elderly are thoroughly miserable —- grumbling, complaining, whining. The youngsters are more readily cajoled into smile, but even then, no eye twinkles. A very tragic society it is, that so reviles its own existence.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Vincent in Auvers said...

On Picasso: I've always associated "technical" art with stuff like David--measured angles, perfect perspective, vanishing points, idealized anatomy, really a math problem worked out on the canvas. The modern stuff is more about cognitive primitivism, or trying to revert to an earlier psychological state in an attempt to capture some fundamental verity about human existence. It doesn't always work, and I'm not really enamoured of the cubist stuff either. Sitting with one painting for years trying to depict the different perspectives of a bowl of fruit like Cezanne did seems more neurosis than technique to me. That said, I do like some of the Blue Period paintings, which are really good at portraying the anomie and alienation inherent to much of modern life, i.e., Femme assise or Femme aux Bras Croisés. Some of his stuff I find rather endearing, like this one or this. Picasso was actually classically trained--I'm working through the same book he and Van Gogh used, copying plates--so it's interesting to see where he ended up.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B:

I wonder how this'll work out-

http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/343491-democrats-roll-out-better-deal-new-economic-agenda

5:53 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Birn-

It's gd 2c that the Dems recognize that they lost the election because they abandoned the working class and economic issues. I was saying that on Nov. 9; it takes these people long periods of time to catch up. Why? Because they are turkeys. And their economic platform is a turkey platform for turkeys, drawn up by turkeys. Hopefully Thanksgiving will polish them off.

tam-

Gd to hear from u, and I'm happy abt yr dog. As for the avg American demeanor: can you imagine a turkey smiling, what that might look like? Rather bizarre, I wd guess. They also have the intelligence of turkeys. All in all, a grim lot. Ugh.

mb

6:17 PM  
Anonymous suzanne said...

MB:

I think you are right about the ascendancy of China.

Many people are not aware that in past decade our educational systems have been slowly dismantled by billionaire reformers-- Charters (privately owned but publicly funded with no financial oversight), vouchers, "personalized learning" (kids sitting in front of computers all day so money can be saved on teachers) and the disaster that is unfolding in our higher ed institutions. But Tom Friedman says we don't have to worry about China, because the Chinese aren't "innovative" like Americans.

Well, apparently the Chinese are taking the lead in developing a quantum-based global communications network which will be enormously important geo-politically:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/china-shatters-ldquo-spooky-action-at-a-distance-rdquo-record-preps-for-quantum-internet/

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Sorrowful said...

MB and Wafers:

US Army War College wakes up to reality, proposes wrong solution -- more $ for the military. Imaging our surprise:
https://www.juancole.com/2017/07/fraying-collapsing-pentagon.html

Just shaking my head. Turkeys indeed.

MB -- Thanks for the book listing. I'm moving on to WAF for the second time. Just wanted to say that all this reading was sparked by rereading The Re-enchantment of the World, the book that led me to you in the first place. Still want to read the rest of that trilogy.

--S

6:38 PM  
Blogger comrade simba said...

Professor Berman,
In SSIG you wrote "Intellectuals are particularly susceptible to this sort of narrative-blindness, going from Marxism to Existentialism to structuralism to postmodernism, all the while never realizing that what they are chasing is the next ism on the horizon- desire pursuing a moving target."

I would hope that Declinism isn't overrun by trendy Starbucks types.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

comrade-

I was living in Seattle when Starbucks consisted of 1 little store in Northgate Plaza. Wonderful coffee, and nothing corporate abt the whole thing at all. Now, it's little more than a globalized pile of shit.

Marcuse once wrote that capitalism is so flexible, it can market anything, including anti-capitalism. When everyone was (mistakenly) excited by revolution in the 60s, Cosmo Magazine began hosting ads like one from Revlon, with the heading: "Revolution in Deodorants!" Jesumaria, give me a break.

Eventually, I'm guessing that some of the leading progs will come over to declinism. They just hafta get hit in the head again and again and again, and eventually, they'll get it: there ain't gonna be any grass-roots revolt against the corporations (duh); rather, the country is toast. At that pt they'll excitedly embrace declinism, start waving declinist banners, give declinist lectures, and write declinist bks. One thing I can tell you abt the latter: I won't get a ftnote. But they'll be proud of their intellectual breakthrough. Jesumaria, etc.

Sorrow-

Speaking of declinism, pouring $ into the military is a sure route to national collapse. Rome did it w/great vigor; historians call it 'imperial overstretch'. Go, Trumpi! As for the Reenchantment trilogy, I hafta tell you, I think CTOS and WG are 2 of the best bks I ever wrote. Actually (all modesty aside), 2 of the best bks ever written. (That they were largely ignored and had trivial sales suggests that I'm rt.)

Suz-

What cd be better evidence of our decline than the fact that a turkey like Thos Friedman wins multiple Pulitzers? Pitirim Sorokin (see my essay on him, archived on this blog) said that when a society collapses, kitsch is mistaken for insight, and crap (not his word) gets rewarded. Meanwhile, check it out:

https://www.amazon.com/Imperial-Messenger-Thomas-Friedman-Counterblasts/dp/1844677494/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500939790&sr=8-1&keywords=imperial+messenger

This too is worth rdg:

http://www.alternet.org/story/121617/someone_take_away_thomas_friedman%27s_computer_before_he_types_another_sentence


Talk abt turkeys. Jesumaria...

mb

7:49 PM  
Blogger ccg said...

MB: I was just about to recommend that book The Imperial Messenger: The Work of Thomas Friedman by Belen Fernandez when I noticed you beat me too it. It's great takedown of Friedman. I bought it originally in reaction to my having learned that the now former president of the college where I work was a big fan of Friedman. That he was a Friedman fan says a lot about the intellectual capacity of our former president. Of course, this level of stupidity is hardly unusual among college presidents and other administrators. In fact, it's probably a requirement for getting those positions. Well, that president retired a couple of years ago and I actually thought about giving him a copy of the Fernandez book as a retirement gift, but then I realized it would be waste of money as he'd almost certainly never read it and wouldn't understand it if he did. I've known a lot of stupid and shallow college administrators in my time, but this clown was just the worst. Naturally, a number of other faculty thought he was an OK president, which I think says a lot about THEIR intellectual capacity, or at least about their intellectual honesty.

In regard to the Scientific American article posted by Suzanne, I just wanted to say that I am a theoretical physicist who works in the topic of concern in the Chinese experiment, and that I actually know a couple of the people (Europeans) mentioned in the article. It's a neat experiment, Tom Friedman notwithstanding.

I hope this isn't too long.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Gigalax said...

I think it is more accurate to call Americans zombies rather than turkeys.

1. Zombies are soulless creatures and are evil as well. However, there is nothing intentional about their evil. Rather, it is simply an ontological aspect of their existence.

2. Zombies mindlessly consume and/or destroy everything around them due to not having a soul.

Considering the above 2 points, the similarities between Americans and zombies seems very obvious to me.

I read CTOS recently. It was a very amazing book IMO. The typology of Western "heresy" and the conclusion that "ascension" is not the only form of spirituality were especially compelling to me.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

A Texas Congresssman just spewed forth on a radio talk show that if three female Senators from the northeast who oppose Trumpcare were guys from Texas, he would be tempted to challenge them "Aaron Burr style." Check out this fat fuck's picture. A 10th grade basketball player could have this festering douchebag cowering under his desk just by challenging him to a fist fight. He's a true patriotic "face of America":

https://thinkprogress.org/gop-congressman-blames-health-care-struggle-on-repugnant-republican-female-senators-ca4a2f32c5d7?ICID=ref_fark

Meanwhile, turkeys of a feather flock together as another attention whoring scumbag billionaire thinks HE should president in 2021 instead of Trump:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2017/07/23/jeb-bush-and-cuban-rip-trump-central-park-rally/9I7BZoaz7wL5NWJajloJKM/story.html?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Pete said...

TERRIFYING
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/18/rise-of-mega-farms-how-the-us-model-of-intensive-farming-is-invading-the-world

11:15 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

That fact that Dr. Berman's books had relatively anemic sales--speaks volumes.

It wasn't just Kakatuni, the american populace was dead from the neck up.

11:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

But it's not just intellectual blockage; there is also ontological blockage. I think I told u the story of a friend of mine, who is a dean at a major med schl, and tried to talk to faculty members (this at parties or whatever) abt a bk I refer to in WAF, "Capitalism and a New Social Order," by Joyce Appleby. She is prof emeritus at Harvard. The bk traces the shift in the meaning of 'virtue' in the 1790s (actually, I show in WAF that this happened much earlier) from contributing to the common weal to looking out for No. 1. When my friend raised the subject w/his colleagues, w/in 30 seconds their eyes wd glaze over, and they were gone. They just didn't wanna hear that we are the land of hustlers. And these are some of the smartest people in the country.

Gig-

Glad you liked CTOS. Re: zombies: I like to think of turkeys, because the Pilgrims came over starting in late 16C, saw turkeys for 1st time, and then began to imitate them. I think. But perhaps they eventually morphed into zombies, I dunno. We can probably agree that most Americans are robots, in any case.

ccg-

Length jus' fine, thanks for asking. As for Friedman, analysis of our situation per Friedman, the NYT, WashPost, etc. is extremely shallow, but it's as deep as most Americans (including faculty members--see note above to Mike) wannna go. Not much can be done abt it, I fear. The country wd have some chance if really serious criticism cd get a hearing, but that's not gonna happen. Friedman is journalistic Prozac, really--a sedative. Americans want to be sedated.

mb

11:19 AM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

Under the heading "Don't fuck with Immigration," a report that an American middle school teacher from San Diego driving through New Mexico some distance from the Mexican border was detained for an hour at a roadblock when she refused to answer a Border officer's question as to whether she was an American citizen or not. Apparently the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 287 (8 U.S.C. 1357), which specifies the Powers of Immigration Officers and Employees, and a Supreme Court case (United States v. Martinez-Fuentes 428 U.S. 543 (1976) authorize Border officers to stop individuals at places other than national borders to conduct citizenship questioning.

http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/sd-me-teacher-checkpoint-20170724-story.html

And some good news. The Democrats, recognizing that their 2016 loss was the result of voters not knowing what the party is all about--in short, that there's a lack of "brand awareness"--have agreed on a new slogan. To prepare for 2018 and 2020, they're offering this: "A Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages, Better Future."

Look for the hats and T-shirts at a mall near you.

https://www.good.is/articles/democrats-rebranding










https://www.good.is/articles/democrats-rebranding

2:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

It's not clear to me why the border officials didn't beat that woman to w/in an inch of her life and then throw her on a dungheap.

As for the Dems, I'm on board! They sound so sincere. But tell me this: how is it that it took them 8 mos. to come to the exact same conclusion I did on Nov. 9 regarding why Trumpi won? I mean, these are cutting-edge minds, the finest America has to offer (sad to say). Will you tell me how it is that these minds read Thomas Friedman, who doesn't know shit from shinola, when they cd be rdg this blog?

The entire country has shit for brains, and then it wonders why we're in trouble.

mb

3:09 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

US economy picking up...and Americans spirituality and emotional life continues to decline.


https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-25/u-s-consumer-confidence-unexpectedly-rises-to-four-month-high

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Turkey-Buster said...

Hi all!

We're not the only blog declinists hang out at (we are the only one for Wafers!). For example, at Kunstler's blog Monday the 24th they had a few gems amidst all the racist crud and juvenile gunk (that's what you get when you don't monitor comments). For example:

K-Dog (July 24, 2017 at 10:36 AM) wrote: "All the things the American aristocracy has done to the common prole they have gotten by with. The further you get from the coasts, [turkeys] from sea to shining sea blame their problems on anything but the elite."

Henry (July 24, 2017 at 10:36 AM) wrote about P.C. Liberal Lexington, Mass.: "Looking at the parents faces while they are driving (when they think no one is watching) and cutting off people in their Mercedes SUV you can see frightening faces full of anger, arrogance and misery.

"Then, every one here in public situations talks about 'no place for hate', 'coexist' and 'progress' and 'innovation'. I guess everyone need to feel like they are decent good folk."

4:33 PM  
Blogger James M said...

This article is reminiscent of some of your ideas, Dr. Berman. The author is clearly a declinist, but ends with some tepid quasi progressive idea of how the world can change for the better. https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/25/what-divides-america-from-the-world-and-each-other/

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Tom Servo said...

Nearly 1 in 5 American adults deals with a mental illness or substance abuse problem each year.

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20170721/20-of-adults-have-mental-illness-or-drug-problem

Native Americans dying from substandard US Medicare

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Native-Americans-Dying-from-Substandard-US-Medicare-20170709-0009.html

8:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Tom-

I have a feeling it's closer to 4 out of 5.

mb

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Grandma said...

Dr. Bergman, thanks for that hilarious alternet article on Thomas Friedman. I laughed long and hard, still giggling. Sobered up for the end, but priceless overall. And I agree with you on the mental illness as 4 out of 5. People are starting to come unglued. Since I can't become an expat, it's hunker down time.

James M, loved the counterpunch article. I'm not exactly sure what constitutes a "progressive idea" but I think the ending of the article was about taking a systems-thinking approach to our problems.

Grateful to all who post their thoughts, articles, etc., too many to mention but much appreciated and thank you.

Best blog in the world.

Currently reading: All Things Shining by Herbert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Gran-

1. Friedman is a douche bag. Perhaps the consummate douche bag. A peacock and a turkey combined.
2. As for mental illness, I suspect a lot of it is brain damage. We have discussed this topic b4. People have shown up here with serious neurological disorders; some continue to lurk. Quite creepy; they just won't go away. Brr. I wdn't be surprised if 50% of Americans are brain damaged, overall.
3. This is, indeed, the best blog in the world. When I hear of people visiting other blogs, I weep. It makes no sense to me at all. This blog represents the most evolved state of consciousness in the entire universe. Spiritually speaking, we have no peers.

-Dr. Ingmar Bergman

9:31 PM  
Blogger ccg said...

One of the reason I love this blog is that it was the first place I can recall anyone saying what I'd long thought to be true, what MB has repeatedly said, that even the "smart" people in the US are dumb. In my view this especially true for academics, and I speak as an academic. Right after the election, one of my colleagues said to me: "I can't imagine anyone voting for Trump." Do you suppose the man is living sheltered life? I, on the other hand, had no trouble at all imagining people voting for Trump. Another colleague had all along thought Hillary a great presidential candidate, not merely a least worst alternative to Trump, but a superlative choice. In the summer of 2015 I predicted that Trump would win the election, and, of course, these people were dismissive. And they were especially dismissive when Trump came out with those nasty remarks about Mexicans. But I predicted his pole numbers would go up, which of course they did. My colleagues were caught by surprise. I tried to tell them that Trumps pole went up not merely in spite of his nasty rhetoric, but because if it. They didn't get it. Do you suppose these people are a maybe just a tad out of touch with reality?

And now many I know fancy themselves now as members of the "resistance" and have participated in the various marches as if they were courageous acts. Ironically I know of some who are too timid to even stand up for themselves to their department bully. Yep, they're resistors, all right as long as nothing is at risk. In regard to the march for science, I figured that if one has to "march for science" the game is already lost. It was really a march for keeping the money flowing to science anyway.

Academic life is dismal these days, to say the least.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ccg-

You know, there are a few scholars who are serious abt their lives and are doing gd work. I'm grateful to them. But in my own experience, beginning at Rutgers in 1970 and going on to many other universities, for most, as one grad student once said to me, it's just ham and eggs. In other words, they are just paying their mortgages off. They are simply not inspired by ideas, and I began to see that spiritually speaking, they were kinda dead. Lots more that cd be said, but let me observe that this description is hardly limited to Academia. Depression and meaninglessness are everywhere now; it's what the country has become. Every day, the death instinct penetrates deeper and deeper into our 'souls'--what's left of them. What I saw in Academia, for example, was what Kurt Vonnegut called a 'granfalloon'--people who have nothing in common, just thrown together, and having no true emotional relationship to one another. This is the US in microcosm.

mb

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Gordon/Vancover said...

Hello Wafers

A podcast for thought; given where we are.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/ideas/the-truth-about-post-truth-1.3939958

Enjoy

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Sleep Aid said...

http://www.openculture.com/2017/07/how-insomnia-shaped-franz-kafkas-creative-process.html

How Insomnia Shaped Franz Kafka’s Creative Process and the Writing of The Metamorphosis: A New Study Published in The Lancet

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Bruce Bennett said...

To quote one of my favorite comedians (I think of him as so much more than that) - George Carlin -
"The reason that they call it the "American Dream" is because you have to be asleep to believe it." He was also the one who said that the United States is a country that is "full of bullshit" and his shows were an examination of why that is true. That will only increase with the appalling Trump and his regressive regime.
Carlin also had a brilliant take on the terms and phrases that we use to define and brand ourselves. Go to YouTube and type in "George Carlin modern man". A dazzling display of verbiage that cuts to the heart of our superficial and clueless society.

11:34 AM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

$50,000,000,000 to be spent on military bands over the next 50yrs. No stop to increasing (expansion) the # of military bands due to american's love of pomp and circumstance/pageantry and help to build troop morale.

The Pentagon has more than 130 military bands worldwide, made up of about 6,500 musicians, and not just in traditional brass and drum corps. There are also military rock acts with artsy names, conservatory-trained military jazz ensembles, military bluegrass pickers, even a military calypso band based in the Virgin Islands.

All of this cost about $437 million last year — almost three times the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts. Including an $11,000 flute and a $12,000 tuba.

1:11 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

The deep American sickness is on constant display. Behold, the man who stripped down, ate his own feces and spit it at the state troopers transporting him in their car:

http://fox40.com/2017/07/24/suspect-disrobes-in-patrol-car-spits-his-own-feces-at-richmond-officers/?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

Or the elderly Maryland woman who went for the "cruise of a lifetime" in Alaska and is now terminally ill and stuck in an Anchorage hospital because neither insurance nor any other entity in this sick country will pay for her flight home:

https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/2017/07/23/she-came-to-alaska-on-the-cruise-of-a-lifetime-now-shes-terminally-ill-and-stuck-in-anchorage/?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

Ad lastly, three young women are dead and one hospitalized after a night of drinking, driving and snapchatting goes predictable awry:

http://triblive.com/local/allegheny/12547706-74/snapchat-video-shows-women-drinking-before-deadly-bethel-park-crash?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

1:44 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

Greetings MB and Wafers,

Oh Lord, won't you u buy me a Morris Berman?
My friends are all on the TV, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from "Friends."
Oh Lord, won't u buy me a Morris Berman?

Miles

1:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jeff-

Maybe "a Mercedes Berm" might have been just a tad better, I dunno. Nevertheless, I wept when I read your poem.

Mike, Bill-

Honestly, I wish it wd be $50 bil a yr. $50 bil in 50 yrs is a disgrace. These people are helping the military, and the military is defending the sort of people and events reported by Bill. The bands, the people, and the events are what continues to make this country great. O, no decline for us. O no, never. We are fucking radiant, a city on a hill, and a shining example to all.

mb

2:37 PM  
Anonymous HD said...

Jeremy Corbyn as Xerxes: https://capx.co/will-corbyn-show-mercy-to-his-enemies-dont-bet-on-it/

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Chopped Liver said...

I have a poem too.

Three, six, nine
Donald Trump drank wine
Bill Clinton chewed tobacco in the titty bar line.
Ronald Reagan blew his smoke
George Bush got choked
And the country went to hell in Obama's row boat.
Clap Clap.

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Turkey-Buster said...

MB and all--

In a nation of turkeys (and turds who approve building codes) there is no guarantee that proper safety precautions will be made. This will guarantee that disasters will happen now and ever increasingly in the future.

Improperly installed exhaust pipe ignited massive Dorchester fire.

"The six-alarm fire that tore through the Treadmark condo building in Dorchester last month as construction was nearly complete started when a poorly installed exhaust pipe heated by diesel fumes ignited wood framing between the top floor and the roof, officials said Wednesday.

"The error was compounded when workers waited about 90 minutes before calling 911 after they first smelled smoke and saw haze inside the building"

Bill Hicks--

That shit-spitting episode shows why we as a nation (as a species?) are devolving at warp speed.

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Schlomo said...

This article a good historical context as well as a hypothetical envisioning of the "Suez moment" for the decline of US imperialism.

WAFers already know the wheels for this process are in motion, and maybe Trump is accelerating it, but he's mostly an amusing jester to watch while the process takes hold on its own in the background.

Liberating the world from the terrorizing reign of the backwater US will be a hallmark of this century.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B & All:

Headline- Police Go To Wrong House, Kill Man Who ‘Wasn’t Wanted For Anything’

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/police-fatally-shoot-man-at-home_us_59788ddee4b0a8a40e84113e?er&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

"For reasons Lance [the sheriff] said he can’t explain, the officers received the correct address but went to a neighboring address instead."

5:17 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Schlo-

The domestic Suez moment occurred on 8 Nov. 2016. McCoy provides a scenario for the international Suez moment; which, one way or another, will occur. I have been predicting it for years; we are probably less than a decade away from it. Anthony Eden was a colossal turkey; McCoy makes that clear. But what he doesn't seem to grasp is that historically speaking, England's time as empire was over, and Eden was merely history's agent for this. Trump is playing the same role for the US. The MSM in the US is horrified at his dismantling of the 'tools' of our empire, and it's possible that Trumpi doesn't even consciously know what he is doing. But unconsciously, the path is clear: the US is finished, and it needs a finisher. Trumpi is carrying out his historical mission, and I think that w/in the next decade or so, this will become abundantly clear. Most of the planet will, in fact, be relieved. They hate us, and w/gd reason. Meanwhile, all of this dog poop abt Trumpo's personality, or Russian influence in elections, etc., is just smokescreen stuff, distraction from the real historical drama. It makes no difference if he's an asshole. So what? The impt thing for rags like the NYT to understand, wh/they don't, is that the guy is doing his job. They don't even understand what the job is. McCoy is hardly a mainstream thinker.

Chopped-

You might add: Hillary is a disgrace/She has Botox in her face!

mb

5:18 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Birn-

I imagine that in 5 yrs or so, police will just randomly go up and down streets, knock on doors, and shoot anyone they encounter. On a daily basis. I can't imagine this *not* happening.

mb

6:08 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ps: Meanwhile, the official police motto will be changed from Protect and Serve to Gun Them Down Like Dogs.

6:09 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

It amazes me how clueless the MSM can be. Mr. Dionne is an utter moron. He doesn't understand that the events he is reporting on are A GOOD THING:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-norms-of-governing-are-collapsing-before-our-eyes/2017/07/26/ae32e112-7239-11e7-9eac-d56bd5568db8_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-c%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.794fa06d610f

We need more of this, not 'correction' of it. Go Trumpi!

mb

8:58 PM  
Blogger Esca Dreg said...


Thanatos people: In this BBC article replace "Holmes" with "America" and you'll read the psyche of the Usonian.
​http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/aurora_shooting
​In the face captioned "​Photo found on Holmes's smartphone​" you see the soul of this nation.​

​"P​eople who felt less in control of their lives were more likely to show signs of collective narcissism,​..."​
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170303-how-collective-narcissism-is-directing-world-politics
Wonder why UK and US are prime examples of "collective narcissism​?"​
​https://theconversation.com/welcome-to-the-age-of-collective-narcissism-71196

9:34 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Esca-

Actually, he looks like a very charming young American man. Very typical.

mb

9:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Meanwhile, where do these names come from? How can someone possibly be named Cliven Bundy? I mean, Reince Priebus is bad enuf, but Cliven Bundy? Why not Cloven Hoof? Or Reince and Repeat? I can't take much more of this.

12:04 AM  
Anonymous Long-view Optimist said...

http://humanprogress.org/blog/40-ways-the-world-is-getting-better

This breathes hope.

1:00 AM  
Anonymous Megan said...

This whole business of Trump unraveling in real time is almost too much to grasp. My God, there's just no way you can overstate it! As a declinist, it goes without saying that I'm happy and excited. My one reservation, however, is that his out of control lunacy might well pose a significant threat to humanity itself. Just imagine the potential holocaust that could come from something like a wag-the-dog conflict with North Korea! And if anyone still thinks that he isn't capable of doing literally ANYTHING at this point, has simply not been watching. It's almost a matter of "when" rather than "if", this turns into something really grave and dangerous.

Still, the WAFer in me doesn't want to see him impeached. He's just so perfect for the cause! At the same time, this might well descend into such unrestrained chaos that the safety of the world literally depends on removing him from office. 3.5 years to go.......Yeah, this is not going to end well!

3:15 AM  
Anonymous DioGenes said...

@ccg

Thank you for your post on academia. You are totally spot on about the lack of true organic resistance to oppression in daily life. The norm for bosses is pretty abuse at best, so why should we be surprised by Trump?

A few years ago I worked at a slum rural school district where everybody was just babysitting to pay the mortgage. The admin regularly lied to all of us, and personally lied to me multiple times about the scope of my job. When I quit, I cited this, and they acted like I was some kind of maniac. Teachers cycle out of there all the time, but nobody had even bothered to bring it up before.

It's expected that anyone in power will act like a total barbarian, and has been since Kennedy. Nowadays the progs demonstrate against the image of that reality, but not the essence.

5:04 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Megan-

Impeachment is not = getting thrown out of office. Clinton was impeached and just went on being pres, Monica's dress notwithstanding.

mb

5:12 AM  
Anonymous Transatlantic said...

This whole business of Trump unraveling in real time is almost too much to grasp
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We must be watching two different movies. It would appear to me that the Dems have gone into a level of delusion and detachment from reality that could take years to recover from, and the Reps are a disjointed mess of ineffectiveness. In terms of foreign policy, both have gone full neocon/-lib/globalist. Pick your term. This is good for Trumpi.

To date, there is no evidence the Russians "hacked" anything or that Trumpi had anything to do with them. The US MSM is a carinval sideshow, retracting phony stories at an unprecedented rate. Healthcare remains a joke and Trump has pushed responsibility fully onto the Reps There is also something brewing in terms of legal repercussions regarding DNC corrpution (check the Awan story).

Trumpi is on his way to re-election, IMO.

6:20 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Trans-

What we are actually watching is the US unraveling in real time. It won't matter much anymore who is in the White House. There is no recovery from what we have gone thru since 9/11, in virtually every area of American life, and certainly no recovery from what we are going thru at present. Above all, there is no recovery from the momentum of the last 400 years, centuries of violence and hustling and anti-intellectualism and spiritual emptiness. What we are now living thru is the logical culmination of all of that, and we can no more arrest or turn that around than an infant can stop a huge boulder careening down a steep mountainside. And to have, in the midst of this inevitable process, the finest minds of our generation completely detached from reality, preaching resistance/revolt/recovery--attempting, like Trump, to make America great again--is the capstone of our insanity, sealing our fate for all time.

mb

7:56 AM  
Anonymous DiogenesTheElder said...

Long time since I've written in, but I've been following along. A bit of sanity amidst all of the cruelty.

I wonder - we've written about Nov 8 being the domestic Suez moment. With a nod to your last comment to Trans, MB, I wonder: were there ever times in US history that were possible reverse-Suez moments? In other words, were there times/moments/eras when it was possible to turn things around? Possibly the last (and final) reverse-Suez moment was the presidency of Carter... Before that, the sixties prior to the realization that no one could change anything that mattered, hence onto identity politics?

In any case, just musing here.

DTE

10:30 AM  
Blogger pg said...

Greetings--
Dr B: for some darkly comic relief on the atrocious naming habits of American hominids, may I point to H.L. Mencken's study of _The Anerican Language_ where (iirc in vol 2) he describes naming habits, including sadistic medical students in maternity wards suggesting baby names derived from pathologies: oh, that's a lovely girl you have there! Why not call her...oh wait... Clamidiya!
If you want more crazy names, Faulkner's Snopes gang is full of them....
And not just Flem... Montgomery Ward Snopes comes to mind...
Cheers!

11:40 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Dio Elder-

It's been said that at the end of WW2, the US had the choice of going in the direction of empire, or in the direction of welfare-state democracy (European model), and it chose the former. Of course, who had the choice, and whether it was really a choice (given the historical momentum I described), are open to debate. As for Jimmy, as I describe in my work, his presidency was pretty much an accident.

Schlo-

Cdn't run it (24-hr rule).

mb

12:49 PM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

And nowhere, except perhaps in the analogous society of pagan Rome, has there ever been such a flowering of cheap and petty and disgusting lusts and vanities as in the world of capitalism, where there is no evil that is not fostered and encouraged for the sake of making money. We live in a society whose whole policy is to excite every nerve in the human body and keep it at the highest pitch of artificial tension, to strain every human desire to the limit and to create as many new desires and synthetic passions as possible, in order to cater to them with the products of our factories and printing presses and movie studios and all the rest.
- Thomas Merton
50% brain damage? Really how much pummeling can a human brain endure?(please delete if too long had dificulty editing)

2:08 PM  
Blogger Bill Hicks said...

Wow--I sure am glad the "adults" running our glorious military machine are prepared to act as an effective counterweight to Trump's belligerence:

"The U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, addressing a security conference in Australia, said in answer to a question on Thursday that he would be prepared to launch a nuclear strike on China if President Donald Trump so ordered."

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-nuclear-idUSKBN1AC1TI?feedType=RSS&feedName=politicsNews&utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

Meanwhile, keying your neighbors cars is never a good idea--especially when you are a university professor:

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2017/07/26/duquesne-university-professor-accused-keying-cars/?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

And the most Florida story ever...man kills hooker and buries the body in his yard:

http://www.wftv.com/news/florida/cops-man-put-prostitute-in-plastic-bin-buried-her-in-yard/572928411?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

3:25 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Jas-

A bit too long. Pls observe half-page-max rule, thank you.

Gunnar-

I love Merton. And he wrote that so long ago.

mb

4:01 PM  
Anonymous David Wave said...

What would an Ancient Greek think of US democracy & Trump?
Stanford political scientist-ancient historian Josiah Ober
https://qz.com/1036088/the-inventors-of-democracy-would-define-the-us-as-an-oligarchy-run-by-a-tyrant/

4:19 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

Official Study...American Empire is Collapsing.


http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/pentagon-study-declares-american-empire-collapsing

4:26 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jj-

Pummeling and pummeling!

Dave-

How about "A genocidal war machine run by a plutocracy and cheered on by morons"?

mb

4:37 PM  
Anonymous Eli Somners said...

https://www.thenation.com/article/a-righteous-fury/

'Martha Nussbaum’s new book about the dangers of anger tells us more about the limits of the liberal mindset than the actual world of politics.'

Interesting take here. Nussbaum's The Fragility of Goodness was fantastic.

7:50 PM  
Blogger Miles Deli said...

MB-

"Mercedes Berm," of course! Wish I woulda thought of it.

MB, Wafers-

WH Communications Director Anthony "the lip" Scaramucci muses about killing people, cock blocking, and sucking cock:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/07/27/anthony-scaramuccis-new-yorker-interview-is-beyond-words/?utm_term=.77563e408450

We have now reached an Age of Decadence; the stage where everything is hopelessly corrupt and increasingly unjust. Basically we are rotten to the core, and all that awaits is collapse. The date and time to be determined, of course...

Miles

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Birney Zouave said...

Dr. B:

Kakutani is gone: http://www.salon.com/2017/07/27/michiko-kakutani-new-york-times/

8:33 PM  
Blogger comrade simba said...

I don't know why, but the photo of trumpo schlomo posted here:
http://billmoyers.com/story/demolition-us-global-power/
made me think of "clay colored stools". Maybe shithead in chief goes along with botox face?

9:05 PM  
Blogger remo26 said...

I just saw this:

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/07/michiko-kakutani-leaving-the-new-york-times

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Mike R. said...

Utah man killed his wife b/c she laughed at him aboard an Alaska cruise ship.

Kenneth Manzanares of Santa Clara, UT, was charged with murder after he was found with blood on his hands and clothes, and with blood spread throughout the cabin on the Princess Cruises ship.

He stated that the wife would not stop laughing at him. He then suddenly attacked her after hours of laughing at him.

Maybe she knew he was an american turkey. Perhaps, the laughing may have been justified.

10:35 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Mike-

Maybe she kept saying, "You turkey, you!" until he just cdn't take it any more.

Birn, remo-

Check out the face. Looks like Botox to me. Brr.

mb

12:22 AM  
Anonymous John said...

Heyyy Wafers, it's been a while

Thank you Gunnar for dropping some Thomas Merton wisdom, I'm going to add some more Merton wisdom from New Seeds of Contemplation:

"Mere living alone does not isolate a man, mere living together does not bring men into communion. The common life can either make one more of a person or less of a person, depending whether it is truly common life or merely life in the crowd. To live in communion, in genuine dialogue with others is absolutely necessary if man is to remain human. But to live in the midst of others, sharing nothing with them but the common noise and the general distraction, isolates a man in the worst way, separates him from reality in a way that is almost painless. It divides him off and separates him from other men and from his true self."

I think it describes Americans and social reality very accurately.

In other news, looking forward to hanging out in Mexico City with my girlfriend !!!




7:16 AM  
Anonymous Navi said...

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/31/why-corrupt-bankers-avoid-jail/amp
"Prosecution of white-collar crime is at a twenty-year low."

12:15 PM  
Blogger polecat said...

Dio Elder and MB - on assent of American imperialism. Actually, the decision to become an empire was made in 1898 when Congress passed a resolution sponsored by Senator Lodge declaring that if Spain did not withdraw from Cuba, the US would declare war. Spain refused; Admiral Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet in Cuban waters and America decided to occupy the island. All, of course, for a good cause: to liberate an oppressed people who desired the freedom to run their own affairs. What could be more American! (Sound like a recent war in Iraq?) Puerto Rico was next, followed by Hawaii and the Philippines.

War fever was drummed up by Wm Randolph Hearst (via false and inflammatory stories his NYC newspaper, The Journal - "Remember the Maine"; remember Judith Miller?; remember babies being torn from Iraqi hospital incubators?) Hearst later referred to the war as a great little venture. Others pushing the imperial project were Senator Lodge and little Teddy Roosevelt, co-founders of the modern Amer Empire. They wanted Americans to begin ruling "lesser" people in faraway lands without their consent. (Little did they know how successful their initial venture would become.)

One of the main drivers was the desire of American capitalists for overseas markets, following the depression of 1893. McKinley: "We want a foreign market for our surplus products." So much for humanitarian intervention. And so it goes, now and forever. The earth will be well served by the fall of this monstrous, hypocritical, violent, self-serving colossal. (For more on 1898 see "The True Flag", Stephen Kinzer, 2017)

1:37 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

pole-

Kinzer is great; I love all his bks. Wm Lederer, who wrote "The Ugly American" in 1958, was interviewed a few yrs ago, just b4 he died, on NPR. They asked him if anything had changed since 1958, in terms of US foreign policy. "Not a thing," he replied; "it's as if I never wrote the book."

Marginalized critics of the American Way of Life, as I show in WAF, can never get any visibility, any leverage, and this has been true for 400 yrs now. The alternate path we cd have chosen (celebrated by Chas Olson, for example) was never anything more than a theoretical possibility. The mainstream of hustling and empire rolls on and on, and even when a president (Jimmy) is critical of it, he gets marginalized. Careers are founded on supporting the mainstream, giving a very stupid populace the bromides it wants to hear (Michiko Kakukaka is a perfect example of this, along with clowns like Brooks and Friedman). It is this mainstream that is Trumpeted as 'realistic', evoking the remark from C. Wright Mills that it was 'crackpot realism'. Trump is our historical destiny; the notion that he is some sort of anomaly is bogus, altho he *is* serving to dismantle the empire, thank god, and in fact the entire country. The wonder is that the nation has lasted as long as it has, because from the 1st, in terms of lived reality, it was spiritually bankrupt. Only a fool cd deny that we are getting our karma--and the populace consists of many, many fools.

mb

2:55 PM  
Anonymous The Comedian said...

https://www.wsj.com/amp/articles/trump-is-woody-allen-without-the-humor-1501193193

5:00 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Here are examples of prog stupidity. Authors of these articles don't realize that what they are reporting or describing is a *good* thing:

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/07/28/revolting-trump-openly-calls-police-brutality-long-island-speech

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/07/28/most-clueless-incompetent-and-self-defeating-administration-american-history

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/07/28/worst-yet-come

Go, Trumpi!

mb

7:15 PM  
Anonymous turnover said...

Interesting story on how censorship operates in the age of Google:

"A report by the World Socialist Web Site found that “in the three months since Internet monopoly Google announced plans to keep users from accessing ‘fake news,’ the global traffic rankings of a broad range of left-wing, progressive, anti-war and democratic rights organizations have fallen significantly.”

"Google’s strategy is to downgrade search results for targeted Web sites based on a supposed desire to limit reader access to “low-quality” information, but the targets reportedly include some of the highest-quality alternative news sites on the Internet, such as – according to the report – Consortiumnews.com."

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/07/28/the-dawn-of-an-orwellian-future/

8:24 PM  
Blogger ccg said...

MB: In regard to your remarks about academics, I think things are a bit more nuanced than you suggest, and things are different across different institutions. I once worked at a small university where the chair of the physics department spent most of his time running various business ventures out his office. Needless to say he wasn't much interested in physics. He ran the department as a micro-mafia. Almost everyone in the department was involved in his businesses at one time or another (I did not participate) and he even had a dean involved in his business activities. A little conflict of interest, maybe? He protected the department's weak performers so that they would protect him. And they did. I shudder to think about the time I spent there. In my current position, I can say that everyone in the department does get excited ideas, at least within the discipline. My frustration comes from how they think about other issues, the political ones in particular or even the management of the college. I'm frustrated over there insularity and their ignorance on matters political and historical, and that they accept the conventional wisdom so easily for the most part. Some, by know means all, seem to think they can understand the world from inside their own heads without any information about the external world and the lives of others, especial those not of their class. I come from a working class background which is surely why I have a different perception. Hypocrisy is rampant, of course. Just as an example, a few years ago, one of my current colleagues was bragging to me about the citation rate of papers. One can argue about these rates, but let's put that aside. She has a degree (Ph.D.)from an Ivy League school. But later, when she found that my citation rate was much, much higher than hers, she suddenly "realized" that those rates aren't so important after all. How can the likes of me (with a Ph.D. but not an Ivy League one) have a high citation rate? Isn't interesting to see how flexible faculty can be in interpreting data? But this is a very, very mild example of the crap I've seen over a 40+ year career.

And MB is not wrong to say that most faculty are spiritually dead, and many don't see what they do as part of a bigger purpose, such as the training of minds. Everything is disconnected. There's no unity of opinion even over what it means to be an educated person. To many, including the previous president of my college, it's vocational training. Sigh. (I fear this is too long but I have trouble gauging it.)

9:10 PM  
Blogger Esca Dreg said...


Limp dicks running low on juice. Hallelujah! Karma exacts a wicked price.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40741785
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sperm-count-dropping-in-western-world/

$437 million for the flutes and tubas, and $84 million for their cum-gun?!? Not fair.
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/02/us/military-bands-budget.html

Misallocated funds in the military; this too sign of a dying empire.


9:16 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

ccg-

Well, it doesn't *sound* more nuanced, but what the heck. Commodification is the death knell of us all. Yes, abt 20% too long.

turn-

https://www.amazon.com/Circle-Dave-Eggers/dp/0345807294/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501291412&sr=1-1&keywords=the+circle+dave+eggers

mb

9:24 PM  
Blogger jjarden said...

James Kunstler's Friday 7/28 Blog Entry...

http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/words-and-deeds/

10:33 PM  
Anonymous Sean Kerrigan said...

I'm currently reading "The Air Conditioned Nightmare" by Henry Miller. It's about his road trip across the US around 1939. In it, he praises New Hope, PA as being a great town. Still is pretty nice, but has very little positive about US citizens in general otherwise. He spends his time detailing the few interesting people he met, and what made them extraordinary.

On the plus side, I did notice that he was complaining about how Americans at that time were neurotic to a crazy degree. I'm glad to say that for the most part, that is no longer the case. It's probably the only form of psychological progress we've made over the last 70 yrs or so. All the other criticisms of Americans being hopelessly deranged are pretty much still true today. If Miller made a mistake, it was in thinking that such behavior couldn't go on forever, or get worse.

Off topic, but you might enjoy this essay. I discuss a growing theme in the internet sub-subculture. Basically, there is a segment of the internet youth who believe they are altering reality through black magick and helped get Donald Trump elected. http://seankerrigan.com/barron-trump-the-synchronicity-kid/

11:29 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

Exciting news: Reince Priebus got a nice boot up the ass from Trumpo. Jesus, what a douche bag. Anyone w/the name Reince Priebus shd just go out, buy a .357 Magnum, and blow his brains out. Either way, this opens the door to another top-level appointment; hopefully Lorenzo Riggins, or maybe Brittany Carulli.

Trumpi is like a 3-yr-old waving a bazooka. All his plans went on the rocks; his admin is in complete chaos; his foreign 'policy' has been very destructive to the US, and potentially dangerous; he is hell bent on crushing the poor and enriching the superrich; I tell ya, I love this guy. Go, Trumpi!

It's kinda funny: in my analysis of the factors that brought down the Roman empire in the Twilight bk, I listed 4 and said that the US seemed to be on the same path (e.g., crushing the poor and enriching the superrich). In the 17 yrs since that bk was published, the US has intensified those factors w/a vengeance, bringing us even closer to the abyss. It's like History reviewed these factors and said, "Hey, here's a guidebk to pushing the US over the edge." It then rolled up its sleeves and got to work. Trumpi is the capstone, the key agent in carrying out the collapse. He is our Joshua, blowing the Trumpet at the walls of Jericho; which you may remember, came tumbling down. Go, Trumpi!

mb

ps: Trumpi, if yr rdg this, pls release Shaneka Torres from jail in Michigan and give her a top-level appointment, like Director of Food Administration.

11:33 PM  
Blogger Gigalax said...

I think think that the main problem with American academia is its insistence on holding onto a reductionist paradigm. Science (i.e. knowledge acquisition through concrete observation and quantitative measurement) is reaching the limits of its usefulness. However, American "intellectuals" are trying to apply science to areas that are best left to the spiritual disciplines. They are basically using the wrong tool for the job.

Of course, in a society as spiritually empty as America there is no one capable of using and applying the spiritual disciplines properly.

12:17 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Gig-

Maybe Reince Priebus?

mb

1:10 AM  
Blogger Neil 0421875644 said...

Thought Dr Berman (aka "Belman") would find this Lasch interview intriguing https://youtu.be/Oe-dKUl8GeI

3:56 AM  
Blogger Kanye Cyrus said...

Interesting article on how phone culture is ruining vacations that came up from the archives of a website I follow. Not sure if it was posted here before back in the day, but it's worth a read:
https://www.wired.com/2016/04/instagram-is-ruining-vacation/

I don't know about you Wafers, but I've now largely opted out of travelling to big cities and "typical" holiday destinations. It's the same tourist nightmare everywhere. Overcrowding, selfie sticks everywhere, screaming children in airplanes. I'd much rather enjoy the peace and quiet of my home and save money.

Kanye

6:18 AM  
Blogger jml said...

Good news - a poll taken in Michigan showed aspiring GOP Senator Kid Rock leading by 4 points over Democratic incumbent. Not a joke.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-25/its-not-joke-anymore-kid-rock-leading-poll-michigan-senate-race

You can't make this stuff up. How could anyone deny that it is embarrassing to be an American?

8:53 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

jml-

Cdn't be worse than Reince Priebus, really. I keep wondering why, when I say that we're a nation of turkeys, people don't believe me.

mb

10:27 AM  
Blogger Gunnar Burton said...

Kudos to MB for moderating a blog that requires some craft - FB and Twit this ain't. Think about what you're saying, use the right words, keep it brief and support what you're saying with evidence. What a concept! Doesn't happen much in this shining city on a hill. I'll do my best to observe the requirements.

Everyone here talks about the dysfunction in d.c. I don't have to look that far:

http://denver.cbslocal.com/2017/07/16/colorado-springs-child-thrown-road/

Maybe we need a new government agency call it Office of Depravity Management.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous James Allen said...

"Could we borrow your islands?"

"They come from the Marshall Islands, an archipelago in the South Pacific made up of 2,000 small tropical atolls. And they have the unfortunate distinction of having the lowest per capita income of any racial and ethnic group in the entire United States.

...Marshall Islanders have the second-highest rate of diabetes in the world, and they also suffer from thyroid cancer, breast cancer, and cancers of the blood, stomach and colon.

Over the course of 12 years [1946-1958], the U.S. detonated 67 nuclear bombs there.

The 23,000 Marshallese who live in the United States have settled most heavily in Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Missouri, Washington and Oregon. In some of those states, the unique migration status of the Marshallese means they are ineligible for Medicaid."
https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/07/28/healing-americas-forgotten-nuclear-refugees-is-one-womans-mission/

12:52 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Gunnar-

Given the current levels of empathy in the US, tossing kids out of cars might catch on as a national trend. I'd like to say this will surprise me, but it won't. I'm still waiting for reports that various mothers baked their infants in casserole dishes.

mb

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Rene said...

http://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/why-every-philosopher-s-death-seems-to-hold-meaning

ICYMI: to philosophise is to learn to die

0tragic drowning of French philosopher Anne Dufourmantelle while trying to rescue two stricken children has prompted tributes from across the globe.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Rene-

France has a Good Samaritan Law, satirized in the last episode of Seinfeld. "Jackie Chiles" says: "You don't hafta help *anybody*! That's what this country is all about." Can you imagine, even for a moment, an American philosopher risking his life to save two drowning children?

mb

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Grandma said...

Hi Dr. Ingrid Bergman, (sorry about that Dr. B! autocorrect got me.)

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/07/the-agony-and-the-anxiety-of-the-new-york-times?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits

“I thought we had something special, but it turns out she never really loved me at all,” one departing copy editor wrote in a cryptic, metaphor-laden missive that was e-mailed to the NewsGuild last week and shared with Vanity Fair. “[S]he’s trying out a new lipstick each week. . . . Today she’s doing a Facebook Live from the Fidget Spinners Convention. Yesterday it was a 360-degree video of a Pokémon Go hunt (sponsored by Samsung). She’s even been seen on Snapchat. And the latest desperate move to run with a younger crowd: She’s having a few layers removed. . . . [A] word to the wise: Watch your back—she’s not as loyal as she used to be. Now excuse me while I go cease to exist.”

How is this cryptic? Plain as day to me! Circling the drain ...

4:41 PM  
Anonymous Suzanne said...

Bill Moyers Tangled Timeline on Trump/Russia:

Before you read this, make sure that you pour yourself a very large glass of Pinot Noir, you're going to need it (it took me over an hour)!:


http://billmoyers.com/story/the-trump-resistance-plan-a-timeline-russia-and-president-trump/

7:10 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Suz-

Glass of Scotch, you mean. It's amazing how exercised progs are over this supposed Russia connection. How many govts has the US interfered with? Check out Wm Blum and Steven Kinzer, along with DAA. We also interfered in the Russian election of 1996 (Yeltsin). But it's only the true critics, like Blum and Kinzer, who pt this out. The progs, instead, are all up in arms abt Russian hacking or whatever: "the gravest threat to democracy." Meanwhile, we have a history of overthrowing democratically elected leaders. What can ya say? Progturkeys!

mb

7:39 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Wafers-

How is it that political commentators cannot see that Trumpi being disgusting is exactly what history requires at this pt, for the US? Why are they being appalled, when what they shd be doing is celebrating the man? Isn't slash-and-burn gd agricultural practice?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/28/trump-disgust-president-repulsive-behaviour

Here's another example: the author shd be exalting Trumpo, not denouncing him! This is *good stuff*!:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/29/is-american-republic-built-to-withstand-malevolent-president

Go, Trumpi! Work yr magic! And please, appoint me to a high-level admin position.

mb

10:16 PM  
Blogger Neil 0421875644 said...

NPR is unlistenable at this point. Wall-to-wall Putin "coverage". Truly embarrassing. Meanwhile I see some hope in Lasch's hope/optimism distinction

10:38 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Neil-

It's an interesting question, as to when the American public will wake up to the fact that NPR, the NYT, and all of the MSM are completely disconnected from reality. I'm guessing never. When do you guys think?

mb

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Bingo said...

MB,

Daniel Levinson, who developed a stage theory of development, wrote in his book, “Seasons of a Man’s Life”, that during the Mid-Life Transition Stage (40 – 45 years of age), people experience a change in perspective from “time since birth” to “time left to live.” The “time since birth” does involve an “immortality of the self” attitude toward life, and a denial of death. I think this can, to a good extent, be applied to this country as a whole. Since America is such a new nation, I am thinking that it is still in the first stages, behaving like a teenager. The nation does exist in a perpetual delusion of eternal wealth, beauty, righteousness, heroism, victory, exceptionalism. This is very much consistent with typical adolescent beliefs in personal uniqueness, invincibility, and being above the rules – it is called “personal fable.” America created its own fable and is hell bent on proving it true despite reality.

Regarding the meaning of life. Death is always present in the human psyche, just slightly below the conscious, driving much of daily neuroses. Death must be integrated into life before true meaning in life can be found. And love as well as suffering must also be integrated, but not as in the love of self, rather the love of other. The meaning of life is found from moment to moment, from day to day. Here nobody lives in the moment. Of course, a cosmic meaning does play a role, especially when senseless death and suffering occur. However, this also is clearly denied in this society, where everybody runs from one fake high to the next, with no time to consider that there may be something outside and above their own self. Very sad. I like what Victor Frankl wrote about these topics. He did not take the nihilist attitude of other existentialists, such as Yalom. The irony is that Frankl’s books are found in most bookstores across this country, they tend to be quite short, and yet apparently nobody reads them.

Julian

10:55 PM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Julian-

The US may be adolescent, but it strikes me as also being senescent--i.e., decadent, and mentally incapacitated. As for Frankl, the chances of Americans reading bks with multisyllabic words in them is pretty small, I wd think.

mb

11:20 PM  
Blogger ccg said...

Gig,
The are many, many, problems with American academia, but the business about reductionism versus whatever alternative there might be isn't one of them, in my opinion. That's an issue I don't want to wade into here as this blog is about American decline. My concern is with the insularity of a certain kind of elite, not the moneyed elite, to be sure, at least not at the level of faculty. The academy is being destroyed. It's being corporatized, and, as Morris mentioned, education is now just another commodity. You now hear from administrators the word "productivity." I'd never heard that word used in an academic context until a couple of years ago. And they think they have a way of measuring it, for faculty anyway, not for what they do, of course. That, in part, is what all those numbers on citations to papers is all about. But even this is beside the point I was trying to address. My concern is with the business about supposedly smart people being dumb. It fascinates me. I'm still amazed at the arrogance displayed by colleagues when challenged with knowledge they possess. They eyes glaze over, or something accuse me of being conspiracy theorist. That's the best they can. I know a guy who thought and still thinks Obama the wisest man to ever occupy the White House. His opinion is based on Obama's platitude-laced "pretty" (vapid) speeches. He had no idea about Obama's actual policies, had no clue about the drone bombings and so many more things. He could be bothered to read about these things. He's aliterate. And he's a professor. And he's not unusual. I've tried to get him to read Dark Ages America. I've tried to get a few others to read it and to read Thomas Frank's book, Listen, Liberal. Forget it. They're not interested. Too busy, etc. This isn't universal behavior among faculty, but it's damn close.

11:28 PM  
Anonymous Grandma said...

Dr. B and. Wafers,

I agree with ccg re: academia (recent grad, couldn't get away fast enough). It's the same with NPR and the NYT: everything is a commodity, a resource to be extracted and monetized, and NPR and the NYT are now focused not on news for the greater good but page views. The MSM continues to pay attention to tweets for the same reason. Victor Frankl's books do not currently generate page views. Worth or value is only measured in how much money a given activity or resource can generate.

As far as I am concerned, we are already in a dark age, evidenced by all the observations both my own and on this blog.

Here's a pragmatic declinist point of view (with pictures):

https://granolashotgun.com/2017/07/25/postcards-from-the-zombie-apocalypse/

My only problem with the above article is this insistence that things become "more complex" and then "less complex". Something complex is just complex. We need a better lexicon for the part of the cycle that is labeled "decline".

9:22 AM  
Blogger Morris Berman said...

Gran-

Thanks, but be aware that you always need to send messages to the most recent post. No one reads the older stuff.

mb

10:30 AM  

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